Whenever you see apologists trying to provide positive evidence or justification for the Bible as the word of God, invariably it comes down to fulfilled prophesies as the real "proof in the pudding", its the argument they REALLY hang their hat on! Indeed, fulfilled prophesies would be the ONLY way that any holy book could be demonstrated or proved to be divine revelation, for no-one has the ability to predict the future. Just because a holy book seems profound, or if it might contain no errors or contradictions whatsoever, or if it were demonstrated to be completely historically accurate, that wouldn't be proof because to produce a profound, non-contradictory, and accurate book would be well within the capability of human effort. But someone who DOES compellingly predict the future MUST have gotten the knowledge supernaturally as there is rationally no other way And the Bible as well says that fulfilled prophesy is the ultimate test, the only way to know if someone is really speaking for God: "You may say in your heart, 'How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' " When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:21-22
So does the Bible contain fulfilled prophesies, thereby demonstrating its divine origin? The apologists say yes, it contains hundreds of fulfilled prophesies. The skeptics, of course, disagree. They say that not only does the Bible not contain valid fulfilled prophesies (at least not that can't be attributed to chance and back-dating), but it also contains many UNFULFILLED prophesies as well!
So who's right? Before you can discuss the subject, you have to define what is meant by a valid prophesy. First, a prophesy has to have been written or said BEFORE the fulfillment takes place. Of course that goes without saying, otherwise its not a prophesy. But in order for a prophesy to be considered as proof, for it to have any evidential value, it has to have been DEMONSTRABLY written before the fulfillment! This means that if chapter 15 in the Bible contains a prophesy that is fulfilled in chapter 16, then no, that doesn't count as evidence, especially when the dating of the text is unknown or highly disputed, and especially when many scholars place the writing (or at least the editing/redacting) of the text at well after the events! So unfortunately for the believers, this eliminates many of the claimed Biblical fulfillments. Believers will protest that this criteria is skeptically biased against the Bible, because scholars often date a text based on the assumption that it was written AFTER the event/prophesy; that is- if someone in the Bible prophesied an event that actually took place in 500 B.C., then scholars assume that the text was written or edited AFTER 500 B.C. Believers will protest that this is circular reasoning, and that the skeptics/scholars are being unfair to the Bible! But in reality this is treating the Bible the just like any other text. I doubt that the (non-Mormon) believers would be impressed if the Mormons claimed that Joseph Smith predicted something in 1850 which did actually happen in 1851, when they could only produce a text that was actually written in the 1870s. I doubt anyone would be impressed if I claimed that I predicted the 9-11 terrorists attacks, and to prove it I showed a piece of paper containing the prediction and it was dated September 9, 2001 in my own hand writing. Anything can be back-dated. If you can't prove the dating of the prophesy then it doesn't count as proof. If you are going to take the dating on faith, then you might as well take it on faith that the Bible is the word of God, in which case you don't need any proof anyway!
The second criteria for a valid prophesy is that it can't be the product of guesswork. Just to predict that a city will be destroyed, or a people will be conquered, or an empire will crumble, without providing any specifics, is just not that impressive. Probably every ancient city that ever existed was at one time (or more typically several times) destroyed, nearly every ancient people that ever existed have at one time or another been conquered and subdued, and every empire that has ever existed has eventually declined. Such has been the fate of cities, peoples, and empires throughout history. So if a prophet railed against a city in the 5th century B.C. and predicted its doom, then no, its not a valid fulfillment if the city wasn't destroyed until Muslim or crusader conquerors overran it in the middle ages.
The third criteria for a valid prophesy is that it has to be unambiguous. Many times, prophesies are written in vague, poetic, and cryptic language. Such predictions can usually be interpreted in numerous ways, and they can easily be shoe-horned after the fact to fit whatever event you wish them to. But their real hallmark is that they have no predictive value whatsoever- its only AFTER an event has taken place that they are interpreted to fit. The Nostradamus prophesies fall under this category.
The last criteria for valid prophesies are that they can't be the product of selective thinking or confirmation bias. You can't just cherry-pick the hits while ignoring the misses. If someone predicted A, B, C, D, and E, you can't count it as a success if only A and part of C happened while ignoring that B, D, and E plainly didn't. For example, believers in the psychic Jean Dixon say that she predicted in 1960 that John Kennedy would be assassinated. But they don't tell you about how many other predictions she made that turned out to be flat wrong!
Here is a look at some of the most common and compelling claims of fulfilled prophesies. It is by no means exhaustive, as this is a very big subject:
The Tyre Prophesy
Ezekiel prophesied that the city-state of Tyre would be destroyed:
therefore thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring up many nations against you, as the sea brings up its waves. 'They will destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers; and I will scrape her debris from her and make her a bare rock. 'She will be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea, for I have spoken,' declares the Lord GOD, 'and she will become spoil for the nations. 'Also her daughters who are on the mainland will be slain by the sword, and they will know that I am the LORD.'" For thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will bring upon Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses, chariots, cavalry and a great army. "He will slay your daughters on the mainland with the sword; and he will make siege walls against you, cast up a ramp against you and raise up a large shield against you. "The blow of his battering rams he will direct against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers. "Because of the multitude of his horses, the dust raised by them will cover you; your walls will shake at the noise of cavalry and wagons and chariots when he enters your gates as men enter a city that is breached. "With the hoofs of his horses he will trample all your streets. He will slay your people with the sword; and your strong pillars will come down to the ground. "Also they will make a spoil of your riches and a prey of your merchandise, break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses, and throw your stones and your timbers and your debris into the water. "So I will silence the sound of your songs, and the sound of your harps will be heard no more. "I will make you a bare rock; you will be a place for the spreading of nets. You will be built no more, for I the LORD have spoken," declares the Lord GOD. Thus says the Lord GOD to Tyre, "Shall not the coastlands shake at the sound of your fall when the wounded groan, when the slaughter occurs in your midst? "Then all the princes of the sea will go down from their thrones, remove their robes and strip off their embroidered garments. They will clothe themselves with trembling; they will sit on the ground, tremble every moment and be appalled at you. "They will take up a lamentation over you and say to you, ' How you have perished, O inhabited one, From the seas, O renowned city, Which was mighty on the sea, She and her inhabitants, Who imposed her terror On all her inhabitants! 'Now the coastlands will tremble On the day of your fall; Yes, the coastlands which are by the sea Will be terrified at your passing.'" For thus says the Lord GOD, "When I make you a desolate city, like the cities which are not inhabited, when I bring up the deep over you and the great waters cover you, then I will bring you down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of old, and I will make you dwell in the lower parts of the earth, like the ancient waste places, with those who go down to the pit, so that you will not be inhabited; but I will set glory in the land of the living. "I will bring terrors on you and you will be no more; though you will be sought, you will never be found again," declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 26:3-21 (NASB)
Amazingly, the Tyre prophecy is cited both by apologists, as an example of fulfilled prophecy, AND by skeptics, as an example of UN-fulfilled prophecy! So which is it? First, here are the undisputed facts as accepted by mainline secular historians and conservative orthodox theologians alike:
So the apologist claim that Ezekiel's prophecy was fulfilled in every detail. They say that Tyre was indeed attacked by "many nations", first the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar and then the Greeks under Alexander. They say Ezekiel's description of "throw your stones and your timbers and your debris into the water" was fulfilled when Alexander threw the material from Tyre into the sea to build his causeway, and he even used the dirt by scraping the rocks bare as foretold! And now, amazingly, Tyre is used as a place for the spreading of nets! This fulfills Ezekiel's prediction of "you will be a place for the spreading of nets". Here is a typical quote from one apologist: "today many secular scholars note that Tyre is now a place where fishermen frequently lay their nets out to dry" (from Deconstructing Tyre).
