Summary: Sermon for the first Sunday of Advent, considers what’s important about prophecy
Before we start is there anyone who’s good at untangling things? I’ve got these Christmas lights and since it is the first Sunday of advent I was hoping to use them as an illustration. Here you work on these and we’ll get back to you in a little bit. (hand the volunteer a wad of hopelessly tangled Christmas lights).
The book The World’s Worst Predictions lists some of history’s all-time prophetic goofs:
King George II said in 1773 that the American colonies had little stomach for revolution.
An official of the White Star Line, speaking of the firm’s newly built flagship, the Titanic, launched in 1912, declared that the ship was unsinkable.
In 1939 The New York Times said the problem of TV was that people had to glue their eyes to a screen, and that the average American wouldn’t have time for it.
An English astronomy professor said in the early 19th century that air travel at high speed would be impossible because passengers would suffocate.
This morning on the first Sunday of advent we are thinking about prophecy, specifically Messianic prophecy. The promise that a special servant of the Lord would come to set right what has gone wrong in the world. And we’re thinking not only of those prophecies that relate to the first advent of Christ as a baby in a manger, which we as Christians believe have already been fulfilled in Jesus, but also those about His second advent, as a conquering king.
Proposition: In our New Testament passage this morning, Peter, one of the witnesses of the first coming of the Messiah, writes about the importance of biblical prophecy.
Interrogative: As we look at this passage the questions that I hope we are able to answer are: Where does prophecy come from? How do we know that prophecy is true? And, what difference does it make to our lives today?
Transition: Each of those questions is answered in our text as Peter teaches us what is important about prophecy. The first thing I’d like to look at is...
v. 19a And we have the word of the prophets made more certain,
I began with some prophecies that didn’t pan out. Peter writes about prophecies being made more certain. Made more certain how? Because they’ve already begun to come to pass. I’m convinced that Peter is not just referring to those prophecies that we think of at Christmas or even Easter--those that refer to the first coming of Christ. I think he’s referring to the whole package.
Dr. George Sweeting once estimated that "more than a fourth of the Bible is predictive prophecy...Both the Old and New Testaments are full of promises about the return of Jesus Christ. Over 1800 references appear in the O.T., and seventeen O.T. books give prominence to this theme. Of the 260 chapters in the N.T., there are more than 300 references to the Lord’s return--one out of every 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 N.T. books refer to this great event...For every prophecy on the first coming of Christ, there are 8 on Christ’s second coming." [Today in the Word, MBI, December, 1989, p. 40.]
So when Peter says that we have the prophetic word made more certain I think he’s saying we’ve already seen some of it fulfilled in the life of Christ on earth...this is the proof that the rest is true too... that Jesus has a plan to return again to take as his bride all those who have trusted in Him.
ILLUSTRATION: If I told you that you were going to go out of here this morning and meet a friend from High school that you hadn’t seen in 10 years, that that friend would be married with 3 children and that He would be newly assigned in Heidelberg and that then a bird would fly over and make a deposit on your head, you’d say I’m crazy. But if you went out and met the friend and all was as I had said, you’d be looking up or covering your head.
We have the prophetic word made more sure because Jesus Christ has already fulfilled the word of the prophets in amazing detail, and this proves the authenticity of the prophecy.
The next thing that’s important about prophecy is its...
v. 19b and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts
How are those lights coming, we just read about lights it would be good to have them here. No luck? OK we’ll get back to you.
Naval officer Frank Koch illustrated the point I want to make about authority in an article for the magazine of the Naval Institute. Frank says "Two battleships had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities.