Read an Excerpt
The Bible and Future EventsAn Introductory Survey of Last-Day Events
By Leon J. Wood
ZondervanCopyright © 1973 Zondervan
All right reserved.
A. Significance of Prophetic Study
Some Christians do not believe that the study of prophecy is worthwhile. They see prophecy as too uncertain, and subject to too many different interpretations. They believe one is wiser to concentrate on "solid" aspects of Bible study, where conclusions are more sure, and let future events prove to be whatever happens when the time comes. Some of this thinking has been engendered through past pronouncements by interpreters who have been too specific. Dates have been set for the return of Christ, and particular people have been identified as being one or another prophetic person. When succeeding events have proven these predictions wrong, people have been disillusioned, with consequent disfavor being brought on prophetic study.
There are both good and bad features in this line of thinking. A good feature is the discrediting of that type of prophetic teaching which becomes too specific, going beyond what the Bible itself teaches. Christ Himself said that no man knows the day and hour of His coming, but the Father only (Matt. 24:36). Men are not to set dates, nor to identify predicted persons. Another good feature is that concentration on solid aspects of Bible study is advocated. The Christian cannot give himself too much to learning what the Scriptures have to say about God, man, sin, Christ, salvation, the church, etc. One bad feature, however, is that all prophetic study is discredited, as though this is not solid and as though no definite conclusions can be reached. Great vistas of prophetic truth become clear and definite when one follows careful principles of interpretation. The sacred writers would not have been led to include so much regarding last-day events if this were not true. God did not reveal His Word to confuse people; nor did He intend that substantial portions of it should be left unstudied. The Christian may approach prophetic passages with the same confidence for interpretation as he does other portions of Scripture.
Moreover, the Bible student who omits prophetic passages is overlooking the relative importance the Bible itself places on prophecy. Christ spent considerable time talking about the subject, and extensive sections in both the Old and New Testaments are devoted to it. A conservative estimate is that fully one-fourth of the Bible concerns prophecy. This emphasis on prophecy is shown also by the many times the Christian is urged to watch for Christ's coming; and one who is not interested in studying the prophetic portions concerned can hardly be expected to watch.
B. Importance of Fulfilled Prophecy
The main interest of this book concerns events of the last days, which are still future. A word is in order, however, concerning events now past, which were, just as definitely, predicted beforehand. The Christian rejoices to note the exact and complete fulfillment of these predictions. He can anticipate that the same will be true concerning unfulfilled prophecies. Many of the fulfilled predictions concerned Christ's first coming. All became a matter of history when He appeared. For instance, He was born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14), at Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2), which led to a slaughter of children by Herod (Jer. 31:15). After that He was called out of Egypt (Hos. 11:1). Later He was anointed with the Spirit (Isa. 11:2), made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Zech. 9:9), was betrayed by a friend (Ps. 41:9) for thirty pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12), was spit upon and scourged (Isa. 50:6), but no bone of Him was broken (Ps. 34:20). He was given gall and vinegar to drink on the cross (Ps. 69:21). His hands and feet were pierced, His garments parted, and lots cast for His vesture (Ps. 22:16, 18). He died in the place of sinful man (Isa. 53:4-6).
Other areas of predictions fulfilled by the time of Christ include the destruction of certain great cities of ancient time. For instance, Nineveh's fall was predicted by both Nahum (2:8-3:7) and Zephaniah (2:13, 14). Nineveh was a great city, the capital of the mighty Assyrian empire. For all its strength, however, the city fell in due course before the combined might of Babylonia and Media, with the probable help of the Scythians, in 612 B.C. Nineveh was exceeded in grandeur only by Babylon, capital of Nebuchadnezzar's empire. Babylon's walls and fortresses were believed impregnable. But even before its greatest glory under Nebuchadnezzar, Isaiah made bold to write, "And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah" (13:19; cf. Jer. 51). This too came to pass, not immediately, but in God's due time. The Persian ruler Xerxes virtually destroyed it in 478 B.C. Alexander the Great planned to restore it, but he died before doing so (323 B.C.). The few people who still lived there in 275 B.C. moved to Seleucia, nearby on the Tigris River, and the city came to a practical end. Today, as reported by Rawlinson, "On the actual ruins of Babylon the Arabian neither pitches his tent nor pastures his flocks-in the first place, because the nitrous soil produces no pasture to tempt him; and secondly, because an evil reputation attaches to the entire site, which is thought to be the haunt of evil spirits."
Perhaps the most interesting story concerning fulfilled prophecy has to do with ancient Tyre. Tyre was the queen of the seas, the capital of old Phoenicia. Tyre had grown rich from trade; as her ships brought merchandise from ports near and far. Ezekiel foretold her destruction in vivid detail (26:1-21). It seemed that Nebuchadnezzar would fulfill all Ezekiel had set forth almost immediately after the prediction was given. Nebuchadnezzar did bring great destruction on the city, persisting in a continued attack over a span of thirteen years (587-574 B.C.); but he never really did capture it, nor did he draw its stones into the sea, as Ezekiel had prophesied (v. 12). At the time, one might have said that God's Word through His prophet was not proving true. The Tyrians then rebuilt their city on an island about one-half mile from shore, and became even stronger in world affairs than before. More than two centuries passed, as both pride and wealth grew. But finally God's time arrived for the complete fulfillment. It was effected by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. As part of his overall plan to conquer the Medo-Persian empire, he determined to seize the city. To do so, he planned to construct a causeway through the sea, which would reach from shore to island; over it he would march his army. Such a causeway required great amounts of material, and Alexander used the ruins of the former mainland city to get it. Thus, as Ezekiel had predicted, the stones and the timbers and the dust of the city were indeed laid "in the midst of the water" (v. 12), and the ancient site became "like the top of a rock" (v. 14). All that God's servant had foretold was fully realized.
Excerpted from The Bible and Future Events by Leon J. Wood Copyright © 1973 by Zondervan . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.