Powerful Prophecies – Pt 1
Study Guide, January 29, 2017
Pastor Clay Olsen
We live in a very skeptical age, don’t we? Many have adopted the deception that permeates our society that absolute truth is something that is not only hard to know, but many believe it cannot be known. In fact, when it comes to beliefs about faith, the whole concept of truth is something that has become so distorted that a lot of people claim that there is such a thing as different truths for different faith groups. And in believing such an illogical premise as this they are then convinced that either there are different gods for different people groups or that all these different gods are actually just the same god with different paths in getting to him, or to it, or whatever they imagine this god to be. But one of the strangest things about it all is that somehow people seem to be okay with these ideas even though these different beliefs and different paths are filled with conflicting claims about crucial issues; like life and death and the afterlife and about who God is and what is required for a relationship with God and how a person receives forgiveness and on and on. And so what happens is that people just concede to this totally illogical claim that; well, there simply must be different truths for different people. But, again, if these so-called different truths are claiming conflicting things, then basic logic means that they cannot all be true after all, right?
Again, very strange. One thing we are to realize about human nature is that people generally look for evidence, logic, and proven history in order to evaluate any ‘truth claim’, except when it comes to ‘religious beliefs’. For when it comes to ‘religious beliefs’ human nature tends to default to just going with what ‘seems right’ to them, rather than what ‘is true’ for all people. The wisest man that ever lived warned all people about this very tendency in mankind when he said, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Prov 14:12 NASU
Now here’s the deception: Especially when it comes to religious beliefs, people tend to default to going with ‘what seems right’ to them. But the problem with that is that you cannot know ‘what is right’ until you know ‘what is true’. For example: In India, it seems right to many people to believe that the world is filled with millions of gods. In Thailand, it seems right to many people to believe that there are many spirits, but not actually a personal god. In Saudi Arabia, it seems right to many people that there is only one god, but this god completely rejects the divinity of the one known as Jesus from Nazareth. And in America, it seems right to many people to believe that no matter what you believe, if there is a god and if there is a heaven, you’ll probably be fine, as long as you’re not really, really, really bad…or as bad as somebody besides themselves, that is.
I remember R.C. Sproul once being asked about how he could talk about Jesus Christ as being the only way to heaven when the world was filled with so many other religions and so many other gods. And he said, “You mean, besides that fact that there are no other gods?” Important point, right? Again, regardless of what ‘seems right’ to a man, a person cannot know what is right until you know what is true. Or, until you know what is true you cannot know what is right. Now then, knowing this rebellious tendency in man against ‘truth’, God gave mankind a particular way to actually determine what is true for all people as opposed to just what seems right to so many.
In the book of Isaiah God stated a series of things about Himself and about what He alone could do to both reveal ‘truth’ and to prove ‘truth’. First, notice what He says about the claims by man about there being different gods in the world. Isa 45:5-6- “I am the Lord, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God…there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. “NASU Could God make it any more clear that there are no other so-called gods in this world? God plainly states that He is the only ‘God’ in existence. Yes, there are spirits, there are demons, and there is a real Satan, who manipulates and dominates the lives of the unconverted throughout the world, since he thinks of himself like a god, although he is just the leader of demons. But, and contrary to what conflicting world religions claim about their god or gods, the God of the Bible is the only ‘God’ there is.
But God wasn’t done talking about the issue of Himself as being the only God. He went on to say:
Isa 45:12- “It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands and I ordained all their host.” Isa 44:24-25- “I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself and spreading out the earth all alone, causing the omens of boasters to fail, making fools out of diviners, causing wise men to draw back and turning their knowledge into foolishness…” NASU Here God not only reveals that is He the only God in existence, He then states that everything that now exists is because He created it with His own hands. And He then even gives name to any and all who would challenge His claim: He names them ‘Fools’! As in: “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”” Ps 14:1 NASU Or, ‘The fool has said in his heart, ‘There are many gods’. Or, ‘The fool has said in his heart, ‘There are many ways to God’. No, the God of creation who is the only God in existence, who then went on to even create a human body for Himself, thus becoming both God and man, Christ Jesus, and then said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jn 14:6 NASU There is one God…one Savior…and one way or pathway to having an eternal relationship with God. God made it very clear both Who He is and how one comes into a relationship with Him…through our one Savior, Jesus Christ.
But God then chose to do something else in particular so that by sound logic and proven history and clear evidence mankind could use to this to determine the truth about everything God was claiming about Himself and about salvation. Back to Isaiah…God put it like this: Isa 46:8-10- “Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’.” NASU
God was telling the world that He was going to do something for mankind that only He as God could do that would prove to them that everything He said about Himself and this world and the world to come was absolutely true. He was going to declare things about the end from the beginning, or He was going to tell them things that were going to happen in the future, so that when they happened then people could clearly understand that only God could do that! Plus, it would also mean that not only whatever God said about anything that happened in the past was true, but also everything God said about what is going to happen in the future was also true. God purposefully injected prophecies into His revelations, or His Scriptures, for the purpose of mankind being able to know that, yes, not only is there such a thing as ‘absolute truth’, but these absolute truths can be found in the pages of God’s Scriptures, where God proved that His words were all true by declaring things about the end from the beginning, like only God can do.
