A Personal Apologetic

(I’m collecting all of my Personal Apologetic blog posts, and a couple other related posts. into this all-in-one page. It’s not finished. I have more sections in various stages of completion, and the writing quality varies a bit. As I post on the blog, I’ll add them here as well. Eventually, I’ll reword parts of this so it doesn’t sound like a bunch of blog posts stuck together.


Introduction

(What follows is the beginning of a series of blog posts I’m putting together on the defense of the gospel. Because my intended audience is those who have a purely materialistic world view, I’m going to use what I believe are reasonable arguments, personally convincing if given serious thought. My approach is to use arguments that the reader can investigate on his own, rather than rely on hearsay. I intend to express the results of my own thoughts and research rather than just reword what others have already said.

Some Christians dismiss apologetics, saying you can’t argue someone into the kingdom of God. 1 I agree with the premise, but disagree with the conclusion. I know I can’t argue someone to salvation but there is no limit to what God can do through me. I believe the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of the lost to their need for Jesus through many different means, including apologetics, therefore I have no problem using an intellectual approach. Consider what follows as scattering seed for God to increase.)

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Dear friends, although I have been eager to write to you about our common salvation, I now feel compelled instead to write to encourage you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

– Jude 1:3 (NET)

For years I’ve wanted to put something together in writing that explains why I think it makes intellectual sense to believe in the existence of God and the inspiration of the Bible. (I don’t think well “on my feet”, but writing gives me a chance to get my thoughts better organized.) I’ve heard many anti-God arguments, but none are convincing to me. For example, most apparent Bible contradictions that are brought up only reveal a superficial understanding of what the Bible says. (The converse is also true. I see some Christians misunderstand atheist beliefs and use faulty and illogical arguments against them. This doesn’t help matters.)

One thing anti-Bible arguments have in common is that they’re all based on theory: philosophy, intellectual puzzles, apparent contradictions, supposed conflicts with known scientific facts, and the like. You can argue these things sitting in an armchair without getting your hands dirty with reality. But I have something that, for me, trumps all that. You see, I have the experience of a personal relationship with the God described in the Bible. There is real fellowship between us. I talk to Him, and He speaks to me (not audibly, but He speaks none-the-less). He regularly answers my prayers in often surprising ways. And I know others who have the same kind of relationship with Him. My faith is not based on these experiences, but it does help ‘seal the deal’ in my mind. With such a relationship, biblical puzzles don’t bother me, even if I don’t have answers for all of them.

I don’t expect my experiences, however, to convince you if you’re a skeptic. I know because I’m a skeptic by nature as well. Whenever people tell me some fantastic story they’ve heard or that’s happened to them, even if they’re Christian, my mind usually goes, “Yeah… right. Show me some proof!” I don’t expect you to believe my experiences because they haven’t happened to you. So instead of relating the ways God has revealed Himself to me, in the following posts I’m going to use the armchair approach by appealing to your intellect.

It’s human nature for each of us to interpret reality by our own personal world views, rather than modify our world views to match reality. Any evidence, however feeble, that supports what we all ready believe we are likely to accept as true. Any evidence that runs counter to what we believe we will likely discount as false. (Our self-confidence may even blind us to real evidence!) We’ll do anything, including look the other way, to make sure our world view is not disturbed. This is true of almost everyone, atheists and Christians alike. But we really can’t know the truth by using our world view as a litmus test. We have to be open-minded and look at the evidence in detail.

When a scientist comes across a phenomenon that appears to contradict his world view, he don’t immediately lose faith in science. Instead, he sees it as an opportunity for more in-depth study and experimentation to resolve the problem. But when a non-believing scientist sees an apparent contradiction in the scriptures, he immediately stops, saying the Bible is full of errors. He doesn’t treat the seeming discrepancy the same way he treats any natural mystery. There is no in-depth and unbiased study of the scriptures, no taking into account the literary, social, and historical context, no looking up the meanings, tenses, and usages of words in the original languages, and so on. It’s quite obvious from most of the anti-Bible arguments I’ve heard that this is the case. All this person does is win other close-minded people over to his side who are also either unable or unwilling to do their own research. Unfortunately, this tends to be the majority response.

Good answers to anti-God arguments are available in books and on the internet. But rather than repeat what others have already said, I’d like to give some personal reasons why I believe the existence of God and the inspiration of the Bible are worth believing in as true. What follows are not so much the reasons why I believe or how I came to faith, but why I think you should consider believing the God who is revealed in the Bible.

More Than Matter

(In this and the next post, I want to open the door for the atheist to consider the existence of the spiritual realm. Materialism is the biggest stumbling block towards belief in God. My purpose is not to convince the atheist that materialism is false, but to get the materialist to think it through so he himself can recognize the inadequacy of his supposition and discard it.)

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Science and science fiction have dealt with the subject of consciousness. What makes someone aware of his existence? Many science fiction characters such as Andrew in Bicentennial Man, and Commander Data in Star Trek Next Generation have expressed the idea that an android can become self-aware, to the point of becoming a person. Of course, science fiction is fiction. But such a thing must appear theoretically possible to someone who believes pure material existence provides everything needed for self-consciousness. A materialist is forced to explain consciousness only in terms of matter and energy. He believes there is no need for an immaterial spirit or soul. I disagree 2.

