EDUCATING OUR WORLD

Question: In What Sense Does Predictive Prophecy Show That The God Of The Bible Exists?

AnswerThe Bible itself is a starting point for us to believe in the existence of God. But there is much more. One of the strongest lines of evidence that can be marshaled for God’s existence is the subject of predictive prophecy. The Scripture records many events that were predicted in advance by God.

These fulfilled prophecies are evidence of God’s knowledge of all things. Only God, who is outside of our time-space existence and our finite knowledge, could accurately and consistently reveal the future. The Bible says the following about the evidence from predictive prophecy.

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:19-21 NRSV).
Prophecy is God foretelling events before they occur. Furthermore, biblical predictions are not vague prophecies, but are specific in nature. In addition, they cannot be accounted for by chance, common sense, or collusion.

The Biblical Tests Of A Prophet: 100% Accuracy 100% Of The Time

The biblical prophet must be 100% right 100% of the time. We read the Lord saying the following words to Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy.

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death. You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him (Deuteronomy 18:18-22 NIV).

A genuine prophet of God does not make any mistakes. Indeed, he or she cannot make any mistakes!

What Constitutes Fulfilled Prophecy?

For predictive prophecy to be considered valid, it must pass a number of tests. They include the following.

1. The Prophecy Must Be Given Before The Fulfillment Takes Place

The prophecy must be given before the fulfillment takes place. This is primary. For any prophecy to be considered valid it must be delivered before the events take place, not after the fact. Otherwise we are not dealing with prophecy.

2.  The Prophecy Must Be Explicit

There is something else which is crucial. The prophecy must be of an explicit nature. In other words, it cannot be so general and vague that it can mean anything and everything. It must say something specific.

3. The Prophecy Must Potentially Be Able To Be Falsified

This brings us to our next point. The prophecy must be of such a nature that it can be proven to be false. It has to contain elements that can be either proven to be true or false. Unless a prophecy can potentially be falsified it is meaningless.

For example, Jeremiah the prophet predicted that a false prophet named Hananiah would be dead within a year. With this specific detail, the prophecy would be able to have been proven true or false. If Hananiah had not died within the year, then Jeremiah would have been a false prophet like Hananiah. However, Scripture tells us that Hananiah did indeed die within that year. Therefore, the prophecy, with its specific prediction, was proven to be true.

4.   The Prophet Cannot Have Any Part In The Fulfillment

Another essential ingredient is that those who gave the prophecies, the biblical prophets, cannot have any part in the fulfillment. The prediction must be completely fulfilled apart from the one giving it. The prophet can have absolutely nothing to do with its coming to pass.

5. The Fulfillment Must Correspond Exactly To The Prediction

In addition, for a prophecy to be considered valid, the fulfillment must correspond exactly, and in all points, to the predictions that were given. Partial fulfillment is not enough. Fulfillment must be exact.

Some Examples Of Fulfilled Bible Prophecy

Scripture contains many examples of fulfilled prophecy. For example, the Old Testament predicts the coming of a Savior, known as the Messiah. The predictions surrounding Him are very specific. They include the following points.

The Birthplace Of The Messiah: He Must Be Born In Bethlehem

He was to be born in the city of Bethlehem. We read the following in the Book of Micah.

But you (Bethlehem) Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, from you will come for me a future ruler of Israel whose origins go back to the distant past, to the days of old (Micah 5:2 NLT).
This eliminates every other city in the world for the potential birthplace of the Messiah. Only Bethlehem could be His birthplace.

The Family Line: He Must Be A Descendant Of David

The Old Testament predicted the exact family line that the Messiah would come through. This includes the line of Abraham (Genesis 22:18), the line of Isaac (Genesis 21:12), the line of Jacob (Numbers 24:17), the family line of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), and the line of David (Jeremiah 23:5). This makes His ancestry clear.

He Must Come Before Jerusalem And The Temple Are Destroyed

The Messiah was to come on the historical scene before the Temple in Jerusalem, along with the city itself, was destroyed. We read the following in the Book of Daniel.

After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed (Daniel 9:26 NIV).
The Temple, and the city of Jerusalem, were both destroyed in A.D. 70. Thus, the predicted Messiah was prophesied to come upon the scene of history before A.D. 70.

The Prophecies Were Literally Fulfilled In Jesus Christ

We find that the prophecies given concerning the coming Messiah were literally fulfilled in the Person of Jesus Christ. The evidence is as follows.

Jesus Was Born In Bethlehem  

The New Testament records that Jesus was born in the city of Bethlehem. Matthew recorded His birth as follows.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea when Herod was king. After Jesus’ birth wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the one who was born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star rising and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2 God’s Word).

