The Bible stands out among ancient books of the world as the only one to contain accurate, prophetic knowledge of future events. Fulfilled prophecy implies much about your future!
Most people who call themselves Christians know in a general way that the first Christians had as their scriptures only what is known today as the Old Testament. They know that people in Jesus of Nazareth’s day read those scriptures and understood from them that He was the prophesied Messiah.
But not so many know about the many amazing prophecies found throughout your Bible. Depending on exactly how you count, somewhere between a fourth and a third of your Bible is, in fact, prophetic. According to J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, your Bible contains 1,817 predictions about the future. Not only do those prophecies foretell the coming of Jesus Christ; they explain much about the rise and fall of nations and the end-time disasters and plagues that would result in the end of all human life if Jesus Christ were not prophesied to return and establish the Kingdom of God here on earth.
In this brief article, we will consider just a few amazing examples—and what they mean for your faith and your future.
One of the most amazing examples of fulfilled Bible prophecy is the extensive number of specific mentions of the prophesied Messiah. The Old Testament contains more than 300 references to His coming. What are the odds of 300 prophecies all being fulfilled? In his book Science Speaks, the late mathematician Peter Stoner (1888–1980) examined the probability of one person fulfilling just 48 of those prophecies. The chance of that happening would be one in 10157. To put that in perspective, that would be like trying to find one specific electron out of all the electrons in all the known universe on the first attempt—and that’s considering just 48 of the 300 prophecies.
Some skeptics attempt to reason around this with ideas that try to diminish the inspiration of the Bible or treat the first Christians as fools. If you do not already appreciate the astonishing consistency and historical veracity of Scripture, read our informative booklet The Bible: Fact or Fiction? You’ll be encouraged by what you learn.
Let’s look very specifically at a few of the best-known Messianic prophecies and their fulfillment. Halley’s Bible Handbook gives us a helpful list:
These are just a few of the many prophecies fulfilled regarding Jesus’ messiahship. Another very important prophecy involves the timing of His coming. The Jews of Jesus’ day were aware of the prophet Daniel’s vital prophecy foretelling the Messiah’s appearance: “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy” (Daniel 9:24).
Notice that this prophesied figure was to make reconciliation for iniquity! Many scriptures showed that the Messiah would die for the sins of the world so that we could be forgiven and reconciled to God. John the Baptist testified, referring to Jesus, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Regarding Christ, we also read, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Daniel’s prophecy reminds us that one of the major purposes of the Messiah’s coming was to make reconciliation for iniquity. Each of us can be forgiven for our sins through the blood of Christ, if we do as Jesus commanded: “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Later, the Apostle Peter preached to a crowd on the Day of Pentecost, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Have you repented? Do you believe in the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God?
But there is much more to Daniel’s prophecy. In prophetic terminology, a “day” often symbolizes a year in fulfillment. Daniel’s prophecy states that there are 69 weeks leading up to the Messiah, each consisting of seven days—483 prophetic years. “Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” (Daniel 9:25).
So, if we know when the prophecy’s timeline began, we can know when Christ would begin His work of reconciliation! Interestingly, many scholars point to the decree of Artaxerxes as the starting point, which historians place at 457 BC. What year is 483 years later? Since there is no year 0, we see that according to Daniel’s prophecy, the Messiah’s ministry was to begin in AD 27!
Sure enough, Luke’s gospel tells us that, just after John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, “Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23). So, when was Jesus born? If we subtract 30 years of age from AD 27, we come to 4 BC—when scholars predominantly believe Jesus was born! Yes, Jesus Christ fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy, to the exact year, beginning His ministry of reconciliation for iniquity in AD 27!
Of course, there are other aspects of Daniel’s prophecy for Christ to complete when He returns. Daniel describes three more missions yet future. When He returns, the Messiah will fulfill prophecies “to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy” (Daniel 9:24).
Note that “the Most Holy” here refers to the Temple in Jerusalem, which will be established and active during the coming Millennium (cf. Ezekiel 40–43), as you can see in English-language Bible translations that read “the Most Holy Place,” such as the Modern English Version and English Standard Version.
We should not be surprised that Almighty God can give us prophecies centuries and even millennia before their fulfillment. Through the prophet Isaiah, He declares, “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; 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’” (Isaiah 46:9–10).
One fascinating but less-known example of prophecy being fulfilled concerns the fall of ancient Babylon. At the time God revealed this prophecy, Babylon was the greatest empire in the world. Human logic would not have predicted its demise. Yet Bible prophecy foretold that this great power would punish other nations as a tool of God’s judgment, and then would itself be judged for its sin.
Imagine someone during World War I declaring that Boris Johnson would become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Impossible? Well, more than a hundred years before the overthrow of the great Babylonian empire, the prophet Isaiah named the man who would be responsible for Babylon’s fall. God “says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” and to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid”’” (Isaiah 44:28). Cyrus was king over the Persians from about 558 BC to 529 BC. So, Isaiah was prophesying in the eighth century BC about a king who wasn’t even born until the sixth century BC!