Let’s assume there is no soul or spirit – that the material universe is all there is. Such a universe admits no control or influence outside of its own natural laws. Everything you do, therefore, must be the result of one immense cosmic chain of cause and effect. You have no real choice in what you do because everything that happens is a result of what happened before. You lift your finger not because you decide to lift your finger, but because the state of your body at the time (determined by the previous state of your body and your environment) determines you would do so. You are no different than an automaton, blindly and inevitability performing its function. An automaton is not self-aware, why should you be?

You decide to develop a self-aware android. You create its body and the computer that runs inside. Now you start writing its program. At first the code is fairly simple, but you keep adding to it and improving it until the android has the ability to learn and modify its own programming based on its environment. It even has the ability to act convincingly like a human-being so others can relate to it as if it is human. But no matter how much you improve the program, at its core all you have is a complicated automaton. It may give the appearance of self-awareness, but it has no first-person experience of consciousness 3.

Think about a very realistic 3D computer game or simulation, or a movie made with computer generated imagery. No matter how real the graphics may appear to us, the computer knows nothing of what we perceive. It is only mindlessly performing a series of logical and mathematical steps, and moving numbers around in memory as determined by its programming. Without a soul, an android can also go no further than this.

While I do believe it possible to advance in technology enough to make an android that looks, acts, and relates to us convincingly like a conscious human being, the appearance of consciousness would be an illusion to those looking on. Consciousness would not be something that the android experiences. It would just be running a very complex program that produces a predictable output for a given input. This is true whether the android uses Von Neumann, neural network, quantum entanglement, “positronic”, or some other architecture. This is also true for humans if we have no soul 4.

My personal theory is that self-awareness comes about through the union of the body and the spirit, kind of like the union of a car with its driver. You may know everything there is to know about how a car works, but that would not explain why the car ahead of you suddenly swerved into oncoming traffic. You might explain the swerve by saying the front wheels turned that way. You would then trace the cause-and-effect chain of events back through the steering mechanism to the steering wheel. But your knowledge of car mechanics cannot explain why the steering wheel turned. To do that, you have to go beyond the car and examine the driver.

Similarly, science cannot fully explain the root cause for a conscious act, such as lifting a finger. But I believe it possible, at least theoretically, to trace the act backwards on a molecular level through the body until you come to an effect without a material cause. At that point, you will have reached the interface between the spirit and the body, at least for that specific conscious act 5.

Independently Conscious

(In the previous post, I talked about how our material existence is insufficient to explain self-awareness in general. While I think that argument was fairly strong, it might not be enough to convince a skeptic. So, in the following post I’ll use a stronger one based on something the skeptic is a constant witness of: his own personal and unique self-awareness.)

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Our bodies are made of atoms and molecules. Each of us has the same kinds of molecules. There’s nothing special about the oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and other elements that make up our bodies. They are common, everyday elements. Just the proportions are slightly different for each of us.

If we are the same in physical essence, why do I have a first-person conscious experience of living in and through my body, but I don’t have that same experience through your body? And why do you have a first-person conscious experience of living in and through your body, but not through my body? In other words, why is my self-awareness linked to the molecules that make up my particular body, and your self-awareness linked with the molecules that make up yours? We are all made up of the same stuff. Just think of all the billions of humans that are alive now and have lived in the past, each made of the same kinds of matter. Why should your consciousness be associated only with your particular body right now?

If consciousness is energy, the same holds true. Each of us runs on the same kinds of energy. There is no special “me” biochemical reaction or electrical impulses that I have but you don’t.

Consciousness also can’t be explained purely in terms of one’s brain function, although I believe that functioning necessary to be aware of the physical world and interact with it. Without the immaterial side of us (the spirit), we would have no first-person experience of consciousness. All we would have is a brain with no self-awareness, effectively wired so that, like an android, it always responds in a predictable way for a given input. Consciousness-wise, it would be like before you existed when you were not aware of anything in the universe.

If we are the same in physical essence, there has to be something that transcends our physical bodies that makes us individually and uniquely conscious. You are I are both independently self-aware. I will never experience your consciousness, and you will never experience mine.

Materialistic science’s explanation for self-awareness is a matter of faith. It is assumed that when a living organism’s brain becomes developed enough, self-consciousness somehow just happens. This is exactly the kind of thinking religious people are faulted for. But nothing just happens.

In a purely material existence, whatever happens (including whatever you do, say, or think) can only be explained as the result of purely materialistic causes that came before it. This is the foundation of modern scientific thought. It is what leads a scientist to search for a material explanation for every observed phenomenon 6.

I also believe every event has a cause – but my pool of causes is not limited to the material universe. I also include the possibility of spiritual causes. These are not random excuses merely to cover the unexplained. They also follow laws that we can observe and benefit by if we are aware of them 7. All of these causes are rooted in who God is, what He does, and what He decrees. He is the ultimate Cause for every thing, including the creation of our individual souls by which we experience consciousness.

Cerebro Consciousness Argument

(The following is another approach to my argument for the necessity of the human spirit given in More Than Matter, and Independently Conscious.

