Wednesday, August 9, 2017

[BTT044] Conclusions

Previous: [BTT043] Luke 24:44-46 / The Entire Old Testament

Conclusion One: Some, but not all, prophecies can be intellectually grasped

Remember Matthew 2:1-6?
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Unlike the apostles, Matthew gives us no indication that the chief priests and scribes were privy to any special revelation about the meaning of prophecy. They read Micah 5:1-4, thought about it, and correctly identified the birthplace of the Messiah.

Others, like Mat 27:3-9 / Jeremiah 32:1-15, seem to defy rational explanation. I have no idea how you would get "the betrayer of the Messiah will be buried in a field purchased with the money he got for betraying the Messiah" from "I'm investing in Israeli real estate because we're all coming back."

Maybe you can find a plausible chain of logic for that. I freely admit that I can't. Some prophecies can be intellectually grasped, but some require the eyes of God to understand.

Conclusion Two: Applying standard exegetical methods to prophecy is unbiblical

Let me very quickly specify that it is not sinful to apply standard exegetical methods to prophecy (ie, look at the context, look at the exact meaning of the original language). It is simply not what the Bible does. The Biblical method for interpreting Bible prophecies ignores context, time, exact language etc.

It is amusing that we used standard exegetical methods to arrive at this conclusion (we asked the question 'how does the Bible itself interpret prophecy in the Bible?'), but then, we're not saying there is anything wrong with using standard exegetical methods on other sections of the Bible. Standard exegetical methods still work fine for the historical sections/the letters of Paul/etc.

But we don't interpret the Psalms the same way we interpret Romans. And we should stop interpreting prophecy the way we interpret the rest of Scripture. It is simply not how the Bible treats itself.

Conclusion Three: Prophecy is written from the Divine Perspective

I'm going to break from my usual methodology here and make an inferred conclusion – something which seems supported by the text but is not explicitly stated. So take this with a larger grain of salt than usual.

It seems clear to me that prophecy (which comes from God) is written from the Divine perspective. God is the creator of time and is not bound by its laws. He exists outside of time, as He has from before the beginning. So one explanation for the way prophecy jumps around time is that it is written from a perspective outside of time – the God's Eye View.

Again, this is nowhere explicitly stated in Scripture. It is built up from what we know about God and what we know about prophecy.

Conclusion Four: Prophecy is Pattern

This one is another inferred conclusion, and one that may require longer explanation elsewhere.

The Scriptures do not present us with the types of prophecies that we may expect. There is no reason to believe that prophecies are primarily about the future. There is no reason to believe prophecies are primarily about singular events. There is really no reason to believe that prophecies are primarily found in explicitly prophetic sections (most of our prophecies with non-ambiguous fulfilments come from the Psalms).

We may flesh this out later, but for now, I consider most of prophecy as repeating patterns. The same thing happens once and then again, or even over and over again. This is part of why prophecies have multiple fulfillments.

"Prophecy is Pattern" is not absolutely true. But it's less wrong than our standard take on prophecy. It's a step to get us from an incorrect view to a more correct view.

Conclusion Five: Prophecy is about Jesus Christ
We know that all of Scripture is ultimately about Jesus Christ, and yet we still spend pointless hours agonizing over whether or not the United States appears in Revelation. Whether the Mark of the Beast will be a tattoo or a computer chip. If the Anti-Christ will rebuild the Temple or if the Temple will be rebuilt before the Anti-Christ.

This is all bullshit. It's not the purpose of prophecy and does nothing to bring us closer to Jesus or help us understand Him.

The primary purpose of prophecy and of all the Scriptures is to show us Jesus Christ and lead us to Him. So if you want to understand New Testament prophecy, this is absolutely, 100% the place where you must start.

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