When Paul began to address problems in the Church in Corinth, he clearly explained that the wisdom of God is a mystery, but that the things of God are revealed through His Holy Spirit. Christ addressed this stating that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth and will tell us of things to come (John 16:13).
Here we have a combination of truth and things to come as an aspect of the Holy Spirit. Peter said that those who, upon repentance and baptism, were given the Holy Spirit now have minds that can comprehend wisdom and knowledge and can understand the prophecies of things to come in the context of truth (Acts 2.38). Prophecy and Truth need to be kept together.
The nature of prophecy, knowing the future in advance, allows Satan a nice little fertile field to work with, to twist and distort the information coming concerning things to come. If he can do that then it is going to affect the truth aspect as well. From the writings of the Apostles, we see the Church has constantly struggled with the aspect of prophecy.
The Apostle Peter writes from a perspective of the condition of the Church toward the end of the first century as did the Apostle John. The Church had been established for about 50-60 years. Peter takes his writing all the way up to the time of Christ’s return. He sees apostacy and he anticipates its continued condition in the Church. His goal in his letter is to encourage members to engage in spiritual growth to combat the internal negative pressures within the Church. Peter engages prophecy to help the members deal with some of these internal pressures. I want to emphasize the value of prophecy and acknowledge the “last days” setting that Peter sets for us:
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,” (2 Peter 1:2–5).
Peter is coming to the end of his life, and he doesn’t have long to encourage the Church in the direction it should go. He states in 2 Peter 1:14-16, “knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”
Peter begins with that high and lofty beginning that we have everything we need for godliness, for entrance into salvation. However, he then states that we must continue to grow spiritually. Something was happening here that was stalling the people. Then he uses prophecy to begin to motivate them to want to develop and move forward. He states: “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:19–21).
Peter is dealing with the issue of the position of Christ as the Head of the Church which was under attack at that time. The prophetic word was to draw members back to Christ. Cunningly devised fables within the Church were distorting prophecy and distorting the image of Jesus Christ and the coming of Jesus Christ and all the information surrounding that: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber” (2 Peter 2:1–3).
Two clear points emerge: The surer prophetic word is going to point us to Christ and prophecy does not come from or express the will of man.
Peter is drawing the Church back to a correct understanding of their Savior, of Christ’s role in their personal lives through His sacrifice and His role as the Head of the Church. And Vines Expository Dictionary clearly defines “prophecy” as: “The speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God… It is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means. . .” Not from the minds of men. That’s just a natural proclivity of the human mind to want to take prophecy and add to it.
It takes the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth to reveal to us the real meaning and understanding of prophecy. It is interesting to note what Christ said in Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” He included the prophets as those He did not want His followers to think He came to destroy. Not the Law or the Prophets.
One of the most important prophecies in the Bible is the covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). Yet most have no idea how important this covenant is for the end time peoples: “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.’ Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: ‘As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. . . . I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.'” (Genesis 17:1-4,6).
Later scripture states “Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him. And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob. . . anymore, but Israel shall be your name.’ So He called his name Israel. Also God said to him: ‘I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body'” (Genesis 35:9-11).
In Genesis 48:14-19, Israel tells Joseph the destiny of his two sons: Ephraim was to become a multitude or a company of nations. Manasseh was also to become a great single nation of people. Then Jacob (Israel) prophesized about his son’s future in the “last days” (Genesis 49:1), often referred to as “the end time” biblically.
So, we are presented with the mind and the counsel of God regarding the shape of the world in the last days. God shaped the entire world through and around the descendants of Israel’s sons, especially the descendants of Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. The impact of ancient Israel, of who and what they are, must be understood if we are truly going to understand the current circumstances of the existing nations today.
A powerful nation and a ompanyof nations has shaped our world. They were to be used by God to bring knowledge and understanding of His plan of salvation bringing salvation to fruition through them to all the world’s nations. It doesn’t make them better; it does place a huge responsibility to God onto them. The blessings that God promised Abraham, as they were and are being fulfilled through the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh, are very powerful in understanding the world now and on into the future.
If the birthright nations have not fulfilled God’s purpose for them at the end time, then: “. . . it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:” (Deuteronomy 28:15). See also in Deuteronomy 27:11-26 where definitive curses are mentioned. They are prophetic and flow on down to our current time.
On the one hand, we can understand the history of a nation and a company of nations, and all the blessings. On the other hand, we can understand the internal decay and its effect within each nation. What’s going on with the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh today is affecting all nations. Scripture says that God will punish these end time nations first, then later set them as an example of how to live nationally and individually during the millennial reign of Christ:
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:31–34).
Also, in Hebrews 10:16-17: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
God revealed His secrets to the prophets, and through Christ, like the Law the words of the Prophets will be fulfilled. The covenant God made with Abraham has moved through the physical fulfillment into the spiritual. The identity and purpose of the covenant people permeates the prophetic messages and enables us to understand God’s intention of mercy and forgiveness to all humanity at Christ’s return.
“Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies. . . . The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant” (Psalm 25:8-10,14).