The Dual Nature Of Biblical Prophecy

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

There are a lot of things that come in twos, and there is even a dual nature of biblical prophecy.

The Old and the New

The Old Testament is still relevant today, even though one man told me that the Scripture says the Old Testament is not necessary today. I reminded him that the “old covenant” is not needed, but the Old Testament, like all of the Word of God, abides forever, so yes, we still need it! I asked him, “What do you think Jesus preached out of? Where did the apostle’s Paul and Peter get their verses from? It was all from the Old Testament because there was no New Testament yet.” The verse the man referred to was in 2 Timothy 2:15 where Paul tells Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” The King James Version says, “rightly dividing the word of truth,” but that is not as accurate as most translations have it, where it says, “accurately handling the word of truth” (NASB). The NASB did the best job in translating this Greek word (“orthotomeo”) because it means “to cut a straight path.” The NASB is the best translation that I could find for that verse, so regarding the teachings in the church today or teachings of pastors or authors, if it’s new, it’s not from God; if it’s from God, it’s not new, and if it nullifies the Word of God (Old Testament or New), then it’s also not from God! The Word of God has the same power in Jesus’ day that it has today…and will always have. The Bible has the very power of God in it (Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:18). That will never change.

St. John the Baptist Preaching, c. 1665, by Mattia Preti.

History Repeats

Since we know that the Old Testament is the Word of God, and the Word of God abides forever (1 Pet 1:25), we can look at biblical prophecies of the Old Testament, and perhaps look at them in a new way. When God sent prophets to warn the nations of Judah and Israel, He told them exactly why they were being judged, so do we think that God will have one standard for Israel but not for others? Would God judge Israel but not other nations, even if they repeat the same historical sins that ancient Israel did? Of course, the worshiping of idols is not practiced today, although many religions of the world do include idol worship and even ancestral worship, but today most of us don’t do that. Our idols may not be wood or stone, but they might be steel, chrome, green-colored paper, jobs, or anything else that exalts itself above God in our lives. Instead of worshiping God, society seems to worship things. They pursue money, fame, power, shopping, or influence, but not Christ and His righteousness above all things (Matt 6:33). Idolatry doesn’t have to mean worshiping an image or a representation of a god. The idol might be a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered more than anything else in the world, including God, and that makes it an idol, and when the majority of a nation begins to fall into idolatry, do you really think God won’t judge that nation?

Similarities

Horace Vernet, Jeremiah on the ruins of Jerusalem (1844).

When I was reading the Book of Jeremiah, I was struck by the many similarities that are happening today. For example, Jeremiah, in writing expressly about Judah, warned him that “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds” (Jer 14:14). I believe I could write a book about all the people who prophesied over others and prophesied over me; none of which came true. That explains why God told Jeremiah to “not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord” (Jer 23:16), and if it’s not from God, then there is only one other source it could be from, and it’s not a good one. Remember, Satan’s got his own ministers (2 Cor 11:4), but these false prophets have their own followers.

Sin City

Historians have noticed a trend, but so have Bible scholars, and that’s when nations fall, they fall for similar reasons. Good examples are the Roman Empire, Sodom and Gomorrah, and even Israel and Judah before they fell into captivity. When Ezekiel was prophesying to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, he noted similarities between Judah and Sodom and Gomorrah, writing, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it” (Ezk 16:49-50), so if God judged Sodom and Gomorrah for things that Judah was doing, you know He’ll also judge any nation, and yes, that includes America, Great Brittan, Canada, Russia, Mexico, and any nation that does not repent as a whole. Of course, many who trust in Christ who live in those nations will be spared the wrath of God on judgment day, but sometimes evil affects God’s people, even if they’re living in obedience. Today, the disparity between the rich and the poor is widening just as in ancient Rome, Sodom and Gomorrah, Israel and Judah, and in about every nation of the world today. There is no indication that famines will decrease, the poor will get richer, or the hungry will be fewer. God’s Word shows that He will judge any nation for doing the same things that Sodom and Gomorrah did, including His own chosen people. The Apostle Peter wrote, “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God” (1 Pet 4:17). Obviously, the outcome will be horrendous.

Conclusion

Right now, only the dam of God’s longsuffering and patience holds back His righteous wrath, but when the time comes, His judgment will burst forth furiously, and all who have rejected Christ will be swept away, so the Apostle John’s final words are, “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy” (Rev 22:11), so most “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates” (Rev 22:14).

Here is some related reading for you: Are There Prophecies of America in the Bible?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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