Today, the facts about what God has said describing the future of every person in the world are crucial. The facts God has given are quite clear. That’s what prophecy is about. God has the ability to precisely tell the future. That’s God’s unique, divine identity. Now, life is hard and if you look out the window, life is often somewhat bleak. We all need to go against the flow of the world and to seek God.
I’d like to just give you what, to me, is the single most encouraging aspect of my spiritual life. Every day, I get to go and recharge and renew my life by God’s word, so I can go face another day. How? By spending time with the God who has left me a daily reminder of who He is and what He’s doing, so I can see Him and test and have my faith renewed. How does that happen? The Bible you hold in your hand is like no other book, because God says this. I am watching over My word to perform it. What does that mean? It’s the declaration made by the Lord Himself, in what I like to call the signature of God. Prophecy is God’s signature across His word and Revelation is God’s plan for the end of days.
Perhaps this is one of the most fascinating of all the different parts of our study. I’d like to take you to Isaiah 41, verses 21 and 22 because I believe the book of Isaiah more than any other book of the Bible declared prophecy. That’s God explaining specific details about events in the future. Prophecy is God’s signature. Have you ever had, at a book signing some famous author; you said, oh, could you sign your book for me? Or have you ever bought a painting? If it’s one that’s expensive, it should be signed by the author. Do you understand a contract, check, legal agreements need what? To be signed. How do we know that this book is authentic? Because prophecy is God’s signature across His book, the word of God. Now there are three passages that really crystallize this. The first one is in Isaiah 41. What it says is, prophecy is unique to God. That’s where I get the signature.
Isaiah 41:21. “Present your case,” like we’re in a court, “says the Lord. ‘Bring forth your strong reason,’ says the King of Jacob.” Wait a minute, the King of Jacob? Whoa. Did you know that underneath all biblical prophecy is God’s sovereign election of Israel? Not because they’re the greatest, not because they’re the nicest, not because they’re the best, but just because God picked them. Way back with Abraham, God made an unbreakable promise to the nation of Israel. To the Jewish people. To the descendants, the literal physical genetic descendants of Abraham. He made him a promise and He’s always calling Himself, the King of Jacob or the King of Israel.
Keep reading 22, because He’s talking, this is in Isaiah’s time, God is talking to the nation of Israel. “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare to us things to come.” Verse 23, “show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods.” The Lord was challenging idol worshipers. He says, hey, the only way you could know who the real God is, whether it’s your little idol you made that needs to be propped up so it doesn’t tip over or Me the God of the universe, the creator; is which one of us can tell you the future.
God has left us a map of the future and what we’re going to see in this class is, all prophecies start with Israel. We go into the churches, return to the throne of God in Heaven, we go into the tribulation where God returns with His work through Israel. Then, the second coming of Christ is when Jesus comes to rescue, in the tribulation, Israel. Then Israel reigns for a thousand years and Jerusalem is the head of all the nations. Then Heaven by the way, is described as a place that’s built on the foundation of these 12 Jewish apostles. The gates are the 12 tribes of Israel. So, God has made a sovereign election of Israel that cannot be broken. That’s the first part of His signature.
The second part is, look in the next book. We’re not in Jeremiah, but it ties so closely together. So, go to Isaiah and then go to the right in your Bibles to Jeremiah 1, verse 12. “The Lord said to me, ‘you have seen well,” for I’m watching over my word to perform it. Prophecy is not static. God has written down His action plan. It’s not just a wish list, it’s not a Christmas wish list. It’s like a program, a computer program. It’s being executed line by line, by line, by the creator of the universe. God has written His signature across His word.
The last one is Revelation 1:3, in introducing this topic. Revelation 1:3 says this, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy.” The book, the whole book of Revelation is a book of prophecy. Jesus Christ Himself said, “blessed are those who read,” take the time to read, and “those who hear,” because back then not everybody had a copy of the Bible and they had to sit and listen to someone else read it. So, if you invest the time to hear my word “and keep those things which are written in it, for the time is near.” Wow. This is for those who are God’s servants. Prophecy is for God’s servants to know He’s watching over and that He has signed the map of the future, His plan. Let’s go through that.
