The Bible – Is It Divinely Inspired?

Part 6 – Evidence of Fulfilled Prophecy


Dr. John Hoole




There is only one Book that never grows old.  For thousands of years, men and women have been writing books.  Most books are forgotten soon after they are published.  A few of the best and wisest are remembered for a time.  New discoveries are made; new ideas arise; the old books are out of date, their usefulness comes to an end.


The nations to which the authors of history’s first books belonged have passed away, and the languages in which they were written are dead – that is, they have ceased to be used in daily life in any part of the world.


Broken bits and torn fragments of some of the early books may be seen in the glass cases of museums.  Learned men and women pore-over the fragments, and try to piece them together, to find out their meaning once again, but they have little to do with the busy world of living men and women any more.


Now, our Bible was first written in a few of these ancient languages.  But is it to be classified among the “dead” books of the world?  Not at all!!  The fact alone that the Word of God can be read today in a thousand living languages, proves clearly that it is no dead book.  100,000,000 Bibles were printed last year


Nations may pass away, languages die, the whole world may change, yet the Bible will live on.  Why is this?  It is because in the Bible alone, of all the books seen on this earth, there is found an up-to-date message for every man, woman, or child.  It is the Message of God’s Salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.


If you are trying to determine whether or not the Old Testament is historically reliable, archeology, as we saw last week, can affirm or corroborate the biblical text.  But the Bible claims to be much more than a reliable record of history.  It claims to be the very Word of God.      And, to help us affirm such a bold claim, we must assess a distinctive feature of the biblical narrative:




Next to accepting what Jesus says about the Scriptures, perhaps the strongest objective argument for the validity of it writings comes from fulfilled prophecy.  If a book accurately and repeatedly predicts the future – rather than just a record of the past – it moves from reliable to Divine.  There are many fulfilled prophecies in the pages of Scripture.  Accurate predictions of future events, that have virtually no probability of occurring in the natural by coincidence, are spectacular precisely because they seem so supra-human.


Allow me to ask you a question: WHAT IS PROPHECY?  Sometimes there is the notion that when one hears the word “prophet” that the speaker will tell you something about the future --- something not presently known.  While some of the Bible prophets did make predictions about the future, that was not the central focus of their message.


Literally, the Greek word for prophet, means…..”to speak for another.”  In the biblical context, it means to speak for God.”  Prophecy means speaking forth what God has spontaneously brought to mind.  Sometimes, when speaking for God, it includes a prediction of something yet future.  But not all prophecy has a predictive element.


However, large chunks of the Bible qualify as predictive prophecy.  There are 16 named prophets who authored Old Testament books: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.  There are also other prophets named in the Old Testament.  Moses, the author of the first five books of the Bible, is also called a prophet (Deut. 34:10).  King David had a seer or prophet by the name of Gad (2 Samuel 24:11).  Nathan the prophet confronted David over his sin with Bathsheba.           And there were others – Ahijah, Jehu, Elijah, Elisha, Shamaiah, Oded and Samuel – who were identified as prophets.


The Bible itself declares that the evidence of fulfilled prophecy is the unmistakable affirmation of God’s inspiration of the Scripture.  It is clear from the word of the prophet Isaiah that God Himself declared that the phenomenon of correctly and precisely prophesying future events and their fulfillment is the absolute evidence that the Lord inspired biblical writer to write the Scriptures.


In Isaiah 42:9, the prophet wrote:


9       Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them."


No one except God can accurately predict future events in detail.  Neither Satan nor his demons can predict the future.  Twenty-five centuries ago the prophet Isaiah recorded these powerful words directly from God Almighty.


Isaiah 46:9-10 NKJV


9       Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,

10     Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’


Again, in Isaiah, we see one reason God predicted and fulfilled prophecy.


Isaiah 48:5 NIV


5       Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, `My idols did them; my wooden image and metal god ordained them.'


The Scriptures we just read tell us that God is unique in that He alone knows the end from the beginning.  He says, in effect:  “You have seen things come to pass as I had told you beforehand.  This proves that I am God.”


Then He goes on to tell us that, because former things have come to pass as He had said, then we should also believe Him when He tells us things about the future which are yet to come to pass.  We can trust biblical prophecies which are yet unfulfilled because of God’s past track record.


