The Purpose of Biblical Prophecy

The Way Biblical Prophecy Works

John 16:13


2 Jan 2011  AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction - A Little Warning (Rev 1:3)


A.    Never has there been a time in history when we have had more of the Word of God available to us.

1.      There are more and more books written about the Bible than ever. More commentaries to dissect, critique, and explain it.

2.      There are some brilliant Bible programs for computers, for iPhones, Blackberries, iPads

3.      Anyone can listen to the Bible and watch preaching and teaching from anywhere in the world.

B.     It's frightening to think that we have so much knowledge, and so little Bible living.

C.     As believers of this Book, our lives should reflect the words of this Book!

1.      More often than not, our lives reflect the words of our TV, of the latest philosophy and psychology fad

2.      Most Christians are only copies of their friends, and of their families

3.      When the design is for us to be copies of the Lord Jesus Christ!

D.    That’s why this year, we have dedicated our studies to making us into doers of the word, and not hearers only

1.      Yes, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God

2.      But hearing alone will not save anyone. Obeying what we hear, will save not only a sinner’s soul, but a family, and even an entire nation!

E.     Now, this month, we are looking at Prophecy


1.      There is a great blessing in learning the prophecies of this Bible (Rev 1:3)

2.      There is an even greater purpose in learning what’s ahead

3.      If there is anything we need as a church, and as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is that we would live like Jesus is coming back today!


F.      I want this morning to look at Biblical Prophecy, and learn a little how it works, and why we should study it

G.    I want to open all of our understanding of the future, not to only scare you, but to thrill you, and excite you, and encourage you!


II.    Background (John 16:13)


A.    We love to hear “predictions”


1.      People peer into crystal balls, study tea leaves, flip through tarot cards, judge wrinkles in their palms, talk to channelors and mediums – all with the hope of knowing the future

2.      People need to know things are going to be okay in the future

3.      We need to know of upcoming disasters


a.       That’s why people lean over radars, satellite pictures, review weather station reports, monitor earthquake sensors…

b.      Because we want to know what is ahead of us


4.      In practical ways, people want to know, “Will someone say YES to a marriage proposal?”, or will someone die if they take a new experimental drug?, etc

5.      That’s why people spend a fortune on stock market analysts, and financial advisors, and political advisors, and palm readers, and astrologers – they are all trying to do the same – predict the future!


B.     Man Only Fails at Predicting the Future


1.      Just look at the track record of Weathermen!

2.      Psychics


a.       Pure manipulation of vulnerable people

b.      Some are demonic, most are only hustlers who know how to read their audience

c.       Yet, they are very popular on TV, and with their books, and columns in the newspaper


3.      Nostradamus


a.       Vague

b.      Easy to read anything you want into the phrases called Quatrains

c.       Yet, 500 years after his death, he continues to be read by millions as if he holds the key to understanding the future


4.      Some religions


a.       1914 End of the world according to Charles Taze Russell of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In 1889 he said, "In the coming 26 years, all present governments will be overthrown and dissolved."

b.      The Watchtower Society changed the date to 1918

c.       1925 End of the World according to Jehovah's Witnesses. J. Rutherford said, "...there will be a resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and other faithful ones of old ... we may expect 1925 to witness the return of these faithful men of Israel from the condition of death, being resurrected and fully restored to perfect humanity and made the visible, legal representatives of the new order of things on earth.... Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews 11, to the condition of human perfection."

d.      1975 End of the World according to Jehovah's Witnesses. “Our chronology, … at the best only points to the autumn of 1975 as the end of 6,000 years of man’s existence on earth."


5.      Science


a.        “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Charles H. Duell, an official at the US patent office, 1899.

b.      “Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” Irving Fisher, economics professor at Yale University, 1929.

c.       “In all likelihood world inflation is over.” International Monetary Fund Ceo, 1959.

d.      “They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist-” Last words of Gen. John Sedgwick, spoken as he looked out over the parapet at enemy lines during the Battle of Spotsylvania in 1864.

e.       “This is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time.” -– Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister, September 30th, 1938.

f.       “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”

g.      Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC in 1977.

h.      “I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year.” The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957.

i.        “But what... is it good for?” IBM executive Robert Lloyd, speaking in 1968 microprocessor, the heart of today's computers.

j.        “To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth - all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances.” Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, in 1926

k.      “The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most.” IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959.

