Posted in prophecy, sovereignty

Back to Basics: The Importance of Prophecy

By Elizabeth Prata

By EPrata

As the time draws nigh, people less and less look to prophecy as a legitimate study of the Bible. They dismiss the prophetic, are skeptical of it, or simply ignore it. The silence of the pulpits is resounding, and the ignorance of the people is disheartening.

I’d like to spend a bit of time in encouraging us all to study the word, and not to ignore the prophetic. Lambert Dolphin wrote,

“A major portion of both the Old and New Testament is devoted to prophecy- nearly one third of the Scripture. Only four of the 66 books of the Bible are without prophecy-Ruth, the Song of Solomon, Philemon, and 3 John. Even the shortest book of the Bible mentions prophecy (Jude 14, 17-18, which refers to Enoch and the second coming of the Lord). Out of the Old Testament’s 23,210 verses, 6,641 contain predictive material, over twenty eight percent. Out of the New Testament’s 7,914 verses, 1,711 contain predictive material, over 21 percent.”

Illustration above, “God judging Adam” Genesis 3, William Blake, C. 1795

Joel C. Rosenberg wrote an essay based on a sermon of his, titled Rediscovering The Power and Purpose of Prophecy. He makes four main points,

“Unfortunately, many pastors, priests and ministry leaders here in the U.S. and around the world are not teaching Bible prophecy — as I see it, there are four major reasons for this.”

–First, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of belief in the power of God’s Word.
–Second, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of knowledge of — and sound training in — Bible prophecy.

–Third, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a fear of being lumped in with “prophecy nuts” and those who peddle sensationalism.
–Fourth, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of understanding of the times in which we live and the increasingly close return of Christ.

Rosenberg fleshes out each of the points.

Prophecy is the very Word of God, spoken by His mouth to His servants. (Revelation 1:1, Luke 1:70). Before the Word was written, He spoke it. The first prophecy was given to Adam and Eve in the Garden as He related to them the curse of the Fall from Grace, but promised a Messiah. (Genesis 3:15).

Habakkuk 2:2,
“I will stand upon my watch”
Illustration, James Shaw Crompton, of

Then the Prophets came, as they had since the beginning, (Luke 1:70), and God told them to write down the words. (Habakkuk 2:2, Exodus 17:14, Jeremiah 30:1-2 for example).

Poor Jeremiah. God spoke to Him and Jeremiah spoke to the people. Then God told Jeremiah to write the words down. Jeremiah did. However, Jeremiah’s words from God were so ill-received that King Jehoiakim burned the scroll of everything that had been written. The King burned it bit by bit as Baruch read it. The LORD then told Jeremiah to write it all over again, a monumental work, and this time God added words that cursed the king. (Jeremiah 30). God’s word will not be denied.

So prophecy was and is the word of the Lord, whether spoken as it was in the Old Testament or written as it was then and it is now. It will be spoken again, in the Tribulation, when God sends His Two Witnesses to prophesy for 1,260 days. (Revelation 11:3).

Prophecy is extremely important, we are told many times. 1 Thessalonians 5:20 warns us not to despise prophesyings. For example, in 2 Peter 1:19 we are told it is “a sure word.” This is because almost nothing else illustrates His sovereignty more than prophecy. How so?

“And the LORD said to Moses, “Is the LORD’s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.” (Numbers 11:23). He delivers His word and tells us to test it, watch for it. This is because His Word is sure and God knows it will come true.

Pastor Jim McClarty discussed the Irresistibility of God in his 2009 sermon delivered at the Sovereign Grace Bible Conference. He made several wonderful points during his exciting 1 hour sermon, but his second point is the one I’d like to bring to you now. He said,

“God’s irrestibility is demonstrated in prophecy. Prophecy is a risky venture. There are no other major religious pieces of literature in the world that contain the amount of prophecy that the bible does. It’s one of the most unique characteristics of the bible, and it is chock full of prophecy. The reason it’s risky is, you can check it.” (Numbers 11:23, Deuteronomy 18:22).

