One outstanding difference between the Bible and other religious books is the element of prophecy. While the Bible contains many hundreds of prophecies, many of them very specific and detailed, the religious books used as the foundation of the faith of other major religions are conspicuously silent in this area of prophecy. The Koran (Islam), and the Bhagavad Gita (Hiduism), are highly revered by those who believe in them, and are said to contain many deep and pious ideas and teachings. The God of the Bible, however, is the only who dares to foretell the future so frequently and in such striking detail as we see occurring in the Bible. This sets the Bible apart from all other religious books because in the Bible God has dared to put Himself to the test. These prophecies, some of them covering thousands of years are the proof of the authenticity of the Bible. They can be measured, examined, tested, proven. Thus, the sure word of prophecy should be an important part of any study of the Bible.
Part 1: A light that shineth in a dark place
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.' 2 Peter 1:19.
`The prophecies present a succession of events leading down to the opening of the judgement. This is especially true of the book of Daniel. But that part of his prophecy which related to the last days, Daniel was bidden to close up and seal "to the time of the end." Not till we reach this time could a message concerning the judgement be proclaimed, based on the fulfilment of these prophecies. But at the time of the end, says the prophet, "many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Daniel 12:4.' _ Great Controversy, p. 355.
How does the psalmist describe the Word of God? Psalm 119:105.
`Those who study the word of God with hearts open to the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, will not remain in darkness as to the meaning of the word. "If any man willeth to do His will," Christ said, "he shall know of the teaching whether it be of God, or whether I speak from Myself." John 7:17, R.V. All who come to Christ for a clearer knowledge of the truth will receive it. He will unfold to them the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and these mysteries will be understood by the heart that longs to know the truth. A heavenly light will shine into the soul temple, and will be revealed to others as the bright shining of a lamp on a dark path." _ Christ's Object Lessons, p. 35.
How does Peter describe the `more sure word of prophecy'? 2 Peter 1:19.
"Every child of God should be intelligent in the Scriptures, and able, by tracing the fulfilment of prophecy, to show our position in this world's history. The Bible was written for the common people as well as for scholars, and is within the comprehension of all. The great truths which underlie man's duty to his fellow men and to his Maker are clearly revealed; and those who really want the truth need make no mistake. The way is not left in uncertainty, as though we were standing where four roads met, not knowing which one to take. The truth is our guide; it is to us like a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night." _ Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 23.
There is yet much precious truth to be revealed to the people in this time of peril and darkness, but it is Satan's determined purpose to prevent the light of truth from shining into the hearts of men. If we would have the light that has been provided for us, we should show our desire for it by diligently searching the word of God. . . . " _ Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 25
The study of Bible prophecy must form an important part of our preparation for the crisis of the last days.
Part 2: He revealeth His secret
And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. (John 14:29)
"In the annals of human history, the growth of nations, the rise and fall of empires, appear as if dependent on the will and prowess of man; the shaping of events seems, to a great degree, to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice. But in the word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, above, behind, and through all the play and counterplay of human interest and power and passions, the agencies of the All-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will. In the history of nations the student of God's word may behold the literal fulfilment of divine prophecy." _ Conflict & Courage, page 250.
What is God's appointed way of keeping His people in touch with His workings and His purposes in this world? (Amos 3:7)
"In His providence the Lord has seen fit to teach and warn His people in various ways. By direct command, by the sacred writings, and by the spirit of prophecy has He made known unto them His will."
"In ancient times God spoke to men by the mouth of prophets and apostles. In these days He speaks to them by the Testimonies of His Spirit. There was never a time when God instructed His people more earnestly than He instructs them now concerning His will and the course that He would have them pursue."
"Of special value to God's church on earth today--the keepers of His vineyard--are the messages of counsel and admonition given through the prophets who have made plain His eternal purpose in behalf of mankind. In the teachings of the prophets His love for the lost race and His plan for their salvation are clearly revealed." _ My Life Today, p. 40
How did Daniel show his awareness of this truth? Daniel 2:20-22, 27-28.
