By Herbert W. Armstrong
The BIBLE -- Superstition or AUTHORITY? Did you ever stop to PROVE whether the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God?
HAVE YOU ever stopped to really prove whether or not the Bible is divinely inspired by a Creator? I am going to give you the proof. And I am going to tell the skeptics how to disprove the Bible, if it's not inspired, and how to disprove the very existence of God, IF THERE IS NO GOD.
It Dares to Foretell the Future!
Here is a book -- The Holy Bible -- that dares to write out the future history of this world in advance -- that dares to prophesy what is actually going to happen within 15 or 20 years to specific nations, including Russia, the British Commonwealth, China, the United States, Italy, Turkey, Ethiopia, and many others -- most of the major nations of this world.
But would you believe it if I told you what this Book predicts? If I told you what it predicts about your nation? Would you believe it?
You know, we have gotten away from believing that the Bible means what it says. We may not be ATHEISTS. We may not ridicule the Holy Bible. But we are living now in an age of SKEPTICISM. We are living in an age of doubt.
Most highly educated people, and men of science, assume that the Bible is not the infallible revelation of a Supernatural God, and they assume this WITHOUT THE SCIENTIFIC PROOF that they demand on material questions.
Most fundamentalist believers assume, on sheer faith, never having seen proof, that the Holy Bible is the very Word of God.
Very few people have stopped to prove whether or not the Bible is really the inspired Word of God. Very few people TREMBLE before what it says or regard it as having REAL AUTHORITY.
How Could You Prove It?
Some people seem to think that Jesus' miracles were recorded to prove His divine Messiahship. But the skeptics don't believe those miracles ever occurred.
Some people will say answered prayer is the proof of inspiration. But the skeptic has had no prayers answered. He doesn't believe that anybody ELSE has.
There is, however, one source of irrefutable PROOF!
The Bible itself purports to be the infallible, divine revelation of truth, revealed by the very Creator and Divine Ruler of the entire universe. In your Bible, One is quoted, claiming that HE is God, speaking in the first person, saying that He can make and unmake nations, that He can carry out His judgments over millenniums of time, claiming that He can foretell infallibly the future of cities and empires, but that no MAN can.
TAUNTING the Skeptics
Skeptics say the Bible is merely the religious writings of a small ancient Jewish race, groping in the darkness of human ignorance and of superstition trying to develop a concept of God.
But is it?
WHO IS this, quoted as saying, "I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand"? One is quoted saying those very words in Isaiah 46:9-10.
Who is this claiming to foretell the future? Is it merely some ignorant, ancient human with no power to make good his boast, who wrote this blistering challenge to the skeptics, recorded in Isaiah 41:21-23? -- "Now the Eternal cries, 'Bring your case forward.' Now Jacob's king cries, 'State your proofs.'"
Yes, state your PROOFS! "Let us hear what has happened in the past that we may ponder it, or show me what is yet to be, that we may watch how it turns out. Yes, let us hear what is COMING, that we may be sure that you are Gods. Come, do something or other that we may marvel at the sight. Why, you are things of naught. You can do nothing at all!" (Moffatt).
There is the taunt of the One quoted as being God, and quoted in the first person, taunting skeptics, saying, "Why, you're nothing at all. Come on! Let's hear your proofs that we may watch whether it turns out. Predict what is going to happen in the future, and let us watch and see whether you can foretell. Have you the power to bring it about? Are you a God? Do you rule the universe? Can you make and unmake nations? Can you pronounce a sentence or a decree on a nation, and bring it to PASS?" That is the taunt of the GOD of the BIBLE to the doubter.
Prophecy is the PROOF of God
Prophecy is the proof of divine revelation! If One, in the Bible, speaking and claiming to be God, can make prophecies and tell what is going to happen in the future to nations, to cities, to empires, then if it actually happens in every case, and without a miss, you'll know that was a real God speaking.
But, if it were some person writing this, some human mortal writing in ignorance, groping in superstition, making great boasts, and claiming that he could foretell what was going to happen to proud cities, to nations, to great empires, and then it never happens, you know that that man was merely writing make-believe out of his own imagination.
Yes, prophecy is the proof of God, the proof of the divine revelation of the Bible. Prophecy is a taunting challenge that the skeptic dares not accept!
So here is the challenge to the skeptic. How long has New York City been in existence? About 300 years. About 300 years ago New York City was a little village. Now it has grown to a great city of over 8 million population.
Suppose that some human prognosticator made a prophecy that New York will very soon, inside of 15 years, be totally destroyed, never again to be rebuilt. Would any human be able to bring that to pass? Would anybody believe it if someone would make such a prophecy? Is there ANY MAN on this earth that could speak with authority, and make such a prophecy about a great city like New York -- AND BRING IT TO PASS?
The City that CONFOUNDS the Skeptics
Now notice! Over 2500 years ago, there existed a great city that already, then, was more than 1500 years old. That city was the mistress of the seas -- of the whole world; it was the commercial center of the world. It was beautiful, rich, and stable. That city was ancient Tyre on the Mediterranean. It was located on the western coastal area of Phoenicia.
In the year of 604 B.C., the nation Judah had been invaded by the Chaldeans under King Nebuchadnezzar, of the Chaldean Empire. The Jews had been conquered and taken captive, in a series of sieges between 604 and 580 B.C. The people of Tyre were looking with greedy eyes on Judah; and they were laying plans to go down and take part of the spoil, now that their rival king had invaded and conquered it.
