And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon table, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
Habakkuk 2:2, 3  

Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727), Theologian, mathematician            
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ…is intended to nerve the Lord’s warriors, to arm them for the battle, and to lead them to victory.  Its noble purpose is to form the characters, guide the steps, maintain the faith, and inspire the courage of those who were to witness for Him, and to pass under every species to torture, under the sword and through the flame, unto glory and immortality; to animate and to sustain the saints and martyrs who were to share its triumphs and to wear its crowns.  It is a revelation, not a mystery, though in symbolical language.  Such prophecies are simply written beforehand, but in hieroglyphics or cipher, which conceal while revealing, and reveal while concealing, and which are gradually made plain as the time of their accomplishment draws near.” (1)

What is the significance of prophecy?  From the first book in the Holy Scriptures (Gen. 3:15), God Almighty has used prophecy as a spiritual map to steer His people in the right direction, so that they are not led off course on their spiritual journey to ‘mount Sion, the heavenly Jerusalem.’  Without prophecy we would have absolutely no idea of where we are in time or where we are going (Prov. 29:18).

Prophecy gives a detailed account of world events (Matt. 24:6, 7), the rise and fall of world empires (Dan. 2, 7, 8, 11), a rapid increase of global ecological disasters (Luke 21:11, 25) and the spiritual and moral decline of mankind (II Tim. 3:1-5, 13; Matt. 24:12).  One of the keys to understanding prophecy is to have a fairly good knowledge of history.  As history goes through a strange cycle of always repeating itself (Ecc. 3:15; I Cor. 10:7-11), in order to get a clear picture of what the condition of the state of this world will be like just prior to the Second Coming, Jesus presents to us two historical events, ‘the days of Noe’ (Matt. 24:37-39) and ‘the days of Lot’ (Luke 17:28-32) and encourages us to study the past so we can understand the present and prepare for what is coming in the future.

There was one prophecy that Jesus foretold that not only strengthened the faith of the early church, but protected them from an all out slaughter by the Roman armies under Emperor Titus.  It was the destruction of Jerusalem, which included, the people, temple and the city in AD 70 (Matth. 24:1, 2; 22:7).  It was recorded by the greatest chronicler of the Roman Empire, Flavius Josephus (37 c.100 AD), the governor of Galilee, who later sided with the Romans.

And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation therof is nigh.  And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
Luke 21:20, 24

'Titus, seeing that his attempts to spare a foreign temple meant injury and death to his soldiers, ordered the gates to be set on fire.
When the Jews saw the ring of fire, they lost all power of body and mind; such was their consternation that not a finger was raised to keep out or quench the flames: they stood looking on in utter helplessness.
The Sanctuary had been condemned to the flames by God long ago: by the turning of time's wheel the fated day had now come, the 10th of Loos, the day which centuries before had seen it burnt by the king of Babylon.
Most of the victims were peaceful citizens, weak and unarmed, butchered wherever they were caught.  Round the Altar the heaps of corpses grew higher and higher, while down the Sanctuary steps poured a river of blood and the bodies of those killed at the top slithered to the bottom.
While the sanctuary was burning, looting went on right and left and all who were caught were put to the sword.  There was no pity for age, no regard for rank; little children and old men, laymen and priests alike were butchered.
From its foundation by King Solomon to its present destruction, which occured in the second year of Vespasian's reign, was a period of 1,130 years, 7 months and 15 days; from its rebuilding in the second year of of King Cyrus, for which Haggai was responsible, to its capture under Vespasian was 639 years and 49 days.
So Jerusalem in the second year of Vespian's reign, on the 8th of Gorpiais, captured five times before and now for the second time utterly laid waste.  Shishak king of Egypt, followed by Antiochus, then Pompey, and after that Sosius and Herod together, captured the city and spared it.  Earlier on the king of Babylon had stormed it and laid it waste 1,468 years and 6 months from its foundation.
From King David, the first Jew to reign in it, to the destruction by Titus was 1,179 years.  But neither its long history, nor its vast wealth, nor its people dispersed through the whole world, nor the unparalleled renown of its worship sufficed to avert its ruin.  so ended the siege of Jerusalem. (2)

Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus (39 AD - 81 AD)

The invasion of Jerusalem by Titus on display in the Vatican Museum 

Prophecy has one real aim and one aim only.  It is not to spend countless hours studying and focusing on signs, symbols, beasts, plagues, dates, similes or metaphors, but that the character of Jesus Christ ‘the day star arise in your hearts’ (II Pet. 1:19).  Jesus is illuminated through every prophecy in the Holy Scriptures for each one of them is to guide us and prepare our minds for His glorious Second Coming, so by holding on to ‘…His promise…for new heavens and a new earth’ (II Pet. 3:13), the things of this earth will grow strangely dim as the famous gospel melody says and we will be that ‘faithful and wise servant’ (Matt. 24:45-47) that ‘took their oil in their vessels with their lamps’ (Matt. 25:1-13) and prepared themselves for the wedding feast (Matt. 22:1-14; Rev. 19), when the stone, who is Christ, hits the metallic image (Dan. 2) and ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever’ (Rev. 11:15).

