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Section 2 .. Reasons To Believe/
Biblical Prophecy

 

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 A Wide Variety of Biblical Prophecies


Also See The Odds.

The Succession of Great World Kingdoms
Cyrus King of Persia
The Closing of The Golden Gate
The Return of Israel to the Land
The Flourishing of The Desert In Palestine
The Destruction of Tyre
The Doom of Edom (Petra)

 


The Succession of Great World Kingdoms.
The book of Daniel presents an extraordinary display of prophetic foreknowledge of the succession of empires from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian king about 600 B.C. to the Roman Empire which began to come into power around 241 B.C. Additionally Daniel 11 spans the centuries from Cyrus The Great to the reign of the antichrist and the end of the age.

Many critical scholars argue that Daniel wrote around 170 B.C. and was looking back in time, not forward. If Daniel is post-dated after the amazing events of history he predicted, a purely naturalistic explanation can be provided. If there is a supernatural God who knows the future, then there is no reason He cannot predict it in advance. Hence dating Daniel after the events of world history which he forecast is based at root on a rejection of the supernatural.

However there is plenty of evidence to show that Daniel lived and prophesied in the sixth century B.C. making his detailed description of future world events supernatural predictions. [See The Rise and Fall Of The Empires]

     Note: Daniel was inspired to record that four great kingdoms or empires would, in succession, dominate history. The Babylonians, the Medo-Persians, the Greeks and finally the Romans have all come and gone exactly as Daniel prophesied. However in the final scene, they entire statue is reduced to dust by a rock, that represents God’s everlasting kingdom, becomes a mountain and fills the earth. However the fourth kingdom (the Roman Empire) does not end at the legs of the statue, but trickles down to the feet and toes. Is it possible that we are witnessing the birth of the fulfillment of the fifth kingdom? Many students of Bible prophecy think so. [See A Dragon and Two Beasts].


Cyrus, King of Persia
In chapter 13, Isaiah vividly described how Babylon, “the glory of kingdoms”, would fall to the Medes and Persians

    Behold, I am going to stir up the Medes against them, Who will not value silver or take pleasure in gold. And their bows will mow down the young men, They will not even have compassion on the fruit of the womb, Nor will their eye pity children. And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldeans' pride, Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. (Isaiah 13:17-19 NASB)

Not only did Isaiah predict that Cyrus, king of Persia, would overthrow Babylon, but he also wrote that Cyrus, serving as the Lord’s “anointed” would release the Jews from captivity and assist them in their return to Jerusalem so that they could rebuild the temple.

    "It is I who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.' And he declares of Jerusalem, 'She will be built,' And of the temple, 'Your foundation will be laid. Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand, To subdue nations before him And to loose the loins of kings; To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:  (Isaiah 44:28-45:1 NASB)

What makes this prophecy, and not a new report, is the fact that the prophet lived long before Cyrus. Several clues to the dating of Isaiah are found in his book.

    The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz concerning Judah and Jerusalem, which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. (Isaiah 1:1 NASB)

    In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. (Isaiah 6:1 NASB)

King Hezekiah died 698 BC., while king Uzziah reigned for 52 years in the middle of the 8th century BC, and Isaiah must have begun his ministry a few years before Uzziah's death, probably in the 740s BC. This places Isaiah’s ministry in the latter portion of the eighth century. According to most sources, Cyrus probably ascended to the throne in 559 B.C., a good hundred plus years after Isaiah.

Note that some Christians believe the ‘Cyrus Cylinder’ found in the ruins of Babylon confirms the Biblical narrative. However, the text reads “I collected together all of their people and returned them to their settlements”, without mentioning which people [1]. Could this have meant the repatriation of the Jews after the Babylonian captivity? Certainly.

Is this certain? I cannot believe so.


The Closing of The Golden Gate
The Golden Gate faces the of Mount of Olives across the Kidron valley is located on the eastern side of Jerusalem's old city wall. It was built anywhere from the 5th to the 7th century over the ruins of a much older gate, which dated back to, about the 6th century B.C. [2]

Suleiman the Magnificent, the tenth and longest-reigning 16th century Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, was a great patron of culture, and oversaw the artistic, literary and architectural development of the Ottoman Empire. We quite simply do not know why he sealed off the Golden Gate in 1541. But, whatever his reasons, it brings to mind the words of the prophet Ezekiel, who was told by the Lord that

    "This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut. (Ezekiel 44:2 NASB)

Suleiman had no idea he was fulfilling prophecy, and the gate remains sealed to this day, which leads to the most important aspect of the Golden Gate.

