By James H. Brookes
If it can be shown that the Bible contains numerous predictions, that have been literally and precisely fulfilled, there is no doubt that “God spake all these words.” A man may have a legal mind, or a mathematical mind, or a scientific mind, or a philosophical mind, or a political mind, but no man ever had a prophetical mind. It belongs to God alone to foresee and foretell future events.
Hence, infidels and Higher Critics, who are determined to reject the Bible, are in the habit of saying that its prophecies were written after the occurrence of the predicted events. But the assertion is a transparent falsehood, as all know, who have carefully read the Scriptures and who have the slightest acquaintance with history. The Old Testament has come down to us with the books and chapters and verses which the Jews had for so many centuries; the Septuagint or Greek Version, was commenced about 280 years B. C., and was certainly extant 200 B. C.; and the Jews and Christians have watched each other with so jealous an eye that changes and interpolations could not possibly have been introduced into the Scriptures without instant detection.
1. We find more than three hundred prophecies concerning the Messiah, His race, Gen. xii. 8; His tribe, Gen. xlix. 10; His lineage, 1 Chron. xvii. 11, 14; His birth of a virgin, Isa. vii. 14; His birth-place, Mic. v. 2; His name as Son of God, Ps. ii. 7; His name as Son of Man, Dan. vii. 13; His prophetic office, Deut. xviii. 15-19; His priestly office, Ps. cx. 4; His kingly office, Jer. xxiii. 5; His anointing by the Spirit, Isa. xi. 2; His ministry, Isa. lxi. 1-8; His sufferings, Isa. liii. 8, 4; His vicarious endurance, Isa. liii. 5, 6; the time to the week, of his cutting off, Dan. ix. 26; His manner of death, Ps. xxii. 16; His burial, Isa. liii. 9; His resurrection, Ps. xvi. 9-11; His ascension, Ps. lxviii. 18; His intercession, Isa. liii. 12; these and many other predictions were minutely fulfilled, in the Lord. Jesus Christ, and could have been fulfilled in Him alone, and they were unquestionably written long before His appearance.
2. In two of the earliest books of Scripture we find prophecies with regard to the Jews. “I will make your cities waste, and bring your cities into desolation, and I will not smell the savor of your sweet odors. And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate;, and your cities waste,” Lev. xxvi. 31-83; “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other,” Deut. xxviii. 64; “And the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day,” Deut. xxix. 28.
This last verse the nations and men, at a time then future, are represented as saying. The same predictions were often uttered by other prophets, and they have been strictly fulfilled, beyond all doubt long after they were written.
The Higher Critics inform us that Leviticus and Deuteronomy were forgeries, written in the days of King Josiah and Ezra, six or eight hundred years after Moses, who is everywhere in both books represented as the author. Granted for the present, although it is utterly untrue; but they themselves admit that the books long preceded the time when the Lord scattered Israel “among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other.” Even the particulars are mentioned. “The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; a nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favor to the young,” plainly referring to the Romans, Deut. xxviii. 49, 50. “Thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters,” which was literally fulfilled during the seige by Titus, according to Josephus, Deut. xxviii. 53; “And ye shall be left few in number,” as it has most certainly been, for they are scattered over the earth, and yet not numerous, Deut. xxviii. 62; “And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships,” alluding to the vast numbers taken to Egypt to labor as slaves in the mines after the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 A. D, Deut. xxviii. 68.
8. Nineveh was one of the mightiest cities of antiquity, boasting of walls 100 feet high, with 1,500 towers, and broad enough for three chariots abreast. In the Bible its overthrow is predicted. ‘‘The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall jostle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings. . . . The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved.” Diodorus says that the immediate cause of its capture was the city wall’s destruction by a sudden rise in the river. “But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water; yet shall they flee away. . . . Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour her young lions; and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard,” Na. ii.
In another place it is said, “He will stretch out His hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness. And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds: for He shall uncover the cedar work. This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly; that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand,” Zeph. ii. 15. Nineveh then totally disappeared from history, and never rose again, a later prophet referring to it, only to illustrate the truth of God’s Word, and the terrible power of His wrath, Ezek. xxxi.
