A Supernatural Bible The Bible is not a book. It is a library of 66 books written by over 40 authors on 3 continents in 3 languages over a span of about 1500 years. It covers scores of the most controversial subjects of all time. And there are no contradictions. Pick up just 10 of the most like-minded authors of our day – all from the same culture and time period, and read what they say about just 10 controversial subjects; and there will be many points of disagreement.
Perhaps the most striking evidence of divine authorship of the Bible is prophecy. The Old Testament prophets announced with astonishing detail and perfect accuracy exactly what would happen with the nations around Israel.
1. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon would destroy Tyre (Ez.26:8)
2. Many nations would come against Tyre one after another (Ez.26:3)
3. Tyre would be made like a bare, flat rock (26:4)
4. Fishermen would someday spread their nets over the site to dry them (Ez.26:5)
5. Debris from the city would be thrown into the sea (Ez.26:12)
6. It would never be rebuilt (Ez.26:14)
1. Nebuchadnezzar did destroy Tyre.
2. Tyre kept trying to rebuild, but was destroyed by Babylon, Greece (repeatedly), Antigonus, and the Muslims.
3. “A bare, flat rock” is the exact phrase secular historians use to describe what Alexander the Great did to Tyre.
4. The only activity that takes place there even in the present day is the activities of fishermen.
5. This part of the prophecy must have seemed very strange. Why would an attacking nation go to all the trouble of carrying all the rubble and throwing it into the sea? Secular historians tells us that when Tyre was first destroyed the people went out to an island just off shore. When Alexander the Great came, he did not have a fleet to get across the water, so he took the debris from the mainland city and threw it into the sea making a 200 ft wide road. He then marched out and besieged the new city.
6. This part of the prophecy would have also sounded extremely unlikely. Tyre is a prime place for a city, and it would have seemed inconceivable that it would never again be settled. But even to this day it has not.
The fates of the other nations surrounding Israel were described with the same perfect accuracy:
Samaria (Hos.13, Micah 1)
Gaza (Amos 1 Jer.47, Zeph.2)
Moab (Ez.25, Jer.48,49)
Edom (Isa.34, Jer.49, Ez.25,35)
Thebes and Memphis (Ez.30)
Babylon (Isa.13,14, Jer.51)
These prophesies were fulfilled with 100% accuracy and were very specific - even naming names. For example, Isaiah announced that someday a man named Cyrus would would defeat Babylon and release the Jews from their captivity there. (Isa.44:28, 45:1,13) At the time of the prophecy (around 712 B.C.) not only were the Jews not in captivity yet, but Babylon was not even a significant power. 174 years after the prophecy Cyrus conquered Babylon and freed the Jews from their Babylonian captivity.
(Written around the mid-500’s B.C.)
3 I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. Daniel is announcing that the next world superpower will in some sense be a duel power, with one side stronger than the other. In the Medo-Persian Empire Persia was stronger than Media.
4 I watched the ram as he charged toward the west and the north and the south. Independent secular history tells us that the Medo-Persian Empire extended every direction but east.
5 As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. This is Alexander the Great (the Greek empire). He conquered the world in only 13 years – 200 years after Daniel’s time. 6 He came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at him in great rage. 7 I saw him attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering his two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against him; the goat knocked him to the ground and trampled on him, and none could rescue the ram from his power. That is a perfect description of Alexander’s defeat of Persia. 8 The goat became very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken off… Just after conquering most of the known world, Alexander died at age 33. …and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven. When he died 4 of his generals divided up his kingdom among themselves. 9 Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. 10 It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. 11 It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. 12 Because of rebellion, the host [of the saints] and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. This describes the story of Antiochus Epiphanes. At the end of his reign (168-164 BC) he made a very brutal, determined effort to destroy Judaism.
13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, "How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled-the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?"
