How to Study Prophecy

Isaiah 29:11 “And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:”

Almost daily I run across people who have peered into the Bible prophecies, and then after a few moments they close the book thinking that these prophecies just cannot be understood by the common man. They literally give up that easy!

Habakkuk 2:2 “And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.”

Revelation 22:10 “And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.”

Regardless of what some may think, Scripture positively confirms that prophecy can, in fact, be understood. All we really need to do is put into practice the Bible counsels that will eventually put us in a place that makes us able to better understand His Prophecy. And in so doing, we will eventually become better and more effective at evangelizing others.

John 16:13 “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”

1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Since it is the Holy Spirit that inspires Prophecy, common sense dictates that we must then be in tune with that very same Holy Spirit. Amen?

So, in reality, what do we truly need to do? What did Daniel do? I like to look to him because without a doubt he is my favorite prophet of the Word. I cannot wait to meet him in New Jerusalem. By the way, that will be AFTER I meet my Lord Jesus Christ of course. 🙂

Daniel 10:12 “Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.”

So, how did Daniel get in tune? First off, he had a desire deep within to understand. He wanted to know what the prophecies meant. In this case, it was a dream he was given. Did you notice the Word said he “chastened” himself? In the Strongs Concordance, that word means “to humble thyself.” (See Strongs #06031) This is one very important aspect in Christianity. Without humbling oneself, we can never expect to have the meekness of Christ. And that is what every Christian must strive for!

Daniel wanted to know and understand the prophecy. His attitude was such that his mind was wide open to all blessed revelations the Lord would give him. This, I fear, is also a major obstacle for most people today. They are so set in their ways that they refuse to have a “change of mind” when it comes to Biblical truth. I praise the Lord my mind was open to the truth when He revealed to me His Truth regarding the Roman Catholic church. Had I stayed in that church and decided to obey men over Scripture, as all Catholics do to this day, I shudder to think of what I would be doing at this place in time. I also shudder to think of how that prophesied house of lies would have destroyed my wife and children as well.

Studying His Word is the key

Isaiah 29:11,13 “And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:”

The student of prophecy must make sure to maintain a constant good relationship with the Almighty day in and day out. Else the prophecies he or she seeks to understand will eventually become sealed to them as well.

John 7:17 “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

This strong ongoing relationship with the Lord, as well as perfect desire to do His will, shall create a humble and contrite heart within the student. The student will also understand that which is Truth, and that which is lies. MANY people can look at doctrinal statements of their own churches and see no danger. Yet, the child that is humble before His God, and is walking in His will can see that which the blind cannot. That is one major reason the elect of the Lord cannot be deceived. Jesus said the following to confirm this.

Matthew 24:24 “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

The student will have no doubt in his or her mind that the understanding of these prophecies will not be of their own doing. Unlike the Scribes and Pharisee’s of Christ’s day that hoarded the Scriptures and used their ‘knowledge’ of the Written Word as a status symbol; all their flock looked up to them as if they themselves were holy and special. They eventually became blind to the Truth within the written Word and completely missed the arrival of Jesus Christ as Messiah. The true Christian seeking understanding will know that he or she understands simply because the Creator God that knows all secrets has revealed it to them. It is simply not of themselves.

The one seeking understanding will know that he or she understands simply because the Creator God that knows all secrets has revealed it to them.

Daniel 2:28 “But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;”

This genuine relationship will also bring the student to seek after God’s perfect will. In fact, this is what makes the seeker noticeably different from the natural man who,

1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

A true child of God will seek to know His will and even pray for it. Daniel prayed for this, and as we can see the Angel Gabriel gave him that which he prayed for.

Daniel 9:22-23 “And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understandingAt the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.”

The key is to admit we need help in understanding prophecy. No man can do it without the help of the one who spoke the prophecy. So, ASK and you will receive! SEEK and you will find! KNOCK and it will be opened unto you!

Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:”

Prayer is the essential key to all of this! The angel tells Daniel that “At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee”. If it wasn’t for his prayers (supplications), the vision would have remained sealed!

1 Peter 4:7 “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”

Mark 13:33 “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.”

Prophetic understanding and prayer are strongly linked in His Word. Especially for end time prophecy. This is a major reason most people today do not understand prophecy. They just don’t ASK, SEEK, or KNOCK in faith that He will reveal these truths to them. And when I say “ask in faith” I mean to be one that is in tune 100% with the Lord. One who has the fruits of a Christian, specifically the two major ones as Revelation 12:17 so amply describes.

