Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Letters Of A Changed Man: A Study Of 1st And 2nd Peter. Day 20, Peter Invites Us To Check His Testimony By The Message Of The Prophets

Peter concluded yesterday's passage by assuring his readers that the gospel he preaches is not just a story. He was an eyewitness of it. Today he begins by pointing out that the gospel fulfills the Old Testament prophecies of Christ.

"We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts." (2 Peter 1:19) He says, "You don't have to rely only on my eyewitness testimony as proof of who Jesus of Nazareth is. Search the Old Testament prophecies. Whose life perfectly matches the prophecies concerning the Messiah? The prophets foretold His lineage, His virgin birth, His place of birth, His flight into Egypt, His miraculous ministry, His torturous death, and His victory over the grave. Who possesses all these credentials? No one but Jesus of Nazareth. So don't just take my word for it. Check these facts for yourselves."

Peter says the gospel is like a light shining in a dark place. If I didn't have the light of the gospel in my life I don't know how I'd make it through this dark world. Many days the only reason I've kept moving forward is because my Redeemer lives. Right now the "prince of this world"---Satan---is still working hard to lead men and women astray from the truth (John 14:30), so the light of the gospel is a welcome respite from the darkness around us. But when the King of all kings comes to reign, He will be like the blazing sun, lighting up every corner of the earth like the sun coming up in the morning. Life on earth will be an endless day under the eternal reign of our King. The darkness will flee forever.

The prophecies of the Bible, like Peter's eyewitness testimony, can be trusted. This is because the prophecies were given to the prophets directly from God. There is no higher authority than Almighty God. "Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation of things." (2 Peter 1:20) The Lord didn't give prophecies of the Messiah to only one prophet. He confirmed the truth of the prophecies by giving them to multiple prophets. That's how we know these men didn't make their messages up. This cannot be said of false prophets. The messages of the false prophets did not agree with each other in the details and they didn't come true. In the days of real prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah, for example, false prophets were promising peace of Judah and assuring the people they would not be conquered. But of course we know they were conquered just as Isaiah and Jeremiah warned them.

The prophets usually made twofold prophecies: one for the near future and one for the far future. If the prophecy for the near future did not come to pass, then people could hardly be expected to count on the prophecy for the far future. The prophet Isaiah told Judah that Babylon was coming for them, and it came to pass. He also told them the Messiah was coming and would suffer for the sins of mankind and would rise from the dead after His suffering. (See Isaiah 53.) This prophecy also came true. This means everything Isaiah predicted regarding the Messiah is reliable, and it means everything the other prophets of the Bible predicted regarding the Messiah is reliable. And no one fulfilled the detailed prophecies regarding the Messiah except Jesus of Nazareth.

"For prophecy never had its origin in human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:21) The prophets sometimes understood exactly how and when God was going to fulfill the word He gave to them. At other times they did not, but they passed the messages along anyway. Many of them must have been puzzled by the idea of a rejected and suffering Messiah. They didn't have all the pieces of the puzzle and could not clearly foresee how this was part of God's plan to save the souls of human beings, but they faithfully passed along God's word. In Peter's day, and in our own, we can clearly see how the puzzle fits together. Peter and his readers understand things the prophets desperately wanted to understand. We understand it too. We see how Christ can be both the suffering Servant and the conquering King, for at His first advent He gave Himself as the sacrificial Lamb, and at His second advent He will rule the world from David's throne. We can look forward to this as a fact. The prophecies of His life in the flesh came true. The prophecies of His perfect eternal kingdom will also come true.

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