STUDY THE BIBLE COURSE Lesson 10: Symbol of Fulfilled Prophecy
Bob Thiel, Editor-in-Chief
Published 2016 by the Continuing Church of God
Preface: This course is highly based upon the personal correspondence course developed in 1954 that began under the direction of the late C. Paul Meredith in the old Radio Church of God. Various portions have been updated for the 21st century (though much of the original writing has been retained). It also has more scriptural references, as well as information and questions not in the original course. Unless otherwise noted, scriptural references are to the NKJV, copyright Thomas Nelson Publishing, used by permission. The KJV, sometimes referred to as the Authorized Version is also often used. 16 Additionally, Catholic-approved translations such as the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) are sometimes used as are other translations.
PROPHECY IS A PROOF OF GOD!
It has been estimated that about 1/3 of the Bible is prophetic (there are various estimates, but we likely will not know how much was prophetic until after the first resurrection, which is also prophetic. While most people, who claim Christianity, claim to believe at least parts of the Bible, and countless millions claim to believe all of it, many claim little interest in prophecy. Most are content to overlook a lot of what the word of God teaches. And among those who do claim to value the prophetic word, the vast majority simply do not understand many aspects of it. In a sense, the startling headlines of WORLD NEWS for the next decade or so are ALREADY WRITTEN IN ADVANCE—in prophecy! Yet heads of governments–and most people–are totally oblivious to them!
Tomorrow’s News Today!
TOMORROW’S news is ALREADY WRITTEN in Bible PROPHECY! It stands written long BEFORE the coming earth-shaking events of God’s wrath occur–but most people today ignore the world’s “best seller.” Few really believe the BIBLE MEANS WHAT IT SAYS–and still fewer UNDERSTAND its prophecies! Most people would say it was IMPOSSIBLE for men–over 2600 years ago–to have looked into the future and FORETOLD what is going to happen in OUR DAY to ALL THE MAJOR NATIONS. Weather experts often fail in foretelling the weather even 24 or 48 hours in advance. What chance would anyone have of foretelling specific catastrophes to happen to great nations like the United States? To the British-descended nations? To Germany? Russia? Or China? And having the prophecies come true–unless they were DIVINELY INSPIRED? Fantastic Prophecies Such men did exist! Such prophecies were made! The prophets who foretold the fate of the nations today–who foretold what is to happen in perhaps the next 15 years of our lifetime–ALSO declared over 2600 years ago what THEN SEEMED FANTASTIC, IMPROBABLE, EVEN IMPOSSIBLE events which were to happen to the great nations and city-states of THAT WORLD LONG AGO. THOSE PROPHECIES HAPPENED! They happened centuries later–they were fulfilled PRECISELY AS THE PROPHETS FORETOLD! And the PROOF you will find in this lesson! If the Bible foretold the future of all the leading nations 2600 years ago–Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, the Roman Empire and all those prophecies came to pass, THEN IT’S ABOUT TIME WE BEGIN TO PAY ATTENTION AND LOOK INTO THE PROPHECIES OF THE BIBLE to see what they reveal about the nations TODAY–and to see what they foretell for our people. FOR WE ARE INCLUDED IN BIBLE PROPHECIES! TODAY God is making His existence known to you by showing that His inspired Word–the Holy Bible, can be depended upon.
What Does FULFILLED Prophecy Prove?
Is it rational to believe in GOD? Or is God a myth– an invention of an ignorant, superstitious past? 17 And are Biblical prophecies in reality only shrewd guesses of certain Jews who lived more than 2,000 years ago? In today’s chaotic and deceived world, the question of God’s existence and of the inspiration of prophecy is disturbing increasing numbers of people. Many say they want the TRUTH! They claim they are through being fooled–they are through taking FABLES for granted as FACTS, blindly assuming what is popularly taught. Many want to know! They want the proof! You OUGHT TO FEEL THE SAME WAY ABOUT IT! The place to start this honest search for the truth is with GOD Himself. It ought to be the MOST IMPORTANT PURSUIT of your life to ask about and to SEEK the PROOF of God’s existence and the inspiration of His written prophetic word– the Holy Bible! PROPHECY fulfillment IS PROOF of the EXISTENCE OF GOD ALMIGHTY. It is the PROOF of the DIVINE INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE. It is the PROOF that the Bible is the REVELATION of the facts from God Almighty which we could not otherwise discover or know in advance. Whoever was the real inspiration behind the prophecies of the Bible KNEW OVER 2600 YEARS AGO THE CONDITION THE WORLD WOULD BE IN TODAY–the internal condition of the United States, of Russia, of China, and of all the leading nations of the earth. The God who inspired the Bible knew millennia ago what is going to happen in the imminent future! Is it logical, then, to believe in the God who made His PLAN for our earth known thousands of years in advance?
Bible Dares to Foretell the Future!
Most people are AFRAID of Bible prophecy! They fear that if they should ever examine fulfilled prophecy, they would FIND the PROOF of the divine inspiration of Scripture! If prophecies have not been fulfilled, then the skeptics would have the proof that the Bible is a fraud. The Bible would stand as the most diabolical hoax ever perpetrated upon a gullible religious world. BUT PROPHECY HAS BEEN FULFILLED–and the PROOF is in this lesson of the Study the Bible Course! Here is a Book–The Holy Bible–which taunts the skeptics by daring to foretell within its pages the future history of this world! God DARES us to look within its pages and prove its undeniable inspiration! We may not be ATHEISTS, SKEPTICS, OR AGNOSTICS. We may not RIDICULE the Holy Bible. But we are living in an age of CARELESSNESS, and of DOUBT. Very few people want to exercise their minds sufficiently to PROVE whether or not Bible PROPHECIES are really inspired of God. Fewer still TREMBLE before what these prophecies say, or regard them as having REAL AUTHORITY! Most highly educated people, and that includes people of science, ASSUME that the Bible is not the infallible revelation of a Supreme Supernatural God. They assume this WITHOUT THE SCIENTIFIC PROOF that they demand on ordinary material matters. They TAKE IT FOR GRANTED that prophecies, which are a proof of God, could not be true–but they have not DARED to investigate. THEY DO NOT WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH OF THIS MATTER! Most ‘fundamentalists’, on the other hand, take for granted that Scripture is the very Word of God–but they reject its AUTHORITY over their lives. Therefore, they too, DO NOT UNDERSTAND ITS PROPHECIES. Witness the Babylon of doctrinal confusion over Bible prophecy. Hardly any two of them agree on most prophetic matters. They profess Christ, but they DENY His message. 18 It is time we quit taking these prime questions for granted. “Do not despise prophecies. TEST ALL THINGS (“PROVE ALL THINGS” as the KJV puts it); HOLD FAST WHAT IS GOOD” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21).
How Can You Prove Scripture?