Revelation 12:17 “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

NOTE: Testimony of Jesus = Spirit of Prophecy. See,

Revelation 19:10 “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

If you have those two major fruits, I believe all the rest are simply going to be added unto you. Fact is, if you cannot obey the Lord by keeping His Law, how can you expect the Lord to give you the understanding of the prophecies? You have to be in His will to receive His blessings do you not? And by the way, seeking the “future” from so called “psychics” is merely setting yourself up for a major fall.

Isaiah 8:19-20 “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

If they don’t have the Light in them, they are simply speaking lies. Plain and simple.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”

The Word of the Creator God is not to be taken lightly. Our attitude toward this book should be of overwhelming TRUST. We must believe this Word of the Christian God is factual and 100% accurate. And if we do, we must then act accordingly and follow the examples held within it. Our life must be fashioned after that which is written. To do otherwise would mean we are outside His will, and to be outside His will would mean the prophecies in His Word will be sealed from our understanding. And because of this sealing, we will not be ready for what prophecy says will happen next! We will echo the words of,

Jeremiah 8:20 “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”

So, in the Bible we must be, and whenever we hear a preacher or teacher speak, it is back into the Bible to makes sure they speak truth. Even the Bereans of old knew to do this.

Acts 17:11 “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

The Word of this Creator God must be our final source of infallible Truth. PERIOD! No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Revelation 22:18-19 “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

And before sharing that which is revealed unto us, we must always be careful as to not add anything to that which is written or take away from it either. Doing so is plainly described here as against His will. No matter how much the revelation of prophecy may be to us, we mustn’t “gild the lily” so as to not offend. If people have a hard time with the Truth as it is written, it is not our place to alter it so as to convince them. The Roman Catholic church tried that and look where it led them. Sadly, right now in our day, another church that had the understanding of these prophecies in her infancy is now displaying bold signs of having them sealed from their eyes. The General Conference of the SDA church has opted to “gild the lily” so as to not offend the Roman Catholic church recently in numerous watered-down sermons as well as other fruits of a sister in Babylon. And now we see they too cannot understand prophetic fact.

Yes, on the surface they appear to have much Truth. However, most of it is borrowed from previous scholars and the like. Do you hear of any “original” revelations that are Biblically accurate coming from this church lately? I don’t. So, ALL those that have opted to re-write that which is written by our Creator will see the plagues fall upon them. That is prophetically accurate no matter how much it offends!

Revelation 3:10 “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”

Revelation 14:12 “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”

Not only is obedience and important factor in understanding prophecy, perseverance is as well! Another prophetic fact is …

Revelation 22:14 “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

Acts 5:32 “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.”

As all true Christians today have discovered, obediance has its heavenly perks. It is the Almighty’s “condition” for granting us the continuous presence of His Holy Spirit who actually guides us in the study of prophecy. Now that we know the basic attitude that is needed to study prophecy. What are some of the keys that unlock its hidden truths?

Key# 1: The Bible must be allowed to interpret itself!

2 Peter 1:20 “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”

We must NEVER give our own opinion as to what His prophecy means. The Bible clearly interprets all of its symbols on its own. For example. Did you know that there are 404 verses in the book of Revelation? Did you also know that 278 of those verses can be found almost word for word in all the other books of the Bible? That being the case, why bother giving your opinion in the first place? Sooner or later you are going to be exposed as a liar by someone who has done their homework and can show, using a Bible, what a symbol in prophecy means, and in so doing expose you. You cannot refute the Word, so why try?

Case in point, Hal Lindsay in his book, “Late Great Planet Earth” stated that the vision Ezekiel had in chapter one of his books was the Vietnam war. However, students of prophecy know that’s a lie. And now there are literally millions of people on earth right now that have documented proof in their own Bibles that Hal Lindsey is a false prophet. Bottom line is, there is always someone who knows what those symbols mean.

Fact remains, the Bible identifies prophetic symbolism just fine on its own. For example.

Revelation 17:1 “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:”

For a quick example, we see in John’s vision a whore sitting on many waters. Later we see,

Revelation 17:15 “And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”

Then later, the Angel actually tells John what that means! Absolutely no room whatsoever is left here for human opinion. Let’s see another easy example …

Daniel 8:5,7 “And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.”

So, what do the ram, the goat, and his large horn symbolize?

Daniel 8:20-21 “The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.”

