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Q. How should Christians Seek to Understand the Mysteries of Prophecy? (such as eating unclean animals in future destroyed Babylon)


Dear *****,

I am grateful that you are interested in studying God’s Word, and that you have an interest in prophecy. The simple fact is that no one can speak of the matters you have raised with confidence, because they have not yet been clearly explained by Scripture, or by their fulfillment.

In my view, spending much time in such matters comes close to engaging in speculations, and the Scriptures tell us this is not a good thing to do (1 Timothy 1:4; 2 Timothy 2:23; Romans 1:21; 2 Corinthians 10:5).

Let me suggest several passages of Scripture to consider.

5 Then I, Daniel, looked and behold, two others were standing, one on this bank of the river and the other on that bank of the river. 6 And one said to the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be until the end of these wonders?” 7 I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed. 8 As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, My lord, what will be the outcome of these events? 9 He said, Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. 10 “Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand. 11 “From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 “How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days! 13 “But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age” (Daniel 12:5-13).

Daniel was told he was not meant to understand what was said because it would not happen in his lifetime, and did not benefit him to know the meaning. Those who did live in the days of their fulfillment, and whose minds were set on God, would know. Daniel was to live out his life well, waiting for his eternal inheritance to come.

Here is a second text:

8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. 10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look. 13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY” (1 Peter 1:8-16).

The Old Testament prophets were puzzled by their own prophecies. They wanted to know much more. They wanted to understand in much greater details what their prophecies revealed about the coming of the Lord Jesus. And Peter tells us that what was revealed to these prophets was the fact that the exact meaning was not theirs to know, but was being reserved for the saints of his day, because these prophecies had now been fulfilled. (This sounds very similar to what God told Daniel in chapter 12 of his prophecy.) The prophecies regarding the coming of our Lord Jesus to suffer and die can now be understood in the light of their fulfillment, and the apostolic declaration of the gospel. This is precisely what the Apostle Paul declared in Ephesians chapter 3:

1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; 3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, 7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. 8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him (Ephesians 3:1-12).

Here is a final passage of Scripture to consider in relation to your question:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law (Deuteronomy 29:29).

I find that my focus needs to be on what God has clearly revealed as what God wants me to know, and what God wants me to do. That is why I don’t spend a great deal of my time pondering mysterious prophecies.

I hope this helps you prioritize your study of Scripture,

Bob Deffinbaugh

Related Topics: Prophecy/Revelation

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