People often think that the Old Testament times were heavily prophetic all the time. They believe that miracles happened every day and that God talked to the prophets every minute. It is not so. The miracles we read about in the Old Testament were spaced far apart, years, decades, centuries, even. After Micah, there were no prophets for 400 years, until John the Baptist came, and John performed no miracles as Elijah or Moses did. For most of the generations in the OT, they read the scrolls, listened to the priests, and lived lives in submission to Holy God and were waiting for their Messiah to come.

In our day, we read the pages of the Bible, listen to the pastors, and live lives in submission to the Messiah who has come- and will soon come again!

I love prophecy. Now, it is true that people can get carried away with the doctrine of prophecy and/or look at the newspaper and back-date prophecies into news articles. Mr Rosenberg was right that there are nuts who run away with prophecy predictions and claim to hear a word from the Lord as Jeremiah or Elijah did. Fortunately, as Jim McClarty said, we can check the prophecies in the bible. We can rejoice that our Holy God not only is the creator of the universe and the author and architect and finisher of our faith, but His word is sure. He is sovereign and that means, according to Rev. Matt Slick at CARM, “Sovereignty in relation to God means that God has the absolute right to do with His creation as He desires.”

Some verses that support this are as follows: Psalm 115:3, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” Isaiah 46:10, “Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure;”

Faith in God is always trustworthy, even when answers to life’s issues and traumas do not always arrive. We must trust God in spite of what we see. But when we do see, as in prophecy coming true as written in the pages of His word, we rejoice that He is in control and our faith will prosper us.

“And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” (2 Chronicles 20:20).

Other essays in the Back to Basics series:

Back to Basics
Back to Basics: Holy Spirit
Back to Basics: What is prayer?
Back to Basics: What Does it Mean to Be Born Again?
Back to Basics: How do I Know I’m Saved? Examine Yourself

Upcoming:

Back to Basics: What is Hell?
Back to Basics: What is the Rapture?
Back to Basics: How to Study Your Bible
Back to Basics: What is Justification?
Back to Basics: What is a miracle?
Back to Basics: All about Angels
Back to Basics: What is “The Lamb”?
Back to Basics: Who is Satan?

Posted in providence, sovereignty

Acknowledging God’s providence yields gratitude

By Elizabeth Prata

One of the ways God intervenes in the world is providence. The quote below is from a sermon titled “Secrets of Contentment“.

“There are two ways God can act in the world: by miracle and by providence. A miracle has no natural explanation. In the flow of normal life, God suddenly stems the tide and injects a miracle. Then He sets the flow back in motion, just like parting the Red Sea until His people could walk across and closing it up again. Do you think it would be easier to do that—to say, “Hold it, I want to do this miracle” and do it—or to say, “Let’s see, I’ve got 50 billion circumstances to orchestrate to accomplish this one thing”? The latter is providence. Think, for example, of how God providentially ordered the lives of Joseph, Ruth, and Esther. Today He does the same for us.”

I find it incredibly restful to dwell in the knowledge of His sovereignty and His providence. It doesn’t mean I kick back and drift like a twig down a river, doing nothing. I still pray, study, and diligently perform all the things the Bible says we are to do. But I know that He is directing my steps. His providential care of me is in the best hands. What a great and glorious God we serve who providentially orders all events simultaneously to come together at every given moment to ensure His works come to pass!! How can I NOT worship a God who, from the moment He breathed life into Adam, has superintended every event at every moment to accomplish His divine will?

More importantly in terms of our worship, no one is self-sufficient, and everyone is answerable to God. Nebuchadnezzar praised God, saying,

all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth;” (Daniel 4:35)

The sermon I linked to above concludes,

Contentment comes from learning that God is sovereign not only by supernatural intervention, but also by natural orchestration. And what an incredible orchestra it is! Appreciate the complexity of what God is doing every moment just to keep us alive. When we look at things from that perspective, we see what folly it is to think we can control our lives. When we give up that vain pursuit, we give up a major source of anxiety.

