Page updated 22 September 2018
What is Prophecy
According to the Bible
The inspired foretelling of events based on the following Scriptures.
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that NO PROPHECY of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 1 Peter 1:19-21
Characteristics of prophecy
- Given by God (Isaiah 41:22-23(verse 22) Let them bring [them] forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they [be], that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come.
(verse 23) Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye [are] gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold [it] together.Isaiah 41 verses 22-23)
- Centered in Christ (Luke 24:26-27, 44(verse 26) Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
(verse 27) And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
(verse 44) And he said unto them, These [are] the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning me.Luke 24 verse 26-27, 44)
- Inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.2 Peter 1 verse 21)
- NOT of one's own interpretation (2 Peter 1:20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.2 Peter 1 verse 20)
- Always relevant (Revelation 22:10And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.Revelation 22 verse 10)
- Must NOT be changed by man (Revelation 22:18-19(verse 18) For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
(verse 19) And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.Revelation 22 verses 18-19)
Biblical prophecy IS NOT 'personal prophecy.'
True prophecy is based on
- Inspiration (Micah 3:8But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.Micah 3 verse 8)
- Foreknowledge (Isaiah 42:9Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.Isaiah 42 verse 9)
False prophecy is evidenced by
- NONfullment (Jeremiah 28:1-17)
- Peaceful message (Jeremiah 23:17-22(verse 17) They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.
(verse 18) For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard [it]?
(verse 19) Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked.
(verse 20) The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.
(verse 21) I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
(verse 22) But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. Jeremiah 23 verses 17-22)
- Apostasy from God (Deuteronomy 13:1-5(verse 1) If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
(verse 2) And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
(verse 3) Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
(verse 4) Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
(verse 5) And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn [you] away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.Deuteronomy 13 verses 1-5)
- Lying (Jeremiah 23:25-34(verse 25) I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.
(verse 26) How long shall [this] be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, [they are] prophets of the deceit of their own heart;
(verse 27) Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.
(verse 28) The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What [is] the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.
(verse 29) [Is] not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer [that] breaketh the rock in pieces?
(verse 30) Therefore, behold, I [am] against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.
(verse 31) Behold, I [am] against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.
(verse 32) Behold, I [am] against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.
(verse 33) And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What [is] the burden of the LORD? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD.
(verse 34) And [as for] the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house.Jeremiah 23 verses 25-34)
- Scoffing (2 Peter 3:3-4(verse 3) Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
(verse 4) And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation.2 Peter 3 verse 3-4)
Fullfillment of prophecy
- UNconditional (Ezekiel 12:25-28(verse 25) For I [am] the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord GOD.
(verse 26) Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
(verse 27) Son of man, behold, [they of] the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth [is] for many days [to come], and he prophesieth of the times [that are] far off.
(verse 28) Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord GOD.Ezekiel 12 verses 25-28)
- Sometimes conditional (John 3:1-10(verse 1) There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
(verse 2) The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
(verse 3) Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
(verse 4) Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
(verse 5) Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
(verse 6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
(verse 7) Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
(verse 8) The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
(verse 9) Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
(verse 10) Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?John 3 verses 1-10) [Read note below]
- Dated (Daniel 9:24-27(verse 24) Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
(verse 25) Know therefore and understand, [that] from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince [shall be] seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
(verse 26) And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof [shall be] with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
(verse 27) And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make [it] desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.Daniel 9 verses 24-27)
- Nonliteral (Matthew 17:10-12(verse 10) And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?
(verse 11) And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
(verse 12) But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.Matthew 17 verses 10-12)
- Unrecognized by Jews (Acts 13:27-29(verse 27) For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled [them] in condemning [him].
(verse 28) And though they found no cause of death [in him], yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.
(verse 29) And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took [him] down from the tree, and laid [him] in a sepulchre.Acts 13 verses 27-29)
- Interpretation of, needed (Luke 24:25-44)
- Often referred to (Matthew 1:22-23(verse 22) Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
(verse 23) Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.Matthew 1 verse 22-23, Matthew 2:14-23(verse 14) When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
(verse 15) And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
(verse 16) Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.
(verse 17) Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,
(verse 18) In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping [for] her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
(verse 19) But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
(verse 20) Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.
(verse 21) And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
(verse 22) But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
(verse 23) And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.Matthew 2 verses 14-23)
Two Examples of "sometimes conditional" prophecies
The first misconception people have about prophecies is they say "Well, prophecies are conditional." People rationalize everything that does not come to pass and yet they say this does not mean the person is not a real 'prophet.' Well, yes it does.
Most prophecies ARE NOT conditional, only a few. Let's take a look at the rare exceptions. Read these verses again. Pay attention!
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1:20-21
This means that prophecy was not given for personal gain or selfish desires.
Jonah's prophecy was conditional. If the people "REPENTED" then God would not destroy the city of Nineveh. The people did repent and so God did not destroy the city. [Read Jonah 3(verse 1) And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
(verse 2) Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
(verse 3) So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.
(verse 4) And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
(verse 5) So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
(verse 6) For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered [him] with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
(verse 7) And he caused [it] to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
(verse 8) But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that [is] in their hands.
(verse 9) Who can tell [if] God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
(verse 10) And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did [it] not.Jonah 3 ]
A second example was Sodom and Gomorrah. If God could find just ONE righteous person then He would not destroy the city. Since not even ONE righteous person was found the city was destroyed. [Read Genesis 18 - Genesis 19]
What is the difference between 'biblical prophecy' and 'fortune telling'
Biblical prophecy deals with the future events foretold in the Bible- the rapture of the church, the 7 year tribulation period, the mark of the beast, the judgment seat of Christ, the great white throne judgment, heaven, hell, the millennial reign, and eternity.
Fortune telling is when people speak from their own minds, their own dreams, and most often there are evil spirits revealing misleading information; personal prophecies that God never spoke usually about money coming your way, or about one's love life- mates, spouses, worldly issues, things of the flesh, etc. It is usually something that sounds good but it is all lies. Listening to or accepting these false prophecies will eventually result in destruction. Worse yet, if a person refuses to acknowledge the danger in this and turn away from it then the Bible says that the Lord will send strong delusion to the person so they may not be able to believe or accept the truth 2 Thessalonians 2(verse 11) And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
(verse 12) That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.2 Thessalonians 2 verses 11-12.
The Bible makes it clear that no one knows the future except for God alone, the Creator of the Universe who made us.