Slideshow image

Question: I’ve never read the Bible before, but I want to begin. Can you give me some hints for reading the Bible so that I can understand it?

Pastor Bill responds (pt. 6): Reading the Old Testament Prophets

In last week’s Haven Heart to Heart I stated that: You must read the prophecies of judgments to come as well as the prophecies of the Kingdom that Jesus the King would bring in as if you are looking at two mountain ranges separated by a couple of hundred miles. The first mountain range would refer to either the judgments that would come in human history, or to the first coming (the Advent) of Jesus Christ. The second mountain range (which looks as if it’s a part of the first one as you are looking at it while you move toward it) refers to the judgment of the last day when Jesus Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, or to the New Heavens and the New Earth which Jesus will usher in after that great judgment day. The “couple of hundred miles” separating them is our age - the Gospel age - which is “the day of salvation.” , cf. II Cor. 6:2. (The technical phrase for this “two mountain range” view of prophecy is “prophetic foreshortening.”

Here are some examples:

• The prophecy given in Isaiah 61:1,2 is the one that Jesus used to begin his public ministry, cf.
Lk. 4:18,19. Jesus fulfills the first part of the prophecy in His first coming. The Spirit of the
Lord was (and is) upon him. (He was) anointed to proclaim good news to the poor…liberty to
captives and the recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty those who are oppressed - to
proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. However, Isaiah 61:2 adds and the day of vengeance
of our God… Jesus will do that on last day of human history when He returns in judgment, cf. I
Thess. 1:7-10.
• The prophet Zechariah describes Pentecost and the Gospel age in Zechariah 12:10ff. When
the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost, many of those gathered mourned as
they realized they were responsible for the crucifixion of the Son of God, Zech 12:10, cf. Acts
2:37. But Zechariah goes on to speak of a day when all idols will be removed from “the land”,
and all that is false will likewise be removed, cf. Zech. 13:2,3. However, that will only be
fulfilled after Christ’s return, cf. Rev. 21:8, 22:15.
• Micah’s famous prophecy of the birth of Jesus Christ (Micah 5:2) gives an example of
“prophetic foreshortening” in the whole of Micah 5. Jesus will be born in “Bethlehem Ephrathah (a very specific prophecy - there were, in fact, two “Bethlehems” in Israel at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ - one near Nazareth in the north and the other near Jerusalem in the south, i.e. Bethlehem Ephrathah). Jesus’ shepherding work is described in verses 4,5. He began that with his first coming and continues it now by the Holy Spirit through pastors. But verses 9 - 15 of Micah 5 describes Christ’s judgment on his adversaries. While we see sparks of this in judgments in human history, these things will be fulfilled at Christ’s second coming, when he will bring a universal judgment.

Certainly, there are “intrusions:” of the things of the last day into human history, e.g. now the Gospel is meant to go to all the nations as the Church seeks to fulfill “The Great Commission”, cf. Matt. 28:16-20. But there will be a climactic fulfillment of the things that are prophesied at Christ’s return and in the New Heavens and the New Earth. Only then will our great desire that “the earth…be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” be realized completely - and eternally.
 O Lord, hasten the coming of that day!