"Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A just God and a Saviour; There is none besides Me. " (Isaiah 45:21).
True prophecy is a message from God that was given through a messenger for the knowledge of men. It is not limited to the revelation of future events, but also includes warnings concerning contemporary situations.
Prophecy is an evidence of God's omniscience, in view of its perfect fulfillment in the proper time, sometimes on an occasion clearly predetermined. No other being, whether angelic or human, has this attribute.
We highlight the following characteristics of true prophecy:
No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20), it never came by the will of man (2 Peter 1:21).
It was announced by God´s holy prophets since the world began (Luke 1:70).
God gave prophecy through Christ, and it was conveyed by Him in the form of a gift of the Holy Spirit (Revelation 1:1, Ephesians 4:11, Revelation 11:3, 1 Corinthians 12:10).
You can trust it, because it shows reality, like a lamp shining in a dark place (Isaiah 44:26, Acts 3:18).
Christ is the main subject (Acts 3:22-24, 10:43, 1 Peter 1:10,11).
God fulfils it, like the prophecy concerning Christ has been faithfully fulfilled (2 Peter 1:19, Luke 24:44).
Prophecy is for the benefit of future generations (1 Peter 1:12).
True prophecy should not be neglected, on the contrary, you should be aware and believe in it as you read, hear and are blessed by keeping the prophecy (1 Thessalonians 5:20, 2 Peter 1:19, 2 Chronicles 20:20, Revelation 1: 3, 22:7). It must be kept intact, because there will be punishment for those who add or take something from it (Revelation 22:18 and 19).
Human curiosity stimulates false prophecy, and it can be detected because it does not have the characteristics of the true, listed above. The Word of God, which we call the Bible, is complete and we are admonished:
"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods'—which you have not known—'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him." (Deuteronomy 13:1-3, 18 : 22).
God communicated prophecy many times and in many ways to the people of Israel through men chosen by Him, who are therefore known as the "prophets" (Hosea 12:10), but in the Bible they are also called:
"Watchman of Israel" (Ezekiel 3:17, 33:7).
"Man of God" (1 Samuel 9:6), or "holy men of God" (2 Peter 1:21).
"Messengers" (the original Hebrew "mal'ak" also translated as "angel" in other places, as indicated by the context or preference of the translator). (2 Chronicles 36:15).
"Prophets of God" (Ezra 5:2).
"Holy prophets" (Luke 1:70, Revelation 18:20, 22:6).
"Servants of God" (Jeremiah 35:15).
"Seer" (1 Samuel 9:9, etc.).
The prophets were messengers, so simply passed on what they received from God. They had to be brave and fearless (Ezekiel 2:6, 3:9), vigilant and faithful (Ezekiel 3:17-21), receive the message carefully (Ezekiel 3:10), nothing to say beyond the God-given ( Deuteronomy 18:20) but to declare what God had commanded them to tell (Jeremiah 26:2).
So they never took away or modified any part of the prophecy, or gave vent to their own imagination to add details. What they said was what God said. So they could say in all truth, "Thus says the Lord" (that phrase appears 407 times in the Old Testament).
In the Old Testament, in the times of the kings of Israel, the prophets had schools (1 Kings 20:35, 2 Kings 2:3-15, 4:1,38, 9:1), advised the kings (Isaiah 37:1 - 7), wrote his chronicles (1 Chronicles 29:29), were persecuted, imprisoned and martyred (Hebrews 11:32-40) because, as Jesus said "Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country" ( Luke 4:24). Prophets of God manifested remarkable physical courage and moral integrity because they had a dynamic faith in the Lord.
God spoke to prophets in various ways, often used parables and visions (Hosea 12:10), to reveal His secret to them (Amos 3:4). He spoke in an audible voice (Numbers 12:8, 1 Samuel 3:4-14), used as spokesmen angels (Daniel 8:15-26, Revelation 22:8-9), and spoke in dreams and visions (Numbers 12:6 Joel 2:28).
In turn, the prophets conveyed the message received from God in many ways to those to whom it was intended, always moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21) in the name of the Lord (James 5:10). Sometimes the message conveyed in the form of sung poetry (Deuteronomy 32:44, Isaiah 5:1), they used musical instruments (1 Samuel 10:5, 2 Kings 3:15-19), made use of parables and enigmas (2 Samuel 12:1-6, Ezekiel 17:2-10), made an illustration in which they sometimes acted (Isaiah 20:2-4, Jeremiah 19:1,10-11, Ezekiel 4:1-13, Hosea 1:2 -9, Acts 21:11).
Besides giving news of future events, God's prophecy may contain cautions and precautions, for example about apostasy (1 John 2:19, Jude 1:17-18), false teachers (2 Peter 2:3), tribulations of the churches (Revelation 2:10). There were prophecies that emotionally shook the prophets (Jeremiah 23:9, Ezekiel 3:14,15).
God spoke to man through prophecy until the last prophecy was dictated to John on Patmos, which we know as the Book of Revelation. This is "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John" (chapter 1:1).
It warns us solemnly, "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. " (Revelation 22:18,19).
So the prophecy of God is complete. Anything else that appears does not come from God, but it is false and untrue.