This is the transcript for lesson 10 in our video series concerning evidences for the existence of God.
Hi, I’m Phil Stroud… in previous lessons we’ve looked at various scientific evidences from the creation itself that testify to the existence of God. We’ve also looked at some theological concepts—issues pertaining to human morality—that bear witness to the presence of God in His creation. In our previous lesson, we turned our attention to historical evidences for the existence of God; as we consider the Bibliological argument—the argument by revelation—that, surely, God must exist.
“Fulfilled Prophecy” provides incredible authentication of the Biblical text. In fact, the test for identifying a true prophet of God is set forth very early in the Biblical narrative. In the book of Deuteronomy we read:
But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22; NASB)
According to this Bible passage (and others), God’s true prophets are 100 percent accurate in their predictions. There is no room for error. If it could be proven that they prophesied with even the least little margin of error, they were branded as a false prophet, and they died.
There are literally thousands of Biblical prophecies that have been fulfilled down through the annals of human history. Dr. Hugh Ross (2012) observes: “Unique among all books ever written, the Bible accurately foretells specific events-in detail-many years, sometimes centuries, before they occur. Approximately 2500 prophecies appear in the pages of the Bible, about 2000 of which already have been fulfilled to the letter—no errors.” Dr. Ross goes on to note:
Since the probability for any one of these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance averages less than one in ten (figured very conservatively) and since the prophecies are for the most part independent of one another, the odds for all these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance without error is less than one in 102000 (that is 10 with 2000 zeros written after it)! (Ross, 2012, para. 2)
Here are some examples of just a few prophecies and their fulfillment, as presented by Dr. Ross (2012) on his Reason to Believe website:
1.) Some time before 500 B.C. the prophet Daniel proclaimed that Israel’s long-awaited Messiah would begin his public ministry 483 years after the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25-26). He further predicted that the Messiah would be “cut off,” killed, and that this event would take place prior to a second destruction of Jerusalem. Abundant documentation shows that these prophecies were perfectly fulfilled in the life (and crucifixion) of Jesus Christ. The decree regarding the restoration of Jerusalem was issued by Persia’s King Artaxerxes to the Hebrew priest Ezra in 458 B.C., 483 years later the ministry of Jesus Christ began in Galilee. Jesus’ crucifixion occurred only a few years later, and about four decades later, in 70 A.D. came the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. (Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 105.)
2.) In approximately 700 B.C. the prophet Micah named the tiny village of Bethlehem as the birthplace of Israel’s Messiah (Micah 5:2). The fulfillment of this prophecy in the birth of Christ is one of the most widely known and widely celebrated facts in history. (Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 105.)
3.) In the fifth century B.C. a prophet named Zechariah declared that the Messiah would be betrayed for the price of a slave—thirty pieces of silver, according to Jewish law-and also that this money would be used to buy a burial ground for Jerusalem’s poor foreigners (Zechariah 11:12-13). Bible writers and secular historians both record thirty pieces of silver as the sum paid to Judas Iscariot for betraying Jesus, and they indicate that the money went to purchase a “potter’s field,” used—just as predicted—for the burial of poor aliens (Matthew 27:3-10). (Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1011.)
4.) Some 400 years before crucifixion was invented, both Israel’s King David and the prophet Zechariah described the Messiah’s death in words that perfectly depict that mode of execution. Further, they said that the body would be pierced and that none of the bones would be broken, contrary to customary procedure in cases of crucifixion (Psalm 22 and 34:20; Zechariah 12:10). Again, historians and New Testament writers confirm the fulfillment: Jesus of Nazareth died on a Roman cross, and his extraordinarily quick death eliminated the need for the usual breaking of bones. A spear was thrust into his side to verify that he was, indeed, dead. (Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1013.)
