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The Bible: History Recorded in Advance

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Not only does God talk about Jerusalem in the Bible, but many of the other cities and nations of the ancient world—their future—is described right in the pages of your own Bible. Now back in the same general time period when Jerusalem and Judah were reduced to captive parts of the Babylonian Empire, there was another great city state right on the Mediterranean. It was the city of Tyre. This was a city-state that had existed for centuries; it was a major commercial center. Tyre was part of a major commercial empire that included the entire Mediterranean world. The city of Carthage in North Africa had been founded as its colony.

Not only does God talk about Jerusalem in the Bible, but many of the other cities and nations of the ancient world—their future—is described right in the pages of your own Bible. Now back in the same general time period when Jerusalem and Judah were reduced to captive parts of the Babylonian Empire, there was another great city state right on the Mediterranean. It was the city of Tyre. This was a city-state that had existed for centuries; it was a major commercial center. Tyre was part of a major commercial empire that included the entire Mediterranean world. The city of Carthage in North Africa had been founded as its colony.

Now in the pages of our Bible—in the writings of Ezekiel—God recorded the events that were going to happen to Tyre in the future. The message that God gave about Tyre was incredibly improbable, just as He recorded in the Bible that Jerusalem would be rebuilt and would continue down through the centuries—and at the end-time would actually be a focal point of activity for all nations.

There was a little minor town—Jerusalem—yet God said it would be the center of world focus centuries and centuries into the future. On the other hand, here was Tyre—the capital of a great commercial empire. In Ezekiel 26, God inspired Ezekiel to describe that Tyre would simply cease to exist. The city of Tyre would not be rebuilt. It would never again play a great role in the affairs of the world. Right at the time when Jerusalem was being destroyed, God inspired Ezekiel to write:

Ezekiel 26:2

Son of man, because Tyre has said against Jerusalem, "Aha! She is broken who was the gateway of the peoples; now she is turned over to me; I shall be filled; she is laid waste."

The inhabitants of Tyre—and its leaders—rejoiced at the destruction of Jerusalem. They expected to take some of the plunder and to enrich themselves from Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of Jerusalem. Yet as we continue through Ezekiel 26, God says, in effect: "All right Tyre, here is what is in store for you."

Ezekiel 26:3

"Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against you, as the sea causes its waves to come up."

How do the waves of the sea come up? Just one after another after another. After Nebuchadnezzar reduced Jerusalem, he laid siege against Tyre. He brought about a great deal of destruction to Tyre. But that was not the end of the story. God said: "I will cause many nations to come up against you like the waves of the sea. One after another after another." More than 200 years—well over two centuries—after Nebuchadnezzar had conquered Tyre and had destroyed much of the city, Alexander the Great laid siege against Tyre, for about seven months, as Alexander laid siege to Tyre.

This is interesting because the details are given in the book of Ezekiel centuries before they came to pass. This is not just about what happened "way back then"—these things are still coming to pass right now. Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt, and destroyed and rebuilt and conquered, and ultimately the Jews (as we were told in the book of Zechariah) would inhabit Jerusalem once again in its own place.

The story for Tyre is quite a bit different. Yet, if you were to have looked at the world of the seventh century, you would have said that Tyre is far more likely to be rebuilt than Jerusalem. The prophet Ezekiel talked about how the walls of Tyre would be broken down and her towers would be broken down. In Ezekiel 26:4, God says:

Ezekiel 26:4

I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock.

Do you know that this literally happened? This is what Alexander the Great did. There was an island right off the coast of Tyre, just a very short distance from the mainland. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the original city of Tyre, and to an extent Tyre was rebuilt on the island. When Alexander the Great came and wanted to completely destroy the location, he literally scraped the ruins. He scraped right down to the rock. He scraped the ruins, and built a viaduct from the mainland out to the island. He piled up the debris and the soil, and the things that he gathered from the mainland, and built a viaduct out to the island. He came out to the island and then destroyed the newly rebuilt Tyre. Tyre has been ruined ever since. There is only a small Arab village—the village of Ser—that lies on the northern tip of the island, which was actually the location of the ancient Temple of Marduk.

The old city of Tyre, and the newly rebuilt city of Tyre, have both remained ruins to this day. There has never been a great commercial center there. There has never been a great city there. There have been fisherman, and there have been people coming and going, but it has never again played a role on the world scene. Who could have imagined such a thing so long ago?

What about Babel? Babylon was a great city of the ancient world. Babylon had been made the capital of a great world-ruling empire by the ancient King Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon was seemingly at its height ruling a vast area of the world. But God declared in advance that Babylon would pass from the scene—that the city of Babylon would be destroyed and not be rebuilt. Today, the ancient city of Babylon is simply the site of archeological excavation. It is a location of ancient ruins in the desert of Iraq. It has never been rebuilt. The prophet Isaiah talked about Babylon, and its future, in the book of Isaiah:

Isaiah 13:11

"I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible."

As we come on down through the story, in verse 17 God said:

Isaiah 13:17, 19-20

"Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them [The Medes conquered Babylon under the command of Cyrus the Great.]… And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans' pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited, nor will it be settled from generation to generation; [a habitation for the wild beast and the wild creatures]

Nebuchadnezzar died, and within a couple of decades after his successors took the throne, the Medes and the Persians conquered Babylon. But Babylon continued as a major city under the Medes and the Persians, and even under Alexander the Great. Yet history tells us that in the aftermath of Alexander's death, the city of Babylon began to fade. Ultimately, in the decades prior to the birth of Jesus Christ, the city of Babylon had simply ceased from being inhabited. Its inhabitants were removed to a nearby location, other cities were built, and Babylon was ruined. As the centuries have passed, ancient Babylon has never been rebuilt. There are archeologists who have excavated the ruins. There are various wild animals that may inhabit the area, but it is not a place that has played a part on the world scene.

How remarkable! Here was Jerusalem, a destroyed city, with its people held captive by Babylon. And here was Babylon the major city of the ancient world, yet God declared in advance that one city would be rebuilt and would become a focal point of world attention at the end time, while the other city would not be rebuilt, and would lie as ruins. Who could have imagined such a thing?

There are many, many other prophecies recorded in your Bible. Let's take a brief note of one back in the book of Revelation. In Revelation 17, the Apostle John was writing at the end of the first century, when the Roman Empire held sway over the world. John described a vision, in which he was shown the judgment that was to come on what was called a great whore—a great prostitute—sitting on many waters.

Revelation 17:3

So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

In verse 9, John described that the seven heads represent seven mountains on whom the woman sits. In verse 18, we learn that the woman represents that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth. What city, sitting on seven hills, reigned over the kings of the earth? The city of Rome. John looked down through time, and recognized that just as Rome ruled over the kings of the earth, and was the great center of world-ruling empire in his day, so also it would be in the end-time. So, here we find the Bible recording in advance the future of cities—Jerusalem, Rome, Babylon and Tyre.