PREDICTIONS THAT CAME TRUE
Quite a few Bible writers recorded prophesies. Far from claiming that they could foretell the future, these writers gave credit to the Creator. One example is Isaiah, who identified God as “the One telling from the beginning the finale.” (Is 1:1; 42:8, 9; 46, 8-11) The ability to foretell events that were to occur decades or even centuries in the future marks the God of Isaiah as unique; He is not a mere idol, like those that past and present have adored. Prophecy gives us convincing evidence that the Bible is not of human authorship. Consider how Isaiah’s book bears this out.
A comparison of the contents of Isaiah with historical data shows that the book was written about 732 B.C.E. Isaiah foretold that calamity would come upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah because they were guilty of bloodshed and idol worship. Isaiah predicted that the land would be devastated, Jerusalem and its temple would be destroyed, and the survivors taken captivity to Babylon. But Isaiah also prophesied that God would not forget the captive nation. The book foretold that a foreign King named Cyrus would conquer Babylon and free the Jews to return to their homeland. In fact, Isaiah describes God as “the one saying of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and all that I delight in he will completely carry out’; even in my saying of Jerusalem, ‘She will be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘You will have your foundation laid.’” (Is 2:8; 24:1; 39:5-7; 43:14; 44:24-28; 45:1)
In Isaiah’s day, the 8th century B.C.E., such predictions might seem unbelievable. At that point Babylon was not even a significant military power. It was subject to the real world power of the time, the Assyrian Empire. Equally strange would have been the idea that a conquered people who had been taken into a distant land as exiles could be released and reclaim their land. “Who has heard of a thing like this?” Isaiah wrote. (Is 66:8)
Yet, what do we find if we move two centuries forward? The subsequent history of the ancient Jews proved that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in detail. Babylon did become mighty, and it destroyed Jerusalem. The name of the Persian king (Cyrus), his subsequent conquest of Babylon, and the Jews return are all accepted facts of history. So exactly did these prophesied details turn out that in the 19th century, critics claimed that Isaiah’s book was a hoax; they in effect said: ‘Isaiah may have written the first chapters, but a latter writer in the time of King Cyrus made up the rest of the book so it would appear to be a prophecy.’ Someone might make such dismissive assertions, but what are the facts?
The predictions in the book of Isaiah are not limited to events involving Cyrus and the Jewish exiles. Isaiah also told of Babylon’s final situation, and his book gave many details about a coming Messiah, or Deliverer, who would suffer and then be glorified. Can we establish whether such predictions were written long in advance and therefore were prophecies to be fulfilled?
Consider this point. Isaiah wrote about Babylon’s final situation: “Babylon, the decoration of kingdoms, the beauty of the pride of the Chaldeans, must become as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. She will never be inhabited, nor will she reside for generation after generation.” (Is 13:19,20; chapter 47) How did these things actually work out?
The facts are that Babylon had long depended on a complex irrigation system of dams and canals between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It appears that about 140 B.C.E. this water system was damaged in the destructive Parthian conquest and basically collapsed. With what effect? The Encyclopedia Americana explains: “The soil became saturated with mineral salts, and a crust of alkali formed over the surface, making agricultural use impossible.” Some 200 years later, Babylon was still a populous city, but it did not remain such for much longer. (Compare 1 Peter 5:13) By the 3rd century C.E., the historian Dio Cassius (c.150-235 C.E.) described a visitor to Babylon as finding nothing but “mounds and stones and ruins.” (LXVIII, 30) Significantly, by this time Isaiah had been dead and his complete book in circulation for centuries. And if you visited Babylon today, you would see mere ruins of that once glorious city. Though ancient cities such as Rome Jerusalem, and Athens have survived down to our day, Babylon is desolate, uninhabited, a ruin; it is just as Isaiah foretold. The prediction came true.
Now let us focus on Isaiah’s description of the coming Messiah. According to Isaiah 52:13, this special servant of God would eventually be ‘in high station and be exalted very much.’ However, the following chapter (Isaiah 53) prophesied that before his exaltation, the Messiah would undergo a surprisingly different experience. You might be amazed at the details recorded in that chapter, which is widely acknowledged to be a Messianic prophecy.