That God is ordering our steps, and doing so for all 8 billion people on earth, and every creature, and every storm, and every tide, and every cloud, and heaven’s hosts, and so on, should yield a gratitude that we can know this magnificent and powerful God. In your gratitude and prayers and praise, consider the providence of God. He preserves His own, down to the minutest detail.

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)

I think if we were allowed to see God’s providence in real form and in real time, how He connects everything to be consistent with His will and His glory, it might look like this photo by Steve Irvine for NatGeo, called Moth Trails at Night

moth

Puritan Thomas Manton wrote of providences as one portion of our heritage. Here again we shout in gratitude-

“It is a full heritage, and nothing can be added to the completeness of our portion; for in the promises here is God, heaven, earth, providences, ordinances, all made ours, and all inward comforts and graces they are a part of our portion; and what can a soul desire more? Here is God made over to us; the great blessing of the covenant is, I am thy God. Other men say (and they will think it a great matter when they can say), This kingdom is mine, this lordship is mine, this house, these fields are mine; but a believer can say, this God, this Christ, this Holy Spirit is mine.”

God is great.

Posted in ecclesiastes, jesus, sovereignty

The Tyranny of Time

Here is an excellent sermon on Ecclesiastes 3, you know the one, “there is a time to dance, a time to mourn…”

The Tyranny of Time , 27:47 minutes

John Currid of Reformed Theological Seminary preaches the third chapter of Ecclesiastes clearly, simply, but powerfully.

The sermon is a comfort to the believer because we know that the eternal answers we seek, that all men seek, are contained in a one-word answer: God. His sovereignty and His providence are clearly and beautifully seen in the text and brought out by Currid.

A couple of notes from the sermon that you will hear of you choose to listen:

The verse which says “there is a season” is actually stated in the Hebrew “there is an appointed time.” The word ‘appointed’ makes all the difference in looking at God and His sovereignty. It is a relief to see God this way, trusting Him and knowing that all things are in His hand.

Secondly, the preacher mentions a theological-literary term called “merism.”

This is a listing of opposite parts to signify a whole or a totality.

In rhetoric a merism is the combination of two contrasting words, to refer to an entirety.

So when we read that Jesus is the “Alpha and Omega” He is not just the Alpha and Omega, but He encompasses everything in between.

In Ecclesiastes 3:4 when we read “a time to weep, and a time to laugh” the text means, ‘and everything in between’

It is awesome in its grandest sense that God controls and appoints everything under the sun, including times when we laugh, mourn, heal, kill…everything is unfolding according to His plan and purposes. The non-believer does not have this comfort of knowing that a Good God is in control and that whatever we are going through individually or as a nation will come, will remain an appointed time, and will end.

Time is not our enemy, time is not a tyrant, time is not running out. God created time for His purposes, and He designed us to receive His gift of the answers to these eternal questions in His time. Never forget that the non-reasoning unbeliever does not have this gift. (Ecclesiastes 3:13)

Every thing is as God made it; not as it appears to us. We have the world so much in our hearts, are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God’s hand in them. The world has not only gained possession of the heart, but has formed thoughts against the beauty of God’s works. We mistake if we think we were born for ourselves; no, it is our business to do good in this life, which is short and uncertain; we have but little time to be doing good, therefore we should redeem time. Satisfaction with Divine Providence, is having faith that all things work together for good to them that love him. God doeth all, that men should fear before him. (Matthew Henry)

Take a listen to a good sermon that will (hopefully) encourage and comfort you.

HT Brother Rick for sending me the link

Posted in prophecy, providence, rapture, sovereignty

In the fulness of time…

One of my favorite attributes of God is His sovereignty. One of my favorite doctrines is the Doctrine of Providence. And one of my favorite themes which neatly expresses them is the phrase, “In the fullness of time…” Here are just a few New Testament examples showing God in charge of all things, including events He wants to occur at a certain time.

Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,”

Mark 1:15, “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!

Romans 5:6, You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

1 Timothy 2:6, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.

Let’s go back to Galatians 4:4, the fulness of time. In the John MacArthur Commentary on Galatians, we read,

The fulness of time refers to the period of preparation in God’s sovereign timetable of redemption. When the Law had fully accomplished its purpose of showing man his utter sinfulness and inability to live up to God’s perfect standard of righteousness, God ushered in a new era of redemption. When He sent forth His son, He provided the righteousness for man that man could not provide for himself.

On a spiritual level, we can intuitively understand this is what is meant by the fulness of time, even if our lesser scholarly minds don’t articulate it as well as Dr MacArthur. But in Providential terms, widening our look at the sweep and scope of all redemptive history, the phrase “the fulness of time” takes on even greater and deeper significant implications regarding the sovereignty of God and His divine Providential outworking of all things to His glory. MacArthur again,

When Jesus was born, everything was right for the coming of the Messiah. First of all, the time was right religiously. During the Babylonian captivity, Israel once and for all forsook the idolatry into which she had often fallen. Despite their many other sins and failures, including national rejection of their own Messiah, no significant number of Jews has ever again turned to idolatry.

Also during the Exile, Jews developed synagogues, which they used as places of worship, as schools, and as courts. In addition to that, they at last had the completed Old Testament, assembled by Ezra and others after the return from Babylon. Those features facilitated the proclaiming of the Messiah’s gospel among the people of Israel.

Second, the time was right culturally. Christians who propagated the gospel during the first several centuries had a common language with those to whom they witnessed and with whom they worshiped. Alexander the Great had thoroughly established Greek culture and language throughout the known world, and these continued their dominating influence long after Rome succeeded Greece as world ruler.

Third, the time was right politically. Rome had instituted the pax Romana (Roman peace), which provided economic and political stability. The apostles and other early preachers and teachers cold travel freely and safely throughout the empire and do so on the magnificent system of roads built by the Romans.

Each of those factors was in some unique way a key to the spread of the gospel. God’s timing was perfect.

It is such a comfort to understand everything is in God’s hands.

I have traveled extensively in Italy, including Rome. I’ve rented a car and over several visits, I’ve driven all up and down the peninsula, from Milan and Lake Como to Rome to the Adriatic to France. North, south, north, east, and west. You’ve heard the adage, “All roads lead to Rome”? They really do.

The Miliarium Aureum (golden milestone) was a monument, probably of gilded bronze, erected by the Emperor Caesar Augustus near the temple of Saturn in the central Forum of Ancient Rome. All roads were considered to begin from this monument and all distances in the Roman Empire were measured relative to that point. On it were perhaps listed all the major cities in the empire and distances to them. According to Schaaf, the phrase “all roads lead to Rome” is a reference to the Milliarium Aureum, as the specific point to which all roads were said to lead. Today, the base of the milestone might still exist in the Roman Forum. (Wikipedia)

The Umbilicus Urbis Romae —”Navel of the City of Rome”—was the symbolic centre of the city from which, and to which, all distances in Ancient Rome were measured. It was situated in the Roman Forum where its remnants can still be seen. (Wikipedia)

I’ve been to the Forum and seen the marble mile markers, strolled on the Via Appia, seen the hardiness of the roads, the ancient cobblestones still there, still level, still providing passage for all manner of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. I’ve driven down the smallest of roads on the tallest of Apennines and come to a crossroad and there will be a sign. Rome, that way.

All roads lead to Rome. EPrata photo

I can just imagine what a delight it was for Christians moving between cities and between regions to walk or ride a horse or donkey bearing the Good News from town to town. It is a delight today, back then it was a marvel. Yet those Roman roads under the Roman peace allowed for a fast dispersal of the Good News, the tidings of a Risen Christ and salvation for sinners.

