Before we get too far into these studies, we absolutely must look at how prophecy is defined, described and validated in the Bible. Otherwise we could get quite confused. Plus, prophecy is the subject of this entire website, so we should be clear about what we’re discussing!
Let’s start with 2 Peter 1:19-21, and see how God defines prophecy in His word:
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
That sums it up, really.
Prophecy is when God tells men what to say or shows them something which will happen in the future. The key element is that the prophecy has to be spoken or shown to the person straight from God (as in, “by the Holy Spirit“). Then the person writes down what they’ve seen or heard (as in, “spoke as they were moved“).
Here are some examples of this process:
“The word that came to Jeremiah from the the Lord, saying, ‘Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say,”Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the Lord!” ‘ ” Jeremiah 7:1-2
“Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said: ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His… He reveals deep and secret things’ ” Daniel 2:19-20, 22
“Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, the word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was upon him there.” Ezekiel 1:1-3
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw… After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this’… And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne…” Revelation 1:1-2, 4:1-2, 5:1
These are are direct encounters with God, either by sight or word. None of the prophets say, “I think God wants me to say…” or “I think I just had a vision from God.” It’s unequivocal: “the word came… from the Lord,” or “the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.” Experiencing direct communication from God is never ambiguous. This shows us that God wants us to know 1) when He’s the one communicating, and 2) that He clearly communicates with us.
So, we’ve looked at how prophecy is defined and described. Now, how do we know if it’s valid?
1) Obviously, if the prophecy actually happens! Of course, we can’t use this test for prophecies that are still future, but we can see some that are now in the past and have happened just as the prophets described.
Another consideration about this point is that these same prophets who wrote down prophecies that have happened, have also written down prophecies that are still in the future – so we can expect those future prophecies to happen because the past ones have been fulfilled.
For example, Isaiah and Ezekiel both have prophecies about the Jews returning to Israel, which they have, and Isaiah prophesied about Christ’s second coming and Ezekiel about Christ’s millennial kingdom – so we can be sure that these future prophecies will be fulfilled in the same literal sense and with the same certainty.
2) Does Christ reference the prophet and/or his prophecies? Jesus Christ, who is The Word of God Himself (John 1:1), would not quote any text as having authority from God unless it was the word of God. Here’s one example of Him quoting a prophet who references a (still) future event:
“’Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place’ (whoever reads, let him understand), ‘then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.‘” Matthew 24:4-5
3) Is the prophet and/or his prophecies referenced anywhere else in the Bible? This can be found in many places.
“I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:1
“For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him…” Acts 13:27
“As He says also in Hosea: ‘I will call them a people who were not my people’… Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel, ‘Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sands of the sea, The remnant will be saved.’ “ Romans 9:25, 27
4) And, as I mentioned before, does the prophecy begin with something like, “the word of the Lord came to…”? (See the earlier part of this post for some examples.)
Every prophecy in the past has been fulfilled – so be ready for those yet unfulfilled to be fulfilled!
- Israel was exiled to Babylon and Jerusalem was desolated, just as Isaiah, Jeremiah and others warned the Jews they would be, back in the 7th century B.C.
- The Messiah was born in Bethlehem as Malachi prophesied, born of a virgin and suffered as a sinner for sinners, as Isaiah foretold, was put to death by crucifixion as described in the Psalms, and rose from the dead after three days, as Christ Himself told His disciples beforehand.
So, we can expect…
- Christ to break the seals of judgment as Revelation describes
- God to save Israel from the armies of Gog and Magog
- The Antichrist to rise and people to take his mark
- Christ to come on the clouds of heaven
- And so many more terrifying and glorious things!
Things which are coming ever closer.
We see the clock ticking down to the end of the last hour – so don’t wait to put your faith in Christ! Then you’ll be sure of having eternal life and escaping eternal death. That choice is just as real as when you get on the internet or hop on a plane and see the Jews living in Israel – just as the prophets said: Israel became a nation again, and Christ is coming back.
He’s waiting because He wants to save souls.
That’s me for now! Keep your eye on the clock! Until next time – unless the Rapture comes first!