The Purpose of Prophecy

Daniel

The Purpose of Prophecy

January 9th, 1972 @ 10:50 AM

Daniel 7-12

In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart. In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first. And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai. Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great. And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered. Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be. The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days. And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it. In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice. And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name. And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God; Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days. And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me. Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince. Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him. And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia. And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those. And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion. And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king's daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times. But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail: And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north. So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land. But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress. And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand. And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it. For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches. And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall. So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand. But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed. He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him. After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him. Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found. Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle. And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant. And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people. He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time. And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him. Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain. And both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed. Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land. At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter. For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant. And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed. And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain. And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps. But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river. And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.
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THE PURPOSE OF PROPHECY

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Daniel 7-12

1-9-72    10:50 a.m.

 

 

On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Purpose of Prophecy.  It has been some time since I have preached on the Book of Daniel.  I have finished the first six chapters, expounding that prophecy; and today, I begin the long series on the second half of the book.  The first part of Daniel, chapters 1 through 6, are narrative [Daniel 1-6]; the second half of Daniel, chapter 7 through 12, are altogether prophetic [Daniel 7-12].  So these messages that are prepared and to be delivered in these next several months will concern the great prophecies of God outlining the future of human history to the consummation of the age.

The Purpose of Prophecy.  The seventh chapter begins, “In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had dreams and visions” [Daniel 7:1].  The eighth chapter begins, “In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel” [Daniel 8:1].  Then in the tenth chapter, “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel. . .and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision” [Daniel 10:1].  And so the chapters and the verses flow through the second part of the Book of Daniel.

Why prophecy?  The Purpose of Prophecy.  First: it is an authentication and a confirmation of the true God and the true Word of the Lord.  In clear brilliant white, blazing unmistakable light, Jehovah God sets Himself forth as the only God who is able to predict the future.  In Isaiah He declares, “Who hath declared this from ancient time?  who hath told it from that time?  have not I the Lord?  and there is none other God beside Me” [Isaiah 45:21].  And again:

 

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else;  I am God, and there is none like Me,

Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure:

Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth My counsel from a far country; yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

[Isaiah 46:9-11]

 

Why cannot a man predict the future?  Because he cannot control the flow of events.  But God can predict the future, for He says of Himself, “What I say shall surely come to pass” [Isaiah 46:11].  He is the sovereign God who reigns over heaven and earth [Psalm 103:19].  This therefore becomes the criterion by which God sets forth the test of whether a god is a true God or not, and whether a prophet is a true prophet or not [Deuteronomy 18:22].

What criterion could we use by which we could know in a decisive and unmistakable and authentic manner who is the true God and who is the true prophet?  The decisive criterion offered by Jehovah in the Book of Isaiah is that concerning prophecy, who can predict the future.

For example, the Lord flings out the challenge to the false prophets and the false gods of his day when He says, “Let them bring forth, and show us what shall happen . . . let them show us the things that shall be, show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods” [Isaiah 41:22-23].  Who can accept a challenge like that?  There is no other faith, there is no other religion, there is no other prophet, and there is no other God.

Why is there not prophecy in other religions?  Why do not these men who founded them predict the future?  For the very apparent and significant reason, that had they attempted to do so it would have been most manifest that they were frauds and fools.  But the Lord God, accepting the challenge, says to the other prophets and to the other gods,

 

Behold, ye are nothing, and your work is nought; an abomination is he that chooseth thee.

For behold, there was no man, even among them, no counselor, that, when I asked of him, could answer a word.

Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing: their golden images are wind and confusion.

[Isaiah 41:24, 28-29]

 

The great basic test of the true God, and the true faith, and the true prophet, and the true religion lies in this: can he predict the future?

Now there has been no time in human history when attempts at prognostication have not been made by those who claim to be wizards and swamis and necromancers and clairvoyant in the magic art.  Babel itself was the headquarters of the soothsayers and the astrologers.  It was the headquarters of those who took sacrificial animals and examined their viscera, and especially their liver, in order to find omens of the future.

From the Babylonians it fell into the hands of the Etruscans, the seafaring Romans who became a part of the Roman Empire close to the eternal city itself.  And all Rome gave itself to seeking in entrails of sacrificial animals to find what the future portended for them and their armies.  In Greece there was no statesman or leader or businessman who did not seek from the Pythian prophetess at Delphi an answer for what the morrow might bring.  And all history confirms that the ancient Roman and the ancient Greek found in those Sibylline Oracles nothing but enigmatic un-understandable utterances.