4. Babylon was a mightier city than Nineveh, making her name known and dreaded to the end of the earth. “Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,” Isa. xiii. 19. The very persons are mentioned -who are to accomplish its overthrow: “Go up, O Elam; beseige, O Media... And, be hold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods He hath broken unto the ground,” Isa. xxi. 2, 9. The Higher Critics insist that the last twenty-seven chapters of Isaiah were written by a “Deutero-Isaiah,” because Cyrus is mentioned by name nearly 150 years before his birth; but what will they do with the fact, that the Medes and Persians are mentioned as conquerors of the city in Proto-Isaiah?
The appearance of Babylon in its ruins is accurately described. “They shall not take of thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but thou shalt be desolate forever, saith the Lord,” J er. li. 26, The stones are always burned for lime by the Arabs. The suddenness of the assault and capture is noticed. “One post shall run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to show that his city is taken at one end,” Jer. li. 31. The strange mounds scattered all over the surface of the desolate and buried city, observed by all travelers, are mentioned. “Cast her up as heaps, and destroy her utterly; let nothing of her be left,” Jer. 1. 36; “Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, an astonishment and a hissing without an inhabitant,” Jer. li. 37. The drunken revelry of Belshazzar, when the city was taken, is depicted, “In their heat I will make their feasts, and I will make them drunken,” Jer. li. 39. Centuries passed before the prophecies about Babylon were fully accomplished, but they were precisely fulfilled at last.
5. Tyre, famous for its commerce and wealth, situated on a beautiful island not far from the shore, comes in for its doom. “They shall destroy the walls of Tyre, 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; for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God... With the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets; he shall slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground. And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise; and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses: and they shall lay thy stones, and thy timber, and thy dust, in the midst of the water,” Ezek. xxvi. 4, 5, 11, 12. Notice the difference between “he” and “they” in ver. 11 and 12; for what Nebuchadnezzar began, Alexander literally finished, slaying 8,000 of the city’s defenders, crucifying 2,000 more, selling into slavery 30,000 of its inhabitants, and doing exactly as the prophecy said, taking the stones, timber, dust, and. making a causeway to the main land. “1 will make thee like the top of a rock; that shall be as a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the Lord have spoken it, saith the Lord God”; and accordingly it has been “built no more,” Ezek. xxvi. 14.
6. Sidon, a neighboring town and flourishing city, does not escape. “The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward Sidon, and prophecy against it, and say, Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I am against thee, O Sidon. . . . For I will send into her pestilence, and blood in her streets; and the wounded shall fall in the midst of her with the sword on every side,” Ezek. xxviii. 20-23. Observe, no doom of extinction is pronounced against Sidon. If the Bible had said that Tyre was to live, and Sidon to be utterly destroyed, and to be “built no more,” a case might be made against the accuracy of prophecy. But Sidon is to continue, and to suffer; and as late as 1840, she was bombarded by the combined fleets of England, Austria and Turkey, until blood was in her streets, and the wounded fell in the midst of her with the sword on every side.
7. Thebes, known in Scripture as No, and No-Amon, the portion or abode of the god Amon, was so magnificent a city, that its very ruins overwhelm the beholder with amazement. The great temple of Carnac, says Wilkinson, “is the largest and most splendid ruin of which, perhaps, either ancient or modern times can boast,” extending a mile and three-quarters in circumference, surrounded by walls twenty- four feet in thickness, and forty-five cubits high. Its columns are so enormous, that six men standing with outstretched arms, finger tip to finger tip, could barely span around them, while its lofty capital glows with undying colors—“colors that are still fresh, though laid on with hands that have been dust these three thousand years and more.” “I will execute judgments in No. . . . I will cut off the multitude of No. . . . No shall be rent asunder,” Ezek. xxx. 14-16. “Behold, I will punish the multitude of No,” Jer. xlvi. 25. To proud Nineveh it was said, “Art thou better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, that had waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea? Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite,” Na. iii. 8, 9: yet about 85 years B. C. it was destroyed, ‘‘broken up,” its “multitude was cut off,” and has never returned.