As you look at the slides, prophecy is God’s signature across His word. It’s class 11. You can see that we are looking specifically today at the map God has left for the future.
Prophecy as God’s signature across His word is declared that He’s watching over it. Remember, we just read and that He gave it specifically to us, His servants.
God explains His purpose for biblical prophecy in Isaiah. That’s what makes Isaiah so unique.
Now we’re going to go on a journey of, what is God’s purpose for prophecy? First, it’s Isaiah 41:21-22. Now look up, Israel was going back and forth at this time, the time of Isaiah. Do you remember, Isaiah is addressing Israel between 740 and 680 BC? He’s talking to them and at that time, the nation was teetering between the true and living God, and idolatry. So, all of this prophecy was to tell them, don’t trust your manmade objects, that you’re trying to be like everybody around you. See, Israel was immersed in a culture where every other nation around them had idols. So, they felt so out of place because they didn’t have any idols. Every other nation had their god that you could see, and they carried them around with them. They had little copies. You could go buy your own little god and you could wear it or carry your little god with you or have one in your house. The Jews said we don’t have that. They said, we want to be like all the other people. God said, no, because I’m not like all those other gods, I am the creator. I am the true and living God. So that’s what was going on. Isaiah said, look at the slide, prophecy is God’s unique distinctive. We already read it. God says, ask your idol to tell you the future, he can’t.
Secondly, prophecy is a demonstration of God’s glory. So, go with me to Isaiah 42, and we’re going to read this one. Let me get there. Isaiah 42 and verses 8-9. “I am the Lord, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor my praise.” What does it say in verse 8? “To carved images. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare;” look at this, “before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
Prophecy proves God is real because God says, I tell you things before they happen. What’s an example? Here’s an example. In this period, 740 to 680 BC, God told Israel that Babylon, Isaiah wrote that Babylon was going to destroy Jerusalem and carry all of the nation away into captivity. You’ve heard of the Babylonian captivity. Where does Isaiah say that? In 39:5-7. When did he say that? Almost 120 years before it happened. Look at the slide. Prophecy demonstrates God’s glory. Why? Because what He says in verse 9. Before things spring forth, I tell you about them. It proves God’s real, by prophecy.
Number three, not only does it demonstrate God’s glory… oh, while we’re in chapter 43, I want you to see something, in verse 10. So, in your Bible keep turning over from 40, to go to 43:10, before we pass this. “You are My witnesses,’ says the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may understand and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.’ “ One of the things Jesus emphasized throughout His ministry was, He called Himself the great I am.
The I am of 43:10, 43:13, 43:25, 46:4, and 48:12 is a reminder. See this, in the gospel of John, I am He is not part of the original. Jesus’ words were not constructed normally, but were influenced by the Old Testament Hebrew usage, as in right here where we are. So, I want to remind you that the book of Isaiah, and you can look up from your slide, not only is a resource on prophecy, it’s also one of the greatest descriptors of the character of God, of the nature of God, of the deity of Christ and as we’ll see in just a minute, of the tri unity of God.
Let’s get to the next slide. The high point of grace in the Old Testament is also in chapter 43 and I don’t want to miss these while we’re looking at prophecy. So, look at Isaiah 43 verse 25. If you’re a Bible marker, here, look up, I’ll show you. I have mine marked. See right there? Anytime I’m reading and I find one of those verses that’s a zinger… every word of God is pure, but some of them are zingers. They’re just wow verses. Verse 25, read it in your Bible. “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”
Now look down at the slide, 43:25 I just read, this verse is probably the high point of grace in the Old Testament. In spite of Israel’s utter unworthiness, that He was sending them off to judgment, the Lord in His grace devised a way He can forgive their sins and grant righteousness, without compromising His holiness. This, He would accomplish in a chapter we’re going to get to soon, Isaiah 53, through the work of His servant. In spite of her failures, Israel will always be God’s chosen people. Wow.
