In this edition of “Know Your Bible”, we examine some prophecies fulfilled and preview those to come.
The Bible – The Inspired Word of God
Part 2 Prophecy
Some facts to consider
• The Old Testament of the Bible was definitely completed over 200 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) bears historical witness to this.
• The Dead Sea Scrolls support the dating of the Old Testament.
• That Jesus Christ existed, preached the gospel and was killed is attested outside the Bible record by contemporary historians.
Both Josephus and Tacitus record the existence of Jesus (called) the Christ.
Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, written around 93–94 AD, includes two references to the biblical Jesus in Books 18 and 20.
Roman historian Tacitus referred to ‘Christus’ and his execution by Pontius Pilate in his Annals (written ca. AD 116), book 15, chapter 44.
From these historically provable facts we can now test whether God can actually foretell the future, realising that predictions made in the Old Testament were made at least 250 years before they were fulfilled in the New Testament. A prophecy of the crucifixion of Christ Consider the minute detail set out in this prophecy in Psalm 22 regarding the crucifixion of Christ and the way each detail was fulfilled. This psalm was written by King David 1000 years before it was fulfilled.
Psalm 22 Event Where Fulfilled
verse 1 The words that Christ would speak on the cross Matthew 27:46
verses 7,8 The actions and words of the Jews at the foot of the cross Matthew 27:39–43
verse 16 The actual mode of death – by crucifixion Matthew 27:35; John 19:23
verse 18 The way that his clothes would be parted John19:23–24; Matthew 27:35
It would be impossible for a man to predict these events in such detail. The only other explanation would require us to believe that Jesus himself, the Jewish rulers who denied his claim to be the Messiah, and the pagan Roman soldiers all collaborated to perform the crucifixion of Jesus so that they might fulfil an Old Testament prophecy, and so deceive people into believing that the Bible was the word of God. This is neither logical nor rational.
Psalm 22 not only predicted the crucifixion of Christ but also, in verse 22, his resurrection.
Some prophecies concerning the nations
The prophet Isaiah lived in Israel between BC 760–700. In his day the two major powers in the world were Assyria in the north and Egypt in the south.
In his 13th chapter God revealed through him the rise and later the fall of Babylon. We need to realise that his prediction that Babylon would become a major power was made at least 100 years before the event. However his prophecy does not only concern the rise of Babylon but also its overthrow by the Medes. The Medes overthrew Babylon in BC 536; so this prediction was made nearly 200 years before it took place.
Not only did Isaiah tell of the destruction of Babylon, but he said that the city would remain uninhabited and desolate. This was a remarkable prediction for a city which in its day was one of the wonders of the ancient world (Isaiah 13:17–22).
Yet this is not all! Isaiah also gave the name of the king who would overthrow Babylon—a man named Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1–2). Added to this, Isaiah told of the decree that Cyrus would make, urging Jews scattered in
his empire to return to Jerusalem and build again the Temple which the Babylonians had destroyed (Isaiah 44:27–28; Ezra 1:1–4).
These prophecies go far beyond what man can predict. Only God can foretell the future.
Consider what such a prophecy would mean in today’s world.
It would necessitate:
• predicting the nation which would be the ruling world power 100 years
• then predicting the nation that would overthrow this first power 200
years from now
• naming the ruler of this second nation
• stating a decree that he would make when he came to power.
Obviously this is impossible for man to predict. However, God through His prophet Isaiah did exactly this. Thus God can not only predict the future, but is also able to bring it to pass with amazing accuracy.
Daniel’s remarkable prophecies
Daniel lived between BC 600–534. His prophecy foretold:
• the fall of the Babylonian Empire (Daniel 5:25–31)
• the rise and fall of the Medo-Persian Empire (Daniel 8:20)
• the rise and fall of the Grecian Empire (Daniel 8:21)
• the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70 (Daniel 8:9–11)
• the year of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (Daniel 9:24–27).
The accuracy of Daniel’s prophecies has amazed people who have been genuinely searching for truth, and has presented a great difficulty to the sceptic and atheist.
What has God predicted for the future?
We can read the Bible with confidence, knowing that as God has fulfilled His prophecies in the past, He will just as surely fulfil what He has predicted for the future.
Here is a brief preview of events predicted for our age.
• There will be a collapse of morality and decency in society (Luke 17:26–30)
• The Jews will return to the land of Israel, with Jerusalem becoming the centre of international tension (Zechariah 12:2–3; Ezekiel 38:8,12)
• Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly to the earth (Acts 1:9–11)
• God will establish His Kingdom on this earth which will replace man’s rule (Daniel 2:44)
• This Kingdom will fulfil the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9–10)
• Jerusalem will be the capital of this Kingdom (Jeremiah 3:17)
• Jesus Christ will be King in that day (Revelation 11:15,18)
• In that day the people of the world will willingly learn of God’s way and there will be no more war (Isaiah 2:2–4).
Is there a personal message in the Bible for us?
Yes, there is. God offers men and women the hope of sharing this new world order with the Lord Jesus Christ when he returns. This message of hope is called the Gospel, which means the good news of the coming Kingdom of God, and salvation from sin and death through the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the message that Christ and his disciples preached (Mark 16:15–16).