One of the things that sets the Bible apart from all other collections of writings is prophecy. The Bible often tells a story that took place in real time. Kings and sojourners wrote of their lives and their journeys as they related to God, but always, in every account is the promise of things to come. Prophecy is central to the message of the Bible. Prophecy is a strong evidence of the divine origin and inspiration of the books in the Bible. It is the fingerprint of God on His Word. There are several threads of prophecy that run through the Bible. The main thread is the prophecies that relate to the Messiah, both his first and his second coming. The very first prophecies given in scripture relate to the Messiah, as do the last. The other two important threads are prophecy relate to Israel and the Church. These are the central themes of prophecy. This is just a brief overview of some of the prophecies in the Bible
Central Prophetic Themes
Last Days Increase In Knowledge
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end:
many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
It may not be clear from this passage whether knowledge of the Bible and prophecy is meant, or knowledge in general. The fact is however that over the last several centuries knowledge on all fronts has increased exponentially. The greatest increase has been over the past several decades with our exploration of space and our increasing knowledge of molecular biology to name a few. During this time many discoveries have been made confirming the accuracy of the Bible. These include the Dead Sea scrolls, which included the book of Isaiah, adding to the confirmation that the Bible has not changed over the centuries. The increase in knowledge, that Daniel tells us would occur in the time of the end, should be obvious to anyone.
The nation of Israel is mentioned numerous times in Bible prophecy. Israel is a testimony to the fact that God is still in control of the timeline of history. The rebirth of Israel is predicted in the Bible in several places. It’s existence is considered to be a fact in the last days prophecies, even though we know that it was not a nation for more than two millennia. The fact that Israel had not been a nation for many centuries led many to believe that the prophecies of Israel were allegorical and others to believe that the Church had replaced Israel in the eyes of God.
The fact that Israel is again a nation is astounding. Israel as an autonomous government ceased to exist in 605 BC when Nebuchadnezzar set up a vassal king, and Babylon became its political master. Subsequently the empires of the Medes and Persians, the Greeks and finally the Romans controlled the nation of Israel. The Romans erased Israel from the political map in the year 135 AD, renaming the territory Syria-Palistinia, from which we got the modern name “Palestine.” For eighteen more centuries the land of Israel continued under the control of several different nations, until in 1948 it again became a sovereign state of its own, governed and inhabited by the descendants of the original kingdom.
Yet those who trusted that God’s word was accurate believed that Israel would some day become a nation again. In 1948 those prophecies began to be fulfilled. What was not widely known is that the year 1948 was actually predicted as the year that Israel would become a nation again.
There are two prophecies that are used to make these calculations, and while many have understood they relate to Israel, the actual timing was hard to pin down.
The first part of the prophecy is found in Ezekiel chapter 4:4-6.
In this passage Ezekiel recorded the Word of the Lord which told him to lay on his side for 390 days for the house of Israel and 40 days for the house of Judah. This comes to a total of 430 days. We are told that these days are equal to years. But what do these years apply to? Only if we go back to the book of Leviticus do we find something that helps to determine the actual time period. Leviticus chapter 26 tells Israel that if they do not listen to God, that he will multiply their punishment by seven.
When we use the prophecy in Leviticus and subtract the time served under the Babylonian captivity. This was 70 years. We are left with 360 years. The remaining 360 years is then multiplied by 7 we get 2520 years on a 360 day calendar. This was the calendar used by Daniel. This is then converted to a 356 day calendar so we can pinpoint the time period. The time on our calendar is 2483 years, 9 months and 21 days. This time period fits exactly in to the sequence of events that actually took place.
Nebuchadnezzar first took captives from Israel and set up the vassal king in the summer of 605 BC. The captivity ended in 536 BC. If you take the 2483 years from that time, you come to the year 1948.
2483-536=1947. There was no year 0 so you add 1 to the calculation giving you 1948.
If you use the same calculations from the year that the second temple was completed in 517 BC you come to the year 1967
2483-517=1966 +1 = 1967
In 1967 Israel retook Jerusalem in the 6-Day war. Now this is just a brief overview, the actual calculations work out much more precisely. The rebirth of Israel and the recapture of Jerusalem are not just side issues. They are central to the unfolding of the events in the last days. The fact that the prophecies in Ezekiel and Leviticus can be tied to real world events in the 20th century is no coincidence.
2nd Peter 3:4-6
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
The fact that flood geology and the Bible are mocked more than ever before needs not be expounded upon, it is obvious. This view of the Bible began in earnest in the 19th century and fulfills this first part of the prophecy.
There are several things in this passage that are relatively new ideas in history. The idea that the flood had occurred was accepted for many centuries. It was not based on scientific evidence, but on belief in the Word of God. But in the 18th and 19th centuries two lines of scientific thought began to emerge about geology, the first was that the geological features of the earth were the result of a global flood. The second was a belief that the present processes can be extrapolated backwards to explain the geologic features of the earth, or “from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” Long geological ages and evolution, the belief in an ancient evolutionary heritage, combine together to fulfill the second part of this passage. “the fathers” representing the evolutionary heritage. Both atheists and progressive creationists accept the view of long ages and gradual processes.
The second part of the passage tells us that they would be willingly ignorant that the global flood took place. Meaning it’s a choice not based on evidence, but rather by belief. Until the 19th and 20th centuries the evidence that there was a global flood from observational evidences was not well developed. People did not understand the processes that formed fossils, created rock layers, formed caves and many other geological features. It was easy to think they took long ages when the idea was introduced, but it required a dismissal of God’s Word. Today however there are many avenues of evidence that testify to the global flood and cannot be explained by uniform processes. Nevertheless even many Christians reject these evidences in favor of what secular geologists insist upon, fulfilling the third part of the passage.
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
The prophecy in Genesis (1400B.C.) indicates that the ruling power and the power to enforce the law will remain with the tribe of Judah until the Messiah (Shiloh) comes. The prophecy in Psalms (1000 B.C.) is one of the several passages that describe the crucifixion. How did the enforcement of the law relate to the Cross?
Even though the Jews lost their national sovereignty under Nebuchadnezzar and never regained it until 1948, they did not lose their ability to enforce their own laws until 6 or 7 AD. The Jews of the time recognized the significance of this event. The headlines of their day read,
“Woe unto us, for the scepter has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come.”
So what prompted the “Woe unto us” statement? The scepter was their ability to enforce their laws. As of 7 AD they no longer possessed this power. The Messiah was to come before this took place, because the scepter in essence was to be handed over to the Messiah. So they believe that the Messiah would not come, at this point at least. Their hopes of deliverance were crushed.
But we read in Luke that the young Jesus visited the temple within only a few years of the time the above passage was written. The Messiah had come before the scepter was removed exactly as the prophecy had stated.
And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
Jesus was twelve when this took place. This is the only passage in the Bible about the young Jesus and it is interesting that it would have happened so close to the removal of the scepter.
Another problem that was associated with the loss of their right to enforce their own laws was the loss of the ability to carry out capital punishment. Under Jewish law, had it been in effect after 7 AD, Jesus would have been stoned. But the Bible describes the method of the Messiahs death not as being stoned, but as being crucified. So the prophecy in Psalm 22 could not have been fulfilled until after 7 AD. This is actually one of several prophecies that can be used to “triangulate” and pinpoint the date the Messiah had to come. When the scepter departed from Judah in 7 AD the Messiah had indeed come, and the punishment for capital crimes in Judea was now crucifixion. Exactly as the scriptures had foretold.
Who really controlled the scepter?
The idea that the scepter would pass from the Jewish leaders to the Messiah never happened. Or did it? Although the Romans crucified Jesus, if you read carefully, Jesus was not crucified for any specific crime against Rome, but on the insistence of the Jews and the reluctance of Pontius Pilate to cause an incident. Who put Jesus on the Cross? It was God who was in control of the whole situation and Jesus went willingly to the cross. Jesus had indeed taken up the scepter and in so doing put himself on the cross in fulfillment of God’s Word and his perfect plan.
Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
The prophesy concerning Tyre was written in approximately 587 B.C.
It can be found in Ezekiel Chapter 26
1. Many nations (i.e. more than one) will come against you. (v 3)
2. They shall destroy the walls of Tyre (v 4)
3. They shall break down the towers (v 4)
4. The dust will be scraped from Tyre and made as a bare rock (v 4)
5. Nebuchadnezzar against the city (v 5)
6. Nebuchadnezzar will set up forts and cast up a mound (lay siege) against Tyre (v 8)
7. Nebuchadnezzar will be the one who destroys the walls and towers. (v 9)
8. They (many nations again) shall spoil the city. (v 12)
9. They shall cast the stones and timber into the water (v 12)
10. It will be a bare rock, a place for spreading nets (v 14)
11. It will be built no more. (v 14)
Imagine that each of the points in this prophecy is an arrow being aimed at a target. The
bull’s-eye being the specific fulfillment of the prophecy. Let’s look at this shot by shot and see how closely the prophecy matches with what actually took place in history. Did it miss how history unfolded, or did it hit the target every time?
Points 1 and 8: Hit. Many nations did indeed come against the city of Tyre. It began with the siege of Nebuchadnezzar and finished when Alexander destroyed the city with the help of an armada of ships from many different nations.
Points 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7: Hit. The walls and towers of mainland Tyre were destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar after a 13 year siege. The walls of the island part of the city were destroyed under Alexander. The passage also implies, by indicating that Nebuchadnezzar would not be the only nation that would come against Tyre, that he would not be the one to finally destroy it.
Points 4 and 9. Hit. In order to gain access to the island city of Tyre Alexander built a bridge to the island using the rocks from the city, fulfilling the scraping it bare as a rock and throwing the rocks and timber into the sea.
Point 10: Hit. The area where Tyre once stood spent many years just as it is described in the prophecy, a fishing town where as part of the normal processes, the nets were laid out to dry. There is no indication in the prophecy that this would be a permanent condition of the area.
Point 11. Hit. The city would be built no more. Because Tyre has had a continuous population throughout history and at times played an important role has caused some to question the accuracy of this prophecy. This is a legitimate concern.
The fact is, when we consider exactly what is said and what actually happened to the city, the prophecy was indeed fulfilled. The city was so completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the debris from it was thrown into the water by Alexander’s forces that there was literally nothing left of the original city. The subsequent constructions and communities were not built from or based on the old city in any aspect. They did not build on the old city materially, politically or socially. The only thing that remained was the name and general location. They were entirely new constructions. The city of Ezekiel’s day was not re-built, repaired or reconstructed. So the prophecy Hits on this point as well.