Personal Apologetic: Prophecies About Today

When examined closely, modern-day prophecy fulfillment puts an end to the skeptic’s arguments against the existence of God and the inspiration of the Bible. (Perhaps for this reason, the skeptic won’t examine the evidence.) If only a few prophecies were fulfilled, one could say they happened by chance. If they were written obscurely or symbolicly, their fulfillment could be open to any number of interpretations. But we have already looked at multiple prophecies with recent specific fulfillments, and none have failed.

Before moving on in this series, I want to look at one more area: what the Bible says about the conditions of the end times. How does today’s world match up with biblical prophecy?

There are quite a few places in the Bible that speak of the “last days,” such as the following:

But know this, that in the last days, grievous times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding a form of godliness, but having denied its power. …

– 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (WEB)

While these traits have been true of people throughout history, recently they have become much more so, and they are getting worse. We are not moving away from this fulfillment, but rapidly towards it. In fact, every part of this prophecy is true today.

Jesus said the last days would be like the days of Noah before the flood, and the days of Lot before the destruction of Sodom. In both cases, God’s judgment fell swiftly on mankind for their sins…

“As it happened in the days of Noah, even so will it be also in the days of the Son of Man. They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise, even as it happened in the days of Lot: they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but in the day that Lot went out from Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from the sky, and destroyed them all. It will be the same way in the day that the Son of Man is revealed.”

– Luke 17:26-30 (Matthew 24:37-39) (WEB)

Again, the conditions of today match the conditions in Noah and Lot’s time: evil prevails in men’s imaginations, violence is everywhere, and the wicked have become bold (Genesis 6:5-6, 11-12, 13:13, 19:4-11). History has come full circle, and humanity has become ripe for judgment.

There are also other biblical statements about the future that are true today. When taken together, they prove the reliability and inspiration of the Bible. For example…

  • If the Bible is not true, I would not expect people to travel so much and I would not expect today’s information explosion. But Daniel 12:4 said this would be true of the last days.
  • If the Bible is not true, I would not expect continuing instability in the Middle East. Today, it seems every little thing ticks the Arabs off to the point where they want to destroy everyone else. But the Bible said that would be the nature of the descendants of Ishmael, the father of the Arabs:

He will be like a wild donkey among men. His hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. He will live opposite all of his brothers.

– Genesis 16:12

  • If the Bible is not true, I would not expect false Christs to appear. You don’t see people claiming to be Bhudda, Mohammed, or other religious leaders. But Jesus said there would be people falsely claiming to be Himself (Mark 13:5-6, 22), and we have seen quite a few in the last 100 years (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_claimed_to_be_Jesus).
  • If the Bible is not true, I would not expect so many false teachers today (Matthew 24:11). Today we are glutted with cults and prosperity preachers who teach a false gospel to gain material wealth for themselves (1 Timothy 4:1-5). A plain reading of the New Testament shows them to be false (for example, Luke 14:33, 18:22-23, 1 John 2:15-16).
  • If the Bible is not true, I would not expect the world to slander or persecute Christians (Matthew 10:21-22, Mark 10:30; Luke 21:12; John 15:20, 2 Timothy 3:12) or Jews more than any other group of people. Yes, other people groups get persecuted, but that tends to be a regional or local thing, or only for a time. Christians have been crucified, burned at the stake, eviscerated, beaten to death, and slandered for the actions of false Christians 1 for almost 2000 years. Today, more Christians are being killed for their faith than ever before 2.
  • If the Bible is not true, I would not expect the beheading of Christians to be gaining prominence in the world (as seen in ISIS videos). In the first-century church, the most common form of martyrdom was crucifixion. Only 2 of the original disciples died by beheading. But Revelation 20:4 says in the last days, the primary way Christians will be killed will be by beheading. The continuing spread of the sword of Islamic terrorism is rapidly bringing this prophecy to fulfillment.
  • If the Bible is not true, I would not expect people to curse God or speak lightly of Him. Today it’s very uncommon to hear the names of false gods spoken lightly (Thor or Shiva for example), but ‘OMG’ is everywhere. It is a testimony to the fallen nature of man that whatever God commands, man does the opposite (Exodus 20:7). And now more people are expressing actual animosity to the God of the Bible. Even those who say they don’t believe in God slander Him. This fits the prophecies of the end times when men will blame God for suffering the consequences of their own sins rather than doing the obvious: repenting of their rebellion against God and believing in Jesus to be saved from the consequences of their sins (Revelation 16:9,11). God does not want to send people to hell (Ezekiel 33:11, Acts 17:30-31, 1 Timothy 2:1-6, 2 Peter 3:9); they’re going there by their own stubbornness.
  • If the Bible were not true, I would not expect it to mention Jesus coming to gather His elect “from the heavens” (i.e. the sky – Matthew 24:31, Mark 13:27). It has only been a little over one hundred years since man has been able to fly. Now we have thousands of people flying in airplanes at any given time around the globe. A few are living in space, and some are planning on moving to Mars. How did the writers of the Bible know man will have left the ground in the last days?

