Hermeneutics - Lesson 19

Challenges of Interpreting Prophecy

In this lesson on Hermeneutics by Dr. Todd Miles, the main focus is on the challenges of interpreting prophecy. Dr. Miles discusses various difficulties in understanding prophecy, such as wrong expectations, historical distance, and the question of fulfillment. He also introduces the concept of conditional prophecy, where the fulfillment is dependent on certain conditions being met. Different types of prophetic proclamations are mentioned, including judgment speeches, blessings, woe oracles, symbolic actions, poetry, wisdom thinking, allegories, and apocalyptic elements. The lesson emphasizes the need for careful interpretation of prophecy and warns against using the text to support contemporary agendas.

Todd Miles
Lesson 19
Watching Now
Challenges of Interpreting Prophecy

I. Expecting Prophecies of the Future

II. Hermeneutical Difficulties

A. Historical Distance

B. The question of fulfillment

C. Conditional prophecy

D. Types of prophetic proclamation

E. Sensus Plenior

F. Hermeneutical principles

  • This lesson explores John the Baptist's role as the Messiah's forerunner, his imprisonment for condemning Herod's affair, and Jesus' response in Matthew 11, rooted in Old Testament prophecies. Jesus' omission of judgment references confuses John about the Messiah's timing. Believers in the New Covenant, with deeper insight into Jesus, are seen as greater. The lesson promotes patience during suffering and the duty to identify Jesus as the Messiah.
  • This lesson on hermeneutics teaches you to approach the Bible with humility, seek divine guidance, analyze context, consider character roles, examine structure, use cross-references, apply sanctified imagination, and emphasize Jesus in interpretation, all while relying on the Holy Spirit.
  • This lesson introduces general and special revelation, emphasizing their roles in inviting people to know God and providing specific truths for salvation. It explores the process of inspiration, defining it as a concurrent work of a holy God and a human author, ensuring every word of Scripture is both human and divine, crucial for biblical interpretation.
  • This lesson reveals the Bible's divine authority, unity, and human relevance, stressing accurate interpretation for life transformation.
  • Learn about hermeneutics, understanding author intent, and different views on interpretation. Dr. Todd Miles discusses realism vs. non-realism, authorial authority, and introduces speech act theory to show how the Bible engages with readers, transforming beliefs and behavior.
  • This lesson delves into theological text interpretation, emphasizing that meaning is human-made, not inherent. Authors, not readers, shape text meaning. Accurate Bible interpretation hinges on understanding God's authorship, emphasizing His lordship, knowledge, and obedience. Presuppositions about God and human nature are vital for accurate Bible interpretation.
  • From this lesson, you will gain insights into the challenges of translating the Bible, understanding the continuum of translation philosophies, and the importance of selecting a translation that balances accuracy and readability in contemporary language. Dr. Todd Miles underscores the significance of using the best available manuscripts, avoiding theological bias, and staying updated with the latest knowledge of language and culture to ensure a quality translation.
  • From this lesson, you will gain valuable knowledge and insight into hermeneutics and biblical interpretation. You will understand that hermeneutics is not about uncovering hidden secrets but about utilizing your natural ability to interpret communication. Reading and becoming familiar with the Bible is crucial for effective interpretation, and it is essential to address biblical illiteracy.
  • Learn the significance of interpreting Bible passages in the context of redemptive history. Discover the Bible's continuous narrative, emphasizing revelation's progression and God's plan through the David and Goliath story. See how context ensures accurate interpretation, connecting the Bible's parts into a cohesive story of God's redemption.
  • Understanding the Bible through biblical theology is crucial, as it reveals the overarching narrative of God's redemptive plan, centered on His glory and the role of Jesus Christ, enabling a more profound comprehension of individual Bible passages and their relevance to our lives.
  • Dr. Todd Miles underscores the vital role of historical and cultural context in interpreting the Bible. Understanding the era when a passage was penned is crucial for grasping its genuine significance. Using examples like the virgins' parable and Revelation 3:14-22, it demonstrates how historical context aids in discerning interpretations and adds depth to the message. The text emphasizes that, while the Bible offers some historical context, external sources can also enhance comprehension. In conclusion, historical and cultural context is essential for accurate biblical interpretation.
  • In this lesson on Hermeneutics by Dr. Todd Miles, the focus is on understanding the cultural context when interpreting biblical texts. Dr. Miles emphasizes that culture plays a significant role in both the biblical author's writing and the reader's interpretation. He discusses the concept of cultural conditioning, highlighting that everyone, including the biblical authors, the original audience, and modern readers, is influenced by their respective cultures.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Miles highlights the significance of studying words in their original language and using etymology to decipher their original meanings.
