Many of the Bible's prophecies were written and fulfilled 2,000 years ago, or more. So it can be difficult to try to prove to non-believers that those prophecies were actually fulfilled, or if the prophecies were actually written before they were fulfilled. But there are prophecies that have long-term fulfillments. We can see their fulfillments.
Some examples include prophecies about the permanent destruction of various countries that existed near the land of Israel during ancient times, such as Ammon, Babylon, Edom, Moab, Philistia and Phoenicia. Others include the spread of the teachings of Jesus worldwide, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the worldwide dispersion of its inhabitants.
One example can be found in Zephaniah 2:4-10. There, the prophet Zephaniah proclaimed that Moab, Ammon, and Philistia would be destroyed.
In verse 9, we are told that Moab and Ammon, which were east of the Jordan River, would be utterly destroyed, like the more ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
In verses 4-6, we are told that the people of Philistia would be wiped out. Philistia, which included the cities of Gaza and Ashkelon, bordered Israel and was on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
Since the time of Zephaniah, who lived about 2,600 years ago, these nations have lost their sovereignty, culture, and language, as well as their identity as distinct groups of people.
Others examples can be found in the prophecies that Jesus gave in the New Testament. He foretold that the Gospel (the teachings of Jesus) would be spread to people worldwide.
When Jesus gave the prophecy about 2,000 years ago, he was a religious figure in the land of Israel, which was governed by the Romans and was part of the Roman Empire.
Jesus was not born into wealth, he did not have an army, and he was not the kind of person that historians typically paid attention to. But his followers recorded his words, which became known as the New Testament, and they evangelized his message to people throughout parts of Asia, Africa and Europe.
Within the Roman Empire, Christianity was not a legally recognized religion and there was a risk involved in evangelizing. Some of the evangelists and followers were persecuted and killed.
Even so, the message spread throughout the Roman Empire and within a few centuries became the dominant religion.
When Europeans began exploring and colonizing new lands on other continents, Christian evangelists often traveled with them. Christianity became the first religion to spread to people on each of the world's inhabitable continents.
Despite Jesus' social status and lack of wealth and resources, he managed to have his message taught to people worldwide, long before the inventions of radio, television and the internet.
Jesus also gave prophecies about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, both of which were destroyed about 40 years later by the Romans. In Matthew 24:1,2, Jesus prophesied that the Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed and that its destruction would be so complete that not one stone would be left standing on top of another.
During a war between the Jews and the Romans that ended in 70 AD, the Temple was set on fire and was torn down. The event was recorded by a Jewish historian named Josephus. He wrote that the Temple's demolition was so complete that even the foundation was destroyed:
"And I cannot but wish that we had all died before we had seen that holy city demolished by the hands of our enemies, or the foundations of our holy temple dug up after so profane a manner."
- Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, Book VII, Chapter 8.
The destruction of the Temple, which has never been rebuilt, was so complete that its exact location on the Temple Mound is still debated today.
In Luke 21:24, Jesus prophesied that the Jews would be exiled from their land. This prophecy was fulfilled, beginning about 40 years later.
The Jews fought two wars against the Romans in the hopes of reclaiming independence for their homeland. The first war ended in 70 AD and the second war ended in 135 AD. In both wars, the Jews were defeated and forced into exile.
Josephus, the Jewish historian who witnessed the fall of Jerusalem during the first century, claimed that nearly 100,000 people were forced into exile:
"Now the number of those that were carried captive during this whole war was collected to be ninety-seven thousand;"
- Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, Book VI, Chapter 9.
The conquest during the second century culminated with another exile, as well as a decree prohibiting the exiled Jews from returning to Jerusalem.
The extent to which the decree was enforced is unclear. Some Jews later returned from exile. Today, according to some estimates involving the world's Jewish population, about one-third are residing within the modern state of Israel and about two-thirds are residing in communities all over the world.
© Ray Konig | azbible.com