Skeptics, on the other hand, say that the prophecy was not fulfilled. They say that Tyre was not completely destroyed as prophesied, has been inhabited ever since, and that it remained a powerful city for many centuries after the defeat by Alexander. It remains an inhabited city to this day, and is the current city of Sur, Lebanon
Skeptics point out that it is even stated in Ezekiel three chapters later that Nebuchadnezzar was not able to take Tyre, and so instead God would give him Egypt:
"Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made his army labor hard against Tyre; every head was made bald and every shoulder was rubbed bare. But he and his army had no wages from Tyre for the labor that he had performed against it." Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. And he will carry off her wealth and capture her spoil and seize her plunder; and it will be wages for his army... Ezekiel 29:18-19
Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. Matthew 15:21
and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him. Mark 3:8
Paul even visited there (see also Acts 21:7):
When we came in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we kept sailing to Syria and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload its cargo. Acts 21:3
Apologists, counter these claims by saying that the city has never regained its former splendor, and is today only a small fishing village. They say that it was only the mainland part of Tyre that it was intended for the prophecy to apply to Nebuchadnezzar, and that Alexander, one of "many nations" later fulfilled the rest by taking the island city . They also like to emphasize the MAINLAND part of Tyre as being the more important and substantial part, and de-emphasize the island part- one apologists says "The city of Tyre consisted of a mainland metropolis and a small Island that stood about half a mile offshore" (from The Destruction of Tyre). Apologists also say that Tyre was later more completely destroyed by the Muslims in 1291, further fulfilling the prophecy. They will also quibble over the exact location of the old part of Tyre, saying the modern city today is in a different location, and the original location is lost, or that the ancient city is just ruins. One says "even to this day the ruins of Tyre can be seen. Nothing but a small fishing village remains and the fishermen spread their nets their to dry or to fix. The once great city of Tyre is gone. Old Tyre was never rebuilt after its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar; and there are now no traces left to mark its site.... Now Tyre "cannot be found" or rather that which was the ancient city is no longer there." (from The Destruction of Tyre)
Skeptics also say that Alexander throwing the materials into the sea to build his causeway wasn't a fulfillment. They say that the material used for the causeway was from the mainland parts of Tyre, and that it allowed Alexander to reach the walls of the island city with his siege equipment in order to break through the walls. But the prophecy specifically states that the walls and towers of Tyre itself would be thrown into the sea.
My take on it: If you make a cold-reading of the text, without any pre-conceived notions of whether it was fulfilled or not, if you didn't even know whether or not this was a Bible prophecy, then in a few words what does the text really say?
So without quibbling over whether the focus of the prophecy was on the island part or the mainland part, or where the material thrown into the sea was supposed to have come from, or whether it had to have been fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar or could have included Alexander, I instead ask myself- did the above really happen? I would have to say... um .... no. The city is still there today, it is still inhabited, and has been ever since the prophecy was made. Yes its been attacked on several occasions, its changed hands many times, but what enduring ancient city hasn't?
Did the fulfillment include Alexander? Well maybe, just maybe, we could count Alexander as being part of the "many nations" to go against Tyre, even though that was some 300 years later. But if it really applied to him as well then we might wonder, if Nebuchadnezzar can be mentioned by name, then why not Alexander? Does omniscient guidance have its limitations?
Was the focus of the prophecy more on the mainland part of Tyre, as the apologists portray, or on the island part? Its clear from the text of Ezekiel that the focus of the prophecy was against the ISLAND part, but included the mainland part as well: They will destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers... and she will become spoil for the nations. Also her daughters who are on the mainland will be slain by the sword" (Eze 26:4-6).
Regarding the spreading of nets: Are the apologists really THAT amazed, that in an old-world coastal fishing village, somewhere, at sometime, somebody would be observed spreading out fishing nets? And is the text really a prophecy that fishing nets would be spread out in Tyre? Is that really what its saying? Or is it making the point that the destruction of Tyre would be so utterly complete, that there would be NOTHING left but a bare rock, to be used for NOTHING but the spreading of nets!
Do the apologists really consider that a destruction of Tyre by Muslim invaders some 1900 years after Nebuchadnezzar is a fulfillment? Or there no limits to what can be counted? Wasn't the prophecy of doom supposed to be a punishment for Tyre? If their distant descendants 1900 years later were actually the ones punished then isn't that unjust?
What about the ancient Phoenician buildings today being nothing but ruins? Hypothetically, let's imagine that this prophecy against Tyre were never uttered. Would anyone really expect that its original ancient buildings from the six century B.C. would still be intact and standing today? While to apologists it might be a remarkable fulfillment of prophecy for an ancient city to have layer upon layer of ruins, with the more recent ruins being on top, and the ruins of the more ancient parts found by digging deeper, but to me its something called ARCHEOLOGY! And contrary to the apologists' claims, impressive Phonecian remains do uh, remain: Quotes from Phonecian Cities from Phonecia.org (a neutral site): "most of the remains of the Phoenician period still lie beneath the present town", and "In 1980, modern Tyre's impressive Roman and Phoenician remains prompted UNESCO to make the town one of its world heritage sites".
If Tyre today really is an "insignificant fishing village" as the apologists claim, then that alone would be enough to invalidate the prophecy, since it was to be "never rebuilt", "not inhabited", nothing left but a "bare rock". But a little research shows that instead of being "an insignificant fishing village", today Sur/Tyre is listed as the FOURTH largest city in Lebanon, with a population of 114,800 according to Largest Cities in Lebanon.
So it seems that the apologists have to put quite a spin on it to say the prophecy was fulfilled. Actually, that's being a little too generous. I would really say that they are outright lying to claim that Tyre was completely destroyed and hasn't been rebuilt, since here is a satellite view of modern Tyre (notice that the city is now a peninsula. with the island part and the mainland connected). But hey, that's just my take on it, what do I know?
|Apologist/Believer Essays & Links: Tyre Prophesy was Fulfilled|
Ezekiel Chapter 26- Tyre Prophesies Fulfilled by Bible study Manuals
Tyre and Sidon by biblelight.org
The Fall of Tyre from Apologetics Press
Prophecy of Tyre from Heavenly Harvest- "You will be amazed in the accuracy of this prophecy concerning the destruction of the city of Tyre, read on!!"