Today we are no different than the ancients in seeking through fortunetellers and soothsayers and necromancers and astrologers some answer for the future.  In America, in our enlightened land, there are more than ten thousand swamis and fortunetellers and soothsayers and necromancers who claim to be able to predict the future.  And some of them make fabulous salaries through counseling their wealthy clients concerning the morrow.

Men of great economic power, magnates of industry, statesmen and politicians, movie stars, famous Americans do no other thing in making a decision than to seek out a fortuneteller or an astrologer.  And the people who read the astrological forecasts in our daily newspapers are legion; nor would there be a daily newspaper who dared not to print it.  What about these soothsayers and fortunetellers?  Can they predict the future?  Let us take two.

We mention first Jeane Dixon, the psychic of Washington, D.C.  Like a gypsy she sometimes uses a deck of cards; sometimes she uses her astrological charts, charting the stars in the heavens; but her favorite means of peering into the future is through a crystal ball.  There is no one who has been more famously publicized as being accurate in her predictions than Jeane Dixon.

The reason is, we do not mention and we do not publicize her egregious flops and blunders.  Now I’m going to read some of them to you.  In 1964, she assured her readers that the war in Vietnam would be over in 1965.  Later she amended the date to 1966.  Then she gave up.  And in 1971 and 2 that war is still going on in Vietnam.  In 1958, she predicted that in that year Red China and the United States would declare war against each other.  In 1959, she predicted that in that year Red China would be admitted to the United Nations; she was not admitted until 1971.

She predicted that Walter Ruther would be a candidate for president in 1964; he didn’t even propose to run.  In January 1968, she predicted that the Democratic nominee for president would be Lyndon B. Johnson; it was Hubert Humphrey.  In 1968, she predicted that before the elections Dean Rusk would resign as Secretary of State; he never resigned.

In 1968, on the twentieth of October, she predicted that the men on the captured ship Pueblo would not be released by the North Koreans, but would be released after a long period of time through negotiations with the Russians.  Actually, the crew of the Pueblo were liberated by the North Koreans, not by the Russians, and the North Koreans did it within just two months after Mrs. Dixon’s negative prognosis.

In 1968, she predicted that Russia will be the first nation to put a man on the moon, and that within three years.  Actually, Russia hasn’t been able to put a man on the moon to this day in 1972.

The newspaper syndicate that distributes Mrs. Dixon’s column printed her prediction about Jackie Kennedy on October 20, the day of her surprise wedding to Aristotle Onassis.  It threw the hocus-pocus industry into a dither and a thither.  Why?  Because Mrs. Dixon had written in her column that day, quote, “I still stand on my New Year’s prediction and see no marriage for Jackie.”  In 1967, she predicted that that year would see a cure for cancer, giving false hopes to uncounted thousands of sufferers.

But the resplendent personality of all the assorted seers, and star gazers, and swamis is Criswell of San Francisco, California.  There’s nobody like him.  His TV show, Criswell Predicts, has been seen by uncounted millions.  And his book entitled Criswell Predicts has been read by uncounted thousands.  And he claims eighty-seven percent accuracy in his fantastic predictions that he makes for his wealthy clients.  That’s the screwiest thing you ever heard in your life.

When I go to California, I go almost anywhere or appear on any stage but that somebody asks me, “Are you he, or are you his brother?”  I have taken two of his predictions from his paperback crystal ball.  Number one: “America’s foremost rock and roll singer will commit suicide during Easter week 1969.”  Not only was there no rock and roll singer who committed suicide, but there wasn’t a one of them that was even sick.

Listen to this fantastic prediction of Criswell.  Quote––you who listen on radio remember it’s Criswell of San Francisco, not this one here––quote, “A scientist searching for an antiseptic spray will accidentally invent an odorless aphrodisiac which fills men and women with uncontrollable sexual desire.  Entire water and heating systems will be filled with it, and people will flock to this country to get a whiff.”  He should have said, “a snort.”

It becomes ridiculous.  It becomes inane.  It becomes silly when any man or any woman of any generation stands up to say, “I can tell you what will happen on the morrow.”  In contrast to that, Israel has a sure and clear word of prophecy.

