“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19.
In the eventful and turbulent times in which we live, many thinking people are concerned about the present world condition and the secrets of the future. Those who see the world polarized between the forces of good and evil want to know what will happen next in the great battle between light and darkness. We thank God that He has not left mankind in ignorance about the course of the conflict and its outcome.
Like a great searchlight shining across the centuries, the sure word of prophecy focuses its beams upon our day. In this light we see clearly the trend of events and may understand what is coming next in the program of history fulfilling prophecy.
The Bible speaks to us of events of the past that have a lesson for the present and for the future. Prophecy is God’s challenge to the infidel. One of the distinguishing characteristics of divinity is the remarkable power to foretell and record the course of history many years before the events come to pass.
In olden times, God’s challenge to false religious systems was this: “. . . Declare us things for to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods. . . .” Isaiah 41:22-23. There is no god or person that can accurately reveal the future except the living God in heaven, who is able to tell the end from the beginning. “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done. . . .” Isaiah 46:9-10. By unveiling future events, the Lord has borne witness of Himself through the ages that it might be known that He rules from above all the kingdoms of men. Men thus have the opportunity to recognize His divine purpose in their lives. Besides manifesting His omnipotence in unraveling the mysteries in world affairs, God desires to shed light on His plan for man’s salvation.
The fulfillment of the word of prophecy in history is a fascinating story. It is seen in matters pertaining to individuals, as well as in the affairs of cities and the great world empires. Let us examine a few examples of Bible prophecies and their unerring fulfillment.
In the dream divinely given to Joseph, it was revealed that his brothers would one day come as suppliants before him. His father was not pleased with the dream and said, “Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?” Genesis 37:10. Twenty years later, his brothers presented themselves before Joseph, completely unaware of his identity, and “fell before him on the ground.” Genesis 44:14.
Turning our attention to Tyre, the greatest maritime city of antiquity, we learn that the Phoenicians traded in all the ports of the known world. All countries traded in its markets and contributed to its wealth and prosperity. Unfortunately, this majestic city was to come to a downfall. It was predicted by the prophet Ezekiel thus: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, 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 the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea. . . .” Ezekiel 26:3-5.
This prophecy was literally fulfilled. Travelers bear witness that the site of the island city is a “rock whereon fishermen dry their nets.” There is nothing to even suggest the departed glory of this once mighty metropolis.
The powerful, wealthy and apparently invincible Babylon the Great was doomed to be overthrown and to pass into oblivion. God foretold what nations would march against Babylon and destroy it. (Jeremiah 51:11 & 28.) Fifty-seven years before Babylon fell, Jeremiah wrote two chapters of prophecy concerning its downfall. (Jeremiah 50-51.) In the prophecy recorded in Isaiah 45:1-3, it was foretold that Cyrus would be the man who would lead the armies against Babylon. One hundred and thirteen years before he was born, the Lord called him by name!
The downfall of Babylon was accomplished by a stratagem, when it could not be done by force. It was a unique method of attack–diverting the river Euphrates which ran through the city, thus making the natural channel of the river fordable. Cyrus then was able to pass into the city without the use of battering rams or other weapons to break the mighty walls. Fifty-seven years before, God’s prophet stated that this would be the method of the enemy’s attack on the city. It was predicted that Cyrus would make his attack on the night of a certain Babylonian festival when the whole city would be given up to drinking and reveling. (Daniel 5.) One hundred seventy-five years before this time, Isaiah had foretold that Babylon would be given up to debauchery. (Isaiah 21:5.) Jeremiah had pointed out how the city would come to its end during the celebration. (Jeremiah 51: 39 & 57.)
On the night of the feast day, Cyrus was able to go through the river gates, because the Babylonians left the lower gates open. One hundred seventy-five years before this, God had said that the gates would not be shut, and that this would contribute to success in the capture of Babylon. “Thus saith the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut.” Isaiah 45:1. One more point of interest is the prediction that Babylon would never be rebuilt or inhabited, nor would the Arabian pitch his tent there, but the wild beasts of the desert would be there. Up to this very day, the magnificent Babylonian city remains in ruins; scarcely enough is left to mark the spot where once stood the largest, richest, and proudest city of the ancient world. Thus the history of Babylon shows us how accurately God fulfills His word. It is a positive proof of the truthfulness and reliability of the Bible.
The fulfillment of prophecy was no mere coincidence or just guesswork on the part of the writers of the Holy Word. The prophets who bore messages from God to Tyre and Babylon spoke messages also for our day. The prophetic word has much to say about events still in the future, the course of history in these last days. Rapidly the prophecies are being fulfilled, declaring the end of the world and the blessed hope of our Savior’s return to earth.
Let us give heed to what that word speaks concerning our own time and thus be prepared for what is coming upon the earth.