In the land of Israel many Biblical prophecies have been fulfilled.
In the article "Is there a God?" arguments were already mentioned for the existence of a God. From what else can we know that there is a God? Among other things by the fact that prophecies, who are in the Bible, have come true! This also confirms the reliability of the Bible and the Christian faith.
1. The prediction in the Book of Daniel in the Bible, concerning the exact time of death of the Lord Jesus on the cross
Impression of Daniel in the lions' den
By way of introduction: The Bible consists of two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. And the Old Testament contains 39 different books. The New Testament contains 27 different books. Christ is central in those 27 books, since they are written after His birth and life on earth. Altogether there are 66 books. These have been written over a period of thousands of years. So the former writers did not yet know what would happen later, and what would be added to the Bible later. But as Christians we do believe, that God had His hand in that all. He controlled everything, so that eventually a Bible would arise, full of His truth. So through this Bible God has made Himself known to mankind!
The prophet Daniel is a writer of the Old Testament. He lived in the time of Nebuchadnezzar. This mighty ruler reigned from 605 to 562 before the beginning of our era. At that time Daniel already prophesied about Christ, who would only be born hundreds of years later. And the book of Daniel can impossibly be corrupted by later Christians. For the Jews have as Bible, from the very beginning, only the Old Testament, and thus also the book of Daniel. They (the majority of them) do not believe in the Christ of the New Testament! Yet their Bible (yes, also other books of their Old Testament, like Isaiah!) contains all Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ, who would come only later!
We consider the prophecy in Daniel 9: 24 to 26. (Here we use the KJV). It says:
24. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
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 (that means: 7 + 62 weeks): the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
26. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
The language of some pieces of text can sometimes be difficult for people who are not familiar with this translation. However the content of this prophecy is so enormous precious, that it may cost us some trouble. The things of this prophecy, which are now in treatment, are anyway clear enough.
What is meant by "the going forth of the commandment" in verse 25? This concerns very likely Nehemiah 2. It tells us how Nehemiah gets the permission of King Artaxerxes to go (from Persia) to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls there, which had been destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar. In Nehemiah 2: 1 we read that it was the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes.
When did he reign? According to most history books and websites from 465 BC. (or 464 BC.) to 424 BC. (That would be so 41 years). But there are historical indications that he began to reign already 10 years earlier. For there has been found a clay tablet which talks about the 51st year of his reign! Also other documents from antiquity seem to point in that direction. How most historians can have been mistaken then? They let begin the period of reign of his father, King Ahasuerus, at the end of the reign of the father of him, King Darius. But Ahasuerus, who we know from the book of Esther, has reigned together with his father Darius a certain time. So Ahasuerus reigned already when Darius still reigned. By this the years move. Therefore with that twentieth year in the prophecy is probably meant the year 455 BC. Further in the above prophecy of Daniel 7 + 62 weeks = 69 weeks are mentioned. In prophetic language a week is often seven years. So 69 weeks is 483 years. If we start then from the year 455 BC. we arrive at the year 28 AD.
Subsequently we look at the beginning of the next verse (verse 26) of Daniel 9. There we read: "And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off." Indeed Christ (= the Messiah) died on the cross around the year 28. One accepts however, by virtue of the stories in the Bible, that Christ has become about 33 years. But our era has not exactly started at the birth of Christ. The Scythian monk Dionysius Exiguus, who established our era in the sixth century after Christ, has made a mistake of a few years in his backward calculations. At least he was 4 years wrong, for King Herod died in 4 BC. And when he was still alive the Lord Jesus was already born. This miscalculation of the mentioned monk is nowadays recognized by most scientists.
It is therefore often assumed that the Lord Jesus was born in about the year 5 BC., and this indeed appears to fit well with other data, including the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem! We read about it in Matthew 2. In the year five before our era there was in fact a special "star" visible in the constellation of Capricorn. Because this has been described by history writers as a "sweeping star" it will probably have been a comet. No wonder that this "star" impressed the Wise Men from the East! Well then, if the Lord Jesus was born in the year 5 BC. and died in the year 28 AD., then He has become about 33 years old. And that is exactly what one may expect on the basis of the Biblical stories!
