What is Prophecy in Modern Times?


Prophecy by Ezra Taft Benson

Excerpt from Prophecy and Modern Times by W. Cleon Skousen

Prophecy is a miracle of knowledge of events before they transpire. Prophecy is a history in reverse. It is neither speculation nor guessing, but it is a divine disclosure of future events through inspired instruments.

The Lord has known the end from the beginning. To His prophets He revealed the important events of this world from the very genesis until the end thereof. To Adam, Abraham, Enoch, the brother of Jared, Lehi and other prophets, the Lord has made clear His secrets and the blue-print of His plans for the Human family and all creation. To Joseph Smith, the prophet of the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times — the greatest of all dispensations — He said:

“Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made;
“The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes;
“I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me.”

Prophecy is recognized as a characteristic feature of the ministry in a Gospel Dispensation. A prophet is one who speaks for God under the inspiration of Heaven. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Paul declares prophecy to be one of the most desirable of all spiritual endowments.

Man has always been interested in the future. This has led to extended speculation, much of which has been fruitless and even harmful. The history of humanity has, to a large extent, been one of groping blindly in the dark, fearing for the future and yet resisting the guiding hand of inspired men who would willingly lead mankind in the path of safety. While ever seeking happiness, they have pursued their own willful ways, attempting shortcuts and trying panaceas, paying little or no attention to the more sure word of prophecy. As a result, man has felt little security as he has attempted to scan the future. His plans have been uncertain and his heart filled with anxiety.

Through the ages a kind Heavenly Father, loving His children, has pointed the way and endeavored to persuade them to hearken to the word of prophecy and escape the ills which men heap upon themselves. He has offered the enjoyment of peace of mind, security, prosperity and exaltation through obedience. At the same time, He has pointed out the disastrous results of failure to heed the warnings of the prophets.

Yes, the prophets of God have had vital messages for us in the past, as they have in the critical days of the present. In the even more critical days of the future, we will do well to heed their counsel. Had we understood and believed their words in the past, many of our difficulties might have been averted. It is well that we give sincere and prayerful consideration to the great prophecies yet to be fulfilled in the days immediately ahead — in modern times. It is these prophecies which have in them so much of interest and value to the people of our day. It behooves all to give prayerful study and attention to the inspired word of prophecy as we anxiously face an uncertain future, ever remembering the Lord’s word to the prophet Amos, that “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”