These are just a few of the prophecies foretold in the Bible about the conditions that would occur just before Jesus Christ comes back. They are not self-fulfilled prophecies, for it is those who are against God who are bringing them to pass. Are you ready for Jesus’ return?

Notes:

  1. By definition, a Christian is one who follows Jesus Christ. He said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (Luke 6:27-31). Those who do evil rather than what Jesus said are not following Jesus, regardless of which church they belong to.
  2. This rarely makes the news, and when it does, the news media usually hides or underplays the fact that Christians were the primary target, such as with the recent shootings at Umpqua Community College.

Personal Apologetic: The Restoral Of National Israel – Pt 2

There is a difference between chance occurrence and faith in God. You can rely on what God has said, but you can’t rely on chance. One way to know God exists is seeing Him keep His promises, and one of the strongest examples of God’s promises being fulfilled has to do with the dispersion and latter-day restoral of Israel (Jeremiah 30).

In past articles in this series, we’ve looked at how God foretold the history of His dealings with Israel. He promised blessings on them if they would obey Him, and cursings if they didn’t. Israel chose to rebel, and all of the cursings happened one by one. Israel was eventually scattered throughout the world. And yet they retained their national identity for thousands of years, and came back together as a nation relatively recently… just as God had said. These events are unique: no other nation has had things like these prophesied, let alone fulfilled. What happened to Israel was extremely unlikely. But with the prophecies, written thousands of years before their fulfillment, we see evidence that God is at work.

Whose command was ever fulfilled unless the Lord decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that everything comes – both calamity and blessing? …

– Lamentations 3:37-39

In this article, I want to look at some of the details of recent prophetic fulfillments in relation to Israel, because God is in the details as well.

Returning From The Nations

Because the people of Israel were scattered throughout the world as prophesied, it’s appropriate that their return would also be prophesied as coming from throughout the world, not from just one nation or region. Here are some of those prophecies…

In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I gave for an inheritance to your fathers.

– Jeremiah 3:16-18

“How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned within me, my compassion is aroused. I will not execute the fierceness of my anger. I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of you; and I will not come in wrath. They will walk after Yahweh, who will roar like a lion; for he will roar, and the children will come trembling from the west. They will come trembling like a bird out of Egypt, and like a dove out of the land of Assyria; and I will settle them in their houses,” says Yahweh.

– Hosea 11:8-11

‘And,’ says the LORD who rules over all, ‘though such a thing may seem to be difficult in the opinion of the small community of those days, will it also appear difficult to me?’ asks the LORD who rules over all. “The LORD who rules over all asserts, ‘I am about to save my people from the lands of the east and the west. And I will bring them to settle within Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and righteousness.’

– Zechariah 8:6-8

Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good, for his loving kindness endures forever. Let the redeemed by Yahweh say so, whom he has redeemed from the hand of the adversary, And gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.

