The Bible and Prophecy (2020, Quarter 2, Lesson 11)

by Tim Rumsey June 06, 2020

The Bible and Prophecy (2020, Quarter 2, Lesson 11)

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This study guide contains additional materials to accompany the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide for the second quarter of 2020, titled How to Interpret Scripture. This Deeper Daily Bible Study develops the broad theme of studying and interpreting the Bible into some areas not covered by the Sabbath School Study Guide. While the general topic of each week’s set of lessons corresponds to the Study Guide topic for that week, the daily focus will vary at times from that guide.  We hope that you will find this approach to be a valuable added resource in your Bible study. 

The “Digging Deeper” section probes into the day’s topic, and illustrates the study principle or tool being discussed. Suggested answers, if included, are provided in parentheses. Sabbath School teachers will find this section especially helpful in the Sabbath School setting. The “Apply It” section gives the student an opportunity to apply the subject at hand to their own study of the Bible, and the “Share It” section provides an opportunity for those in group studies to discuss and share their response to the day’s theme.

Sabbath (June 6, 2020): The Bible and Prophecy

Bible prophecy, like the rest of Scripture, focuses on Jesus Christ. Many of the Bible’s Old Testament prophecies, of course, point forward to the coming of the Messiah, and Jesus Christ’s birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection provide a striking fulfillment of hundreds of such prophecies. This reality illustrates an important principle—Bible prophecy centers in Jesus Christ. In today’s lesson we will look at Biblical evidence showing that even many apocalyptic prophecies in Revelation center in Jesus Christ.

Digging Deeper

The Bible uses marriage to illustrate the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:25-27). “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones,” writes Paul in Ephesians 5:30. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh” (verse 31, emphasis added). Just as a husband and wife choose to walk through life together, Christ and His people make the same decision. And just as a married couple shares the experiences of life, so do Christ and His church. Christ’s experiences on earth were in fact prophecies of what His body, the church, would pass through in the centuries after His return to heaven.

Read the passages below and discuss the similarities they bring out between what the Head, Jesus Christ, experiences, and what His body, the church, goes through:

  • Matthew 3:16,17 and Acts 2:1-4 (both receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit)

  • Luke 4:1 and Revelation 12:6 (both are led into the wilderness)

  • Mark 1:13 and Revelation 12:13-15 (both are surrounded by wild beasts and protected by God)

  • Revelation 12:6,14 (The woman stays in the wilderness for 3.5 prophetic years, and Jesus Christ’s public ministry lasted 3.5 literal years)

  • Luke 22:70,71 and Revelation 12:17 (both are condemned for the testimony of Jesus Christ)

Share It

  • What does it mean to you that Jesus Christ is leading His church through the same experiences that He went through?

See the study guide set titled Living in the Final Week for a more in-depth study of this subject. Available at www.PathwayToParadise.org.

Sunday (June 7, 2020): Historicism and Prophecy

Historicism—recognizing the fulfillment of apocalyptic prophecy from the time of the prophet to the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth—is central to a correct understanding of “the end” and the events that lead up to it. This method of prophetic interpretation is important for a number of reasons:

  • It flows naturally from the sequence of world empires repeatedly laid out in Daniel’s prophecies.

  • The large time spans contained in these prophecies best fit into a historicist framework.

  • Both Jesus and Paul interpreted Daniel’s prophecies as applying to successive specific events occurring before Christ’s second coming (Matt. 24:15-20, Luke 21:20-22; 2 Thess. 2:1-12).

  • Early Christians and the Reformers used the historicist approach.

  • The historicist approach views God as interested in all of human history.

  • The historicist approach asserts that the Bible has always had a message for people in every age.

Digging Deeper

  • Read Daniel 7:26; 8:17,19; 11:27,35,40; 12:4,9,13. On what period of time are all of these verses focused? (The “end.”) For what reasons do you think God repeats this phrase so many times throughout the book? (Answers will vary. Clearly, He wants us to recognize the importance of this book for our lives today. Also, He wanted to assure Daniel, and us as well, that He is ultimately in control of our salvation and what is happening in this world.)

  • Read John 5:17. In the NLT this verse reads, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” What does this verse suggest about the legitimacy of historicism, the interpreting of apocalyptic prophecies as extending from the time of the prophet to the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth? (Just as God is always working for our salvation, the Bible’s lines of apocalyptic prophecy reveal that God is involved with and aware of human history through all of time. The Bible’s message is given to, and applies to, all people at all times, not just to a few people at the very end of time, as futurism would suggest.)

  • Read Isaiah 46:9,10. While this passage certainly is not a proof text for the validity of historicism, what general principle(s) does it reveal about how God interacts with human history? (First, one way that God reveals Himself is through His interactions throughout history. Second, God states that one evidence of His divinity is the fact that He can predict events in human history from “the end [to] the beginning.” Historicism matches very well these two aspects of God’s power.)

Share It

  • For what reasons is it so important that God is not only involved in history, but that He has also revealed the prophetic flow of history? How does this fact help build your confidence in God’s trustworthiness and character?

