Question: "How can we trust that Biblical prophecy can indeed predict the future?"
Answer: The main reason we can trust biblical prophecy is that it, like the rest of Scripture, was written—literally “God-breathed”—by the Creator of the universe. It is inerrant, perfect, and true. We must understand that before we can understand the role of biblical prophecy.
Biblical prophecy plays two roles. It foretells the future, and it explains what the positive or negative results of future events will be. Prophecy may announce events that bring joy and pleasure or fear and foreboding. When prophecy is ignored, it is usually because the hearers don’t like what they hear for one reason or another. Biblical prophecy is not usually general in nature. It normally is very specific as to how it will affect someone or something. But it is always dependable and worthy of our complete trust. We can allow prophecy to help shape our lives, giving us direction and guidance in serving our Lord. It should be a source of strength and instruction for us. Unlike what we hear called “prophecy” today, both in the church and outside the church, true biblical prophecy is always accurate and precise. What God prophesies always occurs.
The prophecy of the Flood in Genesis 6 is an example. God explains His reasons for the flood, gives specific instructions for Noah to build the ark to preserve lives, then produces this first great worldwide catastrophe. God even prophesied that He would never do it again, in Genesis 9:12-16. Joseph’s dreams in Genesis 37:5-10 contain prophecies which came to pass in chapter 39 through the end of the book. Deuteronomy 18:18 says, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.” This prophecy, pointing to Moses, also foreshadows the Jewish Messiah, our Lord Jesus, and is quoted in Acts 3:22-26. It’s in this same chapter that we’re told (Deuteronomy 18:20) what was done to false prophets in Moses’ time. If their prophecy was false, they were executed. Isaiah chapter 53 contains a compelling prophecy of Jesus Christ: His youth, His ministry, His sin-bearing and suffering, and His offering of Himself. Psalm 22 gives us another prophecy of our Lord’s suffering, couched in a description of King David, Christ’s foreshadow.
In our Lord’s own prophecies, in Matthew 24, He spoke of wars, famines, earthquakes, persecutions, apostasy and betrayals, and finally of His own return, unexpected and widely rejected today. This and other end-time prophecies are as dependable as Noah’s warning of the Flood. Similar predictions of catastrophic events still to come are found in 2 Peter chapters 2–3, together with a prediction (2 Peter 3:7) of God’s intervention. And in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Christians are promised a rescue or a resurrection appointment, whether we’re alive or dead. Biblical prophecy provides us a roadmap of the future. To fail to understand these prophecies of the rapture is to miss one of the greatest gifts of God.
Finally, since we can trust John 3:16, that God loves us and gave us His Son, surely we can rely on Him as Author of biblical prophecy to predict, to encourage, to direct and provide for our future physical and spiritual needs. Our Lord said, in John 14:2, “In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” And that should be a prophecy of assurance and encouragement for all Christians. So place your trust in God’s prophecies, just as you placed your trust in His Son.