Declaring the Future is Strong Evidence
If I told you that you were going to trip today and fracture your left femur, you would probably look at me strangely. But what if it then happened? Maybe at first you'd be in too much pain to think straight. But after the doctors had done their thing and you were laying in a hospital bed with a big cast on your leg, it would hit you. Mark told me this was going to happen! What would you do? How would you feel? What would you want to say to me?
The point is that you would not just think nothing of it. You wouldn't just carry on as if that day was entirely normal. Why not? Because people don't know the future! If somebody told you the future and it came true you would know that something supernatural was going on here. The Bible says that God alone knows the future.
I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you." -- Isaiah 42:8-9
Bring in your idols to tell us what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come, tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear. -- Isaiah 41:22-23
God is saying that He proves who He is by declaring the future. And God is also issuing a challenge here. He dares anyone or anything who claims to be a god to prove it by telling us what the future holds. If they can't, then God is essentially saying, "Stand aside you phonies because I am the true God."
Real Prophecies are Specific
To be a convincing prophecy, it can't be vague or ambiguous. What if I claimed to prophesy that before tomorrow night, life would disappoint you? That's not a very convincing prophecy because it is far too general. It leaves too many unanswered questions. What would disappoint me? On a scale of 1-10, how disappointed will I be? Vague or ambiguous prophecies are open to interpretation and will always come to pass if you look at them from the right perspective. Prophecies need to be specific about the who, what, why, where, when, and how. The more specific they are, the more convincing they are.
In addition, the more outside of the realm of the prophesiers control and knowledge they are, the more convincing they will be. If I prophesied that I would punch you today, I could just take action and make that happen. If I prophesied that it was going to rain before next Wednesday, you would say, "Yeah, I watch the news too." Prophecies about things outside our control like earthquakes or specific individuals centuries from now on the other hand are much more convincing.
The Bible is actually remarkably unique in this regard. I have studied a number of other "holy books" and when it comes to prophecy, the Bible stands in a category of its own. Other holy books offer prophecies that are vague or within the control of the prophesier. Others only offer prophesies regarding the end of the world. Unfortunately, those prophecies don't give any weight to this discussion because they have obviously not been fulfilled yet. But the Bible gives numerous specific, detailed prophecies about things well outside of the prophets' control. I'm going to list several of them showing first where the prophesy can be found, then what was prophesied, and finally what historically happened.
- The Babylonian Exile (Jeremiah 25:8-14, 29:10-11, 51:11, 28)
- In 626 BC, Jeremiah prophesied that...
- King Nebuchadnezzar would attack and conquer the people of Judah
- That he would hold the people captive in Babylon
- That Babylon would later be defeated by the Medes as punishment
- That God’s people would return home 70 years after capture.
- What happened historically?
- In 606 BC, Nebuchadnezzar attacked Judah and captured its people
- In 595 BC, the Medes conquer and take over Babylon
- In 536 BC, King Cyrus releases the Jews (exactly 70 years after their capture in 606 BC)
- The Fall of Tyre (Ezekiel 26)
- Around 588 BC, Ezekiel prophesied that...
- The city of Tyre would be destroyed by many different nations
- King Nebuchadnezzar would be the first to attack them
- The mainland city would be leveled to bare rock
- The destroyed city's rubble will be thrown into the sea
- The city would never be rebuilt
- Fishermen will cast their nets where the city once stood.
- What happened historically?
- 585-573 BC – Nebuchadnezzar attacks the main city of Tyre and claims the city. However, Tyre was located on the coast and most of the people in Tyre had fled to the portion of Tyre located on a nearby island during the siege. Nebuchadnezzar tore down the city of Tyre in 573.
- In 332 BC Alexander the Great, who led an empire made of many nations used the rubble of the destroyed mainland city of Tyre to build a half mile bridge to the island city. After he destroyed the island city, the bridge collapsed into the sea.
- Today, fishermen spread their nets to dry where the city of Tyre once stood.
- Messianic Prophecies fulfilled by Jesus
- He would be a Hebrew from the tribe of Judah from the family of Jesse and house of David (Gen 22:18, Gen 49:10, Isaiah 11:1-5, 2 Samuel 7:12-16)
- He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
- He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
- He would be born when Israel still held some authority (Gen 49:10)
- He would visit the Temple (Malachi 3:1)
- He would heal the blind (Isaiah 29:18)
- He would speak in parables (Psalm 78:2)
- The Gentiles would believe in Him but the Jews would not (Isaiah 8:14)
- A Messenger would prepare the way for Him (Isaiah 30:3, Malachi 3:1)
- He would enter Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)
- He would be hated without cause (Psalm 69:4)
- He would betrayed by a friend for 30 silver coins which would be thrown on the floor of the temple and then used to buy a potter's field (Psalms 41:9, Zechariah 11:12-13)
- He would be treated like a transgressor/sinner (Isaiah 53:12)
- His hands and feet would be pierced (Psalm 22:16)
- His bones would not be broken (Psalm 34:20)
- Lots (dice) would be cast for His clothing (Psalm 22:18)
The Bible has many detailed prophecies that have been fulfilled over the course of history including many I haven't mentioned like the year the Messiah would come to Jerusalem or details about Alexander the Great's empire and its division in Daniel. These prophecies reveal an incredible knowledge of future events that is quite clearly supernatural. There is no atheistic or naturalistic explanation for how the authors could have "guessed" the future in this way.
I believe that when you consider the facts, you can only come to one conclusion. These prophecies were inspired by God. And as a word of encouragement for those of you who are believers, take comfort in the fact that God knows the future. You don't need to worry or be stressed out about the details of your life or what tomorrow may bring. Your life and future are in His hands and you can trust Him with all things.
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