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"The Purpose of Prophecy" (posted February 7, 2012)
Having made known to us the mystery of His will... that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ.
- Ephesians 1:9-10
God has a vast and eternal plan of which Christ is the center and His glorification the object. We read in Ephesians 3:11 of God's eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ before the world began, and in chapter 1:10 that His purpose is to gather together in one (to head up) in Christ all things, both which are in heaven and which are on earth. Every prophecy found between the covers of the Bible fits into this one vast plan.
Therefore no prophecy can be properly interpreted privately-- that is, taken by itself alone (2 Peter 1:20). If rightly interpreted, it must be interpreted as a part of the whole and in the light of the whole scope of prophecy.
When rightly interpreted, prophecy is thus bound to have a solemn and sanctifying effect upon the soul, because it brings one face to face with God and His vast plan for the glorification of His Christ, before whom every knee must bow.
As we study prophecy it should be, then, with our hearts taken up with Christ, for He is the center and His glorification the object of God's vast plan. God has purposed that every glory shall be His, and that everything that exalts itself against Him shall be crushed. If Christ has not a place in our hearts-- if He is not the object of delight for our souls together with a complete renunciation of the pride, vain-glory, and self-will of man-- it is impossible that we can understand prophecy aright or delight in its scope.
But where Christ does have His rightful place, there will be a real heartfelt interest in the study of prophecy and great blessing derived therefrom for our souls.
Our study of prophecy should impress our hearts deeply with a sense of the greatness and majesty of God, having sovereign right to form His own purposes and absolute power to bring them to pass-- so as to announce thousands of years beforehand with absolute certainty, to the minutest detail, the end from the beginning.
As the man of the world looks around on all the turmoil with fear and uncertainty about the things that are coming upon the earth, the child of God can go on quietly, at rest in his soul. He knows he is the object of God the Father's infinite love, and that His hand is above all things, working out unerringly His own wise purposes: first as regards His own children; secondly as regards Israel, now temporarily set aside but soon to be taken up again after the rapture of the Church (Romans 11:25); and thirdly as regards the entire world.
Prophecy also gives us to see that Satan, with all his host of demons and demon-inspired men, cannot go one whit beyond the limits God sets. God will give the ungodly over to believe the devil's lies and to worship the man of sin and Satan himself, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12). Yet He sets the time and the limit beyond which neither Satan nor wicked man can go (Revelation 13:5). The study of prophecy reveals this absolute control of God over the schemes of Satan and the passions, hatred, and wrath of man.
E. C. Hadley