This lesson is a continuation in the series on the existence of God and why I believe the Bible is the word of God. We are in the process of examining seven questions--questions that must be answered by atheists if they are going to rationally hold the belief that the Bible is no different from any other book so far as its origin is concerned. Of course, I do not believe that these questions can be answered satisfactorily by atheists (or agnostics). I believe that there is a God and that the Bible is His word!
Last time, we observed that the Bible contains many examples of scientific foreknowledge. The Bible is not a book of science, but when the Bible does address issues of science either directly or indirectly, it is always accurate. In fact, several of the recent discoveries of man were written and recorded in the Bible thousands of years ago (e.g., the Earth is round, the safest day to circumcise a boy naturally is the eighth day, etc.). How can an unbeliever explain this? How could these men of old have known these truths of science that have just recently been discovered unless there was a Supreme Being revealing information to them?
Let us consider the second question we are challenging atheists to answer: If the Bible is not inspired of God, then how do you explain the accuracy of the prophecies and their fulfillment within the Scriptures?
Prophecies have always been a subject of great interest to humans. Today, some will attempt to make prophecies concerning our world and when it will end. The most important thing to note about a prophet is whether or not his prediction comes true. This is the true test of a prophet. Deut. 18:20-22 - "But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, 'How shall 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 happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him." (cf. 13:1-5). Friends, can you think of any "prophets" today who are correct 100% of the time? I cannot. Yet all the Bible's prophets can make the claim of absolute accuracy. There are hundreds of prophecies recorded in the Old Testament, and secular history as well as the New Testament records their fulfillment. This is truly incredible evidence for the existence of Jehovah and the inspiration of the Bible.
Some have affirmed that there are over three hundred Old Testament prophecies pertaining to the Messiah. Admittedly, at this time I have not studied the subject to such depth as to be able to honestly make such a claim. However, I am personally aware of dozens of such prophecies and their fulfillment. Consider just a few of them at this time. It was predicted that the Messiah would be born of the seed of woman (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4) of a virgin (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18,24,25) of the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10; Luke 3:23ff) at Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:1). The Messiah would have a special anointment of the Holy Spirit (Isa. 11:2; Matt. 3:16,17), be preceded by a messenger (Isa. 40:3; Matt. 3:1-3), and would one day enter Jerusalem on a donkey (Zech. 9:9; Luke 19:35-37). He would be betrayed by a friend (Psa. 41:9; Matt. 10:4) for thirty pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12; Matt. 26:15), and the money would later be thrown into God's house (Zech. 11:13; Matt. 27:5). He would be forsaken by His disciples (Zech. 13:7; Mark 14:50). He would be silent before His accusers (Isa. 53:7; Matt. 27:12). He would be wounded, bruised, struck, and spat upon (Isa. 50:6; 53:5; Matt. 26:67; 27:26). His hands and feet would be pierced (Psa. 22:16; Luke 23:33), though none of His bones would be broken (Psa. 34:20; John 19:33ff). They would cast lots for His garments (Psa. 22:18; John 19:23,24) and pierce His side (Zech. 12:10; John 19:34). He would be buried in a rich man's tomb (Isa. 53:9; Matt. 27:57-60). He would be brought back to life from the dead (Psa. 16:10; Acts 2:31) and ascend into heaven (Psa. 68:18; Acts 1:9) to be seated at the right hand of God (Psa. 110:1; Heb. 1:3).
Some might be quick to point out: "Stephen, some of those prophecies could have been deliberately or accidentally fulfilled." I suppose that is true. Some could have been deliberately fulfilled, but certainly not all of them! A few of them could have been fulfilled by chance, but certainly not all or even most of them! Mathematician Peter Stoner calculated the chance fulfillment of just eight prophecies regarding the Messiah to be 1 in 1017! How big is 1017, you ask? If you were to write it out without using exponents, you would write a "1" with seventeen zeroes behind it! Here is an illustration to help you understand just how big that number is: "Suppose we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that it is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one?" Friends, that is the odds of one person fulfilling eight Messianic prophecies on accident! Now remember, these are just some of the prophecies about Christ. There are many other prophecies in the Bible that contain an amazing amount of detail, and they also have been fulfilled precisely as predicted!
Let's look at an example from Ezek. 26:1-14 - "And it came to pass in the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, that the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'Son of man, because Tyre has said against Jerusalem, "Aha! She is broken who was the gateway of the peoples; now she is turned over to me; I shall be filled; she is laid waste." Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against you, as the sea causes 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 like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for spreading nets in the midst of the sea, for I have spoken," says the Lord GOD; "it shall become plunder for the nations. Also her daughter villages which are in the fields shall be slain by the sword. Then they shall know that I am the LORD." For thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses, with chariots, and with horsemen, and an army with many people. He will slay with the sword your daughter villages in the fields; he will heap up a siege mound against you, build a wall against you, and raise a defense against you. He will direct his battering rams against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers. Because of the abundance of his horses, their dust will cover you; your walls will shake at the noise of the horsemen, the wagons, and the chariots, when he enters your gates, as men enter a city that has been breached. With the hooves of his horses he will trample all your streets; he will slay your people by the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. They will plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise; they will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses; they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water. I will put an end to the sound of your songs, and the sound of your harps shall be heard no more. I will make you like the top of a rock; you shall be a place for spreading nets, and you shall never be rebuilt, for I the LORD have spoken," says the LORD GOD.'" Let me emphasize some of the interesting points made in this extremely detailed prophecy. 26:3 - Many nations will rise up against the city of Tyre. 26:4 - She will be turned into a flat, bare rock. 26:5 - Fisherman will spread their nets over the site. 26:7,8 - Nebuchadnezzar will destroy the mainland city of Tyre. 26:12 - The debris will be thrown into the water. 26:14 - Tyre will never be rebuilt. Friends, have these prophecies been fulfilled? Absolutely! Listen to this quote from a historian named Ridenour: "...the prophecy came true, just as predicted. Nebuchadnezzar led the Medes and Persians in a thirteen-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 331 B.C. when Alexander the Great invaded it by tearing down the ruins of the mainland city and constructing a bridge out of rocks and timber...Tyre was destroyed violently and completely in the thirteenth century by Moslems who took it from the Crusaders. As Ezekiel promised, it has never been rebuilt today and tourists watch fisherman spread their nets to dry on the barren rocks." How could Ezekiel have made such a detailed prediction and get all of the details exactly right? Think about the implications of such!
There are plenty of other prophecies to consider as well. For example, Ezek. 28:22,23 (a prophecy about Sidon) or Deut. 28 (a prophecy about the Hebrews), or other Old Testament prophecies about Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, etc. The proof in prophecy is there! There are too many detailed prophecies for the Bible to be guesswork! No one can explain all of these detailed prophecies and yet not one mistake in their fulfillment! How can this be unless the God of the Bible was foretelling the future as He knew it would unfold? How can an unbeliever explain all these prophecies if there is no God and if the Bible is not divinely inspired?
Are you still skeptical regarding God's existence? Do you have any lingering doubts that the Bible is the product of deity? We still have more to consider on this very important subject, but we are at a good stopping place for the moment. Reflect upon the things I have just shared with you, and be sure not to miss next week's concluding lesson. Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.