Imagine you are an X-Man like Charles Xavier, but with much more extreme capabilities. You also have a Cerebro-like machine that allows you to see every human being in the world and know everything there is to know about them. With your superhuman powers, you look at Cerebro’s screen and see billions of human beings at once in infinite detail. You know each person’s exact physical makeup. You can see their every neuron firing. And you fully comprehend what you see.

You also know virtually every human being on the screen is self-aware. Each has an independent conscious that allows them to experience the world around them from their own unique perspective. Virtually every one of those billions of bodies is not yours, but you could in theory experience reality through any one of them, because they are all capable of consciousness – because they are conscious. However, one of those bodies is yours, and you experience the world through it for the lifetime of that body. What is it about your particular body that allows you to perceive reality through it and no other?

You see that the neural activity in your brain is different from, say, Body A. It is also different from Body B, and different from all the other bodies. But the same thing can be said of Body A: It is also different from Body B, Body C, and all other bodies. Every body has this thing in common: they all have neural activity that is different from each other, yet not in any fundamentally unique way. This is to be expected, as each brain is thinking different things and working in different ways. But what a brain is thinking or doing has nothing to do with which body you are self-aware through or which body your neighbor is self-aware through. Neural activity differences can explain various mental processes going on in different brains, but they don’t explain why your self-awareness is tied to your particular body. If you could somehow force Body B’s neural connections and activity to exactly match yours, you wouldn’t suddenly start perceiving reality through both bodies!

Your self-awareness remains bound to your body for as long as your body lives. It does not change, even though the material that makes up your body changes over time. Most of the atoms and molecules that make up your body as a newborn child are gone when you reach old age. Your neural connections also change as you learn and age – your brain processes information differently over time. The firing of your neurons also constantly varies. You are different than you were as a child, or even a day ago. But your awareness stays the same. It doesn’t occasionally leave your body and maybe move to someone else’s.

If you believe the physical universe is all there is, can you give any scientific reason for why you are aware through your particular body, other than pulling groundless theories out of the air?

How can you prove that your particular consciousness is a product of neural activity, and not (at least to some degree) the other way around. I’m not talking about mentally processing information such as doing a math problem in your head, remembering something from the past, telling a story, and so on. A brain can theoretically do these things without requiring self-awareness – just like a computer. But self-awareness goes beyond this. How do you explain your personal self-awareness, as distinct from others’ self-awareness, purely as the result of physical processes?

I’m not asking for proof. There are many things that we can’t prove because of the limitations of time, money, energy, etc. But if the only things that are true are things that can be proven scientifically, then there must be a scientific way to prove your self-awareness is purely a physical phenomenon.

I do not think self-awareness is a purely physical phenomenon. I believe it is due to the interaction of body and spirit. Without a spirit, you would be no more self-aware through your body than you are self-aware through anyone else’s body.

The reason we are self-aware is a very important thing to find out, because if consciousness requires more than what is physical, the whole foundation of Godless scientific materialism falls apart.

Morality and Justice

(Again, I have a two part argument. This first part is about man’s moral inclination and a general desire for justice. I don’t consider it as strong an argument as that from consciousness, but I feel it is strong enough to include here. The second part will be about the difference between what man believes morally and how he acts.)

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Man is a moral being. Regardless of a belief in the existence of God, everyone believes some things are right and other things are wrong. We might have significant differences of opinion on these things, but we do have opinions.

If God does not exist, there are no absolute moral standards. Each of us can then define right and wrong however we please. What is moral to you may be immoral to me, or vice versa, and each of our opinions would be equally as valid.

Unfortunately, society tends to self-destruct if everyone acts on his own personal mores. If I intend to kill you, believing it is my right, but you believe it’s wrong for me to kill you, there is no absolute standard you can appeal to that says you’re right and I’m wrong. Your belief that I am wrong has no more weight than my belief that I am right. (Lest you think this is an extreme example, it is exactly the case with those who promote genocide or abortion today.) It’s pointless for one side to convince the other to do the right thing if the right thing is purely man’s opinion.

To prevent the breakdown of society, each nation has a government that enacts laws and subjects its citizens to those laws. Everyone operates under the same moral code. This sounds like a good solution in theory, but it raises some questions in my mind.

Where does a government get its authority from? Generally, authority is passed down from a higher to a lower. In the United States, the federal government gives authority for individual states to rule, and states give authority to town and city governments. But where did our federal government get its authority from? Our founding fathers believed it came from God 8. However, if there is no God, authority can only come through consensus of the people or rebellion against a previous government.

Concensus might appear to be good grounds for authority, however every sizeable nation is going to have citizens who oppose the rule of their government. (Subjective morality implies there will be differences of opinion on moral matters.) What makes such opposition wrong if right and wrong are subjective? If man can make up his own mind on moral and ethical issues, then the actions of rebels are no more wrong than the actions of those who obey their nation’s laws.

With no God, eventually even consensus fails, and authority can only be obtained or retained by force. The stronger party gets to make up the rules: might makes right. With subjective morality, we eventually end up with oppressive governments like China and North Korea.

Even if every citizen supports their government and obeys its laws, this world consists of more than one nation, each having their own set of laws. One nation has one law, another has an opposite law, and who’s to say which one is right? What is good in one culture is seen as evil in another, and vice versa. If the majority of nations say slavery is good, what right would the minority have to condemn the majority? If there is no authority higher than man, then one person, as well as one nation, has no right to condemn another for slavery, murder, genocide, or any other moral or ethical issue. Whatever man says is right at the moment becomes right… at least until he changes his mind.