Can This Decree Be Broken?
We read of Tyre in Ezekiel 26:1-3, the Moffatt translation, in a little plainer English:
"In the eleventh year, on the first day of the month" -- now this was in 585 B.C. -- "this word from the Eternal came to me." Ezekiel was writing this. He was just a mortal man, one of the prophets. But this man said that the very Word of God came to him, and he wrote it down.
Now this is what God is quoted as saying -- One who is quoted in the first person as being GOD, the very Creator, and the very Ruler of all the universe. He said:
"Son of man, since Tyre has gloated over Jerusalem, 'AHA! this door into the nations is broken down! It lies open to me. I shall prosper, now she is laid waste.' Therefore, the Lord, the Eternal utters this sentence: 'Tyre, I am against you ... I will bring many a nation against you, -- as the sea brings many a wave.'"
Who was this speaking? Was it some ignorant human, or was it God Almighty who pronounced this fate on this commercial metropolis, this New York of the ancient world, this great, proud, mighty city of Tyre, because of its evils, and because it was threatening to take a spoil of this kingdom of Judah?
What God Said Would Happen
Let us begin with this third verse from the King James or the Authorized translation, and read on including the fifth verse:
"Therefore, thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up. And 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 [fishers' nets] in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord Eternal: and it shall become a spoil to the nations."
Here is One quoted in the Bible as saying, "I am God, I have spoken it. This is going to happen to that great city Tyre" -- one of the two greatest cities of the world, as great in the world in that day as New York or London is today.
I want you to notice these points, in what this One who claims to be God has said. He said that many nations would come up against this Tyre, and attack her. But how were they to come? He said like the waves of the sea. Now the waves of the sea come one after the other, not all together. These attacking nations would come one after the other. He said that they would destroy the walls; they would break down the towers and demolish the buildings of that city. He said then that they would scrape the stones, the timbers of the demolished buildings and even the top soil into the Mediterranean Sea. He said that this city would become like the top of a rock; it would become a place to spread the nets on; and it would become a spoil to the nations -- MORE than one nation -- many nations coming ONE after the OTHER like the waves of the sea.
For over 1500 years the armed forces of other cities and nations had attacked this proud city of Tyre, but never had any army been able to batter down its walls or actually to invade the city. Now could some mere human mortal, just writing in the religious works of the ancient Jewish race -- could some mortal man pronounce such an astounding fate on so great a city AND BRING IT TO PASS?
But let us read on, beginning with Ezekiel 26 -- verse 7 on through verse 11: "For thus saith God Eternal [here is God quoted as speaking directly, and in the first person]; Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus NEBUCHADNEZZAR, the king of Babylon."
This becomes quite a specific prophecy. It tells distinctly the name of the king and of the nation that God is going to bring against this city of Tyre, "a king of kings [because he was an emperor over a number of nations] from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people. HE shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field ... HE shall set engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers ... HE shall enter into thy gates ... and with the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets: HE shall slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground" -- or, "your strong pillars" as the margin has it, "shall go down to the ground."
Here it is specifically speaking of Nebuchadnezzar, what HE shall do. But remember God had said that many nations shall come, not just one, but many nations, one after the other like the waves of the sea.
Notice! Nebuchadnezzar was not to take all of the debris, all of the stones, the timber, and the top soil and dump it into the Mediterranean. God had said many nations would come.
Tyre's FATE Sealed
Let us read on. Notice how this prophecy becomes even more specific, beginning with verse 12 on through verse 14.
"And THEY" -- no longer does God say, "and HE." It is speaking of "they." This would mean OTHER NATIONS to follow Nebuchadnezzar.
"They shall make spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise: and they [that means other nations following Nebuchadnezzar] shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses: they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust IN THE MIDST OF THE WATER." There it is!
God says, "I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard. And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; THOU SHALT BE BUILT NO MORE: for I the Eternal have spoken it, saith the Lord God."
THERE is authority! There is One quoted, speaking in the first person with great authority, pronouncing a dire sentence upon a great city of the world at that time. Was there any God existing who was about to do it?
Notice this prophecy said they would lay the stones, the timber, the soil in the Mediterranean, and after that, Tyre was to be completely destroyed and BUILT NO MORE, NEVER AGAIN TO BE BUILT!
Was this the very Creator God passing sentence? Was the Ruler of the universe able to bring it to pass, or was this mere HUMAN conjecture?
Here is the challenge to tell whether or not this Bible is inspired. There is no other book where you can find one speaking, saying, "I AM GOD," and speaking to nations and to cities, and pronouncing sentence in that fashion, and then centuries later bringing it to pass!
Notice! This same God is telling what is going to happen to our modern nations today, yes, Russia, Germany, Great Britain, the United States, Australia, Italy, China, all of the great nations, and many of the minor nations of the world, pronouncing sentence on us -- warning of things that are to happen to us in the next 20 years. Can He do it? Was He able to do what He said about ancient Tyre?
Is this Bible inspired? Can you prove it? Do Bible prophecies mean what they say?
It Happened as Prophesied!
Very soon after the prophecy was uttered there was a 13-year siege by King Nebuchadnezzar exactly as this had been foretold, as the One speaking and saying, "I am God," said it would happen! Finally, he took the city. It had never happened before. He demolished the fortified part of the city which was built on the shore of the mainland. However, the people of the city fled the mainland and fortified the other part of the city, which was originally located on an island "in the sea" (Ezek. 27:4; 28:2), only half a mile off shore. The original site of Tyre on the mainland became known then as OLD TYRE, and the city on the island became known as NEW TYRE.