Christ Himself is quoted in the Bible as saying, “The Scripture CANNOT be broken” (John 10:35). But CAN it be broken? Did YOU ever try to break it? Did YOU ever really put its prophecies TO THE TEST–and prove them? Isn’t it about time we stop to seek out the proofs one way or the other? Some people seem to think that the only way to prove the inspiration of the Bible–and hence of its prophecies–is by means of Jesus’ miracles. But the skeptics do not believe those miracles ever happened–even though the historical testimony of the unconverted Jews and pagans admitted that Jesus DID PERFORM those miracles! The skeptics would have us believe that even Jesus’ enemies were gullible enough to think they really happened. The skeptic wants proof that he can EXAMINE TODAY! Immediately many think of ANSWERED PRAYER as the major proof of inspiration. But the skeptic has had no prayers ANSWERED. He does not believe that ANYBODY ELSE has either. “Merely circumstances that the religious superstitiously attribute to God”–that is the way the skeptic regards answered prayer. There is, however, one source of IRREFUTABLE PROOF! This source of proof he can examine with his own eyes and demonstrate to be false– if there is no God! The Bible itself purports to be infallible, a divine revelation of truth revealed by the very Creator and Divine Ruler of the universe. In your Bible, A BEING IS QUOTED. He claims that He is God. He speaks in the first person, saying that He can make and unmake nations, that He can carry out His judgments–His decisions–over millennia of time, claiming that He can foretell infallibly the future of cities and empires, but that NO MAN can do the same. WHO IS THIS who is quoted as saying: I am God, and there is none like Me, DECLARING THE END FROM THE BEGINNING, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’…Indeed I have spoken it; I will also BRING IT TO PASS. I have purposed it; I will also do it.? (Isaiah 46:9-11.) Here are the words of One claiming to be God – claiming not only that He knows the future, but that HE KNOWS IT BECAUSE HE DETERMINES IT– BECAUSE HE HAS THE POWER TO CARRY OUT HIS WILL!
TAUNTING the Skeptics
Skeptics, of course, say that the Bible is NOT the inspired Word of God, but merely the religious writings of an insignificant ancient nation–the Jews, who were groping in the darkness of human ignorance and superstition, trying to develop a concept of what they thought God would say were He to exist! But is it? WHO IS THIS claiming to foretell the future? Is it merely an ignorant, superstitious, albeit pious, ancient Jew with no power to make good his vaunted concept of God, who wrote THIS blistering CHALLENGE to the skeptic–a challenge claiming that no one can thwart His Will? Here in the Bible is One speaking who does not crystal-ball gaze, who does not merely guess what is going to happen, but One who claims to KNOW because HE HAS DETERMINED THE FUTURE. Since this One speaks forth through the 19 words of Scripture, here is the proof that the skeptic needs. If God can BACK UP His Word, if He can FULFILL the prophecies He uttered long ago for this 21st century–THEN THE SKEPTIC HAS PROVED THAT GOD MUST BE THE AUTHOR OF HIS WORD AS HE CLAIMS TO BE. But if events are CONTRARY to the plain statements of Biblical prophecy–contrary to the claims of this “God”–then the skeptic has found the proof that the Bible is not infallible–that we cannot rely on it. PROPHECY IS ONE PROOF UPON WHICH SCRIPTURE STANDS OR FALLS! Even the “God of the Bible” recognizes this fact. Here is what He says: “Set forth your case, says the Lord; bring your PROOFS, says the King of Jacob…. And tell us what is to happen. Tell us the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, that we may know their outcome; or declare to us the things to come” (Isaiah 41:21-22, RSV). Yes, little mortal humans, STATE YOUR PROOFS! Can anyone but God foretell? Could the Bible be the work of humans alone, without the inspiration of God, and be filled with fulfilled prophecies written centuries, yes, millennia in advance? God says, as it were, “Why YOU’RE nothing at all. Come on! Let’s hear YOUR prophecies that we may see whether or not they turn 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 as I have? Are you a god? Do YOU rule the universe, you doubters? 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 DOUBTERS.
Facts Easily Demonstrated
Yes, fulfilled prophecy is the PROOF of divine revelation! If One, throughout the Bible, speaking and claiming to be God, can make prophecies and tell what is going to happen in the future to our cities, our nations, our worldruling empires; then if it actually HAPPENS IN EVERY CASE, without a miss, no sane mind can deny that GOD must have spoken it. If the Bible prophecies are absolutely sure, then THE FACTS CAN BE VERY EASILY DEMONSTRATED–which is what the skeptic or agnostic is afraid of. He wants to remain in his ignorance. He is proud to be an agnostic, or a doubter. He is proud of his ignorance! But YOU cannot afford to be in ignorance–your life is too valuable. There is too much at stake! Now we are ready to study one of the most important lessons of the entire course. Is your BIBLE in front of you? Have you several sheets of paper, and a pen or pencil, so you can MAKE NOTES to help you remember what you learn? If not, go get your Bible, and whatever else you need. Now with your Bible, your paper, a good dictionary, and any other book you may need (mentioned in Lesson 4), here is the METHOD of study: Write down neatly on your notepaper the caption “Lesson 10” and UNDERSCORE it. Underneath, write down the heading of the first question section. Then, underneath that, number each question, and WRITE DOWN THE ANSWER TOGETHER WITH THE SCRIPTURES CONTAINING THE ANSWER. As an EXAMPLE for your first question, this is what you will write on your notepaper: 1. Romans 3:16 – “Destruction and misery are in their ways.” Also write in any thoughts or comments you want to remember. When you have finished this 20 question and have studied it and are sure you understand it, then read the material that follows. Write down all the answers that follow so you can fix them in your mind and REVIEW them later. The verses given you in this Course will establish a framework for ALL your Bible knowledge. Remember, you are to spend TIME studying YOUR BIBLE with this Study the Bible Course. This will help you learn better.
LESSON 10 Proof One:
Ancient Prophesies Fulfilled There were many prophecies in the Bible that were fulfilled anciently. Most people familiar with the Bible realize that Christians teach that Jesus was prophesied in the ancient Hebrew prophecies contained within the Old Testament. And that Christians claim Jesus fulfilled various of those prophesies in the New Testament. But many do not realize that many ancient prophecies also had fulfillment in secular history. Here is an account of part of the 11th chapter of the Book of Daniel from the late Herbert W. Armstrong: The angel says to Daniel, “Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia. And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will” (Dan. 11:2-3). Actually there were 12 more kings in the Persian Empire, but only the first four following Cyrus were of importance for the purpose of this prophecy. They were Cambyses, pseudo-Smerdis, Darius and Xerxes. It was the last, or Xerxes, who was the richest of all and stirred up war with Greece. Then King Philip of Macedonia planned a great war to conquer the Persian Empire, with an army made up mostly of Grecians. He died before the plans were completed. But his son, Alexander the Great, took over his plans, and invaded Persia. He met the Persian army at the Battle of Issus, 333 B.C. (Dan. 8:2, 5-6). Then he swept down into Egypt, and then to a final crushing defeat of the Persian Empire at the Battle of Arbella, 331 B.C., after which Alexander marched on a conquest clear to India, sweeping all before him. Notice now verse 4 of the prophecy: “And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.” How marvelously—how accurately— that came to pass. We quote from one of the authoritative English-language histories published in the last century, A Manual of Ancient History (Student Series) by Rawlinson: “Cut off unexpectedly in the vigor of early manhood [the 33rd year of his age, June, 323 B.C.], he [Alexander] left no inheritor, either of his power or of his projects” (p. 237). The Empire was left leaderless and in confusion, but out of this emerged, by the year 301 B.C., four divisions, just as prophesied, as a result of a division of the Empire into four divisions by Alexander’s generals. They were: 21 1. Ptolemy (Soter), ruling Egypt, part of Syria and Judea. 2. Seleucus (Nicator), ruling Syria, Babylonia and territory east to India. 3. Lysimachus, ruling Asia Minor. 4. Cassander, ruling Greece and Macedonia. Thus was the prophecy of verse 4 fulfilled to the letter. Now notice what follows. From here the prophecy foretells the activities only of two of these four divisions: Egypt, called “king of the south,” because it is south of Jerusalem; and the Syrian kingdom, the king of the north, just north of Judea. It is because the Holy Land passed back and forth between those two divisions, and because their different wars were principally over possession of Judea, that the prophecy is concerned with them. Here is verse 5: “And the king of the south [Egypt] shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.” In history, we learn that the original Ptolemy I, called Soter, became strong and powerful, developing Egypt beyond the greatest dreams of Alexander. One of his princes, or generals, Seleucus Nicator, also became strong and powerful. And, in 312 B.C., taking advantage of Ptolemy’s being tied up in a war, he established himself in Syria, and assumed the diadem as king. Verse 6 says, “And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king’s daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement [margin, “rights” or “equitable conditions,” or “marriage union”]: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times.”
