Our Approach to Prophecy
Would you build a house without planning permission? Would you use second-hand materials? Would you proceed without plans, or design specifications? What about a foundation? Would you simply lay bricks directly on the ground and cement layer upon layer of bricks without checking that the walls are plumb, corners squared or floors level? Your house would not stand the test of time, nor would your reputation as a builder. So why use this approach when building an understanding of prophecy.
It would be ridiculous to build without the right planning authority, without plans, specifications or even a foundation, yet this is the very approach many of us have toward prophecy. Regardless of the foundation specified in the plan we proceeded to lay a foundation of our own interpretations, or those borrowed from others.
Most of us have been guilty of harbouring our own pet theories. We have calculated dates for Christ’s return, identified nations and named possible candidates for the role of the Beast, the False Prophet as well as the Two Witnesses of Revelation. Over the years we have subscribed to various predictions that have failed.
We have also tried to patch up our failed predictions by modifying timelines rather than checking the foundation itself. Had we checked we may have realised that our predictions were based on a foundation that was flawed. We should never have based our understanding of prophecy on the interpretations of men, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (II Peter 1:20). No wonder they failed!
Foundation Already Laid
The purpose of this paper is not to provide yet another interpretation of prophecy for you, but to show you how to discern the true meaning of prophecy based on a foundation that is aligned with the one who laid it. From the outset we should have based our understanding of prophecy on the foundation that Christ has already laid for us rather than on the interpretations of men, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:” (Ephesians 2:19-20). That foundation of both prophets and Apostles has been carefully laid in alignment with Christ, the chief cornerstone, so the rest of the building can be ‘fitly framed together’.
It is the only foundation on which we are to build, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 3:11). The foundation includes both prophets and Apostles because the Apostles play a crucial role in the interpretation of the scriptures.
If we want a more reliable, or ‘more sure’ understanding of prophecy we need to heed what the Apostles who were as eye-witnesses to the life, death, resurrection and testimony of Jesus Christ have to say, “We (the Apostles) have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed,” (I1 Peter 1:19). Because they were taught directly by Christ their understanding is ‘more sure’ than ours. We need to heed what they teach and not listen to the false prophets from among us with their private interpretations, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies,” (II Peter 2:1).
At all times we must remember that our understanding of future events is not perfect, “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” (I Corinthians 13:9-10). Prophecy only provides a shadow of what is to come often expressed metaphorically rather than literally. The meaning of some prophecy has been kept from us, “And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:9). And the exact timing is not for us to know, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:36). It is sufficient to know only that the time draws closer, “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” (James 5:8).
Taken in isolation the prophecies are open to all sorts of interpretation, but when studied in conjunction with what Christ taught His Apostles the veil over the Old Testament has been lifted, “Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.” (II Corinthians 3:12-16).
If we want a more reliable, or ‘more sure’ interpretation of prophecy then we must rely on the eye-witnesses who are part of the foundation that Christ has provided. We must consider what the prophets have said in light of what Christ has interpreted for us through the Apostles. That is the only way we will build an understanding that is fitly framed together and in alignment with what Christ intends.
From One Authority
Christ was the Word through whom prophecy was conveyed to the prophets and He later came as the Christ instructing the Apostles what to teach, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
No one has ever seen or heard God the Father, “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” (John 6:46). He spoke to mankind through the Word who was part of the Godhead, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3). The Word later came as Christ, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14). Christ still represented the Godhead to which He belonged, “For in him (Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9). As Christ He conveyed God’s words to us, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” (John 12:49).
The prophets merely uttered the words given to them through the one who later came as Christ to train the Apostles to teach the mysteries of those words to the New Testament churches, “And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.” (Luke 8:10 see also Matthew 13:11). The Apostles are the stewards of the mysteries, “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (I Corinthians 4:1). When talking to the Corinthian church Paul confirmed that he understood the mysteries of the prophecies, “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (I Corinthians 13:2).
The focus of all prophecy is on what the Father is doing through His son Jesus Christ. Christ is the chief cornerstone to which both the prophets and Apostles are aligned. He is the one who is preparing mankind for the Kingdom of God, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him that God may be all in all.” (I Corinthians 15:24-25).