Many skeptics may say that that prophecy wasn't written in 585 B.C. before this happened, but that it was written after it happened. How can you prove that Ezekiel wrote it when he said he did?
There is ample proof of it, but Nebuchadnezzar's invasion is only the first link in the chain of this prophecy. This prophecy had said many nations will come like waves of the sea. It foretold many other things to happen. Only part of those things were to be done by Nebuchadnezzar, to be brought about by him.
What Historians ADMIT
Let me quote for you a little of the history of these events from the Encyclopedia Britannica, volume 22 [the latest edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica] under the article "Tyre."
It says: "Tyre, the mistress of the seas, in the 6th century, B.C., endured a 13-years' siege from Nebuchadnezzar." During this siege, Tyre, as already mentioned, was demolished.
Nebuchadnezzar, as we read in verses 7 to 11 in Ezekiel 26, did everything that was prophesied for him. But, he did not move the stones, the timber or the soil into the Mediterranean. For about 250 years after Nebuchadnezzar had invaded Tyre, it seemed improbable that that prophecy ever would be completely fulfilled.
Then, after two and one-half centuries, Alexander the Great came down in his swift march conquering everything before him.
Before quoting the actual history of what Alexander did, let us first get in mind a clear picture of the geophysical layout of this once great city of Tyre.
The main part of the city, originally, was on the mainland of Phoenicia, on the Mediterranean coast. In Ezekiel 27:3, God is quoted as saying to Tyre: "O thou that art situate at the entry of the sea." It was on the mainland, but at the entrance to the sea. It was the chief seaport of the ancient world.
But, just as many cities today are located on rivers, with a main part of the city on one side, and another part of the city on the other side of the river, so a part of the city of Tyre was built on an island, one-half mile off shore. Apparently the commercial ships put in at docks both on the mainland and on the island.
Off the south and west shores of the island the sea was very shallow. The Tyrians had built a huge wall around this portion of the island, shutting out the sea, and adding many acres of lowland in a narrow strip around the south and west portions of the island. The island portion of Tyre was built in this reclaimed lowland strip, indicated by the shaded portion of the map. The higher portion of the island, especially in its center, was used for their pagan "High Place" of idolatrous worship, the "Temple of Melkart," and the remainder of the original island as a great public park surrounding the temple.
Because of the small area of the reclaimed lowland, inside the sea-walls, this island portion of the city was built of skyscrapers taller than those of downtown Rome today -- that is, taller than 8 or 10 stories -- possibly 15 or 20 stories high. That seems incredible today, but such is the historic record! Ezekiel refers to this lowland strip portion of the city thus: "Thy borders are in the midst of the seas" (Ezek. 27:4).
After the main portion of original Tyre had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in the 6th century, B.C., this lowland strip on the island was built up as the main city. Since a foreign army had, at long last, proved able to batter down the walls of the mainland city, the Tyrians built up the island portion of their city, where the half mile of sea gave them security from attack by foot soldiers on land.
From that time, the 6th century B.C., the mainland portion became known as "OLD Tyre," and the island portion as "NEW Tyre."
Now, let me quote for you from the Encyclopedia Britannica in this same article, "The siege of Tyre by Alexander the Great, 332 B.C." (He had won his battle at Issus, his first great battle in conquering the Persian Empire, in the previous year, 333 B.C.)
"New Tyre was built on a small island about half a mile from the mainland upon which the old city stood ... Alexander demolished [what remained of] Old Tyre, and with the debris built a mole 200 feet in breadth across the strait so that he turned that island actually into a peninsula and it became therefore a part of the mainland. The reduction of Tyre was now but a matter of time ... Alexander ... scaled the city walls. Thus after a siege of seven months the city was taken, 8,000 of the citizens were slaughtered, 2,000 later on were executed, and 30,000 sold into slavery."
What Skeptics Can't DENY
We quote further from the book, The Bible as History, by Werner Keller, page 320: "This Phoenician city, heavily fortified and protected by stout high walls, was built on a small island which guarded the coastline. Alexander performed here a miracle of military ingenuity by building a 2,000-foot mole in the sea out to the island city. To safe-guard the operations, mobile protective shields, so-called 'tortoises' had to be employed.
Despite this the construction of the causeway was greatly hindered by an incessant hail of missiles. Meantime his engineers were on shore building veritable monsters .... These were mobile protective towers many stories high, which held detachments of bowmen and light artillery. A drawbridge on the front of the towers enabled a surprise attack to be made on the enemy's walls. They were the highest siege towers ever used in the history of war. Each of them had twenty stories and the topmost platform towered, at a height of over 160 feet, far above the highest city walls.
"When, after seven months' preparation, these monsters, bristling with weapons, slowly and clumsily rolled toward Tyre, the fate of the maritime stronghold, which was considered to be impregnable, was sealed."
Notice, the PEOPLE of the earth considered New Tyre to be impregnable. Suppose, as the critics and skeptics try to argue, that the Book of Ezekiel was written after Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Old Tyre. What human writer, making a purely human prognostication and guess, could ever by the wildest imagination have predicted what actually did happen to New Tyre?
No, but GOD knew what was going to happen!