And the note about Alexander the Great, and his empire and the Greek language? We do not for a moment believe that was an accident, do we? We know for a fact that the Greek empire was foretold 600 years before Christ came, as we read in Daniel 2 about King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue of succeeding empires. The Greek kingdom was foretold as the second after the King’s own empire of Babylonians and after the empire of Medes and Persians. The Roster of empires goes: Babylonian, Media-Persia, Greek, Roman, Revived Roman, or Antichrist’s Empire.

Do we believe that God looked down and said, “Oh good, Alexander is instituting Greek everywhere, that will be sooo helpful when my servants spread the Good News.” Of course not! God is in control of history, because He writes it. He determines the times, and He providentially organizes when the time is right and full for the next part of His plan to come to fruition.

Understanding God’s sovereignty, His Divine Providence, and His timing encourages us. Because, the world today could otherwise be very unsettling and to unbiblical eyes, even look chaotic.

Young boy lured to gay lifestyle

A major advertisement, where Lesbians enjoy Chobani yogurt after perverted sex

Dangerous killers on the loose could “literally be anywhere”, elude capture

Police Officer (representing civil authority) shot dead
in clearly marked patrol car (New Orleans)

400 year dormancy of Sinabung Volcano ends with a bang

Escapes zoo animals on the loose; tiger kills 1, injures 1

It looks like the world is coming upside down, with civil authority under attack, perversity is the norm, zoo animals hunt humans, and unexpected or scientifically abnormal natural disasters.

Yet God, in the fulness of time, causes or allows each of these things to happen and in the background unknown to us, each event furthers His glory and ushers the moment when we will hear the joyous words,

COME UP HERE!

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

God’s timing is always perfect.

In His timing, we will fly! EPrata photo


Posted in God, god is a gentleman, sovereignty

Is God a gentleman? The illusion of a Gentleman God

Facebook, blogs, and Twitter are interesting to me as a Christian. They are forums where I can read which doctrines fellow believers are thinking, saying, accepting and promoting. These forums afford me greater exposure to the believing, professing church than I ever would be exposed to otherwise. And it works in reverse too, anything I post will also be transparently exposed for other professing, believing church members to see and either accept or reject.

In one way it’s great to see and experience the wider church, and in another sense it’s sad. It is great for the obvious reasons. We tend to become myopic in our local assemblies. Visibly experiencing the wider church keeps us linked. It’s a pure comfort to share the victories and Godly successes of others, even at a virtual distance.

On the sad side, I read abominable things. Many people believe and profess in “another Jesus”, an altogether different Savior than the One revealed to us in scripture. Other people say ridiculous things on social media. That is the focus of this essay. People say the strangest things with a straight face. One of the ridiculous things I’m reading more and more often now is the following:

“God is a gentleman. He would never interfere with our free will.”

People who say this obviously never read their bible much. On the face of it, this wrong-headed statement is easy to refute. God is certainly not a gentleman. He is God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:5). He drowned the entire world for sin. (Genesis 7:21). He killed Uzzah for touching the ark. (2 Samuel 6:7) He Threw Jonah into a fish. (Jonah 1:17). He killed Ananias and Sapphira on the spot in front of the church, for lying. (Acts 5:5, 10).

In the less visible example, it is still easy to refute. Our minds are blinded.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Worse, we are dead in our trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1, Colossians 2:13).

We cannot freely “choose God”. We should be grateful that He doesn’t politely stand aside, never interfering with our free will, otherwise no one ever would be saved!

I searched for a credible and doctrinal essay to make the point about God not being a gentleman. I found a great one in Robert Bernecker’s wonderful book, “Who’s Your Father: Returning to the Love of the Biblical God.” His Chapter 2 especially makes the point, gracefully, biblically, and firmly. PLEASE read the entire essay!!

For now, here are a few excerpts.

The Illusion of a Gentleman God
by Robert Bernecker

We sing songs such as the popular “Our God Reigns” with great enthusiasm and joy, and then we turn right around and teach that God does not in fact reign over the wills of humans, perhaps even in the very same church service. Do we believe he reigns or do we not?

