What Is Bible Prophecy?
A lot of people say they believe what the Bible says. Maybe you’re one of them.
It’s the most-read book in the world. It has a lot of wise sayings, psalms, stories, history.
It also contains a lot of prophecy.
I’m Joel Hilliker, managing editor of the Philadelphia Trumpet newsmagazine.
Prophecy—you might associate that word with apocalyptic movies, mystical books, crazy street preachers. A lot of people do, and dismiss it.
But one third of the Bible is prophecy! Just look at the table of contents. Out of the 66 books in the Bible, 18 are named after prophets. And other books have many prophecies—in the Old Testament and New Testament. Genesis prophesied that the descendants of Israel would inherit the Promised Land. 1 Samuel prophesied the coming of Jesus Christ and the return of Jesus Christ. Then there’s the book of Revelation, which is basically entirely prophecy.
A lot of intelligent people believe in God. Many even read the Bible very seriously. But when this Book claims to foretell the future, a lot of people reject it. Or they skip to the parts about the love of Jesus.
But you know, Jesus Himself was a prophet. He foretold future events, some of which He called end-time events.
So if you “believe the Bible,” you can’t ignore the question of Bible prophecy.
Have you ever looked into it?
What Is Prophecy?
What is prophecy? It’s the forecasting of future events.
Let me give you an example.
The book of Genesis records that God called a man named Abram. And He made an amazing promise to this man. He actually changed his name to Abraham, which means “father of a great multitude,” and He said, “I will make nations of you, and kings shall come out of you.”
That promise was a prophecy.
Now the Bible itself records that Abraham lived out his life and never saw that promise fulfilled. And it wasn’t fulfilled in his son’s lifetime—or even his grandson’s lifetime.
But did the prophecy fail? Well actually, if you study biblical and secular history, you see that Abraham’s descendants did grow to become nations. And they did include many kings. It took quite a few generations—but God did keep His promise. Believe it or not, there are actually nations in the world today that are descended from Abraham—just like God said.
Now a lot of people are confused about prophecy—and that’s understandable. Many phrases the Bible uses are no longer common—many prophecies use symbols—or they use ancient names for predecessors of modern nations.
So people throw up their hands and say Bible prophecy just can’t be understood. But if you think about it, that’s basically saying you can’t trust God to keep His promises.
You know there are many prophecies in the Bible that have already come to pass—promises God made that He fulfilled, in detail, hundreds or even thousands of years later. And there are many more that are in the process of being fulfilled right now.
Think about this: Why would God record so many prophecies—and then preserve them for thousands of years and make sure we have access to them today? Why would He do that, if He didn’t intend for us to understand them?
This might seem strange, but there are actually passages where God explains that He purposefully obscured the meaning of a prophecy at the time He gave it, because He only intended it to be understood later. For example, the Prophet Daniel said, “I heard, but I understood not.” And God replied, “Go your way Daniel: for the words are closed and sealed till the time of the end.” That means there would come a time when God would open those words—and unseal their meaning.
Bible prophecy is an important subject. It’s not intellectually honest to say you believe the Bible, but then ignore Bible prophecies, as if it doesn’t matter whether or not God keeps His word. If God’s prophecies aren’t true, then how much credibility or authority does the Bible really have in our lives?
But if, on the other hand, Bible prophecy is true—time after time, without a miss—if God can say something, and then thousands of years later carry it out—then we have to admit that the Bible is authoritative—it can be trusted … including those prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled.
You can understand prophecy. It will help you make sense of what’s happening in the world today—it will give you real hope to see where events are leading—in fulfillment of the promises, and according to the plan, of the all-powerful God who forecast future events—and is bringing them to pass.