In Part One of this series we examined the basic importance of prophets, as well as, who and what are the ‘major’ and ‘minor’ prophets. Additionally in part’s One and Two we studied the three ‘major’ prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Our study continued to the ‘minor’ prophets in parts Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine; followed by the Old Testament prophets, Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, Nathan, and Daniel in parts Ten, Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen.
Having begun exploring the New Testament with John the Baptist in Part Fourteen, we end this series with a general exploration of prophecy and prophets in the New Testament, as well as how prophecy remains important to this day.
Prophecies of the New Testament:
The New Testament quotes many prophecies from the Old Testament, yet further still, the New Testament fulfills many Old Testament prophecies. While not all Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled within the New Testament—many are still coming to pass today—prophecies involving the first coming of Messiah were well fulfilled.
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”—Isaiah 7:14
Still, what of prophetic words FROM the New Testament?
As we explored in Part Fourteen of this series, John the Baptist spoke many prophecies, yet, those he spoke were some of the swiftest to reach fulfillment within the Word. For John largely prophesied of the coming of Messiah… and, Jesus—the Messiah—soon began this prophesied ministry, bringing to fulfillment the words of John and those before him.
However, John the Baptist obviously was not the only prophet of the New Testament, nor was he the only one to give prophetic words. Jesus Himself gave many prophecies, and while, as the Son of God, WE cannot classify Him as one thing or another, He did engage in the prophetic… just as He did things that could deem Him preacher, teacher, evangelist, healer, savior, etc. Thus, while we shall dispense with the label of ‘prophet,’ His prophecies are obviously worth exploring…
Many of these prophecies were fulfilled upon Jesus’ death and resurrection, such as in Matthew 16:21. Jesus, “…began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” This prophecy and others He made regarding His death and resurrection were obviously soon fulfilled, yet, what of those relating to His second coming?In Matthew 24, verse 3 and following, Jesus prophesies the final days before His second coming, and the signs of the times. These, while some believe have begun, have indeed not come to pass in fullness, for Jesus said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:29-31)
We have not yet seen the fullness of tribulation or the events of His appearing that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24. But we know that this prophecy—like those He foretold of His death and resurrection, and even the destruction of the Second Temple—will come to pass.
However, the prophecies of Jesus are not the only visions of the end times to be foretold in the New Testament—or indeed, in the Word as a whole. The book of Revelation, for instance, is comprised of prophecy. The entire book being filled with visions of Heaven, the tribulation, and the Second Coming of Messiah.
Who wrote Revelation and why is it important?
The prophecies of Revelation are known to be written by John, yet, biblical scholars are conflicted as to which John it is referencing. One possibility is that it was written by the apostle John, son of Zebedee, perhaps after his banishment to Patmos, writing there in his latter years and becoming known as John of Patmos. Other, more recent viewpoints include that John of Patmos was, in fact, not the apostle John but simply a prophetic voice living near or having relations with the seven churches of Asia… OR even, that the author of Revelation was someone known as “John the Elder.”
The main reasoning that it was not believed John the apostle wrote Revelation is due to the lower level of Greek that the text was written in, along with an alternate spelling of the word, Jerusalem…
Still, no matter the source, Revelation holds many prophetic insight into the future.
“…Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”—Revelation 1:17-19
Jesus first confirms to John who He is, then shows John the future so he could pass the prophecies to us… prophecies we in our own selves, can scarcely comprehend. Yet, with 22 chapters total, there is no way we could even begin a full study of Revelation here. It would take many books and years to even scratch the surface! However, that does not mean we should ignore it…
Revelation 5 shows that Jesus, having been slain and raised again, has redeemed us by His blood. Redeeming us not only to Himself, but making us His kings and priests!
Revelation 5 not only shows us the glory of God, but the blessings and honor He has granted to us!
“Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?’
“…I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.
“Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:
“‘You are worthy to take the scroll,
and to open its seals;
for You were slain,
and have redeemed us to God by Your blood
out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
and have made us kings and priests to our God;
and we shall reign on the earth.’”—Revelation 5:2, 6-10
Yet, while Revelation 5 is less of a prophetic insight into a future event and more a prophetic insight into who Jesus is and what we are to Him; the seven seals He opened each tell a prophetic story.
Furthermore, after the seven seals are opened, there are seven trumpets held by seven angels. Seven being a number of perfection, but also relating to the seven Spirits of God. However, we are only given six trumpet blasts by six of these angels—six being the number of man—and they all give rise to disasters that are to come in the end days. This prompts a seventh angel to arrive—perfection. Yet, he does not blow a trumpet, instead giving a small book to John—the prophetic words not allowed to be presented to us.
These chapters 5 to 10 alone are filled with prophetic insights not yet seen. Furthermore, they are filled with that which only the wisdom of God can decipher. That only the Holy Spirit can allow us to touch!
Many consider the book of Revelation to be a book of woe, focused on the despair and destruction of the end days. However, much of Revelation—if we look at it with the hope of one who loves the Lord, and knows His love in return—is filled with promise. Promise that God wins in the end; that we will come to see and spend eternity with Him if we but follow Him! Promise that He makes us new and gives us great gifts and blessings!
He makes it so we will walk with Him in white. He me makes it so we are His kings and priests; His bride! He renews us and gives us Revelation both as a warning to those who despise Him, and a love song to those who follow after Him.
As we have seen in these fifteen parts, God has given us prophetic words since He first created us. Sometimes the prophetic words came to pass quickly, while other times it was thousands of years before the prophetic words saw themselves to fruition—others still awaiting fulfillment…
And the prophets of those words, well, for many they had only their faith in God that the words they spoke would come to pass. Isaiah, for instance, prophesied of the coming of Messiah over 700 years before Jesus’ birth! He had only His faith in God to understand the truth of His prophecy.
Yet, no matter if prophecy came to pass weeks or centuries later—or still to come—they have always been true gifts from God… even when the prophetic words spoke of dark times.
After all, prophecy prepared the way for our Messiah. It prepares the way for the end times and Second Coming of our King. And it even prepares the way for each of us to be covered in the blood of Jesus, renewing and restoring us to our Father!
Today, for many of us, it may feel as though prophecy was primarily an Old Testament occurrence, yet, many prophecies are coming to pass today. Many are being spoken today!
Take the prophecy in Isaiah 35, of God making the desert bloom—the deserts in and around Israel. At the time the prophecy was given it would have required God Himself reaching down to make the desert bloom… yet, today, through His people and His blessings, the desert is blooming! People are planting crops WITHIN the Negev desert!
Much of the Negev only gets 24mm (less than an inch) of rain per year. Temperatures are well into the 80’s and 90’s Fahrenheit for over half the year, and there is very little in the way of native plant life. It is not a region that should have crops planted, yet, with Israeli technology and determination they are beginning to thrive! God’s prophecy is coming to pass before our eyes, just as many will see the fulfillment of Jesus’ Second Coming!
God is readying His bride through not only biblical prophecy, His Word, and Spirit… He is readying us through the sharing of our gifts. The sharing of prophetic words, as well as the hope and joy of seeing the prophecies of old and today coming to pass!
Prophets are not just a thing of the past. God continues to use prophets and prophecy to prepare the way for His harvest and… His return!
“And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.”