Have Faith in God’s Prophetic Word!
“We have the prophetic word made more sure.”—2 PETER 1:19.
1, 2. What was the first prophecy ever recorded, and what was one of the questions it raised?
JEHOVAH was the Source of the first prophecy ever recorded. After Adam and Eve sinned, God told the serpent: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Genesis 3:1-7, 14, 15) Centuries would pass before those prophetic words were fully understood.
2 That first prophecy held out real hope for sinful mankind. The Scriptures later identified Satan the Devil as “the original serpent.” (Revelation 12:9) But who would be God’s promised Seed?
Searching for the Seed
3. How did Abel exercise faith in the first prophecy?
3 Unlike his father, godly Abel exercised faith in the first prophecy. Abel evidently realized that the shedding of blood would be needed to cover sin. Faith therefore moved him to offer an animal sacrifice that proved acceptable to God. (Genesis 4:2-4) Yet, the identity of the promised Seed remained a mystery.
4. God gave Abraham what promise, and what did it indicate regarding the promised Seed?
4 Some 2,000 years after Abel’s day, Jehovah gave the patriarch Abraham this prophetic promise: “I shall surely bless you and I shall surely multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens . . . And by means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves.” (Genesis 22:17, 18) Those words linked Abraham with the fulfillment of the first prophecy. They indicated that the Seed through whom Satan’s works would be brought to nothing would appear in Abraham’s lineage. (1 John 3:8) “Because of the promise of God [Abraham] did not waver in a lack of faith” and neither did other pre-Christian witnesses of Jehovah who “did not get the fulfillment of the promise.” (Romans 4:20, 21; Hebrews 11:39) Instead, they maintained faith in God’s prophetic word.
5. In whom was God’s promise of the Seed fulfilled, and why do you so answer?
5 The apostle Paul identified God’s promised Seed when he wrote: “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. It says, not: ‘And to seeds,’ as in the case of many such, but as in the case of one: ‘And to your seed,’ who is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16) The Seed through whom the nations were to bless themselves did not include all of Abraham’s offspring. Descendants of his son Ishmael and of his sons by Keturah were not used to bless mankind. The Seed of blessing came through his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. (Genesis 21:12; 25:23, 31-34; 27:18-29, 37; 28:14) Jacob showed that “peoples” would be obedient to Shiloh of the tribe of Judah, but the Seed was later restricted to David’s lineage. (Genesis 49:10; 2 Samuel 7:12-16) First-century Jews expected one person to come as the Messiah, or Christ. (John 7:41, 42) And God’s prophecy of the Seed was fulfilled in his Son, Jesus Christ.
The Messiah Appears!
6. (a) How are we to understand the prophecy of the 70 weeks? (b) When and how did Jesus “finish off sin”?
6 The prophet Daniel recorded a vital Messianic prophecy. In the first year of Darius the Mede, he realized that Jerusalem’s 70-year desolation was near its end. (Jeremiah 29:10; Daniel 9:1-4) While Daniel was praying, the angel Gabriel came and revealed that ‘seventy weeks had been determined to finish off sin.’ The Messiah would be cut off in the middle of the 70th week. “Seventy weeks of years” began in 455 B.C.E. when Persian King Artaxerxes I ‘sent forth the word to rebuild Jerusalem.’ (Daniel 9:20-27; Moffatt; Nehemiah 2:1-8) The Messiah would come after 7 weeks plus 62 weeks. These 483 years ran from 455 B.C.E. to 29 C.E., when Jesus was baptized and God anointed him as the Messiah, or Christ. (Luke 3:21, 22) Jesus ‘finished off sin’ by giving his life as a ransom in 33 C.E. (Mark 10:45) What sound reasons for having faith in God’s prophetic word!*
7. Using the Scriptures, point out how Jesus fulfilled Messianic prophecy.
7 Faith in God’s prophetic word makes it possible for us to identify the Messiah. Of the many Messianic prophecies recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures, a number were directly applied to Jesus by writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures. To illustrate: Jesus was born of a virgin in Bethlehem. (Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2; Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 2:4-11) He was called out of Egypt, and babes were killed after his birth. (Jeremiah 31:15; Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:13-18) Jesus carried our sicknesses. (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:16, 17) As foretold, he entered Jerusalem on the colt of an ass. (Zechariah 9:9; John 12:12-15) The psalmist’s words were fulfilled after Jesus’ impalement when soldiers apportioned his clothing among themselves and cast lots for his inner garment. (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23, 24) The fact that Jesus’ bones were not broken and that he was pierced also fulfilled prophecy. (Psalm 34:20; Zechariah 12:10; John 19:33-37) These are but a few examples of Messianic prophecies applied to Jesus by divinely inspired Bible writers.*
Hail the Messianic King!
