Unique among all books ever written, the Bible accurately foretells specific events–in detail–many years, sometimes centuries, before they occur. God’s Word is an exciting book that is filled with His promises and purposes. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Timothy 3:16). He has given us prophetic Scriptures so that we might understand what is happening and going to happen — proving our hopes are in Him alone.
God does not operate in a linear time frame, as we do. He is all seeing, all-powerful, and knows what was, what is, and what is to come, all at the same time! This is difficult for the human mind to comprehend. Yet, to help us, the Lord has given us prophecy to encourage us and enable us to get a vision of His plan, judgments and blessings. The Spirit says in Revelation 1:3: “Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
Out of 66 Books in the Bible, 17 are devoted to prophecy
Sixteen of them are in the Old Testament
Revelation is the one New Testament book devoted to prophecy
However, there are verses of prophecy given throughout the entire Bible. God’s first prophetic statement begins in Genesis 3:15 as He speaks to Satan concerning the act of deception performed on Eve. Some were foretelling the rise and fall of kingdoms. Many of the Old Testament prophecies are called Messianic prophecies and were in regard to the coming Messiah. These Scriptures are a powerful confirmation of the accuracy of prophecies in the Bible. Here are just a few of hundreds:
He would be a descendant of King David (Isaiah 11:1-5; Matthew 1: 1-6)
He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1)
His own people would reject Him (Isaiah 53:3; John 1:11)
The price of His betrayal would be 30 shekels (Zech 11:12; Matt 26:15)
Suffer execution without broken bones (Psalm 34:20; John 19:33-36)
God would resurrect Him from the grave (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:30-32)
The New Testament’s four Gospels are abundant with Messianic Prophecies that are fulfilled by Jesus Christ. They not only foretold (with 100% accuracy) of His first coming to atone for our sins, but also tell of His second coming to rule as King of Kings (Revelation 19:11-16). Many people see prophecy as mysterious and unreal. To understand what prophecy is all about and its relevance to us, we must see the true scope of it and God’s intent. It links mankind’s past, present, and future giving us a balance of the Lord’s whole and eternal purpose.
The book of Daniel describes with incredible accuracy the fate of the Grecian Empire; how upon Alexander’s death his empire would be divided into four portions, the conflicts between two of these divisions, Egypt and Syria, and the affect which these wars would have upon the nation of Israel which was situated between the two. In fact, many of the conflicts were over the control of Palestine (Israel). The Syrian kings are referred to as the “kings of the North” (that is, north of Israel, the prophecy being given from Israel’s perspective); the Egyptian kings are referred to as the “kings of the South” (south of Israel). Continue reading to compare some of Daniel’s prophecies with secular history, or Click Here to jump to the prophecies of Jesus of Nazareth.
Daniel 11:1-2: “In the first year of Darius the Mede, I arose to be an encouragement and a protection for him. And now I will tell you the truth. Behold, three more kings are going to arise in Persia. Then a fourth will gain far more riches than all of them; as soon as he becomes strong through his riches, he will arouse the whole empire against the realm of Greece.”
Darius the Mede was viceroy in Babylon during the reign of Cyrus II (a.k.a. Cyrus the Great, who ruled from c.550-530 BC; Note: the dates provided here and following represent a period of monarchical reign, not the ruler’s actual life-span). The three kings which succeed Cyrus were Cambyses II (530-521 BC), Smerdis (521 BC) and Darius I (521-485 BC), son of Hystaspes. The fourth king, Xerxes (486-465 BC), excelling in wealth and power, launched an elaborate campaign against Greece.
Daniel 11:3-4: “And a mighty king will arise, and he will rule with great authority and do as he pleases. But as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom will be broken up and parceled out toward the four points of the compass, though not to his own descendants, nor according to his authority which he wielded, for his sovereignty will be uprooted and given to others besides them.”
The “mighty king” was Alexander the Great (336-323 BC) who, shortly after conquering the Persian Empire, died abruptly at the age of 32. His empire was not bequeathed to his children (who were murdered) but instead was divided up amongst his generals (the Diadochi). Four lesser kingdoms emerged from the rubble of Alexander’s empire: Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt.
Daniel 11:5: “Then the king of the South will grow strong, along with one of his princes who will gain ascendancy over him and obtain dominion; his domain will be a great dominion indeed.”