From Genesis to Revelation, God freely interferes with human will to accomplish his own eternal purpose. Even the great sinful rebellion seen in Revelation 17 is said “to carry out God’s purpose” (v. 17). In regards to the choices and actions of the ten sinful, rebellious kings described in this passage, we are told explicitly that “God put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose” (v. 17), which in this case will be his inevitable conquering of these rebellious kings and people (v. 14).

The collective preponderance of these many Scriptures thoroughly dispels the notion that God is somehow a “gentleman” that is either unable or unwilling to turn the hearts and wills of humans (and thereby their choices) to accomplish his own purpose. In fact, Psalm 33:10 (NASB) teaches us the exact opposite: “The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.” We do not read that the Lord honors the counsel of the nations and carefully respects the plans of the people. Instead, we are told, “The Lord reigns, let the people tremble!” (Psalm 99:1). We should learn from Jeremiah, who declared his awareness of this glorious truth in Jeremiah 10:23: “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.”

Contrary to much popular teaching of our day, our Father clearly can and regularly does interfere with human free will. To our great loss, we have drifted far from the historic confession of God’s sovereign involvement in every facet of his creation. In fact, Augustine made no effort to conceal his disdain for any such suggestions that would artificially limit God’s ascendancy, and he wrote bluntly that it was “blasphemous” and “foolish” to assert that God does not change the wills of men whenever and however he chooses.4 We must repent of such foolishness, and we should instead praise our God that he does change our will! Many who profess that “God is a gentleman” have probably never considered the consequences of a world where God, for whatever reason they may assert, did not actually influence, change, and interfere with humanity’s fallen will. How horrible indeed that would be!

Posted in arminianism, glory, prosperity gospel, sovereignty

The Doctrine of Election is biblical

With a HT to Do Not Be Surprised, I pass along this link to a great article explaining the biblical doctrine of election. It is easy to understand and clearly makes the case that God chooses us for salvation
Pick me, pick me, Unconditional Election, Pt. 2. By the time the author gets to the end he has explained it so biblically that his conclusion makes logical sense:

Your objection might be this: I don’t believe that God would chose some and not all. That’s fine, but don’t say “I don’t believe in election,” say” I don’t believe the Bible.”

Again with a HT to Do Not Be Surprised, I found this article helpful also. It is from the steady and biblical folks at 9 Marks, explaining how the prosperity gospel has crept into much of Christianity as a softer version.
A Softer Prosperity Gospel: More Common Than You Think

Jeremiah lamented that Jerusalem refused to repent. His lament was one that is of a striking parallel today. This is what we see too:

Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her. Though they say, “As the Lord lives,” yet they swear falsely.

Though this is what we see on the ground, it is not what God sees from above. Through Jesus, His Son, He sees a glorious future for His Son’s Bride and a coronation for His Son. This future is so sure that in heaven it it of the now. Soon, on the ground we will come into our future!

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:5)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further reading:

What is the Doctrine of Election?

Is the doctrine of Election biblical?

Posted in providence, sovereignty

The providence of God

I’ve been praising God a lot lately for His Providence. I am studying the biblical doctrine of Providence. Funny, I was born in Providence, lol. God’s Providence is neat.

One of the mysterious things to me about Providence is that when you look back you can see it clearly. Looking forward what we have is trust, and looking back we can see the results of that trust- His divine will accomplished providentially.

Here are two ways God intervenes in the world, and one of them is providence. It is from a sermon titled “Secrets of Contentment“.

“There are two ways God can act in the world: by miracle and by providence. A miracle has no natural explanation. In the flow of normal life, God suddenly stems the tide and injects a miracle. Then He sets the flow back in motion, just like parting the Red Sea until His people could walk across and closing it up again. Do you think it would be easier to do that—to say, “Hold it, I want to do this miracle” and do it—or to say, “Let’s see, I’ve got 50 billion circumstances to orchestrate to accomplish this one thing”? The latter is providence. Think, for example, of how God providentially ordered the lives of Joseph, Ruth, and Esther. Today He does the same for us.”

