This is the eighth part in the Beyond Today Bible study series: End-Time Prophecy 101. How can we show that God is relevant today? Changed lives and answered prayer point to God’s presence but can be dismissed by the skeptic. If God is relevant and is active in the things that people do and think about — then we should be able to prove that God affects history. Join us for this study as we examine God’s significance through Bible prophecy.
[Steve Myers] We have added quite a few Bible studies to our previous edition. So if you are looking in the archives, you can find us under Prophecy 101. In fact, this is the last in the series. Well, that is unless we add more in the future, I guess, it will be the last one. But the last one for the moment, we’re going to go into a new series next time around. So this is the last in the series on the Prophecy 101, at least, for the immediate future. And so we’re glad you’re here tonight, glad that you’ve joined us here on the web as well. So let’s go ahead and ask God’s blessing on our Bible study tonight, and then we can begin.
Great, loving heavenly Father, God Almighty, thank you so much for Your wonderful ways. We certainly are appreciative of Your mercy and Your love, and Your grace that You pour out on us. And Father, we’re certainly thankful for Your truth. Thank You for opening our minds to understand Your ways. We certainly are appreciative of the fact that You’ve shown through prophecy amazing things, and that there are significant events that lie before us as well. So we pray for Your guidance and our understanding on these things. We pray for Your direction. We pray for Your inspiration on the Bible study tonight. Guide and lead us, help us to understand the depth of Your words even more thoroughly. So Father, we thank You, we praise You, we put this study into Your hands and ask Your presence and blessing. We pray it all by the authority of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
All right. Tonight, we’re going to take a little bit different angle on proving God’s existence. And we’re going to do that by taking a look at Bible prophecy. Is God relevant today? Well, most of us, we’re Christians and we say, “Yes, of course, God is relevant today.” But probably, 90% of the world out here or even more would say, “God’s not relevant at all. I’m not even sure He exists.” Well, one way we can begin to deal with individuals who look at life in that manner, look at God in that way, is to take a look at the significance of Bible prophecy. Because Bible prophecy, and God’s presence throughout history and His direction, His influence and His guidance throughout events, throughout the existence of mankind, points to His existence. In fact, I think it gives us irrefutable proof that God exists, and that He is very relevant. In fact, life is meaningless without the relevance of God in our lives today.
And so that’s a big goal for tonight. We’re going to take a look at how prophecy can help us to prove God is relevant today. And God is important not only in a Christian’s life but for the entire world as it faces the future. So that’s our goal for tonight’s Bible study. And as we begin, a couple things I think that are important to keep in mind. Bible prophecy is oftentimes disputed. Oftentimes, people will say, “Well, people added to the Bible after the fact. There are those who edited the words and put things in after the fact to make these things seem as though they’re true.” So there’s many redactors out there, many of those that would say people edited these things. There’s information that people would dispute. And I think to begin with, we have to realize—maybe the first step in understanding the perspective of the Bible, because if we’re going to understand prophecy, we have to have the right frame of mind to begin with.
So as we begin tonight talking about God’s relevance today and its relationship to prophecy, I think it’s important that we start at the foundation. You have to start at the foundation in order to have the right beginning. If you turn over to Psalms 111:10 Psalms 111:10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endures for ever.
American King James Version×, here’s the foundation that’s spelled out for us. If we don’t begin here, you can’t really understand the Word of God. You really can’t understand Bible prophecy. And Psalms 111:10 Psalms 111:10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endures for ever.
American King James Version×points directly to that foundation that is so critical, that is so often overlooked by so many. Psalms 111:10 Psalms 111:10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endures for ever.
American King James Version×, it says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” With the proper love, a proper awe, that’s the kind of fear this is talking about, an awesome honor and respect toward God, reverencing Him. And so “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, a good understanding have those who do His commandments.” So those are critical aspects.
We have to be doers of the Word, as James talked about—not only hearers but doers—and we have to have the proper awe and the proper love, the proper respect for God. And that sets the foundation for understanding Bible prophecy. There isn’t a disconnect between those two things. Without the fear of God, you’re not really going to be able to understand Scripture at the level that God wants us to understand. If we don’t do His Word, we’re really not being obedient, and God blesses those who are obedient. We could make a whole another Bible study out of that; we won’t do that tonight. But it’s critical when we understand those things. And then we begin to see how God can impact us.