A comet. The Star of Bethlehem was probably also a comet.
In brief: The Bible has centuries before the birth of Christ already exactly predicted, when Christ would die on the cross for the sins of the people!!!
Because it was for the sins of others there is also written in the remainder of that verse: "but not for himself (the being cut off)." And how beautiful indications are already given in verse 24 for His atoning suffering and death! The Lord Jesus indeed died on the cross to "finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness." All this relates to the forgiveness of the sins for those who put their trust for time and eternity in the Lord Jesus. The guilt of their sins will be removed then and in its place they receive an eternal righteousness, by which they receive the eternal life in endless glory!
Someone might ask: "Why is spoken there about 7 weeks and 62 weeks and not directly about 69 weeks?" This indicates probably the end of the restoration work on Jerusalem. At the beginning of those 69 weeks the repair work began. 7 weeks of years later that work had been completed. And after that it took another 62 weeks of years before the Lord Jesus died on the cross. The seventieth week of years came after that, but that is beside the point now.
Furthermore is written in the prophecy in verse 26: "and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." Also that came true. In the year 70 AD. the Roman emperor Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. Christ Himself also predicted the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. In Luke 21: 20 is written: "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh."
2. The Roman emperor Julian the Apostate (or: Julianus Apostata)
Although the emperor Julian, who lived from 331 to 363, had received a Christian education, he chose plainly for the pagan religion, like that was espoused almost everywhere in the Roman Empire before the days of Emperor Constantine the Great (circa 280-337). Since he was well informed about the contents of the Bible (he had been a reader in the church in his youth) he also knew Matt. 23: 38: "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." This means: "The temple will be destroyed and will not be rebuilt thereafter." So Julian thought: "I shall make as emperor, that this prophecy is not true." In this way he wanted to obstruct the Christians in his realm and demonstrate that their Bible was wrong. The temple was indeed destroyed in the year 70 by the army of the Roman Titus.
Julian called on the Jews of his great empire to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild the temple with his support. But ... God intervened. When the work had progressed already a lot there came an earthquake. Everything collapsed again. Again they began to build. But then great flames of fire burst from the ground. And whirlwinds erupted. Everything was destroyed again. So God prevented that the temple was rebuilt and that the prophecy was not true! Already at the age of 32 Julian died in the battle against the Persians. Some writers say, that in his last hours he clenched his fists and shouted: "Galilean, thou hast conquered nevertheless!" With that he meant the Lord Jesus, Who grew up in Galilee.
3. The world empires after King Nebuchadnezzar
Daniel explains the dream of the statue
In the book in the Bible of Daniel is also foretold what world empires would come after the Babylonian Empire of King Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel 2 is told how King Nebuchadnezzar gets a dream. In his dream he sees a big statue with a gold head, silver chest and arms, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet partly of iron and partly of clay. Then comes a stone and crushes the whole statue. Then the king wakes up and calls together the wise people of his kingdom to find out the meaning of the dream. Daniel comes also and declares the statue as follows:
The head of gold is the kingdom of Babylon. The silver chest and the other body parts are the following kingdoms. The stone is the kingdom of God, that eventually will overcome all those kingdoms. In this chapter the names of the kingdoms, which are indicated by the statue, are not mentioned. But it is clear that these are respectively the Babylonian Empire, the Persian Empire, the Greek Empire and the Roman Empire. The feet represent likely the continued Roman Empire, after the original strength and hardness of that empire had been impaired. That came because they recruited soldiers from the conquered nations. But they did not like very much to give their heart and soul for the realm of the victors. Thus the empire weakened, until it collapsed wholly, that is: conquered by other nations.
In Daniel 7 those kingdoms come back again, but then in a dream of Daniel himself. There they are 4 great beasts, which rise from the sea. The third animal is a leopard with 4 wings and 4 heads. That's exactly right! For the third empire began with Alexander the Great. But when he died the empire was divided among his 4 generals: Cassander, Ptolemaeus, Seleucus en Lysimachus. So 4 new empires came into being.
