The Spirit of Prophecy
Focus on Jerusalem Prophecy Ministry
By: Darrell G. Young
Revelation 19:10 And I (John) fell at his (a mighty angel) feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Recently I had a rare occasion to speak to my home church and a couple of other local churches on the importance of Bible Prophecy in today’s world. Afterwards, as is the usual custom, I took comments and questions from the audience. Usually most people are nice and courteous, and I really like having these informal face-to-face discussions because I find most churches still have a few prophecy-watching stalwarts, although they are usually literally starved-to-death for hearing the prophetic word, and the Q/A sessions usually give me a chance to gage the “prophecy thermometer” to see just where the Christian community stands in relation to the value of prophecy in the church today. Sad to say, I can attest from personal experience that the vast majority of Churches and most Christians have absolutely no interest in Bible Prophecy whatsoever, and many demonstrate an outright disdain for the subject altogether. This condition in our churches makes me angry and also sad, and I am completely certain that it is a situation that hurts and displeases our Lord Jesus even more.
Keeping the Spirit of Prophecy
The church-wide eradication of the Spirit of Prophecy saddens me because I know the special blessing that comes from reading and hearing the prophetic word. But even sadder, and for me personally, more aggravating is the fact that the church today is not “keeping” (holding fast to the doctrinal value) the things that make up the Spirit of Prophecy. The instruction for “keeping” comes from the Greek word “tereo.” Its meaning alludes to the idea that Christians are supposed to safeguard prophecy, prevent its dilution, and maintain its intended purpose. It literally means to hold fast by watching as you serve. Confusion over the interpretation of the prophetic word has cast discredit on the whole testimony, or spirit of prophecy. And we all know who the author of confusion is, don’t we? (Satan) While it is true that there are complex and difficult issues within the field of prophecy, it nevertheless remains true that the Spirit of Prophecy is parallel to the testimony of Jesus.
Whereas Revelation 19:10 defines prophecy as being the
testimony of Jesus Christ himself, I am dumbfounded by the churches lack of
interest in the wondrous world of eschatology. In the opening lines of The
Revelation of Jesus Christ, John was informed by an angel of God thusly:
Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and “keep” those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
Well, sad to say, the vast majority of modern churches and pastors have not heeded this passage of Holy writ. Multitudes of congregations have not heard, therefore neither do they read the prophetic word, thus the Bride’s challenge to attend to the keeping, the cherishment, and love for the prophetic testimony of Jesus Christ is a large area of the Biblical account that has been relegated to the dustbin, and that is the sole reason that ignorance abounds in today’s churches concerning the signs of the times. John was informed 2000 years ago that the “time was at hand,” for prophetic observation, and it is far, far, far more urgent today than when it was first announced. If it was at-hand 2000 years ago, it could be described as being at the fingertips today.
I would include the following exhortation to pastors and Christians alike: “if we do not include the spirit of prophecy in our Church efforts, then we are ignoring a major portion of the testimony of Jesus Christ! Bible scholars have calculated that the Bible is approximately 1/3 endued with prophecy. If that is an accurate ratio, then why is it a closed subject in Churches? If there is an eleventh commandment in the Bible, then it was surely uttered by Jesus himself:
Mark 13:34-37 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I (Jesus) say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
Surely, if the Lord Jesus instructed us to watch while he was away, it stands to reason that he would have conveyed to us a documented record of things that we ought to watch for. The theme of watching of course is the return of Jesus, but the spirit of prophecy was conveyed to sensitize the church to be alert and cognizant of the signs of the times indicating the nearness of his return.
John, the record bearer of The Revelation of Jesus Christ was instructed by the mighty angel of the Lord that those who possess the testimony of Jesus, and therefore do worship God the Father, also need to know that the testimony of Jesus is literally the spirit of prophecy. The word for testimony from the Greek translation is the word “marturia,” which refers to the evidence, the conveyed record, a foreordained reporting, or beforehand documentation.
So then, why did the Lord convey this beforehand documentation of prophecy to the Churches?