A moment ago, I mentioned that predictive prophecy makes up a major segment of the Bible.  And I said I would return to add some more thoughts.


One young pastor commented to one of his former seminary professors that he didn't preach on prophecy because "prophecy distracts people from the present."  His professor replied, "Then there is certainly a lot of distractions in the Scriptures."


Let me give you some very basic information relative to predictive prophecy in the Bible.


Total Verses in the Bible


Total Number of Predictions in the Old Testament


Total Number of O.T. Verses that Contain Predictions

6,641 out of 23,210

Percent of the Old Testament that is Predictive Prophecy


Total Number of Predictions in the New Testament


Total Number of N.T. Verses that Contain Predictions

1,711 out of 7,914

Percent of the New Testament that is Predictive Prophecy


Total Number of Separate Prophetic Topics in the Bible


Total Percent of the Entire Bible that is Predictive Prophecy



If 27% of the entire Bible is predictive prophecy, it seems it would be unwise to disregard it.  And of all the prophetic predictions in the Bible, about 30% are yet unfulfilled.


Despite the fact that the world is full of spiritual texts by multitudes of religious writers, a close examination of this literature reveals that not one of these texts contains detailed prophecies that have been fulfilled.  The reason is quite simple.  Since no one but God can know the future accurately, religious writers who wrote other texts were wise enough to refrain from attempting detailed prophecies which would quickly prove their authors to be in error.


“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God’” (Isaiah 44:6).  The classical and religious literature of the Greeks, Romans, and other Middle Eastern cultures contain no specific, detailed prophecies regarding future events, people, or trends.  There were no prophecies concerning the coming of Buddha, Mohammed, or any other religious leader.  Only the Old Testament prophecies predicted numerous precise details about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.


The ability of humans to correctly predict future events or trends is virtually non-existent outside of some lucky guesses.  Despite the great knowledge and genius of mankind, we are unable to correctly predict future events.


Solomon posed a question in Ecclesiastes 8:7 (NIV).,


7       Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?


         As we have already read, only God can tell the future.


As example of this blindness to the future, consider the following statements.  The director of the U.S. Patent resigned his high position in 1875.  He complained in his letter to the government that there was no point in continuing the Patent Office because “there’s nothing left to invent.”  Since his resignation we have witnessed an astonishing number of brilliant inventions and developments every year in all areas of knowledge and science.


Only a few years later, in 1887, the brilliant French chemist Marcellin Berthelot wrote: “From now on there is no mystery about the universe.”  In the years that followed, we have seen the mysteries of the atomic structure of matter unfold.  We now have the creation of a hundred new sciences, including biophysics, astrophysics and molecular biology.


Another great scientist of that time, Professor Simon Newcomb, wrote a highly acclaimed manuscript that proved that it was mathematically impossible for any machine that was heavier than a balloon to fly in the air.


An equally brilliant French philosopher by the name of Henri Poincare ridiculed a scientist’s speculations about unleashing the power of the atom through chain reactions in Uranium.  He said, “Common sense alone is enough to tell us that the destruction of a town by one pound of metal is an evident impossibility.”  Tragically, we know differently today.


More recently, in 1943, Thomas Watson, the chairman of IBM, declared:  “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”  Today, the world contains over a billion computers devices.  Our smart phones are capable of doing more calculations and a multitude of other tasks than an IBM 360-65 which Boeing owned in the early 1970s.  And your phone doesn’t require a large climate-regulated room to operate.


Today, we have sophisticated computers capable of billions of calculation per second that weigh less than five pounds and are much smaller than a book.  In 1981, Bill Gates declared “640K (640,000 bytes) of memory should be enough for anybody.”  The tablet I am using to give this lesson today, has a million times more memory than that.


These inaccurate predictions reveal the profound limitation of man’s intelligence and his inability to correctly forecast future events.


HOWEVER, when we turn to the pages of the Holy Scriptures, we discover a staggering number of precise predictions that were made thousands of years ago concerning the future of nations and individuals.  A careful analysis of these predictions reveals that every one has been fulfilled with an awesome precision that can only be explained that by divine knowledge they were predicted and God’s hand in bringing them to pass.