There’s a passage in the New Testament, over in 1 Corinthians 2:7 1 Corinthians 2:7But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory:
American King James Version×, if you’ll turn there with me, 1 Corinthians 2:7 1 Corinthians 2:7But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory:
American King James Version×is certainly a reminder of the importance of this foundation. And so as we look at 1 Corinthians 2, notice verse 7. Verse 7 begins, “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory.” The mystery is not something that is mysterious, that can’t be understood, that is so overwhelming that I just can’t grasp it. That’s not what the mystery is talking about here. The mystery is something that is hidden until God reveals it. God has to reveal this mystery. And so He has done that, and we see how that happens down in verse 10. “God has revealed them to us through His Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”
So the majority of mankind is, like verse 9 says, “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor it entered into the heart of the man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Most people don’t get it. Well, why not? Well, because it’s revealed through His Spirit. It’s a mystery to them. It’s still hidden because they don’t obey God; they haven’t received the Spirit and don’t have that opportunity to have their minds open to the truth by the Holy Spirit. And so most don’t even have the right foundation to begin with, to understand the impact of Bible prophecy. And so that’s a critical beginning. And in fact, so many times, people think that God is off in the distance somewhere and has no impact on what’s going on in the world. And part of that’s because of a lack of a foundation. But they really don’t understand what the Bible has to say about that. It has so much to say.
If you look over at the book of Isaiah, the book of Isaiah, we’ll stay here for just a moment as we set a foundation for our study tonight. If you look over at Isaiah 40, a critical passage that reveals important information as we consider this concept of the foundation that God gives us to understand Bible prophecy, and ultimately then understand God’s relevance today. So look at Isaiah 40 and we’ll begin at verse 15. Isaiah 40:15 Isaiah 40:15Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he takes up the isles as a very little thing.
American King James Version×, notice the perspective of mankind compared to God. Isaiah 40:15 Isaiah 40:15Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he takes up the isles as a very little thing.
American King James Version×. God says, “Behold, the nations are as a drop in the bucket.” People say, “Well, we are the greatest nation on Earth.” That’s a drop in the bucket to God. It says, “They are counted as small dust on the scales. Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.” You see, that’s the perspective that God wants us to understand. He’s got power over the nations. He brings the nations to nothing, and there’s passage after passage… There’s the passage in the Psalms that says He brings the council of nations to nothing. And so to begin to understand the awesomeness of God, and where we started in the Psalms, I think is very critical as we begin to understand the impact of God on history and prophecy. So if the nations are a drop in the bucket compared to God, can He impact history? Can He impact events? Can He have an effect, an influence, and guide happenings throughout history? God says, “Hey, to Me, that’s a drop in the bucket.” And so that’s God’s perspective.
And as we begin to look at that in comparing what He prophesized and gives us in prophecy, I think it’s critical that it does verify who God is. And if we stay right here in Isaiah, well, for me, it’s just turning the page to Isaiah 41:21 Isaiah 41:21Produce your cause, said the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, said the King of Jacob.
American King James Version×. After saying the nations are a drop in the bucket, God has a challenge. God challenges our perspective. He challenges our viewpoint. He challenges us. Isaiah 41:21 Isaiah 41:21Produce your cause, said the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, said the King of Jacob.
American King James Version×, notice the challenge here. God says, “’Present your case,’ says the Lord. ‘Bring forth your strong reasons,’ says the King of Jacob. Let them bring forth and show us what will happen. Let them show the former things, what they were, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare to us things to come.” Verse 23, “Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods.”
I just got done saying the nations are a drop in the bucket, God says, “I can do that. I can predict what’s going to happen. I know future, I know future happenings, I know what’s going to happen. I could tell you what’s going to happen before it does. Can you do that?” That’s God’s challenge to mankind. Of course the answer is man can’t do that. It’s not possible. Turn a page or two over to chapter 44:7, Isaiah 44:7 Isaiah 44:7And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them show to them.
American King James Version×, He says, “Who can proclaim as I do? Then let them declare it, and set it in order for me. Since I appointed the ancient people in the things that are coming and shall come, let them show these to them. Don’t fear. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I told you from that time and declared it?” Yes, God has prophesied. God has inspired men to give His Word. And it came to pass, and it verifies God’s existence. It verifies His supremacy. It verifies His impact on history. And that’s where it becomes important in our study tonight. God challenges us, challenges mankind to do the same things that God does.
But we’re human. We’re less than the nations. We’re less than a drop in the bucket. We can’t do it. We just can’t do it. In fact, He concludes in verse 8, “Indeed there is no other Rock. I don’t know of one.” Can’t do it. Flip over a couple more pages, God emphasizes this point, chapter 46 verse 8, Isaiah 46:8 Isaiah 46:8Remember this, and show yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O you transgressors.
American King James Version×. He says, “Remember this and show yourselves, men. Recall to mind, oh you transgressors. Remember the former things of old. For I am God, and there is no other. I’m God and there is none like me.” What’s different about God? Well, He tells us, verse 10 “Declaring the end from the beginning, from the ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure.’” So God Himself tells us that prophecy, and especially fulfilled prophecy, point to the existence of God, points to His supremacy, points to His almighty nature, and then should also then point us in another direction.
And so with that little bit of a background, understanding the challenge that God gives for all mankind, let’s see if it holds up. Let’s see if we can take a look at prophecy, in fact, one prophecy specifically tonight, that can provide the kind of evidence that we need that proves what God just got done saying here in Isaiah. Let’s look at a prophecy that provides concrete, continuing proof of the nature of God, and of course, the fulfillment of that prophecy as well. And so here’s where it becomes important. Because if we can do that, I think it sets the tone for what God says and how we can perceive the things that He says. So it becomes critical. And what we’ll find, we’ll find that God is reliable. There is reliability in His Word, and it helps us to verify and establish the truth. Not only gives us evidence, but it gives us the backing. It gives us the proof of what He says.
