Questions From Readers
● What is the meaning of the comment at Revelation 19:10, “the bearing witness to Jesus is what inspires prophesying”?—U.S.A.
This statement is part of what an angel told the aged apostle John when John, in a moment of strong emotion, began to do obeisance before him. The angel said: “Be careful! Do not do that! All I am is a fellow slave of you and of your brothers who have the work of witnessing to Jesus. Worship God; for the bearing witness to Jesus is what inspires [literally, “is the spirit of”] prophesying.” (Rev. 19:10) The words in question basically mean that the “spirit” or the whole intent and purpose of Bible prophecy is to point to Jesus Christ.
Jehovah had assigned his Son Jesus the key role in the outworking of God’s purpose to sanctify His name and restore the earth and its human population to the proper place in His arrangement. (Eph. 1:9, 10; Col. 2:3) The fulfillment of God’s great purpose is all bound up in Jesus; hence the main thrust of Bible prophecy or inspired messages from God proclaimed by his servants pointed forward to Jesus.
God himself began this prophesying when he foretold the “seed” that would eventually crush the head of the serpent, God’s adversary the Devil. (Gen. 3:15; Rev. 12:9) The numerous inspired prophecies about the seed and his position and accomplishments all bore witness to Jesus. (Gen. 22:18; 2 Sam. 7:12-16; Ps. 2:6-12; 110:1-7; Isa. 53:1-12; Mic. 5:2-6) As the apostle Peter said, “To him [Christ] all the prophets bear witness.” (Acts 10:43) The prophetic visions of the book of Revelation also contain much regarding Jesus as God’s conquering King.—Rev. 5:12–6:2; 19:11-16.
Even the faithful angels in heaven were interested in the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures concerning the Christ. (1 Pet. 1:10-12) Along with God’s servants on earth, they could recognize, once Jesus proved his faithfulness to death and was resurrected, that “no matter how many the promises of God are, they have become Yes by means of him.” (2 Cor. 1:20) So the angel who spoke to John could properly point out that the entire “spirit” or whole inclination and purpose of these prophecies was to bear witness to Jesus.
The same can be said of the prophesying and prophecies mentioned in the Christian Greek Scriptures. These evidently involved witnessing about Jesus directly, the accomplishing of the preaching work he commissioned or the understanding of God’s purposes that revolve around the Kingdom of which Jesus is king. (Acts 21:9-13; 1 Cor. 14:22-25) It is similar with the prophecying by God’s servants in these “last days” before “the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.” (Joel 2:28-32) Jehovah’s witnesses are not giving new prophecies about the future. But they are proclaiming the present and future fulfillment of prophecies recorded in the Bible, as well as prophesying in the sense of declaring God’s message today. In this they emphasize Jesus’ role as the key one in Jehovah’s purposes, the king of His kingdom.