In any event, I went home and read the book cover-to-cover in a matter of just a couple days. I went back and got the author’s follow up book and finished that in no time as well. Although I had gone to church since birth, I had never encountered the powerful message of Bible prophecy. In just those few short days, I was treated to a display of God’s omniscience and sovereignty throughout human history, and I was absolutely captivated. While the supermarket tabloids near my home made a big deal of false prognosticators like Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and a host of other astrologers who were nearly always wrong and mixed occultic practices into what they did, for the first time in my life my eyes were opened to how the prophets God used to write the Bible hit the bull’s eye 100% of the time in what they predicted.
In a world where pluralists claim there is no difference between Christianity and any other faith, and that the Bible is nothing but another religious set of writings among many others, the prophetic word of God strongly begs to differ. Indeed, prophecy has incredible apologetic value for the Christian who is working to provide a defense for why we can trust the Bible, why Jesus Christ is who He said He was, and why we can look with confidence to the future.
Confirmation that the Bible is the Word of God
I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve spoken to about the authority of the Bible who stiff-arm me with the claim that, “The Bible is just another book written by men. It’s no different than any other religious text.” When it comes to prophecy (or anything else for that matter) nothing could be further from the truth. Neither the Koran, the Hindu Vedas, nor any other Eastern religious text contains any fulfilled prophecy like the Scriptures. Between one-fourth and one-third of the entire Bible is prophetic in nature, with predictions concerning the rise and fall of various empires, the fate of the nation Israel, and the coming of the Messiah all being fulfilled to the letter.
The incredible prophetic accuracy of the Bible is spelled out in many places throughout the Old and New Testaments. For example, the second and eleventh chapters of Daniel foretell the coming of Alexander the Great (336-323 BC), including his beginning and end. Speaking about how various empires would move in the future, Daniel records one of his prophecies in chapter 11:1-4 which says:
In the first year of Darius the Mede, I arose to be an encouragement and a rotection or him. And now I will tell you the truth. Behold, three more kings are going to arise in Persia. Then a fourth will gain far more riches than all of them; as soon as he becomes strong through his riches, he will arouse the whole empire against the realm of Greece. And a mighty king will arise, and he will rule with great authority and do as he pleases. But as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom will be broken up and parceled out toward the four points of the compass, though not to his own descendants, nor according to his authority which he wielded, for his sovereignty will be uprooted and given to others besides them.
Daniel’s words, which were recorded hundreds before Alexander was born, were fulfilled right down to the detail of Alexander’s kingdom being broken up into four parts that were divided among his generals instead of his family line. Throughout chapter 11, Daniel’s precision in describing the interactions between the Ptolemies and the Selucids from the death of Alexander the Great to the rise of the Roman Empire, are so great that Bible critics insist it must have been written after the fact. However, Flavius Josephus, Jewish court historian for three Roman Emperors, records in his writings (Antiquities of the Jews XI, viii, 3-5) that Alexander actually received a copy of Daniel’s predictions when he annexed Jerusalem in the autumn of 332 BC. It is also important to note that Daniel is included in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are dated from about 200 BC.
While prophecies fulfilled about ancient rulers like Alexander the Great are fascinating to learn about, it is even more amazing to see prophecies that were predicted thousands of years ago being fulfilled in the twentieth century. This is exactly the case with the nation of Israel. God warned the Jews that if they turned their back on Him, He would scatter them among all the nations and they would have no rest. Deuteronomy 28:58-66 says:
If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the LORD your God, then … the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known. Among those nations you shall find no rest, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul. So your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you will be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life.Any student of history will confirm the above as taking place exactly as described. But God also said that He would one day re-gather His people back to the land He gave them. Isaiah 11:11-12 (among other prophetic verses like Ezekiel 36 and Zechariah 12) promised, “Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people, who will remain, from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
This promise was first fulfilled on May 14, 1948, when Israel formally became a nation again. The promise was extended when, in June 1967 during the six-day war, Israel reclaimed Jerusalem. It’s incredible to think that this prophecy from Scripture was fulfilled less than 100 years ago. Biblical scholars who understood prophecy in the 1800’s stated that Israel must come together as a nation again before Christ could return, but they were scoffed at by liberals who said that it would never happen. However, God always keeps His promises and how exciting it is to see Him doing this in our day!
Just by examining a couple of prophecies, it becomes clear that the Bible is not just another book written by men. Instead, it is a supernaturally inspired work breathed out by the God of the universe who graciously chose to record and preserve His Word for us to read, investigate, and believe.
Confirmation that Jesus is the Son of God
Besides confirming that the Bible is the supernatural Word of God, prophecy also proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is the Son of God. There are about 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that speak about Jesus’ first coming, and by eliminating duplicate prophecies, we are left with a little over one hundred prophecies that predicted the first coming of the Messiah. One of the most incredible predictions of Christ is (again) found in the Book of Daniel, which forecasts the actual timing when the Messiah would appear:
So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.
Daniel 9:25-26, which was written 500 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, foretells when the Messiah would appear. The prophecy states that 69 weeks of years (literally 69 “sevens” or 69 x 7 = 483 years) would pass from a decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah would reveal Himself.
