The Importance of Prophetic Study*
Study to shew thyself approved unto God,
a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2: 15
The title of this chapter, and the introductory verse from 2 Timothy 2:15, both contain elements of truth that we need to understand as we progress through this extensive reference work. While the title tells us that the study of prophetic themes is important, the Bible reference authorizes and encourages us to do the study needed to determine what the word of truth is.
Some people prefer not to look into prophecy. They perceive that it may not be an easy subject to comprehend, so they choose to minimize its importance and concentrate their attention upon other areas of Scripture. Is this what the Lord tells us to do, or could it be that such reasoning has its foundation in fear rather than reality? In answer to this question, let’s open the Scripture record and see. The Bible states:
“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7
“Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” Psalms 97:11
“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.” Revelation 1:3
At one time, people believed that the prophetic writings of the Bible were entirely sealed books, and used this thinking as a reason not to investigate their contents in any great depth. Daniel stated:
“And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” Daniel 12:8-10
While the Scripture does say that the prophecies given to Daniel were sealed, they were to be opened one day… in the time of the end… and today we must surely know the time we live in is near the end, and that this book is now open. If we don’t understand what is written it is not because God has witheld the light from us, but Daniel 12:10 makes it clear that “none of the wicked shall understand;” yet “the wise shall understand.” Today we need to be very wise, especially in this area of study.
“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.” 2 Peter 1:19-21
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. ” John 16:13
In the case of the book of Revelation, by the very title, Revelation, we can see that it is not a closed up writing. So why should we fear to ask God to help us realize the fulness of its meaning? The Lord Jesus, Himself said:
“Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:7
And John was told: “…. Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.” Revelation 22:10
So, through these references we can take courage, and open the Bible and seek for the full meaning of prophetic events yet to come.
“For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” Psalms 36:9
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4
“I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Habakkuk 2:1-3
“… Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” 2 Chronicles 20:20
“Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Isaiah 42:9
“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:” Isaiah 46:9, 10
“Despise not prophesyings.” 1 Thessalonians 5:20
But, Are People Today Really Interested in These Things?
“The present is a time of overwhelming interest to all living. Rulers and statesmen, men who occupy positions of trust and authority, thinking men and women of all classes, have their attention fixed upon the events taking place about us. They are watching the relations that exist among the nations. They observe the intensity that is taking possession of every earthly element, and they recognize that something great and decisive is about to take place–that the world is on the verge of a stupendous crisis. The Bible, and the Bible only, gives a correct view of these things. Here are revealed the great final scenes in the history of our world, events that already are casting their shadows before, the sound of their approach causing the earth to tremble and men’s hearts to fail them for fear. ”
Prophets and Kings, p. 537
“In the prophecy this warning of the judgment, with its connected messages, is followed by the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven. The proclamation of the judgment is an announcement of Christ’s second coming as at hand. And this proclamation is called the everlasting gospel. Thus the preaching of Christ’s second coming, the announcement of its nearness, is shown to be an essential part of the gospel message.
The Bible declares that in the last days men will be absorbed in worldly pursuits, in pleasure and money-getting. They will be blind to eternal realities. Christ says, “As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:37-39.
So it is today. Men are rushing on in the chase for gain and selfish indulgence as if there were no God, no heaven, and no hereafter. In Noah’s day the warning of the flood was sent to startle men in their wickedness and call them to repentance. So the message of Christ’s soon coming is designed to arouse men from their absorption in worldly things. It is intended to awaken them to a sense of eternal realities, that they may give heed to the invitation to the Lord’s table. ” Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 227, 228
“To John the Lord opened the subjects that He saw would be needed by His people in the last days. The instruction that He gave is found in the book of Revelation. Those who would be co-workers with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will show a deep interest in the truths found in this book. With pen and voice they will strive to make plain the wonderful things that Christ came from heaven to reveal.
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 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.” Revelation 1:1-3.
The solemn messages that have been given in their order in the Revelation are to occupy the first place in the minds of God’s people. Nothing else is to be allowed to engross our attention. ” Testimonies for the Church Vol. 8, pp. 301, 302
“Every one of us should believe that the Bible was written so that we can understand it, and we want to be wise so that we can bring others to the light and understanding of the truth. Make it a point when you have a moment’s leisure, to store your mind with Scripture truth, and especially with what is brought to view in the Revelation, because some of us are to be the very actors who will be on the stage in the last days when these things are revealed; and as you make a persistent effort to understand, the angels of God will enlighten your mind.” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, April 10, 1888
In an article entitled, Do They Teach Conversion And Sanctification?, Elder D.T. Bourdeau, one of the early workers in the Advent movement presented the following comments regarding the role prophecy plays in the presentation of truth. In the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, on February 18, 1890, he wrote :
“It is sometimes objected that Seventh-day Adventists cannot succeed as well in converting men while dwelling so much on the prophecies. But was not that one of the great means that John the Baptist, Christ, and the apostles employed in converting men? To persuade yourselves that this was indeed the case, you have only to read their discourses, as for instance, that of Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), which produced such glorious results. In order that men may be converted, they must first have confidence in the word of God, which presents the only true way of conversion; and the most successful means of gaining this object, is to show the fulfillment of prophecy. In our day this method has greatly aided in the conversion of thousands of intelligent infidels. Reader, search this subject, and communicate to perishing men around you the light you obtain. The prophecies that set forth the religious movement concerning the near coming of Christ, and in which Seventh-day Adventists take part, are practical as well as interesting. They exhort us to seek the Lord, to seek righteousness and meekness, that we may be hid in the day of the Lord’s fierce anger. Zephaniah 2:1-3. They faithfully point out our sins, that we may zealously repent of them and forsake them. Rev. 3:11-19. They exhort us to be sober and watch unto prayer (1 Peter 4:7), to advance in love (Philippians 1:9, 10), and to be entirely sanctified. 1 Thessalonians 5:23.”
