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Bible Prophecy – world history foretold

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The rise of prophets in the Bible

In the Old Testament God’s people belonged to the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah. However, these two kingdoms declined because of their disobedience to the commands of God. The kingdom of Israel was eventually overthrown and the people taken captive and exiled. Although Judah continued another 140 years after the overthrow of Israel they in time suffered the same fate and the kingdom of Judah likewise ceased to exist. During the years leading up to the inevitable collapse of Israel and Judah, the disobedient people were continually warned of the impending destruction by righteous prophets of God.

Prophets functioned as channels of communication from God to humans, and from humans to God. The prophets were raised up by God to individually fulfill varying missions. Some brought messages of doom, some brought messages of hope, and some revived and returned the people to the laws of God. Because God’s inspiration (influence) was upon them, their message referred not only to their own days, but to future events concerning Israel, the world, and the Kingdom of God.

Prophecy is not restricted to the foretelling of future events. Its function is much wider than that. When it was given, it was primarily concerned with the present, speaking God’s word to the nation who had forsaken His ways, denouncing their sins, calling them to repentance, warning them of coming judgment. The root meaning of the word prophet is "one who speaks for another". They were a watchman or one who sees things which are hidden from others. As a result, in the Bible you can frequently read of the visions which the prophets saw, resulting in their impassioned messages of spiritual encouragement and predictions of future events.

Why God uses prophecy

The prophets in the Bible were speaking prophecy. Prophecy is, in part, saying what will happen in the future. From the very beginning, God has had a plan for the earth and the human race and He will see it slowly but surely come to completion. God has used prophecy at various times in past to tell us what will happen next in his plan – so that we can be prepared….and sometimes warned.

Prophecy is a remarkable way of proving the Bible to be true! Consider the following examples.

Example one – Jeremiah and Babylon

The hanging gardens of Babylon

At the beginning of the 6th century, Babylon was visually one of the wonders of the ancient world. It had magnificent gates and walls which were covered in ornate designs. Its hanging gardens were once one of the Seven Wonders of the World and its surrounding countryside was a fertile plain. Babylon was the capital of

the land which we now call Iraq (the city was on the river Euphrates 80 kilometers south of modern Baghdad). Babylon had conquered so much territory that she ruled the mightiest empire the world had then seen. However, the prophets of the Bible continually criticised the city for its idolatry and its reliance on astrologers and its treasures.

However, things changed in the book of Jeremiah with regard to Babylon. In that book, the city became the object of rebuke and all that is visually great about the city is threatened with destruction. The Bible said plainly that this city was to be punished for its wickedness. Babylon was to be destroyed and remain a collection of uninhabited ruins.

This is what the prophet Isaiah said about Babylon in about 710 BC:

And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited, nor will it be settled from generation to generation; nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there. But wild beasts of the desert will lie there, and their houses will be full of owls. 1

This is what the prophet Jeremiah said about Babylon in the sixth century BC:

It shall be inhabited no more forever, nor shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation…They shall not take from you a stone for a corner, nor a stone for a foundation, but you shall be desolate forever, says the Lord…Babylon shall become a heap, a dwelling place for jackals, an astonishment and a hissing, without an inhabitant. 2

You can visit the site of the city of Babylon today, and see how precisely the prophecy has been fulfilled. Babylon, whose surrounding countryside was then a fertile plain now lies deserted. When you visit the site now all you see is the deserted heaps of ruins, just waiting to be excavated by archaeologists.

There isn’t even a Bedouin encampment to be found there for the ruins make it to inhospitable to provide grazing for their flocks. The only things that can be found amongst the fallen towers of Babylon are wild beasts and birds.

Jeremiah and Isaiah say that Babylon would lie in waste and that is exactly what happened to it, right through to today.

Example two – Ezekiel and Tyre

Like Babylon, Tyre was a major city. It was a seaport and was the capital city of the Phoenicians. Her navy dominated the Mediterranean, and her traders owned the greatest fleet of merchant ships in the ancient world. The Bible made it clear that Tyre would be punished for its wickedness. But the punishment for Tyre was going to be different to what it was for Babylon – the city of Tyre would also be destroyed but it would not remain in ruins. In her case, the very stones of the city were all to be cast into the sea.

This is what the prophet Ezekiel said about 590 BC:

They will plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise; they will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses; they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water…I will make you like the top of a rock; and you shall never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken. 3

If you want to look at the ruins of ancient Tyre today, you will need scuba diving gear! History tells how the ruins of the city really were cast into the sea, hundreds of years after Ezekiel had said they would be. In 332 BC, Alexander the Great wanted to subdue an island fortress off the coast, near the ruins of the former city of Tyre. He achieved his aim by building a causeway out to the island, and he used the remains of the ancient city of Tyre for material. Every piece of rubble from the ruins of Tyre was used by Alexander, so that the site really was, as Ezekiel put it, "made like the top of a rock". In addition, as the prophet foretold, the site of the old city was never built on again. The city of Tyre mentioned in the New Testament, and which still exists today, stands on an entirely different site.

So the prophecy of Ezekiel was completely and accurately fulfilled. Ezekiel says that the city of Tyre would be submerged. If you go to Israel today that is where Tyre is, in the ocean.

Example three - Nahum and Nineveh

In a similar way to Babylon and Tyre, the prophet Nahum said in about 710 BC that the city of Nineveh (capital of the ancient nation of Assyria) would lie empty in the future. Again this is true through to today.

The prophecy of the history of the world

The next prophecy we will consider was made by the prophet Daniel and he gave a extremely accurate prophecy about the history of the world from 600 B.C. right through to now....and into the future! You can read about this prophecy in part two of this article.

Top of page       Go to part 2

Articles in the series:     12 reasons to believe in the Bible

The Harmony of the Bible
Accuracy in historical events
Historians and the Bible agree
Bible prophecy
Jews: scattered & regathered
World focus: modern Israel
Law of Moses:ahead of its time
Physical evidence:Archaeology
Nature & Universe - designed
Jesus Christ - univentable
Jesus Christ - resurrection proof
The Bible and science agree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

1

Isaiah 13: 19 to 21

2

Jeremiah 50:39; 51:26; 51:37

3

Ezekiel 26:12; 26:14

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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 April 2013