Dr. S. Maxwell Coder lists at least 5 principles behind a genuine prophetic prediction in the Bible: proper timing (far enough in advance); specific predictions (not vague generalities); freedom from ambiguity (no double meaning or misleading statements); exact fulfillment; genuine date and authorship.
By considering 50 prophecies or predictions, what chance do you think anyone has of seeing that number fulfilled at a subsequent time or times? We have to remember that when you make a prediction you have 1 chance out of 2 of being correct. When you make 2 predictions, you have 1 chance out of 4; with 3 predictions, 1 chance out of 8; 4 predictions, 1 chance out of 16 and so on. When you increase the number of prophecies to 40, there is only 1 chance in 1,099,511,627,776 possibilities of being correct. When you increase the number of prophecies to 50, you have 1 chance out of 1,125,899,906,842,624 possibilities of being correct.
If the Bible were not the inspired Word of God and if the prophetic utterances lacked divine origin, and therefore were not basically sound, the Bible long ago would have demonstrated itself to be ridiculous. If it were a book of human intelligence only God left out, it would today be a discarded volume of folklore and myths. On the other hand, by the fulfillment of prophecies the Bible demonstrates that it must be and is the inspired Word of God. Without hesitancy, I can firmly state that I have no difficulty in believing that the Bible is God’s Word, with God’s message to man. Therefore, a person needs to heed what God says and yield himself to God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ and faith in the fact that His death paid for the penalty of all of our sins.
Fritz Ridenour in his book WHO SAYS, states that there are some 333 Old Testament predictions concerning Christ which are fulfilled by Jesus in the New Testament.
A few of these are as follows:
*Prophecy: Jesus was to be born of a virgin – Isaiah 7:14 (700 B.C.)
Fulfilled: Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:34, 35 (4 B.C.)
*Prophecy: Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem – Micah 5:2 (700 B.C.)
Fulfilled: Matthew 2:1 (4 B.C.)
*Prophecy: Jesus was to be smitten and spit upon – Isaiah 50:6 (700 B.C.)
Fulfilled: Matthew 26:67 (29 A.D.)
*Prophecy: Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem – Zech. 9:9 (500 B.C.)
Fulfilled: Matthew 21:6, 7, 9 (29 A.D.)
*Prophecy: Soldiers were to divide Jesus’ garments & cast lots for His coat or vesture – Psa. 22:18 (1,000 B.C.)
Fulfilled: John 19:23, 24 (29 A.D.)
*Prophecy: No bone in Jesus’ body was to be broken – Psalm 34:20 (1,000 B.C.)
Fulfilled: John 19:33 (29 AD.)
*Prophecy: Jesus would be called out of Egypt – Hosea 11:1 (approx. 750 B.C.)
Fulfilled: Matthew 2:13-15 (6 A.D.)
*Prophecy: Jesus’ working of miracles – Isaiah 35:5, 6 (700 B.C.)
Fulfilled: Matthew 11:4-6; John 11:47 (26-29 A.D.)
*Prophecy: Jesus was betrayed by a friend – Psalm 41:9 (1,000 B.C.)
Fulfilled: Mark 14:17, 18; John 13:18, 21 (29 A.D.)
*Prophecy: Jesus was accused by false witnesses – Psalm 35:11 (1,000 B.C.)
Fulfilled: Matthew 26:59-61 (29 A.D.)
*Prophecy: Jesus was numbered (crucified) with transgressors – Isaiah 53:12 (700 B.C.)
Fulfilled: Mark 15:27, 28 (29 A.D.)
*Prophecy: Jesus was given vinegar to drink – Psalm 69:21 (1,000 B.C.)
Fulfilled: John 19:28-30 (29 A.D.)
What are some other examples of fulfilled prophecy?
Babylon was one of the greatest cities of all time. It had many modern characteristics such as an elaborate irrigation and canal system, paved streets, apartment houses, streetlights, and running water. Encircling the city was a wall wide enough for driving 3 chariots abreast on the top. The hanging gardens of Babylon are well-known as one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.
But because of Babylon’s idolatry and because it would invade Israel and persecute God’s people, God pronounced Babylon’s doom through the prophet Isaiah who wrote:
“And Babylon… shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited… neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there… but wild beasts of the desert shall lie there…” (Isaiah 13:19-21).
Isaiah wrote his prophecy around 700 B.C. One hundred years later the prophet Jeremiah predicted the imminent fall of Israel, saying she would serve the king of Babylon 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11). Jeremiah also said: “…when 70 years are accomplished… I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation… for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations… and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands” (Jer. 25:12-14).
Just as Isaiah had predicted, the Medes led by Cyrus attacked Babylon in 539 B.C. and destroyed most of the city. It was also later plundered by Xerxes (Cyrus’ son-in-law), and Alexander the Great, who tried to restore the city but gave it up as a hopeless task.
