Understanding Biblical Prophecy PART 1

The Old Testament is often called “the Prophets”

Matthew 5:17 (NKJV)

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy THE LAW or THE PROPHETS. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

The Prophets” here refers to the WRITINGS of the Prophets in the Old Testament. The Bible is replete with prophetic statements.

The Old Testament has about 23,145 verses. Of these 23,145 verses, 6,641 contain predictive material. That’s about 28 1/2 percent of the Old Testament.

While the New Testament has 7,957 verses, and out of these 7,957 verses, 1,711 contain predictive material. That is, 21 1/2 percent of the New Testament contains prophecies.

So, out of the entire Bible’s 31,102 verses, 8,352 contain predictive material. That’s about 27 percent of the whole Bible!

And the Bible has proven itself as inspired by God, because SEVERAL of those prophecies have been fulfilled, or are BEING fulfilled. For example, about 300 prophecies about the Messiah were fulfilled in the life of Jesus. Thus, prophecies are VERY IMPORTANT in the Scriptures.


                     What is Prophecy?

The answer to this question can be best understood from Exodus 7, “So the Lord said to Moses: “See, I have made you AS God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother SHALL BE YOUR PROPHET. YOU SHALL SPEAK all that I command you. And Aaron your brother SHALL TELL PHARAOH to send the children of Israel out of his land” (vv. 1-2).

God had said similiarly to Moses, earlier in the fourth chapter, “Now you shall speak to him and put the WORDS IN HIS (Aaron’s) MOUTH. And I will be with your mouth and with HIS MOUTH, and I will teach you what you shall do. So he shall be YOUR SPOKESMAN to the people. And he himself shall be AS A MOUTH for you, and you shall be to him as God” (Exodus 4:15-16).

Just like Aaron was to Moses, a prophet is a SPOKESMAN for God. He is one who conveys God’s will to others. His mouthpiece.

David says it this way, “The Spirit of the Lord SPOKE BY ME, and His WORD was on MY TONGUE” (2 Samuel 23:2).

Some have misunderstood prophets to be those who foretell (or speak of the future), but that is not always the case (although prophets DO foretell). Prophecy simply means a divine message. It can be about the future SOMETIMES, but not always.

Prophecy is simply to relay a message from God (to forthtell). In 1 Corinthians 14:3, Paul says, “But HE WHO PROPHESIES speaks EDIFICATION and EXHORTATION and COMFORT to men.

Notice Paul doesn’t say “he who prophesies speaks about the FUTURE to men.” Prophecy is simply divinely-inspired words. These words can teach and encourage and they don’t NECESSARILY have to be about the future.

Observe as well, that the essence of prophecy in the Scriptures is Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:10 says, “…For the TESTIMONY OF JESUS is the SPIRIT (or essence) of prophecy.” The prophecies in the Scriptures were to point to Him.

The Bible also speaks of false prophets and false prophecies. For example, Jeremiah 28 intimates of a a man named Hananiah, who gave false prophecy, in the name of the Lord.

Jeremiah 28:1-4 (NKJV)

1 And it happened in the same year, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, who was from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the Lord in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, 2 “ THUS SPEAKS THE LORD OF HOSTS (kōh amar Yahweh sabaoth), the God of Israel, saying: ‘I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3 Within two full years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the Lord’s house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. 4 And I will bring back to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah who went to Babylon,’ says the Lord (nuem Yahweh), ‘for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.’”

Hananiah prophesied that Israel would be FREE from her bondage to Babylon in two years (that’s around 594 BC).

But we see that he was lying, “Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, “Hear now, Hananiah, THE LORD HAS NOT SENT YOU, but you make this people trust IN A LIE (sheqer in the Hebrew- falsehood or deception). Therefore THUS SAYS THE LORD (kōh amar Yahweh): ‘Behold, I will cast you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have taught rebellion against the Lord.’” So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month” (vv. 15-17).

Note that EVERYTIME someone proclaims falsehood in His Name (in the Bible), God would tell us (get the sermon “God Gave Us A Book” for more on this). This is to prevent His Word from being tainted or corrupted. God is showing us what He said and did not say, by so doing.

Moses’ Law prescribed the death penalty for a false prophet:

Deuteronomy 18:20, 22 (NKJV)

20 But the prophet who PRESUMES to speak a word in MY NAME, which I HAVE NOT COMMANDED him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’

22 when a prophet speaks IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord HAS NOT SPOKEN; the prophet has spoken it PRESUMPTUOUSLY; you shall NOT be afraid of him. 

Thus, the prophecies found in the Bible are trustworthy. God safeguarded His Word from error.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


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