Still Another Prophecy
Notice, now, still another prophecy about New Tyre: "Thus saith the Lord ETERNAL: When I make thee a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited; when I shall bring up the deep upon thee, and great waters shall cover thee; ... thou shalt be no more" (Ezek. 26:19, 21).
The Moffatt translation makes that a little plainer: "... when I turn the ocean upon you and the deep waters cover you." THAT HAPPENED!
Mr. Herman L. Hoeh, Dean of Instruction of Ambassador College, and Dr. C. Paul Meredith, Director of the Ambassador College Correspondence Course, visited this site in 1957, a year after I, with my wife and son Richard D. Armstrong, had been there.
Our visit to the ruins of Tyre, in 1956, was forced to be brief. It was then in a military zone, and we were not allowed as much time as we needed for complete exploration. We were not satisfied that we had found all that was there.
In 1957, Dean Hoeh and Dr. Meredith had sufficient time to walk all over the peninsula that was an island before Alexander's invasion.
They walked the entire length of the south and west shores of the present peninsula. They were able plainly to see, in the somewhat shallow water, out to a depth of some four feet, the foundations of ancient buildings, building blocks, and pillars -- remains of what had once been the city of NEW Tyre!
Alexander the Great, after demolishing the buildings of New Tyre, demolished this huge sea wall which had reclaimed the lowland space on which the actual city of New Tyre had been built. Thus, in complete fulfillment of the prophecy of Ezekiel 26:4, 12-14, 19, 21, referring to NEW Tyre, the city was destroyed; God turned the ocean upon the city, and the deep waters cover it to this very day. NEW Tyre has remained from that day to this LIKE THE TOP OF A ROCK!
The CITY of Tyre was completely destroyed -- both Old and New. It has never been an important seaport since. It became a site for fishermen, and is to this day. You can go there, and see the fishers' nets spread out, still today! God's prophecies are SURE!
However, after Alexander's untimely death, when his kingdom was divided into the four divisions, the Egyptian division (the "King of the South" of Daniel 11), the Ptolemys, apparently built a city on the peninsula -- not where either Old Tyre or New Tyre had been built -- but probably at approximately the site of the shaded spot on the map labeled "Roman Ruins" on page 13.
This village again bore the name of Tyre -- though it was actually a new and different town built near, but in a different place. As the Britannica article continues: this new city, "with the marvelous vitality of those early times, recovered in a comparatively short time. The city passed under the sway of the Seleucids (198 B.C.), the "King of the North" of Daniel 11, and the Romans (68 B.C.). Herod the Great endowed it with a temple. St. Paul spent a week there while the ship 'unloaded her burden' on his journey from Ephesus to Jerusalem. By the 2nd century it had become the see of a bishop. With the rest of Syria it passed into the hands of the Muslims in the 7th century. The Crusaders captured it (1124), and made it one of the chief cities of their kingdom of Jerusalem. After the fall of Acre, the Muslims destroyed it."
Now today, a small new town, called Sur -- in a different location out on the peninsula, and inhabited by fishermen -- is erroneously designated as Tyre on some maps; but it is not Tyre. It is not on the site of ancient Tyre. Ancient Tyre has NEVER BEEN REBUILT.
How Skeptics Could Disprove the Bible!
Was the author of this prophecy a mortal man, or God Almighty? This is one of hundreds of such prophecies, many of which have already come to pass. Every year, EVERY DAY, yes, EVERY HOUR that site of New Tyre remains a desolate top of the rock for spreading of fishermen's nets -- every hour that it remains uninhabited, and no city is built there, it is SHOUTING the PROOF of divine revelation of the Bible to skeptics.
And now, just a word to the skeptics. Here is how you can disprove the Bible, and the very existence of God -- if there is no God, and IF the Bible is not inspired! Just go over and build a small city on the site of New Tyre. A collection of a dollar each from all of the American skeptics alone would be ample. Whoever inspired Ezekiel 26 dares the skeptics to try to do it.
Now there is nothing to prevent them from building a city there on the site of New Tyre, except that the Bible they scoff at says they CAN'T!
Here is living, dynamic PROOF that the Bible is divinely revealed.
The Challenge of God Almighty
Ezekiel also wrote about another city, Sidon. Sidon is a city about 30 miles north of Tyre, on the Mediterranean, still more ancient. It was the mother city. Tyre was originally merely one of Sidon's colonies.
Sidon had been declining for centuries while Tyre had been building up as the great city of the world. In the year 590 B.C., when Ezekiel wrote the prophecy, Sidon was in a state of decay.
I want to read to you its present condition from the Encyclopedia Britannica, the current edition, article, "Sidon." "Sidon, once the principle city of Phoenicia, now the principle town of the southern district of Great Lebanon ... is today a city of 10,000 inhabitants -- the majority of whom are Moslems."
Continuing about Sidon: "History: Older than Tyre and acknowledged as its mother ... the Philistines destroyed its fleet and laid the city in ashes. Assyria and Babylonia ... led armies against her to disturb her peace and loot her treasures ... The Persian yoke ... supplanted the Babylonian and an injudicious revolt against Artaxerxes Ochus met with condign punishment."
In 351 B.C., Sidon was absolutely destroyed for its revolt. But Sidon rose again. Further, the Britannica says: "Unlike Tyre, [Sidon] submitted without resistance to Alexander the Great."
Some skeptics attempt to explain away Ezekiel's prophecy regarding TYRE by saying it was not written about 590 B.C., before Nebuchadnezzar's invasion and destruction of Old Tyre, but about 350 B.C. or even 330 B.C. instead. But they fail to take into account the fact that the same prophet at the same time wrote prophecies about SIDON. Now suppose Ezekiel's prophecy were written around 350 B.C., if Ezekiel's prophecy were merely human speculation, do you think it would have been a logical guess, about 350 B.C., that Tyre would never be rebuilt but that Sidon, on the other hand, would remain?
That is exactly what was prophesied!
Now let's turn to the prophecy in Ezekiel 28 beginning with verse 20: "Again the word of the Eternal came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Sidon, and prophesy against it, and say, Thus saith the Lord Eternal; Behold, I am against thee, O Sidon ....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 every side; and they shall know that I am the Eternal."
Now you will notice that there isn't one word saying that Sidon was to be destroyed and never rebuilt. God's judgment on Sidon was not one of utter extinction as it was on Tyre, but blood in her streets, wounded in her city, the sword on every side -- a continuously existing city -- but reduced and in constant trouble!
Not To Be Utterly Destroyed
No other city on the face of this earth has ever undergone so much suffering, except the city of Jerusalem. Sidon has been often destroyed and again rebuilt, destroyed and rebuilt, destroyed and rebuilt. It is there today with 10,000 population.
How did the prophet Ezekiel -- how could any human being -- if this were not divinely inspired, have known that Sidon could continue to exist, suffering all the while, but that Tyre, the big city, would never be rebuilt? There is every reason why Tyre should be rebuilt -- wonderful soil all around, water, a wonderful harbor, every reason in the world why it should have been rebuilt. BUT GOD SAID THAT IT WOULD NOT!
Sidon, however, is a city today of 10,000 population. All is exactly as prophesied. There has been blood in her streets, wounded in the city, the sword on all sides. The article quoted in the Encyclopedia Britannica will give you history up till now. Sidon still lives -- exactly as prophesied. I was there in 1956.
But Tyre suffered utter desolation. No city is there today -- exactly as this prophecy said. Was this divine inspiration, or was it human guess? How did it happen that whoever wrote this prophecy prophesied exactly as it was going to happen BOTH TIMES?
NEVER HAS ANY UNINSPIRED HUMAN MADE SUCH A PROPHECY FOR 2,000 YEARS INTO THE FUTURE AND BROUGHT IT TO PASS. Nothing in those two cities would have indicated the fate at the time the prophecy was written. Neither in 590 B.C., nor, if the skeptics would prefer to say it was written about 330 B.C., at that time.
Another Prophecy Defies Skeptics
There is yet another striking prophecy bearing ample testimony of Biblical inspiration. It is about another famous city in the ancient world -- the city of Ashkelon.
The prophet Zephaniah lived and wrote about 630 B.C. It was before the captivity of Judah. He was warning the Jews in the first chapter of his prophecy of the captivity that was coming. There is a principle of duality in this book as there is in most prophecies, a type and anti-type. The prophecy refers literally to the Jews of that time, six hundred years before Christ; but it refers also to our time now, in the twentieth century A.D. in the years just ahead of us. Almost no one understands this type and anti-type, this duality in the prophecies. You can't understand prophecy unless you understand it. That is one of the vital keys to Bible knowledge.
Chapter 2 in this book of Zephaniah foretells the fate of the nations neighboring on Judah, and hostile to Judah, especially the sea coast cities of the Philistines: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ekron.
Notice Zephaniah 2:4-7: "Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up."
Now verse 7: "And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon."
That has happened! That very territory is today in the nation that is called modern "Israel."
Observe the seventh verse once again. "And the coast [of the Mediterranean, in Palestine] shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon." The remnant is the last generation. In other words, the 20th century, right now, in our time!
Prophecy Absolutely Fulfilled
Turn quickly to Zechariah 9:3-6. "And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets. Behold, the Eternal will cast her out, and He will smite her power in the sea; and she shall be devoured with fire." There is another prophecy showing what happened to Tyre. Continuing: "Ashkelon shall see it, and fear: Gaza also shall see it, and be very sorrowful, and Ekron; for her expectation shall be ashamed; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited."
"And a mongrel people shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines" (Moffatt translation).
All that has happened. In the year of 520 B.C., Zechariah, under inspiration of God, prophesied that God would smite Tyre into the sea to be devoured, as happened in 332 B.C. Gaza shall be "sorrowful, forsaken," but not destroyed. Gaza rebounded -- it is still there today, a population of 21,000 people. No king has since dwelt there. Ekron has about 1000 people today. In Ashdod, a mongrel people abode until 1948 when they were driven out by the "remnant of the House of Judah" (Zephaniah 2:7).
From the Encyclopedia Britannica, here are the facts of how that prophecy has been fulfilled. "With the Moslem conquest after the 6th century A.D., [Ashdod] generally sank into insignificance." Mongrel people -- Arab and Philistine -- were there. The city sank into insignificance.
Remember, "Ashkelon shall not be inhabited" -- "a desolation" (Zech. 9:5 and Zeph. 2:4).
Notice what the Encyclopedia Britannica says: "Ashkelon, now a desolate site" -- the same words that God uses in the Bible -- and further, "protruding from this sandswept terrain, shattered columns and the remnants of ruined buildings and broken walls bear ample testimony to a past magnificence."
