About Jesus Steve Sweetman
many of us, our approach to understanding anything is somewhat
scatter-brained. It's not a
step by step, systematic, endeavor.
We start our search for understanding at one point, jump forward
to another point, and back to yet another point, and on it goes.
When it comes to studying Biblical prophecy, it's like we're
playing Biblical hop-scotch. We're
all over the map, and we wonder why we don't understand, or, we think we
understand when we don't.
yourself knowing nothing about mathematics.
You're eager to learn so you search far and wide for every and
any math book available. You
open a grade 12 math text. You
read a grade 6 text. You
attempt to read a university book on technical aspects of calculus.
You're so eager to learn that you take any book that crosses your
path. In frustration you
head to the book store hoping to find "Math For Dummy's" on
of us take this same approach to studying Biblical issues, including
prophecy. We jump right into
the book of Revelation, thinking the last book in the Bible should be
the first we study. After
getting bogged down in the imagery of Revelation, we head on over to
Matthew 24, hoping what Jesus said will be easier to understand.
That leads us to Luke's version of Matthew 24, found in Luke 21.
The "abomination of desolation" mentioned by Jesus
sends us to Daniel's prophecies. That
gets us thinking about the anti-Christ and so we skip over to 2
Thessalonians 2 to see what Paul says.
We wonder about war so there's no way to avoid Ezekiel 38 and 39
and the "Gog of Magog" war.
In the process of our Biblical gymnastics, certain words catch
our attention so we turn to our concordance to do word studies.
Our word studies lead to a hand full of other verses.
Soon we're off to our local Christian book store to replace the
Bible we've just worn out.
from verse to verse does have some merit.
Word studies have there place as long as they're balanced with a
systematic, verse by verse, study of the whole Bible that begins in
with anything, the best way to understand an issue is to start at the
beginning and step by step work our way through to the end.
As in math, we don't start with analytical calculus solutions.
We start at grade 1 math. One
plus one is two. Sooner, and
for sure later, we eventually work our way to university level math, but
even then, we've got questions. It
can be a slow painful process,
and slow isn't in style these days, but taking the time to work our way
from the beginning will help us understand what's at the end.
So we start with Genesis 1:1; "in the beginning …"
This systematic approach, and I'm sorry to say must include the
books of the Law, is fundamental in understanding prophecy.
soon as we hit Genesis 3 we'll see the words "I will", as in ,
"I will do this now and I will do that in the future".
Our search for prophetic truth begins.
The roots of Biblical prophecy are found in its historical
setting, right in the first few chapters of the Bible.
that's how we interpret the Bible, is especially important in
understanding prophecy. One
hermeneutical principle is this. We
must understand what God foretold in the same way in which the one to
whom the prophecy was
originally spoken. For example, in Genesis 12:2 God told Abraham that He
would make him into a great nation.
We must understand this prophetic promise as Abraham understood
it. I'm sure Abraham figured
that his descendents, who later became
prophecy is intertwined with history, so along the way we have to brush
up on our history. We must
understand the setting in which the prophecy was first spoken, to whom
it was spoken, to whom its fulfillment was
originally directed, and, if it has been already been fulfilled or will
yet be fulfilled. For
example, countless times throughout the Old Testament God says that He
prophecy is one huge subject. What
I've said is basic; more can be, and should be said.
Many of us just don't follow the basic principles of study.
Biblical issues, including prophecy, takes hours, days, months,
and even years to understand. We
begin our journey at Genesis 1:1. Word
by word, phrase by phrase, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, and book
by book, we study our way to the end.
don't consider myself a prophecy expert, even though my study has taken
40 years to date. What
slowed the process down for me over the years was a failure to do this
systematic approach to my study. Once
adopting this approach, things have become much clearer for me, and I'm
sure you'd find the same to be true.