(Isaiah quotes the Lord with these words; Isaiah 42:9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.) The Lord in his omniscient foreknowledge conveyed to us the spirit of prophecy so that we could take courage and draw strength from his promises as we witness the darkness of the approaching Day of the Lord. Perhaps Peter described this prescribed energizing spirit best when he wrote the following epistle concerning the slothfulness of those who are caught in ignorance of the testimony of Jesus.
II Peter 3:10-13 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
The English word “hasting” stems from the Greek word “pseudo” which refers to becoming encouraged and gaining in strength, to eagerly anticipate, or to gain insight from heightened study relative to an emergency. Basically, Peter is saying that the Spirit of Prophecy, being a parallel to the testimony of Jesus works within our souls to sensitize us to the imminent coming of our Lord, all the more as we begin to witness the conveyed record of prophecy relative to His Second Coming to pass. It is intended to give the watching believer added assurance of his Blessed Hope even as the world races headlong toward the abyss of Armageddon.
The Ordained Mission of Prophecy
The word "prophesy" implies God's omniscient (foreknowledge of future events) and documented revelation of what lies ahead in the course of world history as the world reaches its climactic Last Days.
The Hebrew word translated prophecy is "naba," (Nabiy) which means in its root form to flow forth, implying a freely flowing word that comes very smoothly, without any effort on the speaker's part, relying solely on Divine inspiration. The Greek root word for prophecy "propheteuo" means to speak for another, indicating that the speaker is merely a messenger, and that the authority for the message is from another source, which in the case of scripture is God almighty, and all-knowing.
The Biblical field of eschatology is the branch of theological study that specializes on the science of interpreting last events, or the science of Biblical study about the Last Days, and the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
The Spirit of Prophecy involves the foreknowledge projections about the future and the end-times in special messages from God, often uttered through human spokesmen, which indicate the divine will for mankind on earth and in heaven. The focus of all prophetic truth is Jesus Christ who was destined to be the greatest prophet of all times.
Deuteronomy 18:15 The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; 18: I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
Jesus, the greatest and last prophet was the manifest embodiment of God’s prophetic testimony for all ages, and Christ fully radiated the brilliance of God which the earlier prophets reflected only in part. The earlier prophets of Israel anticipated Jesus Christ by reflecting His person and message in their own life and ministry, and each contributed a portion of the truth, sharing in the Spirit of Prophecy that which would be completely expressed in Jesus Christ. God foreordained the office of prophets and charged them technically with the task of recording prophecy for the purpose of pointing to some future person, event, or thing, all of which point eventually to Jesus Christ being prophet, priest and King.
Prophecy may also be expressed in many different forms through the prophet himself, whether by his mouth or some bodily action. The ancient prophets often received God's messages from the voice of an angel, the voice of God, or through a dream or vision. Sometimes a prophet acted out his message symbolically. Isaiah's nakedness (Isaiah 20) foretold the exile of the Egyptians and the Cushites. Hosea's marriage symbolized God's patience with an unfaithful wife, symbolizing God’s relationship with a whoring nation of Israel.
The mission of Prophecy was to declare God's word for all time, and to establish an earthly witness for the observable authenticity of Gods Holy Word, as if history were an ongoing testimony in a court of law to be reviewed by mankind. The mission of prophecy was to allow mankind to scale the mountaintops of world history and peer out from that vantage point to gaze upon his past, present and future, and judge for himself that the of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ is sure. God’s prophets saw the mountain peaks of prophetic events but like people outside the understanding of the Spirit of Prophecy, they could visualize the immense valleys of time that separated the phases of God’s providential plan to establish his kingdom on earth. Therefore God moved upon his prophets by the Holy Ghost to give testimony to hi foreordained promises concerning the future.