Because I’ll tell you, even religious scholars are oftentimes called critics because they oftentimes will criticize the text of the Bible and say, “Well you know there’s 3 Isaiahs or 4 Isaiahs or 12 Isaiahs and somebody put all these things together.” They’ll do that with Ezekiel. They’ll do that with a number of different passages. And what we’ll find is because of God’s Word in the fulfillment of prophecy, we’ll find that there is reliability in the Word of God, that we can trust God’s Word. We can look at the text and how it’s come to us over all these years, and look at it and say, “We need to believe this,” because prophecy confirms the reliability of the biblical text and how we’ve received it through the years.
And so God not only challenges all mankind, He challenges the critics on the reliability of the text of the Bible. Maybe we step back for a moment and think apologetically, think in in the terms of defending the truth. Defending the truth. If the Bible does contain genuine predictions, if it contains prophecies, we have to ask, “Well, who made them? Who gave those prophecies? Was it God or was it a prophet? Was it the original prophet that made the prophecy?” Here’s where the biblical criticism gets involved here. Did the in the original prophet make the prediction, or was it some redactor that made it later? Some editor or somebody that put the books together, did they make these prophecies? Was Isaiah the real prophet or was the third Isaiah the real prophet?
You see the challenges, the conundrum you get into if you begin to think like a biblical scholar. Let’s say it’s true that some redactor, some editor hundreds of years later, wrote these things down. Why didn’t they change some of the things that hadn’t happened yet? Why didn’t they erase some of the predictions that were made and write their own, and fix the predictions that hadn’t come to pass by that time? If multiple Isaiahs or Ezekiels were really true, and if that were true, wouldn’t there be different versions then? Wouldn’t there be different texts of the Bible? Here’s one version that says this; here’s another version that says this. And then it all goes back to the fact that the text wouldn’t have survived intact if that were really the case, if somebody had done some heavy-duty editing in order to try to fix these things or make them look like they really happened. And so you run into quite a few problems when you get into thinking in those terms, that somebody went in and re-edited the biblical text. When you really follow it through, it really doesn’t make much sense. It’d be fun to spend the rest of the time talking about that, but it just talked about just a little glimpse of that, and maybe another day, we could talk about more detail in that concept.
But what I think it begins to show is that when you look at the fulfillments of prophecy and how prophecy has been fulfilled, it can help refute the arguments. We can defend the faith more thoroughly and take on the skeptics, take on the unbelievers, and look at what the Bible really says, look at prophecy and what was the record of history compared to what God said would happen. And of course, as we begin to do this, if that’s the case, if we could take the prophecy, follow it through history and show what God said has come to pass, word for word, exactly as it is, that should help us to verify, first of all, that God is and that we can believe what He says, and that He has impact. If He impacts history, can He change our lives today? Can He change our perspective today? Can He influence our world today? Can He say certain things about the events of the world today that we better take seriously if we look at things in the past that are verified, that are true? Yeah. It all follows. It all is interconnected in that way, and we can do that very thing.
And so as we look at this, it helps us to then see pretty clearly, we’re not talking about predicting things after it happened. We don’t want to take some example in that regard. So what I thought we would do is take a look at one prophecy and follow it through time. In fact, it’s one of the most criticized prophecies, and maybe not one that you would think that’s terribly prophetic as far as end times are concerned. But I think one nonetheless that helps us to understand God’s influence and effect throughout time. And this is the prophecy regarding Tyre. Tyre—it’s not like a bike tire or a car tire or anything like that. It’s the city of Tyre which today would be in modern Lebanon. And so there was a specific proclamation, a specific prophecy against Tyre that’s found in the book of Ezekiel.
And maybe to give you just a little bit of background on Tyre itself, Tyre was a city of the Phoenicians. Anyone remember anything about the Phoenician people? They were quite the seamen, big in trade, famous for their technical skills, famous for their sailors and sea trade, ports, all that sort of thing. And so they were very well known for that. And Tyre then, because of the Phoenicians, became a trading center. It became a city that was very important. One that if, maybe we tried to compare to today’s standards, maybe it would be like a New York City or like a Hong Kong, something to that extent. So we’re talking about a pretty important place, pretty important as far as commerce, trade, and some of the things that would be connected to that as well.
So Tyre was a very important place in that regard. It was important because the ports and most of the industry that went on there took place partly offshore, because its main temples and some of what we might call industry today was on a little island that was just offshore, about a half a mile offshore from what we would call Lebanon today. And of course, because of that, it was protected. It was pretty resilient to any attacks or any challenges in that regard. But one of the problems is it was also dependent on food and water that would come from the mainland.
And so as we think about the city of Tyre, God made a specific prediction about it. So if you turn over to Ezekiel 26, we’ll take a look at what God predicted about Tyre. Ezekiel 26. A couple of things before we actually read this passage. The critics who have looked at these things over the years said, “Well, it’s about Nebuchadnezzar overrunning Tyre, and we don’t think he ever did that. In fact, I’m not sure Nebuchadnezzar was even involved in this.” And for centuries, critics would claim that. Then there’s another passage a couple of chapters later, chapter 29 in Ezekiel, that almost seem like an apology for Nebuchadnezzar not fulfilling the prophecies that were given in chapter 26. And when you look at that, well, is that the case? In fact, there are some that would claim because of the comparisons between chapter 26 and chapter 29, that these prophecies actually failed, that they were things that didn’t come to pass. And so oftentimes, critics will look at this section of Scripture and point to a failed prophecy in Ezekiel.
Well, is that the case? Is that really what’s happened? So let’s take a look at it and see what we can find. In Ezekiel 26:1 Ezekiel 26:1And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
American King James Version×says, “It came to pass in the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, that the word of the Lord came to me,” to Ezekiel, “saying, ‘Son of man, because Tyre said against Jerusalem, “Aha, she is broken who was the gateway of the peoples; now she is turned over to me; I shall be filled; she is laid waste.”’” All right, Tyre had a problem with Jerusalem. God didn’t like that, so in verse 3, “Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against you as the sea causes its waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre, break down her towers. I’ll scrape her dust from her and make her like the top of a rock. It will be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea, for I have spoken,’ says the Lord God; ‘it shall become plunder for the nations.’” And so verse 7 says, “For thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses, with chariots, and with many horsemen, and an army and many people.’” And so a specific prophecy about a specific individual would come and take Tyre.
And so when we look at what the specific prophecy says, even gets into verse 10. Well, look at verse 9. It says, “He’ll direct his battering arms against your walls, with his axes he’ll break down your towers. Because of the abundance of his horses, their dust will cover you. Your walls will shake at the noise of the horsemen, the wagons, the chariots when he enters your gates, as men enter a city that’s been breached. With the hooves of horses, he will trample all your streets.” Verse 12, “’They’ll plunder your riches, pillage your merchandise. They’ll break down your walls, destroy your pleasant houses. They will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water. I’ll put an end of the sound of your songs, and the sound of your harps will be heard nor more. I’ll make you like the top of a rock. You’ll be a place for spreading nets and you’ll never be rebuilt. For I the Lord have spoken,’ says the Lord God.” Words go on from here, but that’s the gist of the prophecy itself.
So God says Nebuchadnezzar is going to come and take Tyre. But what’s interesting about this is people doubted that this ever happened because when you look throughout history, this little island port continued in existence after Nebuchadnezzar. And so people question, scholars question the authenticity of Ezekiel’s words. But after a little bit more research, a little bit more time passed, a couple of interesting things came to light. Through archaeology, a number of artifacts have been found and what we would call “extra-biblical sources,” which is important—sources that are outside of the Bible to verify history—are very critical. And so archaeology uncovered a tablet that verified that Nebuchadnezzar did attack Tyre. There’s an author Jacob Katzenstein. He wrote a book, “The History of Tyre.” And in this particular book…in fact, I have the page number; page 324 is the page number. He wrote this, “There are many doubts about the authenticity of Ezekiel’s words concerning a siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar.” He says, “But this was shattered when German scholar E. Unger published a tablet that was an official receipt for provisions,” and this is a quote, “’for the king and the soldiers who went with him against the land of Tyre.’”
So archaeology uncovered a tablet that verified the fact that Nebuchadnezzar did attack Tyre. In fact, the way the words are written on this particular tablet, it seems that Nebuchadnezzar himself may have headed the campaign for at least part of the time over the siege that went longer than a decade, in fact. And so this becomes critical because this is an extra-biblical story. It’s not just the Bible verifying itself, but archaeology that confirms what they call “historicity.” The authentic history is verified by this tablet that the archaeologists discovered.
In fact, when we look at verse 7, Ezekiel 26:7 Ezekiel 26:7For thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring on Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people.
American King James Version×where God says, “Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, king of kings with horses, with chariots, and with horsemen, and an army with many people,” which is an interesting comment when you think about it, because those references aren’t talking about seaports, nothing about ships that are mentioned, yet that was the people were a sea-going people. But here comes Nebuchadnezzar with a land attack is what he’s got here. And so that became one of those things that critics would ridicule. They’d ridicule the fact that, “Well, Tyre couldn’t have been taken because here, it’s this seaport that’s on an island offshore, and the Bible talks about a land attack.”
And so some of the scholars would criticize the Bible and say, “No, that’s just not true. It just didn’t happen.” But I think what’s critical to remember is that at the time of Ezekiel, Tyre wasn’t just simply that little island a half mile offshore. Yes, that’s where the port was. Yeah, that’s where a lot of the trading was done, but the mainland was really where the biggest part of the city was. So in a sense, you’ve got mainland Tyre and the little island of Tyre as well, and they’re all connected as one, are all called the same thing: Tyre. And so Nebuchadnezzar comes to the mainland, and he overruns the mainland and takes it. Now of course, there’s this little island, a little half-mile offshore that ultimately Nebuchadnezzar does lay siege on that island as well. Now how can you besiege an island with a land attack? That doesn’t make sense, does it?
Well, how do you do that? You cut off their supplies. You cut off their supplies. And what then begins to happen, well then, they don’t have food and they don’t have water. They need water from the mainland. So he cut off their supplies, and over a period—and you can look this up in history, began in something like 585 BC—Nebuchadnezzar lay siege to the island of Tyre, and it took about 13 years for that island finally to be taken. Imagine, 13 years. Well, without the ships and things to take it, they had to wait them out, right? They had to starve them out is basically what had to happen. And so it’s an interesting aspect of what happens.
And so when we look through verse 7, we see these prophecies being fulfilled. Verse 8, “He put up a siege mount against you, and build a wall against you, raise the defense.” Verse 9 as well, where “he’s directing battering rams against their walls.” Verse 11, “the hooves of horses, he’ll trample your streets and your towers.” Verse 12, “He’ll plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise.” And so when we look at that, we begin to see, yes, he overran the mainland. There’s no doubt about this. But the island actually survived. It seems that what it actually happened throughout history is that the people on the mainland, over the years of attack, moved everything they could out of the island because they could be better protected out there. And so that becomes quite a criticism of the prophecy itself because the fact was Nebuchadnezzar never did overrun the island.
Yes, he’s put siege on the city itself on the mainland, and after years, finally succeeded. But here we find that he really didn’t do that. In fact, it survived. And so people would say, “Well, see the prophecy failed. The prophecy failed.” Because in fact, if we look a couple of pages later in chapter 29, some critics will even say chapter 29 proves that the prediction failed and Ezekiel himself admits it. In chapter 29, let’s notice what it says in verse 17. Verse 17, “It came to pass in the 27th year of the first month, the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me saying,” verse 18, “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon caused his army to labor strenuously against Tyre. Every head was made bald, every shoulder rubbed raw, yet neither he nor his army received wages from Tyre for the labor which they expended on it.” So they took the mainland, but by the time they did, all the goodies, all the treasures, all the wealth was moved on to the island. Nebuchadnezzar didn’t get it.
So did the prophecy fail? “And now, well, since he didn’t make it, Nebuchadnezzar and my prophecy didn’t come to pass, I’ll throw you a bone.” It’s kind of what some critics would say. So therefore verse 19, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘surely I’ll give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He’ll take away your wealth, carry off your spoil, remove her pillage, and that will be the wages for his army. I’ve given him the land of Egypt for his labor because they work for me,’ says the Lord God.” And so some critics would say, “Well, yeah, Nebuchadnezzar’s getting paid off because he worked hard but never did get the goodies from Tyre.” Was that really what that’s saying? It almost sounded that way. But wait a second, why were they given Egypt? Well, it says because, verse 18, “they cause their army to labor strenuously against Tyre.” So I guess you could say there was a payment of a sort for besieging Tyre and all the hard work and the efforts that went into that.
But does that mean the prophecies of chapter 26 actually failed? Let’s go back and look at it once more. Ezekiel 26:3 Ezekiel 26:3Therefore thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against you, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against you, as the sea causes his waves to come up.
American King James Version×Here’s what God says, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against you as the sea causes its waves to come up.’” It says, “And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre, break down her towers. I’ll scrape her dust from her and make her like the top of a rock.” So as we look at the specifics of what the prediction actually says, two things become evident here. It wasn’t all about Nebuchadnezzar, because people would look at Nebuchadnezzar and say, “Well, see, history failed God. God couldn’t predict history because Nebuchadnezzar never did take that island.” Wait a second; it says God says He’ll cause many nations to come up against Tyre. They’ll be like waves of the sea—they’ll just keep coming and coming and coming over time. It’s going to take many nations to destroy Tyre. So just because Nebuchadnezzar didn’t do it doesn’t mean the prophecy failed. Because we see the ones who’d be the attackers, it’s “they.” Verse 4, “And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her walls.”
So it changed from a “he,” of Nebuchadnezzar, to a “they.” It’s plural. There’s more than one attacker, and we see that when we look down to verse 11. Here’s Nebuchadnezzar, “with the hooves of his horses, he’ll trample all your streets, he’ll slay your people by the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground.” Now look at verse 12, “They will plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise. They will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses. They will lay your stones, your timber and your soil in the midst of the water.” So between verse 11 and verse 12, we go from the “you” of Nebuchadnezzar, to the “they” of the nations, the many that would come and ultimately wipe out Tyre. And so that’s a critical key in understanding this prophecy is that there are many nations involved, not just Nebuchadnezzar.
And so the prophecy, we can’t say it failed yet anyway, until we look at it a little bit closer. And so there’s more involved than just Nebuchadnezzar. If we turn back to chapter 29, let’s take a little bit closer look here at verse 17 again. Ezekiel 29:17 Ezekiel 29:17And it came to pass in the seven and twentieth year, in the first month, in the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
American King James Version×, let’s notice what it says once again. Let’s go down to verse 18. Verse 18, “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon caused his army to labor strenuously against Tyre. But,” he says, “His army did not receive wages from Tyre for the labor which they expended on it.” If you read through history, yes Nebuchadnezzar finally subjugated the mainland of Tyre. But he didn’t annihilate the island. He didn’t wipe them out.
In fact, there’s historical records that they’ve unearthed about Babylon where it even talks about a new king that was set up for Tyre, and they paid tribute to Nebuchadnezzar, and he set up the government. The Babylonian officials govern the mainland of Tyre. And this particular prophecy then in chapter 29 points to the troops, Nebuchadnezzar’s troops, who didn’t get the goodies, the booty, the wages, the treasure that they thought they would because it was all carted off to the island, and they didn’t take the island.
And so because of that, God gives them Babylon. God gives them Babylon. When you look through history that… Guess what? That really took place. That really took place. So as we look at this particular story, a couple of things we see throughout the pages and the words that God gave. First of all, Nebuchadnezzar had a conventional land attack. That’s how he went against and waged war against the mainland. He captured the mainland, but most of the people fled out of the island and they took the best of their stuff with them when they went. After 13 years, the island was finally starved into submission, and yet wasn’t destroyed. They became a vassal state of Babylon. The leadership changed, they paid tribute, all those things, and of course, the troops got a minimal amount for their efforts. So they were rewarded with the plunder from Egypt.
Now, what about the prophecy itself? It says that a lot of other things were going to happen to Tyre. We can’t leave Tyre a vassal state under the Babylonian system because that wouldn’t fulfill what the prophecy says. Well, we fast forward a couple of hundred years. We go about two and a half centuries later, an important general came on the scene from Greece. Alexander the Great comes and besieges Tyre. Of course, he had been attacking Persia, had been attacking Egypt, and he couldn’t leave that side, that flank, open to possible attack from the sea. By that time, some would say that Tyre was probably one of the most powerful sea-going people in the Mediterranean. And so he couldn’t leave that option open. And so he’s going to attack the island. And it’s a very, very famous battle, if you want to read about Alexander and Tyre. He doesn’t want to waste the kind of time that Nebuchadnezzar did. He didn’t want to waste 13 years to try to starve out an island.
So what does he do? When you get this island that’s a half-mile offshore, but what he did is he took all the rubble and all the waste from previous attacks on mainland Tyre and starts throwing it into the ocean. Starts throwing it in, and he creates a bridge. He creates a causeway from the mainland a half a mile out to the island. By doing that, if you’re in Ezekiel 26 we see that it is a fulfillment of verse four where it says, “All right, there is going to be scraping of dust from her, making her top like a rock,” and then when we look at verse 12, notice the end: “So they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water.” So here, Alexander took the stones and the rocks and the rubble, and threw it into the water and made a land bridge out to the island. And within six months, he took the island. He didn’t wait around for 13 years. He builds a bridge, he builds a causeway out there and takes Tyre.
So we see another part of the prophecy fulfilled by Alexander. But there’s still a problem with Alexander. He didn’t destroy Tyre. He didn’t just wipe it out. In fact, Alexander rebuilds Tyre. He had Tyre rebuilt, and Tyre continued to remain an important trading center, an important port, an important manufacturing center. And if you’re really into history and you want to read about Tyre and what happened to Alexander, especially after he died at a very young age, you can read about how his generals fought over Tyre and who’d have influence over the mainland and over the island as well. If you ever heard of the names the Ptolemies and the Seleucids, they fought over who’d get control of the island.
Okay. One of the problems we still have though, after 250 plus years from when before the prophecy was made, Tyre still is in existence. And the prophecy clearly says that Tyre wouldn’t be an important trading center. It wouldn’t be a famous seaport. The prophecy says it’s going to be wasted to nothing. And yet here’s Alexander rebuilding Tyre. In fact, it’s interesting, if you follow the history of Tyre through time, by the time we get to the New Testament… We get to New Testament time, so now we’re 500 years later from the prophecies, 500 plus, maybe almost 600 years later, Tyre is important. It’s an important Roman city.
Now by the time we get to New Testament times, archaeologists have discovered a huge Hippodrome there, a Circus Maximus-type building, a Roman city where they would have horse races, chariot races, that sort of thing at the Hippodrome. They found that this is one in Tyre would’ve probably seated 60,000 people. So New Testament Tyre was also a thriving commercial center. And that’s a problem. It’s a problem for the prophecy for one thing, and it’s also a problem for the critics. Because if the critics, who say there were more than one person who would edit prophecy to try to make it look better, why wouldn’t they have fixed that? Why wouldn’t they have said, “And Tyre will remain an important city throughout time.” You see, an editor or somebody that compiles things, a redactor should have fixed that.
