Bible prophecy or biblical prophecy comprises the passages of the Bible that reflect communications from God to humans through prophets.
Genesis 15:18 promises Abraham and his descendants the land of Canaan from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates, and Genesis 17:8 states:
The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.
Verses such as Acts 7:4–5 and Hebrews 11:13 indicate that this promise was not accomplished during Abraham’s time. F. F. Bruce argues that the fulfilment of this prophecy occurred during David’s reign. He writes:
David’s sphere of influence now extended from the Egyptian frontier on the Wadi el-Arish (the “brook of Egypt”) to the Euphrates; and these limits remained the ideal boundaries of Israel’s dominion long after David’s empire had disappeared.
Christian apologists point to corporate personality here to connect Abraham with the Jewish nation. H. Wheeler Robinson writes:
Corporate personality is the important Semitic complex of thought in which there is a constant oscillation between the individual and the group – family, tribe, or nation – to which he belongs, so that the king or some other representative figure may be said to embody the group, or the group may be said to sum up the host of individuals.
Hebrews 11:15–16 says that the patriarchs longed for the heavenly country, which explains that Hebrews 11:13 speaks about the promise of the heavenly home.
Exodus, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges
God is represented as guaranteeing that the Israelites would drive out the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites from their lands, which the Israelites wanted to appropriate (Exodus 34:10–11). The same applies to the Girgashites (Deuteronomy 7:1–2). In Exodus 34:10–27, this is referred to as a covenant, commandments being given. In Judges, the Israelites are described as disobeying the commandment to worship no other gods (Judges 3:6) and, as a result, not being able to drive out the Jebusites (Joshua 15:63). The Israelites did not drive all of the Canaanite tribes out in the lifetime of Joshua. The books of Joshua and Judges (Chapters 1) mention towns that could not be defeated. According to 2 Samuel, the Israelites occupied Canaan but the complete seizure took place only when David defeated the Jebusites in Jerusalem and made it the capital of the Kingdom of Israel. (2 Sam 5:6–7)
God states that the house, throne and kingdom of David and his offspring (called “the one who will build a house for my Name” in the verse) will last forever.(2 Samuel 7:12–16, 2 Chronicles 13:5, Psalm 89:20–37) 1 Kings 9:4–7 as well as 1 Chronicles 28:5 and 2 Chronicle 7:17 state that Solomon’s establishment is conditional on Solomon obeying God’s commandments.
Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 2:1; 6:7–10) and did not obey God’s commandments (1 Kings 11:1–14).
The destruction of the Kingdom of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 BC brought an end to the rule of the royal house of David.
Some scholars including Saul of Cyrene state that God has promised an eternal dynasty to David unconditionally.(1 Kings 11:36, 15:4, 2 Kings 8:19) They feel the conditional promise of 1 Kings 9:4–7 seems to undercut this unconditional covenant. Most interpreters have taken the expression “throne of Israel” as a reference to the throne of the United Monarchy. They see this as a conditionalization of the unconditional dynastic promise to David’s house expressed in 1 Kings 11:36, 15:4 and 2 Kings 8:19. They argue the presence of both unconditional and conditional promises to the house of David would create intense theological dissonance in the Book of Kings.
Christians believe that the promise is of surviving descendants that could fulfill the role of king rather than a permanent earthly kingship.
According to the Books of Kings, God told Zedekiah:
I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and handed over to him. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon… You will not die by the sword; you will die peacefully. (Jeremiah 34:2–5)
The Books of Kings and Jeremiah relate that Zedekiah’s eyes were put out after he was taken to the King of Babylon and that he remained a prisoner in Babylon until his death (2 Kings 25:6–7 and Jeremiah 52:10–11). There is no other historical record of what happened with Zedekiah in Babylon.
God is also represented as promising Josiah that because he humbled himself before God, he would be “buried in peace” and the book goes on to say he shall not see the disaster to come on Judah (2 Kings 22:19–20).
Josiah fought against the Egyptians although the pharaoh, Necho II, prophesied that God would destroy him if he did (2 Chronicles 35:21–22)—possibly Josiah was “opposing the faithful prophetic party”. Josiah was killed in battle against the Egyptians (2 Kings 23:29–30). However, Judah was in a time of peace when Josiah died, thus fulfilling the prophecy.
Further information: Isaiah 7:14
When the Jews heard that “Aram has allied itself with Ephraim” God is said to have told them:
It will not take place, it will not happen… Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people. (Isaiah 7:1–9)
According to 2 Chronicles 28:5–6 “God delivered the King of the Jews, Ahaz, into the hands of the King of Syria, who carried away a great multitude of them captives to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the King of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter”.
