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Prophecy

23rd March 2008, gah

 

1) Prophecy of Nations as God's Evidence

God has chosen prophecy as evidence of His power and that He exists. He tells the nations of things that He is about to do, even before they come to pass (Amos 3:7, Isaiah 46:9-10; Isaiah 42:9). We can also tell if a prophet has been sent by God, as the prophecy will come true (Deuteronomy 18:18-22).

Some of the most notable prophecies of the Bible are given in the table below. There are many prophecies relating to ancient nations and, in particular, to the Jews. Many of the ancient nations have disappeared from world affairs, but the Bible said that the Jews would survive. The Jewish people still survive today in spite of many efforts to destroy them (Jeremiah 30:10-11). God has said that Israel is a witness that He exists (Isaiah 43:1,10-13).

Bible Prophecy Actual occurrence of events

There are two prophecies made concerning Babylon in the Bible. The first was made by Isaiah and the second by Jeremiah.

Isaiah, prophet to Israel (BC 760-700) wrote “Behold I am stirring the Medes up against them…and Babylon…it will never be inhabited or lived in for generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there. But wild animals will lie down there” (Isaiah 13:17-22)

Babylon shall become a heap of ruins, the haunt of jackals, a horror and an hissing, without inhabitant

Jeremiah, prophet to Judah (BC 628-586) also prophesied that Babylon would be destroyed and made waste (Jeremiah 51)

Isaiah lived in Israel between BC 760-700 at a time when Assyria was the major power near Israel. Babylon did not become the major power until Nebuchadnezzar II (605-563BC), almost 100 years after the time of Isaiah. In 539BC Cyrus the Great, the Persian King, invaded Babylon without resistance and blood. It remained the centre of Persian rule until being invaded by Alexander the Great in 331BC. From Alexander’s death in 323BC to 141BC when the Parthians took over the area, constant fighting and deportation of its residents resulted in the city falling into complete ruin.

The Medes and Persians overthrew Babylon in BC 536 almost 200 years after the prophecy made by Isaiah. Babylon at the present time resembles a desert with mazes of uncovered mounds. The Euphrates has changed course and it is surrounded by total solitude with few visitors as predicted by the Bible.

Isaiah predicted that a man named Cyrus was to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple in it (Isaiah 44:28). Cyrus was the king of Persia who made a decree for the Jews to go back to Israel and build Jerusalem and the Temple (Ezra 1:1-3)

Cyrus, the king of Persia (559-530 BC) made the decree to rebuild Jerusalem almost 200 years after Isaiah made the prophecy.

Jeremiah predicted that Judah would be taken captive for 70 years and after this they would return to their city (Jeremiah 25:8-12, 29:10-14)

The first invasion of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar was in BC 606, and in BC 536 Cyrus made the decree for the Jews to return to Jerusalem, exactly 70 years later.

Egypt would become a base nation for all time (Ezekiel 29:15). This prophecy was made BC 593-571.

For most of the past 2500 years, Egypt has been controlled by foreign powers, including the Romans, Ottomans and Europeans. It has nominally regained independence, but has never again become a great nation, being influenced by Britain, Russia, and now the USA.

Ezekiel (chapter 26) predicted in BC 587-586 that:

1. King Nebuchadnezzar would take Tyre (in modern Lebanon)

2. Other nations (in the prophecy "they") would also conquer Tyre

3. Tyre would become flat like the top of a rock

4. Tyre would become a place for spreading nets

5. Tyre’s stones and timber would be laid into the sea

6. The old city of Tyre would never be rebuilt

In 573 BC Nebuchadnezzar brought his army against Tyre and besieged it for some years. He finaly breached the walls and the city fell, but the Tyrians had moved their city to an island and continued for many years.

Alexander the Great came to conquer the island city of Tyre and seeing the old city ordered it cast into the sea to make a causeway.

He destroyed Tyre in 332 BC and brought an end to the Phoenician Empire.

Local People today fish from the rocks

The Empire was never revived or "found" again.

Daniel (BC 600-534) predicted that

1. The Babylonian Empire would fall (Daniel 5:25-31)

2. The Medo-Persian empire would rise and fall (Daniel 8:20)

3. The Greek empire would rise and fall after the Medo-Persian empire (Daniel 8:21)

4. The Greek empire would be divided into four sections (Daniel 11:4)

4. Jerusalem would be destroyed by the Romans(Daniel 8:9-11)

5. The year of crucifixion of Jesus Christ (Daniel 9:24-27)

Daniel predicted the rise and fall of Medo-Persia and Greece, prior to either empire coming to power.

