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Prophecy


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PROPHECY
Prophecy is when “God conveyed messages to His people through human speakers or writers.”It includes “forthtelling” (announcements about the present) and “foretelling” (predictions about the future). Most prophecy is forthtelling, “messages for a prophet’s own audience about their own day or the near future” (KBH, p. 371). A small portion of the foretelling is apocalyptic, i.e. where “God reveals His hidden future plans, usually through dreams or vision with elaborate and at times strange symbols or numbers” (KBH, p. 385).
(See the section of Revelation for more information on apocalyptic literature.)
Here are some steps to guide you through your reading of the prophetic books (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi).

O

   Observation

If possible, first read the book in its entirety. Fill in the following chart.


Questions Response References
What are some recurring themes?
List any metaphors.
Possible audience is:
How does the book develop?
What are the major points?
What changes does the writer want from the hearers?

PROPHECY, cont.
When interpreting a passage from a prophetic book, attempt first to answer the following questions from your reading of the text. For further background information, consult a Bible dictionary or commentary (see Recommended Resources).

I

   Interpretation – Forthtelling


Questions Response References
What was the historical situation that the prophet spoke to?
What was the hearer’s religious life like?
What was their relationship to other nations?

If the prophet is describing a judgment, answer these questions:


Questions Response References
What type of judgment is announced?
When is the judgment-past, present, or future?
How will the judgment occur?
Where will it take place?
Why is the judgment coming? What are the expected behaviors or laws that are being disobeyed?

PROPHECY, cont.

Interpretation – Foretelling

1  Interpret these foretelling passages in light of the New Testament. Is there any passage in the New Testament that clarifies the section you are studying?

2  Interpret these foretelling passages in light of the New Testament. Is there any passage in the New Testament that clarifies the section you are studying?

3  Interpret these foretelling passages in light of the New Testament. Is there any passage in the New Testament that clarifies the section you are studying?

Look at your Bible passage and put an “x” above where the prophecy is to be fulfilled. You may have more than one “x.”

Prophecy 1.pdf

Write the purpose of the prophecy in the box below:

PROPHECY, cont.

Interpretation – Apocalyptic

1  Don’t try to understand everything. Set a realistic goal.
2  Don’t take symbolism literally, though do take it seriously. For example, the fact that Daniel uses a beast metaphor is significant, but the specific beasts may not be as important. “Symbolism and imagination fascinated ancient peoples more than did statistical accuracy” (KBH, p. 386).
3  “The roots of apocalyptic lie in a crisis of Israel’s faith in God’s control over history. Its primary purpose is to encourage suffering saints.” Keep in mind this pastoral concern.
4  Focus on the main points rather than the detail. “What does it say about temples, empires, and their victims?” Application should come from the main points.

What is the pastoral concern?

What are the main points?

A

Application


Questions Response References
Are we participating in similar sins? (e.g., no acknowledgment of God, lack of love, etc.)?
How can we change?
How can we persevere during our “exile” experiences?
Does this passage change our worldview? If so, how?
Is there a situation in our world that is similar to the one addressed by the prophet? If so, what does this section say about it?

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