– Psalm 107:1-3

It will happen in that day that the Lord will set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners 1 of the earth.

– Isaiah 11:11-12

Don’t be afraid; for I am with you. I will bring your seed from the east, and gather you from the west. I will tell the north, ‘Give them up!’ and tell the south, ‘Don’t hold them back! Bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.

– Isaiah 43:5-6

This is not a prophecy of something that would happen to a community of Jews living in one country or region. It’s global, and our generation is seeing this fulfilled. Large numbers of Jews have come and are coming to the land of Israel from Russia (the “land of the north”), Europe and the United States to the west, and from countries to the south and east. This is much greater than when the Babylonians and Medes and Persians brought some Jews back to live in their own land as their subjects. It’s the long-foretold end of the Diaspora.

As I mentioned in the introduction to prophecy, notice this is not just a passive prediction of future events, but God telling us what He will actively do (i.e. “I am about to save my people…”, “…he has redeemed… and gathered…”, “…the Lord will set his hand…”, “…I will bring…”, etc.).

The Gentiles Help

Through the centuries, the Jews have longed to return to their homeland. When it happened, it was not because they took the land by force. The Jews came to their own land through the decision of gentiles, and this in spite of much continuing hostility to the idea. Gentiles from various nations (including the United States) are still helping the Jews return and rebuild. The Bible shows this was God’s plan all along, and He is fulfilling it in His own time.

Thus says the Lord Yahweh, “Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and set up my banner to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders. Kings shall be your nursing fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers: they shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth, and lick the dust of your feet; and you shall know that I am Yahweh; and those who wait for me shall not be disappointed.”

– Isaiah 49:22-23

Foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you: for in my wrath I struck you, but in my favor have I had mercy on you. …

– Isaiah 60:10

Eventually these prophecies will be completely fulfilled during the Messianic kingdom, but we have seen the beginnings of their fulfillment.

The Land Restored

One of the results of the curse in Deuteronomy 28 and elsewhere was the land of Israel becoming barren. Zephaniah 2 describes the desolation of the land in detail. This condition continued on until almost the present time. When Samuel Clemens visited, he wrote:

“Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies…. Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village; the riches of Solomon are no longer there to compel the admiration of visiting Oriental queens; the wonderful temple which was the pride and the glory of Israel, is gone, and the Ottoman crescent is lifted above the spot where, on that most memorable day in the annals of the world, they reared the Holy Cross.”

– The Innocents Abroad (1869)

Robert Murray M’Cheyene traveled to the land of Palestine in 1839 and wrote:

“The land is changed; no more is it the rich land of Philistia. The sand struggles with the grass for mastery. The cities are changed,–where are they? The people are changed: no more the bold Philistines,–no more the children of Simeon,–no more Isaac and his herdsmen,–no more David and his horsemen; … ‘Baldness is come upon Gaza.’ The old city is buried under sand-hills, without a blade of grass, so that it is bald indeed. The herds and flocks are innumerable, fulfilling Zeph. 2.”

– The Memoirs of Robert Murray M’Cheyene

But God promised He would restore the health of the land in the latter days, and we see those promises being fulfilled today. Israel is now one of the top exporters of agricultural products in the world.

“Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in Yahweh, your God; for he gives you the former rain in just measure, and he causes the rain to come down for you, the former rain and the latter rain, as before. The threshing floors will be full of wheat, and the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the great locust, the grasshopper, and the caterpillar, my great army, which I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, and be satisfied, and will praise the name of Yahweh, your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and my people will never again be disappointed.”

– Joel 2:23-26

It will happen in that day, that the mountains will drop down sweet wine, the hills will flow with milk, all the brooks of Judah will flow with waters, and a fountain will come forth from the house of Yahweh, and will water the valley of Shittim.