In Isaiah 7:9 the prophet says clearly that a prerequisite for the fulfillment of the prophecy is that Ahaz stands firm in his faith. This means that he should trust God and not seek military help in the Assyrians which Ahaz nevertheless did.
The Book of Isaiah also foretold;
Babylon would be overthrown by the Medes (Isaiah 13:17–19) and its palaces taken over by wild animals. (Isaiah 13:21–22)
Christian apologists state that the prophecy in Isaiah chapters 13 and 21 could possibly have been directed originally against Assyria whose capital Nineveh was defeated in 612 BC by a combined onslaught of the Medes and Babylonians. According to this explanation the prophecy was later updated and referred to Babylon not recognizing the rising power of Persia. On the other hand, it can be mentioned that the Persian King Cyrus after overthrowing Media in 550 BC did not treat the Medes as a subject nation.
Instead of treating the Medes as a beaten foe and a subject nation, he had himself installed as king of Media and governed Media and Persia as a dual monarchy, each part of which enjoyed equal rights.
Damascus will become a “heap of ruins. The cities of Aroer will be deserted and left to flocks”. (Isaiah 17:1–2)
The prophecy may date from 735 BC when Damascus and Israel were allied against Judah. Tiglath-Pileser took Damascus in 732 BC, which some apologists point to as a fulfillment of this prophecy, but this campaign never reduced the city to rubble. The depiction of Damascus as a “heap of ruins” has been understood as figurative language to describe the despoiling of the city, the leading of its people as captives to Kir (an unidentified city), and the way that the city lost much of its wealth and political influence in the years following Tiglath-Pileser’s attack. The prophecy is also believed by some to have a future fulfilment relating to end-time developments concerning Israel.
The passage is consistent with 2 Kings 16:9, which states that Assyria defeated the city and exiled the civilians to Kir.
The river of Ancient Egypt (identified as the Nile in RSV) shall dry up. (19:5).
“The land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt.” (Isaiah 19:17)
“There shall be five cities in Ancient Egypt that speak the Canaanite language.” (Isaiah 19:18)
“In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. 24 In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. 25 The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.'” (Isaiah 19:23–25)
Some theologians argue the statement that the “land of Judah” will terrify the Egyptians is not a reference to a large army from Judah attacking Egypt but a circumlocution for the place where God lives. They argue it is God and his plans that will cause Egypt to be terrified. They go on to argue the second “in that day” message from verse 18 announces the beginning of a deeper relationship between God and Egypt which leads to Egypt’s conversion and worshiping God (verses 19–21). They say the last “in that day” prophecy (verses 23–25) speaks about Israel, Assyria and Egypt as God’s special people, thus, describing eschatological events.
The generals of Astyages, the last king of the Medes, mutinied at Pasargadae and the empire surrendered to the Persian Empire, which conquered Babylon in 539 BC under Cyrus the Great. The unknown second prophet (See Deutero-Isaiah) predicts the coming of Cyrus, (Isaiah 44:28, Isaiah 45:1) who will liberate the Jews from their Babylonian exile and bring them to the promised land. The second Isaiah, 40–55, comes from the late exilic period, about 540 BC. Some scholars believe the reference to Cyrus is a vaticinium ex eventu or “prophecy from the event”.
There are many scholars, however, who point out that the prophet himself spoke of Cyrus arguing that Deutero-Isaiah interpreted Cyrus’ victorious entry into Babylon in 539 BC as evidence of divine commission to benefit Israel. The main argument against the idols in these chapters is that they cannot declare the future, whereas God does tell future events like the Cyrus predictions.
Many remember Isaiah 11:6 Stating “The lion also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young wolf and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them”
Currently it is written Isaiah 11:6 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them”
Jeremiah prophesied that;
“…all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honour the name of the Lord.” (3:17 (NIV))
Hazor will be desolated. (49:33)
The Babylonian captivity would end when the “70 years” ended. (Jeremiah 29:10)
It lasted 68 years (605 BC–537 BC) from the capture of the land of Israel by Babylon and the exile of a small number of hostages including Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael (Daniel 1:1–4). It lasted 60 years (597–537 BC) from the deportation of the 10,000 elite (2 Kings 24:14) including Jehoiachin and Ezekiel though there is a discrepancy with Jeremiah’s numbers of exiles (Jeremiah 52:28–30). It lasted 49 years (586–537 BC) from the exile of the majority of Judah (2 Kings 25:11) including Jeremiah who was taken to Egypt and leaving behind a poor remnant (2 Kings 25:12).
However, some Christian scholars try to explain the figure in a different way stating that Jeremiah gave a round number.
The “kings of the Medes” would “take vengeance” on Babylon. (Jeremiah 51:11)
Christian commentaries have considered the conquering Persian force an alliance between the Persians and the Medes. One suggests the use of the term “Medes” is due to earlier recognition among the Jews and because the generals of Cyrus were apparently Medes.