The first “king of the South” was Ptolemy I (305-283 BC). He was the first to sit upon Egypt’s throne after Alexander’s demise. Seleucus I (305-281), who served under Ptolemy as “one of his princes” during the Diadochi Wars (which followed Alexander’s death), acquired the throne of Syria for himself, becoming the first “king of the North.” Syria was by far the largest portion of Alexander’s divided empire and thus, Seleucus’ dominion was great indeed.
Daniel 11:6: “After some years they will form an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the South will come to the king of the North to carry out a peaceful arrangement. But she will not retain her position of power, nor will he remain with his power, but she will be given up, along with those who brought her in and the one who sired her as well as he who supported her in those times.”
Ptolemy II (283-246 BC), Ptolemy I’s successor gave his daughter Berenice in a marriage-alliance to his rival Antiochus II (261-246 BC) who succeeded Seleucus I’s son, Antiochus I (281-261 BC). Upon Ptolemy’s death, Antiochus returned to his ex-wife Laodice (whom he had divorced in order to marry Berenice). Laodice took Antiochus’ return to her bed as an opportunity to poison Antiochus and to have Bernice and her child murdered so that her own son Seleucus II (whom she had bore to Antiochus) could ascend the throne.
Daniel 11:7-9: “But one of the descendants of her line will arise in his place, and he will come against their army and enter the fortress of the king of the North, and he will deal with them and display great strength. Also their gods with their metal images and their precious vessels of silver and gold he will take into captivity to Egypt, and he on his part will refrain from attacking the king of the North for some years. Then the latter will enter the realm of the king of the South, but will return to his own land.”
Ptolemy III (246-222 BC), Berenice’s brother (“one of the descendants of her line”), upon hearing of Berenice’s murder, launched a successful campaign against Seleucus II (246-225 BC) who fled to Asia Minor. Ptolemy took 40,000 talents worth of silver, 4000 talents of gold and 2500 idols from the Syrians before returning back to Egypt at which time Seleucus recovered Syria.
Daniel 11:10-13: “His sons will mobilize and assemble a multitude of great forces; and one of them will keep on coming and overflow and pass through, that he may again wage war up to his very fortress. The king of the South will be enraged and go forth and fight with the king of the North. Then the latter will raise a great multitude, but that multitude will be given into the hand of the former. When the multitude is carried away, his heart will be lifted up, and he will cause tens of thousands to fall; yet he will not prevail. For the king of the North will again raise a greater multitude than the former, and after an interval of some years he will press on with a great army and much equipment.”
Seleucus III (225-223 BC) succeeded Seleucus II, raised up an army and launched a campaign against Attalus I (241-197 BC) of the Attalid dynasty. He was assassinated after a brief two-year reign. His younger brother, Antiochus III (a.k.a. “Antiochus the Great,” who ruled from 223-187 BC) succeeded him after his death, amassed an army and marched against Ptolemy IV (221-205 BC) of Egypt. He was successful up until his defeat at Raphia in 217 BC, a loss which nullified his previous gains. Ptolemy IV, his heart being lifted up after his victory at Raphia in Palestine, sought to enter the Holy of Holies of the Jewish temple, an act forbidden by Jewish law. The Jews resisted him inciting his anger and he had “tens of thousands” put to death. After his defeat, Antiochus turned towards the east, and, following in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, marched as far as the Kabul Valley in Afghanistan, enjoying great success and acquiring for himself the title “Antiochus the Great.” He returned to wage war against the Ptolemies and by 198 BC, nearly 20 years after his defeat at Raphia, Antiochus had succeeded in taking possession of Palestine. The battle of Panium (198 BC) marked the end of Ptolemaic rule in Palestine. Thus, upon the king of the North’s return following his initial defeat the king of the South did not prevail.
Daniel 11:14-16: “Now in those times many will rise up against the king of the South; the violent ones among your people will also lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they will fall down. Then the king of the North will come, cast up a siege ramp and capture a well-fortified city; and the forces of the South will not stand their ground, not even their choicest troops, for there will be no strength to make a stand. But he who comes against him will do as he pleases, and no one will be able to withstand him; he will also stay for a time in the Beautiful Land, with destruction in his hand.”