8. Memphis, or the Noph of Scripture, falls under the denunciation of prophecy. “Thus saith the Lord God, I will also destroy the idols, and I will cause their images to cease out of Noph. . . . And Noph shall have distresses daily,” Ezek. xxx. 13, 16. “Noph shall be waste and desolate, without an inhabitant,” Jer. xlvi. 19. The judgment, it will be observed, is more severe than that upon Thebes, as the city was the special seat of idolatry. Strabo, the distinguished geographer and historian, found it ‘‘large and populous, next to Alexandria in size,” and speaks of its gods and temples and statues. This was about the beginning’ of the Christian era, but so completely has the predicted woe been executed, that a century ago the very site of Memphis was in dispute.
9. Egypt is so prominent in the Bible, it is impossible to cite the passages mentioned. At the time the prophets wrote, she was in many respects the mistress of the world. In civilization and refinement she was far in advance of all other people. She was recognized as the mother of art and science. From her was carried the fire that lighted the lamp of knowledge in Greece and the nations of Europe. Her works of architecture have never been surpassed. She revelled in the luxury and magnificence which wealth and conquest could bring, and was so mighty in military resources that the fierce and fanatical Mohammedan hordes hardly dared attack her six hundred years after Christ was born.
“It shall be the basest of kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations; for I will diminish them, that they no more shall rule over the nations,” Ezek. xxix. 15; “Her foundations shall be broken down. . . . The pride of her power shall come down. . . . There shall be no more a prince out of the land of Egypt,” Ezek. xxx. 4, 6, 13. A great many similar passages could be quoted, pointing steadily with the calm assurance of truth to her inevitable decline, decay and deep degradation. If any one will read what the Bible says about the government, the river, the streams or canals, the fisheries, the various industries of Egypt, the character of its masters, and the oppression of the people, Isa. xix. 1-16; Ezek. xxx. 12, and compare it with any of the numerous books on the land, he will have a profound conviction of the accuracy exhibited by the Old Testament prophets. If he is a sincere inquirer desiring to know only the truth, he will also acknowledge the proved fact that “God spake all these words.”
10. Edom, Idumea, or Mount Seir as it is sometimes designated in Scripture, was a powerful kingdom in Old Testament times, and continued so many hundred years after the prophets had disappeared. “Thus will I make Mount Seir most desolate, and cut off from it him that passeth out, and him that returneth. And I will fill his mountains with his slain; in thy hills, and in thy valleys, and in thy rivers, shall they fall that are slain with the sword. I will make thee perpetual desolations, and thy cities shall not return. . . . Thou
shalt be desolate, O Mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it,” Ezek. xxxv. 7-9, 15. “Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that boldest the height of the hill: Though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord. Also Edom shall be a desolation: every one that goeth by it shall be astonished,” Jer. xlix. 16, 17.
Isaiah and Obadiah uttered the same predictions, and Volney and other travellers tell us how thoroughly they have been fulfilled. “The desolation is appalling. Its commerce has utterly passed away. We do not know the story, but the great market has long ceased to exist.” Since the Mohammedan invasion and conquest in 686 A. D. the Edomites or Idumeans can not be found. The nation is extinct, and there is “none remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it,” Obad. 18. Precisely the same thing is true of the great kingdoms of Moab and Ammon; for in the time of their power and prosperity their doom was pronounced, and the doom was executed to the very letter.
11. Daniel, it is the fashion of Higher Critics just now, to declare a forgery, perpetrated by some unknown writer in the second century before Christ. One of the first Higher Critics, an infidel named Porphyry in the third century A. D. assailed the book as a forgery, written in the time of the Maccabees, 170-164 B. C., as does Archdeacon Farrar.. But what completely disproves the charge is that Daniel is mentioned as an accredited and well-known book in the books of the Maccabees, as well as in various books of the Apocrypha; and it was placed in the Septuagint as a part of Scripture before the time of the Maccabees. Even Torn Paine admits its authenticity, which is now discredited by learned professors and preachers.
But even if the silly supposition is granted, how did it happen that a wretched forgery confidently predicted, there should be only four world empires until the second coming of Christ? The course of the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian and Roman empires is traced, Gibbon confesses, with the accuracy of a historian; and all attempts to build up any other universal kingdom of undisputed supremacy, have signally failed. Charlemagne, Charles V., and Napoleon Bonaparte with ambition and military genius sufficient to accomplish any purpose, were baffled in their efforts; and the truth of the book is fully proved before the eyes of the world.