It seems to me that there is monumental evidence that substantiates the perfect truthfulness of the Word of God.  There are no other books in the world that are doing this.  How about the prophecies concerning the Lord Jesus Christ?  The greatest fulfillments of prophecy are found at the first coming of Christ.  It was prophesied that Jesus would be born of the seed of Abraham, Jesse, and David.


Consider them!


 That is only 34 of the prophecies that were fulfilled by Christ during His first coming to earth.  I have in my hand a list of 100 prophecies He fulfilled, and these do not cover them all by a long way.  And all of them were prophesied more than 500 years before the birth of Christ.  The probability that Christ would have fulfilled all these prophecies are astronomical.  But they are not astronomical to a Divine God that said it would happen.


Let’s examine the details of a couple other prophecies of the Old Testament.  The precision of their fulfillment should chase any doubt that God is in control and that the Bible record is truly His Word and inspired by Him.


Jeremiah’s 70-Year prophecy


Let’s begin with a prophecy most of us are well-aware of.  It is found in Jeremiah 25:11-12 (NKJV).


11     And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

12     'Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,' says the Lord;'and I will make it a perpetual desolation.


Here we have a specific prophecy reported by Jeremiah that gives a length of time for the Babylonian captivity of the Jews and the desolation of the land.  This should be fairly simple to prove one way or another.


First consider the 70 years of captivity.  The first departure of Jews to Babylon included Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego.  Most probably, Daniel was a young teenager at the time of his move to Babylon.  This occurred in 606 B.C. and would be the beginning of the 70 years of captivity.  This would suggest that the ending of the 70 years would be 536 B.C..


We know from the prophecies of Daniel, that he was aware of what Jeremiah had written about the 70 years.  Daniel 9 contain two very important prophecies.  The first lasted 70 years and the second covers 70 weeks.  I am only covering the first of these this week.


Daniel 9:1-2 NKJV


1       In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans — 

2       in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.


It appears that Daniel had just gotten a copy of the prophecy of Jeremiah.  And he refers to the prophecy of Jeremiah as being “the word of the Lord.”  And he set a time stamp on this moment – the first year of the reign of Darius.  This means the Babylonians at this moment had been conquered by the Medes & Persian army.  And we know that this occurred at about 539 B.C., which is 67 years after the captivity began.  We also know from the writings of Isaiah that King Cyrus the great would be the conquering king.


So, if Cyrus the Great is the conquering leader, who is this reigning King Darius, the Mede?  Josephus, among other historians, reports that this Darius was a relative of Cyrus.  He is not the same Darius the Great that we looked at two weeks ago, who was a Persian and came to power some time later, after King Cyrus had passed away.  At the time Cyrus conquered Babylon, he was not through conquering, so, he puts this Darius as the interim king, just in Babylon.  And he reigns for approximately three years, until Cyrus returned.


So, let’s put the timeline together.  The Babylon captivity began in 606 B.C..  Cyrus conquers Babylon in 539 B,C,  Most of you are aware of the events surrounding the defeat of Babylon.  You read it in Daniel 5, where King Belshazzar sees a hand writing on the wall of his palace.  They are having a feast and He sees this hand writing something on his wall.  Daniel is called in to interpret what was written, and tells Belshazzar, in Daniel 5:28, “Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”  Here is another prophecy – one that identifies who will conquer Babylon.


Here is what we read in the last two verses of Daniel 5.


Daniel 5:30-31 NKJV


30     That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.

31     And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.


                   As I said earlier, that occurred in 539 B.C..


For more information, if you were to read the first verses of the next chapter of Daniel, you would learn that Daniel is given a position as one of the top three leaders under Darius.  At this time, Daniel would be an elderly man, in his mid-eighties.


It is in the first year of Darius that Daniel reads about the 70 years in the prophecy of Jeremiah.  This would be 537-538 B.C., approximately one year after the conquest.  King Cyrus returns and takes control of the entire kingdom in 536 B.C.


Up to now, I have not mentioned the end of the 70 years, but, if the Bible prophecy is accurate, it should occur in 536 B.C., the year King Cyrus takes the throne of the Persian Empire.


Before we establish the accuracy of that date, I want to look at more of the details the Bible gives us about King Cyrus.  He was an amazing king.  And there is so much more to the fulfilling of the prophecy given by Jeremiah.  It is Isaiah who gives us additional information about this king.  I am going to approach the topic from a different angle.


