One hundred percent of the Bible is prophetic. This is in contrast to the popular belief among Bible prophecy teachers that states only a percentage of the Scriptures is prophetic–anywhere from a third to a fourth.
This popular belief comes down to pure mathematics. I’ll use an excerpt from a good article by Jack Kelly, How Much of the Bible Is Prophecy? on the website, Grace thru Faith, to represent that position:
According to “The Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy” by J. Barton Payne, there are 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament for a total of 1,817. These prophecies are contained in 8,352 of the Bible’s verses. Since there are 31,124 verses in the Bible, the 8,352 verses that contain prophecy constitute 26.8 percent of the Bible’s volume.
Assuming the figures above are correct, this quote is accurate and useful in determining the percentage of predictive prophecy, but not all prophecy. For predictive prophecy is not the only kind of prophecy.
Bible Prophecy Is Important To God
Some see preaching and teaching about prophecy as needless, a waste of time, a tangent reserved for those who major on the minors, and who spend too much time flipping end-times charts, and encouraging people to ponder the future at the expense of the present.
But if anyone is to blame for our interest in prophecy, it’s God! If He weren’t so obsessed with the future, and if He hadn’t talked to His writing prophets so much about it, we’d have less interest in it.
Of course, some will find me saying God is “obsessed” with the future as offensive. The word obsessed is usually used in a negative sense.
When applied to us, it means we’re fixated on something to the point that we’re driven by it–often even if it causes us or others harm. When applied to God, it narrowly identifies His all-consuming passion and activity concerning future events.
Future events is another way of saying prophecy.
Let’s look at a few Scriptures that show how important Bible prophecy is to God:
Be penitent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. That when the times of refreshment shall come from the presence of the Lord, and he shall send him who hath been preached unto you, Jesus Christ.
Whom heaven indeed must receive, until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets, from the beginning of the world.Acts 3:19-21 (DRB)
The above passage speaks of how God has spoken to us through His prophets about “the restitution of all things” since “the beginning of the world.” The restitution of all things is the full redemption of humanity and the creation.
It should be obvious that if God speaks about something from the beginning of the world to now–the Bible speaks today–then it must be supremely important.
Now to the question of separating what we call prophecy from the rest of the Bible.
The Entire Bible is Prophecy
I began this article by saying 100% of the Bible is prophecy
The Bible does not simply include prophecy. It is prophecy. The entire book. The beginning, middle, and end is the prophetic story of humanity’s fall and redemption. Or to use Peter’s words, “the restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21).
First, the prophetic story begins in the garden of Eden with a prophecy that death will come into the world if man sins (Genesis 2:17).
Second, once sin enters the world and humanity and the creation fall, the large middle prophesies of a Redeemer from sin and death through Abraham’s and David’s seed.
Third, and finally, the end shows us the Seed, the promised Messiah and Redeemer, fulfilling the prophecy of redemption.
It is Not Predictive Prophecy Or Narrative Prophecy–It’s both
One-fourth to one-third of the Bible is predictive prophecy, depending upon who you ask. The remainder is narrative prophecy. Predictive prophecy is the statement that says such and such will happen in the future. Narrative prophecy is the supporting story and doctrine that give context, meaning, and cohesion to predictive prophecy.
Here’s what I mean.
Every word, sentence, verse, chapter, and book of the Bible is prophetic, whether it directly predicts a future event or not. The most obscure, apparently non-prophetic, verses in Leviticus or Philemon are prophetic. This is so because they are part of the one prophetic story of the Bible.
The prophetic story is the fall and redemption of humanity.
When you read a mystery or romance novel, how much of the mystery novel is mystery? How much of the romance is romance? Must a dead body be on every page of the mystery for every page to be considered mystery? Must a man and woman be after one another on every page of the romance for every page to be considered romance?
The answer is no. The entire story is one story. Even thriller novels, which better be filled with thrills, also must include other non-thrill elements or the reader won’t care a thing about the characters or explosions.
Similarly, the Almighty God supports His predictive prophecy with prophetic narrative, which although not always obviously predictive, it is so inseparably integral to the prophetic story that it must be identified as prophetic.
The Entire Bible Predicts The Future
If you were tasked to omit from the Bible every book that doesn’t point to “the restitution of all things,” what would you cut? There are no prophecies in Leviticus, right?
Just a bunch of ancient Jewish civil laws and boring stuff about offerings and sacrifices and an obsolete priesthood. Why not start there?
The problem with cutting Leviticus and other books that don’t have obvious predictive prophecy is that upon closer observation, we find they are as prophetic as the most accepted predictive books.
For instance, after His resurrection, Jesus told His apostles this:
These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.Luke 24:44
The Law of Moses is the first five books of the Bible. Leviticus is one of those books. You throw out Leviticus and you throw out a book that doesn’t look as prophetic as other books, like Daniel or Isaiah. Yet, according to Jesus, it prophesies of Him.
You say, this can’t be. There’s nothing in Leviticus, but stuff about offerings and sacrifices and priests and…
Have you caught on yet? Read Hebrews. It explains Leviticus and the Law. It should jump off the pages and onto your lap.
Jesus is God’s offering.
Jesus is God’s sacrifice.
Jesus is God’s priest.
The Law of Moses represents Christ.
Since Leviticus prophesies of Jesus, doesn’t that make it a predictively prophetic book? You see, every prophecy doesn’t obviously point to the future and pinpoint an event. Prophecy is not that simplistic.
Most of the Bible’s prophecies are in the class of Leviticus. They don’t look predictively prophetic until you read the entire book and fit it in with the entire Bible. Only then can you appreciate the prophetic role and significance of every book in the Bible.
We can make the same mistake with the book of Psalms. We can pluck the low-hanging prophetic fruit of Psalms 2, 8, or 22, read them in isolation, and declare them prophetic.
But the book of Psalms, though there are 150 psalms, comprise five thematically connected books of psalms that make up the single book of Psalms–that fit in with the rest of the Bible.
And the entire book of Psalms is the one prophetic story of the Messiah-King.
All Bible Prophecy Is Important
God pulled back the curtain to allow us to see into His mind and realm. He inspired men to write down His thoughts about the past, present, and future. Some of His thoughts reveal minute details of future events; most do not. They are all, however, one prophetic story communicated to us in 66 books, which comprise the Bible.
Additionally, we now know they are all prophecy. This is so even though some passages of Scripture and some books are less obviously prophetic than others.
Revelation 19:10 says, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” This means a couple of things.
One, no true prophecy will directly conflict with, or in any way undermine, the testimony of Jesus. Two, the testimony of Jesus is empowered by the Spirit of prophecy.
The latter definition captures my point that the entire Bible is prophetic, in that all of it testifies of Jesus, directly or indirectly, clearly or ambiguously, one way or another.
Finally, the entire Bible is a prophecy in the sense that the over-arching prediction from Genesis to Revelation is that God the eternal King is coming to earth to set up an eternal kingdom.
This is the all-encompassing prophetic theme of “the restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21).
In light of the entire Bible’s quality as prophetic, and its status as a prophecy, I believe it is unreasonable to arbitrarily partition the Bible into so-called prophecy and non-prophecy categories if it is for the dubious sake of assigning lesser importance to Scriptures considered non-prophetic.
For there is no such thing as a non-prophetic Scripture or book of the Bible. They all testify of Christ, and is therefore all prophetic.
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