This has been God’s plan from the beginning, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,” (Ephesians 1:3-5). He has made His will known, “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:9-12).
God’s will has been made known through the foundation of prophets and Apostles laid by Jesus Christ. He conveyed the Father’s words to the Apostles, “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them” (John 17:8). And He revealed to them what is going to happen, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew 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.” (Revelation1:1-2). A true understanding of prophecies comes through what Christ taught His Apostles. He laid a foundation through both the prophets and the Apostles so that our understanding aligns with what He is doing in achieving the Father’s will.
We have been warned not to add to, or take away from what He has taught by making our own interpretations, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19).
God wants His words to be reported faithfully, “…let him who has received my word report my word faithfully” (Jeremiah 23:28). We are to heed His words and not the words of men who have made their own interpretations, or who repeat the interpretations of others, “Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:30-32).
Jesus Christ not only inspired the prophets with the Father’s words, He also revealed the interpretation of those prophecies through the Apostles and came to fulfil them, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Mathew 5:17).
Many turn to the Jews for interpretation, but we must remember that according to the prophets the Israelites did not know their own God, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” (Isaiah 1:2-3). They lacked perception and understanding, “And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not”. (Isaiah 6:9). They no longer knew God,“…and they know not me, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:3). Nor did they know His ways, “Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the LORD, nor the judgment of their God.” (Jeremiah 5:4). And their ignorance led them to foolishness, “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” (Jeremiah 4:22).
They killed the prophets that were sent to them, “… ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.” (Mathew 23:31). In Christ’s time the Jews still did not know their God,“Jesus answered… …it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him; but I know him:” (John 8:54-55). And they also killed Jesus Christ the Chief Cornerstone of the foundation through whom God speaks to us in this age.
They killed the one who came to reveal the true meaning of the words that He had personally given to the prophets. Jesus Christ lifted the veil over the Old Testament scriptures including the prophecies when He trained His Apostles what to teach. Prophecy cannot be interpreted in isolation. It requires the New Testament teachings to reveal the correct interpretation that Christ intended. Building a foundation of understanding based on the interpretations of men will inevitably lead to wrong conclusions.
The following examples show how the Bible provides a ‘more sure’ interpretation when information from both the prophets and Apostles is studied within the context of what Christ is doing.
First Example - the Third Temple
There are a number of passages from the Old Testament that indicate that a temple will be built.
After the Jews returned from Babylon and were rebuilding the temple they were grieving the fact that it was not as good as the former temple. That was when the prophet Haggai spoke of a future time at the end of the age when there would be a temple that will be greater than the former one, “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Haggai 2:9). Also the prophet Ezekiel described a temple that has yet to be built in great detail (Ezekiel 40 to 48).
Because the Jews do not accept Christ as the Messiah they believe that Daniel’s prophecies about the Messiah have yet to be fulfilled. He said that in the ‘end of years’ (Daniel 11:6) the daily sacrifice will cease, “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” (Daniel 11:31). The Jews reason that for sacrifices to cease in the ‘end of years’ they must first be reinstated and that would require the existence of a temple, “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Daniel 9:26-27).
Many Christians also believe the temple will be rebuilt either before Christ returns, or during the millennium.
If we base our understanding of the prophecies on the words of the prophets alone we could well believe that a temple of stone will be built in Jerusalem at some time in the future. But when we consult what the Apostles taught we find no mention of a physical temple being built at all. Instead they teach that Christ is building a spiritual temple, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (I Corinthians 3:16).
We are lively stones of the temple to come, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 2:5). Rather than animal sacrifices we are to live our lives as living sacrifices in God’s service, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1).
The Father and Christ are at the centre of the spiritual temple, “And I saw no temple (or sanctuary, which is the Holy of Holies) therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” (Revelation 21:22).
Those who overcome will be pillars in temple which is the centre of the spiritual city called New Jerusalem which is God’s Kingdom, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem…” (Revelation 3:12)
It is only when the prophets are interpreted through the teachings of the Apostles we can see the true meaning. What the prophets expressed in physical terms in Old Testament times is to be accomplished in these latter days in the spiritual. The temple that we are to be part of is God’s Kingdom. As the prophet Haggai said, it will be far greater than any former temple.