Fulfilled to the Letter!
At the end of 50 years, this occurred exactly as described! Syria’s ruler, the king of the north, at this time was Antiochus II, called Theos. His wife was named Laodice. And, says Rawlinson’s Ancient History, page 251, “Her influence…engaged him in a war with Ptolemy Philadelphus [king of the south], B.C. 260, which is terminated, B.C. 252, by a marriage between Antiochus and Bernice, Ptolemy’s daughter.” The prophecy says “he that begat her” shall be given up. Also that she shall not retain the power of the arm, neither shall the king of the north, whom she married, stand. All three are to come to their end. Notice how accurately this came to pass. Says Rawlinson’s History, pages 251 and 252: “On the death of Philadelphus [he that begat her], B.C. 247, Antiochus repudiated Bernice, and took back his former wife, Laodice, who, however, doubtful of his constancy, murdered him to secure the throne for her son Seleucus (II) B.C. 246…Bernice…had been put to death by Laodice.” Nowhere in all the Bible is there so literal a prophecy, giving so many details of 22 future history. And to read an ancient history of these kingdoms is simply to see unfolded before your eyes, step by step, verse by verse, this marvelous prophecy. There can be no doubt of its right application!
The Holy Land Changes Hands
Next let us notice verse 7: “But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate [margin, “in his office”], which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail.” “Out of a branch,” or “shoot,” of her roots. Her parents were her roots. Hence, this must be her brother, who next should occupy the throne of king of the south and fulfill this prophecy. Now listen to this accurate fulfillment, quoted word for word from the same page of Rawlinson’s work (p. 252): “Ptolemy Euergetes [the III, eldest son of Philadelphus (p. 272) and therefore Bernice’s brother, a branch of her roots] invaded Syria, B.C. 245, to avenge the murder of his sister, Bernice…. In the war which followed, he carried everything before him.” The eighth verse of Daniel 11 says this king of the south would carry captives and vessels of silver and gold into Egypt, and continue to reign more years than the king of the north, who at that time was Seleucus II, and verse 9 says he shall return into Egypt. As verse 7 said he should “enter into the fortress of the king of the north,” Ptolemy III did seize the fortress of Syria, Seleucia, the port of Antioch, capital of the kingdom! Then he carried back to Egypt immense booty and 2,500 molded images and idolatrous vessels which, in 526 B.C. Cambyses had carried away from Egypt. He continued to rule until 222 B.C., while the king of the north, Seleucus II, died in 226 B.C. When he died, his two sons took over the kingdom of the north; first Seleucus III, 226-223 B.C., who ruled only three years, and then his brother Antiochus III, called “the Great,” 223-187 B.C. Both of these two sons of Seleucus II assembled immense forces to war against Egypt, avenge their father, and recover their port and fortress, Seleucia. And this was accurately prophesied in verse 10: “But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return and be stirred up [margin, “be stirred up again”], even to his fortress.” “And,” continues verse 11, “the king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand.” In fulfillment of the latter part of verse 10, Antiochus the Great, after 27 years, recovered his fortress, Seleucia, and he also conquered the territory of Syria, as far as Gaza, including Judea. But the young Egyptian king, now Ptolemy IV (Philopater), was roused, and with an 23 army of 20,000 inflicted severe defeat on Antiochus the Great; and fulfilling verse 12, he killed tens of thousands and again annexed Judea to Egypt. But he was not strengthened, for he made a rash and speedy peace with Antiochus, and returned to dissipation, throwing away the fruits of victory. Says verse 12, “And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it.” For, as verse 13 continues, “the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.” It was “after certain years,” or 12 years later, 205 B.C., that Ptolemy Philopator died, leaving his throne to an infant son, Ptolemy Epiphanes. Then Antiochus assembled a greater army, and won great victories. He then made a treaty allying Philip of Macedonia with him, and others, against Egypt, and they wrested Phoenicia and southern Syria from the king of the south. In this they were assisted by some of the Jews. Josephus’ Jewish history says many Jews helped Antiochus. But notice how accurately Almighty God had foretold this, hundreds of years before it happened!— “And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall” (v. 14).
Read It in Your Own Bible!
To save space, the reader is asked from this point to read each verse of the prophecy from his own Bible, thus saving us reprinting the prophecy in full here. We give here only the facts in history. Verses 15-16 — “the glorious land,” of course, refers to Judea, the Holy Land. Antiochus the Great besieged and took Sidon from Egypt, ruined the interests of Egypt in Judea at the Battle of Mount Panium, 198 B.C., and then Antiochus took possession of Judea. Verse 17 — “upright ones”…In 198 B.C., Antiochus arranged a marriage between his daughter, Cleopatra (not the Cleopatra of 31 B.C. in Egypt) and young Ptolemy Epiphanes, king of the south, by which he hoped subtly to gain complete possession of Egypt; but the plan failed. Says Rawlinson, page 254, “Coele-Syria and Palestine promised as a dowry, but not delivered.” Cleopatra did not truly stand on the side of Antiochus, for it was only a trick to gain possession of Egypt. Verse 18 — and so Antiochus turned his attention in another direction and tried to conquer, 197 to 196 B.C., the islands and coasts of Asia Minor. But the Roman general, Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus, utterly defeated him at the Battle of Magnesia, 190 B.C. Verse 19 — Antiochus next turned his attention to the fortresses of his own land, in the East and west. But, attempting to recruit his dissipated wealth by the plunder of the Oriental Temple of Belus, in Elymais, he was killed, 187 B.C. (Armstrong H.W. The Middle East in Prophecy. Worldwide Church of God, 1972) 24 The Book of Daniel was written around 540 or so B.C. Yet, notice that many prophecies in the 11th chapter of that book were clearly fulfilled historically. Most people, even those not particularly interested in history have heard of Alexander the Great and Cleopatra—and some of what they were involved in were predicted centuries in advance in the Bible. Of course, there are skeptics and doubters who claim that the Book of Daniel was not written when it was but long after the events happened. Some will NOT accept the truth and not believe that anyone or even God can predict the future. Yet, the God of the Bible can inspire prophets and make the prophecies come to pass! Notice also the following from the late Church of God evangelist Leroy Neff where he mentioned about fulfillments including more about Alexander the Great:
Cyrus, ruler of Persia
The first example is that of Cyrus the Persian, the first ruler of the Persian empire, who lived in the sixth century B.C. The stories of Cyrus’ birth and youth as recorded in the histories of the time are so remarkable that they seem almost like children’s stories. Herodotus, the Greek historian of the fifth century B.C., recounts one of these stories, here summarized. Astyages, the son of Cyaxeres, king of the Medes, had a daughter, Mandane. He became fearful because he dreamed that this daughter would bear a child who would rule in his place, not only his kingdom but all of Asia. He wanted to prevent this at all cost. When Mandane had her first child, a son, Astyages instructed one of his trusted servants, Harpagus, to have the child killed. Harpagus, not wanting to do such a horrible thing, entrusted the terrible responsibility to Mitradates, a herdsman. Mitradates, on finding that his own child had just been stillborn, took and reared Mandane’s son as his own. When the boy was about 10 years old his true identity became known. His grandfather, Astyages the king, now accepted him and in due time this boy, Cyrus, ascended the throne in about 558 B.C. By about 549 B.C. Cyrus had become king over all Media, and by about 548 B.C. he ruled all Persia; He conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. and the Persian empire succeeded the Babylonian empire. This story would not be so remarkable by itself, but predictions about Cyrus are included in Bible prophecy. You will find these predictions in the last verses of Isaiah 44 and the first part of Isaiah 45. “That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid” (Isa. 44:28). Isaiah gave this prophecy almost two centuries before Cyrus made his proclamation about rebuilding God’s Temple in Jerusalem! “Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah” (Ezra 1:2). Not only did God name Cyrus long before he was born, He saw to it that 25 Satan did not succeed in having him put to death by his grandfather! He also saw that Cyrus issued the proclamation to rebuild the Temple, as God said he would! But there is more.