Alexander the Great conquered the Medo-Persian empire in 331BC.

After Alexander’s death in 323BC Greece was divided into four major portions: Cassander ruled in Macedon, Lysimachus in Thrace, Seleucus in Mesopotamia and Persia, and Ptolemy I Soter in the Levant and Egypt.

Jerusalem was destroyed by the in AD 70

Ninevah would be flooded and become empty, waste and void (Nahum 2:6-10). This prophecy was made in 614BC.

According to the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, who lived in the First Century BC, heavy rains had caused the Tigris River to overflow and flood part of Nineveh while the Babylonians and Medes were attacking the great city around 612 BC.

A number of prophets have predicted that the nations of Israel would be scattered among the nations and then regathered, Some of these include:

Moses (Deuteronomy 28:64; 30:1-5)

Jeremiah (Jeremiah 30:10-11; 31:10)

Zechariah 12:1-11

Ezekiel 38:8,12

Amos 9:14

In 1948 Israel was proclaimed a nation by the United Nations. In 1967 they regained control over Jerusalem.

2) God’s witness of the truth: Prophecies regarding Israel

God challenges the people of the earth to bring witnesses to prove what is right and explain why the earth is. As evidence of God’s claim that He has created the earth, and caused events to come to pass on earth, He puts forward His own evidence – the witness of Israel (Isaiah 43:1-12).

From the time of Abraham God has shown evidence that He has power through His miracles. The ten plagues in Egypt are just one example of this to the people of Israel, who would have seen the events unfolding. While these miracles are most remarkable, this section will not concentrate on them, as the sceptic will claim that that they are no more than a legend and cannot be proved. Subsequently the focus will be on events that have occurred since Christ, a time from which the secular (non-Christian) Bible scholars agree that the Bible writings must have been in existence.

In addition to the Old Testament prophets, Jesus Christ makes some remarkable prophecies concerning Israel in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. The table below summarises the Bible prophecy and its fulfilment. The terms “latter days” and “last days” refer to the time just before the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Deuteronomy 28:37, 64-66 If Israel served other gods they would be scattered throughout the world and have no peace in the countries and would be in constant fear of their lives. They would be scorned and persecuted

The Jews were persecuted all throughout the Middle East, Africa and Europe, often having to move and lacking civil rights. Even today there is no culture that engenders more “controversy” than Israel.

Matthew 24:15 The temple would be invaded in Jerusalem and the daily sacrifice taken away. (Jesus is referring to Daniel 9:27)

The Romans took away the worship from the Temple by destroying it in the siege in AD70.

Luke 21:20 Jerusalem compassed about by armies

Rome besieged the walls of Jerusalem, starving the population out.

Luke 21:24,27 Jerusalem controlled by Gentiles until the Jews return, just prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ to earth.

Jerusalem was controlled by the Romans, Caliphs, Ottomans and the British until 1967

Amos 9:9 Israel would be sifted among all nations, like corn sifted in a sieve

After AD70 the Jews fled to all parts of the earth. Israel is now the most multi-cultural country on earth due to the places that the Jews have returned from.

Leviticus 26:33-34 While the Jews were scattered the land would lie waste

When the Jews starting returning in the late 1800’s the country was barren and desert.

Hosea 3:4-5 Israel would be for a long time without a King and the Temple and after this they would return

They have no king, instead being a democracy. There has been no temple worship and sacrifice since AD70.

Zechariah 10:9 Israel would remember God in the far countries where they were scattered.

The Jews maintained their separateness and worshipped at synagogues.

Jeremiah 30:7,10, 24; Ezekiel 11:17 & 37:11-28 God would regather the Jews from all over the world and place them in the land of Israel in the “latter days”

The dispersion of the Jews was to be for a long time, and they would return to the land of Israel from all over the world just before the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Zechariah 10:10 Israel would return to the land of Gilead and Lebanon and completely fill it.

Israel now occupies the land of Gilead and southern Lebanon.

Amos 9:14 Israel would return and waste cities and plant vines and gardens.

Israel is famous fro advanced agricultural practice, specfically for wine, and has transformed the arid land into an agricultural land

Jeremiah 16:16 Israel would be regathered first by fishers and then by hunters

Fishers included Herzl’s Zionist movement, the Balfour Declaration and hunters included Hitler who forced them to flee or lose their lives in Europe

Ezek 36:20 The Gentiles would say that Israel was scattered from the land because of their unbelief.

