Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
THE BIBLE, A DIVINE REVELATION (Continued)
MIRACLES. PROPHECY. EXPERIENCE. PRODUCTS. CIVILIZER.
THE FIRST of the internalo-external evidences that the Bible is a Divine Revelation is miracles. They undoubtedly belong to such internal proofs, because (1) they are a part of the Bible's contents, and (2) they are all types (signs), and thus are a part of the Divine Revelation. Yet from another standpoint they are an external proof, not of the Bible as such, but of certain revelations which they accompanied as attestations of their Divine origin; for we are not to forget that in many cases Divine revelations were made before they were written out as parts of the Bible, the full Revelation, e.g., all the events of the Gospels and Acts and all of the symbols of Revelation were enacted and all their teachings were set forth orally as revelations before they were written out, as all the teachings of the Epistles were revealed to the Apostles before they reduced these to written form. These same facts are true of a very large part of the Old Testament, e.g., all its historical parts, all the ordinances of its Law Covenant and much of its prophetic parts, though some of the contents of the Prophets were revealed at the time they were written out. It is these sets of facts that make us classify miracles not merely as external evidences of the Bible, as is usually done, nor merely as its internal evidences, but as a combination of both— internalo-external evidences. These same conditions cause us to classify prophecies as internalo-external evidences, and not merely as external evidences, as is usually done by writers on this subject.
First of all we submit our understanding of what a miracle is. A miracle is an act of a superhuman agent operating within the realm of nature through or apart
from natural forces and through or apart from natural means and causing wonder in the beholder through its being beyond human ability to perform and usually beyond human ability to understand. Some explanation of and on this definition will prove helpful. Its efficient agent must always be superhuman, i.e., God or an angel, either good or evil. In no real miracle is a human being finally the causing agent. This fact excludes from the domain of the miraculous as its final cause all fakers, all mesmerists, all sleight-of-handists, despite some of them being able to do wonderful things beyond the ability of others to do or understand. Hence the miraculous originates in the realm of the spiritual, the superhuman, the supernatural. Again, a Biblical miracle always occurs within the realm of the natural. By this we are not to be understood to mean that there cannot be, nor that there are no, miracles in the world of spirit beings; for God wrought miracles in the creation of the Logos and of all other spirit-beings, and doubtless continues to work miracles amongst the spirit beings; but these are not miracles of the kind under discussion here, where we treat of them as the accompaniments and credentials of the Divine Revelation. The latter kind has always occurred in the realm of nature, as nature is known by man. Hence in a miracle there is always a reaching down from the supernatural or superhuman sphere by a superhuman being to the sphere of nature as man knows nature. This is manifest in every miracle recorded in the Bible, e.g., the material creation (Gen. 1), the flood (Gen. 7: 8), confusion of tongues (Gen. 11: 1-9), conception of Isaac (Gen. 17: 17; 18: 12; 21: 2; Rom. 4: 17-22; Heb. 11: 11, 12), destruction of Sodom (Gen. 19), flaming bush (Ex. 3: 2), transformation of Moses' rod into a serpent and vice versa (Ex. 4: 3, 4), Moses' leprosy (Ex. 4: 6, 7, 30), ten plagues in Egypt (Ex. 7-12), destruction of the bulk of Sennacherib's army (2 Kings 19: 35; Is. 37: 36), etc., etc., etc. These and all other Biblically
recorded miracles occurred within the sphere of nature as man knows it by the operations of his senses.
Again, the originating Cause of miracles may use natural forces or not to accomplish His purposes. The cleaving of the Red Sea occurred by God's causing a mighty wind to blow a large amount of water northwestward, whereby a reef near the head of the Red Sea was exposed, over which the Israelites passed dry shod, with the darkness and the waters on both sides of the reef concealing the reef from the Egyptians and thus acting as a protection, a symbolic wall, to Israel. It is a mistake to understand the wall in this connection to mean that the waters stood upright as a wall, as some have thought. They were a figurative wall, i.e., a protection and a concealment to the Israelites that prevented for a long time the Egyptians in the darkness caused by the cloudy pillar and the nightly darkness from finding the passage over which Israel went (Ex. 14: 15-31). Again, the drying up of the Jordan (Josh. 3: 14-17) occurred, so late discoveries have revealed, by God's causing a landslide from a mountain at Jordan's edge near the cities of Adam and Zaretan to fill Jordan's bed some miles above the crossing point, which made the water form a heap, a dam, God's timing the holding back of the water from the time the feet of the priests who bore the ark touched the river, until some time after all the people had passed over. This same phenomenon occurred recently in a natural way, thus not miraculously; and this event gave the hint as to how the miracle occurred. Bitumen figured in Sodom's destruction and salt crystals in Lot's wife's turning into a pillar of salt. On the other hand, some Biblical miracles occurred without the use of natural forces by God, e.g., the confusion of tongues, perhaps Moses' and Miriam's leprosy (Ex. 4: 6; Num. 12: 10-15), the transfiguration of Moses' face (Ex. 34: 29-35), perhaps the budding of Aaron's rod (Num. 17: 1-9), Samson's strength (Judg. 14: 6; 16: 3, 29, 30), the fall of Dagon (1 Sam. 5: 1-4), perhaps Elijah's
increase of the widow's meal and oil (1 Kings 17: 9-16).
