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In this video, you'll learn what Bible prophecy is, why it's so important, and some simple tools to help you understand the most difficult of Bible prophecies.

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A Beginner's Guide to Bible Prophecy

Picture this: You're reading through the Bible. You've read about the creation of the universe, the action-packed lives of David and Elijah, and the inspiring words of Psalms and Proverbs. And then suddenly, you're reading about naughty figs, four-faced men, and cities coming down from heaven. Welcome to the largest part of the Bible, known as the Prophets. But believe it or not, Bible prophecies aren't complicated as long as you have the right tools. So, in this video, you'll learn what Bible prophecy is, why it's so important, and some simple keys to set you on your way to understanding the most challenging of Bible prophecies.


What is Bible Prophecy?

If you've ever wondered whether or not Bible prophecy is about telling the future, the answer is… sort of. But telling the future was only a small part of prophecy because, for the most part, it was less about foretelling and more about forth-telling. In the Bible, a 'prophecy' simply refers to a message from God, revealed to a human prophet, who then shared that message with the intended audience. Usually, these messages involved telling Israel's people, priests , and kings that they had failed to live up to their spiritual role in the nation. In this case, prophecy may sound like a confusing term because it was really just about passing on messages from God.


However, these messages sometimes declared what would happen in the future depending on how the nation responded to the message. For example, God told Israel that if they didn't obey him, they would be taken captive, which is precisely what happened. Other times, God shared insight into the future to prepare them for something that was coming. Of these future-telling prophecies, there are three types: fulfilled, partially fulfilled, and unfulfilled prophecies.


In this video, we'll focus on partially fulfilled and unfulfilled prophecies – otherwise known as end-times prophecies. These prophecies can primarily be found in the books of Daniel and Revelation and in small sections of other prophetic messages. While these prophecies do speak about future events, it's probably not in the way you would expect.


End-times prophecies aren't  far fetched predictions about what might happen in the future but solid and convincing pictures of what to expect. They don't tell us about every future event but primarily concern God's involvement in the rise and fall of nations and the latter-day signs that indicate the near return of Jesus Christ.


So, end-time prophecies are less about telling the exact details of future events and more about allowing humans then and now to prepare for what's about to happen. Sometimes, these prophecies are quite general. For example, Luke says that when Jesus returns, humanity as a whole will be like they were in the days of Lot – eating, drinking, buying, selling – which could technically be applied to any generation since Lot. Other prophecies, though, are much more specific, like Isaiah's prophecy that Israel would miraculously survive hundreds of years of dispersion and persecution and ultimately return to their land.


So that's Bible prophecy. The challenging part is learning how to interpret different end-times prophecies for yourself. But these prophecies don't have to be complicated – as long as you know how to read them.


Principles and Keys

The key to understanding end-times prophecy is to recognize that they are often packed with strange word-pictures and symbolism. But once you know how to interpret the symbols, they really aren’t strange at all. Sometimes, the author takes it easy on us and describes what the symbols mean, like in the book of Daniel. In Daniel 2, the King of Babylon has this dream about an image of a man made of different metals - it has a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet of mixed iron and clay. Daniel explains that each metal represents a different kingdom or nation that would succeed the Babylonians, and you can actually trace the various powerful nations throughout history that correspond to each metal. In fact, the prophecy came true in such detail that many critics of the Bible argue that Daniel 2 must have been written after the fact. The king then saw stone cut out of a mountain by the power of God comes smashing into the feet of the image, breaking it to pieces and filling the entire world. Daniel explains that the stone that filled the world represents the Kingdom of God, which will break in pieces the corrupt kingdom of men and replace it with a perfect and righteous god-governed rule. This would be an example of a partially-fulfilled prophecy, because the Kingdom of God has yet to smash the image and fill the whole world.


Other prophecies, though, expect us to figure out the symbolic meaning ourselves. For example, the last chapters of Revelation depict a city coming down from heaven to an earth where there is no more sea. Because we’re not directly told what it means, the best way to understand these symbols is by studying the rest of the Bible to see how they are used – in other words, letting the Bible interpret itself. If you were to look at how the 'sea' is used in other Bible prophecies, you would find that it comes to represent nations. For example, Ezekiel 26:3 [verse on screen] describes how God would send many nations to fight against Tyre, just like the sea waves violently crash into each other. So if the sea represents nations, then Revelation depicts a time when the earth is no longer made up of various man-made governments -- just like the vision in Daniel!


It's also important to understand that our interpretation of the latter-day prophecies needs to fit the framework created by other Bible prophecies. In the case of the examples we just stated, we know they work together because they both depict the Kingdom of God ruling over a world where there are no other nations. But if our interpretation of prophecy was to conflict with what was stated clearly in other latter-day prophecies, our interpretation is probably incorrect.


On top of that, some things just aren't intended to be known. Remember, Bible prophecy isn't designed to tell us all the exact details of the future but to ensure that we anticipate Jesus's return. Mark 13:32 says that not even Jesus in his mortality knew the day or hour of the coming Kingdom of God, so it is inappropriate to try and predict when that time will be. Being eager is okay and is intended by Bible prophecy, but setting dates is not. Many people have fallen into that trap and ended up disappointed or even losing their faith when it didn't happen when they thought.


Finally, being honest with yourself is essential when interpreting Bible prophecy. If you don't know what something means, it's better to simply accept that than to invent something to complete the picture.


Conclusion

So, there's a lot to take in when it comes to Bible prophecy, and while they can be confusing, the purpose of these prophecies isn't confusing at all. They're meant to get believers excited for the return of Jesus when, just like the Bible prophecies, Jesus will rule the world in peace and righteousness, and everyone will reflect God's glory and goodness. It's the same story found throughout the Bible, and if you want to learn more about that story, you can watch this video right here.


STUDY NOTES
Coming soon!

A Beginner's Guide to Bible Prophecy

In this video, you'll learn what Bible prophecy is, why it's so important, and some simple tools to help you understand the most difficult of Bible prophecies.

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