- Prophecy and the prophetic as aspects of Paul's theology
- Genuine Predictive Prophecy—the Test
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- Recommended Books on Bible Prophecy
There are a number of criteria for determining the genuineness of prophecy—as opposed to speculative prediction. Genuine prophecy involves proper timing.
The oracle must significantly precede the person or event described. The prophecy must deal in specific details , not vague generalities which are capable of being manipulated to fit various circumstances. Exact fulfillment , not merely a high degree of probability, must characterize the prediction.
A prophet who is eighty percent accurate is no prophet at all! In this connection we may observe that the prophets of the Bible, when uttering their declarations, spoke with absolute confidence. They frequently employed a verbal form known as the perfect state, which suggests completed action. It speaks of the event as if it had already occurred though still in the future , thus stressing the certainty of its fulfillment.
Prophecy and the prophetic as aspects of Paul's theology
When a prophet speaketh in the name of Jehovah, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Jehovah hath not spoken Deuteronomy While we have noted that the prophets spoke with confidence, it is also important to observe that some prophecies were obviously conditional. This is especially true with reference to predictions that contained warnings of impending judgment upon wicked peoples.
The doom prophetically announced was dependent upon whether or not that nation would turn from its evil. Similarly, when God promised the Israelites that the land of Canaan would be their inheritance, that pledge was contingent upon their fidelity to Jehovah. Note the testimony of Joshua When ye transgress the covenant of Jehovah your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods, and bow down yourselves to them; then will the anger of Jehovah be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.
The Hebrew nation did apostatize and lost its special privileges with God cf. Matthew On the other hand, some prophecies were absolute. Predictions concerning the coming Messiah were not predicated upon human response; they were fulfilled with amazing accuracy. The Messiah was to be: the seed of woman Genesis , the offspring of Abraham Genesis , from the tribe of Judah Genesis , born to a virgin Isaiah , in the town of Bethlehem Micah , etc.
There was nothing conditional about these statements. If one is to accurately interpret Bible prophecy, he must surely recognize that language of predictive literature can be either literal or figurative. But how does one determine the nature of prophetic terminology? In some instances common sense will dictate the character of the prophecy. If a literal view implies an impossibility or an absurdity, it is obviously figurative.
Genuine Predictive Prophecy—the Test
The context will frequently shed light on the situation. In many instances, the issue will be settled by how the New Testament writers who quote or cite the prophecies viewed the matter. When Old Testament writers declared that Christ would be the offspring of Abraham Genesis , or that he would be raised from the dead Psalm , they made straightforward predictions that were fulfilled literally. Matthew ff. He was figuratively suggesting the peaceful atmosphere that would be characteristic of the church of Christ as the various nations flowed into it cf.
Isaiah ; Romans Thus, it is vital that the nature of the language in biblical prophecy be correctly identified. Liberal critics of the Bible deny the reality of predictive prophecy as well as other miraculous elements in the Scriptures. The fact is, some prophecies had no immediate relevance to their contemporary generation. Those ancients would not fully understand the predictions—except dimly through the eye of faith. Abraham, through prophecy, was promised that his seed would receive Canaan for an inheritance, though he himself never saw the fulfillment cf. Genesis ff; Hebrews Not even the prophets understood the meaning of many of their inspired utterances.
Peter discusses this very matter in 1 Peter Those with loose theological leanings are sometimes prone to say that certain prophecies of the Old Testament had a rather immediate fulfillment, but that the New Testament writers sometimes lift these passages from their original contexts and give them meanings foreign to their original design. One writer, for example, has asserted. Paul paraphrased passages without regard to their original context, or meaning. It is as though the words of scripture convey a convincing power within themselves apart from their original context Batey , Unfortunately, Coffman agrees with such a statement , In the first place, whenever possible, one should attempt to ascertain precisely how the New Testament writer is appealing to the Old Testament passage.
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But that is not always easy. Is the New Testament writer merely borrowing language from an Old Testament text? Is he employing an ancient Scripture illustratively? We must remember that ancient writers did not use the same literary devices employed today. Quotation marks, colons, ellipsis marks, brackets, etc. In view of this, we may not always know just how they were utilizing the language of the former Scriptures.
Since we are largely ignorant of their procedures, criticism of them is scarcely appropriate cf. Pache , Chapter Second, is it not possible that the omniscient Holy Spirit, who guided both the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament inspired writers, could have directed certain prophecies to ancient Israel, but also could have known that a future event would ultimately fulfill the meaning of his words?
What is wrong with such a view? Absolutely nothing. It surely is possible and preserves the integrity of the New Testament writers. Let me suggest an example to illustrate this point. The Lord, however, altered the quotation.
Recommended Books on Bible Prophecy
Jesus knew from the beginning who would betray him John Still again, we may note that, consistent with his own purposes, the Holy Spirit may give a prophecy multiple applications. Hebrews The apostle argues that "God hath fulfilled the same unto our children, in that he raised up Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, Thou art my son. It was, of course, by his resurrection that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power Romans Third, the writer of Hebrews uses the psalm to prove that Christ glorified not himself to be made our high priest; rather, such a role was due to his relationship as the Son of God Again, we absolutely must stress that the Holy Spirit, who inspired the original psalm, surely had all of these various thoughts in mind as is evidenced by his guidance of the New Testament writers as they employed his language.
- An Introduction to the Book of Jeremiah;
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- Living for Gods Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism.
- TGC Course | Biblical Prophecy;
Psalm ; Hebrews ; ; Walvoord is the former President of Dallas Theological Seminary. This is a field that attracts many sensationalist writers. There is an abundance of books, but few good ones. A volume that is comprehensive in scope but exceptionally brief is Signs of the Second Coming by Robert G. Witty Broadman Press, A more recent study, and an excellent one, is by Henry Morris. One of the best prophetic writers to emerge in recent years is Ed Hindson of Liberty University.
His books are solidly biblical and down-to-earth, readable by the average Christian.
Harvest House, He has produced a very insightful study of the end time signs in his book, How Close Are We? The Eternal State has been the most ignored area of Bible prophecy, probably because the Bible says so little about it.
This is an unusual book because Chambers is an Amillennialist who spiritualizes the prophecies about the Millennium while interpreting the prophecies about Heaven literally! Only one book has ever been written for pre-school and elementary children concerning end time prophetic events. It is the one I wrote entitled Jesus is Coming Again!
The book emphasizes the positive promises of God regarding the Millennium and the Eternal State. Chuck Missler and I have both produced CDs that contain verse-by-verse commentaries on the book of Revelation. I have videotaped a 75 minute overview that covers the book chapter by chapter. The best illustrations of Revelation have been produced by Pat Marvenko Smith. You can find all her resources on the Internet at revelationillustrated. Jenkins present a fictionalized story about the Rapture and the Tribulation that is based upon biblical prophecies. This series is published by Tyndale House and has broken all sales records for prophetic books.
The series of novels has become a best seller even when compared to secular books.