12. There are some prophecies, however, that deserve a passing glance before closing. The Lord Jesus Christ said to His disciples, when they spoke of the temple, ‘The days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down,” Lu. xxi. G. Many of these stones were seventy feet in length, ten wide, eight high, looking as if they would stand forever, like the Great Pyramid; and yet one stone was not left upon another. To Jerusalem He said, “The days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground,” Lu, xix. 43, 44. Out of 27 seiges this was the only one in which Jerusalem was surrounded by a wall. But were these predictions spoken after the events had occurred? How, then, about the following?
“They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall he trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled,” Lu. xxi. 24. That is, during the present dispensation of Gentile dominion, and until the restoration of Israel at the second coming of Christ, Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles. Every one is familiar with, the determined effort of the Emperor Julian to defeat this prophecy by summoning the Jews to the task of rebuilding the temple. It makes no difference whether balls of fire leaped •from the foundations and frightened the workmen away, as Gibbon tells us upon the evidence of respectable contemporaneous historians. It is enough to know that the work ceased, and in the language of Gibbon, “The joint efforts of power and enthusiasm were unsuccessful, and the ground of the Jewish temple still continued to exhibit the same edifying spectacle of ruin and desolation.”
Every one knows of the repeated and fanatical attempts of the seven principal Crusades to conquer Jerusalem and to rescue the Holy Sepulcher. All distinctions of race and religion were forgotten. English, French, Portugese, Spaniards, Italians, Germans, every nationality, women,; little children, all rallied under the banner of the cross, determined to do or die. But they were utterly baffled, and Jerusalem remained in the hands of its unchristian masters. Meanwhile the Jews were still “led away captive into all nations,” hated, shunned, oppressed, robbed, murdered, driven into exile, so that for more than eighteen hundred years their dispersions and sufferings, together with the desolate condition of their city and temple, witness to the strict accuracy of our Lord’s predictions. Well might the. late Lord Chancellor Erskine say, “The universal dispersion of the Jews throughout the world, their unexampled sufferings, and their wondrous preservation, would be sufficient to establish the truth of the Scriptures, if all other testimony were sunk to the bottom of the sea.”
Our Lord, in answering the question concerning the sign of His coining, and of the end of the age, says to Ills followers, “Ye shall hear of wars, and rumors of wars: see that ye he not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. All these are the beginning of travailing pangs.” He also foretells the appearance of many false prophets, who shall deceive many; and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold, Matt. xxiv. 3-18,
Now let any fair-minded man answer the question, have not these things come to pass precisely as predicted? If so, how can he, or any other honest and intelligent person, really refuse to recognize the supernatural origin of the Bible?
Other prophecies as striking as these could be mentioned, but lack of space forbids any further discussion. If those who are in doubt will read George Rawlinson’s “Historical Evidences,” or the discoveries of Sir Henry Rawlinson, Botta, or Layard, or the books of Prof. Sayce, they will find that light from ancient monuments, tablets, cuneiform inscriptions, confirms the thorough veracity of the Old Testament prophets. Abundant evidence has been unearthed of the precise truthfulness of narratives in Exodus and elsewhere. Every upheaval of the spade, every new research into the history of the past, has given fresh proof of the accuracy manifested by these early writers, in many cases correcting the erroneous impressions of Christian expositors. Sir A. H. Layard’s explorations at Nineveh brought to light the library of that ruined city, and these were followed by the discoveries of Mr. George Smith and others, until “the amount of Assyrian literature at the disposal of the student is already greater than that contained in the whole of the New Testament.” The more investigation is made, the more is the truth of God's Word confirmed. For example, “the name of Arioch is actually found on the cuneiform monuments,” Gen. xiv. 9; the “treasure-cities,” built by the enslaved Israelites and their strawless bricks have been found, Ex. i. 11; v. 7; and the achievements of Shalmaneser, Tiglath-Pileser, a,nd Sargon have been rescued from oblivion, and made to attest the strict accuracy of Bible history. It is as certain as human testimony can make it, that “God spake all these words.