God calls prophets to teach His commandments, warn against sin, and prophesy of future events. The Bible records many prophecies that have already been fulfilled as well as many that have yet to happen. Many biblical prophecies center on Jesus Christ, His life, and His role in the destiny of all humankind.
The Bible teaches, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). This has been His pattern from the beginning: “He spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began” (Luke 1:70). Because God wants His children to learn, grow, and prosper, He provides warnings, revelations, and instructions through His prophets.
Prophets can foretell important events in order to warn the people. Heeding the words of the prophets can help us be prepared for what’s to come. When we see certain prophecies come to pass, it can also help us strengthen our faith in God’s word. In the Bible, we read of many prophecies that have been fulfilled in history as well as revelations about events that are yet to come.
The scriptures teach us that the Lord calls prophets “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, [and] for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). Prophets teach us and remind us how to become better and, ultimately, happier.
God continues to demonstrate His love for us by sending us the messages we need right now. Living prophets receive revelation from God and give instructions and counsel to all people today. In recent years, prophets and apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have given counsel about being prepared for difficult times ahead, financial prudence, the importance of education, marriage and family relationships, and finding and maintaining faith during personal trials.
Long before Jesus’s birth, ancient prophets foretold many events related to His role and mission. These prophecies were given so people would recognize Jesus when He came and have faith in Him as their Savior. Isaiah in the Old Testament wrote about Jesus 700 years before His birth: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). He further declared, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Other Old Testament prophets foretold Jesus’s life in remarkable detail. Micah knew the Savior would be born in Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2). Hosea spoke of the time Jesus would spend in Egypt as a child (see Hosea 11:1). The book of Psalms talks about how Jesus would speak in parables and would be rejected by His own people (see Psalm 69:8; 78:2). Another of Isaiah’s beautiful prophecies spoke of Jesus's role and sacrifice: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. ... He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4–5).
All of God’s prophets have testified of Jesus. Old Testament prophets described events that would occur hundreds of years later. Isaiah foretold how Jesus would be mocked, spat upon, and struck (see Isaiah 50:6). The prophet Zechariah knew that He would be crucified and yet would pray for His enemies (see Zechariah 12:10). Most importantly, prophets throughout the Bible taught God’s message that Jesus Christ would be resurrected (see Isaiah 25:8) and that because of Him, we will be resurrected too (see Isaiah 26:19; Job 19:26).
Moses warned the pharaoh that unless the Israelites were freed, the Egyptians would be afflicted with sickness, pestilence, and ultimately the death of their firstborn sons (see Exodus 7–12). Each of these prophecies came to pass. The pharaoh told Moses to leave Egypt with the Israelites, and Moses parted the Red Sea so they could flee to safety.
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah foretold the destruction of Jerusalem (see Jeremiah 25:2, 9–11). History records that the Babylonians did indeed demolish Jerusalem in 587 BC. The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi also warned people of Jerusalem’s impending destruction. Because of this revelation he received from God, Lehi and his family fled Jerusalem. The history of him and his family is recorded in the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ.
An apostasy is a period when God’s authority is not found on the earth. After Jesus was resurrected and ascended into heaven, His disciples knew He would one day return as He had said. However, the Apostle Paul taught that the Church Jesus established would fall away before Christ came again: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). This apostasy occurred in the centuries after Jesus’s original Apostles, who held His priesthood authority, died or were killed.
While God knew that His priesthood authority, prophets, and the full gospel of Jesus Christ would be gone from the earth for a time, He also promised that they would one day be reestablished. Peter in the New Testament promised that in the last days, there would come “the times of restitution [or restoration] of all things” (Acts 3:21). This restoration of Jesus’s gospel began in 1820 when God called the Prophet Joseph Smith and restored His priesthood authority on the earth. Since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in 1830, it has been led by a living prophet.
The prophet Ezekiel revealed that the writings of the descendants of Judah (the Bible) and the writings of the descendants of Joseph (the Book of Mormon) would one day come together to unify His people in righteousness. “Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand” (see Ezekiel 37:16–17). Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon teach us about God and Jesus Christ and how we can return to live with Them.
While the establishment of Christ’s kingdom on the earth has begun, it’s not finished yet. Daniel of the Old Testament prophesied that God’s kingdom would grow until it had “filled the whole earth” and that it “shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:35, 44). Jesus Himself prophesied that “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world” (Matthew 24:14). To fulfill that prophecy and take the gospel to all the world, the Lord calls missionaries.
The Lord warned the people of Israel through Moses that if they did not heed His words, He would “scatter [them] among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other” (Deuteronomy 28:64). However, God also promised, “I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them” (Jeremiah 23:3). God gathers His children together with the help of Church members and missionaries who teach them truths about God’s plan. When people are baptized into Christ’s Church, they become part of the house of Israel and are spiritually gathered.
God sent angels to Christ’s original Apostles to declare, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). The Savior will one day come again in power and glory to claim His kingdom and judge all people. This day is known as the Second Coming. Prophets have spoken of it from the beginning. In the Old Testament, Zechariah prophesied that on that day “the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one” (Zechariah 14:9).
The exact timing of Jesus’s coming is unknown. Jesus said, “Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). But we do know through prophets that the return of Jesus will mark the culmination of God’s plan and will be marvelous to those who have waited for Him. “Every knee should bow ... and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10–11). Then, “God will wipe away tears from off all faces” (Isaiah 25:8) and the righteous shall enjoy their eternal reward.