Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand (Revelation 1:3, KJV).
Prophesy in the life of the believer can be an excellent thing when it is properly studied and applied. Even our opening text tells us that we are blessed when we read, hear, and keep those things written in Revelation. Of course, this would also apply to the entire Word of God. When a believer approaches prophecy –written or spoken and it is truly of God, excellence will follow. However, it can move from being excellent to merely being good when it is not studied at the proper time, and/or when it is not properly applied. It is one thing to do a good thing, it is quite another to do the right thing. When everything is led of the Lord, it will be right.
When we approach prophecy, we need to keep first things first. The first thing is to pray and ask the Lord His will concerning our next move. In this case, does He even want us to study it at this time? The reality is that unless we are taught of the Lord through the Holy Spirit, it will be a fruitless effort for the most part. If God wants us to focus on something different from prophecy, prophecy can become a distraction. The Lord is constantly working in our lives (see Philippians 1:6), and the more we submit to His desires the quicker He is able to bring us to maturity. That means even end time prophecy can become a diversion from those things the Lord really wants to reveal to us, which includes things about ourselves we do not want to see. In some cases, the Lord may want to build a better Biblical foundation before taking someone into the deeper things of God -first things first! Even the Apostles had to apply this principle.
Acts 1:4-8 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (KJV). Part of end time prophecy is the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. In this passage of Scripture, we find that Jesus is giving His disciples a set of instructions –wait for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. In the midst of His instruction, the disciples ask Him about the restoration of Israel. His response was simple, that’s not for you to know at this time, receive power first, so you are able to be My witnesses. This is not to say that the disciples should never receive instruction in this area, in fact, they already had (i.e. Matthew 24; Luke 21). However, this is not the time for that. As believers, we need to consult the Lord before going any further. As we do, we will find prophecy will be an excellent thing in our lives.