Now that the New York Times, Politico and other major secular outlets have covered the failed presidential prophecies, why don’t we make this a teachable moment and ask a basic question about prophecy? Specifically, when prophecy is predictive (and therefore foretelling rather than forthtelling), is it equivalent to headline news in advance?
Is Biblical Prophecy Generally Specific Forecasting of the Future?
The reason I ask this question is because the recent presidential prophecies were presented like news headlines in advance, informing us of specific dates and details, none of which came to pass. Yet millions of Christians were urged to believe these specific words and were rebuked when they saw fit to question them.
But is prophecy normally that specific, especially in terms of dates? Is this the biblical pattern?
To be sure, many events are predicted in the Bible with specificity, and on rare occasion, there are specific times and dates put on the prophecies.
But that is certainly not the norm. Instead, future prophecies are frequently spoken in such a way that there is some level of ambiguity in terms of how, exactly, they will come to pass. And often, it is only once they have come to pass that we realize they were true. Otherwise, people would try to manipulate them into happening prematurely or try to stop them from coming to pass.
Think about for it a minute.
Prophesies of Jesus Weren’t Clearly Understood Until After His Resurrection
The most important prophecies in history had to do with the death and resurrection of Jesus. And when you read passages like Isaiah 53 — see our animated video on this amazing chapter here — it seems totally clear. God predicted it hundreds of years in advance!
Yet, to our knowledge, no one in Jesus’ generation fully understood those prophecies until after His death and resurrection. And even then, He had to open His disciples’ eyes. Then they saw it all clearly. It was all written in advance. (Read all of Luke 24 for two relevant accounts.)
Why, then, do we think that prophecies today will be so much clearer?
Biblical Prophesy Often Has Ambiguous Meaning
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SOURCE: Stream.org, Michael Brown
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries. He is the author of 40 books. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.