Three Types of Bible Prophecies

Generally speaking, Bible prophecies are messages that God communicated to His prophet who then spoke that prophecy to others.  One aspect of biblical prophecy is predictive prophecy.  This kind of prophecy describes a message God communicated to someone which predicts future events.

Prophecies were spoken through a a prophet.  The Bible defines a prophet as one who speaks on behalf of God.  The world is filled with those who claim to speak on behalf of God, but in reality are only speaking from their own imagination.  These false prophets existed in Bible times are we are taught how to identify them.  This is critically important since even today there are people who claim to speak for God when they do not.  

What about seers?  Are seers any different than prophets?   Often those who would speak on behalf of God would receive the message of God through visions and dreams.  At one time, these were called seers.  Eventually, all seers were referred to as prophets.  

Since it is only God who knows the future, predictive prophecy is by nature proof of divine origin.  The prophet Isaiah challenged the false prophets of his day saying, “Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods”  (Isa. 41.23). 

Unlike prophecy today in the form of fortune tellers and palm readers, a prophet of God was able to speak of future events with great detail including names, dates, and locations, he was speaking of that which was impossible for man to know on his own.  It can only be explained as God making these things known to him. 

Bible prophecies is believed by scholars to appear more than 1,000 times in scripture with about 800 prophecies found in the Old Testament most of which are contained in the books of the major prophets and the books of the minor prophets.  There are also about 200 prophecies found in the New Testament.  A close examination of the Bible shows Bible prophecies falling into three general categories.

Bible Prophecies Concerning the End of Time

The Bible foretells of a day when God will judge the world.  The Bible refers to this as...

  • The day of visitation.  (1 Pet. 2.12)
  • The day of the Lord.  (2 Pet. 3.10)
  • The days of Noah.  (2 Pet. 3.5-7)
  • The specific order of events at the end.  (1 Cor. 15; 1 Thess. 4; 2 Pet. 3)

The last half of Matthew 24 and all of Matthew 25 provide details about the end of time.  However, in the first half of the chapter we find a prophecy concerning a different event altogether.  It describes...

  • False Christ's.  (Matt. 24.4,5)
  • Earthquakes, famines, and wars.  (Matt. 24.6-8)
  • The abomination of desolation.  (Matt. 24.15)
  • The signs in the heavens.  (Matt. 24.29-31)

However, take a look at Matthew 24.36:   

Matthew 24:36

“Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”

Near the end of this Bible prophecy, Jesus says that it was a prediction of an event that would take place in their lifetime rather than being a prediction of the second coming of Christ at the end of time.

Then consider the prophecies found in the book of Revelation.  The book of Revelation remains one of the most difficult books of the New Testament to understand.  It is a book that is filled with symbolism and figurative language.

The book of Revelation predicts two major events.  The first one involves "things which must shortly take place"  (Rev. 1.1).  I believe this to be the destruction of Jerusalem which took place shortly after the book was written.  The second event is in reference to the end of time and the Day of Judgment.

As the book of Revelation describes the coming destruction of Jerusalem, we read about...

  • The Battle of Armageddon
  • The False Prophet
  • The Two Prophets
  • The Two Witnesses
  • The Mark of the Beast.  

Messianic Prophecy

The Old Testament contains over 300 prophecies concerning the coming of Christ.  These messianic prophecies offer incredible details in relation to the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.

In Acts 3, Peter went to the temple in Jerusalem and preached Jesus as the Christ.  In this sermon, he reminded them that Jesus is the same Messiah that was prophesied throughout the Old Testament.  Peter said in Acts 3.18:

Acts 3.18:  “But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.”

When we keep reading the text of this sermon we come to Acts 3.24 where Peter added...

Acts 3.24:  “Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.”

If we were to do a thorough study of messianic prophecy we would find details of...

  • His place of birth.  (Micah 5.2)
  • His being born of a virgin.  (Isa. 7.14)
  • The city where He would be raised.  (Matt. 2.23)
  • The manner in which He would suffer.  (Isa. 53)
  • His resurrection from the dead.  (Ps. 16.8-11)
  • His ascension back to the Father in heaven  (Ps. 110.1).

Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks is of special interest because it actually provided a calculation regarding the beginning of the Lord's ministry and His death.  Scholars of that day could know when Jesus would begin His ministry and be crucified three and a half years later.

Bible Prophecies Concerning Nations

Hundreds of years before, prophets of God would predict the rise and fall of nations.  Biblical prophecy described the eventual demise of the once great city of Tyre.  In fact, the book of Ezekiel devotes a few chapters detailing how Tyre would fall as well as the reason for their collapse  (Ezek. 26-28). 

Daniel prophesied of the rise and fall of a succession of nations, the Babylonian empire, the Medo-Persian empire, to the Grecian empire, and the Roman empire.  Over a span of four centuries, each nation would take center stage in history just as Daniel predicted  (Dan. 2).

The birth of Christ would come through the lineage of the nation of Israel  (Gen. 12.3).  Since the Old Testament is primarily concerned with the coming of Christ, the nation of Israel is the featured nation in Biblical prophecy.  

> Bible Prophecies

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