So far, I’ve only mentioned a few problems I see with subjective morality. None of these require the existence of God to somehow make everything right. We could be living in a world with unsolvable moral dilemmas. Neither do these problems disprove the existence of God. It only says man chooses to ignore Him if He exists. However, my argument really doesn’t center on such dilemmas.

The big question in my mind is if man is a product of chance, not having been purposely created by God, why should he have any sense of right and wrong at all? Why do virtually all people agree on certain moral issues? And why is it, when we see what we believe is wrong, we want to see justice done: we want it made right?

What does it matter if somebody steals something from you? Why do you get upset? Surely, there is more to it than just because “It’s mine!” When people are wronged, they naturally want to see justice done, not just have things restored to normal. (Spend some time in a room with several young children and one toy and see how their sense of justice expresses itself!) This is our normal way of thinking, and if we don’t think this way now, it’s only because we had to unlearn it in the past.

True, different cultures have superficially different ideas of what is right and wrong. Not too long ago, betrayal and murder even of friends was considered normal in one culture in Papua New Guinea 9. Killing a friend was a sign of coming of age. However, even this culture knew murder is wrong. If you were to ask the person being murdered if it was morally right, I’m sure you would get an enthusiastic “Of course not!” for an answer. He certainly didn’t think the “right thing” was being done to him. And deep down inside, the one doing the killing believes the same, for he would also think it wrong if the tables were turned and someone tried to murder him. Whether we’re talking about murder, theft, adultery, or whatever, the victim almost always has a truer sense of right and wrong than the perpetrator.

This sense of fairness can be changed or perverted, but not eliminated.

The materialist believes our universe came about by chance, not by the will of God or for His purpose. So what does it matter to a materialist that other people believe in God and want to share their beliefs with others? If the universe is purposeless, what does it matter if everyone becomes a Christian, a Muslim, or whatever. Everybody dies in in the end. If you’re happier believing a lie, what’s the problem? And yet, it angers an atheist to see a Christian promote his ‘dogma’. In an age of moral relativism where an increasing number of people insist there is no absolute right and wrong, what gives them to right to judge Christians?

The Bible, on the other hand, portrays men as moral creatures, created in the likeness of God. Since God is righteous, we were made to reflect His righteousness. (Right and wrong are not really a matter of opinion.) Our likeness to our Creator has since been corrupted, and our sense of right and wrong has been perverted through our disobedience to God. But we are still moral beings: we still have a sense of right and wrong. And we prefer the right, desiring wrong-doers to come to justice. Even in secular books and movies, we want to see the good guy win. This desire is evidence we were created by God. C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:

“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Although we do not always see justice fulfilled in this life, there will eventually come a time when justice will happen and all wrong will be punished. Everyone will eventually appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the results of what they have done here on earth.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

– 2 Corinthians 5:10

Corrupt Beings

The world of nature we live in is amazingly complex and well-tuned, from the macroscopic (general cycle of life) level, down to the microscopic level. Virtually all of life works to keep the system in balance and flourishing. In one part of the cycle, bees pollinate flowers so plants can produce fruit. Animals eat the fruit, and in doing so scatter the seeds so the plants can reproduce elsewhere. All of the participants in the cycle benefit. It appears simple when you look at the overall picture, but it is mind-bogglingly complex when you examine the role individual creatures play to keep the cycle going. 10

When we add man into the equation, however, nature tends to get out of balance. We pollute the air, the ground, and the water supply, we deforest, we eliminate some species and transport other invasive species, we wage wars, and so on. If evolution has so fine-tuned the workings of nature over billions of years, why are we, the supposed apex of evolution, so destructive to ourselves and the world around us?

For all the natural problems we cause, they are merely symptoms of a more severe moral condition. While we have a moral sense, corrupted as it is, we can’t even live up to our own ideas of right and wrong. This manifests itself through everything from breaking the speed limit, not wearing our seatbelts, and cheating on our taxes, to bribery and political scandals in the highest levels of government, to terrorism, torture, sexual slavery, murder… you name it. Animals are not moral creatures, yet overall, they behave better than we do!

Yes, we humans aren’t perfect. But most of us prefer not to get into the specifics (especially when it becomes personal). When we admit to failings, we usually refer to the occasional ‘minor’ moral infraction (such as telling a lie or stealing a pencil from the office), or something non-moral (such as breaking one’s diet). We believe most people, even hardened criminals, are essentially good deep down inside, and that the good just needs opportunity to express itself.

But this view of ourselves is just self-deception. Read today’s newspaper. It’s full of reports of crime across all levels of society. Criminals come both educated and uneducated, rich and poor, religious and non-religious, black and white, from the highest government offices down to the homeless living on the street. And the newspapers only cover a tiny fraction of our illegal or immoral activities.

Materialists explain our moral nature as just one more thing that came about through evolution. If we favor what is good and beneficial, it would certainly be advantageous to our species and increase our chances of survival. But why is it so difficult to do what is good and beneficial? Everything else that supposedly evolved about nature and ourselves is finely tuned. Why does it take more self-control to do the right thing than to do the wrong thing… even when we agree the right thing is beneficial?

