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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, May 30 2024

History proves Bible prophecy

A dramatic proof of the inspiration of the Bible is fulfilled prophecy. Dr. Gleason Archer, a renowned Old Testament scholar, wrote: " Other religious documents, such as the Muslim Koran, may claim to be the very word of God, but they contain no such self-authenticating proofs as does the Bible ... [such as] the phenomena of fulfilled prophecy" (A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 1974, p. 15).

History proves Bible prophecy
The relief of the fall of Lachish at Sennacherib's palace, Nineveh

Dr. Norman Geisler, author or coauthor of 60 some books, also supports this view: "One of the strongest evidences that the Bible is inspired by God ... is its predictive prophecy….the Bible offers a multitude of specific predictions—some hundreds of years in advance—that have been fulfilled or else point to a definite future time when they will come true" (Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, 1999, p. 609).

Speaking through the prophet, Isaiah, God challenges doubters to prove Him: "For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand ...'" (Isaiah 46:9-10).

The prophecies of Daniel provide important keys to establishing the accuracy of Bible prophecy. For example, in the "70 weeks" prophecy recorded in Daniel 9:24-27, "Daniel predicts the precise year of Christ's appearance and the beginning of his ministry in A.D. 27" ( The Expositor's Bible Commentary, p. 9).

Another remarkable prophecy recorded by Daniel is his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream in chapter 2. Without prior knowledge of its content, Daniel explained the details of the dream to Nebuchadnezzar’ (Daniel 2:31-33), giving a "disclosure of God's plan for the ages till the final triumph of Christ" and "presents the foreordained succession of world powers that are to dominate the Near East till the final victor of the Messiah in the last days" (Expositor's Bible Commentary, pp. 39, 46).

Nebuchadnezzar's dream occurred and was interpreted by Daniel about 600 B.C. He told Nebuchadnezzar his Babylonian Empire was represented by the head of gold (Daniel 2:37-38). "The silver empire was to be Medo-Persia, which began with Cyrus the Great, who conquered Babylon in 539 ... [and]... was supreme in the Near and Middle East for about two centuries" (Expositor's, p. 47). "The bronze empire was the Greco-Macedonian Empire established by Alexander the Great ... [it]… lasted for about 260 or 300 years before it was supplanted by the fourth kingdom" (ibid.). "Iron connotes toughness and ruthlessness and describes the Roman Empire that reached its widest extent under the reign of Trajan" (ibid.). Trajan reigned A.D. 98-117, and the Roman Empire dominated for many centuries.

This fourth empire was depicted as having 10 toes, composed partly of iron and partly of clay, in Daniel chapter 2. "Verse 41 deals with a later phase or outgrowth of this fourth empire, symbolized by the feet and ten toes—made up of iron and earthenware, a fragile base for the huge monument. The text clearly implies that this final phase will be marked by some sort of federation rather than by a powerful single realm" (ibid.).

Daniel 11 also records another phenomenal prophecy, which is the most detailed in the Bible. The chronological setting is given in Daniel 10:1 as the "third year of Cyrus king of Persia" (536-535 B.C.), when a "man," no doubt an angel (Daniel 9:21), came to tell Daniel what would occur in the "latter days" (Daniel 10:14).

The history of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah is also a powerful testimony to the accuracy of God's prophecies. The story begins with Israel's split into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, around 931 B.C., soon after Solomon's death.

Jeroboam, king of Israel (ca. 931-910), instituted idolatry as part of his kingdom's worship (1 Kings 12:26-33), and God warned of the consequences these idolatrous practices: "For the Lord will strike Israel….and will scatter them beyond the River [the Euphrates], because they have made their wooden images, provoking the Lord to anger" (1 Kings 14:15).

God continued to warn the Israelites through His prophets (Micah 1:1-6), and waited, patiently and mercifully, for a repentance that never came. Finally, God allowed the Assyrian Empire to devastate Israel and take most of its population captive in 722 B.C.(2 Kings 17:6-15). These prophecies of the Assyrian invasions and many other details are verified by Assyrian records and other archaeological discoveries.

Inspite of witnessing the downfall of the kingdom of Israel, the kingdom of Judah also drifted into idolatry and disobedience and God, once again, sent prophets to warn them of their fate if they failed to repent. Through the prophet Jeremiah (late 600s through 500s B.C.), God delivered a remarkable prophecy of Judah's future: "The Lord has sent to you all His servants the prophets…. They said, 'Repent now everyone of his evil way… and dwell in the land that the Lord has given to you…Yet you have not listened to Me...behold, I will send and take all the families of the north...And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,'and I will make it a perpetual desolation'" (Jeremiah 25:4-12).

Jeremiah's prophecy came to pass. After several invasions, Judah fell to the Babylonians. A century later the Greek historian Herodotus (484-420) confirms how Babylon fell and became ‘a perpetual desolation’ as Jeremiah and also Daniel had prophesied (Daniel 5:28-30). "The Persians, drawing off the river [Euphrates] by a canal into the lake…he [Cyrus] made the stream to sink till its former channel could be forded…the Persians…made their way into Babylon by the channel of the Euphrates, which had now sunk to about the height of the middle of a man's thigh...and the inhabitants who lived in the central part of Babylon were unaware of the enemies' presence due to the great size of the city and since they were celebrating a festival. They continued dancing and exchanging gifts until they were suddenly told of their sad fate. In this manner was Babylon conquered" (History, book 1, paragraphs 191-192).

In another astonishing prophecy, God revealed through Isaiah the name of the ruler—Cyrus, king of Persia—who would, a century and a half after Isaiah wrote, permit the Jews' return (Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1-4). Jeremiah's prophecy of a 70-year captivity and Isaiah's prophecy of Cyrus allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar were fulfilled down to the last detail. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah record the Jews' return from exile.

God's Word also contains a vast number of prophecies that will find their complete fulfillment with the return of Jesus Christ to the earth, the resurrection of the dead, and the establishment of a reign of peace for 1,000 years (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 5:10).

God alone can foretell the future and then bring it to pass. It stands as irrefutable proof of His existence and of the divine origin of the Bible. In Isaiah 45:21-22 God challenges us: "Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other."