Matthew 21 has Jesus and His disciples on the Mount of Olives, and says that he entered into Jerusalem on the ass and colt brought to Him by the disciples. In all likelihood, Jesus astride a donkey, entered the city though the Golden Gate. As He did so the crowds...

    took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, "Hosanna! (oh save) blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel."  (John 12:13 NASB)

This not only fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9,

    Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9 NASB)

 but was a foreshadowing of His return. Which leads to the obvious conclusion... in the not so distant future, Christ will return to the same place He left from.... the mount of Olives (Acts 1:9-12) and enter Jerusalem through the Golden Gate.

    In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. (Zechariah 14:4 NASB)


The Return of Israel to the Land.
On several occasions in the Bible, the Lord tells the nation of Israel that, for their transgressions, He would scatter them to the four corners of the world.

    "The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD drives you.  (Deuteronomy 4:27 NASB)

    "So they will know that I am the LORD when I scatter them among the nations and spread them among the countries. (Ezekiel 12:15 NASB)

Which is exactly what happened.

The first significant Jewish Diaspora was the result of the Babylonian conquest of the Kingdom of Judah, when part of the Jewish population was deported into slavery. The first return under Ezra and Nehemiah took place when Cyrus, the Persian conqueror of Babylonia, permitted the Jews to return to their homeland in 538 B.C. However, part of the Jewish community voluntarily remained behind in Babylon and, by the 1st century A.D., an estimated 5,000,000 Jews lived outside Palestine. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia...

    The great Jewish insurrections under Vespasian, Trajan, and Hadrian, terminating, as they did, so disastrously, threw upon the market myriads of Jewish captives. Transported to the West, they became the nuclei of communities in Italy, Spain, Gaul, etc. [3]

Eventually, to cut a long story short, Jews "settled in countries as disparate as Morocco, Cuba, Mexico, and Australia", Argentina is home to some 200,000 Jews... Brazil, over 100,000. More than 1.5 million Jews live in Europe an dover six million in America.  [4] For nearly 2000 years the Jewish people remained in exile and the nation did not exist.

However, there are also several prophecies in the Bible relating to the return of the Jews from the four corners of the earth.

    "Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, And gather you from the west. "I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring My sons from afar And My daughters from the ends of the earth, (Isaiah 43:5-6 NASB)

    Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary And gathered from the lands, From the east and from the west, From the north and from the south. (Psalms 107:2-3 NASB)

In 1947, when the British government wished to withdraw from Palestine, they proposed a plan of partition splitting the country into separate Jewish and Arab states, which adopted by a special meeting of the General Assembly on Nov. 19, 1947. On 14 May 1948, one day before the end of the British Mandate, the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine led by the future prime minister David Ben-Gurion, declared the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel. The nation of Israel was literally born in a single day.

    "Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons. (Isaiah 66:8 NASB)

The establishment of the Jewish state was not take lightly by the Arab world, and was quickly followed by the six-day war, in which Israel captured additional territory. This victory not only "had a great effect on diaspora Jewry, which was swept up in overwhelming support for Israel", but all too many minority Jews living across the Arab world immediately faced persecution and expulsion, which started the first wave of Jewish refugees fleeing into Israel (from the East). This was followed by the immigration of Holocaust survivors from Europe (the west). A massive immigration wave of Soviet Jews, arrived in Israel in the early 1990s (the north) and, in 1991, over the course of the 36 hours, a total of 34 El Al passenger planes (with their seats removed) flew 14,325 Ethopian Jews into Israel (the south).

As said by Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics:

    Given their long exile of some nineteen centuries and the animosity of the occupants of Palestine against them, any prediction of the return, restoration, and rebuilding of the nation of Israel was extremely unlikely. Yet predictions made some centuries and over two and a half millennia in advance about the two restorations of the Jews to their homeland and their restoration as a nation have been literally fulfilled.

    Then, just as the Bible foretold, they were reestablished after World War II and a bitter struggle with the Arab Palestinians. Millions have returned and rebuilt their country and in the Six-Day War in 1967 Jerusalem again became a united Jewish city. No other nation in history has managed so successfully to keep a culture, identity, and language intact over hundreds of years, let alone against the genocidal hatred repeatedly encountered by the Jews.

