How Accurate Is Bible Prophecy?
By Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon
Tom: You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
We’re continuing our discussion of Dave Hunt’s book When Will Jesus Come? subtitled, Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ.
Now, Dave, last week you gave some answers as to why 2,000 years is not an unreasonable length of time for our Lord to delay His return, noting that it was 4,000 years between the initial prophecy of His coming—that’s Genesis 3:15—and His birth in Bethlehem. Now, isn’t it also a benefit of those who have yet to receive His salvation that He’s tarried? I mean, the Lord is really long-suffering, there’s no doubt about that.
Dave: Yes, 2 Peter 3 does say He is long-suffering to us, and not willing that any should perish. So, He’s tarrying. On the other hand, Tom, you could say, well, more people are being born than are coming to Christ. We’re falling behind. I just don’t know. But, He is long-suffering. He’s not willing that any should perish. And, of course, there are people who have been born who would not have been born had the Rapture occurred a thousand years ago. Many ways to look at it, and I think it’s beyond our capacity as human beings even to try to analyze it.
Tom: Right. But, in God’s economy, every variable—there’s nothing that’s left to chance on His part. Nothing— “Oops!” you know, “missed this or missed that.”
Tom: God is going to deal with all of it. But in that time period there are prophecies that have to be fulfilled at certain times. We’re going to talk about that later in this part of our program. But the amazing amount—I mean, some people would say, “Well, Jesus came, and He didn’t fulfill everything!” So He needs to come again. Not because He missed out on it, but because of the timing of certain things.
Dave: Well, there were many prophecies that could not have been fulfilled at His first coming. They were not supposed to be fulfilled at His first coming.
For example, that He would be the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Well, you can’t be the Lamb and the Lion at the same time. Although, amazingly, in heaven, you remember, in Revelation 5, John weeps because “no one is worthy to open the book, to loose the seals, to look thereon.”
And the angel says, “Weep not! Behold the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has prevailed to loose the seals, to open the book.”
And John says, “I turned to see this Lion, and I saw a Lamb as it had been slain.”
Now, this is beyond our capacity to comprehend, Tom. Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah but He’s also the Lamb. But He couldn’t do both of those at once. He came to die for our sins. But He also came to set up an eternal kingdom. So you can’t die for man’s sins and at the same time sit on a throne that lasts forever. So He had to come back to do that. So, there were prophecies that could not be fulfilled at the first coming.
Tom: Dave, the other thing you mentioned last week, which really spoke to my heart, and I’m sure many of our listeners, prophecy is so important. You quote, in chapter nine here, you quote Amos 3:7, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing but He revealeth His secret unto His servants, the prophets.” And when these prophecies are missed—as I said, we’re going to talk about later—we run into all kinds of trouble, don’t we?
Dave: If one prophecy in the Bible did not come true, then God is not God. How could you trust anything else? As soon as one failed, how could I trust anything else that God says? But, that verse, I think—you know the Bible is an amazing book and it gives us insights that we’re still—I mean, I learn more from the Bible every time I read it, and I’ve been studying it for, well, 65 years, since becoming a Christian…but longer than that. I mean, I knew the Bible as a child, and yet I find more and more and more. I think that verse indicated that whatever God is going to do regarding mankind, He reveals it to His prophets.
So, we can search the Scriptures, and I think we quoted last week, Jesus said to the two on the road to Emmaus, “You fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” So, we need to search the prophets to find out what is going to happen. And the Bible is so fantastic. We’ve said it many times—I’ll say it again: prophecy is unique to this book. There are no prophecies in the Bhagavad-Gita, Ramayana, you name it, the Hindu Vedas, the sayings of Buddha, Confucius, the book of Mormon, the Qur’an—no prophecies. But the Bible is full of prophecies! Nearly 30 percent of the Bible is prophecies.
Well then, we ought to pay attention. But, Tom, the amazing thing is, most churches, yes, I will say “most churches,” do not even talk about prophecy! The Catholic Church, of course—that’s the largest church in the world—never talks about prophecy. The only prophecy that the Muslims talk about is that every Jew must be killed before any Muslim can be resurrected. And there are evangelical churches, prophecy is a forbidden topic. But this is really the backbone, the heart of the Bible, the foundation of the Bible, and the Bible itself tells us that.
Tom: Dave, chapter 10— I’m going to push on to there. You title it, “A Most Amazing Prophecy,” and you quote from Daniel 9. I’ll start by reading this, and then, if we could go through the particulars as you lay them out here—because it’s absolutely fascinating. As you said, because prophecy is not popular, for some people it’s overwhelming—so here we have an opportunity to present some information very simply, which you do in this book, which is just really terrific.
