Why are Bible prophecies mysterious?


By BibleAsk Team

Biblical prophecies are often regarded as mysterious due to several reasons rooted in divine inspiration, the need to protect these messages from God’s enemies and progressive fulfilment. Let’s delve into these reasons in detail, supported by relevant references from the Bible.

Divine Origin

The profound nature of biblical prophecies can be attributed to the fact that they originate from divine revelation. In 2 Peter 1:20-21 (NKJV), Peter writes, “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” This passage underscores the divine inspiration and origin of prophecy, highlighting its supernatural nature and authority.

    As divine revelations, biblical prophecies have deep meanings. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV) declares, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'” This passage emphasizes the greatness of God’s thoughts and ways compared to human ways.

    The Mystery of Prophecy – Symbols

    Bible prophecies are sometimes mysterious because God shields His knowledge to protect His messages and children from their enemies who may want to interfere with the fulfillment of God’s plans. Most of the apocalyptic prophets, such as Daniel, Ezekiel, and John gave their prophecies when they were captives under foreign powers. In these prophecies, God foretold of the destruction of these kingdoms. These message were not for the benefit of the pagans but to inspire hope and comfort in God’s children.

    For this reason, the Lord covered His prophetic words with symbols so that only the honest searcher may find the truth. “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand” (Mark 4:11, 12).

    The main purpose of prophecies is to strengthen the faith of God’s children when they actually see God’s word getting fulfilled before their eyes. In John 16:4, Jesus says, “These things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you.” People often study the prophecies so they can know the future – yet prophecy is best understood after it is fulfilled. When all the pieces of the puzzle come together, the picture becomes more clear. And very few times in the Bible does people benefit from prophecy in advance, as when Egypt prepared for the famine that was predicted by Joseph in the dreams that God gave him.

    Today, when the signs of the times get fulfilled, Bible students can know for sure that the end is near. And this realization can inspires a revival and help them get ready for Christ’s second coming  “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28). But to the worldly who have rejected God, it will be a mystery.

    Progressive Fulfillment

    Another reason for the mysterious nature of biblical prophecies is the phenomenon of partial revelation and progressive fulfillment. In 1 Corinthians 13:9-10 (NKJV), Paul writes, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” This passage suggests that prophetic revelation finds the fullness of its meaning and fulfillment gradually unfolding over time.

      As a result, biblical prophecies may appear cryptic or enigmatic when viewed in isolation, as they often convey only a partial glimpse of future events or divine intentions. For example, Daniel’s visions of future kingdoms and rulers in Daniel 2 and 7 provide an outline of world history that unfolded progressively.

      This concept is exemplified in the multiple fulfillments of Messianic prophecies throughout the Old Testament, which find their ultimate fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This progressive unfolding of prophecy adds to its mysterious nature, as believers discern its meaning and significance across different historical contexts and epochs.

      Spiritual Discernment and Revelation

      The mysterious nature of biblical prophecies necessitates spiritual discernment and revelation for their interpretation and understanding. In 1 Corinthians 2:12-14 (NKJV), Paul writes, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God… But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

        This passage emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit in illuminating the meaning of prophecy and enabling believers to grasp its spiritual significance. Without spiritual discernment, biblical prophecies may remain veiled or incomprehensible to the natural mind, reinforcing their mysterious nature and the need for divine revelation.

        All those that wish to be enlightened by God’s Spirit to understand His prophecies must walk in obedience. The Bible declares this truth: “… the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32, NKJV). True obedience is revealed by loving obedience to God’s holy commandments (1 John 5:3).


        In conclusion, the mysterious nature of biblical prophecies arises from several factors, including their divine origin, the need to hid the meaning of the messages by symbols to protect it from God’s enemies, the progressive fulfillment, and the requirement for spiritual discernment. As reflections of God’s wisdom and sovereignty, biblical prophecies invite Christians to seek deeper understanding and insight by the Holy Spirit into the mysteries of God’s plan for humanity. Ultimately, the study of biblical prophecy serves to deepen faith, inspire hope, and cultivate a sense of awe and wonder at the divine truths that are revealed in Scripture.

        Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

        In His service,
        BibleAsk Team

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