Background To Prophecy
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Background To Prophecy

One thing that can be said about Prophecy:

Jn 13:19 After it comes to pass, we will know it happened.

In studying Prophecy:

1. What is going to happen.
2. How it is going to happen. (becomes speculative)
3. When it is going to happen. (becomes even more so)

Prophecy is deliberately "couched" to hide its direct meaning.

Dan 11 - 2500 years of prophecy are revealed.
Dan 12:4 - When written, was not meant to be understood.
- Was not understood by Daniel at that time.
- Today much of what was prophesied has already occurred.

Definitions of Prophecy:

1. God making his will known in advance.
2. Prophecy is history written in advance (Mr. Armstrong).
3. Tells it before it happens.

The First Prophecy the Bible: Gen 3:14

1. Probably has some future fulfillment in the millennium (snakes do not now eat dust).
2. Certain punishment is given to the snake-kind.
3. v.15 transition from man to seed of the woman will bruise his head... (Satan's).
- This verse is deliberately couched in symbolism:
Prophecies of the coming of Christ to replace Satan of his earthy throne.. bruise his head.
- temporary bruise - when Christ was in the grave.
- Rev 20 Christ's return to bind Satan for 1000 years.
- Permanent bruise Ś I Cor 6:3 Ultimate judgment of the angels.
- Jude 13 - Put in utter darkness forever.
- Satan banished forever.
4. Things learned from this prophecy:

- Prophecy as a tool explains God's plan of salvation being worked out.
- shows events that lead up to the kingdom, but does not limit the way God does this.
- couched in symbolism.

I Pet 1:17-20

- As a result of Adam and Eve's sin God pre-ordained (plan B) that Christ would come to the earth, live and die to pay the price of man's sin.
- Shows there is more than one way to effect God's will (plan A, plan B...).
- Goal = Salvation, purpose of man's existence Not possible due to sin, Made possible through Christ's sacrifice.

Deut 18:15

Prophecy of Christ's coming defined further He will come from Israel.
Defined further in other scriptures as to tribe
  He would come from (Judah), Line of David, from the 2 sons of David.

Prophecy shows God's plan and how it will be worked out.

Gen 12 Promise to Abraham:

* 400 years for prophecy to be fulfilled.
* Fulfilled at the time of Moses.
* When Israel sinned God decided to destroy them. If he had destroyed them he would have fulfilled His promise through Moses. It would have just taken longer.
* Shows that God doesn't limit himself. He will work out his plan, though the method of doing so may be altered.

How God Works Things Out

Theory: God will alter the time for certain events to occur and work with the events on earth at that time.
Jonah: Jonah went to Ninevah to prophesy of coming destruction due to their sins. The people listened, and repented to the God of Jonah. God changed his mind, and didn't destroy them at that time.
Prophecy against Nineveh was later fulfilled in c. 612 B.C.

Does This Mean Prophecy Isn't Going to Happen?

I Cor 13:8 "Love never fails.. whether there be prophecies, they shall fail...."
* This scripture is often used to question the future fulfillment of prophecies.
* The subject of this chapter is spiritual gifts.
* Two possible interpretations of this scripture:
1. Various gifts one has - one being prophecy Love is a gift that never fails - love, hope, and faith. The three to desire above all others - love, hope, faith - Eternal gifts.

2. Prophecy is a temporal gift. If given the gift of prophecy, it may not last, and eventually the prophecy will come to pass. The gift God gives to prophecies may fail, i.e. won't last/temporary.

Prophet: One who discloses God's will to the people.

Three Hebrew words for Prophet
1. NABI - Announcer
2. ROEH - Seer (mentioned 12 times in the Bible; refers mostly to Samuel).
3. HOZEH - Seer/visions, most commonly used when one has seen a vision.
All these words are found in I Chron 29:29
Greek Word for Prophet: PROPHETES - one who announces.
                                        one who speaks with inspiration.