Deconstructing Tyre by Will Skiles
The Destruction of Tyre by Alec Field
Steel-Belted Tyre On the Tyre Prophecy of Ezekiel by J. P. Holding
Tyre Would be Attacked by Many Nations, Tyre Would be Scraped and Made Bare, Tyre's Mainland Would be Destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, Tyre's Stones, Timber and Soil Would be Cast into the Sea, and Tyre Would Never Again be Found by About Bible Prophecy
|Skeptic Essays & Links: Tyre prophesy was Unfulfilled|
The Tyre Prophecy Again by Farrell Till
A PROBLEM OF UNFULFILLED PROPHECY IN EZEKIEL: THE DESTRUCTION OF TYRE (EZEKIEL 26:1-14 and 29:18-20)
by David Thompson
The Tyre Prophecy Again by Farrell Till
Article examines the prophecy of Ezekiel 26 about the destruction of Tyre from the UK's leading atheist page
Prophecies: Imaginary and Unfulfilled by Farrell Till (deals mostly with messianic prophecies, but scroll about halfway down for a discussion of non-messianic ones)
Till's Errors Concerning Tyre Matthew Hogan responds to Farrell Till's "Prophecies: Imaginary and Unfulfilled"
Hogan's Errors Concerning Pronouns Till responds to Hogan
A Straw House Amid 10-Foot Waves Matthew Hogan responds to Farrell Till's article
A Flat Tyre online debate from theologyweb.com
The Edom Prophesy
Several of the prophets railed against Edom, the Israelites' neighbor and rival, because Edom sided with Babylon when it conquered and spoiled Judah. Edom was prophesied to be laid waste, to become a desolation, its people slain:
'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Because Edom has acted against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and has incurred grievous guilt, and avenged themselves upon them," therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "I will also stretch out My hand against Edom and cut off man and beast from it. And I will lay it waste; from Teman even to Dedan they will fall by the sword. I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel. Therefore, they will act in Edom according to My anger and according to My wrath; thus they will know My vengeance," declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 25:12-14 Ezekiel 25 in context
... 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am against you, Mount Seir, And I will stretch out My hand against you And make you a desolation and a waste. "I will lay waste your cities And you will become a desolation. Then you will know that I am the LORD. "Because you have had everlasting enmity and have delivered the sons of Israel to the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, at the time of the punishment of the end, therefore as I live," declares the Lord GOD, "I will give you over to bloodshed, and bloodshed will pursue you; since you have not hated bloodshed, therefore bloodshed will pursue you. "I will make Mount Seir a waste and a desolation and I will cut off from it the one who passes through and returns. "I will fill its mountains with its slain; on your hills and in your valleys and in all your ravines those slain by the sword will fall. "I will make you an everlasting desolation and your cities will not be inhabited. Then you will know that I am the LORD. "Because you have said, 'These two nations and these two lands will be mine, and we will possess them,' although the LORD was there, therefore as I live," declares the Lord GOD, "I will deal with you according to your anger and according to your envy which you showed because of your hatred against them; so I will make Myself known among them when I judge you... As all the earth rejoices, I will make you a desolation. "As you rejoiced over the inheritance of the house of Israel because it was desolate, so I will do to you. You will be a desolation, O Mount Seir, and all Edom, all of it. Then they will know that I am the LORD."' Ezekiel 35:1-15 Ezekiel 35 in context
"For I have sworn by Myself," declares the LORD, "that Bozrah will become an object of horror, a reproach, a ruin and a curse; and all its cities will become perpetual ruins." I have heard a message from the LORD, And an envoy is sent among the nations, saying, "Gather yourselves together and come against her, And rise up for battle!" "For behold, I have made you small among the nations, Despised among men. "As for the terror of you, The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, O you who live in the clefts of the rock, Who occupy the height of the hill. Though you make your nest as high as an eagle's, I will bring you down from there," declares the LORD. "Edom will become an object of horror; everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss at all its wounds. "Like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah with its neighbors," says the LORD, " no one will live there, nor will a son of man reside in it. Jeremiah 49:1-18 Jeremiah 49 in context
The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, It is sated with fat, with the blood of lambs and goats, With the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah And a great slaughter in the land of Edom. Wild oxen will also fall with them And young bulls with strong ones; Thus their land will be soaked with blood, And their dust become greasy with fat. For the LORD has a day of vengeance, A year of recompense for the cause of Zion. Its streams will be turned into pitch, And its loose earth into brimstone, And its land will become burning pitch. It will not be quenched night or day; Its smoke will go up forever. From generation to generation it will be desolate; None will pass through it forever and ever. But pelican and hedgehog will possess it, And owl and raven will dwell in it; And He will stretch over it the line of desolation And the plumb line of emptiness. Its nobles--there is no one there Whom they may proclaim king-- And all its princes will be nothing. Thorns will come up in its fortified towers, Nettles and thistles in its fortified cities; It will also be a haunt of jackals And an abode of ostriches. The desert creatures will meet with the wolves, The hairy goat also will cry to its kind; Yes, the night monster will settle there And will find herself a resting place. The tree snake will make its nest and lay eggs there, And it will hatch and gather them under its protection. Yes, the hawks will be gathered there, Every one with its kind. Seek from the book of the LORD, and read: Not one of these will be missing; None will lack its mate. For His mouth has commanded, And His Spirit has gathered them. He has cast the lot for them, And His hand has divided it to them by line. They shall possess it forever; From generation to generation they will dwell in it. Isaiah 34:6-17 Isaiah 34 in context
... says the Lord GOD concerning Edom... "Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You are greatly despised. "The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, You who live in the clefts of the rock, In the loftiness of your dwelling place, Who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to earth?' "Though you build high like the eagle, Though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down," declares the LORD. "If thieves came to you, If robbers by night-- O how you will be ruined!-- Would they not steal only until they had enough? If grape gatherers came to you, Would they not leave some gleanings? "O how Esau will be ransacked, And his hidden treasures searched out! "All the men allied with you Will send you forth to the border, And the men at peace with you Will deceive you and overpower you. They who eat your bread Will set an ambush for you. (There is no understanding in him.) "Will I not on that day," declares the LORD, "Destroy wise men from Edom And understanding from the mountain of Esau? "Then your mighty men will be dismayed, O Teman, So that everyone may be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter. "Because of violence to your brother Jacob, You will be covered with shame, And you will be cut off forever. "On the day that you stood aloof, On the day that strangers carried off his wealth, And foreigners entered his gate And cast lots for Jerusalem-- You too were as one of them. Obadiah 1:1-11 Obadiah 1 in context
Apologists say that the prophecies of Edom's destruction have come true, that the nation of Edom exists no more and has become a desolation. One site states: "The history books tell us that Edom did OK for perhaps a hundred years after their final warning from God’s prophets. Then, during the fifth century (400-499) B.C. the “Edomites” were overwhelmed by other Arab groups. In turn, these groups were taken over by the Nabataeans, who started living in the area sometime around 312 B.C. By the way, the Nabataeans, not the Edomites, are the people who cut the temples in the sandstone walls of Petra. Under the Nabataeans, the city of Petra flourished until 106 A.D., when the Romans conquered Petra. From that time it slid into disuse, to the point that Edom was almost uninhabited from the 7th to the 12th century A.D. It revived slightly in the 12th century when the crusaders built a castle there called Sel. Afterward, it remained so forgotten that it had to be rediscovered in 1812 by Swiss traveler Johann. L. Burckhardt."
The apologists also say that in fulfillment of the prophecies, Edom is now a desert waste: "Captain Mangles, who visited these ruins, says, that when surveying the scenery of Petra, ‘the screaming of the eagles, hawks, and owls, who were soaring over our heads in considerable numbers, seemingly annoyed at any one approaching their lonely habitation, added much to the singularity of the scene.’ So plentiful, as observed by Mr. Cory, ‘are the scorpions in Petra, that, though it was cold and snowy, we found them under the stones, sometimes two under one stone!"
Skeptics, on the other hand, say the prophecies were not fulfilled. Farrell Till states: "[Jeremiah] said of Edom, "No one shall remain there, nor shall a son of man dwell in it" (49:18), and of the Edomite city of Bozrah, he said that "it shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse" (v:13). Ezekiel declared that Yahweh would make the land of Edom "desolate from Teman even unto Dedan" (25:13). Despite these tirades, the region that once was Edom is inhabited today by Jordanians who now incorporate the territory into their country. The modern city of Buseirah now occupies the site where Bozrah was located, and Tawilan is the modern name for Teman. The prophetic descriptions of what was to become of Edom do not "accurately tell the history of that now bleak region, as Ross claims."
My take on it: In a nutshell, what the prophesies state is that Edom would be laid waste, all (or most?) of the people killed, and it would remain a desolation forever, "no-one will live there", "None will pass through it forever and ever". The area would be nothing but a haunt for desert creatures.
Well did that happen? Certainly desert creatures must inhabit the area. But it IS a desert region, for crying out loud! I'm sure that it was a desert region, inhabited by desert creatures before those prophesies were made as well. But what actually happened, according to this site, is that the Idumaeans/Edomites were subdued by the (Jewish) Hasmonaean Dynasty, forcibly circumcised, and merged with the Jews. The famous King Herod was Idumaean/Edomite. So that isn't exactly the same as all or most of the people being killed, the entire region laid to waste, and never inhabited again. Neither is being "overwhelmed by Arab groups", as the apologists says. And saying that "none will pass through it forever and ever" is a pretty darned direct and unambiguous statement, one that obviously has not been fulfilled, since this area is now an inhabited part of Jordan.
|Apologist/Believer Essays & Links: Edom Prophesy was Fulfilled|
Edom in Bible Prophecy by Thomas Williamson
|Skeptic Essays & Links|
Moab and Edom from bibleplaces.com
Land of Edom from Daily Bible Study
There were a number of prophecies concerning Babylon, such as:
Babylon would conquer and rule Judah for 70 years:
"Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, 'Because you have not obeyed My words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,' declares the LORD, 'and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. 'Moreover, I will take from them the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Jeremiah 25:8-11 Jeremiah 25 in context
Babylon's gates would open for Cyrus, incredibly, Cyrus is mentioned by name some 200- 300 years? in advance:
Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand, To subdue nations before him And to loose the loins of kings; To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut Isaiah 45:1 Isaiah 45 in context
Babylon's kingdom would be permanently overthrown, never inhabited again:
Behold, I am going to stir up the Medes against them, Who will not value silver or take pleasure in gold. And their bows will mow down the young men, They will not even have compassion on the fruit of the womb, Nor will their eye pity children. 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; Nor will the Arab pitch his tent there, Nor will shepherds make their flocks lie down there. Isaiah 13:17-20
"Babylon will become a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals, An object of horror and hissing, without inhabitants. Jeremiah 51:37
Babylon would be reduced to swampland:
"I will also make it a possession for the
hedgehog and swamps of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction," declares the LORD of hosts.
So did these things happen as prophesied? Yes Judah was conquered and ruled by Babylon. Yes, Cyrus did conquer and overthrow Babylon. Babylon did eventually fall into a state of ruin many centuries later (after the Muslim conquest of AD 641). (Babylon was located about 50 miles south of today's Baghdad).
And apologists say that Babylon did indeed become swampland. One says "Archaeologists excavated Babylon during the 1800s. Some parts of the city could not be dug up because they were under a water table that had risen over the years".
Some apologists say that the local Arabs are superstitious about going to the site of ancient Babylon, and refuse to camp there overnight One says "But in accordance with this prophecy the Arabs are suppositious about the place and not only will not stay overnight in the area, but will not even work for the Archaeologist on the site. They have had to bring in people from other areas". However, skeptics point out that the verse actually says that no-one would ever even pass through there . That certainly has not come true. There have been modern excavations, and Saddam Hussein had restored some of the ruins and even built a palace there. Today the site is being protected by U.S. troops (see here) (Update: U.S. troops are now coming under criticism for damaging the ruins, see here). Also, another verse says that Babylon would also be covered over by the sea! That certainly hasn't happened:
The sea has come up over Babylon; She has been engulfed with its tumultuous waves. Her cities have become an object of horror, A parched land and a desert, A land in which no man lives And through which no son of man passes. Jeremiah 51:42-43
But with those quibbles aside, the main issue here is the authorship and dating of the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah. Regarding Isaiah, conservative and orthodox theologians accept the traditional view that the entire book of Isaiah was written by the prophet Isaiah in the 8th century B.C., some 2 centuries before the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon. However, the more commonly accepted scholarly position is that the book was actually the product of three authors, first Isaiah, the prophet of the 8th century, second or deutero-Isaiah, an unknown prophet who lived in Babylonian exile in the 6th century, and a third Isaiah, a 6th century post-exilic writer. More liberal scholars maintain that the book continued to be edited/redacted until as late as the 2nd? century.
The authorship and dating of Jeremiah is disputed as well. It is thought by many to be the work of several authors, including the Deuteronomic school of theologians. The book of Jeremiah (chapter 52) even includes material copied from 2 Kings 24:18-25:30. Here are a few quotes from The Jewish Encyclopedia to show that authorship is disputed: "At the beginning of the book is a superscription (i. 1-3) which... fixes the period of his prophetical activity... to... 586 B.C. This period certainly does not cover the whole contents of the book; hence probably the superscription was originally that of an older book of smaller compass... it is very difficult to fix the date of composition... the superscription is undoubtedly a later addition... This group contains passages that belong to earlier and later dates... Other passages in this group should be excluded as not being by Jeremiah, or at least as having been only partially written by him... Again, the following section, x. 1-16, is certainly not genuine.. A considerable portion of this section is shown to be secondary matter by the fact that it is lacking in the text of the Septuagint. At any rate, examination leads to the conclusion that this section, like so much else in the Book of Jeremiah, was worked over afterward..." Skeptic Farrell Till also shows some evidence that the 9th century A.D. Masoretic text has insertions not found in the Septuagint.
The view that these books are the results of different authors at different times is the result of textual analysis and criticism. That is, scholars look at the writing style, historical setting, use of anachronisms, and other textual clues to try to determine the source and dating of the text. And yes, this includes assuming that fulfilled prophetic details are actual history written after the events. Textual criticism is the exact same method scholars use for analyzing any other ancient text. But when it comes to analyzing other ancient texts, say- some ancient Assryian text, nobody really cares that much what the scholars have to say, except for the other scholars working in that field. But people sure care about it when the ancient text being analyzed is the Bible!
My Take on it: It can't be proved one way or the other whether the orthodox view or critical view is the right one. The critical scholars do offer rational and compelling arguments in support of their views. But then apologists present counter-arguments that may not be totally without merit. The whole thing is pretty complicated. But the point is, it cannot be conclusively demonstrated that these prophesies were indeed written before the events, and it may well be, according to the views of major scholars with impressive letters behind their names, that they were actually written after. So until it can be proven, then it really doesn't provide any evidentiary value. If someone wants to take it on faith, that's fine, but an appeal to faith is not evidence!
Also, the apologist's claim that the site of ancient Babylon is now swampland is bogus. It was located on the banks of the Euphrates, so maybe the water table does periodically rise and fall, but is the site a swamp? Photos from this site show it not to be swampland.
|Believer Essays & Links: Babylon Prophecy was Fulfilled|
Babylon: A Test Case in Prophecy from the Christian Courier
Babylon would rule Judah for 70 years , Babylon would be attacked by the Medes, Babylon's kingdom would be overthrown, permanently, Babylon would be reduced to swampland, Babylon's gates would open for Cyrus all from AboutBibleProphecy.com
|Skeptic Essays & Links|
Critique of Josh McDowell's Non-Messianic Prophecies by Steven Carr Note: scroll down about 2/3rds of the way to the section on Babylon
Herbert Armstrong Disproves Bible from Painful Truth, see discussion on Babylon in bottom part of article
Prophecy of Seventy Years of Servitude to Babylon by Dr James Price, presenting Jeremiah 25:1-4 as a fulfilled prophecy.
Bad Example of Prophecy Fulfillment
Solving the Jeremiah Problem Dr. Price responds to Till
Happened to the Burden-of-Proof Factor?
The 70-Year Prophecy: Undeniable Evidence Dr. Price disputes Mr. Till's assertion that he (Price) has the burden of proof
the Null Hypothesis
Responding to the Undeniable Till responds to Price's Undeniable Evidence essay
It was prophesied that Nineveh would be destroyed by fire, the Ninveites wiped out, Nineveh would be destroyed permanently, and Nineveh's officers would desert:
Draw for yourself water for the siege! Strengthen your fortifications! Go into the clay and tread the mortar! Take hold of the brick mold! There fire will consume you, The sword will cut you down; It will consume you as the locust does. Multiply yourself like the creeping locust, Multiply yourself like the swarming locust. You have increased your traders more than the stars of heaven-- The creeping locust strips and flies away. Your guardsmen are like the swarming locust. Your marshals are like hordes of grasshoppers. Settling in the stone walls on a cold day. The sun rises and they flee, And the place where they are is not known. Your shepherds are sleeping, O king of Assyria; Your nobles are lying down. Your people are scattered on the mountains And there is no one to regather them. There is no relief for your breakdown, Your wound is incurable. All who hear about you Will clap their hands over you, For on whom has not your evil passed continually? Nahum 3:14-19
Ninevites would be drunk in their final hours:
Like tangled thorns, And like those who are drunken with their drink, They are consumed As stubble completely withered Nahum 1:10
Here again the issue is when was the text written. This one doesn't make an especially compelling case for Bible prophecy, considering the words of one apologist claiming fulfillment: "He is believed to have delivered his prophecies about Nineveh shortly before they were fulfilled". The apologist says it was written in "perhaps 614 BC" and fulfilled in 612 BC.
|Apologist/Believer Essays & Links: Nineveh Prophecies Fulfilled|
Nahum Prophecies by aboutbibleprophecy.com
of Ancient Assyria Smiths Bible Dictionary from bible-history.com
|Skeptic Essays & Links|
History of Assyrians (neutral history)
AllRefer Encyclopedia Nineveh (neutral history)
Egypt was prophesied to become a lowly kingdom and no longer rule over the other nations:
It will be the lowliest of kingdoms and will never again exalt itself above the other nations. I will make it so weak that it will never again rule over the nations. Ezekiel 29:15
The apologists say that this was an amazing prophecy to make against the once powerful nation of Egypt. One says "Up until the time of Ezekiel, Egypt had been a world power for centuries, dominating many nations, including Israel. But for most of the past 2500 years, Egypt has been controlled by foreign powers... since the time of Ezekiel, it no longer rules over other nations.".
However the skeptics like to point out another part of the prophecy concerning Egypt that is often not mentioned by the apologists. Ezekiel said that Egypt would be totally devastated by Nebuchadnezzar, and would be utterly uninhabited for a period of 40 years. No people or animals would even pass through it:
Egypt will become a desolate wasteland....I will make the land of Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush. No foot of man or animal will pass through it; no one will live there for forty years. I will make the land of Egypt desolate among devastated lands, and her cities will lie desolate forty years among ruined cities. And I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries...At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the nations where they were scattered. I will bring them back from captivity and return them to Upper Egypt, the land of their ancestry. Ezekiel 9-14
My take on it: Obviously it has never happened that Egypt has been uninhabited for 40 years. It also appears that even though Nebuchadnezzar did drive Egypt from Syria-Palestine, he was unable to conquer Egypt itself and certainly didn't devastate it (though he may have attempted an invasion). The Encyclopedia of World History states "Necho II suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Carchemish (605) at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. The Egyptians were driven from Syria-Palestine, but in 601 they stopped the Babylonians at the border of Egypt".
Now is it accurate to say that Egypt is the lowliest of nations? It is true that Egypt is not the great power it once was in ancient times, but is that all that extraordinary? Babylon (today's Iraq), Persia (today's Iran), Assyria (today's Syria), Greece under Alexander the Great, Rome (and today's Italy), and Mongolia under Ghengis Kahn, were all at one time great empires that ruled much of the then-known world. But today, they are ALL countries without an empire, and they no longer rule other nations. Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal are three other nations that in more recent times commanded large empires, but today they, for the most part, don't rule any other nations. And Egypt certainly isn't the LOWLIEST of nations today, it is a significant nation of the Middle East, and probably the most significant nation in the entire continent of Africa (except for perhaps South Africa).
|Apologist/Believer Essays & Links|
Egypt Would Never Again Rule Over Nations from About Bible Prophecy
A Lowly Kingdom from the Christadelphians
|Skeptic Essays & Links|
Another Prophecy Failure from the Skeptical Review
Ezekiel's Prophecy Against Egypt by Dave Matson
Ezekiel Was a False Prophet by Kyle Williams
Egypt History from the Institute for Biblical and Scientific Studies
Jews to Return to Israel and Be a Nation Again
It is commonly claimed/believed that the Bible predicted the return of the Jews to Israel, as well as the establishment of modern-day Israel. Below are the typical claims made by the apologists and the Bible verses they quote. They say that incredibly, the Bible predicted over 2000 years prior that the modern nation of Israel would be established, and this was amazingly fulfilled in 1948!:
Claim & verses:
God promised to restore the Jews:
In that day the LORD will start His threshing from the flowing stream of the
Euphrates to the brook of Egypt, and you will be gathered up one by one, O sons of Israel.
It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were perishing in the land of
Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD in the holy mountain at Jerusalem.
Isaiah 27:12-13 Isaiah
27 in context
"Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring
your offspring from the east, And gather you from the west. "I will say to the
north, 'Give them up!'And to the south, 'Do not hold them back ' Bring My sons from afar
And My daughters from the ends of the earth Isaiah 43:5-6
Isaiah 43 in context
"Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply.
"I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will
not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing," declares the LORD.
"Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I will raise up for David a righteous
Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land.
"In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His
name by which He will be called, 'The LORD our righteousness.' ... As the LORD lives, who
brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.' Then they will live on their own soil."
Jeremiah 23:3-6, 8 Jeremiah
23 in context
"Now therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning this city of which you say, 'It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine and by pestilence.' "Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety...."Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. "They shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. "I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. "I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul... 'Men will buy fields for money, sign and seal deeds, and call in witnesses in the land of Benjamin, in the environs of Jerusalem, in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the lowland and in the cities of the Negev; for I will restore their fortunes,' declares the LORD." Jeremiah 32:36-37, 37-41, 44 Jeremiah 32 in context
Isaiah spoke of a Israel being reborn in one day (modern Israel was declared/established in one day):
"Before she travailed, she brought forth; Before her pain came, she gave birth to a boy. "Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons. Isaiah 66:7-8 Isaiah 66 in context
The second Israel would be more impressive than the first:
"Therefore behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when it will no longer be said, 'As the LORD lives, who
brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,' but, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the
land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.' For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.
Jeremiah 16:14-15 Jeremiah
16 in context
"Then get yourself an iron plate and set it up as an iron wall between you and the city, and set your face toward it so that
it is under siege, and besiege it This is a sign to the house of Israel.
"As for you, lie down on your left side and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel on it; you shall
bear their iniquity for the number of days that you lie on it. "For I have assigned you a number of days corresponding to the years of their iniquity, three hundred and ninety days; thus
you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. "When you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah; I have assigned it to you for forty days, a day for
each year. Ezekiel 4:3-6 Ezekiel
4 in context
"Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "I will
gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel."
Ezekiel 11 in context
"I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land. Ezekiel 34:13 Ezekiel 34 in context
Israel would be re-gathered:
"For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.
Ezekiel 36:24 Ezekiel
36 in context
So I prophesied as He commanded me... I will open your graves and
cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel...
"I will (put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done
it... take for yourself one stick and write on it, 'For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions'; then take another stick and write on it, 'For
Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.... "Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand."'
"The sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes.
"Say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land;
and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms.
Ezekiel 37:10-22 Ezekiel
37 in context
"Also I will (AM)restore the captivity of My people Israel,
And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine,
And make gardens and eat their fruit. "I will also plant them on their land,
And they will not again be rooted out from their land Which I have given them," Says the LORD your God.
Amos 9:14-15 Amos
9 in context
Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy Though I fall I will rise; Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me. I will bear the indignation of the LORD Because I have sinned against Him, Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me He will bring me out to the light, And I will see His righteousness. Then my enemy will see, And shame will cover her who said to me, "Where is the LORD your God?" My eyes will look on her; At that time she will be trampled down Like mire of the streets. It will be a day for building your walls. On that day will your boundary be extended. Micah 7:8-11 Micah 7 in context
Jews to be Regathered:
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. Isaiah 11:12 Isaiah
11 in context
So were these prophesies fulfilled when the modern nation of Israel was established in 1948? Amazingly yes! according to the apologists. Indeed, if it were really unequivocally shown that the events of 1948 were foretold over 2000 years prior then that truly WOULD be amazing! After all, no one could say that THIS prophecy was written after the fact! Also, no one could say that it was obvious that it would happen- on the contrary it seems against all odds that the Jews could persevere and retain their identity through millennia of persecution and dispersion, and then come back and establish a nation! (not to mention repelling a combined attack by several Arab nations on the very day of establishment) So is there something to this? Do the believers finally here have an iron-clad case of amazing prophecy fulfillment that defies any attempts at rational explanation? Is this finally the Bible's irrefutable proof of divine inspiration?
My take on it: First, it could be said that this prophecy has a certain ring to it of self-fulfillment. The establishment of Israel was the culmination of the Zionist movement, which was based on the belief that the area was given to the Jews by God, a belief that was based on the text in the Jewish Bible saying so (though there were secular Zionists as well). As a result, Jews began to migrate back to the area of Palestine in large numbers starting at the end of the 19th century. And the establishment of Israel was largely made possible by the efforts of Great Britain and the United States, two nations with a large portion of people who likewise believed that the
land indeed was promised by God to the Jews, with this belief stemming once again from the presence of the Biblical text stating as much. This belief combined with a unique conjugation of events taking place at the time, such as the burgeoning Jewish population of Palestine/Israel, the inevitable ethnic conflict resulting between the Jewish immigrants staking a claim for the land and the native residents, the rising demands of the Zionists for a Jewish state, the massive global shakeup and re-drawing of borders that accompanied the end of World War II, and last but not least- the collective guilt of the world over the events of the holocaust. So this combination of events, though unique, certainly could provide a rational explanation for the establishment of Israel, without any need for divine or miraculous intervention.
But of course believers can say that the events leading up to the establishment of Israel were a case of God intervening in history in order to fulfill his plan for the world. And the self-fulfillment aspects don't really seem like enough of a counter to such a seemingly compelling case of prophecy fulfillment, when you consider the incredible odds against the Jews ever possessing the land of Israel again, intervention of Britain and the U.S. notwithstanding.
But the main issue is whether these predictions were really about the establishment of modern Israel in 1948, or whether they were supposed to happen in ancient times, that is with the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon. So that is the crux of the matter. Were the prophets simply providing hope to the exiled Jews, promising that if they repented of worshipping other gods and remained true to Yahweh, they would be renewed and would soon return to their beloved land? And did later post-exilic writers and redactors expound upon the promise to show that the return had been predicted all along and was the result of direct intervention of Yahweh? Were these writers simply trying to give the events a theological explanation, that Yahweh restored them due to their repenting and purging the worship of other gods? And if so, was the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948 the furthest thing from the minds of these writers?
If it can be undeniably shown that the prophesies applied to the modern state, and couldn't have applied to an ancient fulfillment, then the believers have a strong case for an amazing case of fulfillment. But if it can be undeniably shown that the prophesies applied to ancient times and couldn't apply to the modern state, then well, there goes that argument.
Below are the parts of the Biblical text that point to an ancient fulfillment and not a modern one. And though apologists might want to claim even an ancient fulfillment as miraculous, that doesn't seem nearly as amazing because you're back to the question of the dating of the text. Since many scholars consider the writing, editing, and redacting of parts of the texts as post-exilic (see discussions on Isaiah and Jeremiah above), an ancient fulfillment just doesn't have the impact that the modern fulfillment would.
Arguments and Text That Indicate an Ancient Fulfillment:
To Isaiah, the dispersed were in Babylon, Egypt, and Assyria, which coincides with the Diaspora of ancient times (see here) but not of modern times (with the dispersed being mostly in Europe, Russia, and America):
In that day the LORD will start His threshing from the flowing stream of the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt, and you will be gathered up one by one, O sons of Israel. It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD in the holy mountain at Jerusalem. Isaiah 27:12-13
Isaiah 43 indicates that the return was in conjunction with the defeat of Babylon:
"Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, And gather you from the west. "I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not hold them back ' Bring My sons from afar And My daughters from the ends of the earth, All the nations have gathered together So that the peoples may be assembled Who among them can declare this And proclaim to us the former things?...Thus says the LORD your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, "For your sake I have sent to Babylon, And will bring them all down as fugitives, Even the Chaldeans, into the ships in which they rejoice...Who brings forth the chariot and the horse, The army and the mighty man (They will lie down together and not rise again; They have been quenched and extinguished like a wick)... "Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:5-9, 14, 17, 19
Jeremiah 23 verse 5 is referring to the Messiah "a righteous branch of David". Judah was supposed to be re-gathered and saved in "His days", yet the biggest Diaspora and worst destruction of all occurred shortly after Jesus' day in 70 A.D. (though many will say that this is not referring to Jesus' first coming but rather to his second coming and millennial reign)
"Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. "I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, (nor will any be missing," declares the LORD. "Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land." In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, 'The LORD our righteousness.' Jeremiah 23:3-6
Jeremiah 32 is definitely referring to return from Babylonian exile:
"Now therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning this city of which you say, 'It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine and by pestilence.' Jeremiah 32:36
If Isaiah 66 is talking about the establishment of Israel in modern times, then why is it threatened that "those who eat swine's flesh and detestable things" will come to an end? Isn't that part of the law, that according to Christianity is no longer in effect? Didn't Jesus nail the law to the cross? If it refers to modern times, does that mean God is going to kill the Christians because they eat pork? Also, in verse 19 it says that some would be sent to "the distant islands that have not heard of (God's) fame". What part of the world in 1948 had not yet heard of the Jewish God?
For the LORD will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by the LORD will be many. "Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go to the gardens, Following one in the center, Who eat swine's flesh, detestable things and mice, Will come to an end altogether," declares the LORD.... "I will set a sign among them and will send survivors from them to the nations: Tarshish, Put, Lud, Meshech, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have neither heard My fame nor seen My glory And they will declare My glory among the nations". Isaiah 66:16-17,19
Jeremiah 16 says that before God restores the sons of Israel he will repay them for their idols and abominations. That seems to be more applicable for ancient times, because the modern Jews certainly have not been worshipping idols! On the contrary they have remained true to their God through the millennia of dispersion and persecution.
but, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.' For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers... "I will first doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted My land; they have filled My inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable idols and with their abominations." Jeremiah 16:15, 18
The apologists say that Ezekiel 4 predicts when Israel would be established... Huh? It says that the northern kingdom of Israel would bear iniquity for 390 years and Judah for 40 years. The time that elapsed between the destruction of Jerusalem and the modern establishment of Israel was more like 1878 years!