Is Prophetic Study Important?
“God has revealed what is to take place in the last days, that His people may be prepared to stand against the tempest of opposition and wrath. Those who have been warned of the events before them are not to sit in calm expectation of the coming storm, comforting themselves that the Lord will shelter His faithful ones in the day of trouble. We are to be as men waiting for their Lord, not in idle expectancy, but in earnest work, with unwavering faith. It is no time now to allow our minds to be engrossed with things of minor importance. While men are sleeping, Satan is actively arranging matters so that the Lord’s people may not have mercy or justice. The Sunday movement is now making its way in darkness. The leaders are concealing the true issue, and many who unite in the movement do not themselves see whither the undercurrent as tending. Its professions are mild and apparently Christian, but when it shall speak it will reveal the spirit of the dragon. It is our duty to do all in our power to avert the threatened danger. We should endeavor to disarm prejudice by placing ourselves in a proper light before the people. We should bring before them the real question at issue, thus interposing the most effectual protest against measures to restrict liberty of conscience. We should search the Scriptures and be able to give the reason for our faith. Says the prophet: “The wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. “
Testimonies for the Church Vol. 5, p. 452
“Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper.” 2 Chronicles 20:20
“The light of prophecy still burns for the guidance of souls, saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it.’ It shines on the pathway of the just to commend, and on the way of the unjust to lead to repentance and conversion. Through its agency sin will be rebuked and iniquity unmasked. It is progressive in the performance of its duty to reflect light on the past, the present, and the future. ” My Life Today, p. 42
“Let us give more time to the study of the Bible. We do not understand the word as we should. The book of Revelation opens with an injunction to us to understand the instruction that it contains. ‘Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy,’ God declares, ‘and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.’ When we as a people understand what this book means to us, there will be seen among us a great revival. We do not understand fully the lessons that it teaches, notwithstanding the injunction given us to search and study it. ”
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 113
“The ‘time of trouble, such as never was,’ is soon to open upon us; and we shall need an experience which many are too indolent to obtain. It is often the case that trouble is greater in anticipation than in reality, but this is not true of the crisis before us. The most vivid presentation can not reach the magnitude of the ordeal. In that trial every man must stand for himself before God.
Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in the land, ‘as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters;’ ‘they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness.’ ” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, March 14, 1912
You need all the intelligence and knowledge that it is possible for you to obtain, that you may be wise to answer those who will bring up objections against the truth…
We are to sense the evil and the oppositions that we are to meet against the truth; and how very foolish we would be not to make the most of our privileges and opportunities, that we may be prepared for every emergency!… The very weakest of us can take the Bible and search its pages, and so establish himself in the truth that nothing can swerve him from it. Every one of us should believe that the Bible was written so that we can understand it, and we want to be wise so that we can bring others to the light and understanding of the truth. Make it a point when you have a moment’s leisure, to store your mind with Scripture truth, and especially with what is brought to view in the Revelation, because some of us are to be the very actors who will be on the stage in the last days when these things are revealed; and as you make a persistent effort to understand, the angels of God will enlighten your mind. You will never feel that you have completed your knowledge of the Bible–that you have graduated in the Scriptures. Why, through all eternity the Scriptures will be shining forth brighter and brighter, like precious gems; but we do not half understand these truths. The precious Bible truth that we have accepted must do a great work for us, and the more we understand these things, the better will we understand how to make an impression upon other minds.”
Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, April 10, 1888
Is Study Needed Today?
Revelation 1:3 states: “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.”
“… there is a day that God hath appointed for the close of this world’s history. ‘This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.’ Prophecy is fast fulfilling. More, much more, should be said about these tremendously important subjects. The day is at hand when the destiny of every soul will be fixed forever. This day of the Lord hastens on apace. The false watchmen are raising the cry, ‘All is well ‘; but the day of God is rapidly approaching. “
Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 335
“Are we to wait until the fulfillment of the prophecies of the end before we say anything concerning them? Of what value will our words be then? Shall we wait until God’s judgments fall upon the transgressor before we tell him how to avoid them? Where is our faith in the word of God? Must we see things foretold come to pass before we will believe what He has said? In clear, distinct rays light has come to us, showing us that the great day of the Lord is near at hand, ‘even at the doors.’ Let us read and understand before it is too late. ” Testimonies for the Church Vol. 9, p. 20
If Everything Has Already Been Interpreted,
Why Should Another Review of Prophecy Be Considered?
“We cannot hold that a position once taken, an idea once advocated, is not, under any circumstances, to be relinquished. There is but One who is infallible- He who is the way, the truth, and the life.
Those who allow prejudice to bar the mind against the reception of truth cannot receive the divine enlightenment. ” Testimonies To Ministers And Gospel Workers, p. 105
What Factors Need Reviewing?
” ‘ Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life.’ Every position of truth taken by our people will bear the criticism of the greatest minds; the highest of the world’s great men will be brought in contact with truth, and therefore every position we take should be critically examined and tested by the Scriptures. Now we seem to be unnoticed, but this will not always be. Movements are at work to bring us to the front, and if our theories of truth can be picked to pieces by historians or the world’s greatest men, it will be done.
We must individually know for ourselves what is truth, and be prepared to give a reason of the hope that we have with meekness and fear, not in a proud, boasting, self-sufficiency, but with the spirit of Christ. We are nearing the time when we shall stand individually alone to answer for our belief. ” Letter 6, 1886. Evangelism, p. 69
Keeping these thoughts in mind we will begin our studies into prophecy, and end time events, as they relate to the days in which we now live.
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* Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the the King James Version of the Bible, all quotations are from the writings of Ellen G. White, and all editorial text was written by Chris Teske.