August 21, 2018

The Design of Prophecy

By Connie W. Adams

Those who embrace the theories of millenialism are at variance with one another respecting many of the
points involved. Yet, there is one error common to all of them; i.e., a misapplication of prophecy arising from
a failure to view prophecy in its proper perspective. The Old Testament prophets served both an immediate and
a future purpose in the dealings of God with men. Fundamentally, a prophet was a "mouth" by which God
revealed his will to the people, whether that revelation applied directly to their needs or pointed to great future
events. In Exodus 7:1, God said to Moses, "And Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet." In Exodus 4:16, God
said of Aaron, "And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and
thou shalt be to him instead of God." These statements not only summarize the relationship between Moses and
Aaron, they set forth exactly what every inspired prophet actually was - a mouth through which God
communicated His mind to men.


The millenialist commits at least two basic errors with Old Testament prophecy: (1) he either says that
certain prophecies are Messianic when they are not or (2) takes those that are Messianic and misapplies them
in respect to the time of fulfillment. In both cases he projects them beyond the New Testament and looks for
their fulfilment at the time of the millemum as he conceives it. Without taking up specific prophecies and
discussing whether or not they are actually Messianic, or even discussing those that admitedly are such, we
shall attempt in this paper to set forth from the New Testament the design of Messianic prophecies and having
done so, leave the reader to decide whether or not the design was fully met in the New Testament. Any clear,
unmistakeable instruction from the New Testament should be the final word with all who, honor it as the
complete revelation of God.


Matthew 5:17


It has been remarked by one of the great men of our time that the sermon on the mount is a preview of the
gospel and that the Beatitudes comprise the preamble to it. After this grand introduction of the coming kingdom
and citizenship in it, Christ took up the question of the law and the prophets in relation to this new economy.
"Think not that I am come to destrov the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." If it was
the purpose of Christ to fulfill the law and the prophets, is it not rather serious to charge Him with failure?


Jas 3:18-26


"But those things, which God before shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer,
he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times
of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was
preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath
spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began ... Yes, and all the prophets from Samuel
and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days Unto you first God,
having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities."
Millenialists have much to say about verse 21, "the restitution of all things," and apply that to the second
coming of Christ. To so apply it is to snatch it from its setting and give it an unwarranted, if not indeed a
strained meaning. The heaven's retaining Christ and then the sending of him are related in the passage to the
blotting out of sin, and the consequent "times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord." Jesus was sent
through the blessing herein obtained. When Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit to the apostles he said, "I
will come to you." John 11:18. When the pentecostians "repented and were converted," they came into Christ
and he came into them. He dwelt in their hearts by faith. These were the matters foretold by the prophets. Verse
24 unmistakeably associates those blessings with what was taking place then. "All the prophets . . . have
likewise foretold these days." Verse 25 shows that "these days" are the fulfillment of the promise to bless "all
the kindreds of the earth" in Abraham's seed. Verse 26 shows that God "sent" Christ to "bless you, in turning
away every one of you from his iniquities." The prophets, then, pointed to the time when men would be turned
from iniquity, have their sins blotted out, and receive the refreshing resultant therefrom; "and all the prophets
from Samuel foretold these days." To project "the times of restitution" to a future era is to ignore the context
of this passage, and in doing so, to inadvertently project the blotting out of sin, the refreshing from the Lord,
the blessing through Abraham's seed, and the turning of men from iniquity to that same imagined era. To do
that, strips us of the grandest, noblest and choicest blessings that could be imagined. The consequences of
millenialism are serious indeed.


Acts 13


In Antioch of Pisidia, Paul was present at the synagogue when the rulers read from "the law and the
prophets." At the opportunity, Paul preached a sermon that every millenialist should seriously ponder. In verse
19 he said God "divided the land to them by lot." In verse 25 he said John "fulfilled his course." Verse 26 said
the rulers at Jerusalem fulfilled the prophets in condemning Christ. Verse 29 said they "fulfilled all that was
written of him." Then in language too plain to be misunderstood, he said, "And we declare unto you glad
tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their
children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again." Verses 32-33. In verse 34 he associated that resurrection with
the receiving of "the sure mercies of David." Vers. 28 said that through these fullfilments forgiveness of sins
was now preached. There can be no reasonable doubt in the light of this passage that the Messianic prophecies
pointed to the first coming of Christ with all its blessings, and not to the second.


Acts 15:13-17


At the discussion in Jerusalem over the preaching of the Gospel unto the Gentiles and the rite of
circumcision, James stated that the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles was the fulfilling of the prophecy
made by Amos (9:11-12) respecting the building again of the tabernacle of David He argued that this prophecy
must have fulfilled "that" men might seek the Lord, and the Gentiles included. He said in verse 15 that this
agreed with "the words of the prophets."


Romans 16:25-27


We think it a fitting climax to this discussion to employ Paul's words as he concluded his thesis on
justification by faith in the book of Romans, and related that to the time foretold by the prophets. "Now to him
that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the
revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the
scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations
for the obedience of faith: to God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen." The great mystery
of other ages has now been revealed, that all nations might become obedient to the faith, and this is according
to God's commandment, and accords with the scriptures of the prophets.


The sufferings of Christ, his resurrection, the blotting out of sins, the making known of the gospel to all
nations, the establishment of the church revealing God's wisdom to even the heavenly hosts who before desired
to search into God's secret counsels-these are the events to which the prophets pointed. They respect the first
coming of Christ with its wondrous after effects, and not the second coming. To postpone these prophecies is
to by-pass the New Testament entirely and the many plain statements there which show the design of the
Messianic prophecies.


Truth Magazine II:7; pp. 18-19
April 1958

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