Most of you who have had children have taken some time prior to their birth as to what their name would be.  Back, before the technology was available to tell you whether you were giving birth to a boy or girl, you might have come up with two names.  One for each sex.


Naming a baby during the months before he or she is born is not a big deal.  It happens every day thousands of times all over the world.  But naming someone a full century – or more impressively, 700 years – before he is even conceived, well, that is a totally different matter.


There are seven people who were named long before their birth.  They include Ishmael, Isaac, Solomon and John the Baptist.  There are three more, which I will discuss through the rest of this lesson.  Only an all-knowing God, who knows the past as well as the future, could accurately do such a thing.  Not just some lucky guess one time, but to do it accurately many times.


Isaiah tells us about King Cyrus, one of the remaining three named a long time before their birth..


Isaiah 44:28-45:1 NKJV


44:28       Who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, "You shall be built," And to the temple, "Your foundation shall be laid."'

45:1         "Thus says the Lord to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held — To subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut:


This part of the prophecy of Isaiah is so amazing, one cannot help but recognize God’s control of the situation.  Isaiah lives and prophesies in the 8th century before Christ.  But Cyrus (Hewbrew = Ko’resh) was not born for more than 100 years after Isaiah’s prophecy.  Cyrus is one of seven people in the Bible who name was given before they were born.  Again, only God could do that.


Isaiah’s prophecy was given in the late 700s B.C., while Cyrus was born about between 590-580 B.C..  God reveals this man to Isaiah 130-150 years before he is actually born, and many more years before he comes to power.      God tells the prophet the man’s birth, his name and the tasks the Creator had for him.  And Cyrus dies young in battle, in 529 B,C..  He is held to this day in high esteem by the Persians.  And you could visit his tomb in Iran today.


As we just read in Isaiah 45:1, Cyrus had the favor of God.  As Isaiah wrote, this king was able to subdue kingdoms in quick fashion.  And his name is mentioned in the Scriptures 22 times, and not just by Isaiah.  The Bible is full of accounts of individuals in whom God had special interest, Where they would be guided through their life.  This was the case with Cyrus.           He enjoyed unprecedented success


I believe Cyrus is the person of discussion throughout the early part of Isaiah 42, though without giving his name.  Let me read it.


Isaiah 41:2-4 NIV


2       "Who has stirred up one from the east, calling him in righteousness to his service? He hands nations over to him and subdues kings before him. He turns them to dust with his sword, to windblown chaff with his bow.

3       He pursues them and moves on unscathed, by a path his feet have not traveled before.

4       Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord — with the first of them and with the last — I am he."


King Cyrus actually takes the throne in 536 B.C.  That year is exactly 70 years from the beginning of Israel’s captivity.  And Cyrus does what he was born to do – deliver them from captivity.  Listen to the words of Cyrus when he makes his decree for the Jews to return home.


2 Chronicles 36:22-23 NKJV


22     Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying,

23     Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May the Lord his God be with him and let him go up!


The words Cyrus used when he spoke twice of the Lord God of heaven were the Hebrew words, YAHWEH ELOHEEY.  He recognized that the kingdom he now had was given him by Jehovah, and he does what Isaiah said he would 150 years earlier.  He gave the decree to return and build the temple.  There was resistance of those who would build the walls and the temple, and progress was slow to begin with.


I have read a number of sources, both religious and non-religious sources, who write about Cyrus as a leader with high moral and ethical values.  He was not inclined to brutality or cruelty.  And he was tolerant of the religious customs of the nations he conquered.


In 2003, I was part of a group led by Bert Fields that went to South Africa.  My father-in-law, Ken Long, and a number of others from the church were there to help in renovating some of the campus of Cape Theological Seminary.  On the way back, we had a layover of many hours in London.  I knew where I wanted to go while we were there, so I dragged my father-in-law to the British Museum.  I knew there were several items there that I wanted to see.  One of them was the Cyrus Cylinder.


The cylinder has much information about the conquests of Cyrus.  In one paragraph of what is written, Cyrus states that he did not let his troop terrorize the lands he conquered.  Here is a direct quote of part of that paragraph.