The two leaved gates
“Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him–the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut” (Isa. 45:1). Isaiah prophesied that God would make it possible for Cyrus to conquer the many kingdoms that ultimately made up his empire. Also, the “two leaved gates” would not be shut or locked. This refers to the remarkable way in which Cyrus was able to capture the city (and consequently the empire) of Babylon. The large city of Babylon, with its massive high walls, appeared impregnable from the outside. When Cyrus’ armies encamped around the city, the Babylonians only laughed! They could survive a siege of years. Unbeknownst to the Babylonians, however, Cyrus’ men were able to divert most of the Euphrates River, which normally flowed through massive gates into the city. Cyrus also had gotten a spy into the city, who on the appropriate night had the inner gates along the river unlocked. With the lowered river level, the army was able to invade the city by way of the river route and through these gates, taking the Babylonians by complete surprise. Part of the remarkable fulfillment of the prophecy about the “two leaved gates” is described in Daniel 5, the rest in various secular histories.
The second prophetic personality we will consider is Alexander of Macedon, also known as Alexander the Great. He was the first king of the Graeco-Macedonian empire. Upon the death of his father Philip in 336 B.C., he ascended the Greek throne, being only about 20 years old. Two years later he entered Asia with about 30,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry. He put to flight superior Persian forces at the battle of Granicus and then in October, 333 B.C., he faced Darius III, the Persian king, who had an army 10 times greater than his own. This battle of Issus won him an overwhelming victory. Alexander later won a conclusive victory over Persia at the Battle of Arbela on Oct. 1, 331 B.C., even though Darius III fielded an army of more than one million men. This young man went on to extend his empire to the Indus River. He died of fever when he was less than 34 years of age, after a reign of only about 13 years. The prophecies about this man are found in Daniel, chapters 8 and 11. Part of this prophecy states: “And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power” (Dan. 8:5-6). The “notable horn” represented Alexander (the first king of Grecia, verse 21) who conquered the “ram” (the king 26 of Persia, verse 20). Alexander is also referred to in Daniel 11:3-4. This prophecy was given by Daniel in. the sixth century B.C., but its fulfillment by Alexander did not occur until about two centuries later, in the fourth century B.C.!
An interesting sidelight of this prophecy concerns the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish people there. On Alexander’s drive southward, after his conquest of Syria, he bypassed Jerusalem, continuing along the seacoast to Gaza, which he took in the fall of 332 B.C. After this he headed with his armies toward Jerusalem. He had previously written Jaddua, the Jewish leader and high priest, requiring certain provisions. Jaddua replied that he had given an oath to King Darius of Persia that he could not violate as long as Darius lived. This greatly angered Alexander. “Now Alexander, when he had taken Gaza, made haste to go up to Jerusalem; and Jaddua the high priest, when he heard that, was in an agony, and under terror, as not knowing how he should meet the Macedonians, since the king was displeased at his foregoing disobedience” (Josephus, Ant., Book XI, Chapter VIII, section 4). Jaddua then exhorted the people to pray and offer sacrifices to God, whereupon God told him in a dream how to receive Alexander and his armies. Here is how the momentous meeting took place. “Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance, in white garments, while the priests stood clothed with fine linen, and the high priest in purple and scarlet clothing, with his miter on his head, having the golden plate whereon, the name of God was engraved, he approached by himself, and adored that name, and first saluted the high priest.” Alexander then said: “I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dios in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain the dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay…. And when the book of Daniel was shewed him, wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended” (ibid., section 5). As a result of these events, Alexander dealt kindly with the Jews. This interesting story gives a little more detail on how God brings about the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, sometimes in remarkable ways.
An abomination in God’s Temple
The last event we will consider relates to Antiochus Epiphanes, who was king of Syria during the second century B.C. After Alexander’s death his empire was divided into four kingdoms (Dan. 7:6, 8:8, 22, 11:4). One of these four kingdoms was that of Syria. Here is what Daniel says about Antiochus: 27 “And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered” (Dan. 8:9-12). This prophecy was fulfilled in a terrible way. Antiochus took over Jerusalem and the Temple. He stopped the daily sacrifices and forced pagan religion on the Jews. Here is one summary of the horrible details: “The observance of the Sabbath, circumcision and abstinence from unclean food were forbidden under penalty of death. Mothers who had their infant sons circumcised were crucified with their babes hanged upon their necks. The daily sacrifice was made to cease. An altar to the Olympian Zeus was built upon the altar of burnt offering and sacrifice offered upon it. A herd of swine was driven into the temple and swine’s flesh offered upon the altar. The Holy of Holies and its furniture were sprinkled with broth made from swine’s flesh. The courts of the temple were polluted with indecent orgies” (Ancient History in Bible Light, Miller, p. 214). This time has rarely, if ever, been equaled in the history of Israel or Judah. Not only were the people butchered, even fried in huge pans, but Antiochus personally entered into the Holy of Holies in God’s Temple and took away the gold vessels in the Temple. He erected a “Greek altar on the site of the old one on 25 December 167” (The New Bible Dictionary, article “Antiochus”). Finally Judas Maccabaeus, his brothers and the Jews were able to recapture Jerusalem three years later, cleanse the sanctuary (Temple) and reinstitute the worship of God. It should be noted here, however, that this prophecy of Daniel 8:9-12 is dual. Antiochus fulfilled it in type, but it is even now awaiting a much more terrible fulfillment in this end time!