In connection with our Lord's miracles of healing and raising the dead, we know from the Bible that He took out of His own body the vitality necessary to replace the depleted vitality of the afflicted, and thus restore them to normalcy, and the vitality necessary to restore life to the dead, and thus recovered them from the death state. This is stated in Matt. 8: 16, 17; Mark 5: 27-34; Luke 8: 43-56; 6: 19. Thus Jesus in such miracles used His own life-principle as the means of working the miracle. In the case of the cures and the awakening of the dead wrought by the Apostles, we are not told whether they used their own vitality or life-principle in the air as the means of curing the sick and raising the dead (Acts 3: 2-10; 9: 33-35, 36-42; 20: 9-12). In the cases of the two children resuscitated by Elijah (1 Kings 17: 17-24) and Elisha (2 Kings 4: 32-37), they performed the miracle by communicating their own vitality to them through their lying upon them; but in the case of the resuscitation of the dead Moabite through contact with Elisha's bones (2 Kings 13: 20, 21) such a thing was not done; for Elisha had long been dead. In this case God evidently took out of the air the life-principle and put it into the dead man's body as it touched Elisha's bones, and thus reanimated him. In most cases, apparently, means furnished by nature were used as the instruments whereby a superhuman being worked the miracle, yea, perhaps in most cases where we are unable to trace the means used.
It will be further noted that in our definition it is stated that miracles were performed with or without human instruments. The following are miracles wrought apart from human instrumentality: the creation of the universe; the flood; the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; the flaming bush (Ex. 3: 2); the pillar of cloud and fire (Ex. 13: 21, 22); the thunder, lightning and earthquake at Sinai (Ex. 19: 16-20; Heb. 12: 26); the death of Nadab and Abihu
(Lev. 10: 1, 2); the dividing of the Jordan in Joshua's time; the fall of Dagon; the death of Beth-shemeshites (1 Sam. 6: 19, 20) and of Uzzah (2 Sam. 6: 1-8); the fire on the sacrifice of Aaron (Lev. 9: 24), of Gideon (Judg. 6: 21), of Manoah (Judg. 13: 19, 20), of Solomon (2 Chron. 7: 1) and of Elijah (1 Kings 18: 38); the destruction of Sennacherib's army; the return of the shadow on the sun's dial (which seems to have occurred by the appearance of a mock sun while the true sun shone in a different part of the heavens (2 Kings 20: 9-11); the deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego (Dan. 3: 23-27) and of Daniel (6: 22), and the star of Bethlehem (which quite likely was an angel, called a star, because the wise men took it to be such, Matt. 2: 13-23). On the other hand, miracles have been wrought through human instrumentalities, as the following cases prove: certain of the ten plagues on Egypt; the sweetening of the waters of Marah (Ex. 15: 25); the water from the rock (Ex. 17: 5, 7); the fall of Jericho (which occurred through the vibration of the sounds of the rams' horns being the same as that of Jericho's walls, resulting in their fall, Josh. 6: 20); such thick hail falling on the hosts of the confederated kings as made the sunlight cease shining on Gibeon and the moonlight cease shining in the valley of Ajalon (through mistranslation the pertinent Scripture was made to say that the sun and moon were motionless for a full day on the mountain and in the valley-an impossibility, because the sun and moon never were there, but their light has been there, Josh. 10: 10-14); Elijah's increasing the widow's meal and oil, raising her son, causing rain to cease and come again (1 Kings 17: 1; 18: 41-45), bringing fire down from heaven upon the two companies of soldiers (2 Kings 1: 10-12) and dividing Jordan (2 Kings 2: 8); Elisha's dividing Jordan (2 Kings 2: 14), sweetening Jericho's waters (2 Kings 2: 19-22), increasing the widow's oil (2 Kings 4: 1-7), making the poisonous pottage harmless (2 Kings 4: 38-41), curing Naaman's
leprosy and putting it upon Gehazi and his seed (2 Kings 5: 1-19, 26, 27), causing the ax to float (2 Kings 6: 6), revealing the Syrian king's plans (2 Kings 6: 12), opening his servant's eyes (2 Kings 6: 17), blinding the Syrians (2 Kings 6: 18); Isaiah's curing Hezekiah (Is. 38: 21), and all the miracles of Jesus and the Apostles. Thus we see that God needed not to bind Himself to human instruments to work miracles, though He frequently used them as instruments to perform these, yea, most frequently so did.
