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How Can We Know That Any of the Prophecies Come True?

Understanding Biblical Prophecy

Biblical prophecy is a significant feature of Scripture, with many prophecies spanning from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Prophecy in the Bible is not merely about foretelling future events but also about conveying God's message to His people. As 2 Peter 1:21 states, "For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." This emphasizes that biblical prophecies are divinely inspired and serve to reveal God's sovereign plan.

The Nature of Fulfilled Prophecies

The Bible contains numerous prophecies that have been fulfilled, providing strong evidence for its divine inspiration. Fulfilled prophecy is a unique characteristic of the Bible that sets it apart from other religious texts. The accuracy and specificity of these prophecies demonstrate that they are not the result of human guesswork but of divine revelation.

Messianic Prophecies

One of the most compelling areas of fulfilled prophecy is the Messianic prophecies—predictions about the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. These prophecies, found throughout the Old Testament, were fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, providing strong evidence for the reliability of Scripture.

Birthplace of the Messiah

The prophet Micah, writing around 700 B.C.E., foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 states, "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity." This prophecy was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 2:1, "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem."

The Virgin Birth

Isaiah 7:14 prophesied the virgin birth of the Messiah, "Therefore Jehovah Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." This prophecy was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, as described in Matthew 1:22-23, "Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by Jehovah through the prophet: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which translated means, 'God with us.'"

Betrayal for Thirty Pieces of Silver

Zechariah 11:12-13 predicted the betrayal of the Messiah for thirty pieces of silver, "I said to them, 'If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!' So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then Jehovah said to me, 'Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.' So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of Jehovah." This prophecy was fulfilled in the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot, as recorded in Matthew 26:14-15, "Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, 'What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?' And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him."

Crucifixion Details

Psalm 22, written by David around 1000 B.C.E., contains several detailed prophecies about the crucifixion of the Messiah. Psalm 22:16-18 states, "For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots." These details were fulfilled in the crucifixion of Jesus, as described in John 19:23-24, "Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. So they said to one another, 'Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be.' This was to fulfill the Scripture: 'They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.'"

Resurrection Prophecy

The resurrection of Jesus was also prophesied in the Old Testament. Psalm 16:10 states, "For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay." This prophecy was fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus, as Peter explained in Acts 2:31-32, "he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses."

Prophecies Concerning Nations and Historical Events

The Bible also contains prophecies concerning nations and historical events that have been fulfilled with remarkable accuracy. These prophecies further attest to the divine inspiration of Scripture and its reliability.

Destruction of Tyre

The prophet Ezekiel, writing in the 6th century B.C.E., predicted the destruction of the city of Tyre. Ezekiel 26:3-14 describes how many nations would come against Tyre, its walls would be broken down, and it would become a bare rock. This prophecy was fulfilled through a series of events, beginning with the siege by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and later by Alexander the Great. The city of Tyre was ultimately destroyed and remains in ruins to this day.

Fall of Babylon

Isaiah 13:19-22 prophesied the fall of Babylon, stating, "And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldeans’ pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation." This prophecy was fulfilled when Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians in 539 B.C.E. The city, once a magnificent center of power, was eventually abandoned and lies in ruins, confirming the accuracy of the prophecy.

Return of Israel to the Land

The Bible contains numerous prophecies about the return of the Jewish people to their land. Isaiah 11:11-12 states, "Then it will happen on that day that Jehovah 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 prophecy has seen fulfillment in modern times with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent return of Jews from around the world.

Prophecies Concerning the End Times

The Bible also contains prophecies concerning the end times, many of which align with current global events, further validating the reliability of Scripture.

Global Increase in Knowledge and Travel

Daniel 12:4 predicts, "But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase." The rapid increase in knowledge and global travel in recent times aligns with this prophecy, suggesting its fulfillment in the modern era.

Moral Decline and Apostasy

2 Timothy 3:1-5 describes the moral decline that will characterize the last days, "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power." Observations of contemporary society reveal many of these characteristics, indicating the potential fulfillment of this prophecy.

The Role of Faith and Reason

While the fulfillment of biblical prophecies provides substantial evidence for the reliability of Scripture, faith also plays a crucial role in accepting these truths. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Faith in the Bible's prophecies is not contrary to reason but is supported by reasonable evidence and the internal witness of the Holy Spirit.

Christian apologetics bridges the gap between faith and reason, demonstrating that belief in the fulfillment of biblical prophecies is intellectually viable and spiritually enriching. As 1 Peter 3:15 exhorts, "But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." This call to defend the faith includes providing well-reasoned answers to challenges regarding the fulfillment of biblical prophecies.

The Testimony of Jesus and the Apostles

The testimony of Jesus and the apostles provides additional assurance of the reliability of biblical prophecies. Jesus affirmed the fulfillment of prophecies concerning Himself, stating in Luke 24:44, "Now He said to them, 'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.'" Jesus' fulfillment of Messianic prophecies validates their divine origin and accuracy.

The apostles also affirmed the fulfillment of prophecies. Peter, in Acts 2:16-21, cites the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy concerning the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, emphasizes the fulfillment of prophecies regarding Christ's death and resurrection, "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."

Addressing Skepticism and Misunderstandings

Skepticism regarding biblical prophecies often arises from misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the texts. Critics may argue that some prophecies are vague or self-fulfilling. However, many prophecies are highly specific and have been fulfilled in ways that could not have been orchestrated by human effort.

For example, the detailed prophecies concerning the life and ministry of Jesus, written centuries before His birth, could not have been fulfilled by chance or manipulation. The convergence of multiple prophecies in the person of Jesus Christ provides compelling evidence for their divine origin.

The Consistency and Coherence of Prophetic Fulfillment

Despite being written over a span of 1,500 years by more than 40 authors from diverse backgrounds, the Bible exhibits remarkable consistency and coherence in its prophetic fulfillment. This unity is evident in the overarching narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration that runs throughout the Scriptures. The consistency of themes, prophecies, and teachings across different books and authors points to the divine inspiration of the Bible.

For example, the prophecy of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53, written around 700 B.C.E., finds its fulfillment in the New Testament account of Jesus' crucifixion. Isaiah 53:5 states, "But he was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon him, and by his scourging we are healed." The precise fulfillment of this prophecy in the life and death of Jesus underscores the coherence and reliability of the biblical narrative.

About the Author

EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 220+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).



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