Any attempt to rebuild a physical temple in this day is being carried out through the mistaken effort of man. It is not the work of God!
Second Example - Babylon
In today’s world there is a great deal of speculation as to who, or what end-time Babylon represents. Some say it’s a united Europe, or the USA and others consider it to be the Catholic Church, or the rising tide of Islam. What is the true interpreted of the prophecies about the end-time Babylon?
Prophesies about the end-time Babylon are found in both the Old and New Testaments and it is only be studying what both the prophets and Apostles have written that the truth is revealed.
The Apostle John described Babylon as a woman with a cup, “And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” (Revelation 17:4-5). The cup is full of abominations.
Symbolism of the Cup
The symbolism of the cup full of abominations was earlier defined by the prophet Jeremiah. Through Jeremiah God prophesied that many nations including Judah would drink of the cup of God’s wrath and in defeat be absorbed by the Babylonian empire. He sent Jeremiah to take the wine cup of His fury to these nations to make them drink of it as recompense for their works. “For many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of them also: and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it.” (Jeremiah 25:15).
It was a cup of fury because it was full of the abominations that made God angry. Babylon was to be the last to drink of it, “And all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of Sheshach (Babylon) shall drink after them.” (Jeremiah 25:26).
God’s anger with the nations, especially Judah was because of their idolatry, “And go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt.” (Jeremiah 25:6). It was an abomination to God, “Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.” (Deuteronomy 27:15).
Mother of Harlots
In prophecy the worship of false gods was likened to spiritual harlotry, “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations…” (Ezekiel 16:36).
Each of these nations was guilty of idolatry. So when the Babylonian empire conquered and absorbed them it became the ‘mother of harlots’. All of this happened thousands of years ago and Babylon which was to be the last to drink of the cup was itself defeated and conquered. Even though Babylon itself was destroyed in ancient times the influence of its political, economic, military and religious systems has permeated every culture, nation and society since that time emphasising the symbolism of a mother of harlots.
Toward the end of Jeremiah’s prophecy he not only talked about the fate of the nations at that time but also about the fate of all the inhabitants of the world in the future, “…for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the LORD of hosts. Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.” (Jeremiah 25:29-30).
Modern Babylon pictured as a whore in control of ‘many waters’ (Revelation 17:1). The many waters are described as, ‘peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues’ (Revelation 17:15). This indicates a mixture of many people from various cultures and nations who speak different languages representing all the inhabitants of the earth all who have been influenced in one way or another by the Babylonian systems. It is upon all the inhabitants of the earth that God’s wrath is to be poured when Christ returns, “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14).
The Apostle John describes the whore who is Babylon as a great city, “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:18 see also Revelation 14:8). She is pictured riding on a beast, “…and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” (Revelation 17:3).
It is the same beast receives its power from Satan, “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.” (Revelation 13:1-2).
In ancient Mesopotamia the cities, or city-states were called kingdoms. Babylon is depicted as a city, or kingdom that derives its power from Satan. In other words it is the kingdom of Satan. It is a kingdom full of abominations!
This kingdom of Satan’s has power over the kings of the earth, “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.” (Revelation 17:12-13).
All the people of the world are enthralled by it except for those who are Christ’s, “…and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life…” (Revelation 17:8). Those who are Christ’s are citizens of a different city, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (Revelation 21:2-3).
They are citizens of the Holy city, or Kingdom that receives its power from God, “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5). It is the Kingdom of God.
In the end-time Satan’s kingdom will make war with Christ, but will be defeated, “These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:13-14).
When we consider what both the prophets and the Apostles teach about the end time within the context of what Christ is doing we see two cities, Babylon and New Jerusalem, which represent two kingdoms. It is clear that Babylon does not represent a single nation, nor does it represent a union of European nations, nor a religion – it represents Satan’s kingdom comprising all nations, peoples and religions of this world with the exception of those who are of God’s Kingdom and are Christ’s at His coming.
Third Example - God’s People
A great deal is said about those whom God calls ‘my people’ in prophecy. Who are God’s people in this age? Some say the Jews, some say the lost ten tribes, others say Christians, or only those who have God’s Spirit. Who has the correct interpretation? To find out we need to put together what the prophets have said with what the Apostles teach.