– Joel 3:18

“Behold, the days come,” says Yahweh, “that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the one treading grapes him who sows seed; and sweet wine will drip from the mountains, and flow from the hills. I will bring my people Israel back from captivity, and they will rebuild the ruined cities, and inhabit them; and they will plant vineyards, and drink wine from them. They shall also make gardens, and eat their fruit. I will plant them on their land, and they will no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them,” says Yahweh your God.

– Amos 9:13-15

The Economy restored

Israel’s economy has also been restored. It now has the highest standard of living in the middle-east, and was rated as having the most durable economy in the face of crises. This was also prophesied:

Speak up again with the message of the LORD who rules over all: ‘My cities will once more overflow with prosperity, and once more the LORD will comfort Zion and validate his choice of Jerusalem.'”

– Zechariah 1:17

The Land Too Small

Today, Israel is one of the smallest countries in the middle east – smaller than New Jersey, but with a similar population density, even though much of it is arid. The prophecies of Israel’s return also foretold this. For a time Israel will be too small for its inhabitants.

Yes, your land lies in ruins; it is desolate and devastated. But now you will be too small to hold your residents, and those who devoured you will be far away. Yet the children born during your time of bereavement will say within your hearing, ‘This place is too cramped for us, make room for us so we can live here.’ Then you will think to yourself, ‘Who bore these children for me? I was bereaved and barren, dismissed and divorced. Who raised these children? Look, I was left all alone; where did these children come from?'”

– Isaiah 49:19-21

Though I scatter them among the nations, they will remember in far-off places – they and their children will sprout forth and return. I will bring them back from Egypt and gather them from Assyria. I will bring them to the lands of Gilead and Lebanon, for there will not be enough room for them in their own land.

– Zechariah 10:9-10

Jerusalem’s Wall

In Biblical times, cities had walls to protect them from attack. When the prophecies of the return of the Jews to their homeland were written, we would expect them to mention walls again being erected around their capital city. This was the norm. But today, Jerusalem is an open modern city with no protective walls. This was also prophesied:

And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand! Then I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.”

And behold, the angel who talked with me came forward, and another angel came forward to meet him and said to him, “Run, say to that young man, ‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it. …

– Zechariah 2:1-13

A United Kingdom

During old testament times after king Solomon, Israel was divided into two parts. Ten tribes were known as Israel (or sometimes called Ephraim), and two tribes called Judah (which included Benjamin). The ten tribes were known for abandoning God for idols. But the prophecies of Israel’s return say they would come together as a single nation again, which is true today. Eventually they will all seek God.

Yet the number of the children of Israel will be as the sand of the sea, which can’t be measured nor numbered; and it will come to pass that, in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ The children of Judah and the children of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint themselves one head, and will go up from the land; for great will be the day of Jezreel.

– Hosea 1:10-11

For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.

– Hosea 3:4-5

The Lost Ark

There has been much speculation as to the location of the Ark of the Covenant. Some rabbis say it is under the temple mount. But the Bible says in the last days it will not be found, nor with another one be made.

It shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land, in those days,” says Yahweh, “they shall say no more, ‘The ark of the covenant of Yahweh!’ neither shall it come to mind; neither shall they remember it; neither shall they miss it; neither shall it be made any more.

– Jeremiah 3:16

If the Bible were fiction, I would expect the prophecies to say the Ark would be found to give some hope to Israel. But the Ark has to do with the old covenant, and the old covenant is no longer in effect, having been replaced with the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34, 32:40, Ezekiel 37:26).

Gentile Antagonism

The Bible also says in the last days, when Israel returns to their land, the other nations will be highly antagonistic to them, including the land “to the uttermost north” (i.e. Russia). This is seen in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. Only after the Messiah comes (Jesus Christ) will there be peace.

Other Prophecies

God did not limit His prophecies to Israel. He also mentioned other neighboring nations in the Old Testament, and what would happen to them. Some nations He said He would utterly destroy, and others He said He would restore, and would be present in the last days. I find it interesting that those ancient nations He said He would destroy (such as Babylon) are no longer with us, while those He said would be present in the last days (such as Egypt: Jeremiah 46:26, Ezekiel 29:8-16) are still around today, thousands of years later!