In J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy it states that there are 1,239 prophecies found in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies found in the New Testament, for a total of 1,817. And these prophecies cover an expanse of 8,353 verses of the Bible. That means that about 26% of the Bible is prophetic. And so out of the over 31,000 verses found in the Bible it’s like God saying, ‘I’ll tell you what. Out of every four verses I’ll make one of them be a prophecy so that you can prove that My words are true.’
Now of course, God didn’t say it exactly like that, but pretty close. Why do you think God had His writers of Scripture spend so much time recording actual dates and times and place names and people’s names all throughout the Bible? Much of it was so that people could examine the evidence of the claims of the Bible and according to sound logic and reasoning and actual history, they could then prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that all these things were absolutely true. And since these things were absolutely true that God said would happen and then did happen, it means that everything else that God has said about the future is also absolutely true and is going to happen just as God said. And since God’s words are absolutely true, then there absolutely is such a things as ‘absolute truth’ to which all mankind is absolutely accountable.
But there’s the rub…the issue of ‘accountability’. That’s the part that many people do not like. They do not want to believe that they are accountable to One God about the One Truth that there is only One Way to have a relationship with God, and that is to repent and believe in the One Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Well, they may not want to be accountable, but they can no longer make any claim that not only is there not such a thing as absolute truth, but absolute truth cannot be known. God has not allowed mankind to make any such excuse since He has given mankind nearly 3,000 prophecies that reveal the existence of an absolute God and prove that there is such a thing as absolute truth.
So in the weeks to come we are going to looking into some of these powerful prophecies God has given us in the pages of His Scriptures. We just finished looking at some powerful passages in the Bible, so now we’ll look into some powerful prophecies. And since we have been in the book of Isaiah, we’ll wrap up today’s study with a look into one of these amazing prophecies that prove to all people that only God can reveal something like this.
Isaiah’s ministry covered the years of about 740 B.C. to about 700 B.C. Isaiah is best known for his prophecies about the coming Messiah, which we will cover, of course, but he prophesied about something else that was so stunning and so specific that it caused an unconverted king to do exactly as the prophecy instructed him to do.
Remember, Isaiah was written about 740 to 680 B.C. Isaiah prophesied about the coming judgments on both Israel and Judah. The Assyrians conquered Israel in 722 B.C. and the Babylonians conquered Judah in 586 B.C. But now here is where it really gets amazing. Over 150 years before it ever happens Isaiah prophesies that a Persian King would allow the captive Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple and city. But not only that, before this King is ever born Isaiah even gives the name of the King that will do this. Check it out: Isa 44:28-45:4- “He says to Cyrus, “You are My shepherd. You will do what I want. You will say to Jerusalem, ‘You will be rebuilt!’ You will tell the Temple, ‘Your foundations will be put in place!'” This is what the Lord said to Cyrus, His chosen king: “I took you by your right hand to help you defeat nations, to strip other kings of their power, and to open city gates that will not be closed again. I will go in front of you and make the mountains flat. I will break the city gates of bronze and cut the iron bars on the gates. I will give you the wealth that is stored in secret places. I will give you those hidden treasures. Then you will know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name. I do this for My servant, Jacob. I do it for My chosen people, Israel. Cyrus, I am calling you by name. You don’t know Me, but I know you.” ERV
And don’t you love that part? “You don’t know Me, but I know you.” It’s believed that after the Persians defeated the Babylonians, that no doubt is was Daniel that took Cyrus this message from the writings of Isaiah. And after Daniel reads this 150 year old prophecy to Cyrus, can you imagine the spiritual…could we say, ‘heebie jeebies’ that Cyrus got from hearing this? God says, “You don’t know Me, Cyrus, but I know you. And you will do what I want.” And then God goes on to tell him. To which Cyrus is recorded as saying: “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are the Lord ‘s people may go there for this task. And may the Lord your God be with you!” 2 Chron 36:23 NLT
Cyrus got right after it! When you read your name written in a document that is 150 years old telling you what you have been appointed to do, and signed by God…well, you do it! But part of our point here is that here is a prophecy that no human being could ever have devised. God did not leave any option open for people to say that the Scriptures are just the ideas and opinions of men. Here is a written work with the finger of God upon it. It is recorded in the annuals of history and it includes dates and times and the names of real people in real places, which declares to the world: “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’.”
Prophecy is God’s proof to a skeptical world that He alone is God and that His words are absolute truth. And therefore, everyone on earth is absolutely accountable to Him because He alone, Christ alone, is the way, the truth, and the life.