The Bible’s Prophetic Accuracy – Jess Whitlock

Jess Whitlock

Let us not think of our predictions of political elections to be on a par with God’s servants, the prophets of old. But, imagine that our nation could somehow continue for another 150 years. Could we find a prophet today to predict who would become president of the USA 150 years from now? Would he name the one to be elected and tell at least a few things to take place during his administration? Yet, this is an exact parallel to the prophecy of Isaiah in chapters 44 and 45 of his book. Isaiah called King Cyrus by name 150 years before he became king, and told how he would allow the Israelites to return to their homeland and rebuild their city and the temple. Cyrus also helped with the materials needed for the rebuilding. Now, would anyone suggest that Isaiah was able to know these things by himself? How can we account for his prophecy and myriads more in the Bible?

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Pet. 1:20-21).

Case Number 1 – Precipitous Petra

About 100 miles south of Jerusalem we find the capital city of the land of Edom, Petra. The land is rugged and mountainous. The road into Petra is a narrow trail through El Seq; the canyon has near vertical walls. (Remember “Indiana Jones” in the “Last Crusade”? The ending scenes were filmed at Petra). The citizens were wealthy having robbed caravans passing through the region. There was a large amphitheater in Petra chiseled into the solid red rock cliffs surrounding the city and the inhabitants were noted for their wickedness. God sent forth His prophet, Jeremiah to cry out against wicked Edom:

As for thy terribleness, the pride of thy heart hath deceived thee, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith Jehovah. And Edom shall become an astonishment (desolation)…As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbor cities thereof, saith Jehovah, no man shall dwell there… (Jer. 49:16-17).

Can you imagine how foolish the words of Jeremiah must have sounded to the inhabitants of Petra. Today Petra remains deserted and uninhabited. Weeds grow in the temple courtyards and palaces. A few wandering Bedouins might happen by from time to time, but the city remains deserted and desolate. How could the man Jeremiah have known all these things? (2 Pet. 1:20-21).

Case Number 2 – Whatever Became of Babylon?

Six hundred miles from hidden Petra flow the great Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, watering the ancient land of Mesopotamia. The grandest city of the region was Babylon, home of the “Hanging Gardens” one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. As King Nebuchadnezzar conquered nation after nation and his capital Babylon grew in power and grandeur, a wall surrounded the city 15 miles square, 350 feet high, 75 feet thick, with over 100 gates and towers. Babylon also grew in sinfulness and wickedness and at the height of its power Jeremiah proclaimed:

for the purposes of Jehovah against Babylon do stand, to make the land of Babylon a desolation, without inhabitant…to show the king of Babylon that his city is taken on every quarter…And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling place for jackals…without inhabitant…Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: the broad walls of Babylon shall be overthrown, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; and the people shall labor for vanity and the nations for the fire, and she shall be weary (Jer. 51:29, 31, 37, 58).

Jeremiah was God’s prophet from circa 628 to 586 B.C., so these prophecies were uttered at the time mighty Babylon was at the height of her glory. All of this, and much more, has come to pass. Less than a century later Babylon surrendered to the army of the Medo-Persian Empire. The city then declined in importance. For over 2,000 years the city has stood virtually uninhabited and is eloquent testimony to the prophetic utterances of Jehovah! How was this possible? (2nd Pet. 1:20-21).

Case Number 3 – The Bustling City That Became a Bare Rock

One of the most notable cities of the Phoenicians had to be mighty Tyre. Her ships sailed to Spain and the British Isles, bringing back many treasures. Due to her great wickedness as a city, the prophet of God, Ezekiel must speak forth again the Word of the Lord:

Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I am against thee, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth its waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her a bare rock. She shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea; for I have spoken it, saith the Lord Jehovah… and I will make thee a bare rock; thou shalt be a place for the spreading of nets; thou shalt be built no more: for I have spoken, I Jehovah have spoken it, saith the Lord Jehovah (Eze. 26:3-5, 14).

Ezekiel was God’s messenger from c. 583 through 562 B.C. Old Tyre was besieged for months by King Nebuchadnezzar. At long last, he forced his way into the city, killing many of its inhabitants. The prophecy began to be fulfilled in his conquest. However, some of the wealthier inhabitants fled to a small island just off the coast. A new city of Tyre was built, supported by a large fleet of merchant ships. They lived in luxury there for more than two centuries. Through that time, the ruins of old Tyre remained undisturbed.

