[Note: This speech is the prepared text for a #4 Prophecy Graduate Club Speech given at the UCG Portland Spokesmen’s Club on February 21st, 2016. The speech received the Most Effective Speech award for the evening.]
When we think of prophecy, our mind usually goes to end-time prophecies as we ponder the circumstances that surround the return of Jesus Christ. At other times we look at prophecies that are cited as proofs of the work of Jesus Christ and the Church of God, especially those which are cited in other parts of scripture. Yet there is a great wealth of insight to be found in more obscure fulfilled prophecies as well, including those prophecies we might not even recognize because they are in unfamiliar and unusual places in scripture. Today I would like to look at one such obscure but straightforward prophecy and examine its context and its importance for Christians today. Let us turn to Proverbs 30:4, which reads as follows: “Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, if you know?”
The author of this prophetic riddle and straightforward messianic prophecy is a fellow named Agur. All that we know of this man is what is contained in Proverbs 30, which consist of various insightful and enigmatic proverbs . Where did he come from? We do not know. What was his family background? We do not know. When did he live? We do not know. How did he learn that God consists of a family, currently made up of a Father and Son? We do not know. How widespread was this knowledge about the nature of God during the time of Agur? We do not know. What we do know is that Agur is aware of the role of God and Jesus Christ in creation, and that He is aware of the ascension and descending of God to and from heaven and earth. Aside from the knowledge of God and God’s ways he expresses in the chapter of the Bible that consists of his proverbs, we know nothing about him from either scripture or outside history. Although this verse of prophecy is straightforward enough to understand, there is much mystery in its surrounding context.
In terms of the whole biblical context for this verse, there is a lot more information. As a prophecy, this verse belongs in a family with other prophecies that express God as a Father and Son alongside two much more famous examples, both of which can be found, like this verse, in the writings of the Tanakh. The first example is Psalm 110:1-2, which reads as follows: “The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!” We know that Jesus Christ used this particular messianic psalm to confound his opponents among the Jewish leadership who could not understand how the son of David could also be the Son of God sitting at the right hand of His father. Likewise, in Daniel 7, which the Jews also place in the writings rather than among the prophets, in Daniel 7:13-14, which reads: ““I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.” Here too we see God the Father called the Ancient of Days, and Jesus Christ the Son of Man, one of His characteristic self-descriptions when He walked this earth as two separate beings, but working according to the will of the Father.
And this is the importance of Proverbs 30:4, in giving another example of the knowledge of the Godhead and the Family of God among the believers of ancient Israel. By the time of Jesus, certainly, this knowledge had been ignored and suppressed by the Jewish leadership, which thought it worshiped and honored the Father. To the Jews of Jesus’ day, and to professed Christians of today, the riddle of Agur must seem particularly incomprehensible, not least because the understanding of God as a family is not widespread. The Jews content themselves with a belief in the absolute oneness of God, while most professed Christians seek to defend the illogical and inconsistent view of God as some sort of interpenetrating Trinity with three distinct aspects in one being. Yet Agur, in his prophetic proverb, is nothing but straightforward. He views the role of God in creation, and in descending to earth for our redemption and then ascending back, stated clearly in John 1:18 as being done only by Jesus Christ Himself, in terms that clearly express God currently being Father and Son, the same precise view of God we see in the opening of every one of Paul’s epistles . Even if we do not know much about Agur himself, his prophecy in Proverbs 30:4 provides striking insight to the role of God in creation and redemption, and in the importance of recognizing God as a family.
So, what is the importance of Agur’s prophecy? For one, it provides a clear reference to the Family of God, in among the more obscure parts of scripture where the reader does not expect to find prophetic insight. It is a fulfilled prophecy, in the sense that we can answer the riddle because of our knowledge of God the Father and Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother. Yet despite the fact that this prophecy is fulfilled, in that we know the identity of God as Father and Son, the mystery of this prophecy remains. We do not know how Agur came across this understanding, or how widespread this understanding was during his time. Even prophecies that have been fulfilled, or whose meaning we can explain in the light of all of scripture still present us with challenges and questions that are beyond our capacity to answer. Therefore, let us turn our attention from time to time to the forgotten passages of scripture, and to the body of fulfilled prophecy that reminds us of doctrinal truth about the nature and Family of God, so that we do not take such prophecies for granted. Why is this verse not better known or more often discussed even by we who proclaim God as a Family in the face of various mistaken and unbiblical views? Tell me, if you know.
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