Egypt rose up in rebellion against Ptolemy IV, a rebellion which continued well into the reign of his successor, Ptolemy V (205-181 BC), and during the latter’s reign Antiochus III and Philip V (221-179) of Macedon agreed to divide up Ptolemaic interests abroad. Thus “many” rose up against the king of the South, though the rebellion was eventually suppressed (“they fell down”). The king of the North, as mentioned a moment ago, returned and routed the king of South, in whom there was “no strength to make a stand.” The Beautiful Land refers to Palestine which finally came under Seleucid rule after more than a century of Ptolemaic supremacy.
Daniel 11:17-19: “He will set his face to come with the power of his whole kingdom, bringing with him a proposal of peace which he will put into effect; he will also give him the daughter of women to ruin it. But she will not take a stand for him or be on his side. Then he will turn his face to the coastlands and capture many. But a commander will put a stop to his scorn against him; moreover, he will repay him for his scorn. So he will turn his face toward the fortresses of his own land, but he will stumble and fall and be found no more.”
Antiochus made peace with Ptolemy and gave his daughter Cleopatra in marriage to his young rival, hoping to use her to conquer Egypt through intrigue rather than through armed conflict. To his dismay Cleopatra stood against her father. Antiochus then turned against Asia Minor, marching as far as Greece (“the coastlands”), but was turned back by the Romans at Thermopylae (191 BC) and finally defeated at Magnesia in 190 BC. He was killed while trying to plunder a pagan temple near Susa (187 BC) just a year following the peace accords with Rome at Apamea (188 BC); thus he stumbled and fell and was found no more.
Messianic prophecy is the collection of over 100 predictions in the Old Testament about the future Messiah of the Jewish people. These predictions were written by multiple authors, in numerous books, over approximately 1,000 years. Messianic Prophecy is so dramatic today, because with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the reliability of the Septuagint version of the Old Testament (both of which have been proven to exist prior to the time Jesus walked on the earth) you can be assured that these prophecies were not “conspired” after-the-fact.
Messianic prophecy was fulfilled by the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Although many Jews did not accept Jesus as their Messiah, many did, and they became the Jewish sect later known as the Christians. Christianity, based in dramatic part on the fulfillment of historical prophecy, spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire of the 1st Century. Examine the prophecies yourself, and calculate the probability of one man fulfilling just a handful of the most specific ones, and you’ll be amazed!
Luke 24:44: “Jesus said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’”
The Old Testament verses are the prophecy; the New Testament verses proclaim the fulfillment. Check them all out for yourself:
Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21-23)
A descendant of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 22:18; Matthew 1:1; Galatians 3:16)
Of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Luke 3:23-33; Hebrews 7:14)
Of the house of David (Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Luke 1:32)
Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-7)
Taken to Egypt (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:14-15)
Herod´s killing of the infants (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18)
Anointed by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2; Matthew 3:16-17)
Heralded by John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3:1; Matthew 3:1-3)
Would perform miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6; Matthew 9:35)
Would preach good news (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:14-21)
Would minister in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1; Matthew 4:12-16)
Would cleanse the Temple (Malachi 3:1; Matthew 21:12-13)
Would first present Himself as King 173,880 days from the decree to rebuild the city of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25; Matthew 21:4-11)
Would enter Jerusalem as a king on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:4-9)
Would be rejected by Jews (Psalm 118:22; 1 Peter 2:7)
Die a humiliating death (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53; John 1:10-11)
Betrayal by a friend (Psalm 41:9; Luke 22:3-4; John 13:18)
Sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:14-15)
Silence before His accusers (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12-14)
Mocked (Psalm 22:7-8; Matthew 27:31)
Beaten (Isaiah 52:14; Matthew 27:26)
Spit upon (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 27:30)
Piercing His hands and feet (Psalm 22:16; Matthew 27:31)
Being crucified with thieves (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38)
Praying for His persecutors (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34)
Piercing His side (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34)
Given gall and vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21, Matthew 27:34, Luke 23:36)
No broken bones (Psalm 34:20; John 19:32-36)
Buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60)
Casting lots for His garments (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24)
Would rise from the dead! (Psalm 16:10; Mark 16:6; Acts 2:31)
Ascend into Heaven (Psalm 68:18; Acts 1:9)
Would sit down at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:3)