 

God is not a man that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it?  Hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?

Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God done!

[Numbers 23: 19, 23]

 

And Israel was interdicted from ever asking at the shrine or the feet of the oracle of a wizard, or an enchanter, or a soothsayer, or an astrologer, or a stargazer, or a fortuneteller.

Listen to the Word of God: “There shall not be found among you any that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer,” [Deuteronomy 18:10-11], somebody who proposed to bring up the dead and find out things future from the dead, “For all of these things are an abomination unto the Lord [Deuteronomy 18:12].  These nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto those observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the Lord thy God will not suffer thee to do so” [Deuteronomy 18:14].

Then God made the announcement: “Through Moses, the Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto Me; and unto Him shalt thou hearken” [Deuteronomy 18:15].  We are never to find recourse ever to a witch, or a fortuneteller, or an astrologer; but we are to ask from God Himself.  And the prophecy is that God will give us a sure and a clear word.

And that certain and final word, the outline of the future, the unfolding of the morrow has been clearly written down through God’s prophets, “holy men who spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” [2 Peter 1:21].  As we look at the outline of human history it is no other thing than a commentary upon the immutable prophetic Word of God.

Josephus the Jew will write, Gibbon the cynic will write, Hume the infidel will write, and Newman the Christian will write.  They write down facts, and lo the books that they write are nothing but commentaries upon the prophetic revelations of God.  And the generals, and strategists, and rulers, and statesmen who parade across the stage of human history seeking glory for themselves or for their armies or for their nations do no other thing than demonstrate the predicted sovereignty of Almighty God.  Why prophecy?  The purpose of prophecy, it is first of all to confirm and authenticate the true God and His true Word.

What is the purpose of prophecy?  Second: it is to authenticate and to confirm the messianic ministry, deity, and lordship of Jesus Christ.  It is the method used by the Lord Himself.  In the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, it is written, “And beginning at Moses and the Prophets, the Lord Jesus, risen and raised from the dead, expounded unto His disciples the things concerning Himself in the Holy Scriptures” [Luke 24:27].

When it says, in the Book of Acts, that Paul and Apollos convinced their hearers that Jesus is the Christ [Acts 18:28], instructing and teaching out of the Holy Scriptures, where did they learn that method?  They learned that method from the Lord Himself.  For there is no affirmation and there is no confirmation of the reality of the life and character and purpose of Jesus like the predictions, the prophetic predictions in the Bible itself.

May I give you an illustration of that?  In the closing verses of the first chapter of 2 Peter, Peter describes his seeing the Lord Jesus glorified, transfigured on the Mount of Transfiguration [Matthew 17:1-5], when the deity of the Lord shown through.  And Peter describing that says, “We saw the glory of Christ, and we heard the voice from heaven saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” [2 Peter 1:16-18].  But having seen it and having heard it, Simon Peter writes, “But we have a more sure word of prophecy” [2 Peter 1:19].  Eye might deceive, ears might be mistaken; but the Word and the prophecy of God shall stand true forever [Isaiah 40:8].  And the great authentication of the messianic ministry and deity of Christ is found in the prophetic Word [2 Peter 1:19].

Look at the marvel of that for just a moment.  In the Bible, in the Old Covenant, there are almost countless prophecies concerning the life and ministry and the characteristics of the coming Messiah.  They are innumerable:

 

  • He is to be born of a woman [Genesis 3:5]; born of a virgin [Isaiah 7:14]
  • He is to be of the seed of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of Judah [Genesis 21:12, 22:18, 49:10; Numbers 24:17].
  • A Son of David to reign on his throne forever [2 Samuel 7:13]
  • He is to be born among the lowly [Isaiah 53:3].
  • Crucified among thieves, laid in a tomb with the rich [Isaiah 53:9]
  • He is to be betrayed by a close friend and disciple [Psalm 41:9].
  • His hands and His side are to be pierced [Psalm 22:16].
  • A bone of Him is not to be broken [Psalm 34:20]
  • The third day He is to be raised from the dead [Psalm 16:10, Hosea 6:2].
  • He is to ascend into glory and come with the angels in power [Isaiah 63:1, 15]

Oh, how many delineations will you find of Christ in the Old Covenant!