  • Learn how recognizing and applying literary genres in the Bible is crucial for accurate interpretation, avoiding misinterpretations, and approaching Scripture with a nuanced understanding.
  • In this lesson, you will gain an understanding of interpreting biblical narratives. It begins by discussing the distinction between historical narratives and parables, emphasizing the importance of recognizing the markers of historical narrative.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Miles review biblical narrative interpretation. He emphasizes the importance of context, adding that each narrative should be examined within the broader biblical and book context. He illustrates this with Mark Chapter 5, where Jesus interacts with demons, breaking from the norm to underscore his authority.
  • From this lesson on Hermeneutics and Law, you will gain insight into the intricate relationship between the Old Testament law and New Covenant believers. Dr. Todd Miles emphasizes the challenge of applying ancient laws to contemporary life and introduces the key factors for understanding them: comprehending the nature of covenants and situating oneself in the timeline of redemptive history. This process is likened to using a mall map to find a destination.
  • Dr. Todd Miles discusses prophecy's significance beyond predicting the future. It validates God's deity, reveals future realities, and guides our present actions. Most prophecy is about forth-telling and emphasizes covenant understanding.
  • In this Hermeneutics lesson, you'll gain insights into the challenges of interpreting prophecy, including wrong expectations, historical context, conditional fulfillment, and various forms of prophetic proclamations, while also being reminded not to let contemporary agendas override the biblical text.
  • In taking this lesson, you gain insight into the concept of typology in biblical interpretation. Typology involves finding resemblances between Old Testament figures, events, and institutions and their fulfillment in the New Testament, particularly in relation to Jesus Christ.
  • Learn about poetry in the Bible by exploring Hebrew poetic parallelism and its emotional power in Psalms. Discover how poetry enhances biblical narratives and offers unique insights.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Todd Miles discusses various types of psalms found in the Psalter and delves into their unique characteristics and theological significance. He begins by providing a list of different kinds of psalms, emphasizing that this list is not exhaustive but illustrative, highlighting the diversity of poetry within the Psalms.
  • By studying this lesson, you gain insight into essential figures of speech in the Bible and learn to interpret them effectively, enhancing your hermeneutical skills and deepening your understanding of the Scriptures.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Todd Miles discusses the interpretation of parables. Parables are a specific literary genre with their own rules of interpretation. Parables are designed to teach a single point, although there might be exceptions. Historical context remains essential in understanding parables, as they are shaped by the situations of the day. 
  • This lesson explores Proverbs and wisdom literature, focusing on its distinct genre, interpretation rules. Dr. Miles highlights its purpose, living wisely with God. It emphasizes the fear of the Lord, touches Ecclesiastes' question of meaning, and Job's theodicy.
  • In this lesson on interpreting epistles, Dr. Todd Miles underscores the importance of understanding their structure, argumentative methods, and central theological focus on Jesus Christ and the gospel, even when addressing practical issues within the early Christian communities.
  • Dr. Todd Miles delves into apocalyptic literature, emphasizing its distinct features like revelatory communication and angelic guidance. It unveils profound truths through visions, promoting understanding and righteous conduct.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Todd Miles explores the concept of perspicuity, which refers to the clarity of the Bible. He begins by explaining that perspicuity is a theological term used to describe how clear the Bible's teachings are. It means that the Bible is written in a way that its teachings can be understood by anyone who reads it, seeks God's help, and is willing to follow it.
  • This lesson provides practical guidelines for applying biblical principles. Dr. Miles emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit, examining the original context, and identifying parallel situations in the present. He encourages applications to be personal, specific, measurable, and time-bound, ensuring they lead to tangible actions in your life.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp the Holy Spirit's vital role in biblical interpretation, going beyond changing hearts to enabling comprehension and acceptance of the text. Dr. Todd Miles stresses the Spirit's role in illuminating the Bible, making it relevant to believers, challenging the idea that unbelievers interpret it as effectively, and emphasizing the importance of understanding the text's intent. The ultimate aim is not mastery but being mastered by the text, with the Holy Spirit as a key player.
Hermeneutics is the science and art of the interpretation of the Bible. It's a science because it is an orderly process based on rules you can apply. It is an art because of the nuances in communication and translation.