"For I have assigned you a number of days corresponding to the years of their iniquity, three hundred and ninety days; thus you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. "When you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah; I have assigned it to you for forty days, a day for each year. Ezekiel 4:5-6
In Ezekiel 11, it is indicated in verses 24-25 that the exiles are in Babylon, and the theme continues in Ezekiel 12. So it seem that this this restoration promised was the one after the Babylonian captivity, not the restoration of the modern state of Israel:
And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God to the exiles in Chaldea. So the vision that I had seen left me. Then I told the exiles all the things that the LORD had shown me... "I will also spread My net over him, and he will be caught in My snare And I will bring him to Babylon in the land of the Chaldeans; yet he will not see it, though he will die there. "I will scatter to every wind all who are around him, his helpers and all his troops; and I will draw out a sword after them. "So they will know that I am the LORD when I scatter them among the nations and spread them among the countries. "But I will spare a few of them from the sword, the famine and the pestilence that they may tell all their abominations among the nations where they go, and may know that I am the LORD." Ezekiel 11:24-25, 12:13-16
Apologists use Isaiah 11 as ammunition to claim a reference to a modern fulfillment, because it says the Lord will "again recover the second time". So out of context they say that the first return was from Babylonian exile, and the second return is the modern one. Even though the nations/peoples of Assyria, the Phillistines, Edom, and Moab are no longer in existence, the apologists could say the text is referring figuratively about those same regions and the descendants of those same people that exists today. However in context, you see plainly that the first return is the exodus from Egypt, so that makes the second return the one from Babylon.
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. They will swoop down on the slopes of the Philistines on the west; Together they will plunder the sons of the east; They will possess Edom and Moab, And the sons of Ammon will be subject to them And there will be a highway from Assyria For the remnant of His people who will be left, Just as there was for Israel In the day that they came up out of the land of Egypt. Isaiah 11:11-16
Return of the ten lost tribes of Israel predicted
Apologists say a future return was predicted in addition to the ancient return. This is because the prophets not only predicted that the dispersed of the southern kingdom of Judah would return from exile, they also predicted that the lost tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel would return as well. (The ten lost tribes were forcibly expelled and dispersed by the Assyrians when the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by King Sargon of Assyria in 722 B.C. See here under "The Conquest of Israel") Since the return of the lost tribes didn't happen with the return of 597 B.C., it is claimed that this must happen in modern times with a second return.
There will be a highway for the remnant of his people that is left from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from Egypt... those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD in the holy mountain at Jerusalem.... They will come trembling like birds from Egypt, like doves from Assyria. I will settle them in their homes," declares the LORD ... I will bring them back from Egypt and gather them from Assyria. I will bring them to Gilead and Lebanon, and there will not be room enough for them. Isaiah 11:16, Isaiah 27:13, Hosea 11:11, Zechariah 10:9-11
So the fact that the return of the lost tribes from Assyria didn't happen gives hope/indication to the apologists that it must happen in the future. However a more skeptical view is that the prophets/writers were simply wrong. Since it was actually happening that the exiles from Babylon were returning to Judah, they also hoped that the dispersed from Assyria would soon return to Israel as well. They hoped and longed for a return to a glorious united kingdom under a Davidic king. But the reason the lost tribes didn't return then and can't return now is that they were not actually "lost". They simply assimilated into the melting pot of the Assyrian kingdom when they were forcibly scattered throughout it. Their descendants are very much with us today in the region, its just that they lost their ethnic and religious distinctiveness. They intermarried and dropped their Yahweh religion and Hebrew names and identities.
So in closing, do the Bible prophesies regarding the return of the Jews and restoration really apply to the establishment of modern Israel? Or do they refer to the ancient return from exile? Well, in some cases its ambiguous. But where there IS a clear indication, in every case it seems to be referring to an ancient return and could not apply to a modern one. In no cases are there any clear indications that it is referring to a modern return. But hey, that's just my take on it. What do I know?
|Apologist/Believer Essays & Links|
Focus On Jerusalem, Library The Jews in Prophecy
Old Testament prophecies and modern fulfillments from About Bible Prophecy
Bible Prophecies Foretold the Return of Jews to Israel from The Refiner's Fire a messianic Jewish website
Regathering of Israel from About Bible Prophecy
10 Prophecies fulfilled in 1948 from 100 prophecies.org
Aliyah - The Second Return from Israel My Beloved, a Christian group advocating support for Israel
The Second Return to the Land from Bible Studies at the Moorings
|Skeptic Essays & Links|
When Did the Wolf Dwell With the Lamb? Farrell Till looks at the regathering of Israel Prophesies
Was the return of Israel prophesied a debate thread from Christian Forums
So does this claim hold up? Does the Bible really contain fulfilled prophecies, predictions of the future? Is this the indisputable proof we need to really accept the Bible as the word of the creator of the universe? Well apologist's, for so much fanfare, my opinion is no, your arguments come up way short. Not when you have many reputable, mainstream scholars dating either the writing or the editing/redacting of the text to after the events. And not when you have many of the predictions of doom for cities and nations that were so vague, even you say they weren't fulfilled until hundreds or thousands of years later. And not when you have to pick and choose the bits that seem to have come true, but ignore the ones that haven't. And not when you have to put a desperate spin on events to claim fulfillment. And not when you have to use rather, uh, dubious claims (some might call it lying) such as saying that the city of Tyre was never rebuilt or inhabited again, when there is a city there today, or saying that the site of ancient Babylon has become a swamp, when that is untrue.
If God REALLY wanted to include indisputable proof that the Bible is his word, then why didn't he include a few direct predictions of the MODERN future as well? Then there would be no doubt whatsoever whether the predictions were backdated! No, I'm not talking about some vague, cryptic, symbolic mumbo-jumbo that could be interpreted in a myriad of ways (like how you see people claiming that today's current events were prophesied in the Bible). I'm talking about a prediction that is direct, unambiguous, and indisputable, that is specific, describing the event in detail, giving the place AND the exact date. Then no-one would have to argue about whether it was really fulfilled or not. If an omniscient being wants to give proof that he inspired a book by including predictions of the future, then why not give predictions of the future? To avoid any suspicions of self-fulfillment, it would preferably be something that couldn't be influenced by humans, such as a natural disaster. Plus, such predictions would have the added benefit of actually doing some good by giving people warning of the impending disaster. If the Bible contained something like the below predictions, NOBODY could dispute whether they had occurred, or were the product of guesswork, or were written after the fact, or were self-fulfilling:
12And it shall come to pass, that on the twenty-fourth day, in the eight month, of the nineteen hundred and ninety-second year on the new calendar, 13an ill wind will arise from the sea, and bring with it destruction into the land of the new world, a land yet to be discovered. 14It will come about on that day, the twenty-seventh of the fifty united, the state whose name means "land of flowers", will bear the eye of the one whose name means "strong man". 15It will happen on that day that the land of the homesteaders will become a desolation. 16Then after two more days have passed, in that eighth month, of the nineteen hundred and ninety-second year, the strong man will yet visit the eighteenth of the fifty, the state that governs from the red staff. 17On his visit to the eighteenth the strong man will not be so strong, and his desolation will not be so great, as with his visit to the twenty-seventh. Chapter 3, RIC Hypothetical Book of No-Sh*t Prophecies
Though scholars debate when the above text was written and redacted, even the most liberal and secular scholars agree that it achieved its final form no later than the 2nd or 3rd century B.C. This text is taken by all except for the most hardened, closed-minded, and hair-brained skeptics to be a direct, unambiguous prediction of Hurricane Andrew (the name Andrew means "strong man") striking the United States (the fifty united) in August of 1992. Exactly as predicted, the hurricane first struck Florida (the 27th state, with the name Florida meaning "land of flowers", and devastated Homestead (land of the homesteaders) on August 24th. Exactly as predicted, two days later Andrew struck Louisiana (the 18th state), whose capital is Baton Rouge (the name means "red stick" in French). The damage to Louisiana was not as severe because the hurricane hit a more sparsely populated area, and the storm had weakened by then. Amazingly, this prediction was uttered by the prophets well over 2000 years ago!- even though they didn't understand what they were prophesying!! How did they know? How did they get so many details right and nothing wrong? [UPDATE: I wrote that uhm... prediction, prior to Hurricane Katrina devastating the Gulf coast in 2005. In hindsight, that one would have been a better one to use. Its just goes to show you that its much harder to write a prophecy BEFORE the event than after!]
