Continuing observations from our imaginary time-machine of a meeting of the first followers of Jesus the Messiah, we can take advantage of having come from the far-off future.
Thus, we know that 50-60 years later John, one of those closest to Him, will write an especially significant account of Jesus’ mission and follow-up with letters, all based upon their personal relationship, to this growing group – the Ekklesia.
Moreover, towards the close of John’s life, Jesus will dictate to him letters specifically addressed to seven ‘churches,’ as well as take him into heavenly realms to show him what will happen before He is to return to reign as King of Kings for a thousand years.
Therefore and I stress, what John is to write is key to a full understanding the nature and authority of authentic prophecy. Note how he begins his Gospel account with stating Jesus’ real identity, namely:
‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it…’
In his later first letter to the Ekklesia John explains how he’s absolutely certain of that awesome truth (emphases mine):
‘That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of Life — the Life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us — that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full…’
When John records a most spectacular series of apocalyptic visions and those seven letters, he begins with this introductory blessing:
‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants — things which must swiftly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the Word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near…’
Towards the end of ‘The Apocalypse’ John sees all in heaven rejoicing over the finality of the fall of Babylon the Great, and an angel explains to John what is happening:
‘Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ”And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Thus, The Key to Prophecy is the person of Jesus Christ, the Living Word of Almighty God and our personal relationship with him. Furthermore, this last principle had already been established many centuries earlier – as we’ll now discover:
Further Back In Time To Prophet Isaiah
Now, let’s turn the dials in our time machine back yet another 700-odd years – before we return to the future!
This takes us to the time ancient Rome was founded and the first Olympic Games got under way in ancient Greece. Also, Assyria was poised to conquer the Middle-East and become a mighty regional power.
A Hebrew prophet and student of geopolitics, Isaiah, could see conflict approaching and, sure enough, the northern kingdom of Israel, Samaria, fell to Assyria in 721BC. A couple of decades earlier, Isaiah had a profound vision of the glory of The Holy Lord of Heavenly Hosts within His temple (see 6th chapter of The Book of Isaiah).
Not only did Isaiah thus come to hear the Lord and learn of His heart and mind for his own time, but he was also given a revelation into the far distant future of the life and personality of Jesus Christ. This is recorded in the 53rd chapter of the Book of Isaiah within the Bible’s Old Testament. Prior to that, the Lord Most High had told him:
“For I am God and there is no other, I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the End from the Beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand and I shall do all My pleasure”…” (Isaiah 46:9-10 NKJV)
Therein lies the key to foretelling the future. We’re privileged to be able to learn what The Almighty has decided is to happen, because He shared his plans with a select number of ancient sages or prophets over several centuries. Subsequently, He enabled all disciples of Jesus to receive the Holy Spirit and thereby hear His words and perceive visions.
In fact about 50 years earlier Amos, the first of the ‘writing prophets,’ had recorded a distinct word about just this at what we know as verse 7 of the third chapter of his canonical book:
“Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.”
Now, allow me to divulge the inspiration behind the first publication of this post:
During our online visit this Sunday afternoon (Nov 2011);to a live service at Church of His Presence in Mobile, Alabama, we were thrilled by Reverend John Kilpatrick’s sermon. (Video no longer available.)
He spoke in a novel way of the parable of the good Samaritan, saying it’s only one of several passages for which the Lord’s given him fresh insights. He said all these can be regarded as ‘foreshadowing the future’ and quoted his scriptural authority for coming to that conclusion lies in Isaiah 46 verses 9-10, as above. What amazed me, however, was that upon opening my old, well-annotated NIV Insight Bible, I saw those very same verses had already been highlighted by me in bright yellow!
W O W !!
I just had to conclude, therefore, those verses are especially appropriate for and thus confirm this ‘travelogue.’
Now, let’s return to the future by setting our time machine to travel forward well over 2,600 years to our individual space-time coordinates, where we await further briefing upon Christian prophecy…
PS. However, the next morning a notable confirmation turned up, as told next >
First published 24th November 2011 with OT and now expanded with above NT text.
[Image credit: Hand-giving-key by Chaiwat, courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net]