So time after time those empires come back again in the prophecy! In Daniel 8 the second and the third empire are viewed more exactly in a new vision of Daniel. The second empire is there a ram with two big horns. Those two horns are the nations of the Medes and Persians, which became one kingdom. The third empire (so the Greek empire) is in the vision a male goat with one horn. But later that horn breaks off and 4 others come in its place. Those are again the four sub-empires after the kingdom was divided among the successors of Alexander the Great.
Superfluously the prophecy himself mentions in this chapter the names of those 2 kingdoms. Daniel 8: 20 reads: "The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia." And in the next two verses is written: "21. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 22. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power." (King James Version currently used).
So all these prophecies about the world powers after King Nebuchadnezzar came true very clearly!
4. Tyre, from island to peninsula
The peninsula Tyre
When we look now at Tyre in the country of Lebanon, we see a peninsula. But originally it was an island. It was a very strong and also rich fortress in the sea that was almost impossible to capture. King Nebuchadnezzar has tried it for 13 years, but he had no success. And that is saying much. His kingdom was in his days a super-power. No other kingdom in the Middle East, including Egypt, could stand before him. But Tyre he could not get down. A siege from the coast was completely useless. Tyre had a large fleet and could import foods and merchandise by means of the ships. The name Tyre means "rock". From this rock one could fight well the enemies who came with ships, also with bow and arrow. Finally Nebuchadnezzar slunk away.
Some historians say that Nebuchadnezzar finally after those 13 years came to a compromise with Tyre, by which the city had to pay tribute to him. In any case Nebuchadnezzar could conquer the part of Tyre that was on the mainland. So Tyre consisted at first of two parts.
However the Bible prophesied the destruction of the whole of Tyre, namely in Isaiah 23, Jeremiah 25: 22, Ezekiel 26, 27 and 28, Amos 1: 10 and Zechariah 9: 2, 3 and 4. (There is thus abundantly prophesied about Tyre!). At that time that can have sounded incredibly, especially after the failed attempt of Nebuchadnezzar. But if God predicts something, it happens also! In the year 333 B.C. the Greek king Alexander the Great tried again to conquer Tyre. And this time he succeeded! How did he do that? By making a dam between the island and the coast. He had his thousands of soldiers throw earth, sand, stones and rubbish into the sea, just as long until there was a solid connection to the island. And then he could take Tyre! Thus the prophecies concerning Tyre came to fulfilment!
Even all the details of the biblical prophecy came true. There is for example written in Ezekiel 26: 12, second part:
"and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water." This is exactly what happened, when the army of Alexander the Great used the ruins of the part of Tyre, that was at first on the mainland, to make the dam unto the island.
Why did God bring this heavy judgment on Tyre? Initially Tyre was, just like Jerusalem, a center of world trade. The trade route by sea was over Tyre and the trade route by land was over Jerusalem. However when Jerusalem was about to be conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, the inhabitants of Tyre exulted. For now there would go even more trade through their island. But this malicious joy was evil in the sight of God. And for that he brought also destruction over Tyre.
5. Cyrus, who gave back to the Jews their freedom
The empire of King Cyrus and his successors. The later empire of Alexander the Great had approximately the same size.
The above mentioned Alexander the Great was the founder of the Greek-Macedonian Empire, briefly called the Greek or Hellenistic Empire. That empire was preceded by the empire of the Medes and Persians (as explained in section 3), briefly called the Persian Empire. The founder of that Persian Empire was Cyrus. About him the Bible prophesied in Isaiah 45:
1. Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
2. I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
3. And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.
4. For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.
5. I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
6. That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
God used this Persian king, who did not know Him, to bring the people of Israel, that had been carried away to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, back to the home country, so that the Jews could rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. After the prophecy was fulfilled, they let read this to King Cyrus. And that could appreciate this king!
6. The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in the year 70 of our era
Picture 1 of these 3: The triumphal arch in honor of emperor Titus. Picture 2 of these 3: The inscription at the top, seen from near. Picture 3 of these 3: Another detail of the arch: The temple treasures are being carried to Rome.