Here again, the Word of God gives us a very precise answer. No room for human opinion once again. Fact is …

2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

God’s obedient remnant know this, and so they act accordingly.

Key #2: The entire Bible is essential in understanding prophecy

Isaiah 28:9-10 “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:”

Remember what I said earlier about the 404 verses in Revelation? The entire Bible helps us define the symbols in prophecy. However, not all the symbols are as easy to find as the ones I just shared. You will be expected to study and show yourself approved before finding the harder ones. Prophecy is a lot like doctrine. You need to investigate it fully to understand it completely.

Psalm 73:16-17 “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.”

Key #3: Prophecy often refers to the Sanctuary

As you will discover in your studies, much of prophetic symbolism refers to the sanctuary, it’s articles, and the religious services held within it. So, it would behoove us all to study up on the sanctuary itself. Otherwise, a lot of the symbolism may appear confusing to us.

For example. The next verses from Revelation show a literal mention of the sanctuary and the things related to it.

Revelation 1:12 “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;”

Revelation 4:5 “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”

Revelation 8:3 “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.”

Revelation 11:19 “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”

Revelation 15:5 “And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:”

Key #4: Prophetic symbolism also refers to Old Testament nations

Jeremiah 51:29 “And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant.”

Revelation 14:8 “And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

The literal and local events that actually played out in reality, quite often becomes both symbolic and universal in prophecy.

Key #5: Prophetic symbolism refers to Old Testament characters

Prophecy can also refer to the characters attitude toward God, and to their past deeds.

1 Kings 21:25 “But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.”

Revelation 2:20 “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.”

Key #6: In prophecy, numbers express more than just a quantity

All the numbers in these passages I am about to share, which are, 24, 144 and 144000, are multiples of 12. Now, 12 is a number playing an important part in the Bible. Which of course is a completely different message and study. So, I won’t go into that here. However, we must understand that numbers don’t always mean quantity. They can be used to represent importance, size, and yes, even quantity. Now do you see why it’s so important to be an avid Bible student as well? Without the Holy Spirit, man simply cannot decipher the prophetic Word.

Revelation 4:4 “And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.”

Revelation 21:17 “And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.”

Revelation 14:1 “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.”

Key #7: Milk first, Meat later

We must do as babes in Christ do with Scripture. Milk first, and the Meat later. We should never try to decipher the more complex prophecies without first understanding the basics all prophecies adhere to.

Hebrews 5:13-14 “For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

It is very important not to cut corners. If we jump into areas we aren’t ready for, we may get a misunderstanding of what the prophecy is saying. Let’s take our time and do it using the perfect timing of God’s will. There is a reason for the Milk, just as much as there is a reason for the Meat.

John 16:12 “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”

We don’t know when or even why our Father reveals what He chooses to reveal when and if He does so. Had the apostles known certain things beforehand they may not have been able to understand other truths later. So again, trust comes in right alongside the obedience we already stand in. Truth is, trying to learn the meat first is like building the roof of a house before the foundation.

2 Peter 3:15-16 “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

Someone untaught or unstable may knowingly or unknowingly twist Scriptural facts making a prophecy seem to say another thing. Case in point, the Roman Catholic Jesuits that twisted the “week of Daniel” so as to preach a 7-year tribulation theory has caused literally billions to have a twisted understanding of the prophetic Word of God. And now, low and behold, almost the entire Christian world believes their error as if it is truth because they never bothered to do as the Bereans of old did.

2 Corinthians 2:17 “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”

2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Only the Student that follows the Bible method for understanding prophecy will be able to use the keys our Lord provides to open the doors that have the hidden meanings of prophecy. Once these keys are found, the child of God can then become very effective in sharing the prophecies with those the Lord sends their way.

Summing It up

7 keys that allow us to be in tune with the Author of Prophecy

1. A humble attitude

2. An open mind and spirit desirous to learn

3. A strong desire to cultivate a relationship with the Lord through prayer

4. A trust in the Bible that is unwavering

5. A mind that seeks only to understand the will of God

6. A desire to change one’s life to match the will of God

7. Perseverance in relationship, as well as obedience to God

7 keys that open the closed doors of prophecy

1. Prophecy must be interpreted by the Word itself

2. The entire Bible is needed to understand prophecy

3. Prophetic symbolism often refers to the sanctuary

4. Symbolism also refers to places in the OT

5. Symbolism also refers to characters in the OT

6. Numbers express more than just quantity

7. Study the simple prophecies first, then the complex

Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”

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