Puzzling Prophecy

“My wife loves to work on jigsaw puzzles. Often she has one in progress on a table in the corner of our den. I don’t know if this is cheating or not, but she usually has the lid of the box on the table with a picture of what she is trying to put together from all the divergently shaped pieces. I do not share her patience, but sometimes as I walk by the table I will take a quick look and find what I think is a match between one of the pieces and one of the holes in the fragmented picture. It seems to be the right color and more or less the right configuration, and so I make my contribution to her project. When I force the piece into place doing my best to make it fit, she invariably tells me to leave it alone and find something else to do.

To me it was close enough, but it didn’t really fit. (Sometimes when I walk by, I hide a piece or two, but that’s a different story.) The way I work with jugsaw puzzles is the way too many tend to work with prophecy. Zeal for fulfillment sometimes creates the temptation to draw from the table of current events and force newspaper items into the big puzzle-picture of prophecy. I would not begin to guess how many commentaries have been written or how many sermons have been preached that now contain the marred fragments of pieces of news that in the moment seemed to be close enough to fit. I wonder how many antichrists have been named over the years, only now to be long dead and forgotten. When my puzzle-patient wife finds the right piece it always fits in place without being forced. When it fits, it fits. The fulfillment of prophecy is always unmistakably certain.”

Michael P. V. Barrett, God’s Unfailing Purpose: The Message of Daniel, (Greenville: Ambassador Emerald International, 2003), 74-5.

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