How to Read and Understand Bible Prophecy

There’s no denying that understanding Bible prophecy can take some time and effort.

In Ezekiel, there are four-faced, four-winged “men,” and the Lord tells him to lie on his side for 390 days.

Now, there are many key reasons for the Bible’s extensive use of symbolism. But what do you do when you read whole portions of the Bible that are primarily fantasy visions with weirdly detailed details?

At first, reading through these detailed prophesies might be daunting. Even long-term Bible students have to take their time with these passages, so don’t be disheartened if your brow is still wrinkled after reading them a few more times.

Keep on reading for our full breakdown on how to ease the process of reading prophecies and gain a deeper understanding of Christian text.

What Is Bible Prophecy?

When the phrase “prophecies” appears in science fiction and fantasy, it nearly always refers to foretellings of future occurrences.

The message itself comes from a god-like entity, and it’s spoken about as if it’s unchanging and must be fulfilled. These teachings are often based on notions of fate and destiny.

Thankfully, the biblical definition of prophecy is more straightforward.

Simply put, it’s a communication from God sent to a human prophet, who subsequently delivers it to the designated audience.

That’s all. That’s where the definition ends. There are, however, many distinct sorts of prophecies—probably more than you realize.

All in all, you’ll want to take it one step at a time. Here are the steps you can take to gain a better understanding of the nuances of prophecy.

Historical Connotation of Christian Text

During the first two centuries, the early church took prophecy seriously. As a result, they anticipated Christ’s return to earth to establish His kingdom and rule for thousands of years, after which new heavens and new earth would be built.

Around AD 190, a school of theology arose in Alexandria, Egypt, that aimed to blend biblical interpretation with the philosophy of the Greek philosopher Plato. As a consequence, those leaders saw the Bible as an extended metaphor rather than literally.

Refuting this viewpoint, the early church was able to return the church as a whole to the usual, grammatical, historical, and literal reading of the Bible.

However, in the case of prophecy, this was more challenging since there were predictions that had yet to be fulfilled, and therefore the church was unable to entirely overcome the non-literal understanding of prophecy.

The Basics of Interpreting Prophecy: Gather Some Background Information

The first step in reading any prophetic literature is to learn about it.

  • Who wrote the book?
  • Why?
  • When?
  • Whom are you addressing?
  • What were the issues they were dealing with?
  • How is the book organized?
  • What should I hope to gain from it?

You can get answers to such inquiries from many different places. You can easily look up a list of some of the best books on the market. Of course, you can go for ones that are more academic in nature, or you can pick one that’s on the bestsellers list.

Getting background information is similar to perusing a book’s table of contents. It aids comprehension of what you’re going to read.

Ask God for Understanding and Deeper Sight

I invite the Holy Spirit to speak to me whenever I open the Bible.

“Speak Lord, your servant is listening,” Samuel begged as God tried to connect with him (Sam. 3:10). “Lord, I’d want to hear from you right now,” I generally say. “Please guide my thinking.”

Go Across the Passage Slowly

Take on the initial thought unit.

Every time a subheading appears in your Bible, that is where a unit of thought starts and ends. When you read Malachi, you quickly realize that the book is an “oracle” (Mal. 1:1).

Your first question will be answered in paragraph 2: Why would God love Jacob but despise Esau? Is it really conceivable for God to despise anyone?

Refer to a Remark

A commentary is a book produced by a subject matter expert. Exegetical, expositional, and devotional commentary are the three categories of commentaries.

Exegetical commentary concentrate on the text’s grammar and language. They’re generally intellectual, so they could go over the heads of new prophecy readers.

Pastors who have preached through the text are often the authors of expositional comments. They contain simple outlines and images.

Devotional commentaries provide a greater emphasis on meditation and the application of the material.

You’ll quickly find out which one you hold in your palm. However, your first inquiries are rather straightforward. “What exactly is an oracle?” “And why would God despise Esau?” All three categories should be able to provide you with an answer.

Your church library may have some Bible dictionaries, and older ones are accessible online if you Google them.

Record Your Findings and Analyses

You’re now ready to make some remarks, thanks to your comments.

Write down what you saw and answer the six question words (who, what, when, where, how, and why).

You can also start creating connections between the background information you’ve gathered in the beginning, and think about how that could influence the interpretation of the prophecies.

And, at this point, you’ll want to include this bible prophecy update in your readings.

Create Some Interpretations on Your Own

A timeless principle is an interpretation.

What is this prophet saying, teaching, or warning against that is as relevant now as it was back then? Make a note of them.

Put the New Ideals Into Action

What are you going to do now that you’ve realized what God is saying to you?

You study the Bible to change your life, so what will you do with what you’ve learned? The last stage in tying your shoe is to go outside and play. The step of going out and playing is application.

The Intricacies of the Bible: Getting Closer to God

Seeing the beauty and complexity of Christian text can be a bit of an overwhelming experience. Thankfully, there’s no reason for you to go on that journey alone.

Hopefully, our guide has shed some light on how to better understand Bible prophecy. And, if you liked reading our article, and you want to see more, then we’ve got you covered.

Check out our religion and spirituality sections for more guides and explainers.