Fulfilled Prophecies and Other Evidence that the Bible is the Word of God
Hopefully, this article will help remove some of the barriers that hinder many from believing that the Bible is the true Word of God. Perhaps some Christians will have their faith strengthened by the contents discussed here. Maybe some will be able to share their faith more persuasively or confidently. My personal discovery of the points herein have certainly strengthened my faith in the past.
There are many Christians who would discount an article about evidence such as this, claiming, that "people just have to take a blind leap of faith." Certainly, without faith it is impossible to please God. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). But does it necessarily have to be a blind leap? Must one throw one's brains out the window before one can believe what the Bible says about Jesus Christ? The purpose here is to help reduce that blind leap to a confident step.
Why should we believe that the Bible is anything more than a book of fables? Does it have any true credibility that the holy books of other religions do not have?
Our God has foretold the future in the Bible and fulfills His prophecies in it. That sets the Bible apart from the books of false religions. God had this to say about false prophets and false gods: "Let them bring them forth, and shew us what will happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods ..." (Isaiah 41:22-23). Contrast that with what God says about himself: "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure ..." (Isaiah 46:9-10).
Apollos used the scriptures to convince many Jews of that Jesus was the Messiah in Acts 18:28. "For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ." He did this using only the Old Testament. The vast majority of the New Testament had not yet been written.
In order for a prophecy to display evidence of divine inspiration, it must contain information that the person speaking or writing the prophecy could not have known by natural means. One way for this to occur is for the prophecy to occur prior to the prophesied event. Therefore, it is important to first show that the 39 books of the Old Testament are truly ancient. We know that the Old Testament scriptures were written before the time of Jesus Christ because He frequently quoted from them. We further know that the scriptures date back to a time long before the birth of Jesus Christ, due to the discoveries found in the dead sea scrolls. But besides this, even those Jews who do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, agree that these 39 books were written well before 300 BC. In the third century BC, the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek. This translation was called the Septuagint. Of course, all of the Old Testament scriptures had to have been written for them to have been translated. Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, was written around 400 BC.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of prophecies in the Bible. Many have already been fulfilled. For example, Daniel prophesied the coming of the Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman empires, Alexander the Great, and the details of many military battles. Many other prophecies are still awaiting their fulfillment. In the pages that follow, I've listed several examples in which God shows us through prophecy that the Bible is truly His Word. I have specifically chosen prophecies whose fulfillments are either documented in secular reference books, or being set up before our very eyes today. This way, the reader will know that I am not just making up the fulfillments, nor did the Bible writers simply fabricate them in order to add credit to their own writings.
The prophecies examined below are divided into two groups:
Prophecy fulfillments well documented in secular history include (1.) Daniel's prophecy of the 70 weeks and (2.) the people of Israel to be scattered into all nations and to live in fear and persecution.
Prophecies for which we see the fulfillment being set up today include (3.) Jerusalem to be a burdensome stone for all people, (4.) the people of Israel to be regathered to the land of Israel, (5.) the sacrificial system of worship in the temple to be resumed, (6.) a mark in the right hand or forehead to be required to buy or sell, and (7.) tribulation so severe that no flesh would survive.
1. Daniel's prophecy of the 70 weeks
While the prophet Daniel was captive in Babylon in about 538 BC, God revealed the prophecy of Israel's 70 weeks to him in Daniel 9:24-26. "Seventy weeks (Hebrew word: "shabuwa") are determined upon thy people (Israel) and upon thy holy city (Jerusalem), to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off (killed), but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the temple) ...." In this prophecy, the following sequence of events are revealed.
A. There would one day be a commandment to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, which the Babylonians had destroyed years earlier. This was fulfilled in 445 BC by Artaxerxes, king of the Medo-Persian Empire (465-424 BC), nearly a century after the prophecy of Daniel 9 was given. See Nehemiah 2:1-8 for the account of how Nehemiah asked Artaxerxes for the permission and the means to rebuild the ruins of the city of Jerusalem. In Nehemiah 2:1, we see that this took place "... in the month Nisan (the first month of the Hebrew calendar which occurs in early spring), in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king (445 BC) ...."