Dr. Todd Miles


Challenges of Interpreting Prophecy

Lesson Transcript


Well, let's think of some of the hermeneutical or interpretive difficulties that we encounter with prophecy. I already mentioned one that we just have the wrong expectations. We're thinking that prophecy is going to be a prediction of the future. And then we open up the Bible and it doesn't look like prophecies in the future, but it's got to be prophecy of the future. So maybe I just don't know what I'm reading because it's got to be prophecy, the future where you can't make something into something that it's not. Okay. So that's one. And another difficulty would be the historical distance that we find. The literature of the prophets is rich in analogies and geographical references. A knowledge of the history and geography and culture is very important when we're trying to understand the message of the major and minor prophets. Now, some prophets like Obadiah and Joel and Jonah, they don't provide any specific historical reference. That is, we don't know exactly when they wrote. We don't know who the king was with Jonah. We know that Assyria is still doing it thing it's saying, but that's a pretty broad period of time. And so we we have to look elsewhere for clues about how to interpret it in the scriptures. Why did the prophets write? Oftentimes there were unprecedented upheavals in political or military, economic or social spheres that led to a point of crisis. And so the prophets needed to write well. Understanding what those historical issues were is very helpful. And again, adequate, adequate historical background can be found in the Bible itself. So in the book of first, the Second Kings or First and Second Chronicles will find that the historical context for what's going on when the prophets did their writing, oftentimes there was religious upheaval. People were turning from God to pagan gods, the pagan gods of the surrounding nations. We we see that in Hosea Chapter two or Jeremiah chapter two. And as you've read through the books of Kings and Chronicles, you know that that's Israel's history. There were often shifts in population and national boundaries that led to constantly unsettled conditions. And all of this meant that the divine message from the prophets was needed, a new and a fresh, even though they're really saying the same old thing. Another issue that we run into that creates difficulty is just the question of fulfillment. How do we know when a prophecy has been fulfilled? I've been beating the drum that most of the prophetic literature is not prediction of future, but some of it is. Oftentimes that's the interesting stuff that we're looking for. But how would we know if it's been fulfilled or not? It seems in some places that there's a prophecy that's given and then it's fulfilled multiple times. This is double fulfillment or multiple fulfillment really a thing. Consider, for example, in the Book of Daniel, chapter nine, verse 27, we read this. He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice an offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come. One who makes desolate until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator. Daniel, Chapter 11, verse 31. We read Forces from him shall appear and profaned the temple and fortress and shall take away the regular burnt offering, and they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate one chapter later in Deuteronomy or in Daniel Chapter 12. And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1290 days. Now, if you were to ask anyone during the lifetime of Jesus who that person was, or if that person had come, they would say, yes, that person has absolutely come. And it was Antiochus epiphanies, this Greek ruler, ruler who forced the Jews to sacrifice pigs on the altars as a way of desecrating the temple. He wanted to put an end to Judaism as it was known. And so he entered the holy of holies in 167 B.C. and that brought an end to temple worship. Until you have the the events that are chronicled in the Book of Maccabees, where temple worship is reinstituted. But the abomination that makes desolate. We know who that is. People said that was Antiochus. However, Jesus in Mark chapter 13, verse 14 says, But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not to be, let the reader understand then that those who are injured flee to the mountains. Jesus is acting like it hasn't been fulfilled yet. Was it Antiochus or was it this person who is to come? If you were a Jewish person who lived in the second century, you would say, Oh, I know who that second guy is. He was the true abomination that makes desolate. And that would be Titus, the Roman ruler who destroyed Jerusalem, the Roman general who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D.. As we look back on it, we go. Well, which one was it? Was it Antiochus or was it Titus? And then we get to Revelation chapter 13, verse 14, where we read and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast, it deceives those who, well, the earth telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And there's language in the Book of Revelation that's sure looks like there's another abomination that makes desolate who's coming down the pike? Well, which one is it? Is it Antiochus, is it Titus? Or is it someone future still for us? Here's where the concept of multiple fulfillment applies. I, I believe that God gives prophecies that are fulfilled multiple times throughout history. Usually, it appears to me, rising in intensity. We might think in terms of promise and fulfillment. The New Testament writers often saw analogous situations in salvation history, and then they link them together prophetically. Also, the the Jewish prophets often engaged in what? What I'll call the telescoping of time. For example, in Second Peter, chapter three, verse eight, we read the statement of the Lord in time. Don't overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is is a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. That's God's perspective. He's got lots of patience for us, though. We're very much bound by time. I like the illustration. I mean, even as I look out and on a clear day from here, I could see Mt. Hood. And I don't know if you've ever had this the phenomenon where you are driving down the highway and you see a mountain