8. Who is the Ancient of Days, and how was the prophecy recorded at Daniel 7:9-14 fulfilled?
8 In the first year of Babylonian King Belshazzar, Jehovah granted his prophet Daniel a dream and remarkable visions. The prophet first saw four huge beasts. God’s angel identified them as “four kings,” thus indicating that they symbolized successive world powers. (Daniel 7:1-8, 17) Daniel next beheld Jehovah, “the Ancient of Days,” sitting gloriously enthroned. Judging the beasts adversely, he took rulership away from them and destroyed the fourth beast. Lasting rulership over “the peoples, national groups and languages” was then vested in “someone like a son of man.” (Daniel 7:9-14) What a wonderful prophecy relating to the enthronement of “the Son of man,” Jesus Christ, in the heavens in the year 1914!—Matthew 16:13.
9, 10. (a) The various parts of the dream image pointed to what? (b) How would you explain the fulfillment of Daniel 2:44?
9 Daniel knew that God is “removing kings and setting up kings.” (Daniel 2:21) With faith in Jehovah, the “Revealer of secrets,” the prophet disclosed the meaning of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of an immense image. Its various parts pointed to the rise and fall of such world powers as Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. God also used Daniel to outline world events down to our time and beyond.—Daniel 2:24-30.
10 “In the days of those kings,” said the prophecy, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” (Daniel 2:44) When “the appointed times of the nations” ended in 1914, God established the heavenly Kingdom under Christ. (Luke 21:24; Revelation 12:1-5) By divine power the Messianic Kingdom “stone” was then cut out of the “mountain” of God’s universal sovereignty. At Armageddon that stone will strike the image and grind it to powder. As a governmental mountain affecting “the whole earth,” the Messianic Kingdom will stand forever.—Daniel 2:35, 45; Revelation 16:14, 16.*
11. Jesus’ transfiguration was a preview of what, and what impact did that vision have on Peter?
11 With his Kingdom rule in mind, Jesus told his disciples: “There are some of those standing here that will not taste death at all until first they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28) Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John into a lofty mountain where he was transfigured before them. As a bright cloud covered the apostles, God declared: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:1-9) What a preview of Christ’s Kingdom glory! No wonder Peter referred to that dazzling vision and said: “Consequently we have the prophetic word made more sure.”—2 Peter 1:16-19.*
12. Why is this especially the time to demonstrate our faith in God’s prophetic word?
12 “The prophetic word” apparently includes not only Hebrew Scripture prophecies about the Messiah but also Jesus’ statement that he would come “with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30) The transfiguration verified the prophetic word about Christ’s glorious coming in Kingdom power. Very soon, his revelation in glory will mean destruction for the faithless and blessings for those exercising faith. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10) The fulfillment of Bible prophecy proves that these are “the last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, 16, 17; Matthew 24:3-14) As Jehovah’s Chief Executioner, Michael, who is Jesus Christ, stands ready to bring an end to this wicked system of things during the “great tribulation.” (Matthew 24:21; Daniel 12:1) This, then, certainly is the time to demonstrate that we have faith in God’s prophetic word.
Maintain Faith in God’s Prophetic Word
13. What can help us to maintain our love for God and keep alive our faith in his word?
13 Surely we were thrilled when we first learned about fulfillments of God’s prophetic word. But since then has our faith diminished and our love cooled off? May we never become like the Christians in Ephesus who ‘left the love they had at first.’ (Revelation 2:1-4) Regardless of how long we have served Jehovah, we can suffer such loss unless we ‘keep on seeking first God’s kingdom and his righteousness’ so as to store up treasures in heaven. (Matthew 6:19-21, 31-33) Diligent Bible study, regular participation in Christian meetings, and zealous Kingdom-preaching activity will help us to maintain our love for Jehovah, for his Son, and for the Scriptures. (Psalm 119:105; Mark 13:10; Hebrews 10:24, 25) In turn, this will keep alive our faith in God’s word.—Psalm 106:12.
