“Since prediction is incorporated into the Sacred Text to such a large degree and since the preacher is appointed to declare the whole counsel of God, there is no escaping the responsibility of knowing and expounding the prophetic Scriptures. Let the one who avoids this great theme in his pulpit ministrations ask himself what his relation to the Holy Spirit is, in view of the truth asserted by Christ that the primary teaching of the Spirit is to “shew you things to come” (John 16:13). The pastor and teacher is a specialist in the knowledge of the Word of God and there is no intimation that the declaration of prophecy is excepted from his responsibility.”
Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology. Volume IV. (Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948), 260.
This quarter, the adult Sunday School classes are studying the book of Ezekiel. This is not always the easiest book to understand. For instance, why are the sacrifices reinstituted during the millennial kingdom? Today’s lesson brought this question to mind after studying chapters 40-46. At the time Ezekiel recorded these prophetic messages, Jesus had not yet been born, had not yet died as the perfect Lamb of God, not had his once-for-all sacrifice been understood as it is explained in Hebrews 9-10. To his original readers, the resumption of animal sacrifices was nothing more than the continuing of what the Law required. But to us who have placed our faith in the completed sacrifice of Christ, the reoccurence of the sacrifices seems completely unnecessary. So, what’s the deal?
Most premillennial scholars agree that the purpose of animal sacrifice during the millennial kingdom is memorial in nature. As the Lord’s Supper is a reminder of the death of Christ to the Church today, animal sacrifices will be a reminder during the millennial kingdom. To those born during the millennial kingdom, animal sacrifices will again be an object lesson. During that future time, righteousness and holiness will prevail, but those with earthly bodies will still have a sin nature, and there will be a need to teach about how offensive sin is to a holy and righteous God. Animal sacrifices will serve that purpose, “But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year” (Hebrews 10:3).
“Will there be animal sacrifices during the millennial kingdom?” As viewed at http://www.gotquestions.org/millennial-sacrifices.html on August 16, 2009.
Limited knowledge of the future and of all possible concomitant circumstances drastically curtails our ability to make any certain plans at all. … God, however, does not see things this way. … By nature, He is incapable of being surprised. God is not a reactionary whose next move depends on something or someone outside of Himself. As the absolute Sovereign, He is totally and uniquely independent and unaffected by external agents. As Nebuchadnezzar’s confession puts it: “He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand” (4:35; see also Psalms 115:3 and 135:6). … God is in so much control that He factors in the opposition as part of the decreed means of accomplishing His perfect will. The biblical record makes this perfectly clear.
… It doesn’t surprise the Lord, and therefore, it shouldn’t surprise us when we find ourselves engulfed in the conflict. … Letting us know about the opposition up front is a way for the Lord to encourage us to faith and confidence when the opposition comes. I think, for instance, that this partly explains why God told Moses beforehand that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart, leaving the divinely manipulated king in turn to harden his own heart and refuse to let the people go. … Pharaoh’s opposition was a built-in contributor to the achieving of God’s glory, the ultimate aim of all God’s plans (Exodus 14:4, 17). … So rather than sinking in despair when we encounter opposition, we should echo my imagined words of Moses, “Yes! I love it when a plan comes together.”
Michael P. V. Barrett, God’s Unfailing Purpose: The Message of Daniel, (Greenville: Ambassador Emerald International, 2003), 92, 94.
“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.
Prophecy reveals much about the future, but it doesn’t reveal everything. … We do not and cannot know everything about the future. We are to believe what God has revealed and trust Him for ther rest. He lets us see enough to assure us that all time, including our times, are in His hand and in His control.
Michael P. V. Barrett, God’s Unfailing Purpose: The Message of Daniel, (Greenville: Ambassador, 2003), 42.
Barrett gives 2 Kings 7 as an example of this idea. When Elisha prophesied that the famine stricken city would soon have an abundance of food and that the unbelieving official would not get any of it, he didn’t give all the details. If the city official had known that he would soon be trampled by a city full of hungry people, he might have done things a little differently. But he didn’t know that and chose not to believe what he did know. The point of Barrett’s post (and ultimately of all prophecy) is that we need to believe what God says and trust him to do what is best. That’s where true peace comes from.