Q. How do I show somebody with a limited knowledge of the Bible that the prophecies it contains are real and are an important part of scripture (I understand it to comprise between 28-30% of scripture depending on who you ask), and that the whole point of God speaking through His prophets was to give us insight into events to come and not just confuse us?
A. The best way to validate prophecy is to look at God’s track record. We’ve got nearly 6000 years to work with here but let’s just take the life of Jesus as an example. Even people with limited knowledge of the Bible know several things about the birth of Jesus from their childhood that you can use for this.
Scholars have identified hundreds of specific prophecies that were given between 500 and 1000 years prior to His birth, but the most popular ones are the one about Him being born in Bethlehem, (Micah 5:2), being born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), riding into Jerusalem on a donkey (Zech 9:9), or being betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver with the money going to a potter to buy a field (Zech 11:12-13). There’s also His crucifixion and the fact that the soldiers would divide up his clothes (Psalm 22:16-18), and that He’d come back from the grave (Isaiah 53:11).
The chances that just this small sample of the prophecies about His first coming could have been fulfilled by coincidence are too small to measure. But there are well over a thousand other things God also told us about in advance that happened just like He said. These prophecies from the past help us to know that the ones still in our future will be fulfilled literally too.
God said, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do” (Isaiah 46:9-11).