There is no doubt that in Old Testament times the Israelites were God’s people, “Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10). And there are many prophecies about the Israel of the future, whom God calls 'my people', “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
Is the House of Israel of ancient times the same Israel that God is going to make a new covenant with in the future?
It was prophesied that they would not remain God’s people, but would at some time in the future be called sons of the living God, “Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” (Hosea 1:10).
After enduring the disobedience of the Israelites for so long they were subjected to God’s wrath. But from the time of Christ those to whom He has shown mercy included not only Jews but also Gentiles, “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.” (Romans 9:22-26).
These Gentiles did not become part of the Jewish nation, which is the remnant of Israel, they became part of a new spiritual nation that comprises those reconciled to God under a new covenant through Jesus Christ, “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12).
When He was with the remnant of Israel two thousand years ago they rejected Him. Only those who receive Him have the power to become sons of God. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” (John 1:10-12).
Since that time it is only those who separate themselves from this world and are received by Christ who are the sons and daughters of the living God, “…for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:16-18).
The Jews, who are the remnant of Israel in this day and age still do not accept Christ as their saviour therefore they are not God’s people at this time, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” (Romans 9:6-8).
To the Chief Priests and Pharisees of the remnant of Israel, Christ said, “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 21:43). He said their inheritance would be given to a nation, or people with God’s Spirit who would bring forth fruits. What fruits?
John the Baptist defined them as fruits appropriate for baptism, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:” (Matthew 3:7-8)
Those fruits are the fruits of God’s Spirit, “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;” (Ephesians 5:9). They come only through Christ, “…that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:10).
To receive them they must repent and be baptised in His name, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Spirit)” (Act 2:38).
Then they will be sons of the living God, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14).
Neither the Jews, nor the descendents of the ‘lost ten tribes’, are God’s people today. God’s people today consist of those from all nations who have been received by Christ and have the Spirit of God. They are the spiritual House of Israel with whom God has a new covenant and in whose hearts He has written His law through the Spirit that Christ has given them. In the fullness of time the ancient Israelites and their descendants, including the Jews, along with everyone else will be resurrected and given the opportunity to become part of the Spiritual House of Israel. They will have to accept Christ as their saviour, repent, be baptised in His name, receive the Holy Spirit and produce the fruits of righteousness.
True understanding only comes when we put together the prophecies with the teachings of the Apostles within the context of what Christ is doing. It then becomes clear that a new spiritual Israel, which emerged at the time of Christ are those whom God calls ‘my people’ during this age and into the future. Ancient Israel was the physical nation that represented the future spiritual nation of Israel that God has planned.
Each example we have used in this paper has been interpreted by men in various ways. Opinions vary as to when the third temple will be built. Theories abound as to the identity of Babylon in the end-time. And many cannot agree as to who are God’s people in modern times. We have tried to demonstrate that a true interpretation can only be obtained by consulting the writings of both the prophets and the Apostles. Then the ultimate test for a correct interpretation is in how it aligns with the work that Jesus Christ the Chief Cornerstone is doing.
With the three examples we have seen that Christ is building a spiritual temple comprised of those whom God calls ‘my people’. God’s people are those who have been called out of Satan’s kingdom represented by Babylon, into God’s Kingdom represented by New Jerusalem at the centre of which is the spiritual temple that Christ is building, “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4).
Building an understanding of prophecy is much like constructing a house. If we use homemade bricks, or second hand ones that may not be up to specification and lay them without a proper foundation and without consulting the plan, we will end up with either a building that is totally out of alignment, or just a pile of rubble.
If we want the truth we cannot afford to make our own private interpretations, or adopt second hand interpretations. We must utilise the foundation laid by Christ, making sure that our conclusions align with what He is doing within the context of God’s plan.
The intention of our paper is not to interpret prophecy for you, but to show you how to discern the true meaning of prophecy based on the foundation provided by Jesus Christ rather than on the interpretations of men.
Christ has laid the only true foundation on which to build a sound understanding of prophecy.He not only inspired the prophets with His Father’s words, He also provided the interpretation through the teachings of the Apostles and He also came to fulfil them.
It is only when we interpret prophecy through the teachings of the Apostles that we see how they align with the work Christ is doing.