14 He said to me, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated." 2300 evenings and mornings probably refers to the total number of the morning and evening sacrifices offered over 1150 days. From independent historical records we know that Antiochus set up a pagan altar in the Jewish temple on Kislev 25, 168 BC, and Judas Maccabeus reconsecrated the Temple to Yahweh on exactly 3 years later. 3 times 165 = 1095, which gives us 45 extra days, but it’s entirely possible that the Lord’s altar was destroyed 45 days prior to the pagan altar being set up.
Daniel 11-12 2"Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will appear in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece.
Darius 1 the Persian (522-486)
Xerxes 1 (486-465)
Xerxes (born over 150 years after the prophecy) was much richer than the others. 3 Thena mighty king will appearwho will rule with great power and do as he pleases. This was fulfilled by Alexander the Great, who came along about 100 years after Xerxes. Alexander came to the throne of Macedon in 336 b.c. He conquered the territory from Turkey to India and thus came to rule the largest empire the world had ever seen. In seven or eight years he accomplished the most dazzling military conquest in human history. But he lived only four years more; and after one of his drunken bouts, he died of a fever in 323 in the imperial capital of Babylon. 4 After he has appeared, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. Alexander reigned over this empire less than a decade. He died of a fever in 323 b.c. and his empire was divided into four major units. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others. The power ended up going to 4 generals who were not related to Alexander. .
The prophesy now begins speaking about the king of the north and south. The king of the South refers to whoever is on the throne in Egypt, and the king of the North refers to whoever is on the throne in Syria and Babylonia.
5"The king of the South (Ptolemy I, rules Egypt from 367 to 283 B.C.) will become strong, but one of his commanders (Seleucus I) will become even stronger than he and will rule his own kingdom with great power. 6After some years (about 50), they will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South will go to the king of the North to make an alliance… About 250 b.c., Ptolemy II (king of the South) gave his daughter Berenice to Antiochus II (king of the North) in an effort to become allies. Antiochus went ahead and married Berenice, and divorced his old wife, which excluded his kids by her from the throne.
… but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be handed over, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her.
After two years, Antiochus II went back to his original wife, who then had him killed, along with his son by Berenice (thus clearing the way for her own son Seleucus), Berenice herself, and a number of her Egyptian attendants. Berenice’s father also died in the same year.
7"One from her family line (Berenice’s brother, Ptolemy III) will arise to take her place. He will attack the forces of the king of the North and enter his fortress; he will fight against them and be victorious. 8He will also seize their gods, their metal images and their valuable articles of silver and gold and carry them off to Egypt. Ptolemy III invaded the Seleucid empire, gained control of considerable areas of Syria, killed that first wife, and took all kinds of booty back to Egypt.
For some years he will leave the king of the North alone. 9Then the king of the North will invade the realm of the king of the South but will retreat to his own country. For two years there was no conflict between the two empires; then in 242 the king of the north attempted to invade Egypt, but his army was decimated, and he had to retreat.
10 His sons (Seleucus III & Antiochus III) will prepare for war and assemble a great army, which will sweep on like an irresistible flood and carry the battle as far as his fortress. In 219 Antiochus III recaptured Seleucia, and invaded Palestine and conquered a large part of it.
11"Then the king of the South (Ptolemy IV) will march out in a rage and fight against the king of the North… This took place at an Egyptian stronghold on the border with Palestine, in 217.
…who will raise a large army, but it will be defeated. Antiochus took 62,000 infantry, 6,000 cavalry, and 102 elephants into battle against Ptolemy’s 70,000 infantry, 5,000 cavalry, and 73 elephants.
12When the army is carried off, the king of the South will be filled with pride and will slaughter many thousands, yet he will not remain triumphant Antiochus lost over 14,000 men in defeat, but Ptolemy, was content with victory and the regaining of Palestine and Phoenicia, and did not press his advantage. So he made peace with Antiochus.
13 For the king of the North will muster another army, larger than the first; and after several years, he will advance with a huge army fully equipped.