Next slide, what’s the third reason for prophecy? It’s the acid test of deity. Do you see the reference there? Isaiah 44 and verses 6-7. Now, turn there with me. Let’s get to Isaiah 44:6-7 and this is what it says. “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel.” I’m sorry, I have to keep pointing that out, but God’s plan will never end with Israel. You say, why do you keep bringing that up?
Let me draw something else on the board for you here. There are two groups of people within Christendom, within believers. There are those who believe that Israel has become the church and there are those who believe that Israel is not the same as the church.
You say, does that really matter? Yes. This group it’s called replacement theology. What they do is they replace every promise God made to Israel, they said, that’s for the church. Now that’s where, if you watch any of these health and wealth on TV programs, where you see Christian’s saying, if you just give God 10, He’ll give you a hundred dollars. If you give me five, God will give you 500. I’m being facetious, but they don’t quite say it that way. How do they get that out of the Bible? They’ve taken all of the promises that God made for national Israel, to bless their land, to bless their crops, to bless everything about them, to make them the head of the nations, to make them above all; these huge promises that God made to Israel. They say, God’s through with Israel. All of those are for the church. Replacement theology. A person that held this sadly, was Martin Luther. Replacement theology is also called covenant theology, as in a very big part of Reform theology. Martin Luther said that the Jews were Christ killers and he wrote a whole book about it. Guess who read that book that started Lutheranism? Hitler read that book and used it as a justification. It wasn’t. Luther never said, holocaust, genocide, but it was all in keeping with this replacement theology. It’s very dangerous to say that God who sovereignly elected Israel decided to sovereignly un-elect them. Anyone that believes you can’t lose your salvation, which would be all biblical orthodox Christians has to believe God is never going to break His promises to Israel.
What is the other side called? It’s called dispensational theology. Dispensational theology says that, there’s this distinction between Israel and the church. That Israel was temporarily set aside, put into captivity, scattered throughout the world, that God is now working with His church, that at the end of His time working with His church He will take them to Heaven and then He will again put Israel as His key team He’s working with. It’s like there are two teams. The first team was pulled from the field because they weren’t doing what was right. They go off into captivity and then God raises up a second team, the Church. When He’s through with them, they go to be around His throne and God picks up again with His original team. That team gets so hounded by the world that the second coming of Christ is actually to rescue Israel. We’ll see that as we go through the scriptures. Then God allows Israel to rule the world for a thousand years. Then as I just said, we go to Heaven, which has the 12 tribe’s gates and the 12 Jewish apostle foundations.
So back to the slides. Prophecy, it says here is the acid test. The King of Israel is where we got off in verse 6. “And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:” Verse 6 says, “I am the First and I am the Last; beside Me there is no God. And who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it and set it in order […] since I appointed the ancient people.” Now look at this, “and the things that are coming and shall come, let them show these to them.” look up, only God knows the future and not only does God know the future, He’s left us a map so we can know the future too.
Look down at your slides, number four. The fourth purpose of prophecy in the book of Isaiah, it’s a verifiable proof. I’m going to read Isaiah 45:21. Which says, “tell and bring forth your case; Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; There is none beside me.” Prophecy, number four, is a verifiable proof of God’s power.
Prophecy is history that’s written in advance. Now turn with me to Isaiah 46 and verse 10. “Declaring the end from the beginning.” Now look at this, Isaiah is writing these words right here, 740 BC and he said; the God, that’s the real God is declaring the end from the beginning. What else does Isaiah talk about? Isaiah doesn’t just limit himself to future things. Isaiah talks about creation. He talks about the fall of Lucifer. He talks about all those events. All of that God says, see in verse 10, “declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.’ “ How does He do it? Jeremiah says He’s watching over it. See, prophecy is what God’s going to bring to pass.
Continuing. If you look at the next slide, prophecy is a confirmation that God can be trusted. Now look with me at Isaiah 48, in verses 3-5. “I have declared the former things from the beginning; they went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.” I did them watching over them. Prophecies are programs that are executable. God says, this is what I wrote, it’s happening now. Now look at verse 5. “Even from the beginning I have declared it to you; before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you. Lest you should say, ‘my idol has done them, and my carved image and my molded image have commanded them.’ “ No, God said I’ve done them. Look at the slides, prophecy is to confirm God can be trusted. Remember the context was within this idolatrous time.
