Understanding Biblical Prophecy PART 3—Features of Prophecies.

First, note that there are general prophecies in the Bible which predict blessings or curses on Israel. Take Isaiah 14:1, for example, “For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land. The strangers will be joined with them, and they will cling to the house of Jacob.” This prophecy contextually refers to Israel delivered from captivity at Babylon.

There are also SPECIFIC prophecies which speak to certain individuals. Isaiah 44:28 speaks to Cyrus, King of Persia, “Who says OF CYRUS, ‘He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” and to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”’ This was fulfilled when King Cyrus restored Israel as a nation in 536 BC.

So prophecies can be either general or specific (i.e. referring to certain individuals, places etc).

Another feature of prophecies is that they use highly figurative language. They are symbolic in nature. Take Isaiah 11:6, for example, “The wolf also SHALL DWELL WITH the lamb, the leopard SHALL LIE DOWN with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling TOGETHER; and a LITTLE CHILD shall lead them.

This prophecy seeks to imply the presence of peace in the land, but it uses wild animals (wolf, leopard, lion) and their prey (lamb, goat, calf, little child) to pass the point across. Thus, prophecies MUST NOT be interpreted literally.

Also, prophecies often have a dual application. This is known as the gap principle in Bible hermeneutics. A prophecy fulfilled NOW can also have a FUTURE fulfillment. This is best illustrated in 2 Samuel 7:12-14.

2 Samuel 7:12-14 (NKJV)

12 “When your (David) days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men.

This prophecy was referring to Solomon, the son of David, ORIGINALLY. The direct recipient of the prophecy was Solomon. Even David said this, in 1 Chronicles 22.

1 Chronicles 22:6-10 (NKJV)

6 Then he called for his son Solomon, and charged him to build a house for the Lord God of Israel. 7 And David said to Solomon: “My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build a house to the name of the Lord my God; 8 but the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have made great wars; you shall not build a house for My name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight. 9 Behold, A SON SHALL BE BORN TO YOU, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies all around. HIS NAME SHALL BE SOLOMON, for I will give peace and quietness to Israel in his days. 10 He shall build a house for My name, and he shall be My son, and I will be his Father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever’ (referencing 2 Samuel 7:13).

So that promised king in 2 Samuel 7 is Solomon ORIGINALLY. However, this SAME PROPHECY had a future fulfillment in Christ. The Apostle Paul reveals this, in Acts 13.

Acts 13:33-34 (NKJV)

33 God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:

‘You are My Son,

Today I have begotten You.’

34 And that He raised Him (Jesus) from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus:

‘I will give you THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID.’

Jesus is THAT Son in reality, who would build God a house (Heb 3:3-6). The same prophecy had a dual application, first to Solomon but ULTIMATELY to Jesus.

Several other prophecies like this one (2 Samuel 7:12-14) exist within the pages of the Tanakh. Hosea 11:1, for example, says, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I CALLED MY SON.

This text referred to Israel initially. But observe how Matthew uses the same in Matthew 2.

Matthew 2:13-15 (NKJV)

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” 14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that IT MIGHT BE FULFILLED which was SPOKEN BY THE LORD through THE PROPHET, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” (Hosea 11:1)

Matthew applies this text to Jesus! “But is that not reading Hosea 11:1 out of context?,” some may ask. Some have even accused the New Testament writers of reading the Old inappropriately. But that is not the case at all.

The writers of the New Testament looked for similarities between the Old Testament prophecies and New Testament events (we’ve termed this the “JUST LIKE” principle, or the principle of similarity).

So JUST LIKE Israel was in Egypt, IN THE SAME MANNER, Jesus went down to Egypt. Matthew simply drew a similarity out of the two events. He applies the SIMILARITY to Jesus. So Hosea 11:1 is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus, the True Son of God.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *