The fulfillment of prophecies found in the Bible evidences its divine inspiration.
The Old and New Testaments include prophecies about historical events, the birth, life, and death of Jesus, and the reconstitution of Israel. All of them have been fulfilled. The Bible also includes prophecies about future events that are currently unfolding.
The descriptions of the cosmos that are found in the Bible provide additional confirmation of its divine inspiration.
The Old Testament includes many prophecies about the empires of Babylon, Phoenicia, Assyria, Egypt, and Persia that dominated the Middle East at various times, centuries before Jesus was born. Here are a few of them.
Around 740 BC, Isaiah foretold the collapse of the Babylonian empire. (Isaiah 13:19;14:23) He said its capital, Babylon, which was located on the banks of the Euphrates River about fifty miles south of modern Baghdad, would be reduced to swampland. This occurred in 539 BC. Only the excavated ruins of Babylon exist today.
Sometime around 660 BC, Nahum prophesied that the Assyrian Empire would fall (Nahum 1:8,14;3:15) He said its capital, Nineveh, would be hit by a flood, conquered, and burned to the ground. According to the Greek historian, Diodorus Siculus, these events occurred in 612 BC, when a coalition of Babylonians, Scythians, and Medes overran the city.
Around 586 BC, Ezekiel predicted the defeat of the Phoenician Empire. (Ezekiel 26:7-9,12) He said the stones and timber of its capital city, Tyre, would be tossed into the sea. This outcome materialized around 332 BC when the army of Alexander the Great destroyed the city and used the resulting rubble to build a land bridge to a nearby island.
Sometime between 593-571 BC, Ezekiel prophesied that Egypt would no longer dominate other nations, as it had for centuries. (Ezekiel 29:13-15) Egypt was subsequently controlled by various foreign powers, including the Romans, Ottomans, and British until it regained its independence in 1956. In 1948, 1967, and 1973, Egypt tried to conquer Israel and was defeated each time.
The Old Testament books of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel contain many prophecies about the ebbs and flows of the ancient Persian empire. As Daniel predicted, it ultimately collapsed and was ruled by others. (Daniel 11) Persia regained its sovereignty in 1501 and eventually became known as Iran.
The Book of Daniel also includes prophecies about the rise of the Greek Empire that were fulfilled by Alexander the Great. Daniel predicted the Greek empire would be later split into four parts. This occurred after the death of Alexander. (Daniel 11)
The Old Testament includes over 300 prophecies about the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled them all.
Some of these prophecies are theological, e.g., he will be called Immanuel, which means “God is with us.” (Prophesied: Isaiah 7:14; Fulfilled: Matthew 1:23).
Others could apply to almost anyone, e.g., he will be mocked (Prophesied: Psalm 22:7-8; Fulfilled: Luke 23:35).
However, many Messianic prophecies are historically specific. Jesus could not have been engineered their fulfillment in adulthood to support his claim of deity.
Here are a few of the prophetic verses from the Old Testament, along with the corresponding New Testament verses describing their fulfillment by Jesus:
- From the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Luke 3:33)
- A descendant of David (2 Samuel 7:12–13; Matthew 1:6)
- Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:4-6)
- Children would be slaughtered because of him (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18)
- Spent time in Egypt as a child (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:14-15)
- Sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:15)
- Death by crucifixion (Psalm 22:16; Matthew 27:38)
- Given vinegar and gall for thirst (Psalm 69:21; Matthew 27:34)
- His body would be pierced (Zechariah 12:10; John 20:25, 27)
- Lots cast for his clothes (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24)
- Would rise from the dead (Psalm 16:10; Matthew 28:5-9)
Rebirth Of Israel
Jesus prophesied that Israel would be eradicated. This event occurred in 70 AD, more than thirty years after his death.
The Old Testament prophesied that Israel would later reemerge as a sovereign nation. This occurred in 1948.
The reconstitution of Israel, more than eighteen centuries after its predicted demise, represents contemporary evidence that the Bible is divinely inspired.
End Time Prophecies
Jesus said the generation that witnessed the rebirth of Israel would visibly see him return to earth, collect his living believers, and escort them to heaven. This event is commonly called the Rapture.
Other Bible prophecies identify a seven-year period called the Tribulation that either precedes or follows the Rapture. (The Bible is unclear about the relative timing of these events.) These prophecies describe aspects of life during the Tribulation.
From these descriptions, we can infer that other developments will portend the end times in addition to the reconstitution of Israel. Here are a few of them along with the corresponding Bible verses.
- The technology and infrastructure to support a global, cashless payment system. (Revelation 13:16-17)
- The worldwide availability of devices that will allow individuals to watch live events in real-time. (Revelation 1:7)
- Plans to build a new temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. (Amos 9:11; Isaiah 2:2-3; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 11:1-2)
- A Russian military presence in the Middle East. (Ezekiel 38-39)
- The expansion of China’s military influence. (Revelation 9:16)
- The ascendance of Iran among Middle Eastern countries. (Ezekiel 38-39)
- The rise of a beguiling political leader with worldwide influence. (1 John 2:22; Revelation 13:1-10)
- Support for a multinational peace agreement with Israel. (Daniel 9:27)
Several of these precursors are in place and others are underway, which indicates that we are living in the final phase of the current era in world history.
However, we do not specifically know when the Rapture and Tribulation will take place because the Bible is vague about certain details, including the length of a generation and how much of its former territory Israel must control before the countdown begins.
The Bible uses the term “generation” in different contexts to describe a wide range of time intervals. Before and during the earthly life of Jesus, Israel encompassed more territory than it currently controls.
These ambiguities underscore the Bible admonition that only God knows when the Rapture will occur and the Tribulation will commence. Nonetheless, the trending fulfillment of the end-time prophecies affirms that the Bible is divinely inspired.
The Bible describes aspects of the cosmos in simple terms.
- The earth is a sphere. Isaiah 40:22. He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth
The earth floats in space. Job 26:7. He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.
The universe is expanding. Isaiah 42:5. This is what God the Lord says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out
Individual stars are unique. 1 Corinthians 15:41. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
These descriptions seem obvious to us today thanks to modern space exploration, but they were written thousands of years ago by authors who lacked this knowledge.
In their era of world history, only God knew the celestial details of his creation. The veracity of these descriptions evidences the divine inspiration of the Bible.