Now, by the way, right here, since you’re in chapter 48, keep looking at 48 and go with me to verse 16. It says, “come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Me.”
Now look at this slide. God gives us the best explanation of the Trinity in Isaiah 48. Now look up, what is that? The one talking is Jesus and He says, “from the time that it was, I was there.” Why? Because He’s the creator. How do we know Jesus is the creator? John 1, 1 John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1. All of those New Testament books affirm the fact that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” and listen, all things were made by Him. Paul adds, and by Him all things consist. Jesus is the creator and He’s the one holding the universe together. Now look back at your slides. What else? Isaiah 43, Isaiah 44, Zechariah 1 all talk about the Trinity.
What is the Trinity? You see that picture? What the Trinity is, look at this, the Father is not the Son. The Son is God. The Father is God. The Son is not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not the Father. The Holy Spirit is God. The Father is God. The Son is God. See? Look up, what a perfect description in the book of Isaiah of this mystery. What’s the mystery? In describing the Trinity, the New Testament clearly distinguishes three persons. They’re all simultaneously active. They’re not mere modes or manifestations. Now there’s a group in Christendom called the oneness theology. They’re absolutely incorrect. They say that sometimes Jesus acts as the Father. Sometimes Jesus acts as the Son. Sometimes Jesus acts as the Spirit. No.
For example, at Jesus’ baptism, all three members of the Trinity were simultaneously active. Jesus was there being baptized. The Father spoke from Heaven and the Holy Spirit came like a dove. You remember all three. There’s only one God, yet He exists and always has existed as three persons. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. To deny or misunderstand the Trinity is to deny or misunderstand the very nature of God Himself. So, that’s a huge part of Isaiah.
Now look back at your slides. That’s a nice graphic from a theology book to describe the Trinity.
Here’s another graphic. By the way, that is our Facebook page. Let me tell you what that is. You can look up, I don’t want you looking at my Facebook page, we’re in class, right? You’re not supposed to be on social media during class, but what is that page for? That’s our contact point for you, once a month. That’s where I give a report of the ministry that we’re involved in. Did you know that most of the time when we’re not down here in this virtual classroom, during COVID-19, that looks like it’s going to soon become COVID-20 and COVID-21. It started in 19, it’s gone through this year and I think it’s going to roll into 2021. But we’re down here temporarily, not flying. Usually we fly 11 months out of the year. Going between frontline missionaries, where we actually counsel and are spiritual, mental, health care providers for missionaries around the world. As well as, teaching in Bible institutes. Right now, this class is going to one of those Bible Institutes in East Asia.
What else do we do? We give you our next generation training schedule. We give you our frontline training schedule, plus on Facebook every day I post a devotional, both in print, in a video clip, and I’d love for you to just befriend us in cyber world so that you can pray for us, you can track with us, and you can be a part of what the Lord is doing through this ministry. Look down, get off Facebook by the way, that was a picture of one of our classes.
Let’s go into this key chapter next, because we’re right next to it. The greatest prophecy is God’s letter to Cyrus.
Here it is, number seven. Remember, we’ve gone through six other reasons for prophecy. This is number seven. God gave one of the most astounding biblical prophecies in Isaiah. Now, what you see on that slide, this is beautiful. I took this picture in one of the great museums of the world, the entire wall of this one room of the Louvre. It was, by the way, it was empty because everybody was over looking at the Mona Lisa. I’m so glad they were. They left me alone in the great hall of Cyrus. Now look up, can you believe that one of the greatest prophecies in the Bible is so verified that there’s a whole room devoted to this, in one of the premier museums of the world in Paris. Guess what? If you go to London, they also have part of the wall.
Look back, see those lions? See this, these are baked tiles from Babylon. Look at the colors, look at the details. These are beautifully, artistically done tiles. But they remind us. Do you see what it says up here? The most astounding of biblical prophecies. It’s in Isaiah 45.
