A Book That Tells What the Future Holds
CAN anyone accurately predict the future? Some persons will reply with an emphatic No! They point to numerous cases of error and outright fraud by some who claimed to have powers of prediction.
Those who have resorted to occult means have often been told certain things about the future. Yet after making plans based on such predictions, these have been disappointed.
Even with all the technology of the modern world, scientists can only make calculated guesses about the future. The ability to tell what the future holds, and to do so with consistent accuracy, is beyond human ability.
Yet there is a book that has accurately predicted the future. History has verified its exactness. It has never been proved wrong. This book is the Bible. Does this not indicate that its contents must have a source higher than man? As evidence of this, consider some of its prophecies.
A ‘Wonder of the Ancient World’—Its Doom Foretold
Over 35 centuries ago a small nation in the Middle East sat on the center of the main land trade routes between the East and the West. Edom, with its capital Petra, controlled a great flow of rich cargoes and travelers. Petra was located in the desert but surrounded by “inaccessible mountains.” In the city, jutting 1,000 feet (305 m) straight up, was an “exceedingly strong” mountain fortress that reportedly ‘one man could hold against an army.’
While the city held this seemingly unconquerable position, Bible prophets foretold: “‘O you who are residing in the retreats of the crag, . . . Although you build your nest high up just like an eagle, down from there I shall bring you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘And Edom must become an object of astonishment. . . . no man will dwell there.’” “From generation to generation she will be parched [a desolate waste]; forever and ever no one will be passing across her.”—Jer. 49:16-18; Isa. 34:5, 10.
Despite having the best natural defenses of any city in the world, Petra was captured, and the remaining Edomites were driven out. In time the Edomites disappeared from history. But the land did not become a desolate waste with ‘no man dwelling there.’ Rather, the new inhabitants (the Nabataeans) brought Petra to its greatest power. Tolls from the rich caravans filled it with great wealth. Exquisite buildings and architecture were carved into the rose-colored rock. The city became one of the ‘wonders of the ancient world.’ Yet suddenly the trade routes shifted, no one any longer crossed through the land, and the city died. The 1,000-year-old Bible prophecy came true. As one who visited the ruins declared: “I would that the skeptic could stand as I did, among the ruins of this city among the rocks, and there open the sacred Book and read the words of the inspired penman, written when this desolate place was one of the greatest cities in the world.”
“The Great City” That Became an Unusual Grave
Nineveh, “the city of blood,” instilled terror throughout the ancient Middle East for over 15 centuries. It was called “the great city,” for with its suburbs it may have covered over 200 square miles (518 km2)! Ancient historian Diodorus says that ‘a city its equal was never founded by any man after it.’ Yet during the height of its power the Bible foretold: “And [God] will make Nineveh a desolate waste, a waterless region like the wilderness. And in the midst of her, droves will certainly lie stretched out.”—Zeph. 2:13, 14.
Less than 20 years later, around 632 B.C.E., the Babylonians and the Medes besieged Nineveh. The city felt secure behind its 100-foot (30-m) walls capped with 1,500 20-story towers. However, Bible prophecy indicated an unusual event that sent Nineveh to her grave. It said of the city: “The very gates of the rivers will certainly be opened, and the palace itself will actually be dissolved.”—Nah. 2:6.
Historian Diodorus says that because of heavy rains the river by the city overflowed and “both inundated a portion of the city and broke down the walls for a distance.” It was now quickly taken and the conquerors “turned the city into a mound and a ruin.” The desolation was so complete that the location of the city was lost for centuries. Modern excavations have found its amazing ruins in a huge mound, buried some 40 feet (12 m) deep, under an estimated 14 million tons of dirt. Near the top of this desolate “grave” shepherds, to this day, graze sheep. How accurate the Bible proved to be, despite the seeming unlikeliness of its fulfillment!
The Bible has hundreds of other prophecies that were fulfilled in the past. It foretold, by name, that Cyrus the Great would conquer Babylon (Isa. 45:1); the conquest of the Medo-Persian empire by Greece (Dan. 8:3-7, 20, 21); the short reign of Alexander the Great and the division of his Greek empire between his four generals—to mention a few.—Dan. 8:22.
Why is all of this so important to us today? Because the Bible also makes predictions about our time. Since the past predictions were fulfilled, we can have confidence in those about the future.
Things Yet to Come
But just what does the Bible foretell about our future?
GOD’S RULE TO REPLACE HUMAN RULE OF THE EARTH. “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will . . . crush and put an end to all these [human] kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Dan. 2:44.
SOME PERSONS WILL SURVIVE THAT DESTRUCTION. “Seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”—Zeph. 2:3.
A NEW EARTHLY ORDER. “I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . . And God . . . will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Rev. 21:1-4.
THOSE IN THE GRAVES WILL COME OUT. Jesus declared: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.”—John 5:28, 29.
Are not these promises thrilling? When human rulership gives way to rule by God, there will be no more wars, governmental corruption or oppression of defenseless persons.—Ps. 72:1-4.
Is this hope really dependable? It may seem incredible. But consider how unlikely those other Bible prophecies were at the time they were given, and yet they were accurately fulfilled. So we can have genuine confidence that these others will come true—and soon. Having God as its Author, the Bible is, indeed, a book that accurately tells what the future holds.
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“‘O you who are residing in the retreats of the crag, . . . Although you build your nest high up just like an eagle, down from there I shall bring you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘And Edom must become an object of astonishment . . . no man will dwell there.’”—Jer. 49:16-18.
What is the condition of ancient Edom today? “Around us were the desolation of ages; the dwellings and edifices of the ancient city [Petra, the former capital city, carved out of the mountain crag] crumbled and strewed in the dust.”—Edward Robinson, in “Biblical Researches in Palestine.”
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During the height of Nineveh’s power the Bible foretold that God would make it “a desolate waste . . . and in the midst of her, droves will certainly lie stretched out.”—Zeph. 2:13, 14.
Visitors today see only a mound to mark the desolate site of ancient Nineveh. And, as foretold, flocks of sheep graze there.