How Does Prophecy Work?

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How does prophecy work? Does it tell us in detail the timing of key future events? In this Seven Minute Seminary episode, Dr. Ben Witherington explains.

Biblical prophecy is about the telling of truth as God sees it, whether about the past, present, or future. This is why some helpfully characterize prophecy chiefly as “forth-telling,” which is the proclamation of God’s word. For example, Nathan’s confrontation of David (2 Samuel 12) is an example of addressing sin in God’s people and is part of the prophetic office.

Other times, biblical prophecy may include “foretelling,” but most of the time it is in reference to the near future, such as in Isaiah 7. Many prophecies do take on fuller meanings later as they relate to Christ. Nonetheless, prophecy is not about God’s people being able to predict future events. That’s because God reveals enough about the future to give us hope, but not enough to not require faith in our every day lives.

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Dr. Witherington joined the Asbury Seminary faculty in 1995. A prolific author, Dr. Witherington has written more than 40 books and six commentaries. He is a John Wesley Fellow for Life, a research fellow at Cambridge University and a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Society of Biblical Literature, Society for the Study of the New Testament and the Institute for Biblical Research. In his leisure time, Dr. Witherington appreciates both music and sports. It is hard to say which sound he prefers: the sophisticated sonance of jazz sensation Pat Metheny or the incessant tomahawk chant of the Atlanta Braves faithful. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, he is a dedicated Tar Heels basketball and football fan. He and his wife, Ann, have two children.