Do We Really Need to Study Prophecy?

As a student of prophecy I sometimes wonder if most of my time would not be better spent simply sharing the Gospel, something I believe is of great importance. Should I devote less time to “meatier” matters and focus more on the basics?

Recently while reading through the book of Hebrews I discovered the answer to my question. In chapter five, the writer of Hebrews finished explaining about Melchizedek and then admonishes the readers that the things he would like to say are “hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.” (Heb 5:11 NKJV)

The writer says to his listeners, “though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” (Heb 5:12 NKJV) What is so surprising is that those “first oracles of God,” those “elementary principles of Christ” that is, “milk” are defined as the Gospel. The author lists them as

  • repentance from dead works,
  • and of faith toward God
  • of the doctrine of baptisms,
  • of laying on of hands,
  • of resurrection of the dead,
  • and of eternal judgment.” (Heb 6:1-2 NKJV)

The author says that “everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb 5:13-14 NKJV) The milk here is of course extremely important; just as a baby vitally needs milk during those first several years, so too does the baby Christian.

A newly-born-again person cannot be expected to skip drinking milk and go directly to eating meat. On the other hand, just as a baby eventually begins to reduce his need for milk and replaces it with more meat, so too should the believer begin consuming more than basics, “leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ.” (Heb 6:1)

The author desires to share the mystery of the person of Melchizedek – something that is not absolutely necessary for salvation. A person can and should be able to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus without having to know about the finer details of a slightly obscure passage from Genesis and Psalms. According to the writer of Hebrews, every believer ought to be moving in this direction; he should not be merely fed milk and for good reason –  God desires that we grow up so that we can learn and digest some deeper and really exciting things in his Word!

The study of prophecy is therefore incredibly important. In fact, God wants us to press on to understand it and chew on it like a wonderful steak that will cause us to grow strong. What then do we do with the elemental principles? Do they not have any place as we grow in our faith and knowledge of the Lord? The answer appears simple: if we had not fed on the milk we would never have been able to eat the meat. As a teacher of the Word, I must remember to feed milk to those who need it and then introduce the meat when ready. And for my own life, because I never want to forget the goodness of the Gospel, I am going to enjoy a glass of milk once in a while feasting on steak!