There are especially three terms that the Bible uses to designate miracles helpful to understanding better the last part of our definition of miracles: causing wonder in the beholder as being beyond human ability to perform and usually beyond human ability to understand. They are called powers (or mighty works), wonders and signs. Please look up the following references in the A. R. V. text and margin, since the A. V. does not give the pertinent translations with the exactness of the A. R. V.: (1) POWERS: Matt. 11: 20, 21, 23; 13: 54, 58; Mark 6: 2, 5, 14; Luke 19: 37; 1 Cor. 12: 10, 28, 29; Gal. 3: 5; (2) WONDERS: Acts 2: 19; (3) SIGNS: Matt. 12: 38, 39; Mark 16: 17, 20; Luke 23: 8; John 2: 11, 18, 23; 3: 2; 4: 54; 6: 2; 7: 31; 9: 16; 11: 47; Acts 4: 16, 22; 8: 6; 2 Cor. 12: 12;
(4) a combination of two or all three of these words: Acts 2: 22, 43; 4: 30; 5: 12; 6: 8; 7: 36; 8: 13; 14: 3; 15: 12; 2 Thes. 2: 9; Heb. 2: 4. The Greek word dynameis, translated powers, describes the fact that miracles are an expression of supernatural or superhuman strength. The Greek word terata, translated wonders, shows how miracles (which word is derived from the Latin miracula, wonders) astonish by their supernatural strength and by usual human inability to explain them. And the Greek word sēmeia, translated signs, refers (1) to the attestatory force, and (2) to the typical application of miracles. Thus in these words, among other things, are conveyed the thoughts that are expressed in the last part of our definition of miracles:
causing wonder in the beholder as being beyond human ability to perform and usually beyond human ability to understand. The above briefly explains the details of our definition of miracles.
Both God and Satan can work and have worked miracles. Most of the above passages show God to be the causal Agent in working miracles; hence we will add no further proof on this phase of the subject, since that would be merely repetition of what is proven above. But many people are surprised when first apprized of the fact that Satan can work and has worked miracles. Yet the Bible substantiates this proposition. The first Biblical record that we have of his working miracles is his having the angels before the flood assume human bodies in which they married women and produced the race of antediluvian giants (Gen. 6: 2, 4). The second Biblical record of Satan's working miracles is connected with his wrath against Job, by killing with lightning his sheep (Job 1: 16) and his sons with a whirlwind (19) and by plaguing him with boils from head to foot (Job 2: 7). The third Biblical record of Satan's miracles is his counterfeiting through Jannes and Jambres (2 Tim. 3: 8) certain of the Egyptian plagues whereby he created various beings like serpents (Ex. 7: 11, 12), bloody water, probably water infested thickly with tiny red creatures (22) and frogs (8: 7). The New Testament teaches the same of him (Matt. 7: 22, 23; 24: 24; 2 Thes. 2: 9; Acts 8: 9-11).
This brings up the question, How can we tell whether a miracle is wrought by God or by Satan? This question we answer as follows: (1) The Divine miracle must attest the truth as against error; for they were given as the credentials of a Divine Revelation; (2) they must be wrought in connection with the ministry of a good instrument, in distinction from the ministry of an evil instrument; (3) their design and effect must be a good one; and (4) they must not come after the last believer died upon whom an Apostle had laid his bands in bestowing the gifts of the Spirit; for God
restricted the bestowment of these gifts, among which was that of miracles (1 Cor. 12: 7-11), to the Apostles (Acts 8: 6, 7, contrasted with 15-17; Gal. 3: 5 [given as a proof that Paul had exclusive apostolic powers, whereas his traducers denied his apostleship, which against them he proves to the Galatians by reminding them that he had bestowed these gifts upon them]). That death followed closely upon the completion of the Bible as the Divine Revelation (1 Cor. 13: 8-12), since these gifts were of short duration in the Church, i.e., until the Divine Revelation would be complete, while the graces of the Spirit would last throughout the Gospel Age (v. 13). These four criteria prove that the papal and heathen miracles are of Satanic origin, as also are the faith cures, exorcisms, etc., of the present time, even as express Scriptures prove (Matt. 7: 22, 23; 24: 24; 2 Thes. 2: 9; Rev. 16: 14). We might here add that good angels, as well as good men, have been used by God as instruments to work miracles (Gen. 21: 19; 2 Kings 19: 35; Acts 12: 6-11), even as evil angels as well as evil men, have been used by Satan as means to work miracles (Rev. 16: 14; Acts 8: 9-11).
