The Nature Of Prophecy

Q. Are some prophecies meant to be fulfilled all at once, others piecemeal, and others multiple times over?

A. Some prophecies are meant for single fulfillment (the virgin birth comes to mind) and some for multiple fulfillment.

In the latter case, interim fulfillment are generally only partial. Because of Deuteronomy 18:21-22, where the Lord explained how to tell if a prophet was speaking for Him or not, long range prophecies often had a short range partial fulfillment to serve as a confirmation of the eventual total fulfillment.

As an example, Jesus said, “I have come in my Father’s name and you did not accept Me. Another will come in his own name and you will accept him.” (John 5:43) He was speaking of the anti-Christ. But at his public trial, the crowd condemned Him to death, and chose to have Bar Abbas freed. It was a partial fulfillment that confirmed the prophecy’s ultimate validity.

Some prophecies contain references to both 1st and 2nd Comings within a single thought, like Isaiah 9:6-7. In that case only the first sentence was fulfilled. The child was born and the son was given. All the rest awaits the 2nd Coming.

Still others are gradually fulfilled over an extended period of time. Ezekiel 37 is a prophecy of the end times regathering of Israel that began in the late 1800’s, was officially recognized in 1948, and will not be complete until after the 2nd Coming.

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