The Bible is a continuous story from beginning to end, but in another sense, it is a collection of diverse stories.  These stories may be varied in worldly terms, but spiritually, they tell the same message throughout    This is evident from the fact that the names in one story are interchangeable with the names of persons or places in another story:  Jerusalem is called Sodom.  Jeremiah calls Babylon Sodom and earth.  Jeremiah calls the king of Babylon Sheshak making a comparison to the pharaoh.

    The prophets point out likenesses between one story and another because the spiritual message is the same.  These places and events demonstrate principles which are needful for us to learn and prefigure things to come.  Much of prophecy is simply a revealing of the spiritual significance of historic events.

    Jesus gave prophecy about the end in plain talk, then pointed out that the end was prefigured-- like the days of Noah--as Sodom.

    Some say these end prophecies have all been fulfilled in the first century the events culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem.  Others say the end prophecies refer to the end of the world which is about to come.  This debate comes from a failure to grasp a basic principle of prophecy:  All prophecy is fulfilled twice at least.  Examine the prophecies throughout the Bible.  They were all fulfilled in Biblical  times and, yet, we take them to refer to the time of the end.

    The law concerning a prophet is this:  If his prophecy comes to pass, he is a true prophet.  If his prophecy fails to happen, he is a false prophet.   Prophecy tells what will happen in advance.  If you have to wait for it to happen before you know if it will happen, then you had no advance knowledge and the prophecy told you nothing.  This is pointless and makes no sense at all were it not for the fact that prophecy is fulfilled twice: God said He had reserved 7000 which had not bowed the knee to Baal.  In the days of king Ahaz, the entire number of the men of Israel had dwindled down to 7000 through which salvation from the Assyrians was granted, (1 Kings 19:18, 20:15).  The prophecy was fulfilled and, yet, Paul speaks of this prophecy as referring to the end, which is yet to come.

    Predictions of the prophets all came to pass in the short term.  This was the confirmation of the prophet and it explains why the Jews were so diligent in preserving the records.  Once the prophet was confirmed, then his words were known to be true prophecy referring to the distant future.  Re- examine the prophets and you'll find this to be the case.

    These prefiguring events were not understood by the people of those times.  For the most part, people involved in those events didn't understand the significance of their own words.  Irony is the operative term here and irony in the Bible is so thick you can almost swim in it.

    When the high priest said that one should die for the nation, he was speaking about the worldly threat of the Romans not realizing those words were placed in his mouth by the Spirit and the nation referred to was the kingdom of God.  My favorite irony is the testimony of Pilot:

    Jesus witnessed a good confession before Pilot, (1 Tim 6:13).  Frequently we take witnessed to mean testified but, if one is not guilty, we don't call it a confession.  Sometimes "witnessed" actually means witnessed--ambiguities in the Bible are frequently intentional.  Consider that Jesus was a witness to Pilot's confession:

    Pilot asked, "You are king of the Jews?"  (You might want to look up the Greek words here.  The question was phrased as a statement.)  We know that no one may confess that Jesus is lord, (lord or king is the same statement), except those words are given by the Spirit.  And you can be sure that Jesus was aware of the significance of Pilot's confession.

    Jesus did not take Pilot's words as a question.  He responded to the statement and asked if he said this of himself or if another, (the Spirit), had told him, (John 18).

    Pilot then states that His own nation had delivered Him up.  Pilot was confirming the prophecy to be fulfilled that He would be born king of the Jews and His own would reject and kill Him and Pilot didn't have a clue.  Jesus then tells Pilot that this was the reason He came into the world.  These ironies come from a failure to understand.  Carnal minds do not discern spiritual things; the true meaning is hidden as in a riddle.

    Here is a riddle I heard as a child:

    "Railroad crossing, look out for the cars; Can you spell that without any r's?"

    Yes, you can spell "that" without any r's because there are no r's in "that."  The first part of the riddle has nothing to do with the solution, it is only to divert your attention from the simplicity of the question.

    A magician's trick works the same way.  The magician misdirects our attention to what he is doing with his right hand while hiding the prop in his pocket with his left hand.  He does the trick right in front of us and we don't see it because our mind was focused elsewhere.

    Riddles are a verbal sleight of hand.  We don't grasp their meaning because our minds are misdirected.  In the case of the Bible, we don't grasp the spiritual meaning because our minds are misdirected by  the worldly sentiments of our hearts.  It is our own carnal minds and the cares of this life which mislead us.

    If you really want to understand, don't set your heart on things of this life.  Don't even take thought of what you will eat or drink, nor of what you will wear God provides.  Understanding requires that you set your heart on things above.

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