Now this picture, as I read to you, I want you to think about this picture. Isaiah 45 predicts the rise; do you see what this upper right corner says? The Medo Persian Empire. The Persians had this; the Medes had this area here. Here is where the Assyrians were headed or headquartered. See the Assyrian Empire? So, the Medes and the Persians joined together, came down, and captured Assyria. Took over, all the way up into Europe, up to Greece, all the way to Libya, all the way through Egypt. Of course, why we’re even talking about this, they got Israel right there.
You can look up and let me read to you for a moment. I want you to move with me to Isaiah 45 :1. I want you to think about the first verse of chapter 45. Let me read it, you can look in your Bible. “Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held – to subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not be shut.” Wow.
Pause. Let me do a Bible study. If we were sitting at Panera or Starbucks and I was across the table from you, this is what I would be saying to you. I’d say open your Bible there. Let me tell you what you just read. Isaiah 45 :1, is one of the most astounding Bible prophecies. A person is named in verse 1. Did you see that? You should look at that name. Circle it, mark it, so you don’t forget. This Cyrus happens to be an identifiable person in history. He’s mentioned in 2 Chronicles 36, Ezra 1-4, Daniel 1-10.
Cyrus ruled Persia from 559 to 530 BC. Look up here on our little board, remember Babylon was going to destroy Jerusalem, that’s 586 BC. Babylon falls in 539 BC to Cyrus. So, Isaiah is talking about this event. Look, 740 to 539. Isaiah is talking about something 200 years in the future. Now there’s nothing amazing about the fact that Cyrus ruled Persia from 559 to 530. Except when you turn back to look at when Isaiah wrote this. For the biblical facts, Isaiah 6 gives us the date. So, take your Bible and look at Isaiah chapter 6.
When did Isaiah begin writing this book? It’s dated. There’s a date stamp in the year. King Uzziah died. That was an event, that’s how we know when Isaiah started writing. When did King Uzziah die? He died in 739 BC, right here. Just the year before, Isaiah started writing. That’s 200 years before Cyrus rises.
Now think of the magnitude. Exactly 200 years before Cyrus was the king and Ezra and Daniel write about them as current history, Isaiah names this king in the future. Now, let me just put this in perspective, to let it sink in.
I’ll give you a modern equivalent. In November of 2016, Donald J. Trump won the election to be the United States president. So, that was 2016. When would 200 years before that be? 1816 who was alive in 1816? Abraham Lincoln, as well as three of my heroes, we’re all alive in 1816. Let me just let you think with me how astounding it would be, if in 1816, seven year old Abraham Lincoln would have written a letter to Donald Trump. Let’s see, Lincoln was in the Republican party, wasn’t he? So, maybe that would be absolutely unacceptable, no one would believe that’s true. But something even greater happened. In 739 Isaiah writes a letter to the ruler of 200 years later. For a well-known and recognized servant of God to have publicly predicted a momentous event 200 years into the future would be astounding. Lincoln, predicting Trump.
There are three well known, my heroes right here. There are three well-known and godly men who lived 200 years ago. By the way, if you’d like to not spend so much time on Pinterest, or Facebook, or Instagram, or playing games and watching movies, and all that stuff, you got to start immersing yourself in the biographies of some of the greatest servants of God over the centuries.
Here are three of them, three that I read all I can find on them. They are:
- Pioneer missionary to India, William Carey. What he accomplished for the Lord is unbelievable. He was alive in 1816.
- American missionary Adoniram Judson. Unbelievable. Goes to the land of Burma and lives there and persecuted there. Today, there are still people there who are downstream from him. He led an incredible mission in Burma, just like Carey did in India.
- Then the orphanage founder, man of faith, George Bristol. All three were alive 200 years ago.
What you’re reading in Isaiah 45 would be the historic equivalent of one of those three missionaries writing home to England or the U S and distributing the world over that a man by the name of Donald J. Trump would become the President of the United States in 2016. Wow. That’s the magnitude of this chapter. Why? Because only God would know someone that hasn’t even been born yet, named them, and tell what they’re going to do 200 years in the future. Only God would know who would rule on Earth and when. Only God’s word has historic facts prophetically revealed hundreds and sometimes thousands of years before they happen in God’s word. We hold history written in advance. That’s what prophecy is.
