Test of Prophecy

Test of Prophecy

Scripture: Isaiah 46:9-10
There are people who claim to predict the future. Do these people have supernatural powers to predict what will happen? Most are inaccurate in their guesses. Where can we find a source of truth about the future that is always correct? This broadcast looks at the Bible's comments on the gift of prophecy.
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A crystal-gazing businesswoman who claims to have the gift of prophecy has been causing quite a stir over some of the predictions for the future. About 60 percent of her considerable number of prophecies have taken place just as she described them in advance. News commentators and political forecasters have been even more amazingly accurate than Jean Dixon in describing some of the ebb and flow of national politics. Does this mean that these people have some supernatural, infallible way to accurately tell the future? Only one of them claims to speak by divine revelation. But, friends, how could God be only 40 percent correct? Is there a source of knowledge which predicts the future correctly 100 percent of the time?

I am happy to tell you that there is one voice which always speaks prophecies with unerring accuracy. Not one prediction has ever been known to fail. That voice is God's Word, the Bible. Notice the claim made in Isaiah 46:9, 10: "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, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure."

Such was the measure of confidence that God reposed in the predictions He caused to be made by His appointed messengers in the long ago. He had no doubts or misgivings concerning them. "My counsel shall stand," He said, with full assurance in the outcome.

How wonderfully this confidence has been justified by events is patent for all the world to see. History affords instance after instance where the words of the Bible prophets have been fulfilled with astonishing accuracy and completeness.

Many of these prophecies referred to the proud empires and great cities whose records are available today in every library in the land. If God had been doubtful about the results, He would have confined the predictions to little-known communities so that none could tell, after the lapse of centuries, whether they had been fulfilled or not. Instead, He chose to speak concerning such powerful empires as Assyria and Babylon, and famous cities such as Nineveh, Tyre, and Jerusalem, historic capitals of the ancient world.

To appreciate fully the marvelous nature of these predictions, one needs to permit his imagination to go back to the days when they were given. First let us picture ourselves in Nineveh, capital of Assyria, the city to which the prophet Jonah went so reluctantly to preach, about 800 B.C.

It is now the year 640 B.C. More than one-hundred-fifty years have elapsed since Jonah's day. The Assyrian Empire is at the zenith of its power. Its soldiers noted for their arrogance and cruelty. Ashurbanipal is on the throne, confident that his dominion will never be overthrown.

But at this very hour a virtually unknown man in far-off Palestine, the prophet Nahum, takes up, as he calls it, "the burden of Nineveh."

He has good reason to do so, for the Assyrians had swept over his homeland, perpetrating all manner of atrocities. Now, under the inspiration of God, "carried away" by the Holy Spirit, he writes with deep feeling: "God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth; the Lord revengeth, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked." Nahum 1:2, 3.

Turning directly to Nineveh, terrible in its overwhelming might and apparent invincibility, he says: "Woe to the bloody city! it is full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not; The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling wheels, and of the prancing horses, and of the jumping chariots. ... Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts... . And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her?" Nahum 3:1-7.

Nineveh to be laid waste! Yes. "Empty, and void, and waste." Nahum 2:10.

Impossible! Look at its impregnable fortifications. Remember its undefeated army, equipped with the finest chariots and the latest weapons of war. Consider its immense size and the vast number of its inhabitants. How could it ever become empty, void, waste? The absurdity of such a thing!

But Nahum was not wrong. Go, search for that famous and populous city today. You will not find it. Save for a few moldering ruins to mark the spot where once it stood, it has vanished from the face of the earth. Thirty years after the divine pronouncement of her fate, Nineveh was overwhelmed by the superior might of Babylon and from that moment gradually faded out of the history of nations.

In the seventh century A.D. a battle was fought between the Romans and the Persians on the very site where Nineveh once had stood in all her pride and majesty. Describing the terrain, the historian Gibbon wrote: "Eastward of the Tigris, at the end of the bridge of Mosul, the great Nineveh had formerly been erected: the city, and even the ruins of the city, had long since disappeared; the vacant space afforded a spacious field for the operation of the two armies." Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chapter 46, paragraph 24. Thus, the words that Nahum uttered came to pass. Nothing else indeed could have happened; for the voice of divine prophecy never fails.

Now we are in Babylon. It is 595 B.C. Passing through one of the city's many brazen gates that give entrance through the wide and lofty walls, we walk down its main thoroughfare marveling at its majestic temples and gilded palaces and, in particular, at the famous "hanging gardens."

The people who throng the market place are discussing the latest conquests of their great King Nebuchadnezzar. They comment on the beauty and richness of the gold and silver vessels looted from the temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem and the quality of the slaves captured. They talk of future victories.

One man is reading from a parchment, his mouth curling in a sneer. "People of Babylon!" he cries to a group gathered around him, "listen to this scurrilous document written about our glorious city!" They press near at his invitation, and this is what they hear: "The word that the Lord spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet. Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken ... . For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain. ... How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations! And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant." Jeremiah 50:1-23; 51:37.

"The man must be mad!" cry the people. "Nothing like this could ever happen to Babylon!" "But see what I have here!" cries another. "This is worse still. It was written more than a hundred years ago by a man called Isaiah." Then he proceeds to read the following: "Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; ... and owls shall dwell there ... . And her time is near to come." Isaiah 13:19-22.

 

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