But nonetheless the prophecy still said even after Nebuchadnezzar, even after Alexander, even after New Testament times, still said, “No, Tyre’s going to get wiped out.” What’s important about that is, by the time we get to the New Testament, Ezekiel’s prophecy that God gave him is still not fulfilled. And so we’ve gone hundreds of years and the prophecy is still in the balance by the time we get to the New Testament. And that’s important. During the New Testament time, Tyre was still a major trading center, a major manufacturing center. And it continued that way throughout the Byzantine period, throughout the Muslim period as well.
We jump forward through time, and during the Crusades, we come up to the Crusades so now we’re in the 13th century. We’re like 1290s or so. Even during the Crusades, Tyre was a fortified city. There’s a famous battle that went on with a guy named Saladin, and Tyre survived that. I think that was right around 1200 AD or so. But then we get to a final wave. I mentioned 1291. 1291 becomes a critical date because wave after wave of nation has come, and whether it’s Nebuchadnezzar or whether it’s Alexander or whether it’s the Saladin or whether it’s others, the waves kept coming, but the prophecy hadn’t been fulfilled yet.
We get to almost 1300, and finally people from Egypt came. And they’ve got a funny name. Not sure you’ve ever heard of them, but they’re called the Mamluks, sound more like Eskimos than Egyptians, but the Mamluks. The Mamluks came from Egypt and finally took Tyre, took the island of Tyre. And these people, they had watched what had happened throughout history. And so what did they do? They massacred the people. They either killed them or sent them into slavery and sold them off. They destroyed the island of Tyre. Their approach was classic burn everything to the ground. What’s the term? “Scorched earth policy.” Just wipe everything out. That was what the Mamluks did, because they did not want these crusaders to come back and have any impact in this area. And so they scorched Tyre.
And then from that time on, the Muslims came in. The whole region, they had Muslim rivalry, much like there is in the mideast today, went on in this whole area. Later on in time, there was an earthquake, there was a big plague that they suffered, and Tyre island was basically abandoned, basically abandoned.
We come up to the time of the 18th century. By the 18th century, there’s some interesting writing, some interesting history about Tyre again. There are some records that show in the 1760s that there was a small settlement on the island of Tyre. A small village grew there. And you have to think, “Well, what happened?” What happened? Well, we see that the island was certainly destroyed as God said it would, and now this little village appears.
Does it have anything to do with Chapter 26:14? Chapter 26:14, God says, “’I will make you like the top of a rock. You shall be a place for spreading nets. You’ll never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken,’ says the Lord God.” By this time, Tyre finally became a place for spreading of fish nets. The small little fishing village began in the mid-1700s. In fact, there’s interesting lithographs that you can look up that show fishermen at Tyre. There was an author named D.L. Miller. And in 1894, here’s what he wrote about Tyre in 1894. He said, “When Volney visited the place some years ago he wrote, ‘The whole village of Tyre contains only 50 or 60 poor families who live obscurely on the produce of their little and trifling fishery.’” And so it had certainly become a place for the spreading of nets, for fishing.
Did Tyre become a major trading place again? Did it ever become a world-class port for merchandise, an important naval power? Nope. Tyre has grown. It’s grown now. Lebanon has given it a new water supply, and it’s certainly bigger. They’re trying to attract people to come to the beaches there, and that sort of thing, but it’s not a commercial center. It’s nothing like that. It could never be called the “Queen of the Seas” again, which was a nickname that it had before.
And I think that’s something that becomes very critical for us. When you follow this prophecy all the way through, it took 2000 years to fulfill the prophecy completely, 2000 years. So for us, we look back, we can look back for about 700 years, and it’s been fulfilled for 700 years or so. Now think about when the Bible was finally canonized—or basically, “We’ve written the Bible and that’s it. We’re done with the Bible.” When you think about the Hebrew canon, and what was accepted as Holy Scripture, Scripture was basically finalized a hundred years before Alexander the Great, the Hebrew Scripture. So nobody’s adding on, nobody’s editing it, nobody’s redacting parts and fixing things up. And that’s what’s so great about this particular passage. Nobody can claim some disciple altered it, because they would had to alter it, when? After 1300. They would have to alter it in very, very recent times. And because there aren’t any variance, it’s impossible. It’s just impossible.
So the prophecy about Tyre is a special one because it took so many years to ultimately and finally complete it, that it outlasts all the critics. It outlasts all the possibilities of people changing it in any way. In fact, one of the things that struck me about it, as I was reading a little bit about a guy named Stoner—and it wasn’t because he smoked pot or anything like that, that wasn’t it, and I can’t remember what his name is. I don’t know if I wrote it down. Yeah, I don’t really remember what his name… I think it was Peter Stoner. Peter Stoner, he’s a mathematician, astronomer, but he loves to get into the possibilities as far as the calculating the odds of something happening. One of the things that’s interesting about Tyre is he looked at all the prophecies involved with Tyre, and he says the possibility, the odds of that actually taking place, that all those things that God described about Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, the fishing nets, the port, the whole thing, you put that all together, and Peter Stoner says, the odds of that happening are 1 in 75 million, 1 in 75 million. Yeah, I think the odds are even better than that. God said it; He did it that way.