Now let’s say there were just ten of those prophets, and let’s say they average just five characteristics a piece.  That they should come to pass, what even ten prophets said, speaking five characteristics, that they should by chance, by blind chance come to pass, would be one chance out of one quadrillion, one hundred twenty-five trillion, two hundred billion, one hundred million, and six zeroes thereafter.  And that those prophecies should come to pass at one time in one Man is beyond the power of numbers to express.  The great authentication of the deity, and the person, and the reality of the lordship, the messiahship of Christ is to be found in the prophetic word.

Revelation 19:10, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”  The burden of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus [Revelation 19:10].  All of the prophets point to Him:

  • Moses in the Torah, describing Him by symbol and type and word.
  • David, the sweet psalmist singing of the Christ to come, the great coming King [Psalm 22:1-31, 110:1-7].
  • Isaiah, standing as though he were by the cross [Isaiah 53:1-12], an evangelist as much so as Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.
  • Daniel outlining the great cycle of human history and the coming kingdom [Daniel 2:26-45, Daniel 7:1-28, 9:20-27].
  • And Malachi, closing the Old Testament covenant with the final prediction and prophecy that “the Sun of Righteousness is coming with healing in His wings” [Malachi 4:2].

 

The Bible is one; it is not two.  God is one, not two.  The Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New Testament.  We don’t have two religions or two faiths, there is one [Ephesians 4:4-5].  The Old Covenant pointed toward Him, the New Covenant looks to Him in reality after His coming.  Christ is in the Old Testament just as much as He is in the New Testament.  I can preach from the Old Testament the Lord Jesus just as fully and clearly and really and truly as I can preach the Lord Jesus from the New Testament.  They are both one.

Whether it is Isaiah standing describing the sufferings of Christ [Isaiah 53:1-12], or whether it is Matthew [Matthew 27:32-50], they are one.  Whether it is Daniel the seer, outlining the course of the future, or whether it is John the beloved disciple, both drink from the same well.  Both of them are inspired by the same God [2 Timothy 3:16], and both of them speak as they are moved by the Holy Spirit [2 Peter 1:20-21].  They are one in the same.

The God that reigned over Babylon is the God that reigns over Dallas.  The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament.  The Old Covenant and the New Covenant all speak of Christ.  Every prophet, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Malachi, all of them, they proclaim the one Savior.  They look forward to the one sacrifice.  And their hope is based upon the one and the same foundation.

Above the mercy seat in the ark of the covenant were two cherubim, one on one side, the old covenant, one on the other side, the new covenant, and the tips of their wings touched [1 Kings 6:27].  And both of them looked full upon the hilastērion, the mercy seat, the propitiatory [Hebrews 9:5].  Whether in the Old Covenant looking down, whether in the New Covenant looking down, both of them in adoration before the sacrifice of the Son of God [Exodus 25:17-22].  The purpose of prophecy: to affirm, to authenticate, and to confirm the reality, the truth, the messianic lordship and deity of the blessed Jesus.

Why prophecy?  Not only the authentication, the confirmation, the presentation of the true God, not only the authentication and confirmation of the deity and the messianic lordship of Jesus; but last, the purpose of prophecy to affirm, to confirm, and to authenticate to us the promises of God for the future.  When I hold the Bible in my hand, two thirds of it is prophecy, by symbol, by type, or by overt statement; two thirds of that Book are prophetic.

One half of those prophecies have already come to pass, literally, actually, really.  Therefore, have I not cause to be persuaded that if God has fulfilled one half of them, actually and literally, the same Lord God will also fulfill actually and literally the half that remains?

There has never arisen a defender of the faith like Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullian.  He was a Carthaginian, the son of a Roman centurion.  He was brilliantly educated as a lawyer.  When he was about forty-five or fifty years of age he was dramatically converted to the Christian faith.  And he is the greatest apologist and defender of the Christian religion that has ever lived.  He defended it against Hellenistic philosophy and pagan religions, and he did it brilliantly and eloquently and mightily.  His words are like torrents flowing down, creating channels of their own.  He is the first of the great Latin fathers.  He was born about 140 AD; died about 220 AD.  He wrote in Greek at first; all of his Greek books have been lost, but his Latin books are still extant and you can read them.  There are none like them ever since.  From his Apologeticus, his apology, his defense, from the twentieth chapter of the Apologeticus, I read from Tertullian:

