Why Are Prophecies So Cryptic?

Paul tells us that, “None of the rulers of this age understood this [secret and hidden wisdom of God], for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory“ (1 Cor 2:8). This is important to note because we often act as though Satan knew God’s plan all along, but the truth is that he didn’t. The Bible tells us that, “Satan entered into Judas“ (Lk 22:3). This should grab our attention because it clearly illustrates that Satan did not know the cross was the crux of redemption. He was baited into putting Jesus there, causing what one scholar called a “grand cosmic exorcism” (Twelftree, Graham H. In the Name of Jesus: p. 196) of sorts in which Satan is dealt with directly and cast out (Jn 12:31). For reasons like this, Michael Heiser rightly concludes that:

The story of the cross is the biblical-theological catalyst to God’s plan for regaining all that was lost in Eden. It couldn’t be emblazoned across the Old Testament in transparent statements. It had to be expressed in sophisticated and cryptic ways to ensure that the powers of darkness would be misled. And it was. Even the angels didn’t know the plan (1 Pe 1:12). (The Unseen Realm, p. 243)

Now you know why it’s so hard to understand how Jesus fulfills some of the prophetic words that are given in the Old Testament. Satan is not omniscient and if God had just told us about the cross in detail, Satan would have avoided getting Jesus killed. Instead, God tricked Satan into crucifying Him, knowing his evil heart would be his downfall. His dark ways were predictable and it would cause his kingdom to self-implode.

Some of God’s words are more fully understood in retrospect through the eyes of the Holy Spirit. Likewise, someday the Holy Spirit will open our minds to understand the book of Revelation in light of it being behind us and we’ll all say, “Oh, now I get it. I completely misunderstood that part.” That’s why it’s important to note that you’re wrong if you think you’ve figured out how the apocalypse is going to play out—or at least I hope you’re wrong, because if you figured it out, then so did the enemy.

Just as Israel had all of the Old Testament prophecies to work off, but never saw something like Jesus coming, so do I wonder if it’s happening again with how we view Revelation. Catholic scholar Scott Hahn says it well,

today, many Christians still hope for the same messianic vengeance as the first-century Jews. Though Christ came peacefully the first time, they say, He’ll come back with a holy vengeance in the end, crushing His foes with almighty force…. But what if Jesus’ second coming turned out to be much like His first? Would many Christians be disappointed? Perhaps, but I don’t think we should be…. I would suggest that the expectations of many Christians about Christ’s Second Coming may stand in need of adjustment. Otherwise we can find ourselves fighting disappointment—as did Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries in the first century. (Hahn, Scott. The Lamb’s Supper, pp. 133-135)

There is more for us to absorb in our Bibles than we are even aware of and the Holy Spirit is the key—the secret of the Kingdom of God. The parables and the prophecies are yours for consumption if you follow Jesus and listen to His Spirit. “No one needs to feel that “he or she is cut off from the meaning of the text,” says Fleming Rutledge, “for it is the Spirit, given to all believers, who will interpret.” (“The Crucifixion. p. 23)


This is an excerpt from my book, The Rush and the Rest.

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