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<h1>Can You Believe Bible Prophecy?</h1> <div id="pnlArticleMetaData"><span class="authors">by Noel Hornor, Roger Foster</span> <span class="reading-time">Estimated reading time: 18 minutes.</span> <span class="posted-date">Posted on <strong>26-Sep-1999</strong></span> </div> <div id="pnlArticleTeaserText">Can you believe in the Bible as what it claims to be&mdash;the inspired Word of God? Can we know for sure? Its pages issue a challenge to skeptics: Who but an almighty, all-powerful God can predict the future, then bring to pass what He has foretold? Are you willing to take God up on His challenge, to see whether prophecy indeed proves the Bible is the Word of God? </div> <span id="ArticleSpan"><P>If you aren&rsquo;t sure whether the Bible should be trusted as the inspired Word of God, you belong to a significant majority. Surveys of Americans, Europeans and others repeatedly confirm that few know what the Bible&nbsp;says.</P> <P>The majority of those questioned could not even recall the names of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).</P> <P>Most people are familiar with some stories from the Bible but have limited knowledge and understanding of its content. Many who say they do not believe the Bible reject it without even reading&nbsp;it.</P> <P>Our educational systems lock out the Bible. Even religious leaders vigorously disagree on which and how much of its teachings apply to whom. Those who take the time to study it are in the distinct minority. It is little wonder biblical illiteracy is so&nbsp;widespread.</P> <H3>The Importance of&nbsp;Prophecy</H3> <P>The Bible claims that it was inspired by God. It even quotes Him saying, &ldquo;I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the <EM>end</EM> from the <EM>beginning,</EM> and from ancient times things that are not yet done ...&rdquo; (Isaiah 46:9-10, emphasis added&nbsp;throughout).</P> <P>How credible is the Bible&rsquo;s claim that it can foretell the future, that it contains the very words of God predicting events long before they come to pass? Can we find reliable evidence to back up this&nbsp;statement?</P> <P>On a more personal level, what evidence would make that claim believable to you? Are you prepared to accept the reliability of the Bible if its claims can be documented and verified? If the Bible indeed predicts the future&mdash;and if God Himself will bring to pass what the Bible foretells&mdash;what are the implications for us of that demonstration of God&rsquo;s inspiration and&nbsp;power?</P> <P>Believe it or not, it is prophecy, the most-scoffed-at part of Scripture, that is one of the elements of the Bible easiest to check for accuracy. Many biblical prophecies have already come to pass. By comparing the Bible&rsquo;s predictions with what actually happened, we can test the Bible&rsquo;s reliability. We can discover for ourselves whether it should be regarded as the inspired Word of&nbsp;God.</P> <P>An excellent example of where the Bible can easily be tested is prophecies foretelling the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ. Amazing details of His life and work were revealed and recorded by several writers centuries before He was born. The sheer number of these predictions, with their astonishingly accurate details, powerfully support the validity of <A href="http://www.ucg.ca/booklets/up/" target="_blank">Bible prophecy</A>.</P> <P>(You will find a partial listing of the many prophecies about Christ and references to their fulfillment in &ldquo;<A href="/beyond-today-magazine/issues/?get=/the-good-news/jesus-christ-in-prophecy">Jesus Christ in Prophecy</A>&rdquo;. We urge you to look up each scriptural reference, including the prophecy and its recorded fulfillment, in your own&nbsp;Bible.)</P> <H3>God&rsquo;s Challenge to&nbsp;Skeptics</H3> <P>God has long urged skeptics to examine prophecy as a proof of His existence and reliability. To those who in ancient times worshiped worthless idols rather than the true God, He issued this challenge: &ldquo;Bring in your idols to <EM>tell us what is going to happen.</EM> Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come, tell us what the future holds, so that we may know you are gods&rdquo; (Isaiah 41:22-23, New International&nbsp;Version).</P> <P>God recorded prophecy and its fulfillment to prove He is truthful and we can trust His words. By predicting events centuries in advance, then insuring they come to pass, He gives us irrefutable proof of both His existence and the inspiration of His Word, the&nbsp;Bible.