‘TEN KEYS THAT UNLOCK THE FUTURE GOD HAS MAPPED OUT’
vNumber three: Fulfilled Prophecy (THE HISTORIES OF NATIONS)
Egypt was, with Babylonia, one of the two greatest nations of antiquity. Noph (Memphis) was the ancient capital of lower Egypt and No (Thebes) the capital of all Egypt. Their grandeur, especially the magnificent temples and images, was tremendous. Yet Jeremiah says, "Noph shall be waste and desolate without an inhabitant" (Jeremiah 46:19), and Ezekiel says, "No shall be broken up" (Ezekiel 30:16). The prophecies were fulfilled centuries later. Of Egypt as a whole, Ezekiel says, "It shall be the basest of kingdoms" (Ezekiel 29:15). Egypt continued as a great and powerful nation for many centuries after the prophecy was written, but finally it became a backward, impoverished, weak nation and has remained so ever since. It was not condemned to extinction, however, as were many other ancient nations. Actually, it is amazing that the most ancient of nations, Egypt, is still in existence after over 4000 years. Many Scriptures (for example, Isaiah 19:21,22) indicate prophetically that Egypt is still a nation in the last days.
Edom (Idumea) was a small, but powerful, nation descended from Esau. Its stronghold was in Mt.Seir, and its capital was Petra, the rock-walled city, veritably impregnable, as well as rich. Yet many prophecies had been uttered against it, and all have been fulfilled. Obadiah 18, for example, says, "There shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it." Today, the Edomites are gone without a trace.
The same is true of the Philistines. Though Philistia continued to prosper until about A.D. 1200, Zephaniah says, "the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant" (Zephaniah 2:5). The Philistines have now long since vanished.
What about Babylonia, the first great world-empire? The Greek historian, Herodotus, had reported that Babylon was 15 miles square, surrounded by walls 350 feet high and 87 feet wide. Its avenues, parks and public buildings were a beautiful sight to behold. Yet Jeremiah prophesied: "The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire" (Jeremiah 51:58). Many other prophecies were directed against her, and eventually they came to pass.
The Assyrian empire, with its great capital of Nineveh, was another colossus of antiquity. But God said, "He will stretch out His hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness" (Zephaniah 2:13). Nothing could have seemed more unlikely than this when Zephaniah wrote, but it has been fully accomplished.
The two great cities of the Phoenicians were Tyre and Sidon. Of Tyre, God said, "They shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, 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" (Ezekiel 26:4,5). Today, fishermen mend their nets on the barren rock where Tyre once stood. God also said in Ezekiel 26:14, "Thou shalt be built no more." The site of ancient Tyre is quite suitable for habitation, but the prophecy has stood fulfilled now for over 2000 years, and Tyre has never been rebuilt.
Tyre's sister city, Sidon, was the object of a different type of prophecy. "For I will send into her pestilence, and blood into her streets; and the wounded shall be judged in the midst of her by the sword upon her on every side" (Ezekiel 28:23). Although Sidon has continued to exist as a city down even into the present, she has suffered more warfare and bloodshed than almost any other city in history. Sidon has been destroyed and rebuilt many times and still exists today in spite of all her suffering. Tyre, on the other hand, has never been rebuilt, thus confirming the prophecies.
Ashkelon was another great city, the birthplace of Herod the Great. It continued as a great city until finally destroyed in 1270 A.D. For, long before, Zephaniah had prophesied, "Ashkelon shall be a desolation" (Zephaniah 2:4). The same prophecy had also warned of destruction upon two other Philistine cities, Ekron and Gaza. In both cases, the prophecy was fulfilled.
Similar judgments were forecast for Bethel (Amos 3:14, 15), Samaria (Micah 1:6, 7), Jericho (Joshua 6:26) and, in the New Testament, for Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin (Matthew 11:20-23). All have been fulfilled as written.
Many other prophecies dealing with these and other nations have been fulfilled. There are also many other prophecies dealing with individual cities in the nations. Their fulfillment is strong witness to divine inspiration.
THE SEQUENCE OF EMPIRES
A remarkable overview of world history was given in Daniel 2 in the form of a dream which came to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. As interpreted by Daniel, the metallic image of the dream represented the entire subsequent course of world history, as influenced by four successive empires. Daniel's interpretation, recorded in Daniel 2:37-45, indicated the first empire was the golden head of the image, Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian empire. The second would be the breast and arms of silver (fulfilled in the Medo-Persian empire) and the third, the mid-section of brass (fulfilled in the Greek empire of Alexander the Great). The fourth was the Roman empire, represented by the iron legs, including the hips.
The order of metallic succession indicates both a successive decrease in value and a successive increase in strength. The former probably refers to the degree of personal control exercised by the emperor over the human and material resources of his kingdom, the latter to the power of his armies and extent of his conquests.
The Roman empire was not only the strongest of all but was to last the longest, as indicated by the greater lengths of the legs of the image. Its eventual twofold split into eastern and western divisions, with capitals at Rome and Constantinople, was pictured by the two legs. The break in continuity at the knees intimates the shift from political to religious unity of the two divisions, as maintained for so long by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.
Thus, although the Roman empire did not persist indefinitely as a political unit, it still does persist in the present east-west division of the heirs of the Roman empire, western Europe and America in the west, Russia, eastern Europe and the middle eastern states in the east. The legal systems, the educational systems, the military systems, the religious systems, and many other facets of modern society are direct descendants of Rome, still retaining the same spirit and much of the same form.
The feet, however, indicate a decided change in direction, and the mixture of iron and clay clearly speaks of the mixture of Roman-style imperialism with mass revolutionary movements. The final form of this succession is indicated by the ten toes representing ten kingdoms, five in the east and five in the west. These will be destroyed and superseded by the kingdom established by Christ Himself over all the world when He returns.
This remarkable prophecy has been almost completely fulfilled. The sequence of world empires is now undoubtedly in the revolutionary "foot" stage. Next it will assume the "ten-toed" form prior to the establishment of Christ's kingdom.
While the great image prophesied the great sweep of empires throughout history, the prophecies given directly to Daniel himself, in the 8th and 11th chapters, forecast many of the specific details of the development of the Medo-Persian and Greek empires. They also predict numerous events to take place in contacts with Egypt, Syria and Israel. The prophecies in these chapters are so numerous and so specific that they constitute the main reason critics refuse to accept the authenticity of the book of Daniel, insisting it must have been written after the events had taken place.
However, conservative scholars (for example, Dr. Robert Dick Wilson, of PrincetonUniversity, in his classic Studies in the Book of Daniel ) have thoroughly refuted all such critical arguments and confirmed the traditional date of authorship. The one and only reason today for questioning Daniel's genuineness today is the reluctance to believe in fulfilled prophecy. This, of course, is exactly the point. These prophecies confirm clearly and emphatically the fact of divine inspiration.