B. From the giving of this commandment to the Messiah would be 69 (seven plus threescore and two) weeks (shabuwa) after which the Messiah would be cut off (killed). This was fulfilled when Jesus Christ was crucified on the 14th day of Nisan (the passover) of 32 AD, right on schedule.
In order to calculate the lengths of time mentioned in this prophecy, we first need to understand what a "shabuwa" is (translated into English in Daniel 9 as "weeks" or "week"). The Hebrew word shabuwa means a "period of seven". It could be seven days or seven years. In scripture, it is used both ways, and we have to tell by the context which one it is. Often, shabuwa is used in scripture to describe the length of a feast or some other event that obviously is only a matter of days in length. But sometimes a shabuwa clearly means seven years, such as in Genesis 29:27-28. After Jacob was given Leah, in place of Rachel, for a wife after serving Laban for seven years, Laban told him. "27 Fulfil her week (shabuwa), and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. 28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week (shabuwa): and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also." Like in Genesis 29, shabuwa is used in Daniel 9 to refer to periods of seven years (not days). Some Bible teachers refer to these as "weeks of years".
When calculating the 69 seven year periods, a shabuwa is a period of seven years, and seven times 69 is 483 years. But we know from the detail of the seventieth week provided in the book of Revelation, that these years are 360 days rather than the years on our present calendar which, figuring in leap years, are approximately 365.25 days. Revelation 12:14 describes the second half of the tribulation as "a time, times, and half a time" (1 + 2 + 1/2 = 3 1/2 years). Revelation 12:6 says this is "a thousand two hundred and threescore (1260) days", and Revelation 13:5 says it is "forty and two months". Since 1260 / 42 = 30 and 1260 / 3.5 = 360, we know that in this prophecy, God is counting months as 30 days each and years as 360 days each. Since the tribulation is a part of the 70 weeks of Daniel's prophecy, we know that the 360-day years must be used. So to see how many of our years this is, we calculate 483 * (360 / 365.25) = 476 years, 0 months, and a few days. Moving forward from the 445 BC date, this brings us to the early spring of 32 AD (476 - 445 + 1 = 32), when Jesus Christ was crucified. The one must be added to account for the fact that there is no "year 0". The year after 1 BC was 1 AD. The calculation here is somewhat simplified and shows that at a minimum, the prophecy was accurate to within a very few days. Some scholars have used additional evidence for the difficult task of calculating this prophecy to the exact day. To do this, they have to know the day of the month that the commandment of Artaxerxes was given plus the astrological history of moon phases as viewed from Jerusalem, since the months of the Hebrew calendar are based upon observance of the moon phases. As for me, I am more than satisfied to know that the prophecy in Daniel 9, given several hundred years in advance, was accurate to the very month, but readers who are inclined to pursue the more detailed calculation to the exact day are welcome to do so.
Now one might wonder why God didn't use our 365.25-day years in His prophecy? We cannot be certain, but perhaps He was using the same number of days per year that the earth had when He created it. We know from Genesis 7:11 and 8:3-4 that a calendar with 30 day months was used before the great flood. It may be that in the catastrophe of the flood, the earth's rotational speed was increased slightly. One way this could happen would be if the earth's density were increased due to the tremendous seismic activity and the collapse of the water canopy which God used to trigger the flood. Genesis 7:11-12 says, "... all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights." This increase of density would have increased the earth's rotational speed by reducing its moment of inertia in the same way that spinning ice skaters spin faster when they pull their out-stretched arms in closer to their bodies. If the period of the earth's revolution around the sun did not change, then there would be more days per year after the great flood than there were before the flood. Now let's continue to the next event in the sequence of the Daniel 9 prophecy.
