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The Purpose of Prophecy

The Purpose of Prophecy

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The Purpose of Prophecy

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  1. The Purpose of Prophecy Genesis 49:1-28

  2. Hurricane Dean Projections

  3. Biblical Prophecy • In trying to put all the pieces together • Often people become totally lost in the details and lose sight of the purpose of prophecy • Immersion in the details of “things to come” • Carefully chart out the future • Details become an obsession while godly living is brushed aside • Does Genesis 49 have much to say to us in the 21st century? • The prophecies are related to the destiny of the descendants of Jacob • There are messianic prophecies • Insight into the purpose of all prophecy

  4. Jacob Was Approaching Death • Jacob called his twelve sons to gather around him • He began to speak, but his words were not those of a regular conversation • He spoke in a form of poetry using symbols • The Holy Spirit enabled Jacob to predict the future of the nation Israel

  5. I. The Prophecies • The Sons of Leah – Genesis 49:3-15 • The Sons of Bilhah – Genesis 49:16-18, 21 • The Sons of Zilpah – Genesis 49:19-20 • The Sons of Rachel – Genesis 49:22-27

  6. The Sons of Leah Genesis 49:3-15 • God gave Jacob six sons by Leah • The wife he didn’t want • Reuben (Genesis 49:3-4) • An old sin finally caught up with Reuben • He lost his privileges as the firstborn son • “Unstable as water” speaks of both turbulence and weakness • The descendents of Reuben were just like him • The tribe was never important in the history of Israel and never produced a leader of any stature for the nation • The prophecy proved to be precisely true

  7. The Sons of Leah Genesis 49:3-15 • Simeon and Levi (Genesis 49:5-7) • Guilty of anger and violence - massacre of the Shechemites • Dangerous to be “in their assembly” • God arranged that the two tribes would not be able to assemble • Tribe of Simeon was absorbed into Judah • Tribe of Levi given 48 towns to live in, scattered throughout the land • The tribe of Levi shows how God use a repentant people mightily for good • Redeemed themselves by standing for God and Moses when no one else would (Exodus 32:25-29) • More great leaders than any other tribe except Judah • Moses, Aaron, Phinehas, Eli, Ezra, John the Baptist

  8. The Sons of Leah Genesis 49:3-15 • Judah (Genesis 49:8-12) • Jacob said nothing about Judah’s sins • Judah’s life is a beautiful picture of a person’s growing into spiritual maturity • Judah sinned, but he repented and made some things right with his father and his family • That was the difference between him and his three elder brothers • Judah means “praise, and Judah did live up to his name • The tribe that gave Israel their kings - some were godly leaders • Ultimately brought Jesus Christ into the world

  9. The Sons of Leah Genesis 49:3-15 • Judah (Genesis 49:8-12) • The prophetic blessing • Praised for military leadership and power • Judah would be like a lion - a symbol of courage, strength, and security • Clearly seen in the great kings Judah produced • David, Solomon, Asa, Jehosaphat, Uzziah, Jotham, Hezekiah, Josiah • The greatest blessing - Shiloh, the Messiah and Savior of the world • Shiloh was to come through Judah’s offspring • A great prophecy of the Messiah, the Savior of the world

  10. The Sons of Leah Genesis 49:3-15 • Zebulun (Genesis 49:13) • The only tribe that had its territory spelled out in the prophetic blessing • God’s blessing • A unique opportunity to serve the other tribes by providing goods for them • The lesson • God is the source of our blessings • We must be like Zebulun and use what we have to serve and help those who are around us

  11. The Sons of Leah Genesis 49:3-15 • Isaachar (Genesis 49:14-15) • Today a donkey is an ignoble beast of burden • But in OT times, kings rode on donkeys • The image is of a strong people who weren’t afraid to carry burdens • The prophecy proved true • They fought for Deborah and Barak when other tribes refused to help - Judges 5:15-18 • Provide 87,000 men for the military during the rule of Israel’s kings - 1 Chronicles 7:5 • Issachar had one terrible weakness, complacency • Complacency destroys ambition, drive, initiative, production, work, even life itself

  12. The Sons of Bilhah Genesis 49:16-18, 21 • Rachel’s handmaid • Given to Jacob to bear him children when Rachel thought she was childless • Dan (Genesis 49:16-18) • Dan means “to judge” • Produced Samson - one of the most famous judges (Judges 13–16) • The tribe of Dan wasn’t able to drive out the Philistines • The prophecy • The tribe was to be just like a snake treacherous and crafty • The first tribe to take up idol worship in Israel • The first to be dishonest against God

  13. The Sons of Bilhah Genesis 49:16-18, 21 • Naphtali (Genesis 49:21) • For some reason, Jacob spoke to Gad and Asher, the sons of Zilpah, before he spoke to Naphtali • Naphtali has no judgment against it • The image of “a hind [doe] let loose” = a free-spirited people • “he gives goodly [beautiful] words” = they could express themselves well • The people of Naphtali would make ideal messengers • Jesus Christ spent a great deal of time and ministry in their territory – Galilee! • The prophecy of beautiful words find their greatest fulfillment in the gospel preached by Christ Himself

  14. The Sons of ZilpahGenesis 49:19-20 • Leah’s handmaid • Given to Jacob to bear him more children after Leah had ceased bearing • Later Leah gave birth to Isaachar, Zebulun, and Dinah • Gad (Genesis 49:19) • The Gadites were great warriors (Joshua 22:1-6) • Successful in struggling against his enemy • The idea is that he would never give up no matter the strength of his enemy • He would struggle and fight until at last he overcame • He would know the glory of victory