The word of God is to reveal Jesus (John 5:39), cleanse our minds (John 15:3; Ps. 119:9), make us hate sin (Ps. 119:11; Prov. 8:13) and reconcile us back to our maker (II Cor. 3:18; 5:19).  Prophecy within the word is meant to have the same affect when we focus our hearts on the promises contained in the prophecies.

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
II Peter 1:4
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.  And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
I John 3:2, 3

If this method isn’t followed, then a misapplication of prophecy can steer you off course, for Jesus Christ has to be the centre of all prophecies (Luke 24:44). 
There are so many different schools of prophecy, to the point that many of them war with each other for having different views in their understanding or interpretation of the plan of redemption.  This can confuse a sincere, truth seeker and may turn them completely off Jesus Christ and many are not mindful of this.  The Holy Scriptures is clear that we are all baptized into ‘One Lord, one faith and one baptism’ (Eph. 4:5) and if we humble ourselves (Matt. 18:4) allowing the Holy Scriptures to be its own interpreter (Acts 17:10, 11) and let the Holy Spirit be our guide (John 14:26), then we would all come to the same conclusion and their wouldn’t be no divisions.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.  
II Peter 1:20, 21

If God’ love toward His saints is so powerful that He will forewarn us of things that will ‘come to pass hereafter’, then there is absolutely no excuse for anyone of us to be lost and be in the lake of fire on the day of judgment.  Though Jesus did tell us that ‘everlasting fire’ is ‘prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matt. 25:41), which means we have absolutely no calling there, He also showed us the reality that many of His faithful will lose interest in prophecy and the ‘blessed hope’ and will no longer have a desire to study and wait for His Second Coming and will choose to be lost (Matt. 24:48-51). 

A poster in London, England by Sir Richard Branson' Virgin Group, mocking those who preach the prophecies of the last days [II Peter 3:3, 4].  Even corporations are at war with the preaching of last days prophecies.  

US American Christian Radio broadcaster Harold Egbert Camping falsely predicts the date of the end of the world for a second time in contradiction to what Christ said we should not do [Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32]

'Four in ten young Americans believe Jesus will return by 2050.
The figure, from a poll, suggests the U.S. has lost none of the religious fervour it is renowned for.
The poll by the Pew Resrearch Centre questioned 1, 546 adults aged 21-26 and asked them about a range of things they expected to happen by 2050.' (3)

The book of Daniel is a prophetic book that Jesus recommends His saints to study so they can understand prophetic events.  It records the rise and fall of Empires from chapters 2-12 from Babylon (605-538 B.C.), to Medo-Persia (538-331 B.C.) to Greece (331-171 B.C.) to Rome in its Pagan and Papal form, which is to be succeeded by the last eternal empire inherited by the faithful saints of God (Dan. 2:44; 7:18, 22, 27), but the most fascinating prophetic book in the Holy Scriptures is the book of Revelation which is a continuation of Daniel.  Even though it is specifically written for Christ’ ‘servants’ (Rev. 1:1), unbelievers (including Hollywood) still have a fascination with 666, Armageddon, the seven last plagues and the mark of the beast.  Revelation opens with Christ in the first chapter walking among a seven-branched candlestick, which the Lord Himself says represents the churches (Rev. 1:20).  The seven churches and the seven seals give us a history of the church (Rev. 2-7).  The seven trumpets show us things that take place in heaven and events that take place on the earth.  It shows the two different apartments of the temple in heaven and the destruction of the Roman Empire in its pagan and papal form by the Goths and Huns under the first five trumpets, the rise and fall of Islam under the fifth and sixth trumpets and the anarchic revolt of the French people against their Papal controlled government during the French Revolution (Rev. 8-11).  The church is symbolized as a woman who is under persecution for 1260 prophetic years (Rev. 12).  The rise and fall of the Papacy and her global influence is detailed and her destruction by Christ at His Second Coming is detailed from halfway to the end of the book (Rev. 13-22).

One of the staunchest proponents of prophecy was an individual known as the greatest mind in the modern world, but not so known for his fascination with Bible prophecy.  The English scientist Sir Isaac Newton invented calculus, discovered the laws of motion, the laws of gravity, the laws of optics and then he turned 26. Though he is known for these great firsts, he spent a lot of his time studying the prophecies in Daniel and the Revelation than he did on science.  His posthumous works Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St John and The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms have been a treasure to prophetic expositors, where his exquisite knowledge of astronomical alignments, empires, dates and prophetic timelines have helped to enhance many people’ understanding of prophecy.  He had a fascination with the book of Revelation and in His personal notes he said:

‘There is no book in all the scriptures so much recommended & guarded by providence as this.’ (4)

If we can understand that prophecy is to reveal Jesus Christ in our lives, then we should make more of an effort to earnestly pray and daily seek God’ guidance, so that we can seal our ticket into eternity so ‘that no man take thy crown’ (Rev. 3:11).

Source: (1) Sir Isaac Newton on the Prophetic Symbols by the Rev. E. P. Cachemaille pp. 10, 11; (2) The Jewish War by Flavius Josephus pp. 356, 357, 358, 359, 372, 373; (3) Daily Mail, Wednesday, June 23, 2010; (4) Isaac Newton – The Last Sorcerer by Michael White p.155

Recommended reading: The Moral Purpose of Prophecy by Louis Were

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