You can go to that desolate site of Ashkelon today and see with your own eyes -- absolute desolation. You can see nothing is there. Does God Almighty exist? Could any but a divine God, a Creator, foretell these things and bring them to pass -- all as He has?
Here is proof that no skeptic can doubt. And God dares and challenges any skeptic to try to refute these prophecies. If you can refute them, you can refute the authority of the Bible!
The Fate of EGYPT
Have you read of the playboy ex-king Farouk of Egypt? Did you know that he was really a foreigner, that he was not an Egyptian at all? Farouk was an Albanian. And do you know that the present rulers of Egypt are Arabs, not actually Egyptians? Do you know this was prophesied in your Bible thousands of years ago?
Prophecy fulfillment is the PROOF of the existence of God Almighty. It's the PROOF of divine inspiration of the Bible, and that the Bible is the revelation of facts from God Almighty that we could not otherwise find out.
Whoever was the real inspiration behind these prophecies of the Bible knew 2500 years ago the condition Egypt would be in today, and also the condition of the United States and of Russia, and of China, and of Britain, and of all of the leading nations of the earth. He knew then what is going to happen in the next 20 or 25 years.
Notice the amazing facts.
The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel lived some 600 years before Christ. Egypt was then already very ancient. It was the leader of civilization, of the world at that time. It was far advanced in science, and arts, luxury and magnificence. It was the granary of the world with its rich Nile valley. The mightiest buildings on earth -- the pyramids -- were there.
Those were the proud monuments to Egypt's greatness. Egypt possessed the longest dynasty ruling on the throne of any city or of any nation on the face of the earth at that time. Now who would have ever predicted an end to that kind of prosperity? Comparatively, it was greater then than the prosperity of the United States in today's world.
When Ezekiel wrote, Pharaoh Hophra was on the throne, and his military and commercial successes for 25 years had made him proudly secure. He had built Egypt to a mighty position in the ancient world. The historian Herodotus has said in his history, Volume II, page 169, that Hophra boasted that no god could deprive him of his kingdom.
When he boasted that, the Eternal God responded. No man could have foreseen Egypt's downfall at that time any more than a man can see the downfall of the United States or any other great nation today. God knew what would befall Egypt. God knows what's going to befall us today. It's recorded in your Bible.
At that time, Judah had been conquered by Nebuchadnezzar. The Chaldean Empire was rising. A colony of Jews had been left behind in the land of Palestine. The rest of the Jews had been taken captives and slaves to the land of the Chaldeans in Babylon. This little colony of Jews which had been left behind wanted to flee down to Egypt.
Notice. They inquired about it from the prophet Jeremiah. They asked him to consult God about it.
"The word of the Eternal came unto Jeremiah ... Thus saith the Eternal ... If you will abide in this land [Palestine], then I will build you ... Be not afraid of the king of Babylon ... But if you say, we will not ... obey the voice of the Eternal our God, saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war ... nor have hunger of bread ... then saith God, It shall come to pass, that the sword, which you feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt ... and there shall you die" (Jer. 42: 7-16).
Now notice Jeremiah 44:29 and 30:
"And this shall be a sign unto you ... that I will punish you in this place, that you may know that my words shall surely stand ... I will give Pharaoh Hophra the king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life."
Notice. Here is someone quoted in the Bible claiming that He is God Almighty. He is telling what He is going to do to the kings of this earth. He claims to make and unmake the kingdoms of this world.
And it happened!
Pharaoh Hophra was dethroned by Nebuchadnezzar shortly after that was written. And Ahmoses was substituted as a vassal king by Nebuchadnezzar.
Did man write this prophecy, or did God Almighty? Whoever wrote this had the power to make and to unmake nations and empires. Today, the higher critics seem to have the conception that the Bible is merely the literary efforts of an ancient, small, Jewish race, groping in darkness, trying to find a concept of God. They don't really believe in any God. They don't believe in any divine inspiration.
Then, who is this quoted, saying, "I am God," and passing sentence on those ancient city-states, and now on this great nation of Egypt, and bringing it to pass over a period of 2500 years?
Why Egypt Is a Weak Nation
I want you to notice Ezekiel's prophecy. Ezekiel 29:1-2:
"The word of the Eternal came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt." Now the eighth verse:
"Therefore thus saith the Lord Eternal; Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off man and beast out of thee. And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste; and they shall know that I am the Eternal: because he hath said," -- that is, the Pharaoh had said -- "The river is mine, and I have made it. Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers." This is from the King James or the Authorized translation. Actually the proper translation is not "rivers," but "irrigated canals." They had them in Egypt at that time.
Continuing: "And," God said, "I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate ... Neither shall it be inhabited for 40 years." That 40 years happened in the days of Babylon's greatness, for Nebuchadnezzar carried the Egyptians captive, desolated their land and then allowed numerous Greeks to migrate to Egypt. Historians know very little about what really happened at this time.
Now notice the 15th and the 16th verses of this same chapter. "It shall be" -- notice that God said Egypt would continue to exist "IT SHALL BE THE
BASEST OF THE KINGDOMS.
Egypt was to exist, but it was to be the basest of the kingdoms. It had been, prior to God's pronouncing sentence, the proud lion among the others. " Neither shall it exalt itself any more above all nations," says God, "for I will diminish them."
Who is this speaking? -- claiming that He can make and unmake nations? Who can say, "I will diminish thee," diminish the greatest nation on earth at that time? Was that just some ignorant, mortal Jew writing?