I’ve just skimmed the surface of modern prophecy fulfillment in Israel. The Bible also speaks of Israel becoming a nation in a single day (May 14, 1948), the eastern gate of Jerusalem being shut and no other, Israel’s future monetary unit, and much more. You can read about these prophecies and their detailed fulfillments in the book The Hand of God: Ancient Prophesies- Modern Miracles of Israel, by Bill Heinrich.

This is more than fascinating information: it is very significant for us. The events happening today are the beginnings of the signs of the second coming of Jesus Christ. You can trust God to fulfill what He said would happen. You can be on the side of righteousness by believing in Jesus, whom God has set as judge over the whole world (Acts 17:30-31), or you can reject Him and take the consequences. Speaking for myself, I’d rather trust Him!

Notes:

  1. ‘extents’ in the original language. The Bible does not teach the earth has corners.

Personal Apologetic: The Restoral Of National Israel – Pt 1

We’ve looked at a few Bible passages that deal with God’s punishment and preservation of the people of Israel over the millenia. There are plenty of additional prophecies similar to the ones mentioned. But I think the strongest prophetic evidence for the existence of God today comes from another related group of prophecies. These prophecies predict the restoration of the nation of Israel in the last days, and the conditions the Jews would find themselves in at that time.

We saw how Deuteronomy 28 accurately predicted the history of Israel to their dispersion throughout the world. But the story of Israel does not end in that chapter. Two chapters later we see God’s promise to gather His people together again into their homeland after all the curses have been completed:

It shall happen, when all these things have come on you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you shall call them to mind among all the nations, where Yahweh your God has driven you, and shall return to Yahweh your God, and shall obey his voice according to all that I command you this day, you and your children, with all your heart, and with all your soul; that then Yahweh your God will turn your captivity, and have compassion on you, and will return and gather you from all the peoples, where Yahweh your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of the heavens, from there will Yahweh your God gather you, and from there he will bring you back: and Yahweh your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and he will do you good, and multiply you above your fathers. …

– Deuteronomy 30:1-5

For thousands of years, the Jews were a people without a homeland. Most thought they would never again have a nation of their own. Even in the church, many thought God was finished with His ancient people. In their minds, all of the promises of future blessing on Israel were transferred to the church, or to some Christian nation such as England or America (i.e. Anglo-Israelism). But some still believed God would literally fulfill His promise, and they patiently waited for the Jews to return to their homeland. In 1948, their faith was vindicated. God had kept His promise.

Deuteronomy 30 is not an isolated prophecy. The return of national Israel is one of the main themes of prophecy in the Bible. Here is a quick overview of some others:

The Dry Bones Prophecy

The hand of Yahweh was on me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of Yahweh, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass by them all around: and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and behold, they were very dry. He said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? I answered, Lord Yahweh, you know. …

– Ezekiel 37:1-3

The prophet Ezekiel saw in a vision a valley full of bones that had been dead for a long time. When God asked if the bones could live again, Ezekiel responded wisely, for what is impossible in the natural order is not so with God. If He wanted them to live, then they would live. God then told Ezekiel to prophecy over the bones:

Again he said to me, Prophesy over these bones, and tell them, you dry bones, hear the word of Yahweh. Thus says the Lord Yahweh to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will bring up flesh on you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am Yahweh.

– Ezekiel 37:4-6

As he spoke, the bones started to move on their own and connect with each other. (The well-known African-American spiritual Dem Bones was based on this prophecy.) As they assembled, tendons, muscles, and skin covered them until they became complete bodies. But they had no life in them.

Then he said to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and tell the wind, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Come from the four winds, breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.

– Ezekiel 37:9

When he did so, the bodies came to life… “an exceedingly great army.”