Then came Alexander the Great! He had a great force of soldiers from Greece, Thrace, Crete, Rhodes, Cyprus, and others. Alexander attacked the new city. Tyre’s navy and the fact that their island city was surrounded by water made them virtually invincible to all attacks. Finally, the great military mind of Alexander came up with an ingenious plan. They would build a causeway out to the island…using the stones and timbers of old Tyre. Historians tell us that his army literally scraped up all the dust from the ruins. Using that causeway, Alexander took new Tyre, killing or enslaving all of her citizens.

To this day, Ancient Tyre remains uninhabited as a flat and barren rock. The late J.T. Marlin told me of viewing fisherman spreading out their nets to dry in the afternoon sun at this site. The modern village of Tyre is found on the old island location. The deposit of sea-sand and debris piled on this causeway with the passing of time caused new Tyre to be on the tip of a peninsula! The prophet Ezekiel was quite accurate in every detail of his prophecy.

Case Number 4 – Prophecies Concerning the Coming of the Messiah

Some of the hundreds of prophecies concerning the coming of the Jesus Christ:

  • The Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:13-14).

  • The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2-5).

  • His flight into Egypt was foretold (Hosea 11:1).

  • It was prophesied that He would do miracles (Isa. 35:4-6).

  • The Messiah would be rejected by His own (Psa. 118:22-23).

  • He would be betrayed by a friend (Psa. 41:9; Psa. 55:12-14).

  • He would be sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12).

  • Later that money would be cast on the temple floor (Zech. 11:12-13).

  • His actions at His trial are described (Isa. 53:7).

  • The Messiah would be crucified between two thieves (Isa. 53:12).

  • Soldiers would gamble for His clothing (Psa. 22:18).

  • His side would be pierced (Zech. 12:10).

  • He would be buried with the rich (Isa. 53:9).

  • But He would rise from the dead (Psa. 16:8-11).

  • He would ascend into glory (Psa. 68:18).

Let’s consider what is called the principle of probability. If we could discover that, on average, one man in ten is bald, and that one man in 100 has lost a finger, the chance (or probability), that one man will both be bald and have lost a finger is one in 1,000, and such would be calculated in this fashion: 1/10 x 1/100 = 1/1000.

Years ago, Professor Peter Stoner did such a study on the probability of just 12 Old Testament prophecies coming to pass by sheer coincidence. With the help of 600 college students, he investigated the data in depth with these results:

  • The closing of the golden gate – 1 in 1000

  • The fall of Petra – 1 in 10

  • The desolation of Edom – 1 in 50

  • The perpetual desolation of Edom – 1 in 100

  • The fall of Babylon – 1 in 10

  • Its depopulation in perpetuity – 1 in 100

  • The destruction of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar – 1 in 2

  • The multi-nation attack on Tyre – 1 in 5

  • The laying of Tyre’s ruins in the sea – 1 in 10

  • It’s site becoming like the top of a rock – 1 in 2,000

  • The spreading of nets on this very site – 1 in 10

  • Its perpetual desolation – 1 in 20

Obviously, these figures can only be estimates, taking into account the date of the prophecy and the time of the fulfillment. What then, would be the probability of these few prophecies coming to pass by sheer chance? The staggering statistic was only one chance out of 2,000,000,000,000,000,000. That’s one chance in more than two quintillion! (That’s more dollars than I have in the bank)! (Science Speaks, 1952, Van Kampen Press, Wheaton, IL).

Imagine this, we take two quintillion silver dollars to the state of Texas. We spread them over the state and Texas is inundated with 35 feet of silver dollars. We have one silver dollar, on which we have painted a red X and mix it somewhere in the state at an undisclosed depth. Then, we blindfold Jerry Brewer and send him out to look for that one coin with the red X. He can go to any part of the state and dig down as far as he desires. Then, he must reach in that overwhelming pile of silver dollars and pick up one coin, and it must be that coin! Those are the odds! (By the way, when Jerry is done with this experiment, let’s check his pockets).

Remember, those are the odds of 12 prophetic utterances coming to pass. The Old Testament contains literally hundreds and hundreds of such prophecies. More than 300 prophecies concern the Messiah’s coming and His kingdom. On just one day of His life (the day He was crucified) 33 separate and distinct prophecies were fulfilled. What are the odds of such coming to pass? One out of 8.5 quintillion!

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but holy men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20-21, ASV). The Bible’s prophetic accuracy is forever settled.

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