Understanding Prophecy - D. Yamartino
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Chapter 2 of  60

The Backwards Principle (2:1)

But, isn't that backwards? It must first be fulfilled? Certainly it seems backwards, but this is only because we have assumed that the reverse is true: that prophecies should be fulfilled according to our understanding of them. In other words, in thinking that we know how a prophecy is going to be fulfilled, we are essentially saying that God cannot fulfill it in a different way. This is presumptuous, to say the least (2:2)

As surprising as this aspect of prophecy may be, the surprises do not stop here (2:3)

Fulfillment is not the only condition necessary for a prophecy to be understood. There is another: namely, that the One fulfilling the prophecy must be recognized and accepted by the individual trying to understand the prophecy. That is, one must first recognize and accept Christ as the divine Son of God in order to understand the prophecies that He has fulfilled (2:4)

And there is more: These two conditions - fulfillment and recognition - present us with a facet of prophecy that seems to go against yet another commonly held assumption: that prophecy is given to lead one to Christ. This is simply not the case (2:5)

As difficult as this may be to accept, the story of the New Testament leaves us no alternative: for there is no mention of anyone accepting Christ because they understood prophecies given them in sacred scripture. Though we may at first object to this statement - it certainly does go against much of what many of us have been taught, either directly or through implication - eventually though, after thoughtful investigation, we see much to our surprise that it is true (2:6)

Now, even those who do come to this realization may argue of course that just because no one understood the prophecies, it does not necessarily follow that the prophecies were not meant to be understood. They may still have had the purpose of leading souls to Christ, but because of the shortcomings of human beings their purpose was not fulfilled. For example, could not the peoples' pride and stubbornness have prevented them from understanding? Certainly this was a factor. But the question then arises, "Was every soul at the time of Christ proud and stubborn?" What about the holy souls through whom Christ chose to bring salvation to the masses by imparting His love and teachings? What about His disciples? If even these souls - glorified for centuries by millions, souls who gave their very lives for their love of Christ - could not understand the meaning of the prophecies, what chance would anyone else have of understanding them? (2:7)

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