Prophecy for today
These three examples show that God not only knows the end from the beginning and has predicted the future, but He also sees to it that the prophecies are fulfilled. Certainly many books could be written– have been written–to give all the historical details. There are scores of fulfilled prophecies about Christ alone, others about John the Baptist, Judas Iscariot and others. The fall of Israel and Judah were also foretold in great detail by Isaiah, Jeremiah and others. The fulfillment of the physical promises to Abraham is a matter of record. The restoration of the Jews to Judea in the sixth century B.C., the rebuilding of 28 the Temple and the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 are major prophecies that have been fulfilled. The rise and fall of ancient Babylon is another fulfilled prophecy. But more important than these historical fulfillments is that prophecy is right now being fulfilled. The fall of the modern descendants of ancient Israel (particularly Britain and the United States) is well under way. This was prophesied as early as the time of Moses (Lev. 26 and Deut. 28). This fall will lead to another captivity during a time called Jacob’s trouble or the great tribulation. Following this tribulation, supernatural heavenly signs will announce the imminent return of Christ. Immediately after these signs will begin the “Day of the Lord,” culminating in the actual return of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. Prophecy also shows that God will make a way of escape from all these horrors for his faithful servants who are “accounted worthy” (Luke 21:36). We need to be about our Father’s business, doing the Work He has asked us to do, cleaning up our personal lives so that we, together with others who have already qualified, may become a “glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Eph. 5:27). If we do, we will be able to escape all these terrible events and stand before the Son of man! (Fulfilled Prophecy God’s Challenge to the Skeptic. Good News magazine, December 1980)
Proof Two: STRIFE
Prophesied One major factor stands out as a REASON why so many doubt Bible prophecy—it is the inherent rebellious NATURE and ATTITUDE of human beings. Prophecy seems so unreal to most people–so unlikely to happen–because it pictures a God who can become ANGRY with the sins of this world–a God who claims to know better than we how we OUGHT to live. Prophecy reveals a God who corrects the world because it has gone astray by setting up its own governments and ordaining its OWN LAWS CONTRARY TO GOD’S GOVERNMENT AND LAWS. Undoubtedly the first fact we must face–if we are going to understand prophecy and WHO God really is–relates to HUMAN NATURE itself. Here is the BASIC REASON FOR PROPHECY!
1. Romans 3:16, like many other statements of Scripture, IS A PROPHECY. What does it say? Name the RESULTS of the WAYS WHICH HUMAN BEINGS LIVE. Is the whole world facing the inevitable results today? (See also Lesson 1, The cause of World Ills, Bible News Prophecy Magazine, Jan–Mar 2014, pp 17-19.)
2. Compare verse 15 with the preceding five verses.
3. What does the Bible prophesy about the possibility of HUMANITY establishing WORLD PEACE without the supernatural intervention of God? Verse 17. See also Jeremiah 6:13-15 Romans 3:13-18; Isaiah 59:8; Ezekiel 7:25-26; and 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6.
4. WHO claims to be able to make peace? Isaiah 45:7.
5. Are these verses obviously a DIRECT PROPHECY THAT GOD ALONE CAN BRING PEACE TO THE WORLD–that the world cannot establish peace without His supernatural intervention?
6. Do most people recognize these verses as prophecies? Do most people even believe these verses mean what they plainly say? How do you know that most people do not 29 believe what God says in these verses? Do they rather think that they THEMSELVES can bring world peace?
7. Do these verses, written from about 1940 to 2700 years ago, indicate that the One who claims to be the Author of the Bible KNEW THE END-RESULT of human ways and customs? Do PRESENT WORLD CONDITIONS prove that He did? (To see daily biblical analysis of current news and prophecy go to www.COGwriter.com/news.) Did God foretell, almost from the beginning of human history, what we see occurring about us today? Jude 14-15. Was Enoch a prophet? What did we learn in the introduction of this lesson about the duty of a prophet? Did Enoch rebuke “sinners” for their violent misdeeds? What is sin? 1 John 3:4. Did Enoch recognize that the Lord of heaven and earth would have to intervene in world affairs to convince the world that its ways are wrong? Jude 14-15.
8. Does the vast majority agree with God’s predictions? Do YOU think that the world’s ways can lead to peace and harmony among nations? Consider the following:
Perilous times The scourge of terrorism was predicted centuries ago in the pages of the Bible. Jesus prophesied that conditions in the latter days would mirror the chaotic state of the earth in Noah’s time—an evil and corrupt world filled with violence (Luke 17:26, Genesis 6:5,11). The apostle Paul also warned, “In the last days perilous times will come” (2 Timothy 3:1). The meaning of this prophecy goes far beyond mere incidental crime. “Make a chain,’ cried the prophet Ezekiel, “for the land is filled with crimes of blood, and the city is full of violence” (Ezekiel 7:23). Bible prophecies picture an end-time world filled with lawlessness, aggression and hate, a world split by factions and international disputes, an era of rampant, indiscriminate violence and murder inspired by Satan the devil, the original murderer (John 8:44). We are living in those very days! Man, apart from God, cannot control terrorism. As long as the evil influence of Satan remains on the earth, terrorism and crime will continue to escalate, despite man’s attempts to stem it. Force will continue to rule the world. Man will continue to answer violence with violence. This is yet Satan’s world (II Corinthians 4:4). (Stump K. How Terrorism Will be Stopped! Good News magazine, December 1985)
TERRORISM: the Worst Is Yet to Come!
Suicide bombers threaten mayhem in the Middle East. And experts now warn about “state-supported terrorism.” Where is it all headed? Terrorist groups survive despite governmental pressures in much the same way as a troubled business survives in spite of economic difficulties. To “stay in business,” terrorist groups have, in the past, robbed banks, kidnapped, extorted, even dealt in drugs or other contraband materials. But “local fund-raising” has proven unreliable for some groups. As a result, they have opted for another, more ominous way of augmenting their budgets: seeking out powerful sponsors to provide safe havens, training, weapons and money. In some cases 30 these sponsors have proven to be national governments—leading to what is now called “state-supported terrorism.” Terrorists have become the means by which some powerful nations, desiring to avoid unwanted escalation or public outcry, can punish their enemies at a relatively small cost. State sponsorship has presented a dangerous new face of terrorism. For one thing, the level of weaponry employed has advanced greatly. Crude pipe bombs have been replaced by sophisticated remotely-fired car bombs. Molotov cocktails are out; rocketpropelled grenades are in. But greater levels of finances and weaponry are not the only changes that have come on the scene. Targets have changed also.(Taylor D. TERRORISM the Worst Is Yet to Come! Plain Truth, May 1984) Notice the following scriptures: 25 The sword shall destroy outside; There shall be terror within (Deuteronomy 32:25) 12 “Cry and wail, son of man; For it will be against My people, Against all the princes of Israel. Terrors including the sword will be against My people; Therefore strike your thigh. (Ezekiel 21:12) 25 Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, 27 When your terror comes like a storm, And your destruction comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. (Proverbs 1:25-27) 5 Also they are afraid of height, And of terrors in the way (Ecclesiastes 12:5). While many political, media, and other leaders refuse to believe the Bible, the reality is that those of us who believe the Bible realize that terrorism is prophesied. Consider that we have seen increased escalation in 2015 and 2016. Terrorism was prophesied!
COMMENT: This prophecy is GOD’S STANDING CHALLENGE to the atheist and agnostic!
