‘The Bible is a prophetic book. That alone is an amazing statement, because it is the only prophetic book in the world, because it is the only one written by God. Prophecy has a lot of purposes, a major one being a validation that that the Bible is in fact the Word of God. As you open the New Testament, it is easy to see the importance of prophecy all over it. God wants us to take it seriously.
The first page of the New Testament in Matthew, a genealogy, is related to prophecy, because the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants are prophetic. The genealogy proves that Jesus is a fulfillment of those predictions. Then you get the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy that says that Jesus is a fulfillment of that. Then you have the magi setting off looking for the Messiah based upon what? Prophecy. Then there are four wondrous prophecies in four different geographical location in the second half of Matthew 2 that confirm who Jesus is. Matthew 3 talks about John the Baptist, himself another fulfillment of prophecy.
When Peter preaches on the Day of Pentecost, almost every point he makes relies on prophecy. When the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs, what is that? It is a fulfillment of the prophecy of John the Baptist, Acts 1:5, which is repeated by Jesus before He ascends into heaven. When the unbelievers mock what’s happening in Acts, Peter defends it with what? Prophecy. He refers to Joel 2:28-32 in Acts 2:17-21 to kick off his sermon there, explaining to the audience what’s going on. He starts:
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God
It is such an unusual, outlying event, outside of the norm for comprehension, Peter makes the connection to the Old Testament. This gigantic crowd wasn’t all drunken. This is what Joel was talking about, and Peter says that what was occurring there on the Day of Pentecost was “in the last days.” Generally, when people say, “We’re in the last days,” they mean something different than what Peter says, so that becomes confusing. Peter’s usage of the last days is the correct usage and it’s what we should imitate.
We’re not waiting for the last days. We’re already in them. Peter was saying that he and his audience were in them. 1 John 2:18 says,
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
“Last days” or “last time,” which is the same terminology, is ironically a terminology from Old Testament prophecy. That’s what is supposed to get us up to speed is the Old Testament usage. Here are some places:
Isaiah 2:2, And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
Jeremiah 23:20, The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.
Ezekiel 38:8, After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.Daniel 10:14, 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.To the Jews, the last days were the Messianic era, when the Messiah had come and was in operation. To God, this began when Jesus came the first time. This launched the last days. It’s also why Peter can be using a passage with amazing astronomical events and say they are referring to the Day of Pentecost, when those things didn’t take place. What they experienced on the Day of Pentecost, I like to call the “sample pack.” It’s like when you go to Costco and you taste a sample, so that you’ll be receptive of the whole box.The last days had arrived, because Jesus had arrived with the accompanying miracles, wonders, and signs. The ones on the Day of Pentecost are in the same program as those that will appear when Christ undoes the seals during the seventieth week of Daniel, what we refer to as the seven years of tribulation. What the audience in Acts 2 understood as the Messianic age, that Joel was prophesying, was already started. This was the prefulfillment of that with the ultimate fulfillment later. In one sense, it’s all the same event with book ends, Jesus coming as Savior and then Jesus coming as Judge.The magi were anticipating the coming of Jesus. Believers today should be anticipating the second coming. How do you interpret what you read in the prophetic passages? Look at all of the prophecy of scripture and compare. The prophecies will give you clues. Revelation is symbolic language, as revealed in the first verse with the word, “signified.” Prophecy uses symbolism, but that isn’t freedom to treat it like your Gumby doll.If God can do astronomical events, like He will according to Joel 2, then He can do the smaller, albeit plainly divine, ones of Acts 2. That’s the push-back and explanation from Peter. These things are occurring because we are already in the last days.I believe we are meant to look for the fulfillment of prophesies that haven’t been fulfilled. We are required to be scriptural with this and not to speculate. If we are speculating, we should say we’re speculating. When someone asks, do you think we’re in the last days, they are meaning something other than what that phrase means. I don’t like to give them an answer that reaffirms their wrong view. A better question is, do you think that some of what we see happening portend to unfulfilled prophesies from scripture? I say, yes.Let me give you an example. Revelation 13:17 says,
And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
I think it is good to make an application of this with what we see happening today. The world economy will be centrally controlled in a totalitarian way. We can look today how this might be applied. We can see it can happen. That is a good application of that above verse. How does one man control everyone? Can technology give this capacity? We should point to that, look at the contemporary examples. That doesn’t contradict what I see New Testament authors do with Old Testament prophecy.Prophecy in scripture is real. We should take it literally. That doesn’t mean we don’t take the symbolism into consideration. We do. We understand the symbolism based on comparing every passage with every other passage of the Bible. It gives us enough clues to understand. This is hard to be understood like Peter said about Paul’s prophetic passages (2 Peter 3:16). It can be understood though. As preachers or teachers in the church, we should want people to understand the prophecy and how the yet unfulfilled parts should be understood.We should oppose globalism, because it looks like the one world government and church of the antichrist. There is a tension here. If we really want the Lord’s return, perhaps we could hasten it by supporting the one world government. The elimination of borders is a contemporary issue that relates to prophecy. We should use prophecy to make that application. This is right thinking. This is a good use of the Word of God.Let me give you two more examples. The Apostle Peter prophesies how the world will end in 2 Peter 3:10. That’s how it will end. This results in my denying the contemporary climate change teaching. That is an application to the world we live in, based on what Peter said. It says a lot more than that, but we shouldn’t ignore it.The culture of the United States and then the world is deteriorating. This looks like a trajectory toward total apostasy. It has affected a hearing of the gospel. Let’s be honest. When Isaiah went to preach to apostate Israel, he couldn’t get a hearing. We are in similar times. These are times like Noah was in. Man is of the same nature he’s been since the fall. We can say that we’re getting closer to the end, because we see this trajectory. We don’t want it. We’re still being faithful, but we’ve got to make the application. People need to know.Much more could be said. We don’t want to stretch scripture beyond what it’s saying, and in that sense, just use scripture. We should preach what the Bible says and apply it, including the prophetic passages.’ https://kentbrandenburg.com/2021/03/01/are-we-living-in-the-last-days-the-right-approach-to-biblical-prophecy/