What were the categories of the Old Testament prophecies?

The prophecies of the Old Testament can be divided into the following categories:

Historical

These are the prophecies that were associated only with the direct historical events that would soon take place. Some examples to these are:

  • Jeremiah’s prophecy of the wooden and iron yokes (ch. 28), his figurative buying of a field near Anathoth (ch. 32), and his prophecy of the death of the false prophet Hananiah (ch. 28:15–17).
  • Ezekiel’s symbolic siege to a tile in the market place of Tel–abib (chs. 4 and 5).
  • Amos’ denouncement of Israel’s neighboring nations (chs. 1 and 2).
  • Nahum’s prophecy of the fall of Nineveh (chs. 2 and 3).

Futuristic

These are the prophecies that spoke of future events related to the coming of the Messiah. Some examples to these are:

  • Isaiah’s prophecy about the birth of the Messiah (ch. 9:6, 7; 40:3–5; 53; 61:1–3).
  • Daniel’s prophecy about the ministry and death of the Messiah (ch. 9).
  • Zechariah’s prophecy about the coming of the Messiah as a king (ch. 9:9; 13:1, 6, 7).
  • The prophecies of Daniel that refer mainly to the historical events of the far future, the Christian era,  or the end time events (ch. 2:44; 7:27; 8:14; 10:14; 11:40; 12:4).

With double application

These are the prophecies that had double application. First, to a local and historical situation. Second, to the Messiah and His kingdom. These prophecies can sometimes be misinterpreted. Some examples to these are:

  • God’s promise to Abraham of a “seed” was fulfilled in the birth of his son Isaac (Gen. 13:16; 15:4, 5, 13; 17:7, 16, 19–21; 18:10; 21:1, 3) but also it pointed forward to the Messiah (Matt. 1:1; Gal. 3:16).
  • God’s promise to David of a son was fulfilled in the birth of his son Solomon (1Kings 8:20) but also pointed to the Messiah (2 Sam 7:12, 13; Matt. 1:1; Acts 2:30).
  • The promise made to Moses that stated, “God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me” (Deut. 18:15). This promise had an immediate application to the leadership in Israel after the death of Moses (Deut. 18:18) And it also pointed forward to Christ (John 1:21; 6:14; 7:40).
  • The paschal lamb represented a historical deliverance of Israel from Egypt but later it represented the spiritual deliverance of all God’s people from sin through the Messiah (1 Cor. 5:7).
  • The rock smitten in the wilderness which provided water to the Israelites also represented Jesus Christ that satisfies man’s thirst for God (John 4:10; 7:37; 1 Cor. 10:4).
  • The manna that fell from heaven in the wilderness also represented Jesus “the true bread from heaven” (John 6:31) without which man can’t live.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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