A Tale of Two Cities
Take a step back in time with me to January 20th, 1961. John F. Kennedy is being sworn into office as the 35th President of the United States. The Thousand Day Presidency, "Camelot," is beginning.
Who would have been able to look forward from that day, not so long ago, that a long, bloody war in Southeast Asia would bitterly divide our nation? Who could have envisioned that the weak, little nation of Iran would have a revolution, return to Moslem fundamentalism and hold hostage 53 American citizens as the strongest nation in the Free World watched helplessly? Who would have foreknown and confidently foretold that a Hollywood actor would be elected President, not once but twice? Who could have foretold that Soviet Communism would collapse without a shot being fired? Who would have known that America would fight a war in Kuwait? Who could have known that Muslim extremists would fly airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, murder almost 3000 Americans, and cause America to launch a decade long conflict in the Middle East?
The reply, of course, is "No one." Had anyone been able to so foresee the future and never err in his predictions, we would recognize he possessed greater than merely human power. No mere man has the ability to foresee and perfectly predict future events. This is a power God claims is His alone.
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).
But the Bible unfailingly foretells the future. Thus, the Bible must be the Word of God, not of man.
Many such examples of biblical prophecy could be given, but we will notice just two prophecies from one writer, the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel prophesied among the captives from Judah in Babylonia from about 592 to 570 B.C. He made some very specific predictions concerning the Phoenician seaport cities of Tyre and Sidon.
Tyre, located about 35 miles north of Mt. Carmel on the Mediterranean coast, was the younger and more prosperous of the two merchant cities. She had been founded centuries earlier by settlers from Sidon. Original Tyre was on the mainland. On an island about one half mile out into the sea, a new city had been built. Both cities had impressive walls and considered themselves safe from all attackers. Hear Ezekiel as he speaks for the Lord.
'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. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers; I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for spreading nets in the midst of the sea, for I have spoken,' says the Lord God; 'it shall become plunder for the nations.' For thus says the Lord God: 'Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses, with chariots, and with horsemen, and an army with many people. He will direct his battering rams against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers... He will slay your people by the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground.. .they will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses; they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water. I will make you like the top of a rock; you shall be a place for spreading nets, and you shall never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken,' says the Lord God. '...you will never be found again,' says the Lord God. (Ezekiel 26:3-5,7,9,11,12,14,21; cf. 27:36; 28:19)
Ezekiel prophesied that nations would come in succession to destroy Tyre, that Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon would destroy the city, that Tyre would never be rebuilt, that the ruins of the city would be dumped into the sea and that where the proud city once stood would be bare rocks where fishermen would spread their nets.
Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre for 13 years (585-572 BC). He finally destroyed the mainland city, Old Tyre, leaving it in ruins. The survivors fled to the island city. and Old Tvre on the seacoast has never been rebuilt.
In 332 BC Alexander the Great swept through Phoenicia but was unable to take New Tyre, because it was an island stronghold with impregnable walls protected by a strong navy. On his second attempt, Alexander managed to build a causeway two hundred feet wide from the coast to the island. To do this he had his men cast all the remains of Old Tyre into the sea, even to scrape the dust from the streets. After a seven month siege, Alexander took the island fortress.
To our very day, Old Tyre remains a barren rock where fishermen spread their nets. Ezekiel's prophecies are fulfilled completely and unfailingly.
Sidon, the mother city of Tyre, about 25 miles north of Tyre on the coast, was, in Ezekiel's day, in decline, less prosperous, powerful, and strongly fortified than Tyre. She seemed less likely to survive. Of her the prophet pronounced, "For I will send pestilence upon her, And blood in her streets; The wounded shall be judged in her midst By the sword against her on every side; Then they shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 28:23).
Of Sidon, Ezekiel prophesied pestilence and violent bloodshed. Notice, though, although Sidon was a lesser city than Tyre, the man of God did not predict Sidon would not be rebuilt.
What actually happened to Sidon? When Nebuchadnezzar besieged Sidon in 585 BC she surrendered, but not before half her population died of the plague. In 351 BC, while under Persian rule, the city rebelled. When they were betrayed by their own king, the townspeople burned the city down on their heads Forty thousand died. But Sidon was rebuilt and continues to this very time. Once again, Ezekiel was precisely correct about the future.
It is certainly remarkable that even to our day Ezekielís prophecies of Tyre and Sidon are fulfilled. But think of something even more astonishing. What if Ezekiel had reversed the prophecies of the two cities, predicting of Sidon what he did of Tyre and vice versa? He would have been all wrong! How did he know which city would suffer which fate?
There can be only one answer. Only God can unerringly foretell the future. The Bible unfailingly predicts future events. Therefore, the Bible is the Word of God.
List of Works Consulted
Hailey, Homer, Internal Evidences of Christianity.
Hamilton, Floyd E., The Basis of Christian Faith.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volumes IV and V articles on Tyre and Sidon.
Jenkins, Ferrell, Introduction to Christian Evidences.
Young, Edward J., An Introduction to the Old Testament chapter on Ezekiel.
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