Besides which, the direction the immigrants came from roughly coincided with the words of the prophet Isaiah.... "I will bring your offspring from the east, And gather you from the west. "I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not hold them back."


The Flourishing of The Desert In Palestine
In the words of two of the prophets...

    The wilderness and the desert will be glad, And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom; Like the crocus It will blossom profusely And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, The majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the LORD, The majesty of our God. (Isaiah 35:1-2 NASB)

    'Thus says the Lord GOD, "On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places will be rebuilt. "The desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passes by. "They will say, 'This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.' "Then the nations that are left round about you will know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted that which was desolate; I, the LORD, have spoken and will do it." (Ezekiel 36:33-36 NASB)

Israel is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, but only 20% of the land is arable - and half of that has to be irrigated. The rest of the country is dominated by steep hillsides and forests. Yet, Israelis are finding unique ways to make the desert bloom and prosper. Previously barren desert was, and continues to be, transformed into fertile land on which fruits, vegetables, and other crops grow.

A prime example of this is the 30 square kilometer Yatir Forest in Israel, the largest planted forest in Israel. In spite of pessimistic ‘experts’, over four million trees have been planted (including carob, olive, fig, eucalyptus and acacia) on the southern slopes of Mount Hebron, on the edge of the Negev Desert. The forest is situated at a relatively high altitude, in a semi-arid region with an average yearly rainfall of 300–350 mm and low humidity. Yatir Forest has changed the arid landscape of the northern Negev, halting the transformation of arable or habitable land to desert

The Israeli company Netafim, perfected the drip irrigation system, but underground salt-water aquifers enable large groves of olive trees, which yield award winning olive oil.

Israeli technology allows fish farms to be run anywhere, even in the desert, with minimal damage to environment. [5]

Located along the Jordanian border, the Arava Desert gets about an inch of rain a year. ...Despite the conditions, 500 farming families here produce 60 percent of Israel's fresh vegetable exports and 10 percent of its cut flower market. [6]


The Destruction of Tyre.
In the words of the prophet Ezekiel

    “I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves. They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers; I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock. Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishing nets… they will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones timber and rubble into the sea. I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishing nets. You will never be re-built, for I the Lord have spoken declares the Sovereign Lord”. (Ezekiel 26:3-14)

Tyre, situated on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, was one of the most important cities in the ancient Near East...the seat of enormous wealth and power. Built on an island in the eastern Mediterranean, it possessed had a large fleet of ships, and controlled the trade of the Mediterranean. Tyre eventually replaced Sidon as the most important city in the region.

In fact, King David's house was built from cedar by carpenters and stonemasons, all sent by Hiram, king of Tyre (2 Samuel 5:11). Later Hiram also provided king Solomon with cedar and cypress  to be used in the building of the Temple. A master craftsman from Type (also called Hiram) also did a lot fo work on the temple (1 Kings 7).

In fact as the prophet Ezekiel said, when the wares went out from Tyre many people were satisfied... the abundance of their wealth and merchandise enriched the kings of earth. (Ezekiel 27:33)

However, all was not well with Tyre and Sidon as far as the God of the universe was concerned.

Ezekiel also said that because of the abundance of it's trade, the city was "filled with violence" and sinned. It's heart was lifted up because of it's beauty, and it's wisdom was corrupted by it's splendor. Tyre profaned its sanctuaries with the multitude of its iniquities, and the unrighteousness of its trade. (Ezekiel 28:16-18). However, perhaps most of all, at some point Tyre apparently rejoiced over the misfortunes of Jerusalem, exulting that, as Matthew Henry said, the fall of Jerusalem would be an advantage to Tyre in respect to trade and commerce.

    "Son of man, because Tyre has said concerning Jerusalem, 'Aha, the gateway of the peoples is broken; it has opened to me. I shall be filled, now that she is laid waste,' (Ezekiel 26:2 NASB)

In Joel 3:6, God also accused both Tyre and Sidon of selling "the sons of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks in order to remove them far from their territory,  (Joel 3:6).