"I did not allow any (troops) to terrorize the land of Sumer and Akkad. I kept in view the needs of Babylon and all its sanctuaries to promote their well-being. The citizens of Babylon. . .I lifted their unbecoming yoke. Their dilapidated dwellings I restored. I put an end to their misfortunes.”


A moment ago, we read the decree for the Jews to return and built their temple as giving in 2 Chronicles.  Let’s now read it in Ezra, chapter 1.


Ezra 1:1-5 NIV


1       In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing:

2       "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: "'The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.

3       Anyone of his people among you — may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem.

4       And the people of any place where survivors may now be living are to provide him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.'"

5       Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites — everyone whose heart God had moved — prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.


The verses that follow, tells us that Cyrus returned to the Jews what Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem.  All the vessels of the house of the Lord were given back to the Jews.  In part, it included 5,400 vessels of gold and silver.


Earlier we read Isaiah 46:9-10.  I want to read it again, keeping in mind that the setting of chapters 45 and 46 is how God will deliver Israel, and use Cyrus to do it, although at the time they didn’t know who Cyrus was, or when he would arrive.


Isaiah 46:9-10 NKJV


9       Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,

10     Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’


This passage finds God proclaiming that only He can tell the future.  And He follows that in the next verse by speaking of this man who will come from the east.


Isaiah 46:11 NIV


11     From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.


God likens Cyrus to a bird of prey that He will summon from the east to accomplish His purposes.


There are those who endeavor to strip away the correct meaning of this prophecy.  And yet, the only true God affirms from chapter 41 through 46, the proof that He is God and provides many proof in these chapter.  Nevertheless, despite the unbelief of critics, the Cyrus prophecy stands firm as the ultimate proof of the truth of the claims of Scripture.




There are still two people out of the seven whose names were announced far in advance to their birth.  I want to take you to 1 Kings 13.  Before we get to the passage, here is part of the setting.  This chapter is speaking about a time shortly after the kingdom splits into north and south.  Rehoboam, the son of Solomon is the king of Judah – the southern kingdom.  Jeroboam became the king of the northern kingdom of Israel.  God is concerned about what is happening in the northern kingdom, so He sends a man from Judah to the northern kingdom.  Let read what it says.


1 Kings 13:1-2 NKJV


1       And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the Lord, and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.

2       Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the Lord, and said, "O altar, altar! Thus says the Lord: 'Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men's bones shall be burned on you.'"


Here we read of a man by the name of Josiah.  This prophecy was given 322 years before Josiah was born.  And it was 348 years before it was fulfilled.  Its fulfillment is recorded in 2 Kings 23.


2 Kings 23:15-20 NKJV


15     Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he broke down; and he burned the high place and crushed it to powder, and burned the wooden image.

16     As Josiah turned, he saw the tombs that were there on the mountain. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar, and defiled it according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words.

17     Then he said, "What gravestone is this that I see?" So the men of the city told him, "It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of Bethel."

18     And he said, "Let him alone; let no one move his bones." So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria.

19     Now Josiah also took away all the shrines of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger; and he did to them according to all the deeds he had done in Bethel.

20     He executed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, and burned men's bones on them; and he returned to Jerusalem.


Once again, God does something only He could do.  He alone knows the end from the beginning.  Only He can proclaim the name of a person who will not be born for possibly centuries.  But, His proclamation is not a wild guess – they always come true.




We have looked at Cyrus and Josiah, who were name long before their birth.  There is yet another of the seven that are thus treated.  That person is Jesus.


About 700 years before His birth, God again used Isaiah to make the announcement.


Isaiah 7:14 NKJV


14     Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. 


This prophecy was fulfilled in Bethlehem when Jesus was born.


Matthew 1:22-23 NKJV


22     So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:

23     "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."


Though “Immanuel is not a name in the sense that Jesus is the Messiah’s name, it is a title or description of who He is.




A moment ago, I mentioned that Jesus was the last of the seven men to be named in advance of their birth.  There is, in fact another name that was known in advance.  At least it was known to the one Person who has the ability to know the future.  That name is your – God knew you before you were born.  Your name was on his mind when He was on the cross.  He said, in effect, “There is a life worth saving,” so He went to the cross for you – and me.