Gentles since before the Crusades have sought to control the land and have derided the Jews for being responsible for the death of Jesus Christ.

Ezek 36:22 Israel would return in unbelief of God.

Statics from Israel show that approximately 5% are Orthodox and 12% are religious. The remainder have some belief but do not adhere to the Law or are secular or atheist.

Ezekiel 37:11-28 Israel would return as one nation, not as two kingdoms.

In 1947 Israel was granted the land of Palestine by a UN mandate. (Britain, who controlled Palestine at the time, abstained from the UN vote.) Israel is one nation.

Zechariah 12:3 Israel, specifically Jerusalem, is to be a burdensome stone to the world

Israel accounts for more UN resolutions that any other country (over 80% of UN resolutions)

Isaiah 34:8 speaks of the controversy of Zion (Jerusalem).

Israel, specifcally Jerusalem, is the cause of controversy to peace in the Middle East despite its insignificance in size and resources.

Ezekiel 38:8, 14 In the “latter days” when Israel has returned, they will be dwelling safely, and at this time will be invaded (still future – battle of Armageddon which will bring the return of Jesus. Joel 3:1-2, Zechariah 14:1-4)

Israel now dwells in relative safety, although with strong security.

Sceptics have claimed that the resettlement of Palestine by the Jews is their deliberate choice to resettle there as a result of their own belief in the Old Testament prophets that they are to return prior to the coming of the Messiah in the latter days. However history has shown that this alone would not have been enough to found the nation of Israel. Reasons for this include:

1. The second Aliyah (1904-1914), a reaction of the Zionist movement, saw 40,000 Jews return to Israel. The third Aliyah (1919-1923) saw another 40,000 return and a fourth Aliyah (1924-1929) another 82,000. Belief in Zionism could stir less than 200,000 Jews back to Palestine. It was not until the rise of Nazism in Germany that the Fifth Aliyah (1929-1939) saw 250,000 return to Palestine. The presence of a “Hunter” had been required to stir the Jews from Europe.

2. Britain held a Mandate over Palestine at the time of World War II. By their White Paper of 1939 they limited Jewish immigration to 75,000 per year and restricted purchase of land by the Jews. Jews attempting to flee from Europe by ship were turned back in 1947 (eg Struma and Exodus).

3. Following the UN 1948 Partition Mandate, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon declared war on Israel. Despite being out numbered and with inadequate military supplies the Jews successfully defended their position. Since 1948 Israel has successfully defended itself in the 1967 Six Day War, against the Egyptian and Syrian invasion forces in 1973 and Lebanon in 1982. The Arabs have vowed since 1948 to run the Jews into the Sea and despite being overwhelming the greater force have not succeeded. Interestingly the animosity of the Arab countries resulted in the expulsion of over 850,000 Jews from the Arab countries and Iran. Many of these returned to Israel.

4. Over 6 million Jews were killed in Europe, leaving a world wide population of approximately 11 million. By the end of WWII there were approximately 600,000 in Israel, a small percentage of the total number of Jews worldwide. Today the Jewish population in Israel numbers over 5 million. The majority of these have no religious reason to return, as under 20% are Orthodox or considered to be “religious”. Many, such as those from East Europe and Russia have returned for economic reasons.

5. The State of Israel was declared by a UN Partition Mandate in 1948. The UN Partition needed a majority vote of two thirds to be passed. 33 countries voted for Partition, 13 against and 6 abstained (including Britain). The State of Israel was decided by a majority international vote, not by any internal means, political or religious desire or war.

3) Prophecies about Jesus Christ

There is general consistency throughout the Bible regarding individuals, nations, events and the purpose of God and Jesus Christ. Just one of the consistent themes is the role and life of Jesus Christ. The table below shows the consistency in theme between the Old and New Testaments about Jesus.

Old Testament Prophecy

New Testament Fulfilment

Malachi 3:1 A messenger would be sent before Messiah.

Matthew 3:3 John the Baptist came before Jesus

Numbers 24:17, Deut. 18:15 God would send a prophet from the tribe of Judah.

