How can we draw practical modern applications from biblical prophecy without ignoring the prophet's original intention?

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Many times biblical prophets were addressing particular issues, particular events, particular persons. However, if we understand the principles of the character of God seen in those prophecies, we can see how they apply today as well. For example, in Isaiah 14:12, you have the king of Babylon who has exalted himself, and then he's going to be cast down to Sheol. He's going to be cast down to the realm of the dead, and all the kings that he conquered are going to rise up and mock him and say, "Look, now you have become weak just like we have. Now you're being eaten by maggots just like our corpses were." Well, how does that apply today? It's a warning against pride. It's a warning against exalting ourselves, usurping the role of God. It's a warning against those who do that in society. Back then there were many divine kings, but you still have arrogant people who act like the whole world is about them. And again, it's a warning to us to make sure that we humble ourselves before the living God.

Answer by Dr. Craig S. Keener

Dr. Craig Keener teaches New Testament studies at Asbury Theological Seminary.