I don’t see how evolution can explain our corrupt nature, because doing wrong always has a detrimental effect on our species. For all the progress we have made over the decades and centuries in terms of education, science, technology, medicine, infrastructure, and the like, mankind is still going down the proverbial toilet.

The Bible, on the other hand, doesn’t try to gloss over who we are. It is full of accounts of people like us today who were greedy, selfish, deceptive, violent, sexually immoral, robbers, murderers, etc. The Bible describes our nature as “sinful”, meaning we’re unwilling and unable to live in a way that is in harmony with God’s intent and the rest of creation. When I examine myself, I find my nature exactly matches what the Bible says about me. One of the four founders of Johns Hopkins Hospital (now the university) also recognized the same thing when he wrote:

“Perhaps one of my strongest reasons for believing the Bible is that it reveals to me, as no other book in the world could do, that which appeals to me as a physician, a diagnosis of my spiritual condition. It shows me clearly what I am by nature—one lost in sin and alienated from the life that is in God. I find in it a consistent and wonderful revelation, from Genesis to Revelation, of the character of God, a God far removed from any of my natural imaginings.”

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. 11

That prophecy fulfillment is about the evident working of God can be seen in a phrase associated with many biblical prophecies. It generally takes the form, “…then you will know that I am YHWH (Jehovah).12 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. 13 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 14. 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.

The Dispersion of National Israel

By human standards, the existence of the Jewish people today remains a mystery. No other ancient people has survived for thousands of years, retaining their national identity through much hostility.

We have much evidence that Israel was a nation thousands of years ago. Archaeologists have made many discoveries from the time of the kings, and they are still doing so. The most prominent of those remains is the temple mount in Jerusalem, but other remains exist, and the historical records of other ancient nations mention the existence of national Israel/Judah 15. Israel’s existence as an ancient nation is not seriously disputed.

The history of ancient Israel was generally not one of peace. There were internal conflicts, one of which led to the kingdom being divided, ten tribes (variously known as ‘Israel’, ‘Ephriam’, or ‘Samaria’) versus two (known as ‘Judah’). There were wars and battles, with their neighbors as well as themselves. Eventually, Israel was taken into captivity by the Assyrians, and later Judah by the Babylonians. From the captivity on, Israel/Judah remained a people without their own nation for thousands of years. But unlike every other ancient people, they retained their national identity when scattered. All of this was prophesied in many places throughout the Bible. One of the first of those places is in the book of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy reads like the last will and testament of Moses. After leaving Egypt, the people of Israel traveled in the wilderness for 40 years. They were about to enter the Promised Land, but Moses was not allowed to enter. So before being taken away from them, he reviewed the history of their deliverance from slavery and travel through the desert. He reviewed the Law and he pronounced blessings on them. And within this review he gave a list of blessings and cursings: blessings if Israel would obey God, and cursings if they would not.

The blessings and cursings are given in Deuteronomy 28. Interestingly, most of this chapter (54 verses) is devoted to the cursings. God told Moses beforehand the people would not obey Him (Deuteronomy 31:16-18), therefore the cursings were elaborated on. Because Israel did not obey, the cursings can be understood as a prophetic description of the history of Israel covering a period of thousands of years.

The cursings start out bad, and get worse and worse. The repeated defeats before their enemies in the book of Judges was foretold. The later ecologic disasters and disease were predicted. The cannibalism of 2 Kings 6:24-29 and Lamentations 4:10 were prophesied here. The prophetic cursings also tell of the dispersion of the people of Israel, which began with the Assyrian captivity of Samaria (Israel) (722 B.C.) and the Babylonian captivity of Judah (597 B.C.), and which was fully realized during Roman times.

It shall happen that as Yahweh rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you, so Yahweh will rejoice over you to cause you to perish, and to destroy you; and you shall be plucked from off the land where you go in to possess it. Yahweh will scatter you among all peoples, from the one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, which you have not known, you nor your fathers, even wood and stone. Among these nations you shall find no ease, and there shall be no rest for the sole of your foot: but Yahweh will give you there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and pining of soul…

– Deuteronomy 28:63-65 (WEB)

This ‘scattering’ happened with the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 A.D, where more than a million Jews died, and almost 100,000 shipped to Egypt as slaves:

Yahweh will bring you into Egypt again with ships, by the way of which I said to you, You shall see it no more again: and there you shall sell yourselves to your enemies for bondservants and for bondmaids, and no man shall buy you.

– Deuteronomy 28:68 (WEB)

The historians of the time say there was such a glut of slaves that people didn’t buy them.

“…as for the rest of the multitude that were above seventeen years old, he put them into bonds, and sent them to the Egyptian mines.”

– Josephus, De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 9. sect. 2.

“There were many to be sold, but there were few buyers; for the Romans despised the Jews for service, nor were there Jews left to redeem their own.”;

– Hegesippus, De excidio Urb. Hieros. l. 5. c. 47. p. 645.

All of the curses in this chapter came about… even down to the last one.

Most scholars assume the book of Deuteronomy was written in the 6th to 8th century B.C. time period, because it records prophecies about the time of the captivities. If they could, they would probably say the book was written hundreds of years later to account for what the Romans did to them. However, the Dead Sea Scrolls contains portions of Deuteronomy dated before these events happened. These portions also include that last prophecy about the Jews returning to Egypt as slaves.