Bible scholars debate over the exact decree in the Old Testament that was issued to rebuild Jerusalem, with the most popular being the ones issued by Artaxerxes in 445 BC to Nehemiah, and the one given to Ezra in 457 BC. While specifics can be discussed, the prophecy clearly targets Christ’s time period. Further, it is beyond dispute that Christ was murdered upon the cross (as predicted in the prophecy, which said the Messiah would be “cut off”) and approximately 40 years later, Titus of Rome came and destroyed Jerusalem and the sanctuary.
In addition to Daniel’s prophecy about Christ, there are a number of other predictions made about Jesus in the Old Testament that further cement the prophetic power of the Bible:
- The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
- The Messiah would be preceded by a messenger (Malachi 3:1).
- The Messiah would come to his people mounted on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
- The Messiah would be betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 13:6 and 11:12).
- The Messiah would die by having His hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16).
- The Messiah would be virgin-born (Isaiah 7:14).
- The Messiah would remain silent and suffer at the hands of men (Isaiah 53).
- The Messiah’s clothes would be taken by the casting of lots (Psalm 22).
- The Messiah would not see decay in the grave (Psalm 16:10).
Peter Stoner, in his book Science Speaks, calculated the odds of having just eight prophecies predicted over hundreds of years in the life of one person and arrived at one in 10 to the 17th power. Stoner described the odds of such a thing happening as filling the state of Texas knee deep in silver dollars, marking one silver dollar with an ‘X’, turning a person loose in the pile, and having them reach down and pick up the one marked silver dollar.
Keep in mind that Jesus didn’t fulfill just eight prophecies, but over one hundred. Statisticians agree that anything over 1 in 10 to the 50th power is the same as zero chance, and these odds are exceeded when you get past 20 Messianic prophecies being fulfilled in the life of Jesus. Of course, Bible critics try everything to explain away the fulfilled Messianic prophecies including the charge that Jesus knowingly did things to fulfill the predictions made about the Messiah. However, this allegation falls flat as many were beyond the ability to be humanly orchestrated (being born in Bethlehem, being from the line of David, being crucified, and of course – rising from the dead!)
Again, the Bible proves itself to be a supernatural book through the prophetic words written long ago about the first coming of the Christ. Given the track record concerning the Bible’s predictions about the first coming of Jesus, is there any reason to doubt the many prophecies that relate to His second coming? One of every 25 verses in the New Testament alone speaks about Christ’s return, which leads us to the final valuable aspect of prophecy.
Confirmation that God Will Win in the End
Uncertainty about the future tops many people’s worry list. It seems everyone gets anxious at times wondering what will happen with their job, family, health, and life in general. As Christians, we’re commanded to cast our worries on God, just as Paul says: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7). One of my favorite verses in the Bible on this subject is the confidence displayed by the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31 who works in conjunction with God and “smiles at the future.” (Proverbs 31:25).
Another wonderful fact of Bible prophecy is that it supplies assurance that God is in control and that His sovereign plan, which promises justice, goodness, and everlasting life to those who trust Him, will not be thwarted in any way. God’s unblemished track record of predicting exactly what will happen and doing what He says He will do in His word is unmatched in any other religious movement. And it is the proof of prophecy that compels the skeptic and agnostic to look hard at what the Bible says about their own human condition and eternal destiny.
The books of Daniel and much of the New Testament speak about what will happen in the future and how God will accomplish His purpose in this life. For those who trust Christ, He will be their blessed hope (Titus 2:13), but for those who deny Him through their own self-determined choice, He will be their holy terror. Daniel’s seventieth week (Daniel 11) will be played out exactly as described with God’s justice and righteousness being revealed for all to see. No other religion offers the testimony of fulfilled prophecy to back up its claims about what each man/woman should do for salvation and what the end result for this world will be.
One of God’s attributes is immutability, which means He does not change. He has a fixed plan that He has put into motion and nothing can be done to alter it by the slightest degree. Isaiah 46:9-11 says, “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’… truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.” God’s prophetic word brings assurance, confidence, and peace to those who read and believe the proof He has laid before His creation.
Saved by Prophecy
In the back of the second book I read on Bible prophecy was a “sinner’s prayer” that someone could speak to God and make Christ the Savior and Lord of their life. After reading all the convincing evidence of fulfilled prophecy, and seeing what the scriptures had to say about the second coming of Christ, I knew what I had to do. So, at age 19, I crossed my legs on the couch in my living room and called on the name of the Lord. Although I thought I was a Christian and had gone to church my whole life, I now know that up to that point I only had what is called nominal faith, meaning that I knew about, but didn’t believe in – I was a professor, but not a possessor.
God’s used the powerful message of Bible prophecy to call me out of my nominal faith and into a saving relationship with Him. I firmly believe that people who choose to read and believe the historical facts contained in Scripture that points to Christ – who choose to let God get to their heart through their head – will reach the same conclusion that I did. The weight of evidence contained in the prophetic word is simply too great to ignore.
Christ is on and between every page contained in the Bible, and He patiently waits for people to examine His word and be led by the Spirit to Him. This is no surprise as Revelation 19:10 says, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”