24On the twenty-sixth day, in the twelfth month, of the two thousand and fourth year on the new calendar, it shall come to pass that the land beneath the sea will shake and tremble with a great and mighty force. 25Off the islands of the southern sea, to the south of the world's mightiest continent, the land beneath will rise and fall with a force measured at nine and zero-tenths on the scales. 26Across many nations, from the islands of the far east, far beyond the great river of the Indus, westward to the coast below Cush, it will come to pass that the waters of the deep will rise up and cover the land. 27How dreadful to those who are near the coast, who will look in horror at the roaring of the sea and the crashing of the waves as they are swallowed by the deep. 28Those who do not flee for their lives, those who do not flee for the highlands, will be swept away! The deep will rise up, the great waters will cover multitudes, the waters of the deep will become their grave, and they will be no more! 29Of many nations the coastland will become a desolation, everything within the water's reach, even entire villages will be shattered to pieces and will be no more. Chapter 5, RIC Hypothetical Book of No-Sh*t Prophecies
On December 26th, 2004, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred beneath the Indian Ocean. Massive tsunami waves resulted, engulfing entire coastlines across many nations, killing some 50,000* people from Indonesia to Somalia. Modern science had no idea this catastrophe was coming! But somehow, ancient Hebrew prophets knew! They foretold this terrible event over 2000 years prior! Amazingly, they got every detail right! They foretold the magnitude of the earthquake (a force measured at nine and zero tenths on the scales), they foretold the location of the quake (off the islands of the southern sea, south of the world's mightiest continent (Asia)), they foretold the area of destruction (from the islands of the far east (Indonesia), far beyond the great river of the Indus (beyond India), westward to the coast below Cush (Somalia), and they even predicted the exact date it would happen! Even though some 50,000* people died, experts estimate that the death toll would have probably been at least three times higher, had God not provided this warning in the Bible! It is extraordinary to consider that Bible believers were notably absent among the dead! The skeptics scoffed at this prediction, and they were among those who were swept away! But not the Bible believers. They knew the truth! They knew to stay away! [*The tsunami really killed about 150,000, but if this hypothetical prophesy had been written then the number might have been only 50,000.]
Undoubtedly, apologists and Christians would scoff at my suggested Biblical prophesies. But why? They might say that it would have confused the people in Biblical times to include those, that they wouldn't have known what the prophets were talking about. But according to the apologists, some of the actual Biblical prophesies weren't fulfilled for hundreds or thousands of years later. How would the people have know what they were talking about for those? And the apologists even say that sometimes the prophets themselves didn't even understand what they were prophesying. "I'm being too demanding in asking for prophesies of modern-day events", they might say. But THEY are the ones that say the establishment of Israel in 1948, a modern event, was prophesied. And if the Bible is God's final revelation to all of humanity, from now until the end of the world, then shouldn't it include a few tidbits for us, the modern world in the 21st century? Does it ALL have to be written for ancient goat herders? And I'm not even insisting for a modern event to have been foretold. Prediction of even an ancient event like the eruption of Mount Vesuvius would do. All I'm asking for is something that happened without a doubt AFTER the text took its final form (the Mt Vesuvius eruption would have to be in the Old Testament, since the New was being compiled during that time). "But God doesn't work like that", they might say. What... are my hypothetical predictions TOO clear-cut, are they TOO unambiguous, are they TOO indisputable? But THEY are the ones they say the Bible contains clear-cut, unambiguous, undeniable predictions of future events. To say that my hypothetical foretellings are TOO undeniable is to admit that the actual Bible predictions aren't so undeniable after all. "To make them that obvious takes all the faith out of it", they might say. But THEY are the ones that say that God has given rational proof of the Bible's divine inspiration by including undeniable predictions. To fall back on an appeal to faith admits that the rational proof side of the argument falls short. "Even if the Bible included such direct predictions, the skeptics STILL wouldn't believe", would probably be the apologist's argument of last resort. But that argument is bogus. Sure, there might be SOME incredibly hardened and closed-minded skeptics that still wouldn't admit those hypothetical predictions were valid, but any rational person couldn't deny it. Its a matter of preponderance of evidence, I suppose. In one case, the evidence is so weak that it takes a lot of rationalizing and gyrations to put a spin that the prediction was valid (the Bible prophecies). In the other case, the evidence would be so strong that it would take a lot of rationalizing and gyrations to put a spin that the prediction WASN'T valid (my hypothetical no-sh*t prophecies). But hey, that's just MY take on it. What do I know?
Essays generally on the subject of Bible Prophecies.
Fulfilled Prophecy: Evidence for the Reliability of the Bible
Dr. Hugh Ross attempts to prove the infallibility of the Bible
Retrospective Biblical Predictions from Fiction to Truthifiction Sol Abrams presents examples of Biblical predictions which either went unfullfilled, or were made after the "predicted" event had occurred.
Biblical Predictions Neither Retrospective nor Fiction Roger Hutchinson takes issue with Sol Abrams’ claims that some biblical prophecies were written retrospectively.
Retrospective History Farrell Till replies to Roger Hutchinson’s article.
Debunking Prophecy Apologetics. Part 2 Does the Bible contain predictive prophecy a debate thread from Christian Forums.
Prophecy for Dummies the late Allan Glenn's hilarious piece that exposes the methods used by prophecy claimants
Some Bible Prophecies That Failed from Capella
All Prophets Were False! by Stephen VanEck, from the Skeptical Review
Another Prophecy Failure from The Skeptical Review
Failed Prophecies from Rejection of Pascal's Wager
Amazing Witness of Fulfilled Prophecy from the Christadelphians
Cyrus the Great in Biblical Prophecy from the Christian Courier
Is the Bible the Word of God? (Scroll down to the part about fulfilled prophecies)
Old Testament Prophecy Fulfilled in History A Ready Defense
Prophetic Predictions Prove the Bible's Authority by R. Totten
Is the Bible Reliable? Prewritten History--Part 1 by John MacArthur
Bible Prophecy- Convincing Proof That God Exists from the Christadelphians
A Ready Defense- Old Testament Prophecy Fulfilled in History from greatcom.org
Who Wrote the Bible? Part 3 Who wrote/compiled/edited (and when) the various prophetic books (Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.) and the wisdom literature (Psalms, Proverbs, etc.) in the Old Testament? from The Straight Dope
The Diaspora from the Jewish Virtual Library
|Joseph Smith and Ellen White Were Prophets Too!|
Fulfilled Prophecies of Joseph Smith by Jeff Lindsay
|No They Weren't!|
Joseph in the Batter's Box Christian apologist J.P. Holding has no problem making a rational analysis to tear apart the Mormon claims of Joseph Smith's fulfilled prophesies, something he seems incapable of doing when it comes to those found in the Bible.
Reader Essays on the Subject
your own essay! and I'll post it here. Please first see the rules
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Note: these Bible verses (unless otherwise noted) are from the New American Standard Bible
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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