</P> <P>If we can demonstrate that God has already fulfilled many prophecies, it should be obvious that He also has the power to fulfill prophecies of the future. &ldquo;Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass,&rdquo; He tells us. &ldquo;I have purposed it; I will also do it&rdquo; (Isaiah 46:11).</P> <P>Since so much prophecy relates to conditions and events leading up to Jesus Christ&rsquo;s return&mdash;a time world conditions indicate may be quite soon&mdash;shouldn&rsquo;t we take God up on His challenge? Wouldn&rsquo;t it be helpful to know what the Bible predicts concerning that time, and whether those prophecies are&nbsp;believable?</P> <P>The prophet Daniel predicted, long in advance, many events that have already occurred. But some of his prophecies are yet to be fulfilled. Concerning some of those future prophecies, God told Daniel to &ldquo;shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end ...&rdquo; (Daniel 12:4).</P> <P>This verse indicates that certain major prophecies will be much more understandable to those who serve God as the time of the end approaches. Daniel also indicates that the prophetic meaning of certain crucial world events and conditions leading up to the time of the end will be understood by the people of God even as they are occurring (Daniel 12:9-10; Amos 3:7).</P> <P>The Bible presents itself as a trustworthy guide in these matters. It has accurately predicted much of what we know as history. Similarly, it was written to help us understand what is yet to&nbsp;happen.</P> <P>Let&rsquo;s compare several Bible prophecies to their fulfillments. Let&rsquo;s discover whether these occurrences are evidence that demonstrates that the Bible is indeed the Word of God and whether it is a trustworthy source of information critical to our&nbsp;future.</P> <P>Some people have referred to <A href="http://www.ucg.org/bible/prophecy/" target="_blank">Bible prophecy</A> as history written in advance. Is&nbsp;it?</P> <H3>Daniel in the Skeptic&rsquo;s&nbsp;Den</H3> <P>The prophecies of Daniel supply many keys for establishing the accuracy of all Bible prophecy. Many of his prophecies are so specific that, if they can be demonstrated to be true, only the most prejudiced minds could continue to doubt and reason their way around&nbsp;them.</P> <P>The actions of some skeptics are quite revealing. They do not even attempt to challenge the accuracy of the<EM> content</EM> of Daniel&rsquo;s prophecies. They don&rsquo;t dispute that they are astonishingly accurate. Rather than admitting that Daniel&rsquo;s words are indeed inspired, however, they resort to labeling his book a&nbsp;fraud.</P> <P>How? They simply deny that the book was written in the sixth century B.C., as indicated by the historical events recorded in the book itself. Instead they claim it was penned by an unknown author sometime after 200 B.C., long after many events prophesied in the book had already occurred. This, Daniel&rsquo;s critics conveniently allege, is the only plausible explanation for the book&rsquo;s startling prophetic&nbsp;accuracy.</P> <H3>Examining the Skeptics&rsquo;&nbsp;Approach</H3> <P>Let&rsquo;s consider the nature of these critics&rsquo; approach. They begin by disputing Daniel&rsquo;s authorship because he refers to himself in the third person in his early&nbsp;chapters.</P> <P>However, as Gleason L. Archer Jr., professor of Old Testament and semitics at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, points out, this &ldquo;was the custom among ancient authors of historical memoirs&rdquo; (<EM>The Expositor&rsquo;s Bible Commentary</EM>, 1985, Vol. VII, p. 4). Daniel was merely adhering to the accepted writing conventions of his time. In relating some of his personal feelings and experiences, however, Daniel did appropriately write in the first person (Daniel 7:15; 8:15; 9:2;&nbsp;10:2).</P> <P>The identity of Daniel&rsquo;s critics is also significant. The first person known to have questioned the authenticity of Daniel&rsquo;s authorship was the Greek scholar and historian Porphyry, who lived A.D.&nbsp;233-304.</P> <P>Porphyry is labeled by historians as a Neoplatonist, meaning he subscribed to the doctrines of the Greek philosopher Plato. What were his fundamental beliefs? &ldquo;Porphyry is well known as a violent opponent of Christianity and defender of Paganism&rdquo; (<EM>Encyclopaedia Britannica</EM>, 11th edition, Vol. 22, p. 104,&nbsp;&ldquo;Porphyry&rdquo;).</P> <P>Since Porphyry was an enemy of Christianity, his objectivity is questionable when he writes about Christianity or the Bible. Further, he revealed no factual basis for his opinion, and his view contradicts the testimony of Jesus Christ, who explicitly refers to Daniel as the author of the book that bears his name (Matthew 24:15).