Sometimes miracles have been exaggerated by well-intentioned, but misinformed apologists into being Acts contrary to nature. We are certain that no miracle of God's can be proven to have been wrought contrary to nature. The unaided forces and laws of nature and unaided men are unable to work a Divine miracle, which always implies that the supernatural reaches into the sphere of nature and ordinarily by its forces produces effects that nature of itself cannot produce. Certainly, man by the exercise of his will and intelligence does reach into and produce wonders in the sphere of nature, by manipulating its forces and laws unworkable by unaided nature, e.g., into producing the engine, the dynamo, the heavier-than-air flying machine, the submarine, the telephone, the radio, artificial ice, steel heated by ice (by Tyndall, the great physicist), dry ice, a thousand and one marvels of electricity, etc.,
etc., as affecting wonders, and all this, not contrary to, but in harmony with and by the intelligent and purposeful use of the forces and laws of nature. With greater intelligence and larger purpose, of course, superhuman beings can do and have done greater wonders—miracles—within the sphere of nature, ordinarily by the use of its forces and laws. Above we pointed out how in connection with very great miracles God, ordinarily beyond our ability, manipulated forces and laws in nature in harmony with their nature to work them.
We might show this in certain other miracles: The flood was produced by God's causing the canopy of water that enclosed the earth to drop, using for this the force and law of gravity. In the carnation of His Son He used the personality-disposed life-principle of the Logos, instead of the semen of a human male, to fructify the ovum in the Virgin Mary. Personality-disposed life-principle is a force of nature; and in that carnation the same law of begettal was observed, i.e., the union of personality-disposed life-principle and an ovum, as acts in the case of ordinary begettals, the union of personality-disposed life-principle in semen and an ovum. Jesus' changing water into wine was effected by His taking elements out of the air and earth that when united with water makes wine. While we do not understand how it was accomplished, yet this was done by the use of forces and laws of nature. The same is true as to His multiplying the loaves and fishes, i.e., by drawing out of air, water and earth the elements that properly compounded go to make bread and fish. How He did it we do not understand—it was a miracle—yet in doing it He used nature's forces and laws to accomplish the miracle. And so with practically all other miracles. None of them are contrary to, but in harmony with and ordinarily done through nature's forces and laws. That we cannot understand the process should not make us reject the fact— miracles—any more than our not understanding why our antipodes are not walking upside down, how out of the
union of a male's semen and female's ovum persons are produced, or how a blade of grass, a tree or a vine are produced from a planted seed, should move us to reject these facts. All about us in nature we see facts produced by the forces and laws of nature whose how we cannot explain. We may be sure that the God who made the forces and laws of nature did not act contrary to them when for the purposes of His revelation He reached into nature's sphere to work evidences of His Revelation by miracles; for if man can substitute higher laws of nature to attain some of his ends, instead of using lower ones that ordinarily accomplish them, God can assuredly do more.
We, therefore, call the theory of miracles as being contrary to nature a gross exaggeration. Nor is it correct to call a miracle necessarily an acceleration of nature's processes. This can readily be seen, e.g., in the matter of Christ's changing water into wine. Jesus did not therein accelerate the vine's growing grapes, the pressing of these into grape juice, and the fermenting of this grape juice. He in a way unknown to us took out of the air and earth certain elements so changed and so put into the water as to cause the water to have the taste, appearance and chemical elements of wine. The same thing can be seen in Christ's multiplying the loaves and fishes. He did not accelerate the growth of the wheat, grinding it into flour, making the latter into dough and then baking it. In some way unknown to us He took out of air, earth and water certain elements so changed as to make them have the appearance, taste and chemical elements of bread. A similar thing was done as to the fishes. Some, to avoid certain objections, have transferred such miracles from the physical to the mental world, alleging that apart from reality the water, bread and fish were given the appearance and taste of such by a mental delusion; but such an explanation makes of Christ a faker, a magician, a sleight-of-hand trickster, and what is worse, a deceiver. Nor should we affirm that a miracle cannot be performed
except by the use of natural forces and laws. The slaying of Egypt's firstborn and Sennacherib's host, making the fires that killed the Babylonian officers harmless to the three Hebrew Youths and making the lions harmless to Daniel very likely were done by supernatural agency apart from the forces and laws of nature.
Miracles operated on both inanimate and animate things. Of the former kind were the creation of the physical universe, the flood, the exposure of the reef over which Israel crossed the Red Sea and its being covered again when the Egyptians were in the midst of the sea, the drying up of Jordan and its waters twice separating, the overthrow of Jericho's walls, Gideon's wool dewed and not dewed, turning back the shadow on the sun dial, quenching the power of the fire to harm the three Hebrews, changing water into wine, multiplying the loaves and fishes, stilling the storm, opening the prison gates to Peter, etc., etc. The following are some of the miracles wrought on animate things: withering the barren fig tree, all the healings of the Bible, confusion of tongues, giving parenthood to Abraham and Sarah, most of Egypt's plagues, the destruction of Sennacherib's army, closing the lions' mouths, Jesus' carnation, etc., etc.
The necessity of miracles as the Bible sets them forth is varifold. Primarily and fundamentally they were needed:
(1) to prove to God's servants His use of them (Ex. 3: 11, 12; Judg. 6: 17-22, 36-40); (2) to certify that those who were their instruments were given such credentials as proved them to their beholders to be God's ministers in the matters in which they were engaged (Ex. 4: 29-31; 10: 16, 17; 12: 31-33; 14: 31; Ps. 106: 9-11; Dan. 3: 28, 29; Luke 5: 4-11; John 2: 23; 4: 48-53; 7: 31; 11: 43-45; 12: 10, 11); (3) to attest that His servants were giving a revelation from God (Ex. 8: 22; 9: 16, 29; 10: 1, 2; Num. 16: 28-35; Deut. 4: 33-35; 11: 1-7; Josh. 2: 10, 11; 3: 10, 11; 4: 23, 24; Judg. 2: 7; 1 Kings 18: 24, 37-39;
2 Kings 5: 14, 15; 2 Chron. 7: 1-3; Dan. 2: 47; 6: 20-27; Matt. 11: 3-5; Mark 2: 9-12; John 2: 11; 5: 36; Acts 2: 22; 4: 21; Heb. 2: 3, 4); (4) to exemplify summary justice on exceptionally wicked ones (Gen. 6: 5-7, 11-13; 7: 17-24; 19: 4-11, 24-26; Ex. 14: 23-30; Num. 12: 10-15; Lev. 10: 1, 2; 1 Kings 13: 3-6; 2 Kings 5: 26, 27; Acts 13: 11) and (5) to benefit the worthy needy (Is. 63: 9; Matt. 8: 2, 3, 16, 17; 14: 14; 15: 32; 20: 34; John 11: 38-44). More particularly reasons (1), (2), (3) and (4) are to the point as proving the necessity of Divine miracles. Since Satan has used and still uses miracles to palm off deceptions and false religions, e.g., the religions of the heathen and of papacy, it is necessary that God give the evidence of true miracles to convince certain of His servants that He desired to use them as organs of revelation, and to show to others that they were His true servants and to lend credit and attestation to their messages in the eyes of their hearers that such servants were bringing genuine, as distinct from counterfeit revelations. And God furnished them with the above-mentioned four criteria that they were true revealers and mouthpieces of God. The other reason, (5), is less important and less directly contributes to the proof that the Bible is a Divine Revelation.
Miracles are not of themselves alone conclusive as a proof of a Divine Revelation, because as we have seen, Satan has used and does still use them as counterfeit credentials of his false religions, which he attempts to palm off as Divine. To be of probative value as evidence of a Divine Revelation miracles must come combined with certain other things. The first of these is that they be wrought by good men who seek not their own, but the glory of God and the blessing of the people. Here counterfeit miracles usually break down, for they usually are wrought by self-seekers and frauds, by power, wealth, luxury and ease seekers and often by gross sinners. Additionally, they must be combined with a set of teachings—the revelations themselves—
that must be self-harmonious, harmonious with all other Divine revelations, with a character worthy of the Supreme Being, perfect wisdom, justice, love and power, with an atonement feature working reconciliation between God and man, with facts, with the needs of mankind and with a solution of all implied problems harmonious with the purposes of the revelation. A miracle-worker whose teachings are disharmonious with these principles cannot be accepted as an instrument of a Divine Revelation; rather his miracles must be counterfeit miracles and his revelations must be of Satanic origin; for in this particular all of Satan's revelations inevitably break down, e.g., papal doctrines. And, finally, the ultimate purpose of genuine Divine miracles must aim at, and attain to real good in theory, practice and results. And the Bible's miracles have these accompaniments, and none others have. Hence they are stringent and logical proofs that the revelation—the Bible—that they accredit is the Divine Revelation. Hence Christians find in miracles an internalo-external evidence that the Bible of Moses, the Prophets, Christ, the Apostles and the Evangelists is the Divine Revelation, and is worthy of their acceptance as such.