So, this, on the screen in front of you, is what Daniel talked about and what we’re reading about in Isaiah. This is the rise of the second empire. Do you see this picture? You probably saw this in Sunday School. This is the image that was made by Nebuchadnezzar. That was set up in the Plain of Dura. That all the people had to, when the trombones, and flutes, and cymbals, and everything, when the music started, they all were to fall down. Do you remember what happened? That Daniel would not. That the three Hebrew children would not, and that they were persecuted. Daniel prayed when they told him not to. The three Hebrew children wouldn’t bow down when the music started. Daniel seems to have been out of the country and missed that event, but he wouldn’t have bowed down either, but this isn’t just the fiery furnace story in the Bible, this is God’s view of history.
Look back at the slide. From God’s perspective there has only been these empires in relationship to His plan. The Babylonians that’s Nebuchadnezzar. Cyrus, we’re talking about right now, Medo Persia. Alexander that’s the Greek Empire. The Roman Empire. God says that the end times will be a reviving of this Roman Empire. That’s very interesting to think about. Look up, think about what God is saying. God is saying that I know the future. Now were there other empires in the world? You bet. There’s the whole Mongol Empire. There’s a whole Chinese Empire. There’s a whole civilization in the Indus Valley. The people of India. There are those incredible African Empires that still have workmanship and art and architecture, that is every time they find more of it, it’s astounding. How about everything over in the new world? All those pyramids, the Incas and the Aztecs, and all that. What about the Native Americans in the incredible cave or cliff dwellings?
There were empires all over. Why, look back at the slides, does God only talk about Babylon as the head of gold, Medo Persia as the neck to waist of silver, and from the waist down to the thighs is the bronze Greek Empire, and then from just above the knees to the feet, is the Roman Empire. Now this is what’s interesting, the Roman Empire had two halves, the east and the west, just like this image and the final form will be iron and clay. Everything about this image is part of God’s plan for us to understand the future.
Now let’s look up and I don’t want to miss this amazing prophecy. How did it happen? What Isaiah wrote down, in chapter 45, if you read all of 45, you’ll see this event. What happened? Look back at your slides, I’ll give you the amazing story. On October 12th, it’s so big the museums even tell us the exact date. On October 12th, 539 BC Cyrus’s general captured Babylon without a battle.
Now, this is when Nebuchadnezzar, look up, do you remember Nebuchadnezzar had given the throne over to his son? His son became taken up with other things. So, his grandson was now the ruler. His name was Belteshazzar. His father was still alive, he just collected things and hunted. Belteshazzar was the King of Babylon. Belteshazzar was drinking, using the vessels from the temple, when all of a sudden, the handwriting on the wall. So, see, this event – it was October 12, 539 when Daniel was summoned before Belteshazzar to say what’s going on the wall.
Now look back at the slides. During that party, the Persians had diverted the river Euphrates into a canal upriver. So, the water level dropped to the height of, to the middle of a man’s thigh. Thus, the flood defenses were useless and the invaders march through the riverbed by night. This is what Herodotus the father of history said.
Next slide. Without any battle he entered the town, sparing any calamity. That’s on the Stele of Cyrus. Do you see, this is a clay cylinder that you can look at in the British Museum in London. What it says on it is right here. I returned to the sacred cities and the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries, which had been ruined… and I established them. I also gathered their inhabitants, returned them. This is Cyrus’s record of that night.
Look at the next one. When Cyrus made his grand entrance, Daniel presented him with an ancient scroll of Isaiah 45. Whoa. That’s what we’re studying right now. It contained a letter addressed to him by name. How do we know that? Josephus, the great Jewish historian tells us that in his antiquities volume 11, paragraph one and two. Isaiah had died 150 years before Cyrus was born. Here’s one of the greatest prophecies in the Bible, right here in Isaiah.
