The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: P-Q

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Prophets were God's inspired spokesmen. They spoke so that everyone -- whether Jew or Gentile, king or peasant, master or servant, farmer or merchant, soldier or slave, man or woman, aged or youth -- could hear the word of God and give heed. They also wrote so that their contemporaries and following generations, including our own and beyond, could read and obey.

"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Rom 15:4).
What the prophets said and wrote had an immediate and significant impact upon the people of their time. But inspired prophetic writings are not limited to local, historical significance. Bible prophecy is equally relevant today.

There are exciting prophecies which deal with the nation of Israel and the political powers of the Middle East. There are unnerving prophecies which predict religious apostasy, economic turmoil, and widespread violence. There are frightening prophecies which foretell worldwide war, famine, and pestilence. For us, however, the most immediately relevant prophecies are those which directly affect our lives now.

Consider first what the apostle Paul preached at Athens:

"The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead" (Acts 17:30,31).
Since the judgment by Christ has yet to come, "all men everywhere" applies to us as well as to the men of Athens. The fact that God "has fixed a day" and "has given assurance" means that the judgment is certain.

Next consider a passage from Paul's letter to the Romans:

"For Christ will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury" (Rom 2:6-8).
"Every man" applies equally to us in the twentieth century as it did to men and women of the Roman world. "Eternal life", or "wrath and fury"....these are the outcomes of Christ's judgment. These prophecies are unquestionably significant to us, for they speak about our eternal reward or punishment. What could be more personally relevant?

The purpose of Bible prophecy is to make people aware of the plans of God, so that they can take the appropriate action, while there is still time. When a prophet speaks for God:

We are among these people.

The prophets predicted future events so that, when those events took place, we would know that God had spoken. Fulfilled Bible prophecy encourages us to pay attention to what God says. But God does not want us to be so fascinated by prediction that we miss the purpose of prophecy. He wants us to listen to His teaching and become one of His children:

"The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven... Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1Pe 1:10-13).
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