Monday (June 8, 2020): The Year-Day Principle

The year-day principle of interpreting prophetic time is used frequently in the Bible. The general validity of corresponding years and days can be seen in passages such as Genesis 5:4,8,11; 6:3; 1 Sam. 1:21; and Job 10:5. The Bible’s apocalyptic prophecies in Daniel and Revelation often use a prophetic day to represent a literal year, and God used 40 literal days to represent 40 literal years in Numbers 14:34, and 390 literal years to represent 390 literal days in Ezekiel 4:4-6. It is interesting to note that the day-year principle is employed when God is responding to sin, and that the length of time given in the prophecy reflects the sin or the solution to that sin. For instance:

  • In Numbers 14:34, Israel was given 40 years to wander in the wilderness as a consequence of rebellion following the spies’ 40 days in Canaan. Forty years was also long enough for that generation of adults to pass away in the wilderness.

  • In Ezekiel 4:4-6, the prophet was told to lie on his side for 390 days as a symbol of Israel’s iniquity over 390 years.

  • In Daniel 9:24-27, the Jews were given 70 weeks, or 490 years, to “put away sin” and prepare for the Messiah. While the day-year principle applies in this prophecy, it was given in terms of weeks. The week refers back to God’s complete and perfect work of creation and connects God’s work of creation and redemption.

  • In Daniel 7:25 and Revelation 12:14, the little horn/beast power is predicted to rule and persecute the saints for 3.5 prophetic years (1,260 literal years), and then to receive a “deadly wound” (Revelation 13:3). The 3.5 prophetic years of power by this antichrist power corresponds to Christ’s 3.5 literal years of prophetic ministry.

  • Daniel 8:14 predicts a period of 2,300 days, or years, leading up to the start of the judgment and the purification of the sanctuary. Daniel 8:26 refers to this time period as “the vision of the evening and morning,” and this terminology refers to the morning and evening sacrifices that were to take place continually in the sanctuary and the temple. These sacrifices provided for continual or ongoing atonement for sin, and represent Christ’s unceasing intercession for us in heaven leading up to, and including, the antitypical Day of Atonement (see Hebrews 7:25).

Digging Deeper

  • Read Galatians 4:4,5. What does this verse reveal about God’s timescale? (Important events in salvation history happen exactly when God knows they need to happen.) What prophetic events are we waiting for right now that we need to trust God to bring about at the right time? (Answers will vary.)

  • Read 2 Peter 3:8. What does this verse suggest about our need for patience in waiting for God to work? (It’s important!)

  • Read Genesis 6:3 and Revelation 20:1-4. For what reasons do you think that the Bible’s first and last time prophecies employ literal time, not the day-year principle? (Answers will vary. Perhaps this is because the events at the end of these prophecies—the destruction of the earth with water and with fire—are explained in literal, not symbolic terms, and therefore the time periods are also literal.)

Share It

  • For what reasons do you think God employs the year-day principle in so many prophecies of Scripture? Wouldn’t it be simpler to just state the actual length of time being referred to in the prophecy?

Tuesday (June 9, 2020): Identifying the Little Horn

The steady tread of ferocious animals in Daniel 7 culminates, ironically, in a “little horn” that emerges late on the fourth beast. Although its physical appearance might cause no alarm, the description of its activities and destructive power set the stage for understanding one of the Bible’s most important lines of prophecy.

Digging Deeper

  • Read Daniel 7:8. For hundreds of years, Protestants have recognized the little horn as representing the papal system. What clues do you see in this verse that point to the legitimacy of that conclusion? (It is also a political power, as is referenced by its “horn” status. The timing of its emergence after the 10 horns that represent the nations of western Europe follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD. It destroys three horns just as the papal power destroyed the Heruli, Vandals, and Ostrogoths between 476 AD and 538 AD. It is led by a man with the “eyes of a man,” and it speaks “great things,” or blasphemies.)

  • Read Daniel 7:19-20 and Revelation 17:6. These two verses describe the same basic power, though in different phases of its existence. What do you think made both Daniel and John so fascinated with this power? (Answers will vary. Certainly the success of its destructive power against the saints would have raised concerns for both of the prophets.)

  • Read 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 1 John 2:22, and Revelation 13:1. Bible scholars generally recognize that these various names (man of sin, son of perdition, lawless one, antichrist, and beast) refer to the little horn. For what reason might the Bible refer to this power by so many names? (Jesus Christ also has many names in the Bible, and the antichrist power mimics the genuine in as many ways as possible, including the multitude of names. Each name also reveals an aspect of its character and activity.)

Share It

  • Why do you think the Bible reveals uncomfortable truths to us? What other difficult truths has God revealed to you through the Bible, and how has this impacted your life?

Wednesday (June 10, 2020): The Investigative Judgment

The Bible predicts a judgment in heaven that takes place after the 1,260-year dominion of the little horn, and shortly before Jesus Christ’s second coming. In today’s lesson we will take a closer look at this very important prophetic event.