C. The people of the prince which is to come will destroy Jerusalem and the temple. This was fulfilled by Titus and the Roman Empire in 70 AD. In the war with the Jews, the Roman army besieged and destroyed Jerusalem, burned the temple, and killed more than one million Jews.
It is interesting to note that when this destruction was prophesied in 538 BC, Jerusalem and temple had not even been rebuilt yet. The part of this prophecy regarding the "prince which is to come" concerns the AntiChrist who must come from the revived Roman Empire in the future tribulation which will be the seventieth week of the prophecy (Daniel 9:27).
There are several amazing things about this prophecy: It accurately predicted the time of Jesus Christ's crucifixion, more than 500 years before it happened. It sandwiched His death between two future events (A and C) which have both been very well documented in history. Both of the events came true even though they were prophesied hundreds of years in advance. When one considers that this prophecy amazingly predicted events A and C above, then believing that this prophecy was also correct on event B does not exactly require a leap of faith.
2. Israel to be scattered into all nations and to live in fear and persecution
One prophecy that occurs again and again in the Old Testament is the prophecy of the people of Israel being scattered to all nations. Certainly this has happened. The northern ten tribes were taken into captivity by Assyrians around 712 BC. The other two tribes were taken captive by the Babylonians around 606 BC. Only a small fraction of the Jews returned from Babylon to resettle the land of Israel in 536 BC. But the biggest blow came in 70 AD when Titus of Rome attacked Jerusalem, destroying the city and the temple. The Jews that were not killed were scattered into all nations.
Leviticus 26:33-38 says, "And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it. And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth. And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth: and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies. And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up."
Deuteronomy 28:64-67 says, "And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see."
One only needs to look up "Jews" in any encyclopedia for details the long history of persecution, massacre, and expulsion from various countries. Hitler's murder of 6,000,000 was not an isolated event, but part of a 2000 year trend. For example, thousands of Jews were massacred during the time of the Crusades (1000-1300 AD). Persecution of Jews was the norm as all Jews were considered partakers in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In the 14th century the plague known as the Black Death swept through Europe killing about one fourth of the population. Jews were often massacred as a result of the accusation that they spread the disease by poisoning water supplies. In 1492, all Jews were expelled from Spain, as was the case in Portugal just five years later. And there is much, much more. Just check any encyclopedia.
Prophecies for which we see the fulfillment being set up today
Suppose a meteorologist forecasts rain on a particular day. The prediction is not fulfilled when the dark clouds roll in, nor when the hard winds begin to blow, nor when the rumbling of the thunder sounds. The prediction is not fulfilled until it actually rains. In the same way, while we are not presently seeing the fulfillments of the five prophecies below, we are seeing the events which may well be setting up their fulfillments. However, we must keep in mind that when we see the clouds, feel the wind, and hear the thunder, we still cannot say with absolute certainty, just how long it will be before it rains.
3. Jerusalem to be a burdensome stone for all people
In 520 BC, more than 500 years before the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, God said in Zechariah 12:2-3, "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."
There was no political or religious contention over the city of Jerusalem at the time. 500 years before Christianity and 1200 years before Islam, the tiny nation of Israel had just rebuilt Jerusalem from the ruins of the Babylonian conquest. Israel was a tiny nation of less than 50,000 men who had returned from Babylon (Ezra 2:64), a mere remnant of the ancient glory days.
Since then Jerusalem has been conquered and has changed hands more than 30 times. Jerusalem has been swapped between the Medo-Persians, Greeks, Romans, Turks, Egyptians, Moslems, European Crusaders, and others repeatedly over the last 2500 years.
Much of the warring over Jerusalem has been provoked by two errant theologies that came into being around 1000 years after the prophecy above was given. One came from the Moslems who claim that Mohammed ascended to heaven from the temple mount in Jerusalem, which they now claim as an Islamic holy site. That is where they built the Dome of the Rock. The other is replacement theology, a doctrine teaching that the Gentile Christian churches have forever replaced Israel in God's eyes. This teaching was used to fuel the crusades and much anti-Semitism.
