In all ages it has pleased God to pre-announce certain things He proposed to do. Those announcements are termed prophecies. All prophecy is history pre-written and it is as credible as any word God hath spoken (2Ti 3:16). While prophecy is found in almost every book of the Bible, sixteen books of the Old Testament and one book of the New Testament are wholly prophetic in character. In all, nearly one-fourth of the Bible was predictive when it was written. A portion of the Bible prediction has now been fulfilled, and, it should be noted, in every case its fulfillment has been literal or precisely as predicted. It is reasonably concluded, therefore, that all remaining prophecy will be as literally fulfilled.
It is probable that, to some degree, prophecy has been divinely sealed (Dan 12:9) until the end of the age and it is therefore significant that to this portion of the Scriptures so much study is now being given with gratifying results. However, throughout its history the Protestant church has retained in a large measure the Roman Catholic assumption that the church is the kingdom and is therefore appointed to conquer and govern the earth. A right understanding of prophecy is demanded if the student is rightly to divide the Word of Truth and to discern his own place and divine appointments in the world.
While it is not difficult to believe the record of events given in the Bible, which have already taken place, it is a test upon faith to believe the record of events, which are yet future and known only through the prophecies of the Bible. A consistent interpretation of prophecy requires that all words such as Israel, Zion, Kingdom, and Church shall be given their natural and obvious meaning, and that no place shall be allowed for the supposition that there are various and equally acceptable ways of interpreting the Scriptures. The Bible lends itself to but one program of events and to this program all Scripture is in perfect accord. While men may earnestly contend for the " Post " or the " Non, " or the " Pre " millenarian interpretation, only one of these could be according to truth.
It is evident that all Bible interpretation will be incomplete without the knowledge of prophecy, and it is equally true that the right understanding of the New Testament is wholly dependent upon the right understanding of Old Testament prediction. The Apostle Paul stated regarding himself that he could gain the enviable title of "a good minister of Jesus Christ" (Tim. 4:6) only as he in all faithfulness put his hearers in remembrance of things which were yet future (1Ti 4:14).
The prophet was God's representative to man, as the priest was man's representative to God. There is a beautiful order in the fact that he was first called "the man of God, " then " the seer, " and finally " the prophet" (1Sa 9:8, 9). There were many "false prophets " who uttered only their own messages; the true prophets of God were moved (Lit., borne along) by the Spirit of God (1Pe 1:21), though not all of them were called upon to write their predictions. All true prophets were patriots and reformers, and it is noticeable that their ministry was exercised at such times as the nation Israel, to whom they spoke, was drifting away from God.
While the study of prophecy is as inexhaustible as the Scriptures themselves, there are certain major themes of prophecy in both the Old and the New Testaments.