If the prophecy ended here, we could interpret it to meaning any number of things. But immediately after the bodies came to life, God explained the meaning so there would be no mistake:

Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off. Therefore prophesy, and tell them, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, 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. You shall know that I am Yahweh, when I have opened your graves, and caused you to come up out of your graves, my people. I will put my Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land: and you shall know that I, Yahweh, have spoken it and performed it, says Yahweh.

– Ezekiel 37:11-14

The elements of the vision symbolized what would happen to the people of Israel in the last days. Those who were hopelessly scattered among the nations of the world (their ‘graves’), would be brought back to live in the homeland God gave them thousands of years earlier.

An important point about this prophecy is that it would be fulfilled in stages. The vision said there would be a time when the bodies would be whole, but without life (verse 8). This is the state of Israel at this time. It has been regathered, but it is not yet spiritually alive. I believe this will occur when Jesus visibly returns (Revelation 1:7, Zechariah 12:10, Jeremiah 23:6).

Other Regathering Prophecies

Here are more prophecies about the regathering of Israel to its homeland. This is by no means a complete list, and I have only quoted a portion of them. Please look up the complete passages in a Bible to read them in context.

I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and multiply. … Therefore, behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that they shall no more say, As Yahweh lives, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, As Yahweh lives, who brought up and who led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries where I had driven them. They shall dwell in their own land.

– Jeremiah 23:3-8 (WEB)

I will bring you out from the nations, and will gather you from the lands where you are scattered, … I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, … Then you will know that I am the LORD when I bring you to the land of Israel, to the land I swore to give to your fathers.

– Ezekiel 20:33-44 (NET)

…'But you, mountains of Israel, will grow your branches, and bear your fruit for my people Israel; for they will arrive soon. … I will multiply your people – the whole house of Israel, all of it. The cities will be populated and the ruins rebuilt. … Then you will know that I am the LORD. I will lead people, my people Israel, across you; they will possess you and you will become their inheritance.

– Ezekiel 36:1-12 (NET)

…At that time I will lead you – at the time I gather you together. Be sure of this! I will make all the nations of the earth respect and admire you when you see me restore you," says the LORD.

– Zephaniah 3:14-20

"I (says the LORD) will strengthen the kingdom of Judah and deliver the people of Joseph and will bring them back because of my compassion for them. They will be as though I had never rejected them, … I will signal for them and gather them, …

– Zechariah 10:6-8

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good and his loyal love endures! Let those delivered by the LORD speak out, those whom he delivered from the power of the enemy, and gathered from foreign lands, from east and west, from north and south. …

– Psalm 107:1-43

At that time the sovereign master will again lift his hand to reclaim the remnant of his people from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and the seacoasts. He will lift a signal flag for the nations; he will gather Israel's dispersed people and assemble Judah's scattered people from the four corners {literally ‘extremities’} of the earth.

– Isaiah 11:11-12

…in that time they will affirm them with 'I swear as surely as the LORD lives who delivered the people of Israel from the land of the north and from all the other lands where he had banished them.' At that time I will bring them back to the land I gave their ancestors."

– Jeremiah 16:14-15

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake that I am about to act, O house of Israel, but for the sake of my holy reputation which you profaned among the nations where you went. I will magnify my great name that has been profaned among the nations, that you have profaned among them. The nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the sovereign LORD, when I magnify myself among you in their sight. “‘I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries; then I will bring you to your land.

– Ezekiel 36:22-24

In the next part, we’ll look at more specific prophecies about Israel in the last days… prophecies that talk about the manner in which the Jews will return to their land, the condition of Jerusalem and the land, and more.

A Personal Apologetic: Introduction to Biblical Prophecy

Some of the strongest evidence for the existence of God and the inspiration of the Bible comes from prophecy fulfillment. In the next couple of posts, I’m going to give what I believe to be the the biggest examples of verifiable modern-day prophecy fulfillment. But first, I want to show what sets biblical prophecy apart from the predictive statements of other sources. My purpose in this post is not to prove prophecy is real, but to lay the groundwork for the following posts in understanding what biblical prophecy is about.

