Shelf Life Book Review: Understanding Prophecy

Douglas Mangum
Understanding Prophecy: A Biblical-Theological Approach
Kregel Academic, 2015

Biblical prophecy is easily misunderstood when we lose sight of the big picture of the Bible—its message of redemption fulfilled in Jesus (Luke 24:27). In this book, Alan Bandy and Benjamin Merkle explain how to interpret prophecy in light of that theological grand narrative. They challenge the popular tendency to align vague scriptural statements with precise contemporary fulfillments by demonstrating how to read prophecy in a biblical-theological way. The ultimate fulfillment of all Scripture is found in Christ’s ministry, death, and resurrection.

The first three chapters introduce biblical prophecy and biblical theology. The authors emphasize the theological richness of biblical prophecy—a richness that is easily missed if believers are either avoiding prophecy as too difficult or obsessing over contemporary fulfillments. Bandy and Merkle also dispel the popular notion that understanding prophecy is about decrypting hidden clues to future events. The prophets were messengers of God who called his people to repent, warned of impending judgment for sin, and revealed God’s plan of salvation.

Over the remaining six chapters, Bandy and Merkle discuss prophecies in the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the section on Old Testament prophecies, they explain how the New Testament writers envisioned fulfillment. The section on New Testament prophecies surveys the passages about Jesus’ return and what it meant to be in the “last days.” Their handling of these highly debated passages is consistently honest and fair. Anyone with an interest in biblical prophecy will learn much from their valuable perspective.

This review was also printed in the May-June '16 issue of Bible Study Magazine.