The English word prophet is used to translate the Old Testament Hebrew word pronounced naw-bee, meaning inspired seer, and the New Testament Greek word pronounced prof-ay-tace, meaning an inspired speaker (inspired being an abbreviation of in-spirit-ed). Unlike the numerous false prophets that existed throughout Bible History, and continue to exist through our time and beyond, God's true prophets were always sent directly by Him to deliver His message, not their own e.g. "do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but The Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matthew 10:19-20 RSV).
God's prophets did not live easy lives. Most were persecuted, ridiculed, often living in grave danger for their lives, and nearly all were ignored - until it was too late. The message of God's true prophets was not, and will not be, well received by most people. If it was, there would be little need for a prophet in the first place. Usually, their purpose was to warn and reprimand a very sinful and unrepentant people to stop doing what they were doing before it was too late.
Fully 17 of the Old Testament's 39 books are classified as prophetic:
Malachi. All of the other 22 books are also filled with prophecy. Elijah and Elisha were two of the most powerful prophets of that time (see Why Elijah?).
The New Testament is also filled with Prophecy. Beginning with John The Baptist, a prophet whose own coming was prophesied by an earlier prophet over 700 years before (Isaiah 40:3-5), the Gospels, Acts, epistles, and Revelation are filled with prophecy for our time now.
The Greatest Prophet Of All
Jesus Christ, while being the focus of prophecy, was Himself a prophet. His "Olivet Prophecy" describes what is just over the horizon for all the world now:
"Jesus left the Temple and was going away, when His disciples came to point out to Him the buildings of the Temple. But He answered them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down." (Note: This prophecy was fulfilled, 40 years later, exactly as The Lord said it would, when the Roman Legions devastated Jerusalem. See Fall of Jerusalem In 70 A.D. and Temples)
"As He sat on The Mount Of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the close of the age?"
"And Jesus answered them, "Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in My Name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs." (see Earthquake!)
"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for My Name's sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. And this Gospel of The Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all Nations; and then the end will come." (see What Is A Saint? and Apostasy)
"So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place, let the reader understand, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. And alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath." (see Daniel's Statue and The Lawless One)
"For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. Then if any one says to you, 'Lo, here is the Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Lo, I have told you beforehand." (see False Christs)
"So, if they say to you, 'Lo, he is in the wilderness,' do not go out; if they say, 'Lo, he is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together." (see The Return Of Jesus Christ)
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matthew 24:1-31 RSV) (see Signs In The Heavens and The Elect)
Fact Finder: Does God do anything without first revealing His intentions to His servants the prophets?