THE SKEPTIC AND DOUBTER CAN PROVE GOD A LIAR MERELY BY FINALLY AND PERMANENTLY ESTABLISHING PEACE AMONG HUMANITY WITHOUT GOD’S SUPERNATURAL INTERVENTION! But the testimony of human history shows that throughout the past two thousand years, the nations of the world have NOT been able to defy this prophecy and establish permanent peace! (The Bible does tell of a time of a ‘deal’ that will bring peace to the Middle East for a few years, but it also says that the deal will be broken and various wars will later ensue in Daniel 9:27; cf. Daniel 11:31-44). Here is actual VISIBLE EVIDENCE that God’s Word is being fulfilled. But the world REFUSES TO RECOGNIZE THIS EVIDENCE! Of course the doubter may conclude that these verses predicting world strife were shrewd guesses based upon previous history! Human history does indicate it–but how many people really believe it? Here is a prophecy which has stood for centuries, DARING ANY HUMAN BEING TO ALTER IT! The nations have spilled millions of gallons of human blood, spent thousands of millions of dollars, wasted precious time–all in a vain attempt to do what God said cannot be done. And we are to witness the final fulfillment of this prophecy when God will have to INTERVENE in human affairs to PREVENT WORLD ANNIHILATION and bring us world peace at last! Atheists and agnostics are now living who will see that day! All Bible doctrine stands or falls on 31 this fundamental prophecy which God dares any man to break!
GOD’S Church Fulfills Prophecy
Even skeptics admit that the Bible has been completely written in its present form for over 19 centuries. THEREFORE ANYTHING IN THE BIBLE RELATING TO THE CHURCH WHICH JESUS SAID HE WOULD BUILD COULD NOT POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN FORGED DURING THE PAST FEW HUNDRED YEARS. We have many manuscripts proving that our present Greek New Testament text is the same as it was nearly 20 centuries ago. What did Jesus say would happen to His Church? Would His Church be a great, powerful “Mother” Church from which would spring many PROTESTING “daughter” churches? Would His Church end in a babel of confusion–in hundreds of conflicting church denominations? If Jesus is alive today–if He did not lie about His Church–if He stands back of every word He uttered, then we ought to find ample proof in FULFILLED prophecy about His Church. Here is the PROOF: 1. Did Jesus pray–and therefore PROPHESY– that His Church would be ONE BODY, united in perfect harmony as the Father and Jesus the Son are united in harmony? John 17:20- 23 and verse 11. Did the Father always hear Jesus’ prayers? John 11:41-42. COMMENT: God Almighty has been answering Jesus’ prayer for the last 1900 years! The true Church of God–which Jesus Christ built–exists today as ONE HARMONIOUS group of Spirit begotten Christians, composing the “Body of Christ.” (Send for the FREE booklet on the Continuing History of the Church of God for more astounding proof!) 2. Then why are there so many denominations? If God has been answering Jesus’ prayer, why are there so many DIFFERENT churches–all in confusion and disharmony? Could these churches be PART of the ONE TRUE CHURCH which Jesus said He would build? Or are they the churches of this world MASQUERADING as the true Church of God? Are these many conflicting churches a PART OF THIS WORLD?–do they meddle in politics? In reform movements? Have they adopted the customs of this world? Was Jesus’ Church to be A PART OF THIS WORLD’S CUSTOMS AND WAYS? John 17:14-16. 3. Then where did this confusion arise–where did these discordant professing “Christian” churches come from? Did Jesus prophesy that false ministers would CREEP into the true Church? Matthew 7:15. Did Peter also warn of these false teachers who would creep into the true Church unawares in an attempt to corrupt it? 2 Peter 2:1-3. Had they already entered the Church in Jude’s time? Jude 3. 4. But were they KICKED OUT by the time John wrote? 1 John 2:18-19. Notice the Bible plainly states that these false ministers NEVER were a PART of the true Church Jesus founded!!
What Happened to the Early Church that Led to Modern Mainstream Christianity?
While we have a booklet that goes into this in more depth titled Continuing History of the Church of God (available for free online at www.ccog.org) a brief overview may be helpful here. Jesus taught that the true church would be a “little flock” (Luke 12:32), hated by the world (Matthew 10:22), and persecuted (Matthew 10:23). He also taught only a few would find the way to eternal life in this age (Matthew 7:14; 20:16). The Apostle Jude indicates that the number of saints was relatively small (Jude 14), while the Apostle Paul called the small group a “remnant” (Romans 11:5). In the first century, apparently a false apostle, who is now called Mark (not to be confused with 32 the biblical writer of the same name), preached an allegorical interpretation of scripture in Alexandria. Alexandria was one of the most important intellectual centers of the Roman Empire in ancient times and had much influence in the Greco-Roman world. The falsely titled “Epistle of Barnabus” came from Alexandria in the early second century and also preached allegorical interpretation of scripture (see its chapter 10:2). The second century Gnostic heretics Valentinus and Basilides were Alexandrian. In the 3rd century, enchantments (cf. Isaiah 47) and claimed ‘Marian’ messages also affected many. Within the Roman Empire the religion of Mithraism was increasing in popularity while versions of Christianity also were. Some considered that the two religions were in competition with each other (though that was really only the case with the compromisers and the followers of Mithras). Mithras was a pagan sun-god. Many beliefs and practices associated with Mithraism started to rub-off on many who professed Christ in the second through fourth centuries. According to the 18th century historian E. Gibbon, around 135 A.D., many who professed Christ in Jerusalem chose to be led by a Latin leader called Marcus who urged them to compromise with God’s law (which Gibbon calls “the Mosaic law”) in order to be tolerated by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Certain compromises in Rome apparently occurred around the same time, apparently for the same reason. The acceptance of some of the doctrines held by other heretics (such as Simon Magus, Marcion, and Montanus) spread to many who professed Christ. Various allegorical heretics, such as Valentinus, went from Alexandria to Rome and elsewhere and began spreading various Gnostic and semi-gnostic teachings. And while history shows that second century leaders from Asia Minor opposed these heretics and their teachings, many of them were tolerated, at least for decades, by the main churches in Rome and Alexandria.
Part of the reason for that acceptance of certain Gnostic teachings was that it greatly increased the number of Gentiles into those churches. Notice what one historian wrote: The Gnostics blended with the faith of Christ many sublime but obscure tenets…the Gnostics were imperceptibly divided into more than fifty particular sects, of whom the most celebrated appear to have been the Basilidians, the Valentinians, the Marcionites…. Each of these sects could boast of its bishops and congregations, of its doctors and martyrs; and, instead of the Four Gospels adopted by the church the heretics produced a multitude of histories in which the actions and discourses of Christ and of his apostles were adapted to their respective tenets. The success of the Gnostics was rapid and extensive. They covered Asia and Egypt, established themselves in Rome, and sometimes penetrated into the provinces of the West. For the most part they arose in the second century… The Gentile converts, whose strongest objections and prejudices were directed against the law of Moses, could find admission into many Christian societies, which required not from their untutored mind any belief of an antecedent revelation. Their faith was insensibly fortified and enlarged, and the church was ultimately benefited by the conquests of its most inveterate enemies (Gibbon E. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume III, Chapter XXVII. ca. 1776-1788). While we do not agree with Gibbon that the true church “ultimately benefited” from this compromise as he indicated, this compromise did allow the mainstream Greco-Roman 33 churches to “enlarge” as Gibbon wrote and become the majority of those who professed Christ. Although many seem to accept blending of pagan ideas with their understanding of Christianity, this is not the way it was supposed to be. Notice, for one example, one of the accomplishments of Nehemiah: 30 I cleansed them of everything pagan. (Nehemiah 13:30) However, many who professed Christ in the first few centuries did not share Nehemiah’s view as they included pagan concepts in their faith. Jesus Himself warned about adopting pagan practices of prayer (Matthew 6:7). Christians are not supposed to have the “spirit of the world” nor love its practices (1 John 2:15).