Office of a Prophet

* Samuel held an important position - he bridges the gap from OT seers to prophets.
1. Could be fulfilled by anyone of any of the tribes. Not limited to be from the tribe of Levi.
2. Once selected as prophet, not a perpetual line. No successive line established. There has been succession of office i.e. Moses to Joshua.
Only Three Prophets called from Birth:
Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ
3. No continuous function - vast gaps in prophecies.
* Prophets called from Samuel to Malachi. 400 year gap - No prophecies until John the Baptist is called.
* Heb 1:1 Most of the recorded books of the OT were recorded by prophets
v.2 - when Christ came, a change was made in the way God dealt with his people.
- Law made more binding
- Holy spirit sent, making it possible for God's word to be understood
* From the close of Revelation until now IN GENERAL, there have been no great prophecies, or revelations.
4. Those called to prophesy often hesitated.
* Jer 1:6 - Jeremiah felt he was too young.
* Isa 6:5
* Amos 1:1 - Had no plans to be a prophet. Called when God chose him.
* Jonah - Didn't want to proclaim the prophecy he was given.

False Prophets.

* Satan seems to have always used prophets, seemingly w/o gaps.
* Deut 13:1 - Some of the things they say have come to pass.
* I Jn 4:1-3 - Try and test the spirits - Check things out.
* Deut 18 & 13 examples.
* Isa 8:20 - No light in them if they go against God's word.
* Duet 18:9-11 - False prophets claim to communicate with the dead, called necromancy.
* How much light (truth) does a false prophet have? None, if not God's word.
* Mt 7:15 Ś Beware of false prophets - ravaging wolves [Cannot tell by looking at them] 
  Mt 7:16 - shall know them by their fruits

1. Rev 13:11-17 Talks of great dragon. Spoke as dragon, looked like a lamb. Today the Catholic church.


In the Bible certain key-words or key-phrases indicate prophetic end-time scripture. This is a guide to help identify the most common ones.

PHRASE: Last Days
Isa. 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains.

PHRASE: Latter Days - Latter Times
I Tim 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons;

PHRASE: Time of the End
Dan. 12:9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

PHRASE: Day of the Lord - Lord's Day
Joel 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.

PHRASE: In that day
Zech. 12:9 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

PHRASE: Time of trouble - Tribulation
Jer. 30:7 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.


Last Days:
Gen. 49:1, Isa. 2:2, Mic. 4:1, II Tim. 3:1, II Pet. 3:3

Latter Days - Latter Times:
Num. 24:14, Deut. 4:29-31, 31:29, Job 19:25, Jer. 23:20, 30:24, 48:47, 49:39, Ez. 38:8, 16, Dan. 2:28, 8:23, 10:14, Hos. 3:5, Mic. 4:1, I Tim. 4:1

Time of the end:
Dan. 8:17, 19; 11:35, 40; 12:4, 9, 13; Hab. 2:2, 3; Matt. 24:3, 6, 13, 14;

Day of the Lord:
Isa. 2:12; 13:6, 9, 13; 22:5; 34:8; 61:2; 63:4; Jer. 46:10; Lam. 2:22; Ez. 7:19; 13:5; 30:2, 3; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14; Amos 5:18, 20; Oba. 15; Rev. 1:10;

In that day:
Isa. 2:11, 17, 20; 3:7, 18; 4:1, 2, 5; 5:30; 7:18, 20, 21, 23; 10:20, 27; 12:1, 4; 17:4, 7, 9; 19:16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 24; 20:6, 22:8, 12, 20, 25, 23:15, 24:21; 25:9; 26:1; 27:1, 2, 12, 13; 28:5; 29:18; 30:23; 31:7; 52:6
Jer. 4:9; 25:33, 30:8, 48:41, 49:22, 26; Ez. 30:9; 38:14, 19; 39:11; Joel 3:18; Amos 8:3, 9, 13; 9:11; Oba. 8; Mic. 2:4; 4:6; 5:10; 7:12; Zeph. 1:10; 3:11, 16; Zech. 3:10; 9:16; 12:3, 4, 6, 8, 9; 13:1, 2, 4

Time of Trouble - Tribulation
Jer. 36:7; Ez. 5:9; Dan. 12:1; Joel 2:2; Matt. 24:21, 29; Mark 13:19, 24;


For use as a study guide only:

Biblical Prophecy ę 1984 - Ambassador College

Publication Date: 1984
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