“In ages past, God has had among the nations a people of His own. These are wise in the wisdom of God, and venerate His Word above all things. Though not His counsellors, He has graciously condescended to inform them what He intends to do before it comes to pass. Hence, it is testified by the prophet, that ‘the Lord GOD will surely do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets’ (Amos 3:7). This revelation is made that His people’s faith may be confirmed and enlarged; and that in every generation they may know the times and seasons to which they stand related. Knowing the signs they are enabled to discern the times; and whilst consternation and dismay cause men’s hearts to fail, they are courageous, and rejoice in perceiving the approach of the Kingdom of God. This is the proper use of the prophetic word… this appears from the exhortation of the Apostle in 2 Peter 1:19” John Thomas, Elpis Israel, page 323.

The understanding of prophecy and the course of future events amongst the nations of the world does not, of itself, make a man righteous or fit for the Kingdom of God. The prophecy was never given as “an end in itself” or simply in order to foretell the future, but as a gracious appeal to individuals and nations to amend their ways in view of the nature of impending events.

The apostle Peter, therefore, admonishes his readers on the basis of their knowledge of the future, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God…”; and again, “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” and, “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:11,12,14,17).

The Hebrew word for prophet is ‘nabi’ and means “to cause to bubble, to pour forth words abundantly”: the idea depicted is that of a fountain bubbling forth unrestrained as those who speak with ardour or divine emotion (Gesenius). Such a man was Jeremiah who, because of the violent opposition he encountered, determined to keep silent: “But His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jer 20:9).

In the New Testament, the Greek word for prophet is “prophetes” (from “pro” forth and “phemi” to speak) and according to Paul’s definition in 1 Corinthians 14:3 “He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort”.

There have been brethren in these latter days who have manifested that same spirit of ardour and emotion towards the prophetic word and who have faithfully spoken to edification, exhortation and comfort regarding the signs of the times and Yahweh’s purpose with the nations. Their exposition has passed down to us with the milestones of that sure word clearly marking the way to the time of the end.

An extract from such an exposition appears in this issue of The Lampstand as Our Heritage article, taken from Brother Thomas’ work, Exposition of Daniel. His opening statement: “In taking a general survey of the contents of the Book of Daniel, it may be seen that two great powers are the principal subjects of its predictions. The one is styled ‘the Kingdom of Men’; and the other, ‘the Kingdom of God’”–is the majestically simple key to unlock the whole of the Prophecy of Daniel.

The feature articles which follow, on Armageddon, Europe in Prophecy, The Destiny of Russia and The Middle East in Prophecy, examine current developments, what we can yet expect to see and what should be our response to these things. The material derives extensively from the writings of our pioneer brethren and Brother Thomas in particular, whose expositions have stood the test of time because they spoke “according to the law and to the testimony”. For example, Brother Thomas undoubtedly unravelled the meaning and purpose of Armageddon when he defined the Hebrew word as “a heap of sheaves (‘arma’) in a valley (‘ge’) for judgment” (‘don’ or ‘dan’). Such a definition is in harmony with all other relevant passages of Scripture.

Having access to so much excellent material to assist our understanding of that sure prophetic word are we motivated and impelled by its message in these uncertain times in which we live? Seeing we know these things before, are we different, peculiar in the eyes of this evil generation–transformed by the daily renewing of our minds–or are we simply conformed to all that is around us in this world?

A familiarity with the media’s constant stream of information on every major and minor event is of doubtful value. Often the really significant issues from the prophetic viewpoint receive scant attention and could easily escape our notice. Far better to be thoroughly familiar with the Father’s perspective from His Word and thereby be truly discerning in our appreciation of “current events”. Knowing these things before, we should have a lively vision before us, a burning conviction and commitment which is able to encourage our brethren and sisters and families whilst sounding a warning to the world of unbelievers amongst whom we sojourn. Brother Thomas wrote more than one hundred years ago: “The Day of Christ is now at hand, the signs of his coming are abroad in the earth; and blessed will they be who are watching and prepared” (Eureka, Vol 1 page 139).