Whoever wrote it, brought it to pass. It happened. What are you going to do with that?
I want you to know what actually happened as recorded in history. This is from the Imperial Bible Dictionary on the article "Egypt." "The population of Egypt must have been very large in the earliest times. It has been placed at 7,000,000 under the Pharaohs -- at 7,500,000 (exclusive of Alexandria) in the time of Nero ..." At the present time, it is about 23,000,000. The population of Egypt has barely tripled -- think of that -- in 2000 years. And the bulk of the present population represents DESCENDANTS OF FOREIGN NATIONS. Egypt has not grown like other nations. It has remained comparatively small.
A Poverty-Stricken Land
Notice Ezekiel 30:10-13:
"Thus saith the Lord Eternal; I will also make the multitude of Egypt" -- the word "multitude" is rendered by other translations as "wealth," for the wealth of Egypt is really meant -- "I will make the wealth of Egypt to cease by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon. He and his people with him, the terrible of the nations, shall be brought to destroy the land: and they shall draw their swords after Egypt, and fill the land with the slain. And," God says, "I will make the rivers" -- or irrigation canals -- "dry, and sell the land into the hand of the wicked." That is, outside or foreign nations.
"And," God says, "I will make the land waste, and all that is therein, by the hand of strangers," which means outside nations. "I the Eternal have spoken it. Thus saith the Eternal; I will also destroy the idols, and I will cause their images to cease out of Noph" -- which is Memphis -- "AND THERE SHALL BE NO MORE -- notice -- 'THERE SHALL BE NO MORE A PRINCE OF THE LAND OF EGYPT: and I will put a fear into the land of Egypt."
Egypt would never again be ruled by a native son -- a native prince.
Was whoever wrote that in this ancient book of Ezekiel about to bring that to pass? That is a "Thus saith the Lord." Is there any real God back of it? Or was it just a man writing?
Egypt was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar just as the prophecy said. God set him over the kingdom (Dan. 2:37). God is the Supreme Ruler of the universe. That is the lesson that the nations of the earth have FORGOTTEN. That's the lesson that the peoples of the earth have FORGOTTEN.
The Record of History
I want to quote for you from Rawlinson's Ancient History, "The History of Egypt," Volume II. Here is the fulfillment of this prophecy in history. It actually happened!
"Thus," says Rawlinson's history, "Thus perished this unfortunate monarch, the last of the long line of Pharaohs, which commencing with Menes had ruled Egypt as an independent monarchy for about 16 centuries" -- nearly 1600 long years. "Frequent revolts characterize the period of their subjection to Persia. But again, and again, the Persians proved their superiority in the field, and forced the Egyptians to submit to them."
After the Persian conquest, the Greeks dominated Egypt. The descendants of one of Alexander's Greek generals began a line of foreign Pharaohs that ruled Egypt until 152 B.C. There has never been a native Egyptian Pharaoh since. There has never from that time been a native king ruling over Egypt.
Consider what this record of history means: Egypt was conquered and ruled by Alexander the Great. Then it was ruled after that by one of Alexander's four generals, the one that is mentioned in the book of Daniel, chapter 11, as "the king of the south." Later, Egypt was ruled by Rome. Then by the Mohammedans. Then later by the Turks. It has been ruled by the French, by the British, and finally, it has recently been made a republic, June 18, 1953.
Ex-king Farouk was the king until Egypt became a republic. But KING FAROUK WAS NOT DESCENDED FROM EGYPTIAN BLOOD. He was an Albanian. He was descended from Mohammed Ali.
The Egyptian rulers today are NOT PRINCES and most are NOT Egyptians. They are native Arabs. God said it would be like that, and it has been. NEVER IN 2500 YEARS HAS EGYPT BEEN UNDER A NATIVE PRINCE. You can read the full details in Rawlinson's Ancient History.
It ALWAYS Happens
There was nothing when those prophecies were written to indicate such a future -- such a future as has happened to Egypt -- as the Bible prophecy said it would happen. Think of it! God pronounced a fate on the ancient city-state Tyre, never to be rebuilt. That happened.
On Ashkelon, extinction, never to be rebuilt. That happened.
On Sidon, to be diminished, but to continue to exist. And that happened. Sidon is a town of 10,000 population today.
Egypt was to continue to exist, but to be diminished, never again to be ruled by a native son. That happened. The fate of Babylon was extinction. That happened.
But, how did Ezekiel know, if a mere man wrote all of this? I ask you, HOW?
Here is a challenge to the skeptics. Skeptics don't want to have anything to do with prophecy. The skeptics run away from prophecy because they can't answer it. And the only way to answer it is to sneer at it and to ridicule it. Skeptics admit that Egypt, according to the prophecy, was to continue to be a nation reduced, no longer prosperous, no longer a mighty world-ruling nation, no longer to be ruled by its own native prince. They can't deny it. They are able only to run from it!
Who is the real Ruler? Why, God Almighty.
SKEPTICS Can't Disprove the Fulfillment of Prophecy
Every detail of the prophecies concerning Egypt has happened. This prophecy was not written after the fulfillment, because the fulfillment has been happening, and has been being fulfilled right on down through history even to very recent years! It has been a slow, gradual fulfillment, as prophecy said it would be.