What did God say in His letter? This is what Isaiah 44:27-28 says, “thus says the deep be dry, I will dry up thy rivers.” The Euphrates dried up. “That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shall be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” “Thus says the Lord to His anointed,” Verse 1 of Isaiah 45, “whose right hand I have held – to subdue nations…” “I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut.”
Look up for a second. Did you notice the rise of Cyrus to power is going to have something to do, it says in these verses, with Jerusalem being rebuilt. Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and took them into captivity in 586. Cyrus becomes king in 539. Guess what? Cyrus decrees in 516, after 70 years, Cyrus says you can go back to Jerusalem. And not only go back, I’ll give you the resources to rebuild the city and the temple. Look back at your slides. What did God say in his letter to Cyrus? We just read it.
What was Cyrus response? He was impressed. He freed the captives. He gave them incentives to return to their homeland and to build their temple.
“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia;” this is his proclamation. This is in, look where that is, Ezra chapter 1. Verses 2-3. “The Lord God of Heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the Earth.” Do you remember that map I showed you? All the way from Greece to India. “He has charged me to build Him a house at Jerusalem.” He has charged me, look up, Cyrus took Isaiah 45 as a letter from God to him. He says it right there in Ezra, God charged me to do this. The rebuilding of Jerusalem is part of God’s prophetic plan and Cyrus was fulfilling it, a pagan that God used for His glory.
Back to the slides. That’s what the proclamation of Cyrus says. So, what does God give us? He gives us a map of the future. In fact, that’s what the book of the Revelation is. What does the book of Revelation give us? What is in this map of the future? We’ll let me share it with you. If I was to describe the last book of the Bible… in fact, I spent 10 years of my life writing my dissertation at Dallas Seminary about the last book of the Bible, here’s what it says. God wrote down an inspired record of history of the world from the time of John sitting on Patmos, all the way to the end.
Did you know the cyber world was mourning in 2012, the passing of the Encyclopedia Britannica. They no longer print those encyclopedias. You can’t buy a printed copy anymore, they quit in 2012. Do you know what their masthead was? They’re still online… facts matter. Guess what? Facts matter to God and God has left us a map of the future.
What’s that map of the future. Look at the next slide. This is God’s map from today. See, you are here. The next thing is going to be the rapture of the Church. Then God will begin sealing the 144,000. The Anti-Christ rises, he breaks his covenant. He allows Israel to have a temple right here, he breaks that covenant in the middle. Israel, seeing the handwriting on the wall that the Anti-Christ is against them, starts turning to the Lord, listening to 144,000. Jerusalem gets attacked by all the armies of the world, that’s called Armageddon. Jesus returns to rescue them. He judges all of the survivors. The survivors enter into what’s called the thousand-year kingdom age. Then it ends with the rebellion. Where all of the unbelievers unite with Satan and the Lord burns up the universe, has the great white throne judgment, creates a new universe and here’s Heaven. That’s God’s map.
Look at the next one. We could animate it this way today. We are the Church on Earth, but in the not too distant future the Lord’s going to call us out. He’s going to reward us for what we did, living for Him. He is going to send His judgment called the tribulation. He’s going to come in flaming fire, that’s the second coming, to execute vengeance on those that know not God. He is going to become king on Earth, reigning out of Jerusalem. Satan will be released and will start a rebellion. God will put it down and Heaven begins.
That is prophecy and that’s God’s signature across His word. Now look up with me, what difference does it make? All the difference in the world. Prophecy is how you know that the word of God is true. God says it’s my unique signature. It’s actually an executable program. I’m watching over it, performing it. But what’s the purpose of it? God gave us, who know Jesus Christ, His word so that we know how to live on Earth, because we’re looking at the ending. See, we’re looking at where we are, what is next for us, what’s coming for the world, and where we’re headed. This world is not my home. I’m just passing through. My treasures should be laid up where I’m headed.
Let’s bow for word of prayer.
Father, thank you for the map of the future you’ve given us. For the confidence it gives us, for the hope that it gives us, for the assurance that all of your word is true, because every one of your prophecies that have been fulfilled are spot on exactly what you said. So we know, that you have signed the whole book and it’s true. We trust you now, in the name of Jesus we pray. And all God’s people said, Amen.