"In past ages the Lord God of heaven revealed His secrets to His prophets. The present and the future are equally clear to Him. The voice of God echoes down the ages, telling man what is to take place. Kings and princes take their places at their appointed time. They think they are carrying out their own purposes, but in reality they are fulfilling the word that God has spoken." _ Youth's Instructor, December 1, 1903.
"Behold the Jewish captive, calm and self-possessed, in the presence of the monarch of the world's most powerful empire. In his first words he disclaimed honor for himself and exalted God as the source of all wisdom. . . . " _ Prophets and Kings, p. 494
God has not changed. It is still as true today as in former ages that God reaveals His secret unto His servatts the prophets.
Part 3: Things belonging to us
The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deu 29:29)
`The idea that certain portions of the Bible cannot be understood has led to neglect of some of its most important truths. The fact needs to be emphasised, and often repeated, that the mysteries of the Bible are not such because God has sought to conceal truth, but because our own weakness or ignorance makes us incapable of comprehending or appropriating truth. The limitation is not in His purpose, but in our capacity. Of those very portions of Scripture often passed by as impossible to be understood, God desires us to understand as much as our minds are capable of receiving. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God," that we may be "throughly furnished unto all good works," 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.' Education, p. 170.
When was the message of the Book of Daniel to be clearly understood? Daniel 12:4, 9. Compare Daniel 8:26.
`His wonderful prophecies, as recorded by him in chapters 7 to 12 of the book bearing his name, were not fully understood even by the prophet himself; but before his life labours closed, he was given the blessed assurance that "at the end of the days", in the closing period of this world's history, he would again be permitted to stand in his lot and place. It was not given him to understand all that God had revealed of the divine purpose. "Shut up the words, and seal the book," he was directed concerning his prophetic writings; these were to be sealed "even to the time of the end." "Go thy way, Daniel," the angel once more directed the faithful messenger of Jehovah; "for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. . . . " Daniel 12:4, 9, 13. _ Prophets & Kings, page 547.
What should be our attitude to the book of Daniel in light of the fact that God has stated that these prophecies apply to the end-time? 2 Tim. 2:15
"As we near the close of this world's history, the prophecies recorded by Daniel demand our special attention, as they relate to the very time in which we are living. With them should be linked the teachings of the last book of the New Testament Scriptures. Satan has led many to believe that the prophetic portions of the writings of Daniel and of John the revelator cannot be understood. But the promise is plain that special blessing will accompany the study of these prophecies. "The wise shall understand" (verse 10), was spoken of the visions of Daniel that were to be unsealed in the latter days." _ Prophets & Kings, page 547.
Those who believe that the word of God is true will make the prophecies which apply to the last days an impor
Part 4: A Little Book Open
And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: (2) And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth. (Rev 10:1-2)
"The book that was sealed was not the book of Revelation, but that portion of the prophecy of Daniel which related to the last days. The Scripture says, "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Daniel 12:4). When the book was opened, the proclamation was made, "Time shall be no longer." (See Revelation 10:6.) The book of Daniel is now unsealed, and the revelation made by Christ to John is to come to all the inhabitants of the earth. By the increase of knowledge a people is to be prepared to stand in the latter days." _ Selected Messages Book 2, page 105.
What instructions were given to the prophet John concerning the little book, and what did these instructions signify? Revelation 10:8,9.
The symbolism of eating the little book is not hard to understand. There is really only one way in which a person may be said to "eat" a book and this is to study it carefully. Here, John is a representative of the people of God who would live down at the end-time, at the time when the moment would arrive for Daniel's prophecies to be unsealed. The figure of the eating of the book represents the attitude of God's people in completely absorbing themselves in the the book and carefully studying it line upon line.
According to the book of Revelation, what effect would understanding the book of Daniel have upon the people of God? Revelation 10:10,11.
The command to "prophesy" again before many peoples, nations, tongues and kings symbolizes a world-wide work. This indicates that the study of the book of Daniel would result in a movement which would have a vital message to take to the entire world.