But: “A Most Amazing Prophecy.” You have Daniel 9, beginning with verse 1 and 2, and then you have listed here, verses 24-26. But let me read them: “In the first year of Darius…I, Daniel, understood…that the Lord would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Seventy weeks [of years] are determined upon thy people [Israel] and upon thy holy city [Jerusalem]…to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy [that is, the Messiah’s reign to begin]…From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks [that is, 69 weeks of years, which equals 483 years]…Then shall Messiah be cut off [i.e., slain].” And this is Daniel 9:1-2, and 24-26. And then you write: “Imagine setting the date for Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem 500 years before the event and being accurate to the very day!” That’s what it’s all about.
Dave: Yeah, Tom, it’s a very interesting passage. When you get to verse 24: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, Jerusalem,” and so forth. Well, then, why do we say it’s not 70 weeks of 7 days, but 70 weeks of 7 years? Well, if you go back to…we quoted there—you read it, the beginning verses there. Beginning at v. 2: “In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books [I guess I had ellipsed that out of there; I don’t know why, but trying to shorten things]. He understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”
So, it’s not that Daniel is coming to an understanding of 70 years, because that’s right there in Daniel, but that he understood by books why seventy years. Amazing! Well, it’s fascinating; it’s interesting. Daniel is a captive in Babylon, and he has a copy of Jeremiah’s prophecy! He has a copy of the Book of Jeremiah, and that has only been written just before—maybe some of it was completed after Daniel came to Babylon.
Tom: Right. It had to be.
Dave: Rather amazing! So what “books” would this be? Well, Exodus 21:2 (I’ll just list some), Deuteronomy 15, Leviticus 26, Jeremiah 14, and especially 2 Chronicles 36:21. In these verses, God says to the children of Israel when He…we’re discussing, now, why 70 years? When He brought them into the land of promise from Egypt, He said there is not only going to be a Sabbath every seventh day, but a Sabbath every seventh year. “Every seventh year you are not to till the soil. You let the land lie fallow for one year. You are to forgive all debts owed to you by fellow Hebrews, and you are to let all fellow Hebrew slaves go free.” And for 490 years they never did it once!
Tom: Dave, do you know when that started—when that 490 years began, or not?
Dave: It began…well, you’ve got possibilities—either from the date that God gave that command. I don’t think it could have been from that.
Tom: No, because they would have done it for at least a couple of years.
Dave: Yeah, but they didn’t have slaves, and they didn’t owe debts, and so forth. So, it would be from their entrance into the land. And I have not gone back to calculate that in a long time, but I’m sure it could be done.
Tom: But at the very least, you’d backtrack. You’d say…you’re being taken captive by the Babylonians, so, 490 years prior to that time—I guess that’s one way you could check it—or not, I don’t know.
Dave: Well, I think it was a bit more than that, but close. But anyway, the point is, for 490 years they did not let the land lie fallow every seventh year. God said, “You owe the land 70 Sabbaths. You wouldn’t refrain from tilling the soil, I’ll remove you so you can’t till it. You wouldn’t let all fellow-Hebrew slaves go free; I will make you the slaves in the land of Babylon. And you wouldn’t forgive all debts owed to you by fellow Hebrews every seventh year as you were supposed to. For 70 years you are going to be without anything! I’m going to remove you, take you away! You will become slaves, and without property, without rights, and so forth.
So, that’s how we know that when it says, in verse 24, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people,” well, it means…actually, in the Hebrew it says “seventy sevens.” There’s another 490 years, just as there was…You disobeyed God during that time, God has pronounced another 490 years upon the people of Israel. When does that begin? Well, it’s quite clear here. Verse 25: “Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks (a total of 69 weeks),” and so forth.
So, that’s when it began, and we talked about it last week, I think, in Nehemiah chapter 2. We learn that Nehemiah received the authority, and in fact, the king signed a document declaring that Jerusalem was to be rebuilt. And again, this is not the Temple, this is not a command by Cyrus, but this is the city itself. And in Nehemiah 1, you read that some of Daniel’s friends have come back from Jerusalem. Now, the Temple has been rebuilt; they have the right to go back. Daniel is still there in Babylon; he’s a very important man to the Babylonian rulers. And they come back and he says, “How are things going?”
And they say, “Well, it’s pitiful; the Temple has been rebuilt but it’s nothing like it was. The worst part of it is it sits there defenseless, enemies could come right in it and destroy it again because the walls of Jerusalem are broken down, the gates are burned with fire, and they’ve never been restored.” Nehemiah weeps. He’s the king’s cupbearer; he’s got to go in before the king, and you dare not look sad or unhappy in the king’s presence.