in the distance and it looks like it's just over the bend. But then when you get over the bend, you realize it's further away than what you thought that it was. And I think that's what goes on with the prophets. The prophets saw something that looked very imminent and near to them. But as time progressed, it becomes clear that they were further away from the fulfillment of their prophecy than what they might have thought. I want to introduce to you another concept when it comes to prophecy prediction in the future, and that is the idea of conditional prophecy. And conditional prophecy, it embroils us in the very nature of the sovereignty of God and of his omniscience. We might ask, How well does God know the future that is? Is there such a thing as conditional prophecy where the fulfillment is conditioned on something? But when we read a prophecy, it looks like the fulfillment is certain, but then it doesn't happen. Was God wrong? Does he know the future or was the fulfillment of that prophecy conditioned on something? And I'm going to argue that there is this concept of conditional prophecy. A very good example of this is found in the book of Jonah. Jonah, chapter three, verse four. You know, the story of Jonah that leads up to this. Jonah is is told to go prophesy to the Assyrians in Nineveh that that destruction is coming. Jonah hates the Nineveh writes, though he has no love for them at all. He doesn't want to go anywhere near them. And we might think, well, is he afraid? Is he afraid to go there? Now? That's not the reason. As we read through the rest of Jonah, the reason he doesn't want to go prophesy is because he doesn't want to deliver the message of their destruction. And we might think, well, I thought I thought Jonah hated the Assyrians. Isn't that what you just said? Yes, he did. But he knew that if he went and warned the Assyrians, they might very well repent. As a matter of fact, Jonah seemed to think that it was very likely they would repent. He thought that God was going to use him to bring about the repentance of the Assyrians, and he wanted nothing to do with Assyrian repentance. He wanted. Judgment on them. Judgment on Assyria. And so he tries to get as far away as he can. You know, the story of how God calls him back is thrown into the water. God rescues him through the giant fish, spits about our land, Jonah says. He cries. Uncle says, okay, I'll go. And? And he makes it on to Assyria and to Nineveh. And in Jonah, chapter three, verse four, we get Jonah's great prophetic efforts. Listen to this. Jonah began to go into the city going a day's journey, and he called out Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown. An eight word sermon that is like the poorest excuse for a sermon that you will ever hear. He's he's obeying the spirit of God's or the letter of God's command. Not necessarily the spirit. Nevertheless, despite his pathetic efforts, the nine invites Listen to him. And they repent. And at the end of chapter three, we read this when God saw what they than anybody else did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them. And he did not do it. He did not bring the destruction that Jonah prophesied was going to come. Now, notice that in Jonah's prophecy to them in his sermon, he doesn't say, Unless you repent, you will be destroyed in 40 days. He just announces that in 40 days you're going to die. That's it. That was his message. There's no condition attached to it. There's no if then. So what's going on was was Jonah's prophecy unfulfilled? And at face value, we might say yes. But the book of Jonah provides an invaluable help at looking at the nature of prophecy, especially this category of conditional prophecy. In chapter four, verse one, we read this. It displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry that the only revival preacher ever who was frustrated over repentance and he prayed to the Lord and said, Oh Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish, for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and relenting from disaster. I knew you were going to use me to bring about their repentance, and I knew that you were going to show mercy on them. That's why I didn't want to have anything to do with this. The whole point, it seems, of the book of Jonah, is that Jonah understood that the message that he was bringing to the Ninevites was the means by which God would call them to repentance. Far from being a message of certain doom, I would think a message that Jonah would have been delighted to preach to the Ninevites. Jonah knew that what the only thing that was certain is that Nineveh would repent. That's what he knew would happen. Bruce, where writes this about about the Jonah episode. Nearly all interpreters of Jonah, for example, agree that when Jonah predicted yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown, we understand that an implied but unstated condition attached to this prediction. Unless you repent, this will happen. So this condition is implicit. Though it's not explicit. I continue to quote the people did repent and God did not bring the predicted judgment. And nearly all agree that even as Jonah knew, it was God's intent all along to show mercy to the Ninevites, knowing that the stated prediction of judgment would elicit their repentance so that God could then display his originally intended mercy. So some prophecies are dependent upon fulfillment of a stated or unstated condition. And this principle is illustrated in Jeremiah chapter 18, verses seven through ten. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it. And if that nation concerning which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent. Of the disaster that I intended to do it. So notice. Notice the language of Jeremiah 18. God says, I will. I may declare that I'm going to destroy someone. But if they repent, I will not do it. He goes on. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or kingdom that I will build and plant it. And if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I intended to do it. God will change his mind, so to speak. Even though I would argue that God doesn't change his mind like that. What God does is he declares something. There's an implicit condition attached to it and his will is accomplished through that conditional prophecy. And I think that this concept of conditional prophecy explains many of the so-called unfulfilled prophecies that we might find in the Bible, like the destruction of Damascus. In Isaiah chapter seven, verse one, or that statement by Holda, the prophetess that Josiah would die in peace. We find in Second Kings Chapter 22. As you know, Josiah went in, you know, ignoring all wisdom, got himself involved in a land war in Asia, which everyone knows you're not supposed to do. And then he repent. And then he was. He was killed in battle. Was Holda wrong? No, I think there was probably an implicit condition. And Josiah met the the requirements of that implicit condition and therefore was killed, even though the prophecy was that he would die in peace. Okay. Just like there are many kinds of narratives. There are many kinds of prophetic proclamations in the Bible. There are judgments, speeches, for example. This is the basic form of the prophetic message. There's usually first an introductory commissioning of the prophet. Followed by second, a detailed accusation or description of the situation that led to the judgment. And third, that there's usually a messenger formula where the prophet identifies himself as a prophet. And then fourth, the prediction of disaster to come. This is the judgment speech. An example of this is in Amos chapter seven, verse 15 through 17. The Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, Go prophesy to my people, Israel. There's your introductory commissioning of the Prophet. Now therefore, hear the Word of the Lord. You say, Do not prophesy against Israel and do not preach against the house of Isaac. There's the detailed accusation or descriptions of situations going to lead to the judgment. Therefore, thus says the Lord. That's the messenger formula for the Prophet. You're about to hear from God. Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city. Your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword. Your land shall be divided up with the measuring line. You yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land. There's the prediction of disaster. That's the judgment speech. There are other kinds of of prophetic proclamations. And this list that I'm giving you, again, I don't think it's important to necessarily remember all of these. I'm doing it to illustrate the fact that there's no one size fits all approach to prophecy. There are prophecies of blessing or deliverance, and this usually, quite frankly, follows a judgment speech because that's just the way God is. He's usually pretty kind and compassionate. There's a promise of blessing at the end of the judgment speech. Some examples of that would be in Isaiah 41 and Jeremiah 33. There are what many scholars very cleverly call whoa oracles. This is a particular type of judgment prophecy that contains the word woe or the Hebrew hoi. It signaled tragedy and imminent sorrow. So like in Amos Chapter five, verses 18 through 20, woe to you who desire the day of the Lord. Why would you have the Day of the Lord? It's darkness, not light, as if a man fled from a lion and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall and a serpent bit him is not the day of the Lord darkness and not light gloom with no brightness in it. Other examples of that can be found in Isaiah five, Micah Chapter two, Habakkuk chapter two. Jesus takes it up, as you remember, in Matthew 23 with his woe oracles, the prophets often engaged in symbolic actions and those were a form of prophetic speech as well. These were these were acted out parables. They were. They served as object lessons to the observers. And Jeremiah and Ezekiel used this method often. I mean, and like the whole book of Hosea, for example, with Hosea's marital situation is a lived out parable for the people to see. We be careful about wanting to be a prophet. It's a hard, hard life, or even to be the son of a prophet where you were given a ridiculous name like Mahrshala Hashbaz or something like that. Poor kids like a fourth grader, can't even spell his own name. But it was important for the prophetic message of of of Isaiah. Jeremiah 18. We get examples of this. Ezekiel five Ezekiel had to do some freaky things. I mean, he had to run around naked for a while. He had the, you know, cookies, food over like human excrement was what he has to do. And like, even for Ezekiel, that was like a bridge too far. Lord, no, please, please, not that. And God says, Okay, cook here, cook your food over like cattle excrement instead. These these prophets were tough guys. That's that's for sure. Disputation speeches, we find them in Scripture. Here is disputation speeches where the words of the people to whom the prophet is prophesying are quoted against them. It turns out the words of the people back on themselves to show the error of their ways. And typically there's like some sort of introduction, a quotation, and then a refutation. Here's here's Jeremiah 31, an introduction to the promise of the New Covenant. But he uses a disputation speech to do it. In those days, they shall no longer say. There's your introduction. The fathers have eaten their sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge. That's the quotation of the opponents. But everyone shall die for his own sin. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge. That's the refutation of the people's words. There is poetry all through the prophets. We'll talk about poetry as literary genre. And so. So everything we say about poetry is going to apply to the prophecy and to the major and minor prophets. There's wisdom thinking in the prophets as well. Proverbs are often used. We'll talk about Proverbs here in an upcoming session. Allegories are often used. In Ezekiel, 16 and 20 and 23, and we'll talk about allegories in a moment, but we'll talk about probably better and better ways to interpret the allegories when we get to the parables, because the parables are basically allegories made up stories that Jesus used. And so we'll talk in detail about that. And then there's even some apocalyptic stuff in the prophets, and we'll talk about that. That will be the last literary genre that we look at. So so all of those are different forms that we find in the major and minor prophets. This does raise the question When we were talking about fulfillment of census plenior. Is it