Even in the time of Christ, there was NOTHING to indicate Egypt's glory was gone forever, absolutely nothing. Then, Egypt was still very powerful. Its population over 7,000,000. It was the breadbasket of the Roman Empire at that time. In the 3rd century A.D., the Encyclopedia Britannica says that Alexandria, Egypt, continued some time, esteemed as the first city of the world after Rome.
Suppose that the Eternal had said that Egypt was to be totally destroyed, but that Babylon would continue, diminished. But He didn't. He didn't say that, and that isn't the way it happened. He said that Babylon would be destroyed. And it was destroyed! He said that Egypt would continue submerged, as a minor nation. And it has happened. And never once in 2500 years has Egypt been ruled from that time by a native Egyptian prince.
Never in world history has any nation been subject to foreign governments and foreign rule so long as Egypt has been.
Now, I want you to compare what happened to Egypt with what was prophesied to happen to Babylon and Rome.
Rome was mentioned in prophecy before it even came on the scene -- all the prophecies about Rome were written even before there was a Roman Empire. Rome was like iron (Dan. 2:40) -- the mightiest of all of those ancient nations, the most powerful -- more powerful than Egypt or Greece, or than the Chaldean Empire, or than the Persian Empire. It happened! But it was foretold that it would fall.
In Biblical language, Rome was to have a "deadly wound," but the "deadly wound" was to he healed (Rev. 13:3). Rome was to be revived seven different times after it fell. It has been revived and resurrected six times -- under Justinian, Charlemagne, Otto the Great, Charles V, Napoleon, Mussolini -- and the seventh resurrection is taking place right now. You are going to live probably to see it happen in the next few years.
Always, everything that has been previously prophesied in your Bible for the past centuries has been fulfilled. But there are many, many more prophecies that are to be fulfilled from this moment on! We are just coming now to the grand smash climax of this whole age when there are far more prophecies -- far more world-shaking events -- to happen in the next 15 or 20 years than ever happened before in the history of the world!
Why are all these prophecies being fulfilled? -- because God exists and He has revealed thousands of years ago in the Bible what He is about to do today!
Babylon and Rome, Too!
Just think of it! The God quoted in YOUR BIBLE did not limit Himself to foretelling the fate of only some one or two of the cities or nations of the earth. If these writings were of mere human conjecture, that might have been done; and by rare coincidence, the prediction might possibly have come to pass.
But God took every important city -- every nation in the then known world with which His nation Israel had contact, and inspired thru human writers the fate of every one!
In most instances, the future decreed was the very opposite of that which every appearance, at the time, would logically have indicated! And yet, the events so paradoxically prophesied came to pass!
Look at this prophecy concerning the world's political and religious capital, Babylon! At the time it was written any man would have been thought to be insane to make such an apparently preposterous prediction for its future:
"And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and ostriches shall dwell there, and he-goats shall dance there. And the wild howlers of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and jackals in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come [when Isaiah wrote], and her days shall not be prolonged" (Isa. 13:19-22).
That decree from the Almighty was not delayed. It was carried out! That sentence has continued for 2,500 years! The condition described in YOUR BIBLE, written while Babylon was the world's capital at the height of its might and power and glory, remains to this day!
I have been there. I saw and photographed the desolation and a stork's nest. But no man lives there.
I asked the caretaker of the museum now maintained by the Iraqi government at Babylon if he lived there.
"O my No!" he exclaimed. "No one lives here. I ride here every morning on my donkey."
"Do Arabs ever pitch tents here?" I inquired. "Never!" was the emphatic answer. "They have a superstition against it."
How did Isaiah know, 600 years before Christ, that the utter DESOLATION of that world's capital of his day would become and remain a total desolation these 2500 years into the future? How could any mortal man know such things? HE COULDN'T -- UNLESS BY THE DIVINE INSPIRATION THESE FULFILLED PROPHECIES PROVE!
Yes, the GOD of your Bible foretold the future of EVERY ONE of the important cities -- of EVERY nation. Some were to be destroyed, never rebuilt -- permanent desolation. Others were to be destroyed, but rebuilt. Others to continue undestroyed. The world's greatest nation to be reduced to a minor nation, never again ruled by a native king. The first world-ruling Empire to be succeeded by another, until the fourth WORLD Empire -- and it to fall, and have seven successive resurrections!
NOT ONCE did the prophecies fail!
There is NO OTHER SUCH BOOK! No human writing like this. NOT ONE of these prophecies ever failed! NO PROPHECY EVER WILL FAIL!
These prophecies PROVE the divine INSPIRATION of the HOLY BIBLE!
They PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD!
But now finally what is the true significance of all this? Simply this: One third, approximately, of the Bible is PROPHECY. Only about one-tenth of the prophecies pertain to these cities and nations of old -- prophecies already fulfilled! NINE-TENTHS OF PROPHECY IS DEVOTED TO WORLD EVENTS NOW TO HAPPEN IN OUR TIME!
Think of it! Almost one-third of YOUR BIBLE is devoted to revealing to us, today, in advance, what WE are going to live through during the next ten to twenty-five years!
WE LIVE IN THE EXCITING TIME OF THE END! The "END OF THE WORLD" -- of this age -- is upon us. UNDERSTANDING of these prophecies is being opened! KNOWLEDGE of such things is being increased -- made available! It behooves YOU to keep listening to The WORLD TOMORROW on the air! -- to keep reading The PLAIN TRUTH!--to be enrolled in the Ambassador College Correspondence Course --to come to UNDERSTAND, and to KNOW your BIBLE!