US Marines in front of Babylon as it stood in 2003
Jeremiah prophesied that Babylon would be destroyed at the end of the seventy years. (25:12) (Babylon fell to the Persians under Cyrus in 539 BC (66, 58 or 47 years after the beginning of the Babylonian exile depending on how you count). According to Daniel 5:31, it was the currently unidentified “Darius the Mede” who captured Babylon.)
Babylon would never again be inhabited.(50:39) (Saddam Hussein began to reconstruct it in 1985, but was abruptly halted by the invasion of Iraq. Iraqi leaders and UN officials now plan to restore Babylon.)
“The Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn cereal offerings, and to make sacrifices for ever”.
The destruction of temple by the Romans in 70 brought an end to the Jewish sacrificial system.(33:18) Christians have stated this refers to the millennium in which Christ reigns for a thousand years, since Jeremiah 33:18 goes along with the eternal reign of the line of David in verses 21–22.
God will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals; and will lay waste the towns of Judah so no one can live there.(9:11)
God will have compassion on Israel and cause them to return to the land after scattering them among the nations (12:14, 15; 31:8–10; 33:7).
Further information: Nebuchadnezzar’s statue vision in Daniel 2, The writing on the wall, Daniel’s Vision of Chapter 7, Daniel’s Vision of Chapter 8, abomination of desolation, and Prophecy of Seventy Weeks
Ezekiel prophesied the permanent destruction of Tyre. (Ezekiel 26:3–14)
Tyre was an island fortress-city with mainland villages along the shore. These mainland settlements were destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II, but after a 13-year siege from 585–573 BC, the King of Tyre made peace with Nebuchadnezzar, going into exile and leaving the island city itself intact. Alexander the Great used debris from the mainland to build a causeway to the island, entered the city, and plundered the city, sacking it without mercy. Most of the residents were either killed in the battle or sold into slavery. It was quickly repopulated by colonists and escaped citizens, and later regained its independence. Tyre did eventually enter a period of decline, being reduced to a small remnant. Echoing Ezekiel’s words, historian Philip Myers writes in 1889:
The city never recovered from this blow. The site of the once brilliant maritime capital is now “bare as the top of a rock,” a place where the few fishermen that still frequent the spot spread their nets to dry.
Older sources often refer to the locations as a “fishing village”. However, the nearby area grew rapidly in the 20th century. The ruins of a part of ancient Tyre (a protected site) can still be seen on the southern half of the island whereas modern Tyre occupies the northern half and also sprawls across Alexander’s causeway and onto the mainland. It is now the fourth largest city in Lebanon with a population of 14,000 people.
Ezekiel then prophesies the conquest of Egypt, the scattering of its entire population (it was to be uninhabited for 40 years), and Nebuchadnezzar plundering Egypt (Ezekiel 29:3 – Ezekiel 30:26).
This includes the claim that God will make Egypt so weak that it will never again rule over other nations. Pharaoh Amasis II (who drove off Nebuchadnezzar) also conquered Cyprus, ruling it until 545 BC. Despite being a powerful nation in ancient times, Egypt has since been ruled by the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantine Empire, Ottomans, British and the French, and has also enjoyed periods of independence from external rule. During the Hellenistic period, the break-up of the empire of Alexander the Great left the Ptolemaic Dynasty (of Macedonian/Greek origin) as rulers of Egypt: the Ptolemies then conquered and ruled Cyrenaica (now northeastern Libya), Palestine, and Cyprus at various times. (see also History of Ptolemaic Egypt and Ptolemaic kingdom).
There is some uncertainty among modern scholars regarding when (and by whom) various portions of the Book of Ezekiel were written, making the timing of prophecies difficult to unravel.
Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt around 568 BC. However, the armies of Pharaoh Amasis II defeated the Babylonians (though the author did not elaborate and there are no known detailed accounts of this invasion). Herodotus reports that this Pharaoh had a long and prosperous reign. The Egyptians were conquered by the Persians in 525 BC.
Amos prophesied that when Israel is restored they will possess the remnant of Edom. (Amos 9:12)
Obadiah prophesied that Israel will destroy the house of Esau in the day of the Lord. (Obadiah18)
Zechariah prophesied; “Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch.” (Zechariah 9:8)
The river of Ancient Egypt (identified as the Nile in NIV, NASB, and RSV) shall dry up. (Zechariah 10:11)
Haggai prophesied; “In a little while God will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land.” (Haggai 2:6)
Malachi prophesied that God would send Elijah before “the great and dreadful day of the LORD” in which the world will be consumed by fire. (Malachi 3:1, 4:1, 5) (In Mark 9:13 and Matthew 17:11–13, Jesus states that John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy as the spiritual successor to Elijah.)