A Personal Apologetic: Introduction to Biblical Prophecy

Some of the strongest evidence for the existence of God and the inspiration of the Bible comes from prophecy fulfillment. In the next couple of posts, I’m going to give what I believe to be the the biggest examples of verifiable modern-day prophecy fulfillment. But first, I want to show what sets biblical prophecy apart from the predictive statements of other sources. My purpose in this post is not to prove prophecy is real, but to lay the groundwork for the following posts in understanding what biblical prophecy is about.

Most people think prophecy is primarily about the prediction of future events. The predictive element is seen in many religions and belief systems, from Chinese Chen to Nostradamus, to the claims of other modern day seers and prophets (such as those of the Watchtower organization). Prophecy, however, is more accurately defined as one or more messages that have been communicated supernaturally through a prophet, whether those messages include predictive statements or not. In other words, a prophet claims to be merely a spokesman for the supernatural source of his message.

Biblical prophecies also include predictive elements, but those elements are not given merely to inform us what the future holds. Most prophecy in the Bible is in the form of promises from God about what He will do or cause to happen in the near or distant future. In other words, it is not so much God telling us what will happen in the future, but what He will do in the future. The events prophesied are usually so far-fetched or impossible that their fulfillment would be seen by witnesses as acts of God, not just chance. 1

That prophecy fulfillment is about the evident working of God can be seen in a phrase associated with many prophecies. It generally takes the form, “…then you will know that I am YHWH (Jehovah).2 This phrase implies the fulfillment of the prophecy is not so much about the predicted event, but about the existence, character, and nature of God. So if you happen to witness a biblical prophecy fulfillment, you should take it to heart that God exists and is actively involved in events here on earth.

Because biblical prophecy is about God revealing Himself, the predicted events need to be understood by their plain common-sense meanings, so that the fulfillment, when it happens, is obvious and can be eye-witnessed by anyone. 3 There have been attempts among some cults and some branches of the Christian church to interpret biblical prophecies figuratively, symbolically, or ‘spiritually’. For example, Jehovah Witnesses claim Jesus returned in 1914, but the return was invisible. Such interpretation ignores the plain meaning of the biblical text (Revelation 1:7), and waters the prophecy down, making its fulfillment non-provable and open to interpretation. Prophetic fulfillments recorded in the Bible were always literal, so even the non-believing witnesses would be able to recognize the fulfillment 4. We need to expect any prophetic fulfillments today to follow the same pattern: the fulfillment must follow the plain-sense understanding of the prophecy.

As I said, this post is only a quick overview of what biblical prophecy is about. I haven’t yet attempted to prove the accuracy of any prophecy. I also haven’t tried to address the claims of skeptics, which can be summarized as follows:

• The prophecy was written vaguely, making the fulfillment open to interpretation.

• The prophecy was written after the event happened (‘vaticinium ex eventu‘).

• The fulfillment was coincidental, the result of random chance.

• The prophecy was purposely fulfilled to make the Bible seem true.

• The Bible writers lied about the fulfillment.

These sound like strong arguments, but are only baseless accusations made by those who are unwilling to investigate the evidence. Such claims require blind faith on the part of the doubter. In the following posts, I will address these allegations as I cover two closely related areas of biblical prophecy fulfillment of which we have public knowledge.

Notes:

  1. Some examples of unlikely or impossible prophecies are in 2 Kings 3:16-25, Isaiah 4:17, and Luke 24:7 (Daniel 9:26, Isaiah 53:8,10).
  2. A few examples are in Exodus 6:7-8, 14:4, 1 Samuel 17:47, 1 Kings 20:28, Ezekiel 25:5, 38:16.
  3. Symbolism may be involved in a prophecy, but the meaning of the symbols always points to an event that is witnessable when it happens. For example, Daniel chapter 8 contains a prophecy of the Greek empire, symbolized by a goat with a big horn, which is replaced with four smaller horns. Daniel 8:21-22 explains the horns symbolize the kings of the Greek empire. While the symbol itself (the goat) was not fulfilled, the meaning of the symbol was fulfilled literally, first in Alexander the Great, then in the divided kingdom ruled by Ptolemy, Cassander, Lysimachus and Seleucus.
  4. A couple of examples: 2 Kings 7:1-2, 16-20, and 1 Kings 21:19, 22:37-38. The only exceptions have to do with prophecies that explicitly state the fulfillment is not on earth, i.e. Luke 22:69, Acts 7:55, and Colossians 3:1.

Leave a Reply

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

Anti-Spam by WP-SpamShield