Page 10: summer 1993
Reprinted from Defender
THE ESSENCE OF PROPHECY
Prophecy is, by definition, that which is spoken forth. That which is
spoken forth, in true prophecy, is that which could not be known by man
unless revealed by God; thus, whether predictive (foretelling) or declarative
(forth-telling), and whether having to do with events past, present or fu-
ture, prophecy signifies the speaking forth of the will of God to man. By
prophecy, God gave instruction, information, prediction, warning, comfort
and hope. By prophecy, and its fulfillment, God confirmed His Word to be
His Word; that is, divine revelation; thus, true prophecy is found only in the
Bible prophecy has certain characteristics (all of which have been at-
tacked by liberal critics), which, when understood, should heighten one's
appreciation for God's inspired Word. Bible prophecy often involves that
which is remote as to time and place, even that which is nonexistent at the
time of the prophecy. To the dreamer, Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel said, "As for
thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should
come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee
what shall come to pass" (Dan. 2:29). Daniel spoke of kingdoms and peoples
then unknown and unable to be known to him or any other man by ordinary
knowledge, but revealed in prophecy, and whose risings and fallings are now
historically documented to have followed precisely the predicted pattern.
Bible prophecy is often very specific and detailed. With man, the more
specific the prediction, the less likely is the possibility of its coming to pass.
With God, accuracy is not accidental, nor is it incidental, but significant. Of
Christ's birth, Isaiah prophesied: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you
a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his
name Immanuel" (Isa. 7:14). Isaiah did not prophesy just that the Christ
would be born, nor that He would be born of just any woman (and man), nor
that he would be born of just any "young" woman, but that He would be born
of a virgin. Matthew declares the exact fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 (Mat.
In an obvious Messianic prophecy, Zechariah noted the price of Christ's
betrayal, thirty pieces of silver, which was later used to buy the potter's
field (Zec. 11:12-13). Again, in his inspired writing, Matthew gives the
fulfillment (Mat. 26:14-15; 27:3-7), and declares these actions to be the
specific and accurate fulfillment of prophecy (Mat. 27:9-10).
Bible prophecy is often antithetical to human reasoning. What man could
reasonably predict the downfall of impenetrable Edom (Obadiah); of Jerusalem,
home of God's temple (Mic. 3:12); or of Nineveh, conqueror of nations (Nah.
1:1)? Who would dare to predict the Son of God being born of a virgin (Isa.
7:14)? What man, on his own, would have predicted the long awaited and
cherished Messiah would be rejected (Isa. 53:3; John 1:11); forsaken (Zec.
13:7; Mat. 26:56); scourged (Isa. 53:5; Mat. 27:26); crucified (Psa. 22:16;
Mark 15:24); and mocked (Psa. 22:7-8; Mat. 27:39-44)? Such contradictions
to that which would accord with the thinking of men show the prophecies to
be miraculously given from God.
Liberal "higher critics" deny the element of prediction or foretelling in
prophecy. Their assumption is that a prophet was a man of "his own time"
who spoke only to men "of his own time." That tells only half the story.
God's prophets spoke to men of their own time about those things which were
of concern and significance, but they also spoke of those things which were
future and which would be of concern and significance to all, from those then
living to those who would see the fulfillment of the prophecy and to those
who would live after that fulfillment and read the inspired record of the
prophecy and its fulfillment. Contrary to the "critics," Biblical prophecy was
not written after the fact, ambiguous, artificially fulfilled, nor just a phe-
nomenon common to all religions and peoples. No well-attested evidence of
one miraculous "prophecy" has ever been found outside the Bible!
(Bobby Liddell's address is 4850 Saufley Road, Pensacola, FL 32526.)
FREE SUBSCRIPTION: A free one-year subscription to The Skeptical
Review can be obtained by writing to P. O. Box 617, Canton, IL 61520-0617.