Despite biblical warnings, in the second century, one or more semi-gnostic schools developed in Alexandria, including the one headed by the semi-gnostic Clement of Alexandria and then Origen, whose teachings greatly influenced professing Christians in the Greco-Roman world. However, many of the teachings of the main school there have been condemned as heretical, even by Catholic and Protestant sources–and although many had pagan ties, many who profess Christianity still have been influenced by them. COMMENT: The Bible warns about DECEIVERS who crept into the Church under FALSE PRETENSE. They pretended to be–they masqueraded as–sheep. These wolves in sheep’s clothing sought to enter the true Church, take it over, SUBSTITUTE their own pagan Babylonish Mysteries for God’s true teachings and commandments, and make it still appear as though it were Christ’s true Church!! It was a great diabolically inspired pagan movement to stamp the name of Christ on their worldly, pagan religion! The apostle Paul branded them as, in true FACT, the ministers of Satan (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Yet they palmed themselves off as the apostles of Christ–but they were FALSE apostles (verse 13). When Jude wrote, about 67 A.D., they had already crept in by stealth and false pretense, turning GRACE into LICENSE to disobey God’s Law (Jude 4). In their letters, James and Peter spoke of this opposition against God’s Law. The apostle John combated it in his letters, written in the 90’S A.D. By that time these imposters had come and GONE! But now they claimed that THEY, and their followers, NOT the true Church of God, constituted the original “Christianity,” and the ONLY original true Church. But they NEVER were any PART of the TRUE Church which Jesus founded! (1 John 2:19.) 4. Did the world begin to listen to the heresies and fables of those false teachers, rather than listen to the Truth of God? 1 John 4:5. Is this true of the world today? 5. Did Jesus prophesy that MANY today, not the few, would be deceived? Matthew 24:4- 5 and Mark 13:5-6. What does Luke 21:8 say? Do the many–or do the FEW–find the way of peace that leads to eternal life? Matthew 7:13-14. Does this sound like the majority of professing Christians really belong to the true Church of God today? Do these prophecies declare that THE MANY are PRESENTLY ensnared by this Babylon of professing “Christian” denominations?
COMMENT: In Jesus’ prophecy for TODAY He foretold of deceitful ministers–with their false “churches”–coming in His name, posing as Christ’s true ministers, professing Christianity, yet REJECTING the message Jesus brought from heaven.
This fact explains why the knowledge of the truth has become lost to the world and has been PRESERVED by the true Church of God. For ONLY God’s Church LIVES by every word of God, 34 recognizing and submitting to Christ’s supreme authority over its collective members! 6. Though the world was to corrupt the truth– even though it accepted the NAME OF CHRIST–did Jesus FORETELL that His Church would be preaching the true gospel of the Kingdom of God in the closing hours of this age? Matthew 24:14. 7. Is God’s Church–the (Continuing) “Church of God”—preaching that gospel today from its headquarters in California? Does Jesus’ Church have the backing of powerful worldly financial interests? Or does it have only “a LITTLE strength” which GOD INSPIRES to be used WISELY in a MIGHTY WAY to preach Christ’s warning message to the world? Revelation 3:8. COMMENT: The existence of God’s TRUE Church today is yet another proof that God exists! These are but a few of the HUNDREDS of scriptures which prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that WHAT JESUS PROPHESIED would happen to HIS CHURCH IS HAPPENING TODAY! And the world has been turned to fables which are masquerading under the guise of “gospel truth” AS JESUS PROPHESIED! History shows that there were two major groups that professed Christ in the second/third/fourth centuries. One group included claimed Greco-Roman (Orthodox and Roman Catholic) saints, such as Polycarp of Smyrna, Thraseas of Eumenia, Apollonius of Ephesus, and Apollinaris of Hierapolis, Serapion of Antioch, and Nepos of North Africa. Those in this group claimed such doctrines/practices such as Passover on the 14th, the avoidance of unclean meats, the Sabbath, binitarianism, the millennium, the correct New Testament canon, avoidance of military participation, and the belief in the scriptures. They understood and promoted the true gospel. The other group included many who killed and ordered persecutions. This group included those who blended Gnostic thought, allegory, Mithraism, and a disregard for certain biblical prophecies with their version of “Christianity.” They tended to endorse a different gospel. Both groups existed in the second, third, and fourth centuries. In the second century, the first group was apparently the largest until after compromise and persecutions, the second group gained predominance in many areas (see also our free booklet on the Continuing History of the Church of God). Both groups (with their numerous parts) have existed throughout the ages. Both groups exist today.
One (the Greco-Romans) teaches that both of the early groups were part of it. The other (the true Church of God) teaches that only one of the early two groups was faithful, and it traces itself through that one only. 8. Did Jesus Himself teach that there would be two groups and that the real group would be small? Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 12:32. So, the majority, according to Jesus, would end up in the wrong group and only a relative few to the actual Christian group. 9. Did the Apostle Paul teach the same thing about this age? Romans 11:5 It is the genuine Church of God, as represented by the Continuing Church of God, that claims ties to the Apostle John and a long list of original doctrines and leaders, including those listed in this lesson. Leaders who held positions that the Greco-Roman churches currently claim are heretical. 35 Most other groups claiming to be Christian, directly or indirectly claim to have ties to the allegorist group (and accepted many, though not all, of the decisions of their councils prior to 700 A.D.), or basically wish to act like they are somehow faithful even though they did not come from either of the two churches that this article discusses. Since Jesus made it clear that His faithful church would be a “little flock” (Luke 12:32) that could never die out (Matthew 16:18), only a small group that came from the original group could be the true church today. That church today is best represented by the Continuing Church of God. 10. Did Jesus also foresee a time when God would have to intervene in world affairs to stop the impending threat of total annihilation of human life? Matthew 24:21- 22. (We discussed this in the very first lesson of this Course.)
COMMENT: Here again is added proof that God does exist! He foreknew–He planned–the events now taking place before our very eyes. He is the One responsible for the news headlines you read daily–HEADLINES THAT POINT TO THE RAPID FULFILLMENT OF ALL THE OUTSTANDING PROPHECIES AS SOON AS THIS GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM IS PREACHED TO ALL THE WORLD AS A WITNESS!
Proof Three: Increased Knowledge and Population Prophesied
Many discount the ancient historical fulfillment of biblical prophecies. Those who do not claim to be Christian do not care if or how Jesus fulfilled ancient prophecies. Many do not care about prophesies related to the true Church of God. But there are a couple of prophesies that have been fulfilled since the New Testament was written that should give even non-believers enough pause to consider that God’s hand was behind them. Consider the following from Daniel was told related to the last days: 4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4) Modern travel is so much faster than humans in Daniel’s day thought was physically possible. With the creation and utilization of modern computers, as well as the internet, there has been a knowledge explosion all over the world. Was that prediction just a lucky guess? Consider another end time prophecy: 13 Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. (Revelation 9:13-16) When the above prophecy was written, there were not 200 million people on the planet, let alone enough men to make an army of that size. That prophecy, also, was for the end times. The Bible also warned about geopolitical and military alliances that we are seeing forming today. No reasonable person would consider these to 36 have been ‘lucky guesses’ made over 1900 years ago, especially when combined with the other prophecies that have been confirmed.
