Monday, December 22, 2008

The Fulfillment of Prophecy

Bible prophecy is often pooh-poohed. I hear it from secularists, Muslims, Emergents, and even liberal Christians.

An example is from a book I recently read by a Muslim convert. He used to be a United Methodist deacon, had seminary training back in the 70’s (at Harvard, no less), and had become disillusioned with Christianity when he was exposed to higher biblical criticism. In his book, he devotes significant space to debunking the “fulfillment passages” in Matthew. He points out things like how the Hebrew word ‘alma’ found in Isaiah 7:14 could mean ‘young woman’ rather than ‘virgin’. That means that when Matthew asserts, “This took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ – which means, ‘God with us’”, he is obviously mistaken.

Another example is how liberal Bible scholars will give both Old Testament and New Testament prophecies later dates based upon little more that the idea that ‘they could not be predictive, since the supernatural is not possible’. This forces them, for example, to date the gospel of Luke between 88 and 93 A.D., since Luke 19:41-45 has a detailed prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in 70 A.D. Never mind that a more objective dating, based on internal end external evidence, renders a date of between 61 and 63 A.D. And never mind that Jesus actually said the words in something like 29 A.D. That will not even be considered.

So is Bible prophecy reliable at all? All those fulfillments that are cited in the Christmas story – are they for real? Are they even possible?

I decided to look at some prophecy that would be a little more difficult to dismiss. It needed to be something that is certifiably stated before the event. It needed to be verifiable that it was or is being fulfilled. But where to find such a prophecy?

(Actually, to be honest, it wasn’t so much that I set out to find such a prophecy as it found me. I was studying for a message on evangelism and stumbled across this delightful discovery)

How convenient that Matthew turned out to be the place!

In Mt. 24:14, in the middle of the ‘Olivet Discourse’ where Jesus is prophesying about the end of the age, He makes this remarkable statement: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Whole world?

All nations?

This was a relatively obscure itinerant preacher speaking privately to 12 men on a hill, in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire some 2000 years ago. Lots of messianic-type leaders have come and gone, both before then and since. Lots of religious movements have been on the scene. Empires have fallen and risen. Even if this was made up by Jesus’ followers decades later, it was still a prediction that no one could have caused to happen.

But it did happen. Or perhaps I should say, it IS happening.

The gospel of the kingdom started in Palestine, spread to some key Roman colonies, eventually took over the Roman Empire, had some trouble for a few centuries during the Dark Ages but pushed on nonetheless. It got stuck in Europe for awhile, but on the front end of the Enlightenment, began to be carried across the globe by missionaries. Consider this chart:

Consider the ever-increasing reach of linguistics and translation work:

- Of the world’s 6900 languages, almost 4700 (68%) have some gospel witness potentially available to them (Bible portions, etc). The speakers of these languages total 6.2 billion, or 95% of the world’s population. (Source: Scripture Language Report)

- In the year 1700 (17 centuries after Jesus gave the Great Commission) Christianity was limited primarily to Europe, America and Australia. 300 years later it has circled the globe and over 60% of the people groups of the world have a gospel witness

In other words, what Jesus said almost 2000 years ago is in fact happening, and it’s happening before our very eyes. The gospel is circling the globe, and we’re closing in on the remaining languages and people groups who still have no gospel witness.

Is this just a lucky coincidence? Don’t bet on it.

For Christmas or for Missions, I’m putting my money on Matthew!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brothers and Sisters in the faith, fellow servants of the Lord, and all who believe. Peace and grace to you in the Lord Christ Jesus -

Over recent years I have been traveling across America proclaiming the words I was given for this generation and to voice what the Spirit of God has shown me for the benefit of the churches.

There is much to consider in this age, as we must be ready during this most precarious time, taking every step to be prepared, “fully clothed in the armor God”. Change is upon us and “the hour” is evermore pressing, as the Lord Himself has made it known by the power of His Word.

There is little time left, before the greatest increase of wayward men and of the fullness of falsehood, reach their heights. I bring these words to your attention not to cause alarm but as a way of encouragement for all of God’s people to live “pure and pleasing lives”.

As it is, we must set aside our differences and bind together in every way, as we will be faced with evil of every kind and from every direction. To be sure, now is the time for all of God’s chosen to bind together in His holy name.

Dear brothers, now is the time to unite and pursue with prayer and supplication the heart of God and fully understand God’s Word while we draw close to Him and to each other.

In the book of letters, “The Prophetic Word – A Voice”, you will find prophecies, revelations, visions, and exhortations given as encouragement to the churches. This is of great importance, as we must unite as one body in order to endure the coming events that lie ahead. For they will surely come!

Embrace this message as you embrace the Lord and desire much strength in the body, the church, and in this urgent time.

Now dear brothers, be lifted up with the words that are spoken and encourage each other while the end of the age draws ever more near.

To the glory of God and Lord Jesus Christ.

A witness of the Lord and to the truth of God -
Seth En Way

PS: I thank the Lord for the faith He has given you and pray your faith in Christ Jesus is sure. Thank you for the words you put forth here as well.

December 22, 2008 at 10:56 PM  

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