Over the next fourteen years Antiochus regained much of the old Seleucid empire. He then raised an even larger army by making an alliance with Philip V of Macedon to invade the South again.
14"In those times many will rise against the king of the South. At this time the Southern kingdom was facing internal rebellions and insurrections, and Ptolemy IV was assassinated.
The violent men among your own people (Daniel was a Jew) will rebel in fulfillment of the vision, but without success. There was fighting among the Jews between the pro-Egypt Jews and the anti-Egypt Jews.
15 Then the king of the North will come and build up siege ramps and will capture a fortified cityThe forces of the South will be powerless to resist; even their best troops will not have the strength to stand. In 198 B.C. Antiochus III (from the north) defeated Scopas and his troops, along with reinforcements sent from Egypt and the fortified city of Sidon was taken. 16 The invader will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him. He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land [i.e., Palestine] and will have the power to destroy it. Antiochus gained firm control of Palestine and Phoenicia, including Judea. He was in a position to invade Egypt itself and destroy the Ptolemaic empire. Interestingly, though he had the power to do so, he did not attack. Note that the prophecy specifies only that he will have the power.
17 He will determine to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will make an alliance with the king of the South. And he will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom, but his plans will not succeed or help him. Antiocus made peace with Egypt in 197, by betrothing his daughter Cleopatra to Ptolemy V.
Through his daughter (the first Cleopatra) he wanted to have strong influence in Egypt (Ptolomy V was only 10 yr. old at the time), but Cleopatra became completely loyal to her husband and new homeland and encouraged an Egyptian alliance with Rome, which frustrated Antiochus’s efforts to gain control
18 Then he will turn his attention to the coastlands and will take many of them, Antiochus resumed his attacks on Egyptian-held areas of Asia Minor and went on to invade Macedon, Thrace, and Greece
but a commander (none other than Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus) will put an end to his insolence and will turn his insolence back upon him. .
In 191 and again in 190 the Romans defeated him decisively ending his chances at power in the west. The Romans had 30,000 and Antiochus had 70,000. Antiochus became a vassal of Rome. He had to surrender his entire elephant brigade, all his navy, and twenty selected hostages (one of whom was Antichus Epiphanes. Finally he was obliged to pay an indemnity of fifteen thousand or twenty thousand talents over a period of several years – 1000 per year.
19 After this, he will turn back toward the fortresses of his own country but will stumble and fall, to be seen no more. Antiochus thus returned to Syria; he was assassinated at Elymais in 187 while attempting to pillage the treasury of one of his own gods, to pay the tribute imposed on him by the Romans.
20"His successor (Seleucus IV) will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle. Seleucus IV was an unpopular ruler whose main concern had to be paying the tribute imposed on his father by Rome. The tax collector he sent out to collect enough money to do that was his finance minister, who at one point tried to pillage the treasury of the temple at Jerusalem. Seleucus was assassinated in a plot engineered by the tax collector
21"He will be succeeded by a contemptible person Antiochus Epiphanes detractors referred to him as Epinanes ["madman"]
who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. He was not the rightful heir to the throne, but scammed his way in. Antiochus curried favor with governmental leaders and, by promises of promotion and large favors in return for their support, managed to secure approval for succession to the throne vacated by his poisoned brother.
It was Epiphanes' policy to throw his intended victims off guard by offering them his friendship and alliance. Then he would maneuver for an advantageous position till he could catch them by surprise. He was the king of the North, and his great enemy was the king of the South. And yet he was so good at making currying favor with his opponents, that they have found Egyptian coins in some areas of Egypt that had the normal Egyptian eagle on one side and Zeus on the other, but instead of the normal “Ptolemy the King” inscription, they said, “King Antiochus, God made Manifest.” 22Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him… King of Egypt - Ptolemy VI …both it and a prince of the covenant (probably the High Priest Onias III) will be destroyed. 23After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. 24When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses-but only for a time. This is exactly what happened, and Antiochus gained control of Palestine.
