In rapid-fire this past year, we’ve had raging fires, devastating floods, a swathe of crumbling governments across North Africa and the Middle-East with their consequent oil shocks, and horrific earthquakes. The physical, economic and social worlds are in turmoil and unless you’re the proverbial ostrich, you’ll be anticipating that things are getting worse.
As our world is sucked into this vortex, fear grips people in its icy fist. It isn’t only futurists who ponder what the future holds. Is anyone in control? Is there any hope? people ask themselves.
As a result, people have turned to a variety of sources to learn what lies in the future. Some believe the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world in December 2012 and numerous psychics and astrologers are focusing their attention on that.
The end . . . again?
But there is a feeling of déjà vu in this. Those same psychics and astrologers were predicting similar things in the lead up to the year 2000. Even Time magazine reported on Nostradamus’s prediction of the world’s imminent demise in July 1999. But, obviously, nothing happened.
In fact, These Times magazine discovered that only 3 per cent of the predictions of the leading psychics were fulfilled. You could take a guess with your eyes shut and do better. So is there a reliable source to both know the future and to face it with confidence?
Absolutely, yes! Millions have discovered the biblical writers to be 100 per cent reliable, a dependable source for knowing the future. In fact, I discovered this for myself when, as a medical student wrestling with the same lurking fears, I began to ponder life’s big questions.
History and the Bible
I began by examining the discoveries of Middle-Eastern archaeology and realised that quite clearly the Bible was historically accurate in its references to history. In fact one of the world’s foremost archaeologists, William F Albright, said of the Bible’s historical accuracy: “In the centre of history stands the Bible. Thanks to modern research, we can now recognise its substantial historicity [historical accuracy]. To sum up, we can now treat the Bible from beginning to end as an authentic document of religious history.”
Scores of examples of the Bible’s historical accuracy can be cited, such as the discovery of Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Babylonian ration tablets for Jewish Kings, and the Pilate Stone. From such findings, I discovered that the Bible wasn’t a collection of myths and fables put together by some pious monk of the third or fourth century; it had factual substance to it.
I next observed that archaeological discoveries and historical research revealed the reliability of biblical predictions. Predictions included the demise of the papyrus reed in the Nile of Egypt (see Isaiah 19:7); the events surrounding the destruction of the Jewish temple by the Romans in A.D. 70 (see Matthew 24:2); and of more relevance, events that would take place just before the end of the world. Taken together, they reveal that the Bible has to be a Book inspired by God Himself: “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ ” (Isaiah 46:9, 10).
The historical accuracy of the Bible
Hezekiah’s Tunnel: During the time the Assyrians were attacking the southern part of Israel, the Bible said that King Hezekiah had a water tunnel built (see 2 Kings 20:20). Archaeologists have discovered that same tunnel and tourists can walk through it today. An inscription found in the tunnel, which is now in the Istanbul Museum, even records how Hezekiah’s workmen built the tunnel.
Babylonian ration tablets: The Bible informs us that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took King Jehoiachin of Judah as a captive to Babylon (see 2 Kings 24:1). Some years ago, archaeologists discovered the ration tablets for this same Jewish king in Babylon.
Pilate Stone: The Bible tells us that Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea (see Luke 3:1). When archaeologists were excavating the city of Caesarea on the Mediterranean Sea, they discovered the Pilate Stone, which also informs us he was governor of Judea.
Source of hope
But more than just being historically reliable and prophetically dependable, the Bible prophets give us hope through their writings and in their predictions, not gloom and doom as they might at first appear. God, through Jeremiah the prophet, says, “For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). What more could you ask for!
Again, I discovered this hope for myself, personally, one day after sensing the emptiness, the hopelessness, the futility and the shallowness of my life without God.
I had slipped into a youth meeting where the speaker was referring to the writings of Bible prophets. Centuries before Jesus was born, they had predicted the very year He would begin His ministry, and also when He would die—this to take away my sin and guilt, and that of every person on planet Earth.
As I listened, my mind opened up to this “religious stuff” and hope sprang up within me, displacing the despair I was feeling at the time. I had discovered the amazing truth that when a person puts their trust in the death of Jesus, their sin and guilt are removed (see Romans 5:1, 9). Right then, a sense of peace filled me and I left that meeting a changed person with a forever hope, with power over bad habits that had enslaved me and the desire to tell others about God as their forever friend.