Biblical prophecy is much like ventriloquism. What is ventriloquism? It is a form of entertainment where someone makes a dummy talk by putting words into the dummy’s mouth. It may not be exactly parallel, but ventriloquism illustrates the idea of biblical prophecy well.
When you look up the Hebrew word for “prophecy,” you will discover that prophecy is translated from the Hebrew word “nabi”.
In the Hebrew dictionary, “nabi” is defined as “to be called.” The word itself is vague. However, exploring the word in context as it appears throughout the Bible indicates that a prophet is one who has been called to speak the word of God. In all of the 115 times that the word appears in the Old Testament, every case shows that the prophet was speaking by divine inspiration.
Let’s give some thought to the New Testament use of the word. The Greek word for prophecy is “propheteia”. In the Greek language, the Greeks often would take two words and put them together to make a whole new word. Such is the case with the word “propheteia” translated as “prophecy”.
When you put those two words together you have “propheteia” which is defined as something that is made known beforehand, or something that is foretold. W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines prophecy as “a speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God” [Vine].
Biblical prophecy a making known ahead of time something that comes from the mind of God.
In Exodus 3, God appears to Moses in the burning bush and instructs him to go to Pharaoh with a demand.
Unwilling to go to Pharaoh, Moses comes up with a series of excuses which are recorded from Exodus 3.11 all the way through to Exodus 4. The last excuse that Moses makes is found in Exodus 4.10:
Moses did not feel competent to carry out the task God called him to do. After a strong rebuke from God in verses 11-14, God turns his attention to the brother of Moses, a man named Aaron. In reference to Aaron, God said this to Moses in Exodus 4.15,16:
Later in the narrative God explains this arrangement.
In Exodus 4, Aaron is described as a mouthpiece for Moses, a spokesman. In Exodus 7, Aaron is called a prophet. When we put it all together we learn that a prophet is a spokesman who speaks on behalf of another.
Biblical prophecy is that which is spoken by a prophet who was acting as a mouthpiece or spokesman for God. He then took what was revealed to him and wrote it down. We have those writings in the Bible.
Hebrews 1.1 describes it like this: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets”
In times past (the Old Testament), God communicated His will and foretold of future events by putting His words into the hearts of His mouthpieces or spokesmen known as prophets.