The Inspired Word
Lesson 2

There are a number of ways by which we can determine the reliability of a story. One of the more common ways is to look for discrepancies in the retelling of the story—do all the parts fit and when the story is repeated, does it remain essentially unchanged in detail. As we have all experienced, it is very difficult to tell a falsehood and not become confused under questioning. This is one reason for cross examination in a trial. The opposing attorney will ask questions that require a rehearsal of the events which if not faithfully related to start with, will, under scrutiny, reveal discrepancies. The more questions that are raised, the harder it becomes to maintain the story without confusion. On the other hand, when the truth is told, it doesn’t matter how many questions are asked, there can always be straightforward answers, and no matter how many times the story is retold, it is the same.

Written over a period of nearly 2,000 years, and by a number of different individuals of widely differing educational and social backgrounds, the Bible claims to tell us just such a story. Some of the Bible writers were officers of the court, and even kings, some were farmers, and others fishermen. Yet all these different people, writing over centuries, all claim to be telling the same story. The question is, are they?

Perhaps one of the more telling areas is that of prophecy. Over the centuries, there have been many psychics or clairvoyants who have sought to reach beyond the immediate present to foretell coming events. There is a strong desire as part of human nature that wants to know the future. However, as we look at their pronouncements regarding the future, we discover that their record is largely hit and miss, with the vast majority of their prophecies, or projected views of the future, failing to materialize. However, in the Bible, it is the area of prophecy and its fulfillment that is one of the strongest evidences of its inspiration and reliability. For this reason, we will begin by an examination of some of the many biblical prophecies and their astonishing fulfillment.

1. What did the prophet say concerning the city of Tyrus?

Ezekiel 26:4–5, 12

Note: While the city of Tyre was at the height of her glory and power, and while it seemed she must stand forever, Ezekiel wrote that not only would her walls be destroyed, but the ruins would even be scraped up and cast into the sea, and that fisherman would spread their nets there. A short time later, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, came against Tyre and after a siege of thirteen years, destroyed the city.

Even though the city lay in ruins, the prophecy foretold that even its ruins would be cast into the sea. And, for the next two and a half centuries the ruins lay right where they were, challenging the accuracy of the prophecy made by Ezekiel. Then from the East came the famous commander of the Greek armies, Alexander the Great. Reaching the place where Tyre had once stood, but now lay in ruins he saw that the city he had come to capture, had been rebuilt and stood on an island a half mile off the shore. Alexander was not discouraged, however. Putting his men to work, they gathered up all the old ruins, using them to build a causeway out to the island city. In accomplishing this task, the demand for material was so great that the very dust was scraped from the site of the former city, and laid in the sea.

Turning from the ancient city of Tyre, we see what the prophet wrote of her even more ancient sister city Sidon.

2. What did the prophet say would be in the streets of Sidon (Zidon)?

Ezekiel 28:20–23

Note: Though the prophet foretold blood in her streets, and that she would suffer God’s judgments, he did not predict her full and final destruction, as he had with Tyre. In spite of the fact that few, if any, other cities have suffered more than Sidon, Sidon has had an uninterrupted existence right down to the present time.

At the time these prophecies were written, both of these cities were strong, and there was no indication as to what would befall them. Suppose, however, that the prophet had said that Tyre and Sidon would both be utterly destroyed? The thousands of people now living in Sidon would prove the falsity of the Bible.

3. What does the prophet say will happen to the city of Ashkelon?

Zechariah 9:5 (last part)

Note: This city was founded 1800 years before the birth of Christ, and it remained a powerful city for 1500 years after the prophet had made the prophecy that no one would live in it. Then, in 1270 Sultan Beibars destroyed its fortifications and blocked its harbor with stones. For more than 700 years, the city has lain in ruins, testifying to the truthfulness of the Word of God

4. Speaking years before the event, what did the prophet say would become of the great city of Babylon?

Jeremiah 51:37, 58

Note: (See also Isaiah 13:19–22.) With justifiable pride, the Babylonians reasoned that Babylon could never fall. Its great walls, by some records, said to have been over 300 feet high and 60 feet thick, were impregnable to any of the war machines of that day. The city was a mighty fortress! Yet no one lives there today. And though Saddam Hussein once proposed to rebuild it, the ancient ruins of that once great city are all that remain.

Perhaps one of the most amazing prophecies was written by Isaiah prior to Jerusalem’s final overthrow by Nebuchadnezzar, and the destruction of the temple. Not only did the Lord name Cyrus, before he was even born, as the man who would order the rebuilding of Jerusalem, He indicated that rivers would be dried to make way for him. And in the next chapter, without mentioning Babylon by name, the Lord indicated the weak spot in the city’s defenses which would allow him an entrance.

5. What did Isaiah say regarding the breach in Babylon’s defenses?

Isaiah 45:1–4

After a reign of forty-three years, Nebuchadnezzar was followed by his son Evil-Merodach. Over the next few years one king was succeeded by another until lastly, Nabonidus reigned, whose son, Belshazzar, grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, was associated with him on the throne.

Just two years following the death of Nebuchadnezzar, war broke out between Babylon and the Medes which would eventually result in the overthrow of the Babylonian kingdom. Darius the Mede, summoned to his aid his nephew Cyrus of Persia and in the third year of Belshazzar, Cyrus laid siege to Babylon, the only city in all the East which still held out. The Babylonians gathered within their seemingly impregnable walls, with sufficient provisions to last for twenty years, and enough land within the walls to provide food indefinitely, felt secure and scoffed at Cyrus’ seemingly useless efforts. According to human reasoning, they had nothing to fear.

It was in their feeling of security that lay their great source of danger. Learning of an annual festival in which the whole city would be given up to revelry, Cyrus decided upon that date as the time to carry out his purposes.

There was no entrance by which he could breach the security of the city unless it could be found where the River Euphrates entered and emerged from the city, passing through the city walls. Determined to explore this avenue, he detailed his soldiers to dig a channel by which they could turn the river out of its normal course into a large artificial lake a short distance above the city, allowing for a dry river bed for a brief period of time, thus allowing his troops temporary access to the empty channel running through the city.

However, even this would have been in vain, had not the whole city given itself over to the most abandoned carelessness. On each side of the river were walls of great height, and of equal thickness with the outer walls. In those walls were huge gates of brass, which, when closed and guarded, prevented all entrance to the city from the river to any of the streets that crossed the river. Had the gates been closed, Cyrus might have marched his soldiers into the city along the river bed, and then marched out again on the other side, for all that they could have accomplished.

But, in the drunken revelry of that fatal night, these river gates had been left open and unguarded, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah years before. The entrance of the Persian soldiers was not perceived and their presence was only made known when they fell upon the guards in the vestibule of the palace of the king.

6. What are we to gain from a study of God’s Word?

Romans 15:4

The ability to tell us things before they happen is one great proof that God, working through humble human instruments, is its Author. There is no other book in existence that can make such claims as those brought forth in the Bible. And, while many have sought to prove the Bible wrong, the Bible remains, while they have faded from sight.

7. What does the apostle tell us regarding the durability of the Bible?

1 Peter 1:23

Using the Bible as our guide and rule of faith, we will seek in the lessons that follow to gain a more thorough and complete picture of the truth it contains.

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