"The advent movement of 1840-44 was a glorious manifestation of the power of God; the first angel's message was carried to every missionary station in the world, and in some countries there was the greatest religious interest which has been witnessed in any land since the Reformation of the sixteenth century; but these are to be exceeded by the mighty movement under the last warning of the third angel." _ The Great Controversy, p. 611
Has my understanding of the prophecies of Daniel given me a vision of a message to be taken to the entire world?
Part 5: That you may believe
And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them. (Ezekiel 33:33)
God is always trying to communicate with His people. From time to time He has chosen special messengers (prophets) to whom He has revealed His purposes for the world and in particular for His people. Some of the most profound truths and events of vital significance to the people of God are revealed in the prophecies of the Bible. Particularly in the books of Daniel and the Revelation. It should be obvious however, that no matter how wonderful these prophecies are and no matter how much good God intends to accomplish through them, they will never benefit us, unless we first believe that God has spoken through these prophets.
How did Christ explain the purpose of predictive prophecy? John 13:19.
`[We] should know the things that will come to pass before the closing up of the world's history. These things concern our eternal welfare, and teachers and students should give more attention to them. We should study the great waymarks that point out the times in which we are living. Those who place themselves under God's control, to be led and guided by Him, will catch the steady tread of the events ordained by Him to take place. We are to see in history the fulfilment of prophecy, to study the workings of Providence in the great reformatory movements, and to understand the progress of events in the marshalling of the nations for the final conflict of the great controversy.' Last Day Events, pages 14-15.
Against what danger are we warned by Peter? 2 Peter 1:20-21.
`The Lord has called out a people from among men, and has given them great light and knowledge in regard to His word. In Exodus 31:12-18 He declares the relation which they are to sustain to Him. God has not authorised us to exalt men, and keep the minds of students directed toward those who evidently do not bear the signature which He has placed upon His chosen people. "Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you." Those who refuse to stand as God's chosen people, sanctified and made holy through doing His word, are as guideposts pointing in the wrong direction. So also are they who would encourage the youth to study as a pattern the so-called wise men, who have not been wise enough to know God and do His commandments.' Counsels to Writers & Editors, page 116.
All the blessings in the world may be in these prophecies, but unless we study them carefully, we will not
Part 6: So shall ye prosper
And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. (2 Chronicles 20:20)
"The light of prophecy still burns for the guidance of souls, saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it." It shines on the pathway of the just to commend, and on the way of the unjust to lead to repentance and conversion. Through its agency sin will be rebuked and iniquity unmasked. It is progressive in the performance of its duty to reflect light on the past, the present, and the future. If those who have received the light will appreciate and respect the testimonies of the Lord, they will see the religious life in a new light. They will be convicted. They will see the key that unlocks the mysteries that they have never understood. They will lay hold of the precious things that God has given them to profit withal and will be translated from the kingdom of darkness into God's marvellous light." _ My Life Today, page 42.
What was the source of the prophets' messages? 2 Peter 1:21.
"Some have neglected the Bible under the erroneous impression that the indwelling of the Spirit was preferable to the study and guidance of the Scriptures. Such will be exposed to Satan's snares and fatal delusions. The Holy Spirit and the Word are in perfect harmony. The Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures and always leads to the Scriptures. Everything in the religious world is to be tried by the Scriptures. "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20). The claimed enlightenment of the Spirit within is to be tested and tried by the Word of God, which is the detector of the pure wheat." _ That I May Know Him, page 195.
What striking example is there in the book of Jonah of the benefits of heeding the prophetic word? Jonah 3:4-10
"As Jonah entered the city, he began at once to "cry against" it the message, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." Verse 4. From street to street he went, sounding the note of warning."
"The message was not in vain. The cry that rang through the streets of the godless city was passed from lip to lip until all the inhabitants had heard the startling announcement. The Spirit of God pressed the message home to every heart and caused multitudes to tremble because of their sins and to repent in deep humiliation. " _ Prophets and Kings, p. 270
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished. (Proverbs