II Peter 1:16-21 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
The mission of the prophetic record presents volumes about the future kingdom of God, particularly information about the Messiah and His chosen people, Israel. The mission of prophecy foretells the destiny of the nations and their relationship to the kingdom of God. The New Testament clearly identifies Jesus as the King who spends much of His ministry describing His kingdom and its establishment. The battleground is the world; and the arch-foe of Christ is Satan, whose intrigue in Eden gave him control of the nations. Mush of Jewish prophecy is concerned with God’s righteous plan to relinquish the world from the dominion of Satan; by elaborating upon the initial pledge of God (Genesis 3:15), which announced that God would send a deliverer, “Christ, the seed of the woman into the world to crush the great Serpent, the Devil (Romans 16:20; Revelation. 20:2). For this reason the testimony of Jesus Christ affirms that God sent his son, Jesus to offer mankind salvation, and to wrestle away from Satan the dominion of this world.
Therefore. the focus of all prophetic truth is Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 1:2; Luke 24:25-27) The Revelation of Jesus Christ coupled with the Lord’s own pronouncements (Olivet Discourse) regarding his Second Coming signify to the watching faithful that God is moving in the affairs of mankind, and the battle is soon to be Won!
God used the mission and spirit of prophecy to convey through his holy prophets prophecies of the future. He did this to prepare people for the future, and to show all mankind that He is the one true God and that He is all-powerful. God’s conveyance of prophecy is not a prediction of the future - it is a promise about the future, and therein is grounded the very heart of the Testimony of Jesus.
Prophecy is Accumulative Evidence
To ever become a Christian, one must first recognize that GOD exists. God is the Creator, and that fact is paramount and fundamental to discovering the truth about our world, whether it is related to the spiritual domain, or to the prophetic arena. Even the Devil believes that God exists, (James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.) and because the Devil knows God exists he seeks to distort what God has said about everything, including the future. He attempts to distort the subject of salvation. And he also tries to confuse people on what God says about the future. Satan is a defeated enemy, and he wants the world to be blinded to that fact, so that we do not analyze what God has said about the future, and find ourselves overtaken by slumber when the Lord suddenly appears in the night. (like a thief) (Luke 12:39; 21:33-37; I Thessalonians 5:1-4; Revelation 3:1-3)
When we pause to consider that God ordained the prophetic word before he ever made the world, then it becomes apparent that the Bible is so unique that it cannot be divided into proportional topics. Whereas God ordained the office of prophet to send his messages unto Israel, and concluded the office of prophet with the coming of the greatest prophet, Jesus Christ, the subject matter of the spirit of prophecy yet continues to affect our world today. Consider the following:
Matthew 25:32-34 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Hebrews 1:1-2 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 10; And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
If there is a God, and he is all-knowing an all-powerful, it
stands to reason that he would give mankind an advance copy of his plan for this
world. That advance print-out has been forwarded to us by the spirit of
prophecy. The only reason there is so much ignorance today regarding the spirit
of prophecy is because people do not have knowledge of God’s plan.
The Spirit of Prophecy Promotes the Power of the Church
Although prophecy constitutes almost one-third of the Bible, its importance is constantly downplayed by those who dismiss it as having no practical significance or by those who object to it on the grounds that it is a "fad" that takes people's eyes off Jesus. As the theme of this article from Revelation 19:10 says; "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Thus, if prophecy is properly taught, there is no reason for it to divert anyone's attention away from Jesus, and all the other missions of the Church. In fact, it should serve to emphasize the centrality of Jesus. Is prophecy practical? I say to you that it is VITAL.
Consider that all the New Testament writers testify to the fact that the study of prophecy will motivate holy living. Prophecy does not have to be either faddish, other-worldly, or impractical if taught properly, nor does it have to be left outside the church to become a playground for fanatics. It can and should be part of the “meat-feasting-offering” of the church.
Reasons for Study
1) Validator of Scripture — Fulfilled prophecy is one of the best evidences in the world that the Bible is indeed the inspired Word of God. The Bible contains hundreds of fulfilled secular prophecies pertaining to cities, nations, empires, wars, events, and supernatural warfare.
2) Validator of Jesus as Messiah — The Bible contains more than 300 prophecies about the first coming of Jesus, all of which were literally fulfilled. Every aspect of the life of Jesus was prophesied, the place of His birth, the nature of His birth, the quality of His ministry, the purpose of His life, and the agony of His death. These prophecies were written a thousand years before the birth of Jesus. It was even written 700 years before the invention of crucifixion as a form of execution. The literal fulfillment of so many prophecies in the life of one individual transcends any mere coincidence and serves to validate that Jesus was who He said claimed to be, the divine Son of God.