I find it incredibly restful to dwell in the knowledge of His sovereignty and His providence. It doesn’t mean I kick back and drift like a twig down a river, doing nothing. I still pray, study, and diligently perform all the things the bible says we are to do. But I know that He is directing my steps. His providential care of me is in the best hands. What a great and glorious God we serve who providentially orders all events simultaneously to come together at every given moment to ensure His works come to pass!! How can I NOT worship a God who, from the moment He breathed life into Adam, has superintended every event at every moment to accomplish His divine will?

More importantly in terms of our worship, no one is self-sufficient, and everyone is answerable to God. Nebuchadnezzar praised God, saying,

all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth;” (Daniel 4:35)

The sermon I linked to above concludes,

Contentment comes from learning that God is sovereign not only by supernatural intervention, but also by natural orchestration. And what an incredible orchestra it is! Appreciate the complexity of what God is doing every moment just to keep us alive. When we look at things from that perspective, we see what folly it is to think we can control our lives. When we give up that vain pursuit, we give up a major source of anxiety.

In your gratitude and prayers and praise, consider the providence of God. He preserves His own, down to the minutest detail.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)

His care extends to the grand plan and the smallest detail. He is benevolent and all things will work to the good of those who love him and are called to His purpose. (Romans 8:28).

I think if we were allowed to see God’s providence in real form and in real time, how He connects everything to be consistent with His will and His glory, it might look like this photo by Steve Irvine for NatGeo, called Moth Trails at Night

Puritan Thomas Manton wrote of providences as one portion of our heritage. Here again we shout in gratitude-

“It is a full heritage, and nothing can be added to the completeness of our portion; for in the promises here is God, heaven, earth, providences, ordinances, all made ours, and all inward comforts and graces they are a part of our portion; and what can a soul desire more? Here is God made over to us; the great blessing of the covenant is, I am thy God. Other men say (and they will think it a great matter when they can say), This kingdom is mine, this lordship is mine, this house, these fields are mine; but a believer can say, this God, this Christ, this Holy Spirit is mine.”

God is great.

Posted in prophecy, sovereignty

Back to Basics: The Importance of Prophecy

As the time draws nigh, people less and less look to prophecy as a legitimate study of the bible. They dismiss the prophetic, are skeptical of it, or simply ignore it. The silence of the pulpits is resounding, and the ignorance of the people is disheartening.

I’d like to spend a bit of time in encouraging us all to study the word, and not to ignore the prophetic. Lambert Dolphin wrote,

“A major portion of both the Old and New Testament is devoted to prophecy- nearly one third of the Scripture. Only four of the 66 books of the Bible are without prophecy-Ruth, the Song of Solomon, Philemon, and 3 John. Even the shortest book of the Bible mentions prophecy (Jude 14, 17-18, which refers to Enoch and the second coming of the Lord). Out of the Old Testament’s 23,210 verses, 6,641 contain predictive material, over twenty eight percent. Out of the New Testament’s 7,914 verses, 1,711 contain predictive material, over 21 percent.”

Joel C. Rosenberg wrote an essay this weekend titled Rediscovering The Power and Purpose of Prophecy. He makes four main points,

“Unfortunately, many pastors, priests and ministry leaders here in the U.S. and around the world are not teaching Bible prophecy — as I see it, there are four major reasons for this.”

–First, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of belief in the power of God’s Word.
–Second, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of knowledge of — and sound training in — Bible prophecy.
–Third, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a fear of being lumped in with “prophecy nuts” and those who peddle sensationalism.
–Fourth, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of understanding of the times in which we live and the increasingly close return of Christ.

Illustration above, “God judging Adam” Genesis 3, William Blake, C. 1795

Rosenberg fleshes out each of the points, and promises that a second part to the essay will be posted soon.