14. How are anointed Christians rewarded for their faith in Jehovah’s prophetic word?
14 Just as God’s prophetic word was fulfilled in the past, so we can have faith in what it foretells for the future. For instance, Christ’s presence in Kingdom glory is now a reality, and anointed Christians who were faithful to death have experienced the fulfillment of the prophetic promise: “To him that conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7, 10; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17) Jesus grants these victorious ones the privilege “to eat of the tree of life” in the heavenly “paradise of God.” In their resurrection and by means of Jesus Christ, they partake of immortality and incorruption granted by Jehovah, “the King of eternity, incorruptible, invisible, the only God.” (1 Timothy 1:17; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54; 2 Timothy 1:10) What a grand reward for their undying love of God and unwavering faith in his prophetic word!
15. In whom was the foundation of the “new earth” laid, and who are their associates?
15 Shortly after faithful dead anointed ones were resurrected into the heavenly “paradise of God,” the remnant of spiritual Israel on earth was liberated from “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion. (Revelation 14:8; Galatians 6:16) In them the foundation of the “new earth” was laid. (Revelation 21:1) “A land” was thus brought forth, and it was built up into a spiritual paradise that flourishes earth wide today. (Isaiah 66:8) Into it the multitudes of sheeplike associates of spiritual Israel are streaming right now, “in the final part of the days.”—Isaiah 2:2-4; Zechariah 8:23; John 10:16; Revelation 7:9.
Mankind’s Future Foretold in God’s Prophetic Word
16. What are the prospects of loyal supporters of the anointed ones?
16 What are the prospects of loyal supporters of the anointed? They too have faith in God’s prophetic word, and their hope rests on entering the earthly Paradise. (Luke 23:39-43) There they will drink from a life-sustaining “river of water of life” and will find healing from “the leaves of the trees” planted alongside it. (Revelation 22:1, 2) If you have such a wonderful hope, may you continue to demonstrate deep love for Jehovah and faith in his prophetic word. May you be among those who experience the unbounded joy of everlasting life in the Paradise earth.
17. Life in the earthly Paradise will include what blessings?
17 Imperfect humans are at a loss to describe life in the coming earthly Paradise, but God’s prophetic word gives us insight into the blessings then in store for obedient mankind. When God’s Kingdom rules unopposed and his will is done on earth as it is in heaven, no vicious humans—no, not even animals—will “do any harm or cause any ruin.” (Isaiah 11:9; Matthew 6:9, 10) The meek will inhabit the earth, and “they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” (Psalm 37:11) Starving masses will not exist, for “there will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.” (Psalm 72:16) No longer will tears of sorrow be shed. Sickness will be gone, and even death will be no more. (Isaiah 33:24; Revelation 21:4) Can you imagine—no doctors, no medicines, no hospitals or mental institutions, no funerals. What splendid prospects!
18. (a) Of what was Daniel given assurance? (b) What will be Daniel’s “lot”?
18 Even the common grave of mankind will be emptied as deaths give way to resurrections. The righteous man Job had such a hope. (Job 14:14, 15) So did the prophet Daniel, for Jehovah’s angel gave him the comforting assurance: “As for you yourself, go toward the end; and you will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.” (Daniel 12:13) Daniel served God faithfully until the end of his life. Now he is resting in death, but he will “stand up” in “the resurrection of the righteous ones” during Christ’s Millennial Reign. (Luke 14:14) What will be Daniel’s “lot”? Well, in its Paradise fulfillment, Ezekiel’s prophecy suggests that all of Jehovah’s people will have a place, even the land being apportioned in a just and orderly way. (Ezekiel 47:13–48:35) So Daniel will have a place in Paradise, but his lot there will involve more than land. It will include his place in Jehovah’s purpose.
19. What is required for life in the earthly Paradise?
19 What about you and your lot? If you have faith in God’s Word, the Bible, very likely you yearn for life in the earthly Paradise. You may even imagine yourself there, enjoying its many blessings, caring for the earth, and joyfully welcoming back the dead. After all, Paradise is where mankind belongs. God created the first human pair to live in such a place. (Genesis 2:7-9) And he wants obedient humans to live forever in Paradise. Will you act in accord with the Scriptures so that you can be among the billions who will eventually live on the Paradise earth? You can be there if you have true love for our heavenly Father, Jehovah, and enduring faith in God’s prophetic word.
See chapter 11 of Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy! and “Seventy Weeks” in Insight on the Scriptures, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
See “All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial,” pages 343-4, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
See the article entitled “Pay Attention to God’s Prophetic Word,” appearing in The Watchtower of April 1, 2000.
How Would You Answer?
• What was the first prophecy, and who was the promised Seed?
• What were some Messianic prophecies fulfilled in Jesus?
• How will Daniel 2:44, 45 be fulfilled?
• God’s prophetic word points to what future for obedient mankind?
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Do you hope to live in the earthly Paradise?