Jesus was born in exactly the right place.

Jesus Was A Descendant Of David  

Jesus was also a descendant of King David just like the prophecy read. We also read in Matthew about this. It makes it clear in the very first verse.

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1 NKJV).

Jesus was also born into the right family.

Jesus Came Before The City And Temple Were Destroyed

There is something else. True to the prophecy, Jesus came on the scene of history before the city of Jerusalem, and the temple were destroyed. They were destroyed in A.D. 70. This is about forty years after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.

The odds that one person could fulfill these prophecies by chance are astronomical. But Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled these and many others demonstrating He was the promised Messiah.

The Bible also gives many prophecies concerning nations and individuals, which have been literally fulfilled. These also demonstrate that God exists, and that He is controlling history.

Why Has God Told Us The Future?

Since the Bible gives us examples of God predicting the future, we may rightly ask the question, “Why has He done this? Why has God at times predicted future events? Through the prophet Isaiah God gives us the answer to this question.

And do not forget the things I have done throughout history. For I am God - I alone! I am God, and there is no one else like me. Only I can tell you what is going to happen even before it happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish (Isaiah 46:9,10 NLT).

Isaiah also recorded God saying.

Time and again I warned you about what was going to happen in the future. Then suddenly I took action, and all my predictions came true. “I know how stubborn and obstinate you are. Your necks are as unbending as iron. You are as hardheaded as bronze. That is why I told you ahead of time what I was going to do. That way, you could never say, ‘My idols did it. My wooden image and metal god commanded it to happen!’” (Isaiah 48:3-5 NLT).

From these verses we can deduce the following.

1. We Can Know That The God Of The Bible Exists

Because He tells us what is going to happen in the future, we can know that the God of the Bible actually exists. Indeed, only an all-knowing God could state with certainty what will happen in the unknown future.

2. We Can Be Assured That He Is The Only God Who Exists

We can also know that He is the only God who exists, for no other God or idol has been able to foretell the future with complete accuracy. He alone is God.

3. We Can Be Confident About His Other Predictions

Humanity can also be confident that other predictions God has made, which have not come to pass, will indeed be fulfilled. Since He has always been right up to this time, there is no reason to assume that He will be anything but right in the future.

4. We Can Trust Everything God Says

We can also trust anything else that God says because He has given us a basis for trusting Him. He has demonstrated that His words are always truthful. The God of the Bible does not lie.

5. We Can Be Confident God Is Controlling History

We can, therefore, have confidence that God is controlling history and our own lives. By realizing that God has predicted the future accurately, we can live in the security of what He has told us will happen.

Therefore, along with the unique character and makeup of the Bible we find that predictive prophecy gives irrefutable evidence that the God of the Bible exists and is in control of all events.

Summary To Question      
In What Sense Does Predictive Prophecy Show That The God Of The Bible Exists?

One of the strongest arguments for the existence of the God of Scripture is predictive prophecy. Before certain events took place, the God of the Bible specifically foretold what would happen. Indeed, the Bible gives a number of examples of predictions being made and then later fulfilled long after the predictions.

These events could not have happened by chance. The predictions were made long before the events took place. The persons making the predictions had no hand in their fulfillment. Furthermore, they were of such a specific nature that they could be shown to be false if they did not come to pass as predicted. However, all of them have come to pass.

As to why God gave predictive prophecy, there are a number of reasons as to why this is so. They include the following.  

First, Bible prophecy was given so that we can know that there is a God who exists, the God of Scripture. Scripture makes it clear that He is the only God which exists. There are no other gods, either lesser or greater than He. The fact that He accurately predicts the future confirms this.

Not only does predictive prophecy tell us that God exists, it also tells us that He is in control of all things. The future is not unknown to Him. Indeed, He controls the future.

Furthermore, because God has accurately told us what will occur in the future, we can also be confident in predictions which have not yet come to pass; we know that they will come to pass as have all of the previous predictions.  

In addition, we can trust every other thing which He says because He has accurately foretold the future.

Predictive prophecy is another powerful line of evidence which gives testimony to the existence of God; the God of the Bible.

This question comes from my book “Does The God Of The Bible Exist?” It is one of many of the completed books that is now getting updated. Hopefully, the entire book will be available soon. Please check out our product page for all current books that are now available.

 

ABOUT DON STEWART

Don Stewart is an internationally recognized Christian apologist and speaker. He graduated cum laude from Talbot Theological Seminary and the International Seminar in Theology and Law in Strasbourg, France, as well as from Biola University. Don is also a best-selling and award-winning author/co-author of over seventy books. [ read more ]

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