Friday, September 5, 2008

Prophecy Verifies the Authenticity of the Bible

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Some of the most convincing evidence of the Bible's divine inspiration is to be found in its prophecies. More than one-fourth of the Bible is prophetic in nature. Prophecy is one of the most unique features of the Bible. No other book that forms the basis of a religion contains prophecy. There are no prophecies in the Koran, the Book of Mormon, the Hindu Vedras or the sayings of Confucius or Buddha.

The Messianic prophecies are remarkable in nature. There are more than 300 of them about the First Coming of the Messiah. Many are repetitious, like the prophecy that the Messiah will be descended from the house of David. When the repetitious prophecies are culled out, there remain 108 prophecies that are separate and unique. All 108 were fulfilled in the life of Jesus. That is beyond the realm of probability.

Consider just two of these remarkable prophecies. In Micah 5 we are told the Messiah will be born in "Bethlehem Ephrathah." That prophecy was given 700 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. And notice how precise the prophecy is. It does not simply say that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem. It says, "Bethlehem Ephrathah." That's because there were two Bethlehems in Israel when Micah wrote — one in the north near the Sea of Galilee, and the other in the south near Jerusalem, in the area known as Ephrathah.

Another remarkable Messianic prophecy can be found in Psalm 22 where David wrote that the Messiah would be pierced in His hands and feet (verse 16). That prophecy was written over 1,000 years before the birth of Jesus and over 700 years before the Romans began using crucifixion as a form of execution.

In addition to the Messianic prophecies, the Bible is full of secular prophecies about cities, nations, and individuals — many of which have already been fulfilled in history. Consider, for example, Micah's prophecy that Jerusalem and its Temple would be destroyed (Micah 3:11-12). This prophecy was written over 150 years before the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple.

Micah's contemporary, Isaiah, prophesied that the children of Israel would be taken into captivity, but they would ultimately be released by a man named Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28). This prophecy was written 150 years before the reign of Cyrus who issued the order for the Jews to return home (Ezra 1:1-4).

Jeremiah prophesied that the Babylonian captivity would last exactly 70 years (Jeremiah 29:10). Years later, when Daniel discovered Jeremiah's prophecy (Daniel 9:2), he calculated that the Jews were in their 69th year of captivity. Believing that Jeremiah was a prophet of God and that his words were inspired of God, Daniel dropped to his knees and prayed for the fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy (Daniel 9:4-19). The next year the prophecy was fulfilled when the first group of Jews were sent back to Jerusalem by Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-4).

The New Testament contains similar prophecies that have been accurately fulfilled in history. Consider the prophecy Jesus made the last time He left the Galilee for Jerusalem. He put a curse upon three towns where He had focused His ministry because they had refused to repent (Matthew 11:20-24). Those towns were Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida. About 150 years later, a great earthquake destroyed all three. In fact, they were so completely destroyed, that by 1800, critics of the Bible were using these three towns as proof positive that the Bible is full of error. They claimed the towns never existed! Today, you can go visit all three because they have since been discovered by modern archeologists.

In like manner, Jesus prophesied that the city of Jerusalem and its Temple would be completely destroyed. As He put it, "There will not be left one stone upon another" (Luke 21:6). Those words were spoken in about 30 A.D. Forty years later, the Romans conquered the city and totally destroyed the Temple.

Are these remarkable prophecies and their fulfillment a matter of coincidence? I think not. Such prophetic fulfillment is beyond the realm of possibility. It carries the hand print of God.

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