Dave: Right, yeah, and Nehemiah struggles with that. He gets out his copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People, and The Power of Positive Thinking, and so forth, to refresh himself—No, he’s really not able. He has such deep grief he can’t hide it, and the king notices that, and he says, “You’ve got a deep sorrow of the heart. What is it?”
And Nehemiah says, “It’s my city. The walls are broken down, the gates are burned with fire.” Now, Nehemiah has endeared himself to the king. He’s a very trusted servant, and to such an extent that the king says, “What would you like?”
And Nehemiah sends up a prayer: O, Lord, give me favor in the eyes of this man. He says, “Will you give me the authority to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the city?”
The king says, “Okay! Set a time! When do you want to do it?”
I love that! Okay, so he sets a time when he will start his journey and go there. So, we have the date when this happened. It was in the 20th year of the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus, and that is 445 B.C. So, you can calculate.
Now there is some little differences in the calculation. Some people say, No, it was 444, some people say, 445. Okay, but it doesn’t really matter. The point is, it’s 2,500 years too late for the Messiah to come the first time! And whether it’s 444, or 445, or whenever it was, whether the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem was April 6, 32 A.D., or 33 A.D., or 31 A.D., it doesn’t matter.
The point is that—well, I shouldn’t say it doesn’t matter entirely, but it doesn’t matter as far as, should the Messiah have already come? Of course He should have— centuries ago! That’s what it says. Now, how Jews get around that, I don’t know.
But anyway, so the Messiah came, and then “He would be cut off!” That’s an amazing prophecy! You would think if the Messiah comes riding into Jerusalem—Zechariah said He would be hailed as the Messiah, and He was. And then four days later, they crucify Him. And, of course, crucifixion—never practiced on the earth until 500 years later from that prophecy.
But then, Daniel gives us so many prophecies of the succession of kingdoms—that the Grecian kingdom would succeed the Medes and the Persians; that the Medes and the Persians would conquer Babylon. And then he gives us the details of the Grecian Empire being broken up.
Tom: Alexander the Great.
Dave: And so many prophecies that were fulfilled in detail in history that the critics have attacked Daniel. Sir Robert Anderson wrote an interesting book way back then. I think it’s still in print, Daniel in the Critic’s Den. And he examines these criticisms, and they try to say, for example, “Oh, it wasn’t written until the days of Antiochus,” you know, and so forth.
Well, but we do have the Greek Septuagint translated from earlier Hebrew manuscripts into Greek by Greek and Hebrew scholars —70 of them, that’s why it’s called the Septuagint—and it dates before these events happened. The Book of Daniel is in the Septuagint, all right? The critics have attacked this because, Tom, you’ve got prophecies that are so clearly fulfilled in history in detail—you’re going to have to believe in God! You’re going to have to believe the Bible is God’s Word! You’re going to have to believe in prophecy—that God tells you the future, tells you what’s going to happen.
Tom: And He claims He’s the only one that can.
Dave: And, indeed He is! So, the critics have gone after the Book of Daniel. Fantastic book! Well, there is too much for us to deal with.
Tom: Yeah. Dave, next week, what I’d like to do is go to the Scriptures, point out the Scriptures that—not only the Jewish religious, the Pharisees and so on, but Jesus’s disciples as well as John the Baptist—what verse did they miss? You say there is one verse that they should have been aware of, but they missed it completely.
Dave: Well, if they had known that one verse, they would have understood that Jesus was not to take the throne.
Tom: And it’s not obscure, Dave! All you have to do is read it and say, “Well, what could this mean?” And the meaning is straightforward, very simple.
Dave: Oh, it’s very clear, right. Tom, I always say, “If God wills,” because, you know, James said, “You boast—you say, ‘Well, we’re going into the city tomorrow; we’ll buy and sell and get gain.’ You don’t even know what will be on the morrow.” It really sends chills up and down my spine sometimes when I am speaking at a church and the pastor tells me the plans for this expansion or that, the 5-year plan, or the 10-year plan. Well, that’s fine, we need to plan. But never a word about the Rapture! I think the Rapture would interrupt an awful lot of plans! It’s the last thing that many people think of. Or death. “Our life is but a vapor,” James says. It appears and then it’s gone. So, Tom, we will discuss that next week, God willing, if the Lord spares us, gives us the strength, and if the Rapture has not occurred.
Program Number: 1946