The LESSON of Prophecy
Before we complete this lesson of the Study the Bible Course, it is vital that we understand one more fact. Now that we have demonstrated by fulfilled prophecy that God DOES exist, we are brought face to face with the recognition that God is Supreme Ruler. As Supreme Ruler He commands our unconditional surrender to Him and our TOTAL OBEDIENCE TO HIS LAWS AND HIS GOVERNMENT—to His WAY of Life. This is the MESSAGE OF ALL THE PROPHETS SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN! The prophets were NOT religious enthusiasts, reformers of worldly religions and morals, or politicians who guessed about the future in order to influence the world of their day. This idea is the common mistaken concept of modernists and of rationalistic theologians. The prophets were rather WATCHMEN, GUARDIANS of God’s truth–sent to warn individuals, cities, nations and the world of the results of their evil ways–the results that sin brings. The prophets received revelations from a merciful God to deliver to men BEFORE God poured out His judgments on the people and the nations that revolted against His Will and did what seemed right in their own eyes. God’s watchmen warn TODAY! They warn the nations to yield to God who alone knows right from wrong. PROPHECY FORETELLS THE CORRECTIVE PUNISHMENT God promises to send because He LOVES human beings and WANTS TO BRING THEM TO THEIR SENSES. “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). God promises, through prophecy, to give us ample advance WARNING TO TURN TO GOD’S WAYS which are BEST FOR mankind. The entire lesson of prophecy is contained in 2 Kings 17:6-23: “… Assyria captured Samaria, and…carried the Israelites away”– Why?–”because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God…and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations”–they took up a way of life that SEEMED right to the nations round about them–”And the people of Israel did secretly against the Lord their God things that were not right…. yet the LORD WARNED ISRAEL AND JUDAH BY EVERY PROPHET AND EVERY SEER”–God spoke through the prophets and those who saw visions– “saying, ‘Turn from your evil ways and KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS AND MY STATUTES, in accordance with all the law which I commanded your fathers, AND WHICH I SENT TO YOU BY MY SERVANTS THE PROPHETS'” (verses 6-13, RSV). God’s prophets were His spokesmen, revealing His law to a forgetful and rebellious nation. “But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God…And the Lord rejected ALL the descendants of Israel…AS HE HAD SPOKEN BY ALL HIS SERVANTS THE PROPHETS” (verses 14, 20, 23, RSV). THE PROPHETS LAID BARE THE INNER REASONS FOR EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES. They explained WORLD EVENTS in their connection with the government and the Laws of God.
The ultimate PURPOSE for prophecy is to bring about the complete supremacy of GOD’S WILL among all human beings. It foretells to us TODAY that since most men will not voluntarily surrender themselves to the authority and laws of God, He will have to intervene personally in 37 world affairs to PUNISH THE DISOBEDIENT and BRING PEACE TO THE NATIONS. Properly paying attention to prophetic events helps one to be ready for Jesus (Luke 21:36;). Additionally, the reality of prophecy and world events is also intended to be a reflective exercise to get Christians to examine their lives enough to change as they should (cf. Romans 13:11-14; 2 Peter 3:10-13). Another reason to pay attention to prophecy and events is so that you will not be carried away with false prophetic and other teachings. That is also part of the reason that there is a ministry, including prophets: 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.(Ephesians 4:11-16) Throughout the years, various ones have claimed that the end was sooner that it was. One of most famous in the 21st century were the pronouncements of the now deceased Harold Camping. But those who properly understood current events in the light on biblical prophecy could easily prove he was in error. There have been, and still are, others as well. But no matter what anyone says, the world will not end this year, or next year, or even the year after. How can I be sure? Well, for one reason, the Apostle Peter wrote: 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed (2 Peter 1:19, KJV).
This is the case with the Continuing Church of God. Part of the reason to watch events and understand Bible prophecy is so that we will not affected by those who promote false doctrines or claim that the end can come before the Bible allows it (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:2; Ephesians 4:14). Prophecy also assures us that God is in charge and that His will will be done. The faithful do not have to fear what humans can say or do (Luke 12:32). The Bible is clear that certain events need to occur before the end comes. And that includes us all growing in “grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18, NKJV). Part of that knowledge is prophetic. And part of that biblical knowledge tells us that the world will not end before the events that the Bible shows must first come to pass.
Why prophecy? To keep us vigilant, physically and spiritually, and also so we will not be swayed by others who do not have sufficient love of the truth. 38 Let’s re-examine Romans 3 to fully understand WHY God has prophesied punishment for our world.
1. Is it natural for human beings to understand the purpose of life? Romans 3:11, first part.
2. Can man, apart from the possibility of God’s help, naturally seek after God and discover Him? Verse 11, last part. Does this plainly indicate that man could NEVER find God unless He REVEALED HIMSELF? Is this what we learned from Lesson 9 of this Course?
3. Now notice verse 12. Have all human beings gone the way that seems right to them? Is this God’s Way? Does God say that humanity has STRAYED from His Way?
4. Does verse 12 imply that God ORIGINALLY revealed His way to man and that man STRAYED from it? How else could they “have all TURNED aside”? Then are the nations BLINDED in ignorance and superstition? Are they of any profit to themselves or to God the way they are? As usual, be sure to write down the answer to each of these questions on your notepaper.
5. How many by nature do good instead of evil? Last part of verse 12. Would you say the world believes this?
COMMENT: The SKEPTICS AND ATHEISTS obviously REJECT PROPHECY BECAUSE THEY DO NOT WANT TO DO THE WILL OF GOD! They want to do their own will which brings only heartache, suffering, sickness, war and death! Others do not believe it affects them, even though they claim to believe the Bible.
Even the Fundamentalists who profess to know God, LIE because they REFUSE TO DO HIS COMMANDMENTS: “He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a LIAR, and the TRUTH IS NOT IN HIM” (1 John 2:4). These people TWIST the meaning of prophecy so they can continue in their willful rebellion against God’s laws. It is not enough to recognize that God exists. Prophecy proves that once we recognize He does exist, we are under obligation to RECOGNIZE HIS AUTHORITY and OBEY His Will which He has expressed in His commandments, statutes and judgments! It should also be mentioned because the bulk of true Christians do not support God’s true work in the end times, that they will NOT properly understand key prophecies, despite what their Laodicean (Revelation 3:14-22) and Sardisian (Revelation 3:1-6) leaders tell them. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29;3:6,13,22). Seven times in Revelation, Jesus specifically tells those associated with the true Church of God to pay attention to the messages to the churches. Most of these messages were both prophetic and corrective. Yet, even most Christians do not properly understand what Jesus was saying or understand enough of the truths about prophecies which will affect them in the 21st century.
GOD DOES EXIST!
You now have the facts in briefest summary– facts which prove that God MUST EXIST. He must exist in order to have inspired the men who wrote the Bible centuries ago. He must still exist and rule over the nations in order to bring His prophecies to fulfillment! Only a LIVING, ACTIVE GOD could keep the agnostics and atheists from doing what God said no man can do! Not even all the power of the United Nations can rebuild what God foretold “shall not be rebuilt.” These prophecies could not have been written after the events occurred. (We have purposely 39 left out any prophecy which the agnostics FALSELY claim was written AFTER the event.) The prophets who wrote the Scriptures are dead. They could not fulfill their writings. Only a living, all-powerful God could have intervened over the centuries to bring every one of these prophecies to fulfillment without exception! NOT ONE HAS FAILED!