</P> <P>The biblical scholar Jerome (A.D. 340-420) refuted Porphyry&rsquo;s contention. Thereafter no one took Porphyry&rsquo;s remarks seriously again until many centuries later. &ldquo;... He was more or less dismissed by Christian scholarship as a mere pagan detractor who had allowed a naturalistic bias to warp his judgment. But during the time of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, all supernatural elements in Scripture came under suspicion; and Porphyry&rsquo;s theory received increasing support ...&rdquo; (Archer, p.&nbsp;13).</P> <P>Scholars with liberal leanings still recycle these centuries-old arguments. Historian Eugene H. Merrill, professor of Old Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, says their beliefs are built on feeble evidence. &ldquo;... [Daniel&rsquo;s] rhetoric and language are eminently at home in the sixth century [B.C.], the era in which the book purports to have been written,&rdquo; says Dr. Merrill. &ldquo;It is only on the most subjective and circular lines of evidence that the man [Daniel] and his writing have been denied historicity&rdquo; (<EM>Kingdom of Priests, </EM>1996, p.&nbsp;484).</P> <H3>Phenomenal Prediction and&nbsp;Fulfillment</H3> <P>The accuracy of Daniel&rsquo;s prediction of remotely distant events is spectacular. For example, he wrote the &ldquo;70 weeks&rdquo; prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27) in &ldquo;the first year of Darius&rdquo; (verse 1). The first year of Darius was 539 B.C. (Merrill, p.&nbsp;486).</P> <P>In this prophecy God specifies a period of 70 &ldquo;sevens&rdquo; or 70 &ldquo;weeks of years,&rdquo; to complete the salvation of His people. A total of 69 of these &ldquo;weeks of years&rdquo; (7 + 62 <B>X</B> 7 = 483 years) specifies the period that would elapse from the order to rebuild the Jerusalem temple (Ezra 1:1-4) until the first appearance of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, 3&frac12; years before His death. That decree was given in 457 B.C. (Archer, p.&nbsp;114).</P> <P>Exactly 483 years later (taking into account the fact there is no year 0 between 1 B.C. and A.D. 1) Jesus Christ began preaching in Galilee (Mark 1:1, 14). In this amazing prophecy, Daniel predicted &ldquo;the precise year of Christ&rsquo;s appearance and the beginning of his ministry in A.D. 27&rdquo; (Archer, p. 9). His death was also predicted in Daniel 9:26.</P> <P>Daniel&rsquo;s final &ldquo;week of years&rdquo; (the 70th week) was to be delayed until the time of the &ldquo;abomination of desolation&rdquo; mentioned by Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:15). At that time, says Daniel, &ldquo;the horde of an invading prince will work havoc on city and sanctuary. The end of it will be a cataclysm, inevitable war with all its horrors. The prince will make a firm league with the many for one of the seventy [weeks of years]; and, with that one half [3 &frac12; years] spent, he will put a stop to sacrifice and offering. And in the train of these abominations will come the perpetrator of desolation; then, in the end, what has been decreed concerning the desolation will be poured out&rdquo; (Daniel 9:26-27, Revised English Bible). To better understand this prophecy, be sure to read &ldquo;Just What Is the Abomination of Desolation?,&rdquo; beginning on page&nbsp;9.</P> <H3>Nebuchadnezzar&rsquo;s&nbsp;Dream</H3> <P>Daniel records another remarkable prophecy, his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar&rsquo;s dream, in chapter 2. In the second year of his reign the Babylonian king had a troubling dream that none of his counselors could explain. Babylonian culture placed considerable emphasis upon dreams, and Nebuchadnezzar was convinced this one was of great importance (Daniel 2:1-3).</P> <P>His dream gives us a &ldquo;disclosure of God&rsquo;s plan for the ages till the final triumph of Christ&rdquo; and &ldquo;presents the foreordained succession of world powers that are to dominate the Near East till the final victory of the Messiah in the last days&rdquo; (Archer, pp. 39,&nbsp;46).</P> <P>The Bible records that Daniel, under inspiration from God and without prior knowledge of the dream&rsquo;s content, explained the details of the dream to Nebuchadnezzar: &ldquo;You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image&rsquo;s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thigh of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay&rdquo; (Daniel 2:31-33).</P> <P>Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar his Babylonian Empire was represented by the head of gold (verses 37-38). The silver, bronze and iron-and-clay components of the image, or statue, represented three powerful empires that were to follow mighty Babylon (verses&nbsp;39-40).