 

Whatever is now done was foretold.  Whatever is now seen was first heard.  If earthquakes swallow up cities, if islands are invaded by the sea, if foreign and domestic wars distract states, if kingdom rises up against kingdom, if there are famine and pestilence and slaughter in diverse places, if the humble are exalted and the lofty are laid low, if justice is rare and iniquity abounds, all these have been predicted by the providence of God.  While we suffer these calamities, we read of them.  When we recognize them as the objects of prophecy, the truth of the Scriptures which predict them is proved.  The daily fulfillment of prophecy is surely a foolproof of revelation.  Hence then we have a well founded belief in many other things which are yet to come, namely, the confidence arising from our knowledge of the past, because some events, still future, were foretold at the same time with others which are past.  How can we then be blamed for believing also what is predicted representing the future, when our confidence is founded upon the fulfillment of prophecies relating to the present and the past?

 

The same Lord God who fulfilled His prophecies in these generations and centuries past is also the same Lord God who shall fulfill the unfulfilled prophecies in the future.  And the purpose of that is to give confidence, and assurance, and victory to those who believe in God.  With what quiet and in what confidence can the Christian face the future, whatever the turn and whatever the fortune.

In the day of Isaiah, when Egypt and Assyria were tearing the world apart, Isaiah said to Israel, “In returning and in rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in peace shall be your confidence” [Isaiah 30:15].  When a leaf falls by the blowing wind we are not to be shaken.  God has a plan and a purpose through the ages.  And whatever happens is but the outworking of the great sovereign plan and purpose of Almighty God; the assurance to His people.

If there is death, He has promised a better resurrection [Hebrews 11:35].  If there is war above the smoke of battle, we see the coming Prince of Peace [Isaiah 9:6].  If the heavens and the earth are dissolved by fire [2 Peter 3:10-11], we look for a new heaven and a new earth [Revelation 21:1].  If the city decays and is destroyed, we look for another city, the New Jerusalem coming down from the hands of God out of heaven [Revelation 21:2].  “Yea, if the very sun is blotted out, we look for the Sun of Righteousness to rise with healing in His wings” [Malachi 4:2].  There is light and there is glory in the assured promises and predictions and prophecies of God our sovereign Keeper and Savior.

 

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory and power of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellancy of the power may be of God, and not of us.

We are troubled on every side, but not distressed: we are perplexed, but not in despair.

We are forsaken but not cast down; we are persecuted but not lost and crushed.

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal bodies . . .  For which cause we faint not; for though this outward body perish, yet the inward spirit is renewed day by day.

For our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

While we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

[2 Corinthians 4:6-18]

 

And those eternal, invisible things of God are revealed unto His people by the prophetic Word.  “The flower fadeth: the grass withereth, but the word and prophecy of God shall stand for ever” [Isaiah 40:8].  This is the purpose of prophecy.

Our time is far spent.  We sing our hymn of appeal.  And while we sing it, from the balcony round, you, on the lower floor, you, coming into the fellowship [Hebrews 10:24-25] of the church or giving your heart to Christ [Romans 10:8-13], while we sing the song and make the appeal, would you come and stand by me?  There’s a stairwell at the front and the back and on either side if you’re in the balcony, and time and to spare, come.  Down one of these stairways, “Here I come, pastor, and here I am.”  On the lower floor, into the aisle and down to the front, make the decision now in your heart.  Make it now.  And in a moment when we stand up to sing, stand up coming.  You, or a couple you, or the family you, that’ll be the greatest step you’ll ever make in your life, that first step toward God.  And let angels attend you in the way while you come.  Make the decision now.  And in this moment, when you stand up, stand up coming.  Do it now.  Make it now.  Come now, while we stand and while we sing.

THE PURPOSE OF PROPHECY

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Daniel 7

1-9-72

I.
Authentication, confirmation of the true God

A.   How can we know the
true God? Isaiah 41:26

B.   No other religion is
able to prophesy because it can’t

C.   Quandary of the ancient
and modern world, no one can predict the future

II.
Authentication, confirmation of the Messianic majesty of Christ, His
deity

A.   Method of Jesus

B.   Miracles of Christ

C.   The testimony of Jesus
is the spirit of prophecy

D.   One true religion of
Old and New Testament

III.
Today’s false prophets, always wrong