This is the time of year when preachers refer to Bible prophecy during their sermons. Jesus’ birth fulfills God’s promises to Israel in the Old Testament. Promises such as Isaiah 7:14 – “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son,” Isaiah 9:6 – “To us a child is born, to us a son is given,” and Micah 5:2 – “But you, Bethlehem…out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel.”
There are good reasons to preach from Bible prophecy not just during Christmas, but regularly throughout the year. But preaching from these books can be daunting! They are long, difficult to understand, and seemingly irrelevant.
Yet there are a few central themes that emerge from the Major and Minor Prophets (Isaiah – Malachi). Focusing on and expounding these themes makes preaching from Bible prophecy easier.
Theme #1: Jesus
Jesus is the first theme. Bible prophecy is all about Jesus. An angel says, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). The prophets foretell not just His birth, but His entire life and ministry.
Isaiah predicts the rise of “the Branch of the LORD” (4:2) and “a shoot…from the stump of Jesse” (11:1), the laying of “a precious cornerstone” (28:16), and the ministry of God’s “servant” (52:13 – 53:12, et al). Jeremiah predicts the rise of “a righteous Branch” (23:1-8, 33:14-16) and the establishing of a “new covenant” (31:31-34). Ezekiel promises God “will place over Israel one shepherd, my servant David” (34:23-24).
These predictions are fulfilled by Jesus. In addition, some prophets are previews of Jesus. Daniel spends a night in the lions’ den; Jonah spends three days and nights in the belly of a fish. These experiences dramatically portray His death and resurrection.
Help your church connect the dots between the Old and New Testaments. Point out how Jesus fulfills prophecy. (Most Bibles do this with quotations and footnotes.) Train them to see the prophets as living prophecies acting out His ministry.
Theme #2: Justice
Justice is the second theme. The prophets testify against corruption in Israelite society and condemn rulers who neglect or exploit the poor.
Isaiah exhorts, “Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (1:17). Jeremiah demands, “Administer justice every morning” (21:12). Hosea requires, “Maintain love and justice” (12:6). Zechariah commands, “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another” (7:9).
The early church pursued justice. They “gave to anyone as he had need” and “shared everything they had” until “there were no needy persons among them” (Acts 2:45; 4:32, 44). The leader of that generous church explains, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27).
Exhort your church to become a force for justice. Identify and meet needs in your church and community. Remember that in other countries believers are persecuted and victims are enslaved by poverty or forced labor. Make sacrifices to help those in need.
Theme #3: Judgment
Judgment is the third theme. God threatens to punish His people for disobedience and idolatry. Through Jeremiah He warns, “I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me” (1:16).
He also threatens to avenge Israel against her enemies. Through Joel He warns, “I will gather all nations…I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel” (3:2). This will happen on the day of the LORD, when Jesus returns.
Jesus tells us to “be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:44). Paul says His return should not “surprise you like a thief…be alert and self-controlled” (1 Thessalonians 5:4, 6).
Remind your church regularly that Jesus is returning soon. Exhort them to holiness and obedience, lest He find them unprepared. Encourage them to be good and faithful servants who earn a profit for their Master (Matthew 25:14-30).
How else can Bible prophecy inspire your faith? Share your thoughts with a comment below!
(Feel free to share this post with a friend! Or follow my blog to receive new posts!)