5.) The prophet Isaiah foretold that a conqueror named Cyrus would destroy seemingly impregnable Babylon and subdue Egypt along with most of the rest of the known world. This same man, said Isaiah, would decide to let the Jewish exiles in his territory go free without any payment of ransom (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1; and 45:13). Isaiah made this prophecy 150 years before Cyrus was born, 180 years before Cyrus performed any of these feats (and he did, eventually, perform them all), and 80 years before the Jews were taken into exile. (Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1015.)
6.) Mighty Babylon, 196 miles square, was enclosed not only by a moat, but also by a double wall 330 feet high, each part 90 feet thick. It was said by unanimous popular opinion to be indestructible, yet two Bible prophets declared its doom. These prophets further claimed that the ruins would be avoided by travelers, that the city would never again be inhabited, and that its stones would not even be moved for use as building material (Isaiah 13:17-22 and Jeremiah 51:26, 43). Their description is, in fact, the well-documented history of the famous citadel. (Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 109.)
7.) The prophet Moses foretold that the ancient Jewish nation would be conquered twice and that the people would be carried off as slaves each time, first by the Babylonians (for a period of 70 years), and then by a fourth world kingdom (which we know as Rome). The second conqueror, Moses said, would take the Jews captive to Egypt in ships, selling them or giving them away as slaves to all parts of the world. Both of these predictions were fulfilled to the letter, the first in 607 B.C. and the second in 70 A.D. God’s spokesmen said, further, that the Jews would remain scattered throughout the entire world for many generations, but without becoming assimilated by the peoples or of other nations, and that the Jews would one day return to the land of Palestine to re-establish for a second time their nation (Deuteronomy 29; Isaiah 11:11-13; Jeremiah 25:11; Hosea 3:4-5 and Luke 21:23-24). (Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 120.)
8.) Joshua prophesied that Jericho would be rebuilt by one man. He also said that the man’s eldest son would die when the reconstruction began and that his youngest son would die when the work reached completion (Joshua 6:26). About five centuries later this prophecy found its fulfillment in the life and family of a man named Hiel (1 Kings 16:33-34). (Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 107).
Since these eight prophecies cover mostly separate and independent events, the probability of chance occurrence for all thirteen is about 1 in 1085 (85 equaling the sum of all the exponents of 10 in the eight probability estimates above). Dr. Ross continues:
For the sake of putting the figure into perspective, this probability can be compared to the statistical chance that the second law of thermodynamics will be reversed in a given situation (for example, that a gasoline engine will refrigerate itself during its combustion cycle or that heat will flow from a cold body to a hot body)—that chance = 1 in 1080. Stating it simply, based on these eight prophecies alone, the Bible record may be said to be more reliable than the second law of thermodynamics. Each reader should feel free to make his own reasonable estimates of probability for the chance fulfillment of the prophecies cited here. In any case, the probabilities deduced still will be absurdly remote.
Dr. Ross also notes that: “The estimates of probability included herein come from a group of secular (non-religious) research scientists.”
Before we see it as anything else, we must understand that the Bible is first, and foremost, a book of history – and, as far as the evidences indicate, a book of very accurate and reliable history. When the prophecies contained within the Biblical text are examined in light of the historical records, both Biblical and secular, they provide compelling evidence for the existence of the living God who not only brought this world into existence, but who continues to interact with His creation to accomplish His will and His purposes.
May God continue to grant you wisdom, insight, and the desire to walk within the counsel of His will during your brief sojourn upon this earth.
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Resources and References
Ross, H. (2012). Fulfilled prophecy: Evidence for the reliability of the Bible. Retrieved from the Reason to Believe website at: http://www.reasons.org/articles/articles/fulfilled-prophecy-evidence-for-the-reliability-of-the-bible
Smith, B. (2012). Argument by revelation – The bibliological argument. Retrieved from the knowtruth.com website at: http://www.knowtruth.com/god/existence/revelation_argument_1.php
Scripture taken from:
NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright (c) 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972, 1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright (c) 2016 Philip R. Stroud
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