Interestingly, Babylon’s ruins created a chemical reaction in the soil, and the once fertile land was turned into an arid waste, exactly as God had predicted in Isaiah 13. By the first century A.D., Babylon was a foul-smelling, decaying ruin inhabited only by wild animals.
By the twelfth century the ruins of the original city palace were impossible to reach because there were too many poisonous snakes and scorpions in the area.
The prophecy has been fulfilled even to the exact detail that “…neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there…” Dr. Cyrus Hamlin, American missionary in Constantinople, tells of this incident:
“The ruins of Babylon abound in game, and I once engaged a sheikh and his group to take me there for a week’s shooting. At sundown the Arabs began to strike their tents getting ready to leave. I went to the sheikh and protested but nothing I could say had any effect. ‘It is not safe,’ he said. ‘No mortal flesh dare stay here after sunset. Ghosts and ghouls come out of the holes and caverns after dark, and whoever they capture becomes one of them.’ No Arab has ever seen the sun go down on Babylon.”
The fate of other great cities and nations has also been precisely predicted in Scripture. Tyre was a rich and prosperous seaport on the Mediterranean. Its Phoenician citizens felt secure within the “invincible 150 foot walls. But Tyre sinned against God through pride, mistreatment of Jewish prisoners of war and breaking a treaty made with King Solomon (see Amos 1:9-10).
In the sixth century B.C., the prophet Ezekiel predicted Tyre’s doom, mentioning among other things that the city would be broken down, scraped off like a rock and that it would become a place for fishermen to spread their nets (see Ezekiel 26:3-14, 19). The prophecy came true, just as predicted. Nebuchadnezzar led the Medes and Persians in a 13-year siege that destroyed the mainland city. The Tyrians fled to an island a half mile off shore where Nebuchadnezzar could not follow because he had no ships. The island city lasted until 332 B.C. when Alexander the Great invaded it by tearing down the ruins of the mainland city and constructing a bridge out of the rocks and timber (a fulfillment of Ezek. 26:12, “…they shall lay your stones and your timber…in the midst of the water”).
Tyre was destroyed violently and completely in the thirteenth century by Muslims who took it from the Crusaders. As Ezekiel promised, it has never been rebuilt and today tourists watch the fishermen spread their nets to dry on the barren rocks.
There was also the prophecy against the land of Edom, a nation of polytheists and persecutors of the Israelites (see Isaiah 34:5-12; Amos 1:11-12; Ezek. 25:14). Edom was eventually overrun during the intertestamental period by Jewish Maccabean forces, first in 164 B.C. and a second time in 120 B.C. After A.D. 70, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, the Edomites disappeared and today, as Isaiah predicted, the land of Edom is a devastated ruin.
Another example is Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian empire. Although God sent Jonah in the eighth century B.C. to give the Ninevites a chance to repent of their sins, the repentance was short-lived. The Assyrians were soon back to their brutal and murderous practices such as skinning prisoners of war alive. In the seventh century, Nahum and Zephaniah both prophesied against Nineveh (see Nahum 1:1-8; 2:3; 3:7 and Zephaniah 2:13-15). Nineveh was destroyed in 612 B.C. when the Babylonian and Median forces diverted the Tigris River and caused a flood to literally dissolve the buildings and walls as predicted in Nahum 2:6.
Biblical higher critics denied the existence of Nineveh for many years and only in the nineteenth century did archaeologists finally dig up evidence of its existence. Ironically, because Nineveh disappeared without a trace, critics of the Bible who claimed Nineveh was not even there only underscored Nahum’s prophecy: “Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her?” (Nahum 3:7)
What about fulfilled prophecies concerning Israel?
Much in the news in the last 2 decades, the nation of Israel has provided the world with the opportunity to watch Bible prophecy fulfilled before its eyes. Two of the most obvious predictions and their fulfillments concerning Israel deal with: the predicted dispersion of the Jews and their return to their native land; and the prediction of a complete transformation in Israel.
In Deuteronomy 28:64-68, Moses prophesied the scattering of the Jews:
“And the Lord shall scatter you among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other… And among these nations shall you find no ease, neither shall the sole of your foot have rest: but the Lord shall give you a trembling heart… and sorrow of mind: And your life shall hang in doubt before you… and you shall have no assurance of your life… And the Lord shall bring you into Egypt again with ships… and there you shall be sold unto your enemies…”
Fifteen centuries passed before this prophecy was fulfilled. In A.D. 70, Titus, the Roman general, led his forces in destruction of Jerusalem. All surviving captives over age 17 were sent to Egypt (by ships) to work in the mines. From that day until the mid-twentieth century, the Jews were a scattered persecuted people. Today, however, you can see the fulfillment of other Bible prophecy concerning Israel. Isaiah and Jeremiah both predicted that the Jews would not always be scattered but that they would return to their Holy Land:
“Fear not: for I am with you: I will bring your seed from the east, and gather them from the west: …bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 43:5-6).
“…I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place from where I caused you to be carried away captive” (Jeremiah 29:14).
