Understanding Bible Prophecy
Bible prophecy was first a proclamation (a forth telling) of God’s message for the people of that time period. Because of Israel’s sins, most prophecies began with a message of judgment, urging His people to repent, and then ended with words of comfort. The LORD never left the Israelites without a future hope. He often drew back the curtain of the future to show the people of Israel what will happen to them and to other nations.
Second, prophecies of the Bible usually have a near fulfillment, which is usually partial, and then a distant fulfillment, which is always complete. We find double fulfillment in today’s Bible reading (particularly Daniel 11:36–12:13). In the prophecies of the Bible, it is not always clear which is partial, or a model of things to come, and which is future. The immediate context and correlation with other similar Bible texts and contexts are the keys to interpretation.
Third, it should be noted that not all prophecies are in their chronological order. The context of each Scripture passage is therefore crucial to interpreting future events.
Fourth, comparisons (correlations) between prophecies and their fulfillment are vital to interpretation. However, since five hundred of the 1,000 prophecies of the Bible have been fulfilled literally, we can expect the next five hundred to also be fulfilled literally (Every Prophecy in the Bible by John F. Walvoord, “Introduction,” Victor, ©1999).