As you read there, the Messiah would be despised by his countrymen. Certain that this would occur, Isaiah wrote as if it had already happened: “He was despised and avoided by men.” (Vs 3) This mistreatment would be totally unjustified because the Messiah would do good for the people. “Our sickness were what He Himself carried,” is how Isaiah described the Messiah’s acts of healing. (Vs 4) In spite of that, the Messiah would be tried and unjustly condemned, while remaining silent before his accusers. (Vs 7-8) He would allow himself to be handed over to be killed alongside criminals; during his execution his body would be pierced. (Vs 5, 12) Despite dying like a criminal, he would be buried as if a rich man. (Vs 9) And Isaiah repeatedly stated that the Messiah’s unjust death would have atoning power; covering the sins of other humans. (Vs 5, 8, 11, 12)
All of that came true. The histories
recorded by Jesus’ contemporaries-Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John- bare out that
what Isaiah had foretold did in fact occur. Some of the events took place after
Jesus’ death, so the situation was not one he could have manipulated. The
total fulfillment of Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy has had a powerful effect on
sincere bible readers over the centuries, including some who formerly did not
accept Jesus. Scholar William Urwick notes: “Many Jews, in committing to
writing the reason of their conversion to Christianity, acknowledge that it was
the perusal of this chapter [Is 53] which had shaken their faith in their old
creed and teachers.” –The Servant of Jehovah.
Urwick made that comment in the late 1800’s, when some might still have doubted whether Isaiah chapter 53 had been written centuries before Jesus’ birth. However, discoveries since then have essentially removed any basis for doubt. In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd near the dead sea discovered an ancient scroll of the entire book of Isaiah. Experts in ancient writing dated the scroll as being from 125 to 100 B.C.E. Then in 1990, a carbon 14 analysis of the scroll gave a date of between 202 and 107 B.C.E. Yes, this famous scroll of Isaiah was already quite old when Jesus was born. What does comparing it with modern Bibles reveal?
If you visit Jerusalem, you can view fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls. A recording by archeologist Professor Yigael Yadin explains: “Not more than about five or six hundred years elapsed between when the actual words of Isaiah were said and this scroll was copied in the 2nd century B.C. It is an amazing thing that although the original scroll in the museum is more than 2,000 years old how close it is to the bible we read today either in Hebrew or in the translations which were made from the original.”
Clearly, this should affect our view. Of what? Well, it should put to rest any critical doubts that the book of Isaiah is nothing but prophecy after the fact. There now is scientific proof that a copy of the writings of Isaiah were made well over one hundred years before the birth of Jesus; and longer still before the desolation of Babylon. Consequently, how can there be any doubt that Isaiah’s writings predicted both the final outcome for Babylon and the unjust sufferings, type of death, and treatment of the Messiah? And the historical facts eliminate any basis for disputing that Isaiah accurately predicted the Jew’s captivity and their release from Babylon. Such fulfilled predictions constitute just one of many lines of evidence that the real author of the Bible is the Creator and that the Bible is inspired of God.
There are many other indications of divine authorship of the Bible. These include the astronomical, geological, and medical accuracy of the Bible; the internal harmony of its books, written by scores of men over many hundreds of years; its agreement with many facts of secular history and archeology; and its moral code that excelled codes of surrounding peoples of those times and that is still recognized as without equal. These and other lines of evidence have convinced countless diligent and honest people that the Bible is authentically a book from our Creator.
This can also help us to draw some valid conclusions about the creator- helping us to see His qualities. Does not His ability to look forward in time testify that he has perceptive abilities beyond what humans have? Humans do not know what will occur in the distant future, nor can they control it. The Creator can. He can both foresee the future and arrange events so that his will is carried out. Appropriately, Isaiah describes the Creator as the “One telling from the beginning the finale, and from long ago the things that have not been done; the One saying, ‘My own counsel will stand, and everything that is my delight I shall do.” (Is 46:10; 55:11)
From the book “Is there a Creator Who cares about you?”