This chapter of Deuteronomy is only one prophecy of many in the Old Testament that refers to what would happen to Israel when Israel did not follow the commands of God. But no matter how bad things got, Israel would never be totally destroyed. There would always be a remnant so that eventually the people could be restored as a nation again. This is implied in the Deuteronomy prophecy, where the Hebrew people would live with no rest from fear in lands not their own, but other biblical writers say much the same thing:

My God will cast them away, because they did not listen to him; and they will be wanderers among the nations.

– Hosea 9:17 (WEB)

A third part of you shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of you; and a third part shall fall by the sword around you; and a third part I will scatter to all the winds, and will draw out a sword after them.

– Ezekiel 5:13 (WEB)

Israel would retain their national identity, but because of their sins, they would not exist as a nation until the last days. In the meantime, they would be scattered around the world, living in fear, suffering persecution, but never being totally destroyed. Their scattered but continued existence would be a witness to the world of the existence and sovereignty of God.

Thus says Yahweh, who gives the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who stirs up the sea, so that its waves roar; Yahweh of Armies is his name: If these ordinances depart from before me, says Yahweh, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever.

-Jeremiah 31:35-36 (WEB)

Don’t you be afraid, O Jacob 16 my servant, says Yahweh; for I am with you: for I will make a full end of all the nations where I have driven you; but I will not make a full end of you, but I will correct you in measure, and will in no way leave you unpunished.

– Jeremiah 46:28 (WEB)

Are you not like the children of the Ethiopians to me, children of Israel?” says Yahweh. “Haven’t I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir? Behold, the eyes of the Lord Yahweh are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the surface of the earth; except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” says Yahweh. “For, behold, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet not the least kernel will fall on the earth. All the sinners of my people will die by the sword, who say, ‘Evil won’t overtake nor meet us.’

– Amos 9:7-10 (WEB)

Now, you could take the existence of the Jews today as chance occurrence. After all, remnants of other ethnic people exist around the world. But…

* How many of those ethnic groups have held on to their ancient identity over thousand of years? Yes, there are some.

* How many of those people had prophecies made that they would destroyed as a nation and scattered throughout the world, but still retain their national identity?

* How many of those people were prophesied to suffer much while they were scattered throughout the word? History records much of the sufferings of the Jews, including multiple genocide attempts.

* How many of those people were prophesied to go through all this, yet never to be completely destroyed?

* How many of those people had their prophecies fulfilled?

Yes, you could still believe it was all fulfilled by chance… but it would be a very slim chance! And the chances rapidly shrink the more you research history and the scriptures.

In case this doesn’t convince you, in the next post I’ll be looking at the biggest examples of prophecy fulfilled in our lifetime: the return of Israel as a nation.

The Restoral of National Israel – Part 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 17, 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.

The Restoral of National Israel – Part 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 18 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 today.

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, Jesus Christ, comes 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!

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 19 for almost 2000 years. Today, more Christians are being killed for their faith than ever before 20.
  • 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?


Visions Of Our Future

(First, a little insanity. Bear with me on this one…)

Atheism is a very optimistic belief system. After all, look how far we’ve evolved! As our intelligence and power increase, we are better able to control ourselves and our environment. Many well-known atheists and agnostics have given us exciting glimpses of where mankind is heading. The Star Trek series revealed Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the eradication of poverty and war open to us after man abandons the concept of God 21. Friedrich Nietzsche saw mankind eventually evolving into a race of supermen, again without God. Yes, atheists are very optimistic!

The Bible, on the other hand, is a very depressing book. Its pages are full of negative and offensive words like “sin”, “hell”, “iniquity”, “judgment”, and the like. Man is not described as essentially good, with an occasional slip-up, but as evil, wicked, even from birth (Psalms 51:5, Job 15:14). According to that book, there isn’t one good man on earth (Psalm 14:3, Isaiah 53:6, Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:9-12)! Good thing we’re much more enlightened about ourselves today!

The Bible also talks of man’s future. It says things like, “in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1), and then goes on to describe how increasingly wicked man will become. It says eventually man would destroy the earth (Revelation 11:18), and but for God’s intervention, even himself.

Unless the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would have been saved; …

– Mark 13:20 (WEB)

Get real!

… No, really. It’s time to end this insanity.

Question: As you watch the news on TV tonight, which world-view seems more true? Is man getting better or worse? Think about it.

In spite of the seemingly negative world-view of the Bible, I hold what it says to be true. What I read in the paper, see on the news, and experience in real life fits strongly with what I read in the pages of scripture. The Bible speaks the truth about the nature of man. Man was at his best when he was created. Today he is a mere shadow of what he was, and contrary to evolutionary theories, he’s not getting any better.

Now, I know I haven’t properly represented the views of all or even most atheists, let alone a lot of Bible believers. There are plenty of pessimistic atheists who recognize the world is in serious trouble and going downhill fast. The problem is that the atheist thinks solutions to these difficulties must lie with man alone, and that man is fully capable of developing an ideal society, whether it happens or not. This frightens me, considering how much evil idealistic, optimistic atheists have generated in the world!

