Arguably the most compelling of evidences demonstrating that the Bible is the word of God is its unswerving ability to accurately predict future events, often in minute details. Specific prophesies are conspicuously absent from the 26 other religious books that claim to be scripture, including the Muslim’s Koran, the Book of Mormon, the Hindu Vedas, and Buddhist writings1. This in itself should be a major eye-opener to the honest skeptic. God through the prophet Isaiah once challenged the pagan idolaters of that time to “tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods (Isaiah 41:23).”
The Jewish Nation
Perhaps the greatest and most obvious testimony to the accuracy of Biblical prophecy is provided by the people and nation of Israel. The Jews went without a homeland for 1900 years, just as God had promised numerous times in the Old Testament2, as a reluctant judgment on His rebellious chosen people. Moses warned Israel that if they corrupted themselves, then “the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other (Deut 28:64, KJV)”. Remarkably, this century God restored the Jews to their ancient homeland, fulfilling many other specific Old Testament prophesies3.
It is inconceivable to me how the honest skeptic could deny God’s handiwork in the history of the people of Israel. Throughout history the “wandering Jew” has been hated and despised, yet despite the unbelievable persecution they endured, the Jews somehow managed to maintain their identity such that when God’s timeclock warranted they were able to re-group as a nation in their ancient homeland. Indeed, history is replete with once great nations which were eventually overrun and defeated, but whose people were over time absorbed into the culture of the conquering nation. The fact that this did not happen to the Jews is nothing short of miraculous. There are American Jews, German Jews, Russian Jews, etc.; have you ever heard of a German Babalonian, or an American Philistine? The plight of this small percentage of humanity is certainly unique and unprecedented in the annals of world history.
Finally, who can deny the volatility of the Middle East, with Israel as the boiling point, and the worldwide focus of attention she receives. Consider for a moment that Israel is roughly the size of New Jersey, the 5th smallest state in the United States. Yet despite this, it’s extremely revealing that the United Nations has adopted 97 resolutions against Israel between 1955 and 2013, and during that same time only 4 resolutions against the rest of the world! And as Fox News reported in March 2016, the UN named democratic Israel as the world’s top human rights violator! Bear this in mind when reading the following Bible passage, written almost 2500 years ago, and also consider that this was written at a time when Jerusalem was in complete ruins:
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it… For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle (Zech 12:2-3, Zech 14:2-3 KJV).”
As noted author Dave Hunt so aptly put it:
The fulfillment of hundreds of specific prophecies in the ancient and modern history of the Jewish people is God’s great sign to mankind–a sign that no one can mistake or deny…Jewish history stands as a universal visible monument to God’s existence4.
Predicted Fate of Numerous Cities and Nations
What if I were to give you the following predictions:
1. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran) will destroy all but the island portion of New York City.
2. Many nations will fight against New York City.
3. The debris from the buildings in New York City will be thrown in the water to access Long Island.
4. New York City will be made a bare and flat like the top of a rock.
5. Fishermen will spread their nets over the heap that was once New York City.
6. New York City will never be re-built.
7. New York City’s glory will never be restored.
8. I will be laughed at and mocked, and disregarded as a lunatic.
I’m sure the last one is about the only one I would get right! I would certainly have earned my rightful place in the heap of ridicule. What is amazing is that the prophet Ezekiel made these same predictions (except for 8, of course), with Nebuchadnezzar replacing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Tyre replacing New York City/Long Island – his prophecy was fulfilled to the last detail!
At the time Ezekiel made this prophecy (Ezekiel 26), Tyre was a powerful city holding a stature much like that of New York City today. Three years after the prophecy Nebuchadnezzar indeed laid siege to the city5. The inhabitants all but abandoned the city and moved off-shore to a nearby island, where they fortified themselves and remained a powerful city for several hundred more years. During this time it must have seemed that Ezekiel’s prophecy was not wholly correct, but then came Alexander the Great, who eventually built a causeway to the island using debris from the old mainland city of Tyre!6 More conquerors were to follow7. It wasn’t until the 12th century A.D. before the final prophetic chapter was closed on the once great city of Tyre. Its fitting that a secular historian would eventually write the following:
…[Tyre] never regained the place she had previously held in the world. The larger part of the site of the once great city is now bare as the top of a rock – a place where the fishermen that still frequent the spot spread their nets to dry8.
Let’s see how well the previous description of present-day Tyre matches what the Bible had to say:
“And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD: and it shall become a spoil to the nations (Ezek 26:4-5 KJV).”
The Tyre prophecy is but one of about 1500 Old Testament prophesies of minute detail relating to cities or nations that have already been fulfilled. Anyone can verify the numerous fulfilled prophesies of such cities as Sidon, Edom, Samaria, and nations such as Egypt, Babylon, and Rome.
Speaking of Egypt, there is another prophecy also recorded in Ezekiel that I would like to share with you: “and there shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt (Ezek 30:13, KJV).” Twenty-five hundred years have passed since this prophecy, and during this period of time not one of its numerous ruling princes were Egyptian! This would be similar to my predicting that their would never again be an American elected President of the United States, and having it actually come true.
Dr. D. James Kennedy wrote of an encounter he had with a Jewish man who said he did not believe in Christ. Dr. Kennedy responded that he was sorry to hear that, and added “…Since He is the Messiah of the Jewish people who was promised in the Old Testament, you have rejected your own Messiah.” He then went on to share with the Jewish man a few verses of scripture:
“All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him (Ps 22:7-8)”
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isa 53:5)”
“Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me (Ps 41:9).”
“They have pierced my hands and my feet (Ps 22:16).”
“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (Isa 53:12).”
“They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son (Zech 12:10).”