l.        1919 Conjunction of 6 planets would make the sun explode, according to meteorologist Albert Porta

m.    1982 Jupiter effect, astronomical alignment of planets on the one side of the sun would cause lethal solar flares - according to UK authors John Gribbin and Stephen Plageman

n.      2000 End of the world according to Jeanne de Roger, as well as Eradication of computerised society due to the Millennium Bug


6.      Christians


a.       In 1952 evangelist Billy Graham said, "In this year, it's all going to be over" – in response to the new hydrogen bomb


7.      Betting Companies LOVE predictions


C.     God is the Only Source for Knowing the Future (Acts 15:18)


1.      He is outside of time (Psalm 90:1,2)

2.      He tells the future all the way from the beginning (Isa 46:9,10)


a.       If you don't want to feel helpless, then know that God knows your future.

b.      That also means He has a plan for you, even if we don't completely know what that is.

c.       It's a very secure feeling to be in the hands of someone who loved you so much that He sent His Son to die for you, isn't it?


3.      He wrote about the future in the Bible, and the Holy Spirit explains it (John 16:13)

4.      Therefore we have the Sure Word of prophecy in the Bible (2Peter 1:19-21)


a.       Not based upon signs only

b.      Especially not based upon feelings and our own senses and fears

c.       The future is written in the Bible, and it will work out the way GOD designed it to work out, not the way WE think it will!


5.      We should start to believe this Book like never before (Luke 24:25-27)


III. Message – The Purpose of Biblical Prophecy


A.    To Wake Us Up (Luke 3:1-3,7; Luke 21:25,26)


1.      God is trying to get our attention.


a.       With all the increasing violence, violent weather, natural disasters, and other calamities befalling mankind, some might ask, "What does it all mean?" Many of the signs of His soon return we are witnessing today are designed to wake us from our slumber.

b.      God does not pour out His wrath without first warning us.

c.       God wants us to know He will return.

d.      God is giving us every chance to repent of our sin and return to Him. He is being patient with us because He wants everyone to come to repentance (2Peter 3:9)


2.      Christians cannot just live any way they want (2Peter 3:11,12)

3.      Prophecy is much more than a mere telling of the future.


a.       That would be too easy!

b.      Prophets are vastly different from fortune tellers. The prophet’s role was to incite his listeners to godly living. The reader was urged to remember that God is sovereign over history and that His promises are sure.

c.       Through biblical prophecy, the godly will be encouraged to live pure and righteous lives and to be willing to suffer and sacrifice in the present in order to participate in the certain blessings of God’s future promises. In this way, prophecy is profitable to every reader who will hear and obey God’s Word, regardless of whether or not these prophecies are fulfilled in his lifetime.


B.     To Reveal God (Rev 1:1) – to open up our understanding of Who He is and How He thinks


1.      Ignoring biblical prophecy means ignoring a large part of the Bible.

2.      You cannot study Scripture without studying prophecy.

3.      Every fourth verse in the Scripture deals with prophecy.

4.      The coming of the Lord is a truth of such importance that it is mentioned 318 times in the 260 chapters of the NT (on an average of once every 25 verses).

5.      The only subject mentioned more frequently than the second coming is the subject of salvation.

6.      Paul mentioned the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper only twice in his 14 epistles and baptism only 13 times, but he mentions the return of our Lord 50 times!

7.      God is the God of all time

8.      He is there at the beginning, and He has always been at the end of time, already!

9.      He is eternal!

10.  You couldn’t know Him, unless you begin to see that He is at work not only in the past, but also in the future

11.  Prophecy teaches us that God cannot fail

12.  That what he promises, He will do!


C.    To Authenticate (Prove) God and His Words


1.      Fulfilled prophecy authenticates the Word of God.


a.       The Old Testament prophet would sometimes give a distant prophecy (like the coming of the Messiah), accompanied by a near prophecy (like of a coming earthquake). The purpose for the near prophecy was to validate both the prophet and his distant prophecy.

b.      God didn’t just have people go around and rebuke people for their sins

c.       God had those men preach, and then prove that they were speaking God’s word by giving a prophecy

d.      Prophecy is God’s signature that He was speaking

e.       ONLY God could tell the future, 100% of the time correctly


2.      Our Lord staked His entire ministry and message on His ability to fulfill the prophecy that He would rise from the grave (cf. Matthew 12:38-40; cf. 27:63).

3.      The whole message of the gospel was powerfully proclaimed simply because Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection was the fulfilment of prophecy (cf. Acts 2:14-36; 3:18-26).