The temple which the Jews had built after the Babylonian exile was not so impressive. He actually looked poor, compared to the previous temple of Solomon, which the Babylonians had destroyed. King Herod, who ruled over the land of Israel from 37 B.C. to 4 B.C., wanted to do something to that. He was an Edomite, a descendant of Esau, but the Romans had crowned him in Rome king of the Jews, though he remained under the rule of Rome. Among the Jews he was not loved. They noticed that he was not a Jew at all in his heart. This was totally evident when he, towards the end of his life, ordered to kill in Bethlehem all small children until two years. In this way he hoped to slay also the Child Jesus. But Mary and Joseph had already fled with Him to Egypt.
Herod had the temple thoroughly renovated and made a brilliant beautiful building of it. Thus he hoped to obtain the favor of the Jews. This was not so successful, but the Jews saw the new temple as beautiful. This is also evident from what the disciples of the Lord Jesus said to Him later. We read in Matthew 24: 1:
"And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple."
But the Savior reacted others than His followers had expected. Verse 2:
"And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."
That was considerable shocking! But not only the temple, also the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed. This we read in Luke 21: 20-24:
20. And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
21. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
22. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
23. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
24. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
All these prophecies are fulfilled when the Roman emperor Titus conquered and destroyed Jerusalem in the year 70. The Jews had rebelled against the Romans. But these did not accept this and sent an army. The consequences were terrible. The beautiful temple was burned and many died. And the Jews who survived were scattered among all nations, as was predicted. The Romans took the temple treasures with them as booty. For Emperor Titus a triumphal arch was made in Rome. There was portrayed on it how the Romans carried the treasures of the temple to Rome.
When the temple was burned the gold with which the temple was decorated melted. The gold dripped between the stones and remained there. The Romans liked that gold very much and hacked the stones from each other to be able to win the gold as much as possible. Thus the words of the Lord Jesus were confirmed, Who had spoken in Matthew 24: 2: "There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."
Some people say that this prophecy has not been fulfilled completely. For the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem remained still standing. This wall is considered by many as a wall of the former temple. But that is incorrect. The Wailing Wall is a remnant of the wall that surrounded the plateau, on which the temple stood. The prophecy that no stone would be left upon another was only meant for the temple. And that was indeed destroyed thoroughly. Titus had given intentionally order not to destroy The Wailing Wall. Then people could later see what immense walls the Romans could break down. This would be able to deter other nations from revolting also against the Romans.
As told before in Rome was made a triumphal arch. At the top of that arch was engraved: "SENATVS POPVLVSQVE ROMANVS DIVO TITO DIVI VESPASIANI F(ilio) VESPASIANO AVGVSTO". That means: "The Senate and the people of Rome (dedicate this) to the divine Titus, son of the divine Vespasian, Vespasian the Exalted."
But the Romans were mistaken. Titus was not divine nor his father. They could only destroy Jerusalem and the temple because God used them for that, namely to punish the Jews for their sins, and especially because they caused the Romans to crucify their Messiah, the Lord Jesus. And yet God continued to love His people. In the year 1948 the State of Israel was established and the scattered Jews were allowed to return to their promised land!
7. The return of the Jews to their promised land Israel
The country of Israel
In the book in the Bible of Deuteronomy, chapter 28 verse 15 and 64 we read: "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: ..... And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other."
This has been fulfilled also. In 586 BC. Jerusalem was captured by the Babylonians led by King Nebuchadnezzar. And most Jews were deported to Babylon. It is true, about 70 years later the Jews were allowed by a decision of King Cyrus to return to their promised land and rebuild Jerusalem. But the Jews who actually returned were limited in number. In the year 70 Jerusalem was taken again and destroyed by the Romans led by Titus, as can be read in the previous point. And then the Jews were indeed scattered among all nations: Also in England, also in the United States, also in Africa, also in Portugal, etc., etc.
But fortunately the prophecy continues. In Deuteronomy 30: 3 we read: "Then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee."
Also that came true! So first after the so called Babylonian Exile, when King Cyrus gave the Jews permission to return to their country. But that was limited and only for the duration of about 650 years. However: In 1948 the prophecy has been fulfilled again! Then the present state of Israel was founded. Besides: At the end of the nineteenth century the Jews started already to return to the land of Israel.