Matthew 2:6 Jesus was from the tribe of Judah

Isaiah 7:14 A virgin would conceive the Son of God

Matthew 1:23

Micah 5:2 Jesus would be born in Bethlehem Ephratah

Matthew 2:5

Jeremiah 31:15 Mourning of the death of children at Ramah

Matthew 2:18

Hosea 11:1 Jesus would live in Egypt as a child

Matthew 2:15

Isaiah 9:1-2 Jesus would live and preach in Galilee

Matthew 2:22-23

Daniel 9:24-27 Messiah’s would confirm the covenant 3.5 years (1 week = 1 year)

Jesus ministry lasted 3.5 years

Zechariah 11:12 Sold for 30 pieces of silver

Matthew 27:9

Psalm 22:8 Scorning at Mesiah’s crucifixion

Psalm 22:14 Poured out like water

Psalm 22:18 Parting of garments by lot

Matthew 27:39-43

John 19:34

Matthew 27:35

Isaiah 53:8 Jesus would be put to death even though he was not guilty

Matthew 27:24

Isaiah 53:9 Messiah’s death would be with the wicked and his grave with the rich

Matthew 27:38, 57-59

Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10 Jesus would be raised again from the dead on the third day

Matthew 12:40, Luke 24:46

4) Prophecies regarding Christianity

Matthew 24:9, Revelation 6:9 Deliver Christians up to be killed and persecuted

Early Christians were persecuted by the Jews and Romans.

Revelation 12:13 Persecution of Christians by the dragon (woman = true believers, dragon = Rome cp 4th beast of Daniel 7:7, 20-25)

Persecution of Christians by Pagan Rome

Revelation 13 Persecution of true believers by apostate Christianity (beast = Papal Rome)

Power passes from Pagan Rome to Papal Rome. The Catholic Church persecutes Christians and will not allow any other doctrine.

1 Timothy 4:1-3 In the last days people will depart from the Gospel. Forbidding to marry would be one false doctrine.

2 Timothy 4:3 People would prefer to follow myths

The Catholic Church has a celibate clergy and has a system based on many false doctrines and myths (eg Mary mother of God, paying for remission of sins, confession, no salvation outside of the Church, the Trinity, hellfire, and heaven going).

2 Peter 3:3 The “last days” would see scoffers of Christianity

Matthew 18:8 “Last days” will have lack of faith

Since the return of Israel in 1948 more and more people have turned away from Christianity and do not believe.

2 Timothy 3:1- 7 In the last days people would love themselves and money, be proud, arrogant, abusive, ungodly, heartless, without self control, lovers of pleasures.

Society is taught that the most important person is “me”, suffers from affluenza, has little care for others, but a lot for their own fun.

Luke 17:26-28 The last days would be like the days of Noah and Lot, eating and drinking, buying, selling and building

Obesity is an epidemic, and retail is the growth industry and people are building

Daniel 12:4 In the last days knowledge would be increased, and there would be much running to and fro

The last 100 years has seen an exponential growth in knowledge and passage of information (especially since the internet). International travel is undertaken by the average person via airline.

Matthew 24:14 The Gospel would be preached throughout the entire world

The Bible is in over 210o languages and Christianity has been preached to remote tribes.

Isaiah 42:1, Matthew 12:21 Gentiles would follow Jesus

Despite Jesus deliberately only preaching to the Jews, it is the Gentiles who follow him, not the Jews.

Luke 21:29 Israel would return in the last days before return of Christ (fig tree = Israel)

Israel was named a state in 1948. This is the sign the Jesus will return soon.

Luke 21:26 The last days before the return of Christ will see people in fear with distress of nations, turmoil and war

September 11, terrorism, global warming, war in Iraq, 2005 Tsunami, Chernobyl

5) Proof vs Evidence

The Bible itself tells us that there is no clear proof that God exists, rather that we require faith to believe in God. Paul says that it is by faith that we believe that creation occurred by the word of God (Hebrews 11:3). All throughout the New Testament both Jesus and the apostles refer to this belief by having faith and this very faith appears to be foolishness to those that do not believe (1 Corinthians 1:18-28).

Paul writes about the progression of believing and having faith and that faith comes from first hearing the word of God (Romans 10:14-21). Paul goes on further and discusses the practical response of the people that do hear about the word of God and how some will never respond because they choose not to know God. God doesn’t want us to have a faith based on unblinding trust, but to have a faith based on evidence and personal experience of Him acting in our lives. When the Jews doubted that Jesus was the son of God, Jesus replied that his works (miracles) were given as evidence to them that he had power which could only come from God (John 10:38). Trust in God is like any relationship, it is two way and is developed over a period of time through personal experience and evidence that what they are saying to us is correct.

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