The second internalo-external proof that the Bible is a Divine Revelation is prophecy. The Bible contains a marvelous and widely embracing system of prophecy, much of which has already been fulfilled, some of which is now fulfilling, and the rest of which awaits future fulfillment, the time of its enactment not yet having arrived. The numberless prophecies of the Bible are a most impressive proof of its being a Divine Revelation; for nothing short of omniscience could have foreknown and forecast the details of very many future events covering many thousands of years and connected with conditions non-existent at the time of the prophecies' delivery, since neither human nor angelic wisdom could have seen so far into the future and forecast events whose fulfillment had no resultant
relation to conditions then operating. Nothing short of Divine omniscience could have foreknown and forecast such a vast system of interlocking events. God Himself tells us that He would do absolutely nothing connected with the outworking of His plan but was by Him revealed [forecast] through His servants, the Prophets (Amos 3: 7). As a matter of fact, God Himself appeals to His ability to forecast the details of the future as a proof of His Deity and omniscience, and denies that any other being can do this thing, and thus also proves His supremacy (Is. 46: 9-11; 42: 9; 44: 7; 48: 5, 6; Dan. 2: 28, 29; Acts 15: 18). Hence, the Bible's prophecies are an unanswerable proof of its Divine origin.
Before the presentation of some details on the fulfillment of prophecy a few general remarks on it will be given. First of all, it appeals to our senses; for its evidence is before our eyes, e.g., the desolation of Jerusalem and Palestine, the scattering of the Jews among the nations, the rise and fall of four universal empires: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, the separation of the latter into the ten language groups of European nations, the spread of Christianity, the apostasy that had its beginning early in the Gospel Age, the rise, reign, revelation and consumption of the papacy, etc., etc., etc. Secondly, it is peculiar to the religion of the Bible that its revealers appealed to prophecy as a proof of its being a Divine Revelation. Prophecy is not claimed by Mohammedanism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism, or any other heathen religion, as a proof of its Divine origin. Some heathen oracles claimed to forecast isolated events, their forecasts having been given only reluctantly under inescapable insistence, and usually having been clothed in such ambiguous terms as to fit different eventualities, e.g., King Croesus, of the Lydian Empire, was encouraged by the oracle of Delphi to war on King Cyrus, of the Persian Empire, it promising him that if he would cross the Halys River, which
separated the two empires, an empire would fall; and after Croesus was conquered, and reproached the oracle for deceiving him, he was answered that the oracle had not specified which empire would fall! Never did any of these oracles claim to forecast an elaborate system of interlocking events to fulfill at varying times in the far distant future, as the Bible does.
Thirdly, the argument from prophecy, like a revolving snowball, gathers ever-increasing bulk and weight as passing time witnesses an ever-increasing number of them fulfilling; for prophecy covering details of a period of 7,000 years gradually in its many parts finds fulfillments as gradually as due; hence in our day, when over 6,000 years of its 7,000 years' scope have witnessed the ever-increasing fulfillment of prophecies, the argument that they supply to the Divine origin of the Bible is a stronger one than, e.g., in the days of Christ, as strong as they then were. Fourthly, it is only when we consider that prophecy forecasts a vast system of interlocking events thickly spread over 7,000 years that the grandeur, sublimity and cogency of its probative power make its proper impression on the mind. To see this we will now consider some details connected with prophetic persons, nations, countries, cities and towns.