Most people think prophecy is primarily about the prediction of future events. The predictive element is seen in many religions and belief systems, from Chinese Chen to Nostradamus, to the claims of other modern day seers and prophets (such as those of the Watchtower organization). Prophecy, however, is more accurately defined as one or more messages that have been communicated supernaturally through a prophet, whether those messages include predictive statements or not. In other words, a prophet claims to be merely a spokesman for the supernatural source of his message.

Biblical prophecies also include predictive elements, but those elements are not given merely to inform us what the future holds. Most prophecy in the Bible is in the form of promises from God about what He will do or cause to happen in the near or distant future. In other words, it is not so much God telling us what will happen in the future, but what He will do in the future. The events prophesied are usually so far-fetched or impossible that their fulfillment would be seen by witnesses as acts of God, not just chance. 1

That prophecy fulfillment is about the evident working of God can be seen in a phrase associated with many prophecies. It generally takes the form, “…then you will know that I am YHWH (Jehovah).2 This phrase implies the fulfillment of the prophecy is not so much about the predicted event, but about the existence, character, and nature of God. So if you happen to witness a biblical prophecy fulfillment, you should take it to heart that God exists and is actively involved in events here on earth.

Because biblical prophecy is about God revealing Himself, the predicted events need to be understood by their plain common-sense meanings, so that the fulfillment, when it happens, is obvious and can be eye-witnessed by anyone. 3 There have been attempts among some cults and some branches of the Christian church to interpret biblical prophecies figuratively, symbolically, or ‘spiritually’. For example, Jehovah Witnesses claim Jesus returned in 1914, but the return was invisible. Such interpretation ignores the plain meaning of the biblical text (Revelation 1:7), and waters the prophecy down, making its fulfillment non-provable and open to interpretation. Prophetic fulfillments recorded in the Bible were always literal, so even the non-believing witnesses would be able to recognize the fulfillment 4. We need to expect any prophetic fulfillments today to follow the same pattern: the fulfillment must follow the plain-sense understanding of the prophecy.

As I said, this post is only a quick overview of what biblical prophecy is about. I haven’t yet attempted to prove the accuracy of any prophecy. I also haven’t tried to address the claims of skeptics, which can be summarized as follows:

• The prophecy was written vaguely, making the fulfillment open to interpretation.

• The prophecy was written after the event happened (‘vaticinium ex eventu‘).

• The fulfillment was coincidental, the result of random chance.

• The prophecy was purposely fulfilled to make the Bible seem true.

• The Bible writers lied about the fulfillment.

These sound like strong arguments, but are only baseless accusations made by those who are unwilling to investigate the evidence. Such claims require blind faith on the part of the doubter. In the following posts, I will address these allegations as I cover two closely related areas of biblical prophecy fulfillment of which we have public knowledge.

Notes:

  1. Some examples of unlikely or impossible prophecies are in 2 Kings 3:16-25, Isaiah 4:17, and Luke 24:7 (Daniel 9:26, Isaiah 53:8,10).
  2. A few examples are in Exodus 6:7-8, 14:4, 1 Samuel 17:47, 1 Kings 20:28, Ezekiel 25:5, 38:16.
  3. Symbolism may be involved in a prophecy, but the meaning of the symbols always points to an event that is witnessable when it happens. For example, Daniel chapter 8 contains a prophecy of the Greek empire, symbolized by a goat with a big horn, which is replaced with four smaller horns. Daniel 8:21-22 explains the horns symbolize the kings of the Greek empire. While the symbol itself (the goat) was not fulfilled, the meaning of the symbol was fulfilled literally, first in Alexander the Great, then in the divided kingdom ruled by Ptolemy, Cassander, Lysimachus and Seleucus.
  4. A couple of examples: 2 Kings 7:1-2, 16-20, and 1 Kings 21:19, 22:37-38. The only exceptions have to do with prophecies that explicitly state the fulfillment is not on earth, i.e. Luke 22:69, Acts 7:55, and Colossians 3:1.