A quarter of the Bible is of prophecies. While no prophecy of Scripture is a private interpretation, not all will be fulfilled. Prophecies can be conditional, superseded, delayed, recurring and established. In this post, we will explore different types of prophecies based on Scripture.
The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy [it,] if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant [it,] if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.Jer 18:7-10
Prophecies are God’s words which He speaks through a prophet. God Himself declares that He will not do the good He spoke concerning a nation if it did evil, and He will relent of disaster He spoke about a nation if it did good. Hence, there is no guarantee that a prophecy which God speaks about a nation will be fulfilled but depends on the nation’s actions and ultimately on God’s mercy.
Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.Jonah 3:10
We can clearly see God’s nature in the book of Jonah where He relented from the disaster which Jonah prophesied. This means some prophets do fail the basic test in Deut 18:22.
And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it [is] a stiff-necked people! Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.” Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God, and said: “LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit [it] forever.’ So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.Exod 32:9-14
In the above passage, we can clearly see how God was ready to make the prophecy void which He swore and said to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by destroying His people and pass on that blessing to just Moses.
|Revelation 21:1-27 (Prophecy regarding New Heaven and New Earth in New Testament)
|Isaiah 65:17-25 (Prophecy regarding New Heaven and New Earth in Old Testament)
|God will dwell with His people, having offspring is not mentioned. No marriage after resurrection.
(Rev 21:3) And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them [and be] their God.
(Matt 22:30) “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.
|Having offspring is mentioned, but God dwelling with His people not mentioned
(Isa 65:23) They shall not labor in vain, Nor bring forth children for trouble; For they [shall be] the descendants of the blessed of the LORD, And their offspring with them.
|No more death
(Rev 21:4) “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
(Isa 65:20) ” No more shall an infant from there [live but a few] days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner [being] one hundred years old shall be accursed.
The above is just an example for superseded prophecy about new heaven and new earth. There are several superseded prophecies in the Bible. E.g., place of worship in latter days.
|Jerusalem is not the place of worship anymore
|Jerusalem is the place of worship in latter days
|John 4:21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.
|Zech 8:22 Yes, many peoples and strong nations Shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, And to pray before the LORD.’
Isa 2:2 Now it shall come to pass in the latter days [That] the mountain of the LORD’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it
Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body.John 2:19-21
Will the prophecy of Ezekiel’s temple described in the last 10 chapters of the book ever be built in future? Probably not. This is because we no longer require the temple since all prophecies related to it are fulfilled in Him. When reading Old Testament prophecies, we must also look into superseded prophecies from New Testament since the original prophecies are never going to happen.
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.” … Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they [are] stronger than we.” … ‘According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, [namely] forty years, and you shall know My rejection.Num 13:1-2,30-31,14:34
It was not God’s intention for making the children of Israel wander in the wilderness. However, the prophecy of inheriting the land of Canaan was delayed by 40 years (each year for each day spent on spying) until all who sinned against God are consumed.
|Hearts of the people had grown dull – Regarding the children of Israel during the days of Jesus Christ
Matt 13:14-15 “And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. [Their] ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with [their] eyes and hear with [their] ears, Lest they should understand with [their] hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’
|Hearts of the people had grown dull – Regarding the children of Israel during the days of Isaiah
Isa 6:9-10 And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.”
|Jesus is God’s son
Heb 1:5 For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”?
|David is God’s son.
2 Sam 7:14 “I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men.
|Ephraim is God’s firstborn
Jer 31:9 … For I am a Father to Israel, And Ephraim [is] My firstborn.
|David is God’s firstborn
Ps 89:26-27 He shall cry to Me, ‘You [are] my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’ Also I will make him [My] firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.
|Messiah is God’s begotten Son
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
|David is God’s begotten son
Ps 2:7 “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You [are] My Son, Today I have begotten You.
Some prophecies may already be fulfilled. Yet, they may be quoted as being fulfilled once again. E.g, there are several promises given to David by God which are also considered as Messianic prophecies. These type of prophecies are recurring.
Some examples in recent times include attributing Babylon to a country that resembles the characteristics of Babylon and studying the prophecies associated with it. E.g., Some scholars attribute Mystery Babylon to Rome in the Book of Revelation while others attribute to America. The point is, both may be true if that prophecy is a recurring prophecy.
Some prophecies are not prophetic when they were told. Nor the person who told was considered a prophet. Yet, several quotes of that person are considered as prophecies being fulfilled long after that person died. These type of prophecies are non-prophetic Prophecies. A good example is King David. Neither did God spoke to David anytime nor was he considered as a prophet during his lifetime. He always called a seer or a prophet when He wants to inquire about something to God.
|Ps 110:1 THE LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
|Ps 45:9 Kings’ daughters [are] among Your honorable women; At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.
Who is in God’s right hand? In the above example, Ps 110:1 is clearly a messianic prophecy confirmed by Jesus Christ as in Matt 22:43-44. However, was David actually referring to the Messiah? Probably not. The ‘my Lord’ in Psalms 110 could very well be attributed to king Saul to whom David was playing harp for his comfort as in 1 Sam 16:23. If David was strictly speaking about the Messiah in Ps 110:1, who is the queen at the right hand of God in Ps 45:9?
|Ps 41:9 Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up [his] heel against me.
|John 13:18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’
In the above example, Ps 41:9 is not referring to Judas but rather David’s enemies as we can clearly see in Ps 41:5. However, Jesus confirms this as referring to Him. There are many other examples we can see how David’s life experience are prophetic in nature while they were never intended to be prophecies when David actually sang those. These type or prophecies are non-prophetic prophecies.
And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing [is] established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.Gen 41:32
When God reveals anything twice, then the prophecy is ‘established’ as per Scriptures. These prophecies will surely come to pass.
As we saw, there are several types of prophecies in Scriptures.
- Conditional prophecies which will not be fulfilled until certain condition is met.
- Superseded prophecies where the original prophecies may never be fulfilled.
- Delayed prophecies because of someone’s actions.
- Recurring prophecies, that is re-mentioning an already fulfilled prophecy as something yet to be fulfilled or as a fulfilment of another event.
- Non-prophetic prophecies where the statements are not really prophecies when it was told but was referred as prophecies at the time of fulfilment.
- Established prophecies are certain events that are sure to come to pass.