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The Apostolic Method [message #1272] Sat, 23 April 2016 10:20
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In the Bible we have a method of prophetic interpretation laid out for us which the apostles themselves used. Let us see what it is.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter began to preach to the people about the resurrection of Jesus. He wanted to show them that the resurrection of the Lord Jesus was prophesied in the Old Testament. Peter said, "David speaketh concerning Him [Jesus], I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance." Acts 2:25-28.

He then continues, "Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses." Acts 2:29-32.

Peter showed the people that that prophecy could not refer to David, because David is dead and in the grave (see verse 34). He eliminated the possibility for that prophecy to apply to David. What he did to help others understand this prophecy was, he showed that because that prophecy had no fulfillment in Old Testament times; it must have been a prophecy that had to be fulfilled in a time then future for David. Peter then showed the people that the prophecy refers to Jesus, because "His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption."

We see that in order to determine when a prophecy has been or will be fulfilled, we must read the Bible and ask ourselves whether the prophecy can apply in the past or not.

A good example of a prophecy that can be understood by this method is Daniel 8:14. We know that a day in prophecy is a year. Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34. We know that the "sanctuary" of that verse cannot be the one from the Old Testament, because that one was destroyed (as prophesied by Jesus) in 70 A.D. and has not been rebuilt. So, just as Peter knew that David was in the grave, even so we know that the old sanctuary is in ruins, and that the "sanctuary" of Daniel 8:14 is the heavenly sanctuary. Hebrews 8:1-5; 9:23; Acts 7:44.

Another example of a prophecy we can understand with this method is Zechariah 8:20-23, which is a prophecy concerning the "remnant" of Israel. Zechariah 8:23 says, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you."

This prophecy has never been fulfilled in Old Testament times; "many people and strong nations" did not come to Jerusalem in Zechariah's day for the purpose of seeking "the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord." When we realize that the Christians are Israel (Galatians 3:29; Romans 9:6-8), that "at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace" (Romans 11:5), and that Christians are the true Jews (Romans 2:29; see 17-28), we know that the prophecy cannot refer to the Jews (those who adhere to Judaism), because the kingdom of God was taken from them (Matthew 21:43), and they are not saved, neither do they know God.

So what we see here is a prophecy declaring that many will seek out the remnant of God (the true Christians) in the future. That fact also helps us to understand that the "Jerusalem" referred to in that prophecy is the church (Psalm 122:6), because the Jerusalem which is in the Middle East is not God's city anymore; He departed from it, because the Jews there departed from Him.

In short, to understand whether a prophecy refers to the time when it was originally penned down or to the future, we must ask the question the eunuch asked Philip to God: "Of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself [or of his time], or of some other man [or some other time]?" Acts 8:34.

"Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." Isaiah 50:10.

[Updated on: Sat, 23 April 2016 12:41]

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