possible that the text has a deeper meaning than the original author intended? And this is a very significant question for the prophets, because how well did the prophets understand how their words would be fulfilled? According to some advocates of census plenior. Whereas the author had one view, God had an entirely different willed meaning. He conveyed through the same language and vocabulary. Now, he say, according to some advocates of census plenior, because when people use the term census, plenty are oftentimes they will mean something very different than the last person that you heard from. And so my advice to you is whenever you talk to someone and they mention census plenior or ask them specifically, what do you mean by census plenior? If they mean by that, the prophet says, you know, ten words and they think they know what they're talking about, they have an intentional world. Meaning in those there's ten words holding up five fingers, but count each for two. But God takes those ten words and has an entirely different meaning willed meaning attached to them. Well, I am uncomfortable with that, given my understanding of inspiration and everything that we talked about earlier. Now, I recognize that there are many prophecies that are fulfilled in Christ, which the original author would have been hard pressed to understand. Especially like Isaiah 53. The problem with census plenior, it's virtually impossible to recognize or to verify or to argue against if meaning is found in the text. So go back to ten words spoken by a prophet. We can understand what they mean by what they say, by literary analysis, by him, by looking at the words and the grammar and all of that. The way that we would understand anything anybody says. But then someone else might come along and say, Yeah, but God means this. And it might not have anything to do with the grammatical, historical construction of those ten words. How do we know? How do we argue with someone? They might end up just pulling out some sort of numerological trump card and say, well, the spirit of God gave me this understanding of the passage. I think that's problematic. We have access only to the vocabulary, the style and the grammar of the prophet who wrote. It seems then that we can only find a deeper meaning after the fact and we have no access to it before the fact. Now, it could be it could be that by census plenior or a person means only that there's a wide range of implications for what the prophet is saying or what any biblical author is saying. And at that point, I don't have any problems with it. If you're saying, you know, like Paul said, don't get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery, but be filled with the spirit. But today I would apply that by saying, you know, don't get high on crack cocaine. Yeah, I think that's a legitimate implication of what Paul meant. And Paul had no concept probably of crack cocaine, if you want to call that census plenior, that's fine. I got no issue with that. I'm all in on that. You just have to understand what a person means by by what they say when they talk about since there's plenty here. And I get uncomfortable with the notion when there's a meaning that the spirit brings that is different or can't be argued from the words that the prophet uses. If if we want to argue that the prophet said this, but it was fulfilled in this way, something that he probably wasn't consciously thinking of, but we could legitimately argue as someone, yeah, this is an implication or this is fulfillment of it. Then then again, I have no problem there. Hermeneutical principles. Well, let me tell you what not to do. Oftentimes, that's easier. Don't let the contemporary situation control the biblical text. For example, modern liberation movements often use the prophet's condemnation of social injustice to support their movement. I think we can use the prophets condemnation of social injustice to condemn social injustice where we see it. But that doesn't mean that we buy in to the program, the political program that others are using to replace the social injustice. If that makes sense. I think it's fine to criticize treatment of the poor, but don't use the prophet's words where they're criticizing treatment of the poor to say, Hey, in our country we have poor. Therefore, our policies are wrong and we need to replace it with this kind of policy. I think that's going beyond what the prophet was saying. If you want to use the prophets condemnation of social injustice to condemn contemporary social injustice, go at it. That makes perfect sense to me. But beyond that, I'm not so sure. I don't think individual episodes in a story and symbolize them to speak to modern events. For example, I've heard the story of Ahab and Naboth, where Ahab wants a vineyard that's used to preach against the little man versus the state or institutional ism or something like that. I mean, what we have there is a particularly egregious evil king who tramples all over justice and robs from what appears to be a fairly righteous man who cares about the legacy of the inheritance that was given to him. In that sense, he's acting in faith, and Ahab is trampling all over what God has commanded. Criticize that all you want. I'm not sure that you know that we want to turn a Naboth into some sort of Norma Rae character who is standing up against big money or whatever. Don't ignore the role of Israel in redemptive history. Claiming promises that God made to Israel are applicable to other nations. And by that I mean I'm American, the United States of America. It could very well be that God will respond the same way with other nations that he responded to Israel. But God is not bound by His word to do so. 21st century America is not old Covenant Israel. There is the Great Prayer of Solomon where we get in this, that God's response is that to this prayer of the dedication of the temple, that that if my people will humble themselves and will turn from their wicked ways and will will return to me, then I will heal their land. And I've seen that quotation from Chronicles on posters in Jesus junk stores with, you know, American flags and bald eagles and such. And and I and I think, you know, it's theoretically possible that every single person in America could repent and turn to Christ. And the very next day we would