4.      Prophecy is a powerful authentication of the Word of God. Prophecy gives credibility to the proclamation of the gospel. If someone wants to disprove the Word of God, he or she must first disprove the Bible’s claim of fulfilled prophecy.

5.      Mediums, clairvoyants, and astrologers produce some remarkable predictions, but rarely with more than about 60 percent accuracy, never with total accuracy. And none of them match the detail of Bible prophecies!

6.      Biblical prophecies prove that God is there

7.      And that He wrote us clear instructions in a Book (not in a dream, or in a vision)

8.      God wrote us clear instructions – not just stories, but directions on how to live, and love, and forgive, and succeed (Joshua 1:8)

9.      No one would take it seriously if it weren’t for the fulfilled prophecies

10.  Not just 1, or 10 prophecies, but over 700 prophecies in the Bible about people, places, events, disasters, nations!

11.  There are 35 prophecies about Jesus Christ’s first coming

12.  There are over 100 prophecies about His SECOND Coming!

13.  There are almost 30 prophecies about this current dispensation and the Church

14.  There are over 100 prophecies about the Antichrist and his dark kingdom

15.  The odds that these prophecies would occur by accident, or naturally are 1 in 10 2000

16.  That’s a 10 with 2000 zeros after it!


D.    To Empower God’s People (2Tim 3:16,17)


1.      All Scripture is beneficial, profitable for the believer – especially prophecy (Rev 1:3)

2.      Prophecy gives us a sure hope

3.      Prophecy gives us a rest in God’s plan (John 16:1,33)

4.      It Strengthens Our Faith


a.       God wrote these words, especially the prophecies to strengthen our faith

b.      The more you and I read and learn how GOD sees the world, and sees the future, the more it strengthens my confidence in Jesus!

c.       Some people think the Bible is hard to understand

d.      I say, it is just hard to believe!

e.       Jesus did not reveal truth to the wise and intelligent, but to babies, little children who would just believe it (Mt 11:25)

5.      Prophecy gives us authority when speaking to this world


a.       That there is a hell

b.      That there is also a heaven

c.       That GOD will judge sin and sinners (Heb 9:27)

d.      That God will take care of His children


E.     To Keep us Safe (Mt 24:4,5)


1.      By keeping us from getting deceived by this world’s lies (John 8:36)

2.      By getting us close and dependent upon God and His word – Christianity is living far too independent of God these days, and a better awareness of the future will draw us closer to Jesus!

3.      By getting us to just do right. Knowing that God’s way is the only way to live will cause us to live godly and right

4.      By causing people to fear enough to get saved from the wrath to come


F.     To Move Us into Action


1.      Prophecy should create in us a sense of urgency. One of the most common problems of the Christian life is apathy.

2.      Unbelieving scoffers reject the warnings of future judgment, secure in their self-delusion that everything is continuing on as it has from the beginning (2 Peter 3:4).

3.      Prophecy is given to stir us up, to be ready for the Lord’s return, and even to yearn for its coming (Mt 24:32,33; 25:13; 1Thes 5:1-6)


IV. Conclusion


A.    This month I am going to teach you how to test and prove God’s word

B.     As well as how to test FALSE prophets and prove them wrong

C.    This BOOK is our telescope both into our hearts, but also into the future

D.    What Does the Future Hold?


1.      The Soon Coming Rapture of all Bible Believers

2.      The Judgment Seat of Christ

3.      The Rise of the Antichrist

4.      The Great Tribulation

5.      The Coming Together of All World Religions, under Satan

6.      The Battle of Armageddon

7.      The Second Coming of Jesus Christ to this Earth for a 1,000 year reign as King of kings

8.      The Battle of Gog and Magog

9.      The Great White Throne Judgment

10.  The New Heaven and New Earth


E.     Are you ready for the future?


1.      I am going to show you what lies ahead for this world


a.       Prophecies of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

b.      Prophecies About the Future – not 1,000 years from now only, but only 5-10 years

c.       Prophecies about Christianity

d.      About Israel

e.       About Economies


2.      I hope to give you a time-line of upcoming events so that you can enjoy your Bible study more than ever, knowing that God is working all things out for good!

3.      But, if you died and stood before God, would you stand forgiven, or still in your sins?

4.      Jesus said, Ye must be born again!!!

5.      TODAY is the day of salvation, not tomorrow!