Digging Deeper

  • Read Daniel 7:9,10,21-26. What do these verses reveal about the impact of events on earth and what takes place in heaven? (There is a direct connection between what happens on earth and what happens in heaven.) What does this tell you about God’s character? (He is concerned with what happens on earth, and with what happens to people. He is personal and involved in the affairs of earth, and works for the good of those that serve Him. Therefore, He is a God that can be trusted.) What does the fact that “ten thousand times ten thousand” angels stand around God’s throne in the judgment suggest to you? (Heavenly beings are also interested in what takes place on earth. Even more, they are interested in how God is addressing the problem of sin.)

  • Read Daniel 7:10. Heaven’s judgment involves the opening of “books.” What does this suggest to you? (Answers will vary. God is doing everything possible to demonstrate that His judgment and His response to sin are fair, just, and transparent. Everything is documented so that every intelligent being can be assured of His justice.)

  • Read Acts 17:31. What does the fact that God’s judgment is “scheduled” to occur at a specific time in earth’s history mean to you? (Just as the prophecies in Daniel reveal that God is in control of the rise and fall of nations, they also reveal that history is moving forward to a grand climax, and God is in charge of this too.) Although we may not understand why God’s timetable often seems so long, what reassurance can we gain by realizing and remembering that He is in control? (Answers will vary.)

Apply It

  • Read Daniel 7:13,14. The “coming” pictured here is not the second coming, but the approach of Jesus Christ in heaven towards God’s throne. What does this suggest about the importance of what is happening here? (It’s very important!)

  • Read Luke 19:11-15 and discuss its application to the prophecy in Daniel 7:13-14 and its historical fulfillment beginning in 1844:

    • Verse 11. (In this parable, Jesus is going to explain why He won’t immediately set up God’s kingdom on earth when He arrives in Jerusalem. The advent believers were expecting something similar leading up to 1844 as they awaited the second coming and the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth.)

    • Verse 12. (Here Jesus compares Himself to a nobleman that travels to a far country—heaven—where He will receive a kingdom, and then return. In a similar way, Daniel 7:13-14 reveals that in 1844 [more on this date in the next lesson] Jesus began receiving His kingdom in heaven. When this process is complete, He will return. Daniel 7:14 also reveals that Christ’s kingdom is comprised of people that serve Him.)

    • Verse 15. (When Jesus returns at the second coming, He will have already “received” His kingdom of people. That is, final decisions will have already been made and it will be too late at that point to reverse the course of our lives. Today is the day to surrender your life to Christ!)

Thursday (June 11, 2020): Typology as Prophecy

Typology uses an actual person, event, or institution in history that points forward to a greater reality. Examples of typology in the Bible include:

  • Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness as a type of the Christian journey (1 Corinthians 10:1-11)

  • The sanctuary and its services as a type of Jesus Christ (John 10:9; 1:29; 4:13,14; 6:35; 8:12)

  • Uzziah’s and Jeroboam’s rebellions as a type of the mark of the beast (1 Kings 21:25-13:4; 2 Chronicles 26:16-21)

In today’s lesson we will look at several stories in the book of Genesis that contain types of the investigative judgment. This study is developed more fully in the DVD titled Fire From Heaven, available at www.PathwayToParadise.org.

Digging Deeper

Read the following passages and discuss how each may contain a type of the investigative judgment at the end of time:

  • Genesis 3:7-13 (God investigates what Adam and Eve have done, before removing them from the Garden of Eden)

  • Genesis 4:9 (God investigates Cain’s murder of Abel, even though He already knows what has happened)

  • Genesis 6:5 (God investigates the hearts of men before the flood, and finds them to be “only evil continually”)

  • Genesis 11:5 (God investigates the rebellious construction of the tower of Babel)

  • Genesis 18:21 (God investigates the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah)

Share It

  • Since God knows all things, for what reasons do you think He goes through the process of an investigative judgment? For whom is the judgment really intended?

Friday (June 12, 2020): The Prophetic Pattern, Part 2

In the lesson for Friday, June 5, we looked at the Bible’s prophetic pattern, in which time prophecies end with a confirming prophet announcing the end of, or being used by God at the end of, the prophetic period. We also saw that a judgment consistently takes place at this time, and also that something significant happens with the sanctuary or temple. In today’s lesson we will look at two more examples of this pattern in the Bible—the 1,260 years of Daniel 7:25, and the 2,300 years in Daniel 8:14.

 

Judgment

Time Prophecy

Confirming Prophet

Flood

120 years (Gen 6:3)

Noah (Genesis 6:13,14)

Plagues on Egypt

400 years (Gen. 15:13)

Moses (Exodus 12:41)

Babylon judged

70 years (Jer. 25:4-10)

Daniel (Dan. 9:1,2)

Messiah’s appearance

483 years (Dan. 9:25,26)

John the Baptist
(Mark 1:1-3,15)

Judgment on Israel

490 years (Dan. 9:24)

Stephen (Acts 7:54-56)

Sea beast wounded

1260 years (Dan. 7:25; Rev. 12:6,14; 13:5)

False prophet (Rev. 13:11; 16:13)

God’s final judgment

2,300 years - 1844
(Dan. 8:14)

Ellen G. White (Rev. 12:17)

 

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Tim Rumsey
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