</P> <P>This divine interpretation of the dream provided Nebuchadnezzar as well as Daniel with an astounding preview of history. The dream occurred and Daniel interpreted it about 600 B.C. The image in the dream represented the sequence of great empires that would dominate the civilized world&rsquo;s political scene for centuries. Notice how accurately it was&nbsp;fulfilled.</P> <P>&ldquo;The silver empire was to be Medo-Persia, which began with Cyrus the Great, who conquered Babylon in 539 ... This silver empire was supreme in the Near and Middle East for about two centuries&rdquo; (Archer, p.&nbsp;47).</P> <P>&ldquo;The bronze empire was the Greco-Macedonian Empire established by Alexander the Great ... The bronze kingdom lasted for about 260 or 300 years before it was supplanted by the fourth kingdom&rdquo;&nbsp;(ibid.).</P> <P>&ldquo;Iron connotes toughness and ruthlessness and describes the Roman Empire that reached its widest extent under the reign of Trajan&rdquo; (ibid.). Trajan reigned A.D. 98-117, and the Roman Empire itself ruled for many&nbsp;centuries.</P> <P>The fourth empire was depicted as having 10 toes. The feet and toes are composed partly of iron and partly of clay, as verse 41 explains. &ldquo;Verse 41 deals with a later phase or outgrowth of this fourth empire, symbolized by the feet and ten toes&mdash;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&rdquo;&nbsp;(ibid.).</P> <H3>Another Dream Adds Important&nbsp;Details</H3> <P>Additional aspects of this succession of world-ruling empires were revealed to Daniel in a later dream. This time the four empires were represented by four beasts: a lion (Babylonian Empire), a bear (Persian Empire) and a leopard (Greco-Macedonian Empire) and a fourth beast described as &ldquo;terrible&rdquo; and unlike the other three (Daniel 7:1-7).</P> <P>&ldquo;After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. (Daniel 7:7, NKJV).</P> <P>What does this description mean? It is a reference to the great power of the Roman Empire, which crushed all who opposed it. &ldquo;Thus the superior power of the colossus of Rome ... is emphasized in the symbolism of this terrible fourth beast&rdquo; (Archer, p.&nbsp;87).</P> <P>What is the meaning of the 10 horns? The ultimate fulfillment of this part of the prophecy is yet in our future. &ldquo;The ten horns appear to refer to an end-time revival of the Roman Empire ...&rdquo; (Archer, p.&nbsp;25).</P> <P>This concurs with Daniel 2:44, which obviously indicates that the second coming of Christ will occur in a time during which vestiges of the fourth beast, or kingdom, still exist: &ldquo;And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand&nbsp;forever.&rdquo;</P> <P>The greater part of these prophetic events, as detailed by the two dreams, has already been fulfilled. Babylon, the dominant power of Daniel&rsquo;s day, fell (the circumstances are recorded in Daniel 5). It was succeeded, in turn, by the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greco-Macedonian Empire of Alexander the Great, and the Roman Empire&mdash;just as revealed to and recorded by&nbsp;Daniel.</P> <P>The fulfillment of these detailed prophecies dramatically affirms the divine inspiration of the Bible. The odds against any person being able to accurately predict these monumental occurrences in the history of mankind defy all rational possibilities. Therefore, Daniel&rsquo;s statement that &ldquo;there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days,&rdquo; becomes all the more credible (Daniel 2:28).</P> <H3>The Bible&rsquo;s Most Detailed&nbsp;Prophecy</H3> <P>Daniel 11 records another phenomenal prophecy. The chronological setting is given in Daniel 10:1 as the &ldquo;third year of Cyrus king of Persia.&rdquo; A &ldquo;man,&rdquo; no doubt an angel (Daniel 9:21), came to tell Daniel what would occur in the &ldquo;latter days&rdquo; (Daniel 10:14).</P> <P>The prophecy that follows is the most detailed in the Bible. The third year of Cyrus was more than 500 years before the birth of Christ. Yet this prophecy foretells events that would begin to occur almost immediately and will continue until the return of&nbsp;Christ.</P> <P>The initial stages of the prophecy confirm the accuracy of the Bible because they are already fulfilled. They can be verified by a careful study of the Persian and Greek empires. It is unimaginable that any human being on his own could foresee such fine historical&nbsp;detail.</P> <P>Some elements of what follows are intricate, requiring close attention. But a comparison of the prophetic words with the historical record makes them&nbsp;clear.