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 Understanding Bible Prophecy

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TomL
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PostSubject: Understanding Bible Prophecy   Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:00 pm

UNDERSTANDING BIBLE PROPHECY


The first principle in understanding Bible Prophecy is to understand the historical nature of Scripture. The Bible is a compilation of historical documents that have been written over the span of a few thousand years, culminating in about 70 AD. By then, God's plan has been fully revealed, and carried out by the person it has been intended too, which is Christ.

Being historical in nature, the original writings of Scripture have had an original audience, which lived more than 1900 years ago. They do not live today. How did that original audience understand what they read, or heard? And that is the key to understanding Bible Prophecy. For example, as John wrote the words, "must shortly come to pass," in Revelation 1, how do you think the original audience, the 7 churches of Asia, would have understood that phrase? How would you have understood that phrase if you were a member of the 7 churches of Asia that John wrote to?

The original audience of the Scriptural text had a different vantage point than do we. They were there when Jesus, the apostles taught. They were there when the writings of the New Testament were actually being written. They were the first interpreters of what was written to them. What was their interpretation? There interpretation is far more important, and probably the most accurate, than any interpretation since. The best we can do is try to figure out what their interpretation was. And the only way to do that is to treat the Bible though its historical nature.

One way to understand the Bible in its historical setting is to also look at historians of the same time. Such as Josephus.


Another way is to consider the language of prophecy. And since most of us are not Greek or Hebrew scholars, we should understand the Bible in our native language. My native language is American English. It is not Old English that was used in the writing of the King James Version, and even the American Standard Version. However, it is not totally impossible to understand the Old English. But, it is so much easier to read a translation that uses the language we are acclimated to. I am acclimated to American English. Although, my first Bible was a King James, so I did get acclimated to that. Since then I have had quite a few translations. Because of this I think I have a rather good idea of how the first interpreters of Bible Prophecy did. Unfortunately, everytime I share what I know, people don't understand what I say.

The major flaw in modern interpretation of Bible Prophecy is taking the Bible out of its historical context, and applying what was written to the first interpreters as if it was written to present day interpreters. It was not.

Instead of applying what is written to today. Why don't we apply our understanding to the time Bible Prophecy was written. I already mentioned the phrase that John wrote in Revelation 1.1, "must shortly come to pass." In American English, it is simply, "must shortly happen, or occur."

Let me use the words, "must shortly," in a statement I hope you understand. For the United States to be saved, we must shortly change direction. How do you understand the words, "must shortly" in that statement. Does this statement indicate to you that United States can wait for a long time to get its act together. Or, does it sound to you like we must make changes imminently, that we are in desperation? I understand it the second way.

Now, let's take that sense of imminence and apply it to the time John was writing in. Let us write Revelation 1.1 with this understanding. "The revealing of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants, things which must imminently occur: and he communicated it by his angel to his servant John." Now, I just rewrote Revelation 1.1 in contemporary English. Other contemporary English Bible use phases like, "must happen soon." The Message uses "what is about to happen." And this is the interpretation of this verse today.

Let's apply our interpretation to the first interpreters. Don't you think they believed that what John wrote to them was imminent? Was about to happen? Why would John write this if the fulfillment of his prophecy was thousands of years in the future?

This is just one example of how we need to understand Bible Prophecy. And we need to apply the same principles of interpretation to all Bible Prophecy. When we do that, there is no way there is any Bible Prophecy still to happen.

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study - Do your best to present yourself to God as an approved worker who has nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of truth with precision. - 2 Timothy 2.15; ISV, isv.com
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