25"With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. 26Those who eat from the king's provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. In 170 b.c. an Egyptian army set off to attempt to recapture Palestine. Antiochus defeated the Egyptian army, captured the border fortress of Pelusium, entered Egypt, took the King (Ptolemy VI) prisoner, and occupied much of Egypt.
27 The two kings (Antiochus and Ptolemy VI), with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. 28 The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. (Israel’s Covenant with God). He will take action against it and then return to his own country. 29"At the appointed time (a reminder that all the horrible things he is about to describe are still within the control of God) he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. 30Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. In 168 Antiochus invaded again, but this time with disastrous results. Ships from Rome intercepted Antiochus on his way to Egypt and ordered him off Egyptian territory.
Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant. One of the deposed rulers in Jerusalem heard a rumor that Antiochus was dead, and led a violent rebellion against the ruling party that Antiochus had put in place. Antiochus considered that a rebellion, and came and re-established his leaders. At that time Antiochus slaughtered 80,000 men, women and children and began to suppress Jewish religion.
31"His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. Antiochus took steps to strengthen his position in Palestine by developing “the stronghold” from which his forces could oversee temple and city. It was near the temple mount (just like the Roman Fort Antonia was in Jesus’ time). The abomination that causes desolation took place in December 168 B.C. The desecration was the rifling of the sanctuary and temple treasury and the removal of all the sacred vessels. He put an end to the daily sacrifices by the erection in the temple of Yahweh of "the abomination that causes desolation" (siqqus mesomem). Apparently this was a statue of Zeus. He sacrificed a pig on the altar and made Jewish religion a capital offense.
32 With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant… Antiochus took advantage of apostate Jews who wanted to be accepted into the Hellenistic world. They tried to conform to Greek culture as much as possible
…but the people who know their God will firmly resist him. The committed believers – the heroic Maccabees & Hasidim, from whom later came the Pharisees
33"Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered.
This happened in 168 B.C. Antiochus sent an officer to enforce the new decree concerning idolatrous worship, a priest by the name of Mattathias and his five sons killed that officer and led a guerrilla band that fled to the hills and attracted many adherents among the Jews. A large number of them died in their first battle with the king's troops because they refused to fight in their own defense on the Sabbath. After that they revised that policy, and decided they would fight even on the Sabbath, if attacked. They had astounding victories in the face of overwealming odds as a result of remarkable courage. (One battle was won when one of them thrust a spear into the chest of an elephant and was then crushed to death by the dying elephant).
The facts of secular history presented above are not disputed. Those who doubt the supernatural origin of other so-called prophets, such as Nostradamus, will argue that the supposed prophecy was so general and vague that it is questionable whether the prediction actually referred to the alleged fulfillment. The critics do not argue that way, however, with biblical prophecy. The prophecies are so extremely specific and the fulfillments so exact that such an argument would be fruitless. The critics’ only recourse is to argue that the prophecies must have been written after the fulfillments.
The problem with such a suggestion, however, is three-fold:
The suggestion of later authorship contradicts all the evidence. It is believed only because of a prior commitment to the idea that there could not possibly be a God who gives announcements through prophets. This is circular reasoning (assuming one’s conclusion). If the evidence is followed, the early dates will be accepted.
Even when the prophets are pushed to the latest possible date suggested by the critics, there are still numerous prophecies that were fulfilled after those dates.
Jesus believed the prophecies were written by the actual prophets mentioned in the books, which would place them early. And Jesus speaks authoritatively as one risen from the dead.
Any “prophet” can get a few things right if he makes enough guesses. But God all guesswork was eliminated from God’s system in ancient Israel by the law, which required that if any prophet ever predicted a single thing that didn’t come to pass exactly as he stated it, he was to be immediately executed.
God does not expect us to believe someone is speaking for Him just because that person claims to be speaking for Him. If a prophet cannot prove He is from God by means of a 100% perfect record of prophecy he should not be believed. All the prophets of Scripture met this supernatural standard.