</P> <P>The first 35 verses of Daniel 11 predicted, centuries in advance, the protracted wars and political intrigue between two political entities labeled the &ldquo;king of the South&rdquo; and the &ldquo;king of the&nbsp;North.&rdquo;</P> <P>In secular history the various kings of the south were of the Ptolemy dynasty, ruling from Alexandria in Egypt. The kings of the north ruled from Antioch in Syria, often under various forms or combinations of the names Seleucus and&nbsp;Antiochus.</P> <P>At this point the prophecy Daniel 11 takes on a different tone, shifting to &ldquo;the time of the end&rdquo; near the end of verse 35. To quote Dr. Archer again: &ldquo;With the conclusion of the preceding pericope [extract] at v. 35, the predictive material that incontestably applies to the Hellenistic empires and the contest between the Seleucids and the Jewish patriots ends&rdquo; (p. 143). (For a thorough explanation of this extremely accurate and detailed prophecy, be sure to request your free copy of our booklet <A href="http://www.beyond-today.ca/beyond-today-magazine//booklets/BT/"><STRONG>Is the Bible True?</STRONG></A>)</P> <H3>Interpreting Prophetic&nbsp;Evidence</H3> <P>Liberal and conservative scholars agree that all of Daniel 11 up to verse 35 contains strikingly accurate descriptions of the whole sweep of events from the reign of Cyrus to the unsuccessful effort of the infamous Antiochus Epiphanes to stamp out the Jewish&nbsp;faith.</P> <P>However, scholars differ greatly in their approach to the prophetic evidence. It is vital we understand the basis of those&nbsp;differences.</P> <P>Dr. Archer explains that to some scholars the biblical &ldquo;pattern of prediction and fulfillment [presents] compelling evidence of the divine inspiration and authority of the Hebrew Scriptures, since only God could possibly foreknow the future and see to it that his announced plan would be precisely&nbsp;fulfilled.&rdquo;</P> <P>Others, however, take a vastly different view. Assuming God does not exist, they believe there can be no inspired prophecy or its divinely guided fulfillment. Like Porphyry, they must brand the books of the biblical prophets as fraudulent, claiming the only explanation for their startling accuracy is they must have been written after the fact. To think otherwise would require them to accept a divine Being who can foretell events down to their smallest&nbsp;details.</P> <H3>Differing Responses to Evidence of&nbsp;God</H3> <P>Some atheists admit they reach their conclusions because they simply do not want God telling them how to&nbsp;live.</P> <P>For instance, Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) wrote of his bias: &ldquo;I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption ... The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics; he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves&nbsp;...</P> <P>&ldquo;For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation ... We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom ... There was one admirably simple method of ... justifying ourselves in our political and erotic revolt: we could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever&rdquo; (<EM>Ends and Means, </EM>1937, pp. 270,&nbsp;272-273).</P> <P>Huxley admitted his reasons for rejecting a God who would tell mankind how to live. How much more plainly can it be said? Many of those who work so hard to challenge and deny the authority of the Bible do so because they do not want God telling them what to&nbsp;do.</P> <H3>Will You Trust Such Evidence of&nbsp;God?</H3> <P>What is your to response to such evidence of God? Can you honestly accept its implications? Does solid evidence that much of Bible prophecy has been fulfilled precisely as it was written impress&nbsp;you?</P> <P>In this article we have only scratched the surface of prophecies that have already been fulfilled precisely as predicted. Many books detail the fulfillment of hundreds of prophecies. You can trust Bible prophecy as proof of an all-knowing, almighty God who can foretell the future and then bring it to&nbsp;pass.</P> <P>Bible prophecy is not simply a dry, dusty record of predictions fulfilled in history. Prophecy is living. Even now, many biblical prophecies are coursing toward their fulfillment. Based on the many past prophecies fulfilled in minute detail, we can be confident that God&rsquo;s predictions through His prophets will come to&nbsp;pass.</P> <P>The stage appears to be set for many astounding prophecies to be fulfilled in our times. We would do well to heed the words of Him who tells us, &ldquo;I have purposed it; I will also do it&rdquo; (Isaiah 46:11). <EM>GN</EM></P></span>
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