And the fact that God Himself was behind it was proved very clearly, when the Jews were attacked time after time by an enormous predominance of power of the surrounding Arab countries. With God's help the Jews could knock down every enemy attack! God did even miracles. Once an army of tanks moved up to Israel to defeat Israel definitively. But then God caused that the Arab soldiers saw a much larger army of tanks against them. For that reason they drew back and Israel was saved. But in reality that great army of tanks at the side of Israel did not exist at all! God had only made that the Arabs observed this with their eyes and kept it for real. Thus God takes care always, that His prophetic Word is confirmed!
God had also predicted, that there would be much battle about Jerusalem. In Zechariah 12: 3 and 6 is written:
3. "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
6. In that day will I make the governors of Judah (= the province in which Jerusalem is) like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem."
It is even so, that God preserved the land of Israel for the Jews almost 2000 years, until the Jews returned in 1948. In the previous centuries the Arabs tried to bring the country to flourish. But the country did not recognize them as it were. There came earthquakes, plagues of locusts, diseases, enemy armies, battles, etc. By this the land stayed desolate. But when the first Jewish colonists arrived in the country, God gave blessing on their work. Then the country could come to a flourishing state! And that happened too. The Jews have made desert areas to oases with God's help!
Further can be said, that God also already foresaw, that the Jews would return by plane. In Isaiah 60 is also foretold, that there would come a time of blessing and restoration for the people of Israel. Then there is written in verse 8 of this chapter: "Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?" This is divine humor, for God knew of course very well, that it would be the Jewish people, who would come home by plane!
Returning by plane "as the doves to their windows"
The miracle of the return of the Jews to the land of Israel becomes even greater for us, when we realize well how wonderful it is, that the Jews, who are exiled more than once from their country by enemy forces, never merged into the nations where they arrived. Other races, who were expelled from their country in the course of world history, assimilated with the nations among whom they came to live. They eventually mingled themselves completely with their new neighbors. Nothing was left of their own identity, character and orientation, because they, as it were, melted together with those other nations.
But concerning the Jews it was completely different! They continued to keep after their banishment, amid the other nations, during 2000 years, their own orientation, identity, tradition, faith and religion. This was very special and can only be explained by the knowledge that God Himself worked it out! And when the Jews finally returned to the land of Israel, they even accepted the Hebrew (the language of their Bible, for the Christians the Old Testament) as their national language! This was even more remarkable!
Not only Christians and Jews noted, how special it was that the Jewish people were not mixed with the other nations, also people who did not believe in God noticed this and had no explanation for it. Even the great Jew-hater Adolf Hitler wrote in his book "Mein Kampf":
"In almost no nation in the world the survival instinct has been developed so strongly as in the so-called "elects". The survival of this race is the best proof of it. Which nation has been exposed in the last two thousand years to so few changes of inner nature, character, etc., as the Jewish people? What nation has been affected by greater disasters than this people and nevertheless has come out unchanged?"
Although Hitler wrote: "In almost no nation in the world ...." in his heart he believed: "What happened to the Jews is unmatched!" Further he spoke of "survival instinct", because he did not want to take God's guidance and governance into consideration. Nevertheless he had a strong presentiment, that very special forces were working in the history of Israel, and still are. Those forces he called "a certain fate .... with an eternal and incontestable precision". And these thoughts filled him so much with fear, namely that the Jews would take the whole world into possession, that he finally decided to exterminate the Jewish people. Six million Jewish victims were the result of it.
But he did not succeed in exterminating the people. And just 3 years after his very miserable death (almost sure he committed suicide) the state of Israel was established! Many countries attacked Israel then at the same time. But Israel defeated them all! For God fought for His people. And who can withstand God?
The establishment of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. David ben Gurion reads here the Declaration of Independence. Above hangs the portrait of Theodor Herzl (1860-1904). He wrote already in 1896 (in response to the anti-Semitism, the hatred against Jews) a book about a Jewish State. Furthermore in 1897 he organized the first World Zionist Congress in Basle, and was elected as the first president of the World Zionist Organization. Therefore Herzl is seen as the actual founder of the State of Israel.