Atheists like to blame much or most of man’s problems on religion. After all, look at how many people have violently died in the name of God. But while they have a point, they conveniently forget those who have been systematically tortured and killed in the name of atheism in Soviet Russia, China, North Korea and other places. Isn’t it ironic how many human rights violations happen in countries where the governments have such high views of humans?

The truth is, religious people do not have a monopoly on heineous forms of evil. If all of the religious people in the world were eliminated, moral evil would still exist and flourish, because the problem is not with religion. The problem is with the heart of man – something the materialist overlooks because it is a spiritual problem.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, atheist, Christian, or whatever. Everyone, including myself, naturally has an evil nature. Any religion or philosophy that ignores this only empowers that nature.

Neither religion nor atheism can solve our problems. Education cannot solve our problems. Money cannot solve our problems. Better laws cannot solve our problems. Technology certainly cannot solve our problems! (Technology isn’t evil, but it has a way of empowering evil.)

Looking to ourselves cannot solve our problems.

Our only hope is to turn to the one good, holy, and righteous God, confess our great sin against Him, and put our trust in His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us. God gave His Son over to death to rescue us from the power and consequences of our sin, and to give us real hope.

The saying is faithful and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; …

– 1 Timothy 1:15 (WEB)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

– John 3:16 (WEB)

To those who believe God and trust in Jesus, the Bible is anything but depressing. It contains the best possible news, a message of comfort and the assured hope of rescue from sin and its consequences.

If you choose not to believe this, you’re welcome to go on believing whatever you want to. But know that eventually everyone will come face to face with the consequences of what they believe. You owe it to yourself to personally investigate the truth.

… As I live, says the Lord Yahweh, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn, turn from your evil ways; for why will you die, …

– Ezekiel 33:11 (WEB)

(By the way, I do enjoy watching Star Trek. I just don’t agree with the philosophy behind it.)


Practical Evidence For The Existence Of God

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

– Psalm 34:8 (ESV)

Biblical faith is never blind. God does not ask us to trust Him with no evidence. He has revealed enough about Himself through what He has created for anyone willing to use his own mind to see. Scepticism puts up blinders, but honest and diligent inquiry takes them down.

For those of us who do trust in God, He reveals Himself, especially His goodness, even more. Much of this comes about by seeing Him answer our prayers. I have seen plenty of answers to prayer, more than enough to convince me that not only does God exist, but that He cares for me and those around me. Here’s a few examples:

I’ve misplaced my keys about 3 times in the past 6 years or so. They’re important because I have not only my own keys but also my church and work keys. I always find them, but only after I ask God to show me where they are. The last time this happened, I looked “everywhere” for 2 weeks and couldn’t find them. So I finally gave in and asked God for help. Less than three minutes later, my mind on something else already, I went to my closet for something unrelated and I “just so happened” to see them staring me in the face. They were dangling in my safe door lock where I put them 2 weeks earlier. I should have prayed first!

My stepson, Sean-Dale, is a relatively new believer. He lost his wallet a couple of years ago walking back to where he was living. It had an important ID card in it that he couldn’t lose. Convinced that God would return it to him if asked, I told Sean-Dale how God showed me what I lost when I prayed, and I told him to ask God to have it returned back to him. A few days later he got the ID card back in the mail. (Not the whole wallet – I guess that wasn’t important.) This blew his socks off! He hadn’t heard of God answering prayers like that before. He never thought he would see that card again.

I used to live in a single-wide mobile home in an RV park in the main part of town. I got married, and the place was too small for my wife and I. So we got another place elsewhere in town. I was under agreement to the RV park owners to remove the mobile home when I left, so we had it moved to our property.

We decided to set up the mobile home as a free guest house ministry for people who got stranded in town (no gas, no money, etc) and other transients. So we hooked up water, sewer, and electric, and furnished it. The last item of furniture we needed was a sleeper sofa.

One or two Sundays later, a stranger from out of town, who we never saw before (or since), visited our church and asked if anyone needed a new sleeper sofa for free… it was sitting in the back of his pickup truck!

In this case, we hadn’t even begun praying for a sofa… I don’t even think it would have occured to us. But God knew what we needed and provided. And now it sits in the living room like it belongs there!

Picture of sofa

One of the men at our church has an apartment in Reno. He spent a long time trying to rent it out a couple of years ago, but couldn’t due to some “unbearably” loud neighbors. He considered it a totally impossible situation. So he finally decided to ask God for help, … and God sent him a deaf tenant! Yes, God has a sense of humor!

Being part of a small church in a small town, it is hard to get help with various ministries. There are not enough workers. So, wanting to minister to our children, we asked God for workers. This resulted in a large group of youth from Bakersfield coming to Beatty to work with our children for a week. They said they would serve in whatever way we asked, so we asked them to do a Vacation Bible School, which they did, along with other things. Separately, Larisa Craig also came from Big Pine to work with the youth, and she still comes to Beatty regularly, sometimes once a week. In both of these cases, these people travel hundreds of miles to serve, all in answer to prayer! We didn’t ask them to come, we asked God to send them (Matthew 9:37-38), and He provided.

Practical evidence for the existance and goodness of God abounds!

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of men!

