Most people are interested in prophecy. Who wouldn’t want to know the future? This is from a series of posts but Dr. Jon Paulien who gives a valuable perspective on this topic.
Q2. Has every apocalyptic prophecy already been understood or there are open gaps that are not understood yet?
A. In my book What the Bible Says About the End-Time, I studied fulfilled prophecy throughout the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation. The results of that study are also summarized in the second chapter of The Deep Things of God. In short, I learned that the fulfillment of many prophecies was quite surprising to those who had studied them in advance, for a number of reasons. God sometimes fulfills prophecies in a spiritual, rather than a literal way. Sometimes the prophecy is worded in terms of God’s past actions and does not fully disclose God’s plans for the future. Sometimes the prophecy is open-ended and depends to some degree on the human response to the prophecy. Sometimes God simply decides to “do a new thing” (Isa 43:16-19)! Prophecy is best understood at the time of fulfillment, not before (John 13:19; 14:29).
This leads me to believe that even when we have fully understood a particular prophecy, events may not turn out exactly as we expect. There will be surprises in the fulfillment of God’s prophecies at the Second Advent, just as there were when the Messiah came the first time. We need to keep on studying, but anticipate that there will be gaps in our understanding of the future right up to the time of fulfillment (1 Cor 13:9-12). Prophecy was not given to satisfy our curiosity about the future, it was given to teach us how to live today.