Note also that the Judean king, Ahab, the son of Omri, did more evil evil in the sight of the Lord than all who were before him (1 Kings 16:30). He worshipped Baal, and married the infamous Jezebel, who happened to be the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and who killed many of the prophets of the Lord, which led to the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), and the death of Jezebel herself (1 Kings 2:9).

It is little wonder then that through Ezekiel, the Lord promised that Tyre would be destroyed.

    (1) many nations would come against Tyre; (2) the inhabitants of the villages and fields of Tyre would be slain; (3) Nebuchadnezzar would build a siege mound against the city; (4) the city would be broken down and the stones, timber, and soil would be thrown in “the midst of the water;” (5) the city would become a “place for spreading nets;” and (6) the city would never be rebuilt.

As Hank Hanegraaff points out...

    History bears eloquent testimony to the fact that all this is precisely what happened. Many nations did come up against Tyre — the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Muslims, and the Crusaders, to name a few. And Nebuchadnezzar was indeed the first of these invaders, who — after a thirteen year siege — broke down the walls and towers of mainland Tyre, thus fulfilling the first of Ezekiel’s prophecies. Nebuchadnezzar massacred all of Tyre’s inhabitants except for those who escaped to an island fortress a half mile out in the Mediterranean Sea.

    Centuries after Ezekiel’s body had decomposed in his grave, Alexander the Great fulfilled a major portion of the prophecy. In order to conquer the island fortress of Tyre (without the luxury of a navy), he and his celebrated architect Diades devised one of the most brilliant engineering feats of ancient warfare. They built a causeway from Tyre’s mainland to the island fortress, using the millions of cubic feet of rubble left over on mainland Tyre. Thus Tyre was scraped bare as a rock, just as Ezekiel predicted. [7]

However, Ezekiel also predicted that Tyre would never be rebuilt, which is where most people run into a problem. Skeptics are quick to point out that Tyre existed at the time of Jesus and still does. However, that is beyond the scope fo this short piece. For details copy and paste the following URLs into your browser.

Tyre in Prophecy by  Kyle Butt, M.A. http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=1790

Ezekiel 26:1-14: A Proof Text For Inerrancy or Fallibility of The Old Testament?
http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/12/07/Ezekiel-261-14-A-Proof-Text-For-Inerrancy-or-Fallibility-of-The-Old-Testament.aspx


T
he Doom of Edom (Petra).

    “The terror you inspire and the pride of your heart have deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks, who occupy the heights of the hill. Thought you build your nest as high as the eagles, from there I will bring you down declares the Lord. Edom will become a object of horror; all who pass will be appalled and will scoff because of all it’s wounds”. (Jeremiah 49: 16-17)

Unlike many Old Testament predictions of doom, Edom was not promised any restoration, only perpetual desolation.   Given the virtual impregnable nature of the ancient city carved out of rock and protected by a narrow passageway, this was an incredible prediction. Yet in A.D. 636 it was conquered by Muslims and stands deserted but for tourists and passers-by.


An Important Conclusion.
A fact often overlooked by critics is that the only one real case of fulfilled prophecy would establish Scripture’s supernatural origin. Even if most Biblical predictions could be explained naturally even one clear case establishes the rest and confirms the prophetic event. Thus, if the critic is to make the case against prophecy all instances much be naturally explainable.


End Notes

[1] Translation of the text on the Cyrus Cylinder.
http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/articles/c/cyrus_cylinder_-_translation.aspx

[2] The Gates of Jerusalem Golden Gate - Sha'ar Harahamim - Gate of Mercy - Eastern Gate.
 http://www.jerusalemonmymind.com/Jerusalem%20gates%202.html

[3] http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/5169-diaspora

[4] Jews Around the Globe... The Jewish Diaspora.
http://www.myjewishlearning.com/history/Jewish_World_Today/Jews_Around_the_Globe.shtml

[5] David Allouche. Making the desert bloom (with fish) [http://www.jpost.com/Enviro-Tech/Making-the-desert-bloom-with-fish]

[6] Israelis Use Technology to Make the Desert Bloom. Julie Stahl and Chris Mitchell. CBN News Mideast Bureau.
http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/insideisrael/2014/May/Israelis-Use-Technology-to-Make-the-Desert-Bloom/

[7] Hank Hanegraaff. Fulfilled Prophecy as an Apologetic. Christian Research Institute.
http://www.equip.org/articles/fulfilled-prophecy-as-an-apologetic/#christian-books-

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