In 1996, Israel made plans to proceed with building a new housing subdivision on a barren hillside in East Jerusalem. The Palestinians and Moslem nations were outraged. The European Union wanted in on the negotiations, and updates were broadcast on worldwide television every day. How incredible! Virtually anywhere else in the world, the addition of a new subdivision would do good to get an occasional mention in the local paper. This is not an isolated incident, when Israel broke through an 18 inch wall of rock to create a doorway at the end of a tunnel near the Wailing Wall, it made headlines worldwide. It produced a severe outcry from the Palestinians, and was followed shortly by a retaliatory bombing that killed more than 50 people. Just try to imagine the fury that will be unleashed if Israel were to attempt to rebuild the temple on the same hill as the Islamic Dome of the Rock! But God knew all of this would come to pass and said of Jerusalem, "all the people of the earth be gathered together against it."
Another interesting note is found in Zechariah 14:1-3, "Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 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." Note that prior to 1967, this prophecy could not have been fulfilled, since Israel did not have possession of the city of Jerusalem. In the 1967 war with the Arab nations, Israel took back Jerusalem for the first time in nearly 2000 years. So now we see Zechariah 14:1-3 set up for fulfillment.
4. Israel to be regathered
Just as the scattering of the people of Israel was prophesied, the Bible also prophesied that the people of Israel would be regathered to the land of Israel.
"... the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee" (Deuteronomy 30:3).
"... Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel" (Ezekiel 17:11).
In 1948, Israel became an independent nation for the first time since the Babylonian takeover in 606 BC (more than 2500 years). In the 1990's around half a million Jews have returned to Israel from the former Soviet Union. Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament has been revived. By 300 BC the language of the Jews had changed from Hebrew to Aramaic and Greek. Hebrew had remained an unspoken and dead language until recently. Dead for about 2200 years, in 1948, it was proclaimed the national language of Israel.
Today there are around 5 million Jews in the land of Israel, about one third of the estimated total number in the world. There are still about 5 million in the United States and about another 5 million scattered around the rest of the world, but mostly in the former Soviet Union, where there is still of steady stream of Russian Jews returning to Israel.
5. Sacrificial system of worship in the temple to be resumed
The Bible prophesied that Israel in the end-times would be under the Mosaic law including worship in the rebuilt temple (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, and Revelation 11:1). Recently the orthodox Jews of Israel have been gaining much greater political power in Israel. In the wake of the 1999 elections, the different religious factions hold a large number of the 120 positions in the Knesset, Israel's legislature. The two largest secular political parties, Labor and Likud, must work to appease them and create alliances in order to establish a majority in the government. As a result, the religious parties were able to secure 5 cabinet posts in the new government. Also, most all businesses and many streets are now closed on the Sabbath in Israel in observance of the day of rest.
Many of the ancient bowls, utensils, and other artifacts used in the ancient worship in Israel have been either made or uncovered by archeologists. New priestly robes have been designed and now hang in the closets, and a group of young Israeli men have already been selected to carry out the priestly duties. Groups of orthodox Jews have gone so far as to make blueprints for the new temple.
6. Cannot buy or sell without mark
In Revelation 13:16-18, the Anti-Christ, referred to as the beast, "... causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."
For the first time in 1900 plus years since this book was written, we now have the technology to do this. A tiny chip could be placed under the skin of ones hand that contained identification plus medical and financial records. Purchases would be made by electronic transfer without the use of cash. In addition, this could serve as a global positioning device, allowing the tracking of one's position to within a few feet, anywhere on the planet. The idea is sure to sell. A cashless society could virtually eliminate muggings, the drug trade, and tax evasion. We cannot say with absolute certainty, that this chip will be the vehicle through which the mark of the beast will be given, but it would effectively perform the function.
