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Prophecy and the prophets

God is omniscient, He knows everything. God alone is able to foreknow and foretell the future. And all that God knows about the future can be found in His prophetic Word.

"Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please," Isaiah 46: 9-10.

God is referring to all the fulfilled prophecies in past history. Including miraculous deliverances such as bringing the Israelites out of Egypt and the providential blessings Israel has experienced. All such acts provide ample evidence that He alone is God.

Jesus had the mark of a true prophet. "I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am, (John 13:19).

The words prophet and prophecy occur over four hundred times in Scripture. The Old Testament prophets received their inspiration and direction from the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit came to testify of Jesus and to take of those things that pertain to Jesus and reveal them to us.

"And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever--the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you," (John 14: 16-17).

The priestly and intercessory work of Christ began with the request that the Father send the Holy Spirit to indwell in the people of faith. The Spirit of Truth is the third person of the trinity, having the same essence of deity as Jesus and as perfectly One with Him as Jesus is with the Father.

New Testament revelations come from Jesus, Himself. He unfolded to His disciples, after His fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies, the inner significance of all that the prophets had written concerning Him.

He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter His glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning Himself."

He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms," (Luke 24:25-27, 44).

About one-fourth of the Bible is related to predictive prophecy, or predictions which, at the time they were spoken, were still future. To be knowledgeable about biblical prophecies is essential in order to have an understanding of the nature and completeness of the revelation of God's will and purpose.

Holy men of God who were moved or carried along by the Holy Spirit, were the messengers of God's prophetic purpose. These prophets gave witness to God's divine will in general and to Jesus in particular. The mission of the prophets was to reveal God to man and to bring men to God.

Dr. A. T. Pierson gives the following summary, "When a prophet predicts, or foretells, he sees and represents the future in the light of the present; when he rebukes, reproves, counsels, or admonishes as Jehovah's representative messenger--forth-telling rather than fore-telling--he portrays the present in the light of the future. Predictive prophecy is the foremost proof to which the Word of God appeals on its own behalf. It was the standing miracle by which God challenged faith in His inspired Word, defying all the worshipers of other gods and their sages and seers to produce any such proofs that their gods were worthy of worship or their prophets true representatives of a divine religion.

The futility of Idols

"Present your case," says the Lord. "Set forth your arguments," says Jacob's King. "Tell us, you idols, what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come, tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear," (Isaiah 41:21-23).

God challenged the idols to prove their competence by predicting future events. God invited the idols to proclaim and execute either deliverance or judgment, as He had done.

Other names for Bible Prophets

Seer: from a verb meaning "to see," this name implies supernatural insight or foresight, or second sight, or all three. A seer saw divine visions, divine truths and spoke of what he had seen from God. This supernatural gift was not possessed by the common man. The Old Testament seers entered into the "counsel" of God, the "secret" of God, the "plan" of God, the "ways"of God and the "thoughts" of God. Seers received revelation from God that were hidden from men in general. Prophets were also known as "a man of God," "a servant of God or Jehovah,"" a messenger of Jehovah" and a "watchman." Each term implies a close, intimate relationship between the prophet and God.

There are a host of prophets in the Bible, but the Lord Jesus Christ was the supreme and final Prophet of God.

"In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe," (Hebrews 1: 1-2)

The fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies commenced with the coming of the Messiah. Since Jesus came it has been the "last days." Before Jesus, God gave revelation through His prophets. But with the coming of Jesus, God spoke the message of redemption through His Son..His heir. All that exists will ultimately come under the control of the Son of God, the Messiah.

Why is Biblical prophecy important?

There are those who feel that prophecy is a subject that is best left alone. However, there are several very important reasons that biblical prophecy should be studied:

1. The study of prophecy is imperative if we are to know the mind of God.

2. The study of prophecy is essential if we are to have a right perspective of history.

3. The study of prophecy imparts authority into preaching, making it living and vital.

The awesome promises of God light up biblical prophecies and all other predictive passages in His Word. God's promises never fail. Human oracles are fallible, but the inspired Word of God, which contains divine oracles is different. One will not find ambiguous and untrustworthy utterances in the Word of God. Scripture is replete with teachings that are distinct, definite, inspired, infallible, authoritative and authentic.

There are many facets of Scripture truth, but prophecy always carries with it the credential of divine inspiration. In the Bible a "seal" stands for silence, mystery, completeness, but especially for the sacredness connected with authority, authenticity and inviolability. Holy Scripture, rightly called the Word of God, has divine authority stamped all over it.