1st Coming - Understand Prophecy - Yamartino
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Chapter 7 of  60

Did you assume that the traveler was on foot? What if he arrives on horseback, or by canoe? Did you assume that the traveler was alone? What if he is a soldier in an army? What if he is the commander of an army? Did you assume that the traveler would cross the plain? What if after resting, for some reason he turns around and returns the way he came? Did you assume that the traveler was to stop for a short while? What if he marries, and raises children before continuing. Did you assume that the traveler was to live? What if he dies as he rests? Did you assume that the plain was empty? What if a city were built there? And did you assume that the traveler was a man? What if the traveler is a woman? (7:12)

To illustrate how we automatically form a "picture", and how this picture may vary from the one intended, I have, through my "what-ifs" suggested certain details that may have been associated with the fulfillment of this "prophecy". I have not tried to be clever or deceptive in this. The only "rule" I have followed in suggesting these, is that if it were not ruled out by the "prophecy", then it could be part of the "fulfillment" (7:13)

As we study, in the following chapters actual prophecies and their fulfillment, we will see that God is not even bound by this "rule"; indeed, of course, He is not subject to any "rule" whatsoever, and fulfills prophecies according to His wisdom. Using the life of Christ as an example of the fulfillment of prophecy, we will see that even things that seem to be clearly ruled out in a prophecy, may indeed be present in the fulfillment. And if this weren't enough to confound anyone who would place their confidence in their own understanding of the scriptures, this may be: things that are clearly stated as elements of the fulfillment of a prophecy, may be absent in the actual fulfillment. Moreover, the Word of God gives no explanation as to why this is the case. It is as if God is telling us that, through the events that have come to pass in the life of Christ, we are to understand the meaning of the prophecies referring to Him. For this is exactly what has happened. Now that we have knowledge of Christ and His life through the word of God in the New Testament, we can go back to the Old Testament, and understand His words. Without the New Testament, we cannot understand them (7:14)

Now if, as shown in the example of "The Traveler", common words are subject to widely differing interpretation, how could we possibly assume to have grasped the correct interpretation of the holy words we have been given that describe the Advent of the Lord? (7:15)

The tongue of the prophets described things that others could not perceive. Like a man seeing a coming thunderstorm that his blind friend cannot see, so the prophet sees and tells of things to come (7:16)

We, who read their words, or the words of Christ, are not prophets. Yet, generally, we assume we understand the precise meaning of their words. And though to make this assumption is a perfectly natural thing to do, now that we have the life of Christ described in the New Testament before us as the supreme example of how all assumptions were blown to smithereens at His Coming, can we persist in this practice? (7:17)

The prophecies of the Bible are like seeds, and their fulfillment is like the plants into which these seeds grow. By looking at the seed, there is no way to tell what shape or color or form lies within it. It is only after the seed develops into a plant that we know the "meaning" of the seed (7:18)

In the same way, by studying the words of a prophecy, there is no way to tell what it signifies, or what future events will fulfill it. It is only after the prophecy has been fulfilled that we can understand what the words of the prophecy mean (7:19)

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