get nuked out of existence and God would not have been unfaithful to his word at all. And and we could stand before God if we wanted to and say, wait a second, you said that you would heal our land if we repented, and every single American did that. What's up? Why didn't you not keep your word? And God would say, I never made that promise to you. That was a promise made to Old Covenant Israel. And you as a follower of Jesus, you are a new covenant believer and as a new covenant believer. Speaking for us, we have newer and better promises. We have some hard stuff as well. Jesus warned us that we follow him. We enter into this new covenant agreement there. They're probably going to be really tough stuff on the horizon. Jesus said, People are going to hate you. They're going to want to kill you because of me. He said, But don't worry about it. It's not a new problem. It's really about me. The reason they hate you is because they hate me. And you shouldn't expect any less. 21st Century America, not Old Covenant, Israel. What are we supposed to do? Identify where possible. The books background, the date, the author, the place in Israel story. So context, context, context. Most of the prophets come with chronological indicators. Those are there for a purpose. Pay attention to them. Who is the audience? Where's the speaker from? Who is the prophet? Confronting all those things are very important. Determine the type of prophetic proclamation. I walked through a few of them. Each subgenre of prophetic literature has to be interpreted with the genre in mind. So when you find a lawsuit or a disputation speech, you'll be able to pick out illustrations that both highlight the text and make it meaningful for the people that you're teaching. Think in terms of speed checks. Is this a warning, a statement of imminent judgment? Is it a message of hope? Study the balance between the historical the fourth telling and the predictive the foretelling. Ask yourself, is this predictive or is it didactic? Is it conditional or unconditional? Is it fulfilled or unfulfilled? For example, in Zachariah chapter one versus one through six is didactic. It's more fourth telling, versus seven through 21 is more predictive. And don't leap too quickly to a futuristic interpretation before you consider the immediate historical interpretation. If the prophecy is predictive in nature, has it been fulfilled? You may want to use the New Testament as your guide in this. And then because most of the prophetic literature is written poetically, expect and account for figurative language and symbolism. According to Grant Osborne, there are three very different approaches that we could take. The first would be to take everything is completely literal. Most don't do this. We pick and choose. The second is purely symbolic. Find the symbol behind every referent in the prophetic literature. The third, probably the more median position find a language of equivalence, he says. Look for analogous situations, but don't overload the text in the direction of either to literal or to symbolic. Some of the major minor prophets, as is Christological. I do believe that Jesus is the central character of the entire canon. But. But we don't want to invent or insert Jesus specifically into every text. Some passages are going to be directly messianic. MIcah chapter five verse 2 the birth in Bethlehem, Malachi Chapter four, verse five Elijah predicted as the forerunner to Messiah. Others are going to be more analogous, like Hosea Chapter 11, verse one, where Jesus is called out of Egypt. Jeremiah Chapter 31, Verse 15 The Slaughter of the Innocents. Matthew takes both those passages and sees those as fulfilled in the life of Christ, even when though when we look at them, they don't look like predictions of the future. They look like statements of either the past or the present. Some passages are not messianic on their face at all, but had their fulfillment in their own day. That's the majority of the predictive prophecy in the major and minor prophets. But we can still get to Jesus from there by asking What role is this playing in the big drama that gets us ultimately to Jesus? Be very careful about imposing your theological system on the text. It's impossible not to. But just be self-aware that our our impulse is to read our theology into the words of Scripture rather than get our theology from the words of Scripture. It's unavoidable that you're going to do this. I don't even think it's necessarily wrong in in a there's like this just totally hopeless situation. This is the way that it's supposed to be work. That's how we read. That's how we interpret things. But be self-aware so you can be self-critical and ask yourself the question, Am I just reading my own theology into this prophetic literature, or am I allowing the prophetic literature to maybe alter my theological position? And then after you've done all that, I think it's fine to seek analogous situations in the modern church. If, for example, I was going to preach on justice issues, I would make a beeline for the major and minor prophets because they condemn the the two nations, the northern nation, a southern nation. Over and over again, because that which was to characterize Israel was their remarkable social justice. The social justice of Israel, codified in the Mosaic Covenant, was unlike anything in the ancient Near East, where they cared for the disempowered, like the refugee or the sojourner, the widow, the orphan. And that social justice was to be a magnet to the nations where they would hear of the great righteousness and mercy of God, and they would flock to Jerusalem to learn the ways of the God of Israel. Social justice was supposed to be an attraction to the nations. And so when they failed in that. The major and minor prophets castigated Israel for their lack of concern for those who were disempowered. So I think we can we can take those words. That's the heart of God. That's the mercy of God. And we can use that and apply that in our own contexts. Being mindful of the fact that we are not old Covenant Israel. And that we are under new management as the New Covenant Church. And our responses, even though motivated by the same heart and compassion of God, are going to be different in application because we are the church and not a geopolitical entity.


