Scriptures

Fulfilled Bible Prophecy

Introduction

One of the great proofs of the inspiration of the Bible is fulfilled prophecy. Prophecy is history written beforehand. When a prediction of future events comes to pass hundreds of years later it is a strong indication that the prophet possessed a supernatural power.

Occasionally someone might make a lucky guess, but when dozens of predictions are accurately fulfilled the possibility of chance is entirely removed. The Bible contains dozens of fulfilled prophecies which must convince us that its writers were divinely inspired.

For any prophecy to be unquestionably true, several conditions must be met.

1. It must be beyond the power of men to foresee.

2. It must not be a vision of hope or fear.

3. It must not be a scientific or political forecast. The amazing predictions of Jules Verne in foretelling the day of the submarine and similar inventions were simply scientific forecasts and therefore not true prophecies.

4. The prophecy must be clear and its fulfilment plain. If it is capable of many explanations it does not constitute proof of the inspiration of its author.

For the purpose of this study we will confine ourselves to prophecies thus far fulfilled. Prophecies are generally written in symbolic or allegorical language. While most of the Bible is to be understood in a literal sense unless there is evidence in the context indicating otherwise, prophecy is seldom to be taken literally.

If the interpretation is not given with the prophecy, its fulfilment may not be clear until after the events which is depicts have come to pass. An excellent example of fulfilled prophecy is found in Daniel 2. It is the prophecy of the great image.

The great image

This prophecy had its inception in a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The king forgot his dream and Daniel was called in to explain it. He not only reminded Nebuchadnezzar of what he had dreamed, but also gave him its interpretation.

In the dream the king saw a great image. The head was of fine gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet part of iron and part of clay. Then the king saw a stone cut out without hands which smote the feet of the image, breaking them in pieces, and completely destroying the rest of the image. The stone then became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Daniel’s explanation was that the image represented four kingdoms. The first one, signified by the head of gold, was that headed by Nebuchadnezzar. It was to be succeeded by a second kingdom represented by the silver and the third one of brass. The fourth would be both as strong as iron and as brittle as clay. The little stone cut without hands was to be a kingdom which the God of heaven would set up in the days of the fourth kingdom

‘that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.’ Daniel 2:44

One writer has said of this,

‘One who does not know that here the correspondence of prediction and history is perfect is ignorant of the simplest elements of history.’ (The Divine Demonstration, Everest – pg. 295, 296.)

The prophecy was fulfilled when the great Babylonian kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar

‘the head of gold’

fell to the Medes and Persians ‘the breast and arms of silver’. Alexander the Great, with his brazen-coated soldiers, then overthrew the Persian kingdom ad established in its place the Greek

‘the belly and thighs of brass’.

The fourth kingdom, both strong and brittle, was the Roman Empire. It was the last of these four great universal empires which succeeded one another.

It was both strong enough that it became the greatest of all, and yet brittle enough that it crumbled without any great strength being launched against it. The little stone which broke in pieces the great image is the kingdom of Christ, or the church, which God set up in the days of the Roman Empire. Unlike the other kingdoms which were temporal, it is spiritual.

As predicted by Daniel, it will never be destroyed, but

‘will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end.’

It has been said that

‘Christianity is a growth in the world rather than a revolution or a conquest; yet a growth such as the world had not seen before.’

The similarity here between prophecy and historical events is amazing. Remember that Daniel’s revelation was prior to the establishment of all but one of these kingdoms.

The Jews

Before Moses died, he called the children of Israel together. He told them that God would bless them or curse them in accordance with their obedience to him. They chose to disobey and received the curses rather than the blessings. Several examples from Deuteronomy 28 follows:

‘You will become a thing of horror, a byword and an object of ridicule among all the peoples where the LORD will drive you.’ Deuteronomy 28:37

An example of this is the characters of Shylock and Fagin in fiction.

‘The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young.’ Deuteronomy 28:49-50

This was fulfilled in the Roman conquest of Palestine in 63 B.C. and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

As predicted, the Romans came from a great distance and spoke the Latin tongue which Israel could not understand. Their ensign was the eagle, the bird mentioned in this prophecy. The Jewish historian Josephus, who lived through the siege of Jerusalem, says of the ferocity of the Romans,

‘They did not so much as spare young children.’ ‘They slew those whom they overtook, without mercy, and set fire to the houses whither the Jews were fled and burnt every soul in them.’ ‘But together with those whom they had orders to slay, they slew the aged and infirm.’