When Dr. Kennedy finished reading these scriptures to the Jewish man, he asked him to whom these verses were referring to. The man responded that “Obviously they are talking about Jesus… So what?”. Dr. Kennedy then pointed out that all the verses he had just read to him were from the Old Testament! The man was stunned and demanded to see the passages with his own eyes9.
According to secular sources, crucifixion was invented as a method of capital punishment no earlier than the 6th century BC10. This is 4 centuries after David wrote in Psalms 22:16, “They have pierced my hands and my feet”. Even if critics try to persuade against a 1000 BC date for Psalms 22, they can’t deny this Psalm existed in the Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls that were translated around 200 BC11. Does the critic really want to try to convince us that a Jesus pretender would want to self-fulfill such a terrible way to die?
The Old Testament contains 333 prophesies regarding the Messiah, most of which were fulfilled by the first coming of Jesus Christ. Even the most liberal critics acknowledge that these prophesies were written at least 400 years before Christ. Mathematicians have easily shown that the odds of all these prophesies being fulfilled by chance in one man is greater than the number of atoms in the universe many times over.
New Age “Prophets”
Some critics will point to the “success” of non-biblical “prophets” such as Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and Jeane Dixon, to name a few. A careful and subjective check of their methods, however, reveals that their predictions were really no better than you or I or the local fortune-teller could make. Take Jeane Dixon, for example. The prediction that made her famous, regarding the assassination of JFK, was really not that amazing after all. She predicted that “the Democratic contender will win, but he will be assassinated or die in office, though not necessarily in the first term”. Considering the history of past presidents, and the fact that she allowed 8 years for the event to occur, her chance of success was 7 to 3! She also prophesied that WWIII would begin in 1954, Nixon would defeat Kennedy (contradicting her earlier prediction!), and Jacqueline Kennedy would not marry Aristotle Onasis (she married him the next day!). This is but a handful of her false prophesies.
These “prophets” were also frequently so vague in the predictions they made that you could mold them into about any historical event you wanted. Its amazing to read about the events that Nostradamus supposedly prophesied about, then compare the details of the event with what Nostradamus actually wrote. You’re left asking, how in the heck did they draw those conclusions?! Note that these “experts” on Nostradamus’s work were only able to make their claims after the supposedly predicted event had passed. This complete lack of a priori analysis, coupled with the incredibly vague nature of the Nostradamus “prophesies”, should be more than enough reason for the honest inquirer to dismiss any claims of prophetic success put forth by Nostradamus’s advocates12. In contrast, most of the Biblical prophesies are specific and detailed, with quite a few interpreted a priori13.
To the Christian the afore-mentioned individuals are easily exposed as false prophets based on the Biblical tests for a prophet. The Bible forbids the use of occult artifacts, which all were guilty of, and more importantly,
“If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him. (Deut 18:22)”
The Bible contains over 2000 prophesies that have been fulfilled, many with very specific details. One must ask himself why he would remain skeptical in light of this incontrovertible evidence. It would seem that if someone was honestly seeking the truth, it would certainly be a worthwhile effort to to at least investigate a handful of these prophesies. Psalm 22 would be a good start – it contains several prophesies describing Christ’s crucifixion, a method of execution that wasn’t invented until several centuries after King David wrote about it. A Bible and an encyclopedia is all one would need to verify the prophetic accuracy of Psalm 22.
“Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, ‘My idols did them; my wooden image and metal god ordained them (Isaiah 48:5).”
1. A few religious books contain a handful of vague or silly “prophesies”. For example, Buddhist scripture contains the following “At that time happiness, like beholding the sun, in this Tibet will occur, I think” – Prophecy of the Fifth Karmapa, Deshin Shekpa. The Koran contains a prophecy that Mohammed will return to Mecca, which is of course self-fulfilling! The Mormon “Doctrine and Covenants” scripture contains some prophecies that utterly failed (see ‘One Nation Under Gods’, Richard Abanes, 2002, pp 461-467 for a long list of failed prophecies by Joseph Smith)
2. Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 4:27, 28:64, 32:26; Kings 14:15, Nehemiah 1:8, Psalm 106:27, Jeremiah 9:16, etc.
3. Jeremiah 30:3,10,11; 31:8-10; Ezekiel 4:3-6, 11:17, 28:25, etc.
4. Dave Hunt, How Close Are We?, 1993, Harvest House Publishers, pg 27, 29
5. “After a 13 year siege (585-573 BC) by Nebuchadrezzar II, Tyre made terms and acknowledged Babylonian suzerainty.” – Encyclopedia Britannica Online
6. “Alexander the Great… completely destroyed the mainland portion of the town and used its rubble to build an immense causeway (some 2,600 feet [800 metres] long and 600–900 feet [180–270 metres] wide) to gain access to the island section.” – Encyclopedia Britannica Online
7. Attackers/conquerors: Nebuchadnezzar (573BC), Alexander the Great (332BC), Seleucids (200BC), Romans (64BC), Crusaders (1124AD), Muslim Arabs (1291AD), from Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
8. Philip Myers, General History for Colleges and High Schools, Boston: Ginn and Company, 1889, pg 55
9. D. James Kennedy, Skeptics Answered, Multnomah Publishers, 1997, pgs 39-41
10. “crucifixion, an important method of capital punishment, particularly among the Persians, Seleucids, Carthaginians, and Romans from about the 6th century bce to the 4th century ce” – Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
11. “Analysis of the language has established that the Torah, or Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), was translated near the middle of the 3rd century bc and that the rest of the Old Testament was translated in the 2nd century bc.” – Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
12. For more information about Nostradamus’s alleged prophesies, search Google for failed prophesies.
13. For example, Biblical scholars have predicted that the Jewish temple would be rebuilt in the later days (Revelation), which is amazingly about to happen before our very eyes!