– Psalms 107:8 (ESV)

[Sep. 1, 2009] A couple more examples:

Several years ago I started praying for my pastor (Jeff Taguchi) that he would know Christ better – that Jesus would reveal Himself to him more. In less than 2 weeks, Jeff told the church that he felt Jesus was revealing Himself to Him more. Jeff used the exact same wording that I prayed. He had never said this before. This was one of my many “secret” prayers that I enjoy seeing God answer openly. I never did tell Jeff about this.

My wife is also an answer to prayer. I was prepared to die a bachelor, but I had asked God for a wife, and several years before I met Wanda, I had received some indications that that prayer would be answered. God brought her to Beatty as a co-worker, and I found that she was everything I had asked for (and more), yet nothing that I expected! And I was also what she had prayed for. We’ll be celebrating 10 wonderful years this coming Friday, and while we’re different in many ways, we’ve never had an argument! This is the result of trusting in God to work in His way and time!

[Dec. 12, 2013] Just recently I had forgotten a recently-set combination to a safe. I spent at least 3 weeks trying about 200 combinations, but with no success. It looked like a call to the locksmith would be necessary.

Then last weekend I remembered: I hadn’t prayed about it yet! So my pastor and I asked God to reveal the combination to me.

Tuesday I tried opening the safe and found the combination on the second try! Thank you, Jesus!

Some might call this chance, but almost every time I spend weeks looking for something, I find it very shortly after praying about it. You think I would learn to ask God for help right from the start!


…More to come…

Notes:

  1. By the same argument, they might as well dismiss evangelism altogether.
  2. By ‘soul’, I mean the whole person, made up of the union of the body with the spirit. One theologian put it this way: “Man is not spirit, but has it: he is soul.” (Gustav Oehler, Old Testament Theology, I, 217). I don’t believe simple living organisms, such as plants and bacteria, have a soul or spirit, so I have no problem explaining them in purely physical terms. They are highly complex electro-chemical and bio-chemical chain reactions. But the consciousness of higher life-forms goes beyond this.
  3. At what point would an android’s program become complicated enough to somehow gain consciousness? As a programmer, I know every program, no matter how complicated, is made up of simpler components. If you ‘evolve’ a simple program into an ever more complicated program, at what point would it become self-aware like we are self-aware? What set of computer instructions or wiring would do this?
  4. An argument can be made that humans aren’t programmed like a computer. However, this is a trivial argument. A computer program is merely one way of controlling an electrical chain-reaction. The interconnected neurons in a human brain are another way of doing the same kind of thing.
  5. I don’t think there’s a specific location in the brain where this happens. I think it likely that the spirit can induce electrical impulses anywhere to control the body.
  6. One exception is the cause for the theoretical “big bang”. Alan Guth’s inflationary universe theory says the universe came out of a “random vacuum fluctuation”, a fluctuation that happened without a cause. Many scientists believe this, even though it goes against their mantra that every event has a materialistic cause.
  7. Some examples of spiritual laws we can rely on are given in Galatians 6:8, Philippians 4:6-7, and John 7:17.
  8. Notice in the Declaration of Independence how they appealed to God in justifying their secession from England: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights … appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions…”
  9. Peace Child, Don Richardson
  10. Take a look at the life cycle of the lancet fluke (Dicrocoelium dendriticum) for example.
  11. 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).
  12. A few examples are in Exodus 6:7-8, 14:4, 1 Samuel 17:47, 1 Kings 20:28, Ezekiel 25:5, 38:16.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. For example, the Prism of Sennacherib mentions King Hezekiah and contains an account of the siege of Jerusalem that agrees with 2 Kings 18:13-19:37. Other extra-biblical references to Israel’s kings are listed at http://www.keepandshare.com/doc/3415420/biblical-characters-existence-confirmed-by-archaeology .
  16. I.e. Israel, Genesis 32:28
  17. This last phrase did not make sense until recently. The Bible uses the word “heaven” to refer to the sky, the universe, or God’s eternal dwelling place. Today, there are thousands of people in the sky at any one time flying in airplanes, a small number in the international space station, and some are planing on living on Mars.
  18. ‘extents’ in the original language. The Bible does not teach the earth has corners.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. http://sidmennt.is/2006/08/16/every-religion-has-a-mythology/

2 thoughts on “A Personal Apologetic”

  1. Hello Andrew (Fademan),

    You introduced me to your website on the christian forum site, in a thread in which I asked advice concerning my approach to an atheist lady who had challenged me with a quote from Eusebius.

    I have copied your entries in your apologetic, and enlarged the print for my convenience, only to find that the whole thing is 32 pages long. So I will print it off and read it in stages. Hopefully, I shall come back and give comment when I have finished.

    Thank you for referring me.
    Your sister in Christ our Head.
    Now risen and glorified,
    and seated at God’s right hand.

    Chris

  2. Thank you, Andrew,

    I spent a good part of yesterday going through your writings, and found them very thought provoking.

    Your approach to the subject was refreshingly uncluttered and straightforward. I thought it a very convincing display of positive facts, which if considered objectively would give any atheist serious food for thought.

    I have copied it, and now have it on my computer, to refer to, for I have within it, many references which I want to follow through.

    Thank you again, Andrew.
    In Christ Jesus
    Chris (Complete)

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