Over 1,800 years passed before the Jews begun their return. During the latter part of the nineteenth century the Muslims, who had occupied Palestine since the sixth century A.D., revoked a law forbidding Jews to own land in the country. By the turn of the century, Zionism (Jewish nationalism) was a full-fledged movement under the brilliant leadership of Theodor Herzl. By 1914, some 90,000 Jews were living in Palestine in 43 agricultural settlements. In 1917, the British issued the Balfour Declaration, favoring establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jews. In 1922, the Council of the League of Nations approved a mandate over Palestine to be held by Great Britain.
More Jews continued to flow into the land much to the distress of the Arab (Muslim) inhabitants who made up a majority of the population. By 1935, there were 300,000 Jews in Palestine and by 1936, Jews actually owned by purchase 350,000 acres of land which they used mostly for agricultural purposes.
Despite Arab protests, the Jewish state of Israel was established in 1948. The U.S. recognized Israel as a nation immediately and Russia soon followed. On May 11, 1949, Israel was accepted by the United Nations by a vote of 37 to 12.
Not only have the Jews returned to their homeland as prophesied. Other Old Testament prophesies promising the restoration of the destroyed land of Palestine are also being fulfilled before the eyes of today’s world. Isaiah and Ezekiel predicted this restoration over 2,500 years ago:
“For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places: and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord” (Isaiah 51:3).
“And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations” (Isaiah 61:4).
“And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. And they shall say, ‘This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden…’” (Ezekiel 36:34-35)
Today, the visitor to Israel is overwhelmed by the transformation of the land that – before the establishment of the new Israeli nation – consisted mostly of barren desert and malarial swamps. In a few short years, the tiny nation of Israel has erected modern cities, with skyscrapers and rapid transit systems. There are thriving industries and fertile fields. Through conservation and irrigation, the Jewish people have turned the desert into fruitful fields and orchards and Palestine can now truly be called a garden spot of the world.
Israel has also developed technologically (including nuclear reactors), and Israeli technicians are helping give aid to 65 countries. Israel’s military prowess is also well-known through her victories over the surrounding Arab nations in 1948 and 1967.
Modern Israel and the Jews themselves are living proof of literal fulfillment of the inspired prophetic Word of God – the Bible.
(All the material in the last two sections comes from Fritz Ridenour’s book, WHO SAYS, pp. 69-77.)
In Ezekiel, chapters 29-30, is a prophecy which in Ezekiel’s day would have been considered ridiculous and unbelievable. This prophecy has been fulfilled with astounding accuracy of detail. Ezekiel foretold that Egypt, magnificent in power, wealth, and learning, with its great works of art and architecture, would be brought low, would be a base kingdom, a land of poverty and humiliation. Visitors to Egypt have related that their reaction after viewing the ruins of the colossal buildings, temples, and palaces was so overwhelming that no words could convey the awe they felt as they envisaged in their minds the original grandeur.
The great temple of Karnac is perhaps the most splendid ruin of which either ancient or modern times can boast. Yet these ruins are but one of the many that show the vast wealth and power of Thebes, the ancient capital of Egypt. But Ezekiel 30:14-16 forecasts that No (the Bible name for Thebes) will be broken up. Egypt will be a base kingdom (Ezekiel 29:14). As archeologists have searched the ruins of Egypt, they have brought to light unbelievable works of art, beautiful designs in colored glass, inlaying of gold and precious stones. The Egyptians of that day had a knowledge of medicine and a literature to preserve that knowledge. They were skilled in all kinds of manufacture in leather, porcelain, spinning, and weaving in gold thread, flax, and cotton. Ezekiel 30 foretells that this Egypt, which up to the time the prophecy was made was more advanced in knowledge than any other nation, would be brought low (Ezek. 30:7). “They shall be desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate.”
Ezekiel 29:10 says, “I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate.” Why? Because Pharaoh had boasted, “My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself” (Ezek. 29:3). Pharaoh had claimed divine power like so many other rulers.
Ezekiel 29:12-15 prophesies that after a dispersion of 40 years, the Egyptians will be brought back to their own land, but no more will they make slaves of the nations round about them as in the past. They will be a base kingdom, the basest of all kingdoms; they shall no more rule over the nations. This has been fulfilled. Strangers, Greeks, Turks, and Jews, by unjustly lending money at unbelievable interest rates, as much as 10 percent a month, have squeezed the land out of the hands of the original native owners, and, when they were unable to pay, drove them by the whip and bastinado to work for them as slaves at the hardest labor until the greatest number died of exhaustion. This occurred during the nineteenth century.
These disasters were prophesied by Ezekiel about 500 B.C. In 1806, Mehemet Ali, in order to reconstruct the canal to bring water from the Nile to Alexandria, assembled 313,000 persons strewn along to 40-mile course of the canal. Compelled to dig with their hands those 40 miles under awful conditions, 23,000 died. Oppressed by strangers, its land confiscated by usury and extortion, Egypt should still exist a base kingdom.