  15. The Sons of ZilpahGenesis 49:19-20 • Asher (Genesis 49:20) • Asher means happy, lucky, or fortunate • They inherited some of the best land • But during the days of the judges, the people were swallowed up by the luxury of wealth • They refused to help the other tribes in fighting against the enemies of Israel • Too caught up in the worldly pleasures, and comforts to worry about the needs of others under attack (Judges 5:17-18)

  16. The Sons of RachelGenesis 49:22-27 • Jacob’s favorite wife • Her two sons were his favorite children • Joseph (Genesis 49:22-26) • Jacob used the word “bless” at least six times about Joseph • Keep in mind that the prophecy refers to his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh • A fruitful vine sitting near a spring that has fruitful branches climbing all over a wall • Ephraim and Manasseh were to bear large numbers of people and strong leaders • Joshua, 5 of the 15 judges of Israel: Gideon, Abimelech, Jair, Jephthah, and Samuel • Joseph was, however, to be harassed and hated by his enemies • But Joseph was to stand firm and steady • God Himself was to make him strong

  17. The Sons of RachelGenesis 49:22-27 • Joseph (Genesis 49:22-26) • 5 different names or titles of God - The strength of Joseph’s descendents was due to God and God alone! • The Mighty One of Jacob • The Shepherd • A picture of God as the Guide, Provider, and Protector • The Rock of Israel • A picture of God as the Foundation and Support of life • The God of your father who helps you • The Almighty (El Shaddai) • This name stresses that God is the God of all might and strength Who can do all things for His people

  18. The Sons of RachelGenesis 49:22-27 • Benjamin (Genesis 49:27) • Jacob’s words were few and puzzling • Why compare Benjamin to a “ravenous wolf”? • There are both good and bad features in a wolf • A wolf is a strong, sensitive, loyal, crafty, ferocious animal, always alert and ready to fight • The men of Benjamin were brave and loyal • Tribal history in Judges 19 – 20 = the ravenous wolf in action • King Saul - ruthlessl • Abner, Sheba, and Shimei – ferocious warriors! • Saul of Tarsus - like a wild animal persecuting the church

  19. II. Questions • Did every detail of Jacob’s prophecy come to pass, as he predicted? • The answer is no, but why not? • God’s purposes for Israel are not yet complete • Romans 11:25-27

  20. Romans 11:25-27 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer Will Come From Zion, He Will Remove Ungodliness From Jacob.” “And This Is My Covenant With Them, When I Take Away Their Sins”

  21. II. Questions • Did every detail of Jacob’s prophecy come to pass, as he predicted? • The answer is no, but why not? • God’s purposes for Israel are not yet complete • Romans 11:25-27 • The promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, have never been fully realized in Israel’s history, and are still to come in the future

  22. II. Questions • Did every detail of Jacob’s prophecy come to pass, as he predicted? • The answer is no, but why not? • God’s purposes for Israel are not yet complete • God never intended to fulfill every prophecy! • While most prophecies are specific and certain of their fulfillment, not all are • Some prophecies are God’s warning of what would come to pass if men did not repent • This is why Jonah had no intention of prophesying impending judgment to the Ninevites

  23. Jonah 3:10-4:2 When God saw their deeds and that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. But it greatly displeased Jonah, and he became angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore, in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that Thou art a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity”

  24. Jeremiah 18:7-10 • Years later, the truth that Jonah understood was clearly stated • At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it, if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it, if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it

  25. II. Questions • What is the purpose of this prophecy for the sons of Jacob, since they will all die before God causes the nation to return to Canaan? • The primary lesson - Character not only affects their own destiny, but also the future generations! • Present actions have future results and repercussions • What they are tends to shape what the nation will be in years to come • If they live godly lives, this will be a blessing to coming generations • If they are godless, the nation will reap the consequences

  26. III. The Purpose of Prophecy • Prophecy focuses our attention upon future things • Our tendency is to live like there is no future • Israel’s hope, like ours, was a future hope • Do not fix your hopes on earthly things! • 1 Peter 1:3-5 • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time

  27. III. The Purpose of Prophecy • Prophecy focuses not only on the future, but on living in the present in the light of the future • The promises of God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were to prompt purity in the lives of Israel’s sons • The future blessings (and judgments) which are in store for us are intended to encourage us to live in peace and purity • What does 2 Peter 3:10-13 make you want to do right now?

  28. 2 Peter 3:10-13 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells

  29. III. The Purpose of Prophecy • Prophecy focuses not only on the future, but on living in the present in light of the future • The promises of God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were to prompt purity in the lives of Israel’s sons • The future blessings (and judgments) which are in store for us are intended to encourage Christians to live in peace and purity • What does 2 Peter 3:10-13 make you want to do right now? • Prophecy is given not to satisfy our curiosity, but to prompt us to purity

  30. C. Specific and General Prophecy • Specific prophecy • Like the second coming of Christ • Fulfilled as specifically and literally as prophecies of Christ’s first coming • More general prophecies • Given to warn us of the possibility of future things which can be avoided • These words of warning are also words of hope • The warning of sin and its consequences was designed to turn us from our sin to the Messiah • The Scriptures are full of passages about the days ahead of suffering, eternal torment, judgment, and condemnation

  31. Revelation 20:12-15 • And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. And death and Hades were thrown in to the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire • Some will surely face this judgment, but you need not! • Prophecy like this is written so that you might turn from sin and judgment to Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers

  32. John 3:16,17 • For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him • By acknowledging your sin and the judgment you deserve, by personally trusting in Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior, you may avoid the judgment to come

  33. Revelation 21:1-4 • And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away”

  34. The Purpose of Prophecy • For the unbeliever • To warn of the wages of sin • To warn of eternal death! • For the believer in Christ • To motivate to live in this life in purity and hope, assured that God has even greater blessings ahead for those who will trust and obey • To promise eternal life!