Thursday, May 21, 2015

the spirit of prophecy -- part 1

The Word for today:
Mark 13:1-23
"For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Revelation 19:10)
Chapter 13 of Mark is known as the "Olivet Discourse" (1), so called because Jesus answered these questions while he was on the Mount of Olives:
Now as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?" (Mark 13:3-4)
From the Mount of Olives, Jesus and the disciples were looking across the Kidron Valley at the buildings on the Temple Mount. Jesus had already told them that the Temple would not stand:
"Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down." (Mark 13:2)
It was Jesus' final week. The cross awaited him. The Garden of Gethsemane was nearby, just a stone’s throw away from where he sat as he gave his farewell prophecy.
Stand in the Rain has previously addressed some of the specifics of the Olivet Discourse. So over the next few days we will endeavor to leave you with a sense of where the Olivet Discourse fits into biblical prophecy at large.
One of the unique characteristics of the Word of God is that it moves beyond the future. (Many people consider fulfilled prophecy the greatest proof that the Bible is, indeed, the Word of God.)
God alone can predict the future, for it belongs to him. The future is an area in which man has never been given dominion. To be sure, some present-day “prophets” have predicted certain future events, but none of them have proved to be 100% correct.
False prophets, seeking the status and position that belonged to the true prophet of God, arose in Israel as well. So God laid down a test by which the people could be certain whether a prophet was genuine or phony.
Let’s look at an example. Isaiah prophesied that a virgin would conceive and bring forth a son. He then clearly marked out the coming of the Christ—his birth, his life, his death, his resurrection and their significance.
Suppose someone had asked Isaiah when all this would take place. He would have answered that he was not quite sure, but that it could be hundreds of years. (Actually it was seven hundred years.)
The crowd would laugh and say that they would never be around to know whether he was telling the truth or not. So the test was this: all the prophets had to speak into a local situation that would come to pass right away. Any “prophet” who was not completely accurate was summarily stoned to death.
We can look back and know that Isaiah was completely accurate about the Christ to come. But the proof for the people of his day was that Isaiah went to King Hezekiah to tell him very specific details concerning a local current event...
There was a great Assyrian army of “trigger-happy” soldiers surrounding the city, but Isaiah said that not one arrow would enter the city:
"And this is what the LORD has said about the Assyrian emperor: 'He will not enter this city or shoot a single arrow against it. No soldiers with shields will come near the city, and no siege mounds will be built around it. He will go back by the same road he came, without entering this city. I, the LORD, have spoken." (Isaiah 37:33-34)
Hundreds of thousands of Assyrians, and every one of them had a bow and arrows. You’d think that many of them would shoot arrows into the city for the sheer hell of it. But if even one arrow were to fly over the wall, Isaiah was not speaking for God.
All the prophets passed similar tests. They were to be listened to because they told the truth; the truth which would prepare the people to hear -- and believe -- the final messenger, Jesus Christ:
"For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Revelation 19:10)
(1) Parallel versions of the Olivet Discourse are found in Matthew 24 and Luke 21

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