Speaker 2 You were talking earlier about since this plan of yours, and probably the best illustration is Isaiah 7:14.


Speaker 1 Yeah.


Speaker 2 Was Isaiah talking about his wife as a sign, to be king, or was he prophesying about Mary or both? I mean, because you don't seem to like sensus plenior.


Speaker 1 No, I don't. But as well. What do you do with that? Yeah. So I do like since this plan year in that sense. So the answer is yes, he was talking about both. I don't think he was conscious of both. I think that that messianic prophecy only makes sense or that prophecy only makes sense if there is an immediate fulfillment in the lifetime of the King. Ahaz. Yeah. Because the the the birth of this child to this person who wasn't necessarily expected to have a baby, I suppose, or someone who wasn't likely in the moment to have a baby, the birth of that child was this signal that God was going to keep his promise to save Israel. And that was a promise given to Ahaz. So there's there's no hope given to Ahaz. If 700 years later, Mary has a baby, Mary's baby. And so I'm pretty sure that's what Isaiah was thinking at that point. Did he know that there would be a multiple fulfillment to that? I don't know. I doubt it. But I you know, we do get the language of the New Testament where there's there's these Old Testament words in the prophets. They longed to understand what it was that they were writing. Even, you know, so. So. So maybe there's something there for. I don't know. But. But I have no way to prove that. I think the only thing we can argue is that Isaiah thought there would be an immediate fulfillment. And then. Matthew takes this in and sees it fulfilled in Jesus. Um. And probably aided a bit by the Septuagint translation, which chose to translate it with that Greek word. That's definitely someone who has never experienced sexual intimacy. It is a virgin and in an unambiguous sense. Yeah.