Prophecy is the very Word of God, spoken by His mouth to His servants. (Revelation 1:1, Luke 1:70). Before the Word was written, He spoke it. The first prophecy was given to Adam and Eve in the Garden as He related to them the curse of the Fall from Grace, but promised a Messiah. (Genesis 3:15).

Then the Prophets came, as they had since the beginning, (Luke 1:70), and God told them to write down the words. (Habakkuk 2:2, Exodus 17:14, Jeremiah 30:1 & 2 for example).

Poor Jeremiah. God spoke to Him and Jeremiah spoke to the people. Then God told Jeremiah to write the words down. Jeremiah did. However, Jeremiah’s words from God were so ill-received that King Jehoiakim burned the scroll of everything that had been written. The King burned it bit by bit as Baruch read it. The LORD then told Jeremiah to write it all over again, a monumental work, and this time God added words that cursed the king. (Jeremiah 30). God’s word will not be denied.

So prophecy was and is the word of the Lord, whether spoken as it was in the Old Testament or written as it was then and it is now. It will be spoken again, in the Tribulation, when God sends His Two Witnesses to prophesy for 1,260 days. (Revelation 11:3). Illustration, James Shaw Crompton, of Habakkuk 2:2, “I will stand upon my watch”

Prophecy is extremely important, we are told many times. 1 Thessalonians 5:20 warns us not to despise prophesyings. For example, in 2 Peter 1:19 we are told it is “a sure word.” This is because almost nothing else illustrates His sovereignty more than prophecy. How so?

“And the LORD said to Moses, “Is the LORD’s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.” (Numbers 11:23). He delivers His word and tells us to test it, watch for it. This is because His Word is sure and God knows it will come true.

Pastor Jim McClarty discussed the Irresistibility of God in his 2009 sermon delivered at the Sovereign Grace Bible Conference. He made several wonderful points during his exciting 1 hour sermon, but his second point is the one I’d like to bring to you now. He said,

“God’s irrestibility is demonstrated in prophecy. Prophecy is a risky venture. There are no other major religious pieces of literature in the world that contain the amount of prophecy that the bible does. It’s one of the most unique characteristics of the bible, and it is chock full of prophecy. The reason it’s risky is, you can check it.” (Numbers 11:23, Deuteronomy 18:22).

People often think that the Old Testament times were heavily prophetic all the time. They believe that miracles happened every day and that God talked to the prophets every minute. It is not so. The miracles we read about in the Old Testament were spaced far apart, years, decades, centuries, even. After Micah, there were no prophets for 400 years, until John the Baptist came, and John performed no miracles as Elijah or Moses did. For most of the generations in the OT, they read the scrolls, listened to the priests, and lived lives in submission to Holy God and were waiting for their Messiah to come.

Illustration, Jeremiah, “The Lord’s word came to me again” Annie Vallotton.

In our day, we read the pages of the bible, listen to the pastors, and live lives in submission to the Messiah who has come- and will soon come again!

I love prophecy. The LORD put me here during one of the most heavily prophetic times in the history of the world, to be part of the generation that will be raptured. I see it unrolling before my eyes. Now, people can get carried away. Mr Rosenberg was right that there are nuts who run away with prophecy predictions and claim to hear a word from the Lord as Jeremiah or Elijah did. Fortunately, as Jim McClarty said, we can check the prophecies in the bible. We can rejoice that our Holy God not only is the creator of the universe and the author and architect and finisher of our faith, but His word is sure. He is sovereign and that means, according to Rev. Matt Slick at CARM,

“Sovereignty in relation to God means that God has the absolute right to do with His creation as He desires. Some verses that support this are as follows: Psalm 115:3, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” Isaiah 46:10, “Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure;”

Faith in God is always trustworthy, even when answers to life’s issues and traumas do not always arrive. We must trust God in spite of what we see. But when we do see, as in prophecy coming true as written in the pages of His word, we rejoice that He is in control and our faith will prosper us.

“And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” (2 Chronicles 20:20).