By Wendy Wippel
Last week I kind of casually threw out the supposition that the Bible could be considered two-thirds prophecy. Let’s just say I caught a little flak for that. I will say first that I didn’t make that figure up; I heard it—often—from Chuck Missler, someone I credit for most of what I know today.
And he didn’t make it up either. He got it from David. And from Jesus. And from the voice of God Himself. So… I guess I have some ‘splaining to do…
Let’s start with the Old Testament. The first prophecy in the Bible follows hard on Eve’s transgression in the Garden of Eden, when God tells Adam and Eve that their future is not going to be as cushy as their past. Although He does give them hope in a second prophecy that promises eventual victory over the deceiver: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed; that seed shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
The section of the Bible called the major and minor prophets is—no brainer—largely prophecy. Sixteen books worth, actually. But there is more in the rest of the O.T. then you probably think. God gives Abraham more than a few heads up on the future of his descendants, and then gives Jacob even more. Add all that prophecy in as well.
And then there’s the Psalms.
Arguably the most neglected source of prophecy in the Bible.
David, more famous for being a warrior for Israel and then its king, is actually identified as a prophet by the Apostle Paul:
Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David. being dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.’ Acts 2:29-31 NKJV
David’s last words, recorded in the book of Second Samuel 2, confirmed that David acted as a spokesperson for God, recording the words that God gave him directly:
“The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me,nd His word was on my tongue. The God of Israel said. The Rock of Israel spoke to me:… He who rules over men must be just, Ruling in the fear of God.” II Samuel 23:3
So we could say that David’s call to the prophetic office was established by Paul, with the testimony of two others – Jesus and Jehovah–to back Paul up.
The Hebrew word for prophet, “nabiy” means spokesman, and implies a spokesman for the Divine Spirit.
The word prophet, however, over the centuries, came to be predominantly associated with divine prophetic statements; statements that disclosed the future in advance, at least partially because so much of what God said was prophetic in the current meaning of the word.
And David himself wrote a lot of psalms. Nearly half of the psalms, in fact. Exactly 73 Psalms are directly ascribed to David in the Book of Psalms, and two more (Psalms 2 and 95) are attributed to David in the New Testament.
I love the Psalms. I tend to park in them when I need some warm fuzzies. But there’s a whole lot of prophecying going on up in those Psalms too!
Like Psalm 2:
Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves,And the rulers take counsel together,Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces. And cast away Their cords from us.”
And Psalm 110:
The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
(That one quoted two dozen times in the New Testament!)
Dozens of other Psalms foretell the coming of the Messiah and His kingdom as well.
And then we’re into those minor prophets. As advertised, mostly prophecy.
And then we’re into the New Testament, in which the Lord himself lays down a fair amount of prophetic words to His disciples.
I know what you’re thinking. All told, that still doesn’t add up to 2/3. Well, there’s also a lot of prophecy in the epistles!
I still hear it: not adding up to 2/3.
You’re right. The thing is, we haven’t included all the prophecy-by-analogy into the equation.
Otherwise known as types. And there are lots of types. All through the Bible.
Some are explained. Like one encounter Jesus had with some of the men who had eaten his loaves and fishes:
Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. … everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life. John 6:28-40
Get it? When God gave Israel manna in the wilderness, it was a type. A prophecy by analogy.
God gave them Manna as a foreshadowing—a type—of the endless source of heavenly bread to come.
Some however, aren’t explained, or even pointed out.
At least not overtly. One of the really fun ones, which I think I shared several years ago, is actually in the garden of Eden.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:6-15
Notice that although Eve says the Serpent deceived her, Adam does not say that. In fact, Timothy tells us that, “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”
So if Adam wasn’t deceived, why did he eat? Only one answer. Love for Eve. They were married by God Himself, and it was all for one and one for all.
And that sets up arguably best type of all we will find in Scripture. Because Adam sacrificed his life to save not only Eve, but all of us as well. Because if he didn’t follow Eve into the sinful world she created, there would be no hope for a Messiah.
Still not convinced?
Check out the conversation Jesus– just risen–had with two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?”
So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”
It’s hard to read that paragraph and not feel the bewilderment of these two guys at the events that had transpired in just 48 hours. And they weren’t even disciples.
Jesus takes finally takes pity on them:
Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24:13-27
Let’s let that sink in. “He explained from all the Scripture the things concerning himself”.
What He did was have a prophecy study right there at the side of the road. And what He taught them was that essentially, aside from the ifs, ands, and buts, everything in the Old Testament was about Him.
Most of it, obviously, types.
So if the whole Old Testament prophetically foreshadowed Jesus, and a whole lot of the Old Testament is straight-up prophecy, and Jesus gave the nation of Israel a whole lot of prophecy as part of His ministry to the nation in their final days before the temple’s destruction, and a whole lot of the epistles are prophecy as well?
I think 2/3 is pretty likely to be true.
Your views may vary.
But I hope not. Looking for the hidden ones is so much fun!