As I have read (and read and read) in daily preparation for this blog, one statement about the purpose of prophecy resonated with me. It resonated so deeply that I copied and pasted it (in bold) in a place on my computer that I see everyday. So, each day I am reminded of this goal of prophecy… Unfortunately, I have no idea from where I copied it, and for fear of plagiarizing, I have never shared it. But I think I will today:
The goal of prophecy, more than simply telling the future, is the moral formation of God’s people (Source unknown).
Zechariah’s prophecies are astounding.
- He predicts with precision Jesus’ regal entrance to Jerusalem on a donkey (9:9).
- He predicts the piercing of the Messiah and the depth of the mourning after His death (12:10-14).
- He predicts that from the blood of the cross, there would come forgiveness for sins (13:1).
- He predicts the scattering of the disciples upon Jesus’ arrest and trial (13:7).
- He predicts the refining of the church through the means of persecution (13:9).
- He predicts the great number of Gentiles who would turn to Christ in repentance and faith (14:16).
- And finally, he looks forward to the day when the restoration of Israel should be so complete that even common goods are deemed holy and nothing can be defiled (14:20-21).
Wow. Could the people of Zechariah’s day have predicted the future based on Zechariah’s prophecies? I don’t think so. It’s much easier for us to interpret his words with the luxury of hindsight! So what was the purpose of Zechariah’s prophecies for his contemporaries? Zechariah spoke for the “moral formation of God’s people.” The exiles would have been comforted that God was sovereign and would judge the nations, and they would be challenged to live their lives in a manner worthy of their coming King.
Similarly, the book of Revelation is written for our “moral formation.” John is instructed to record the vision in order to encourage the suffering church to “overcome.” We learn through visions that God is in complete control. He has “sealed” his people so we are protected from His judgment! We see the final defeat of evil and we are encouraged by the future that awaits!
Are we supposed to be able to predict the future with precise detail using the book of Revelation? Absolutely not! But we can read it with the anticipation of our future home and let it motivate us to overcome the trials and temptations of this world. Why? Because we can be sure of our GLORIOUS inheritance recorded in Revelation 21!
Savor the images of this chapter! Notice that the sea of separation has been removed! The Lord Jesus, himself, is the temple and the source of light! See the beauty of Jerusalem – which is symbolic of God’s people – perfectly measured and protected for that day. This is our inheritance! Don’t let the purpose of John’s visions fall on deaf ears.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches!
May John’s visions transform us and propel us toward Christ. May they motivate us to persevere, endure and overcome!!!