3) Revealer of the remaining Future — Prophecy serves to tell us some things that God wants us to know about our future. God does not want us to know everything about the future, but there are some things we must know if we are to have a dynamic hope, and to be able to Watch for his coming, and realize its nearness. The Spirit of Prophecy assures us that Jesus is coming back, that He will resurrect us, and that He will take us to live forever with Him and God the Father, and that He will take over this present world, and reign here from Mt. Zion. In this regard, Peter likens prophecy to "a lamp shining in a dark place" (II Peter 1:19). Paul adds in I Corinthians 2:7-16 that those things that have been revealed to us by God through His Spirit of prophecy is intended to enhance our understanding of the deep things of God!
4) Method of Evangelism — Prophecy can be used as a very effective tool of evangelism. Peter referred to fulfilled prophecy as one of the greatest evidences that Jesus was truly the Son of God (II Peter 1:16-19). When unsaved people look for evidence that Jesus Christ is truly the savior, history offers itself as a verifiable proof.
5) Component for Moral Teaching — People often overlook the fact that the Hebrew prophets were forthtellers as well as foretellers. In fact, the prophets spent most of their time using God's Word to spotlight societal problems. They called their listeners to repentance, true worship, social justice, and personal holiness. One of the great recurring themes of the prophets is that "obedience is better than sacrifice" (1 Samuel 15:22 and Hosea 6:6). That statement means that in God's eyes, obedience to His commands is more important than outward religious practices such as offering sacrifices. Prophecy is thus a great repository of moral teaching, and those moral principles are still relevant today. (Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:8; Isaiah 58:3-9.)
Generator of Spiritual Growth — Prophetic knowledge encourages patient waiting (James 5:7- 8); provokes earnest watching (Matthew 24:36,42); inspires dedicated work (II Timothy 4:7-8); and enhances our hope (Titus 2:11-14). The result is holy living. The Bible exhorts us to "behave properly and take comfort even as we see the day of conflict over the dominion of this world approaching. Likewise, Peter calls us to gird up our minds and be sober and holy as we look forward to the revelation of Jesus (1 Peter 1:13-15). In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul writes that all of God's Word is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." That includes God's Prophetic Word. In 1 Thessalonians 5:20 the apostle Paul pleads with us to treat prophecy with respect. Peter warns us in his second epistle, that one of the signs of the end times will be the appearance of "scoffers" who will cast scorn and ridicule on the promise of our Lord's return (2 Peter 3:3). The great tragedy of our day is that many of the loudest scoffers are religious leaders who profess to follow Christ. Such leaders crucified Jesus the first time He came. They now scoff at His promise to return.
Key Scriptures about the Purpose and Value of Prophecy
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
Isaiah 46:8-10 Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
Luke 24:44-49 And he (Jesus) said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you:
The Charge to Preach With The Spirit of Prophecy
Among the final words Jesus sent via the angel to convey the Revelation to John was these pointed words found in Revelation 22:10; “and he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” This command of our Lord is a directly opposite command issued to the prophet Daniel. Daniel, the OT forebearer of revelation concerning the Last Days was instructed to “shut up the words,” and “seal up the book,” for the time for its intended understanding was not yet at hand. In Revelation chapter one John was informed that the time for its unsealing and releasing of the words of the Spirit of Prophecy was now at hand.
Jesus admonition to all of his followers (bride) is to live with a vibrant expectation of the fulfillment of the remaining portion of his promises. He further issued a direct order to spread the word of prophecy in this “unsealed book.” This commandment carries with it a stern reprimand for pastors and churches that limit, distort, discredit, or hold back in the work of the testimony of Jesus Christ which is the SPIRIT OF PROPHECY.
Revelation 22:17-20 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Focus on Jerusalem Prophecy Ministry
The Spirit of Prophecy
By: Darrell G. Young