But not only did Isaiah foretell Cyrus by name; he also foretold just how Cyrus would enter Babylon to conquer it. Cyrus was instrumental in allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem and build the second temple. Centuries earlier, God proclaimed that He would use Cyrus in a special way: “Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—to subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not be shut: ‘I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel’” (Isaiah 45:1–3).
The reference to the “double doors” shows how God opened the way for Cyrus’s army to capture the city. The city of Babylon seemed impregnable with its massive walls and defenses. And the city had supplies that could outlast a 20-year siege—so the Babylonians just laughed at Cyrus’ army when it came to attack the city.
The river Euphrates passed through the middle of Babylon under the massive gates in its wall. Cyrus used an ingenious method to circumvent this obstacle; some of his men dug channels upstream to divert the flow of the river.
More than 100 years before his birth, your Bible prophesied by his very name that Cyrus the Great would overcome the great fortress of Babylon. The secular Greek historian Herodotus also wrote of this event. Cyrus and his non-combatant troops…
… so greatly reduced the depth of water in the actual bed of the river that it became fordable, and the Persian army, which had been left at Babylon for the purpose, entered the river, now only deep enough to reach about the middle of a man’s thigh, and, making their way along it, got into the town.… The Babylonians themselves say that owing to the great size of the city the outskirts were captured without the people in the centre knowing anything about it; there was a festival going on, and they continued to dance and enjoy themselves, until they learned the news the hard way. That, then, is the story of the first capture of Babylon (The Histories, translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt, book 1, chapters 191–192).
Amazing! The secular historian Herodotus confirms, as do other sources such as Xenophon’s Cyropaedia, that Bible prophecy was dramatically and accurately fulfilled! The prophet Daniel was in the city of Babylon on the night the Persian army of Cyrus conquered it. And, through this prophet, God also let King Belshazzar know what would happen to him and the empire. That’s the famous story of God’s handwriting on the wall. King Belshazzar prepared a feast, a great party, for thousands of his nobles. They drank wine out of the plundered golden vessels from the Temple in Jerusalem. “In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other” (Daniel 5:5–6).
Daniel was called upon to interpret this inscription. “And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN” (Daniel 5:25). Daniel then told King Belshazzar, “This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians” (vv. 26–28). “That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old” (vv. 30–31). The kingdom of the Medes and Persians replaced the kingdom of Babylon, just as God had foretold.
Even in modern times, God is intervening to guide nations and peoples. Remember, the British Empire was not always the dominant force it came to be before its more recent decline. In his powerful booklet Prophecy Fulfilled: God’s Hand in World Affairs, the late Dr. Roderick Meredith (1930–2017) described how God once saved English naval forces by using the power of weather:
In 1586–87, Catholic domination of the English throne was made impossible by the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. The following year, Spain’s King Philip II unleashed his “invincible” 124-ship Armada against England in an effort to reassert Catholic control. Though the English naval forces tenaciously fought, eventually they exhausted their gunpowder! At that critical point, an unprecedented gale-force wind arose and drove many of the heavily armed, lumbering Spanish galleons to their doom. The weather-beaten ships that limped home to Spain were so damaged that many could never again be used (p. 20).
Yes, God intervenes in weather to fulfill His plans! Dr. Meredith stated:
He uses this power on occasion to intervene in human affairs, “as when You break the ships of Tarshish with an east wind” (Psalm 48:7).… Queen Elizabeth, commemorating the Spanish defeat, issued a silver medal bearing the inscription, “God blew and they were scattered.” She knew who took charge of those winds at that critical hour in the history of her people!
We have seen that your Bible accurately predicted the first coming of Jesus Christ, and that God also prophesied accurately the fall of a great empire. Even though He is currently letting sinful mankind rule itself—to learn for itself the painful lessons of rebellion against God’s way—He still intervenes to bring to pass what He has prophesied. And He has many, many more prophecies than we can cover in this article. Bible prophecy even foretells the rise—and fall—of the United States and the British Empire, once one learns to recognize the ancestors of those nations. To learn more, read our booklet The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy and see for yourself another powerful example of God’s amazing prophecies being fulfilled—in this case, thousands of years after He inspired those prophecies!
In closing, let’s consider the amazing prophecy of Christ’s return to establish His Kingdom at His second coming:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9:6–7).
Yes, of the “increase of His government and peace there will be no end.” We have seen the fulfillment of the many prophecies that foretold Christ’s first coming, which gives us the sure knowledge that His second coming will soon occur, just as prophesied, to usher in the Kingdom of God under His firm and benevolent rule. To learn much more about this wonderful time foretold in prophecies throughout your Bible, read our powerful booklet The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?
Dear readers, we are in the prophetic time of the end, waiting for Jesus Christ to return and establish His everlasting government. He will save the human race from total extinction. He will bring lasting peace to all nations of the earth. We need to prepare for His coming Kingdom. We need to follow His instructions and pray, “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10).
And we can prepare in faith. God’s word—the Bible—has shown itself true not only in prophetic fulfillment, but in the Way of life it proclaims. May God bless you as you apply the greatest guidance in life, as given by our Savior: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).