‘The afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For in her dire need she intends to eat them secretly because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of your cities.’ Deuteronomy 28:57

This verse tells us it was prophesied that in a siege a mother would eat her own child. Josephus tells us how this actually happened in this disaster which according to his testimony, took over a million lives.

‘Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known. Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart.’ Deuteronomy 28:64-65

The fulfilment is so well known as to hardly need comment. The Jews have been scattered throughout the world, have been forced to live in ghettos, and millions have paid with their lives in persecutions. Truly, in their wanderings the sole of their foot has found no rest.

Nineveh

Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, once the world’s greatest city. It is unlikely that in all history there has been a more evil and hated city. The atrocities of King Assurbanipal were so terrible as to bring horror even to the hearts of the most hardened.

Once he cut off the hands, feet, ears and noses of the people of a conquered city, put out their eyes and raised two mounds outside the city, one of human heads and one of human limbs. Then he burned all the children with fire. Small wonder that God determined to destroy the wicked city.

At its zenith, Nahum and Zephaniah prophesied the utter destruction of Nineveh. Nahum said,

‘All who see you will flee from you and say, ‘Nineveh is in ruins—who will mourn for her?’ Where can I find anyone to comfort you?’ Nahum 3:7

Zephaniah predicted,

‘He will stretch out his hand against the north and destroy Assyria, leaving Nineveh utterly desolate and dry as the desert. Flocks and herds will lie down there, creatures of every kind. The desert owl and the screech owl will roost on her columns. Their hooting will echo through the windows, rubble will fill the doorways, the beams of cedar will be exposed. This is the city of revelry that lived in safety. She said to herself, ‘I am the one! And there is none besides me.’ What a ruin she has become, a lair for wild beasts! All who pass by her scoff and shake their fists.’ Zephaniah 2:13-15

Two hundred years later when Xenophon passed by the ruins of Nineveh, he took the debris for the ruins of some Parthian city.

When Alexander the Great fought the battle of Arbela a short distance away, after Nineveh had been laid waste, he did not even know he was close to what had once been the world’s greatest city. Other cities have continued to the present time, but Nineveh has fallen, never to rise again.

Babylon

The Babylonian Empire succeeded the Assyrian. The Bible several times predicts the end of Babylon. A graphic illustration is Isaiah 13:19-21.

‘Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; there no nomads will pitch their tents, there no shepherds will rest their flocks. But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about.’

At that time Babylon was the queen city of the world. Its famed hanging gardens were renowned as one of the seven wonders of the world. It was fifteen miles on each side, a tremendous size for an ancient city and had walls 300 feet high and 80 feet thick extending 35 feet below the ground.

Yet this great city was so utterly destroyed that only a cheerless waste now greets the eyes of those who come to see its remains. One traveller said of it,

‘Nothing is left of Babylon, but heaps of earth trodden under foot of men!’

How could any prophecy be more explicitly fulfilled than that of Isaiah regarding Babylon!

The destruction of the temple

Mark writes of Jesus,

‘As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!’ ‘Do you see all these great buildings?’ replied Jesus. ‘Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.’ Mark 13:1-2

This prophecy was in general circulation in three of the Gospels several years before the Jewish temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. Josephus tells us that the stones of the temple were ‘white and strong’, 37 feet long, eight feet high, and 18 feet broad. That they should be entirely torn down was almost beyond comprehension. But the prophecy was amazingly fulfilled. When Titus conquered Jerusalem, he decreed that the temple should be spared.

But, says Josephus,

‘One of the soldiers, without staying for any orders, and without any concern or dread upon him at so great an undertaking, and being hurried on by a certain divine fury, snatched somewhat out of the materials that were on fire, and being lifted up by another soldier, he set fire to a golden window.’

The building burned, and Titus ordered it demolished. So completely was this done that the very ground on which the temple stood was ploughed and the foundations dug up.

Truly, as Jesus had prophesied, not one stone was left upon another.

Many other Scriptures could be given to prove the inspiration of the Bible but this will suffice for now.

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

Colossians 3:12

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