And so fulfilled prophecy points us in that direction. And this is just one. This is just one. We could look at so many others and prove exactly the same thing. Whether we look at the four beasts in Daniel 7, where it looks through the different empires, the same is shown. Whether we look through the various prophecies in Isaiah or Jeremiah, the prophecies about Babylon. We can show through history, through archaeology, through extra-biblical sources that these things are true. We can we can take the time to look at all the messianic prophecies, all the prophecies about Jesus Christ that came to pass, that also point to the veracity of Scripture and the truth about the Bible, and the relevance of prophecy.
And that’s so critical. It’s so critical. So yeah, we can’t take the time to do all that tonight, but hopefully you can take some time to look through those various passages, because there’s no doubt God impacts history. And because He impacts history, and because He predicts things before they happen and they come to pass, He has to be relevant. He has to be real. He has to have an impact on our personal lives as well today. If it happened in the past and it came about, is there any doubt that what He’s predicted about the future will come to pass as well? Since those events have been fulfilled, and the fact that He did bring about those prophecies and events to be fulfilled, well, what about those in the future? They’re going to happen too. They will come to pass. It’s undoubted. It’s undoubted. He’s proven it in the past; He’s made those predictions for the future. Will they come to pass? Absolutely.
When you turn over Matthew 24, take a look at Matthew 24:7 Matthew 24:7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
American King James Version×. He says some amazing things that are going to take place. Matthew 24, and then we can pick it up in verse 7. Matthew 24, look at verse 7, He says, “Nation will rise against nation.” What did He say about nations? We started with tonight, “Oh, they’re just a drop in the bucket.” You think God knows what’s going to happen? You think God is present in history and future events as well? Well, no doubt. “Nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom. There’ll be famines, pestilences, earthquakes in various places. These are the beginnings of sorrow.” This is going to take place. God says it. He’s predicting it. It will happen. He even says, verse 11, “Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” Religious deception will be at a peak. He says it’s going to happen. He says, “Because lawlessness will abound—iniquity—because sin abounds, the love of many will grow cold.”
And so He predicts it. He says it will happen, and we could go on and on and on and look at all the various prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled. And we can take heart and recognize these things will come to pass because God’s proven His relevancy. He’s proven how important He is in what will come to be as well.
Now, of course, it’s not all doom and gloom, because verse 13 is a great prophecy. What a wonderful prophecy here in verse 13. “He would who endure to the end, the same shall be saved.” And so we can take heart because we have that foundation to build on. We love God, we honor Him, we fear Him, we respect Him, we obey Him, and we can endure with His help. And He says the same shall be saved. And so what an important aspect of prophecy for us in our personal lives as well. Prophecy is critical. Prophecy is critical for our personal faith, our personal trust in God as well.
Maybe we could look at just one final scripture that gets to the heart of the value of prophecy. It’s over in 2 Peter 1. 2 Peter 1, and we’ll pick it up in verse 19. Notice the value of prophecy, and what we find here. The value of prophecy, 2 Peter 1:19 2 Peter 1:19We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
American King James Version×, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed.” If you really read this in The Message. It would say this, “The prophetic word was confirmed to us.” Well, how is that? Well, we certainly had the prophetic word of Tyre confirmed to us, and you could look at all the other prophecies that have already been fulfilled that are confirmed. And what does it say then? He says, “Which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place.” The Message says this, “You’ll do well to keep focusing on it. It’s the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rising of the morning star in your hearts.”
As we’re looking forward to the return of Christ, he says, “Keep focused on past fulfilled prophecy because that past fulfillment will remind us, future things will come about as God promised, and He promises to watch over us. He promises to guide us. He tells us that God is going to do what He says He will do.” So ultimately, we find God is relevant. God is relevant in our lives today. And so we see how important that really is. And probably the most critical thing, is we can with thank God for His ultimate prophecies, those ultimate prophecies that point past the difficulties, that point past the tribulations, that point past the troubles, and ultimately result in the Kingdom of God being established on Earth. And so we can look forward to that, and we can count on it, without a doubt, because God is relevant today, and His fulfilled prophecies prove it.
All right. Well, that will do it for our Bible study tonight. Really appreciate you all coming out. Have an enjoyable rest of the evening, be safe, and we look forward to seeing you in two weeks. We’ll pick up our brand new series. We’re going to start a series on the Holy Days. And so we’ll be doing the Holy Days that would be in the fall of the year, for those of us in the northern hemisphere. So we’ll be doing a series of studies on the fall Holy Days for our next set of Bible studies. We look forward to seeing you next time.