First, Christ as a subject of prophecy will be considered. Immediately after man's fall God promised a Deliverer in the woman's seed, who, after undergoing the enmity of Satan's seed, would finally destroy Satan (Gen. 3: 15). It was prophesied that He would be of the seed of Abraham (Gen. 12: 3-5; 22: 16-18), a descendant of Judah (Gen. 49: 10), Jesse (Is. 11: 1, 2) and David (2 Sam. 7: 12), and would be born in Bethlehem (Mic. 5: 2) of a virgin mother (Is. 7: 14). The date (Oct., 30 A. D.) of His official appearance as Messiah, the Prince, i.e., His anointing, is given as 483 years from Nehemiah's finishing (Oct., 455 B. C.) Jerusalem's walls (69 symbolic weeks of
years, i.e., 69X7=483 years, Dan. 9: 25); a week of years, i.e., 7 years later, was the time for the end of His special favor to the Jews (Oct., 36 A. D.), when the Gospel call went out to Gentiles in Cornelius' home (Dan. 9: 24); and He was to be cut off in death after the 483 years, and that in the middle of the last week of years, i.e., April, 33 A. D. (Dan. 9: 26, 27), while limiting His special favor to Israel for the last week of years, in the middle of which His death would end the validity of the Jewish temple service (Dan. 9: 27). It is prophesied that He would be raised up as a great teacher-prophet (Deut. 18: 15, 18). Many prophecies inapplicable to any one else point Him out as the coming King (Zech. 9: 9), Saviour (Is. 62: 11), Redeemer (Is. 59: 20), Lord (Ps. 110: 1, 2), Covenant Messenger (Mal. 3: 1) and Divinely Commissioned Comer (Ps. 118: 26). That Galilee would be the main field of His mission is expressly foretold (Is. 9: 1, 2).
Special features of His acts and sufferings were likewise foretold. Thus it was forecast that He would not have the form and the appearance that Israel would desire in the Messiah whom they expected to come only as a great warrior king (Is. 53: 2), that He would be despised and abhorred (Is. 49: 7; 53: 3), and that He would become a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to Israel (Is. 8: 14, 15). It was prophesied that He would be betrayed by one of His apostles (Ps. 41: 9) for 30 pieces of silver to the Jewish hierarchy (Zech. 11: 12, 13), and would be delivered for execution to the civil power (Zech. 13: 7), that He would be buffeted, scourged and spit upon (Is. 50: 6), that His hands and feet and side would be pierced (Ps. 22: 16; Zech. 12: 10), that He would be the object of gaping (Ps. 22: 13), that His literal heart would suffer paralysis (14), that He would have great thirst (15), that He would be encompassed in His execution by sectarians and wicked ones (16) and that His garments
would be parceled out, and lots would be cast for His vesture (18). Is. 53 forecasts His sufferings as clearly as though recounting accomplished facts. Thus it foretells that few would accept Him during His ministry (1) that He would seem to give no promise of Messianic greatness (2), that He would be despised, rejected, full of sorrow, unpopular (3), enduring others' ills while considered as accursed of God (4), suffering vicariously for man (5), bearing the stroke of others' sins (6), meekly suffering oppression and affliction (7), enduring restraint and an unjust trial, and dying for others' sins (8), buried as a wicked one, but in a rich man's tomb, despite His innocence (9), made a sin-offering unto Divine pleasing, would later carry out God's full arrangement for human salvation (10), will be satisfied with the blessing of mankind as the result of His death for them (11), would attain great exaltation and have joint heirs because of His vicarious ministry and death (12), all guaranteed by His prophesied resurrection (Ps. 16: 10). Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
His blessed and glorious character were revealed prophetically, that it was to be fairer than any other human's character (Ps. 45: 2), that He would be gracious and sympathetic to the weak and burdened, as a true shepherd to his flock (Is. 43: 3; 40: 11), that He would be just, salutary and humble (Zech. 9: 9), that He would lack rabble-rousing and demagogic characteristics (Is. 42: 2), that He would have the eloquence of the learned, that He would know how to speak seasonably and winsomely to the weary and heavy laden (Is. 50: 4), that He would have a full measure of God's Spirit of wisdom, justice, power and love (Is. 11: 2), that He would be sinless and errorless (Is. 53: 9), that He would be meek and content amid oppression and affliction, even as a lamb brought to the slaughter and uncomplaining as a sheep undergoing shearing (Is. 53: 7), and that He would willingly submit in the utmost resignation to insults of the worst
kinds for the Lord's sake, including scourging, pulling out of the hair of His beard and being spit upon (Is. 50: 6). Mark the prophecy of Is. 50: 5-7 "The Lord God hath opened mine ear; and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. The Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded; therefore have I set my face like a flint; and I know that I shall not be ashamed." These forecast characteristics Jesus realized in His experiences of labor and suffering, and none else did, even as the other prophecies referred to above met in Him alone. Who else that ever lived fulfilled them? They are thus as fulfilled in Him a proof that the Book that contains them is evidently a Divine Revelation. The prophecies that forecast His Millennial reign we will here pass by, as not yet fulfilled; but they will as surely be fulfilled in due time as those that Marked His first Advent.