7. No flesh would survive
In Matthew 24:22, Jesus Christ prophesied about the coming great tribulation "... except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved ...." War on this scale would have been unthinkable in the first century. Even the worst of wars could not even come close to annihilating all life from the planet. But in our generation, all of that has changed. With our modern nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, this could easily be done. The rider of the red horse in Revelation 6:4 takes "... peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword." The red horse is followed by the black horse of famine in verses 5-6. Scientists predict famine caused by reduced sunlight would follow a nuclear war, should one occur. So here we see another prophecy which is now set up to be fulfilled. It should also be noted that tremendous seismic and volcanic activity could produce results similar to that of nuclear weapons.
Unity of Scripture Despite a Diversity of Writers
The Bible was written by about 40 different writers scattered over a period of about 1500 years. The writers could not have collaborated on the effort, since they lived in different periods of time. Yet the Bible has the unity of a book written by one Author. There are many prophecies in the Old Testament, going as far back as Genesis, which prophesy things which will not be completed until the future events described in the book of Revelation take place. Are we to believe that the Old Testament prophets each decided to write the beginning of a great story and then said, "Maybe in a thousand years or so, someone will come along and write a good ending to this?" That would be ridiculous. No man would decide to do such a thing on his own, much less a large group of men who did not know each other or even live at the same time. Therefore, the unity of scripture despite a diversity of writers is evidence of the Bible's divine authorship.
Ear Tickling Prophets?
There are some who accuse the writers of the Bible, all of whom were men of Israel, of simply writing grandiose words that the people or the king at that time wanted to hear. Some accuse the writers of writing, for political gain, words intended to increase Israel's standing in the eyes of the world. However, anyone who has read very much of the Bible at all should know better. The Bible exposes all of the following:
God says the people of Israel are wicked: In the scriptures, God is almost constantly telling the people of Israel how wicked, stubborn, and disobedient they are. In Elijah's day, God goes so far as to say that there are only 7000 men in Israel who had not bowed and worshiped pagan idols (1 Kings 19:10 and 19:18), and this in a nation of several million. Upwards of 99% were idol worshipers. They even participated in human sacrifice of their own children. 2 Kings 17:16-17 says, "... they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger."
The people of Israel neglected God's Word: In King Josiah's day, the story is told of how the priests FOUND the scrolls of the scriptures in the temple (2 Kings 22:8-13). The word of God had been neglected for so long that the priests did not even know what it was or where it was.
The people of Israel were to be punished: The Bible also repeatedly predicts the people of Israel being scattered into all nations and being greatly persecuted for their wickedness. They would be hated and despised more than any nation. The scriptures detail how they murdered their promised Messiah, the Son of God.
Israel's kings were wicked: The Bible describes the character of each king in Judah and Israel. Almost all of them are characterized as desperately wicked. Even most of those very few who received a relatively good report still had their worst character flaws (murder, adultery, and idol worship) outlined in the text. The wickedness of Israel's kings was actually a punishment for them from God. In 1 Samuel 8:10-18, when Israel asked their judge, Samuel, to appoint a king for them, he described all of the burdens their kings would place upon them, ending in verse 18 by saying, "... ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day."
These are not the kind of things that anyone would write in order to get in good with the king, and these are certainly not things that the people of Israel wanted to hear. On many occasions, the prophets were beaten, imprisoned, or even killed for the Word they proclaimed. The fact is, there would not be any practical reason for anyone to write the words of the Bible except in obedience to the specific direction of God. So the accusation that the writers wrote for their own political gain is not the least bit logical.
The Bible is like no other book in the world. It is filled with internal evidence that it is the Word of God. No other religion has a book filled with prophecies fulfilled one right after the other. The few books that have even attempted this have been proven to be written by false prophets who cannot foretell the future. But you can trust in the Bible, which is the true Word of God, who proves that He is the Author of it by fulfilled prophecies. As He said more than 2700 years ago:
"... I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done ..." (Isaiah 46:9-10).
To continue studying evidence of Biblical truth, see Evidence that Jesus Christ is the Messiah.
Copyright © 1997 Matthew McGee. All rights reserved.