The Jews occupy a large place in prophecy. We will first briefly set forth some prophecies and their fulfillments occurring before their Babylonian captivity, whose 70 years' duration were forecast as necessary to fulfill the 70 jubilee years, which for 19 times before that captivity they had failed to keep properly, which for 12 times before their scattering by Rome they failed to keep aright after their Babylonian exile ended, and which, had they had the opportunity to keep the remaining 39 times, they would likewise not have kept well; wherefore God kept them 70 years out of the land that the 70 jubilees would be fully kept (fulfilled); for as long as they were in Babylon the land rested, there was no alienation of patrimonial estates and no debts in the land; hence then the full number, 70, of jubilees were kept (2 Chron. 36: 20-22; Jer. 29: 10; Lev. 26: 34). The main prophecies made and fulfilled in Israel before their Babylonian captivity are the following: the coming of Josiah (1 Kings 13: 2; 2 Kings 23: 1-20); the death of the disobedient prophet (1 Kings 13: 21, 22, 24-30); the overthrow of the royal houses of Jeroboam, Baasha and Ahab
(1 Kings 14: 5-17; 16: 2, 3, 9-13; 20: 42; 21: 18-24; 22: 31-38; 2 Kings 1: 3-17; 9: 22-25, 30-37): Jericho's rebuilding (Josh. 6: 26; 1 Kings 16: 34); the drought in Elijah's day (1 Kings 17: 1-7, 14; 18: 42-45; Jas. 5: 17); the overthrow of Ben-hadad's army, (1 Kings 20: 13-30); Elijah's disappearance (2 Kings 2: 3-11); Israelites in siege-famines eating their children (Lev. 26: 29; Deut. 28: 53; 2 Kings 6: 28, 29; Jer. 19: 9; Lam. 4: 10); the death of Jehoram's favorite and the end of Samaria's famine (2 Kings 7: 1-18); Joash's and Jeroboam's defeating Syria (2 Kings 13: 16-25; 14: 25-28); four generations of Jehu's descendants occupying Israel's throne (2 Kings 10: 30; 15: 12) and Judah's captivity (2 Kings 20: 17, 18; 24: 10-16; 25: 11-21). Wonderful indeed!
Jesus made 37 years beforehand a remarkable prophecy of Jerusalem's and the temple's overthrow (Luke 21: 5-24), and it was fulfilled to the letter, as Josephus, the eye-witness Jewish historian, without seemingly knowing of the prophecy, but being an able and true recorder of the events of the Jews' war with the Romans, 66-73, A. D., narrates the fulfillment; for, being an opponent of Christ, he certainly would not have sought to prove the fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy. The following is a brief statement of the main prophesied events: that the temple would be overthrown, not one stone above its foundation left standing upon another (6); that many false Christs would appear before Jerusalem's destruction, and claim that the time of their reign was near (8); that wars and rumors of wars would arise before Jerusalem's and the temple's end would come (9); that nations and kingdoms would arise against one another before that end; that great earthquakes, famines, pestilences, fearful sights and great signs from heaven would come first before that end (11); that before it Christians would suffer violence, be persecuted, imprisoned and brought before kings and rulers for their faith's sake (12);
that such occasions would become opportunities for Christians to give testimony to their persecutors and judges, and that they would be given irrefutable wisdom and utterance against their accusers (13-15); that closest relatives and friends would become their betrayers, and cause some of Christ's followers to be put to death (16); that they would be hated by all sectarians for Christ's sake (17); that they would undergo no harm as New Creatures (18), if they persevered in well doing unto the end (19); that Jerusalem's encirclement by armies (not the near siege from the Spring to the late Summer of 70 A. D., but the encirclement, siege, from afar, occurring in the early Fall of 69 A. D.) would be to Christians the sign of the near approach of its desolation (20); that Christians in Judaea would thereupon flee to the mountains; that those of them in Jerusalem would flee from its midst and that those of them that were in the country would not enter Jerusalem (21); that those days, 69-70 A. D., would be the especial days for punishing Israel for their wickedness, particularly against the Mosaic law and against Christ and His followers (22); that those times would be especially severe on expectant and suckling mothers; that great punishment would be upon the people and distress upon the land (23); that those in Jerusalem in great numbers would be put to death, and other great numbers would be exiled as captives among all nations, and that Jerusalem would be under Gentile dominion until 2520 years from its overthrow by Nebuchadnezzar will have passed away (24). Miseries incalculable!
Josephus in his history, "The Wars of the Jews," very elaborately gives almost all of the details on the above prophetic events as occurring, the rest of them, like the persecution, etc., of Christians, being given in the Acts of the Apostles. The fulfillments, as recorded by him, were so detailed that infidels, to evade the force of the argument, invented the fiction that Jesus never uttered the prophecy of Luke 21: 5-24, but that