Fulfilled Prophecy Testifies that God Lives
Many persons feel that a living God would have interfered long ago in human affairs to cut short this era of wickedness and woe. And now that some clergymen have put forth the idea that “God is dead,” many wonder where they can find the truth about the matter. The truth can be found in the Holy Bible, and especially pertinent to this controversy of whether God lives is the testimony of fulfilled prophecy.
When prophecies of the Bible are seen being fulfilled, it is evidence that God lives. Humans cannot accurately foretell events and give precise details concerning them even a few years in advance, but God has done so centuries in advance. For example, centuries before the arrival of Jesus Christ on earth, God foretold in detail many things in connection with him.
WHAT PROPHECIES CONCERNING JESUS TESTIFY
Consider Jesus’ birth. About seven hundred years in advance God inspired his prophet to foretell that it would take place in Bethlehem. (Mic. 5:2) And how remarkably this was fulfilled! It was, in fact, as a result of a royal decree of the Roman Caesar himself! The Jewish virgin Mary and her husband Joseph were living in Galilee, in Nazareth, some sixty or more miles north of Bethlehem, a long journey over rugged terrain in those days. However, Augustus Caesar’s registration decree required them to travel to Bethlehem to register—at just the right time for Jesus to be born there!—Luke 2:1-7.
Consider, also, the prophecies that were fulfilled at Jesus’ death. In the inspired Psalms it was foretold that not one of his bones would be broken, and that those present would cast lots for his clothing. (Ps. 34:20; 22:18) Did this occur? Since the day following the execution was a holy one to the Jews and bodies were not to be left on the torture stake overnight, the Roman soldiers proceeded to break the legs of the men to hasten their death. But since Jesus had just died, his were left unbroken. (John 19:31-36) As for Jesus’ inner garment, it was woven with no seam, so the soldiers decided to determine by lot whose it would be, rather than to tear it up and divide it. How miraculously these prophecies were fulfilled!—John 19:23, 24.
Prophecies regarding Jesus’ time in the tomb and his resurrection likewise were astonishingly fulfilled. In the Psalms it was foretold that God would not leave his holy one in hell, or the grave. (Ps. 16:10, AV) And Jesus himself explained that he would “be killed, and on the third day be raised up.” (Matt. 16:21) Was he? Yes, he was! Testified the apostle Peter: “This Jesus God resurrected, of which fact we are all witnesses.” The prophecies were fulfilled!—Acts 2:30-32.
Think now. Did all these many details just happen automatically simply because they were prophesied to occur? Was it merely by chance that Augustus Caesar made his registration decree at the exact time to maneuver Mary to Bethlehem when she was nearly ready to give birth? Was it just by accident that the soldiers proceeded to break the legs of the men after Jesus had died? Was it only by chance that Jesus’ inner garment was of such a kind that the soldiers decided not to divide it into separate parts among themselves, as they had done his outer garments, but to cast lots over it? And how was it that Jesus’ body was removed from the tomb on the third day without human intervention? It was accomplished by a living God! He intervened actively in human affairs to see that His prophecies were fulfilled!—Luke 24:1-7.
The fulfillment of those prophecies testified, not merely that God had lived in the past, but that he was alive then, at the time of their fulfillment.
WHAT DO WORLD WOES TESTIFY?
But what about today? A number of persons argue that the terrible increase of wickedness and woes upon the earth in our day is evidence that “God is dead.” They feel that God has absented himself from earth’s affairs and, unlike in times past, he is not doing anything in behalf of mankind upon earth. Is this true?
Such persons certainly are correct in saying that this generation has experienced a tremendous increase in woe and distress. Two destructive global wars, disastrous famines, unprecedented disease epidemics, a concentrated number of devastating earthquakes, a terrible increase of lawlessness—yes, all of such things have turned this generation into an “Age of Violence.” As the New York Times Magazine of May 2, 1965, observed: “Most historians now agree that . . . it was not the organized festivities of 1900 but rather the organized hostilities of 1914 that decisively concluded a chapter in human history.”
But should this terrible change for the worse in human affairs be unexpected by us? Did Almighty God leave mankind without warning of the coming of these distressing times? Turn, please, in your Bible to Matthew chapter twenty-four, Mark chapter thirteen, Luke chapter twenty-one and Second Timothy chapter three. What do you read there? Why, is it not that these exact woeful conditions presently being experienced were forecasted to occur as a sign of the “last days”? Yes, since the year 1914 God’s prophecies regarding the “conclusion of the system of things” have been in the course of fulfillment!
So of what is the present increase of woe really an evidence? That God is powerless to alleviate the troubles? That he is not concerned enough with mankind to do anything in their behalf? Do present woes indeed indicate that “God is dead”? Or, rather, do they prove that he is very much alive?
For an answer, we can turn in the Holy Bible to the book of Revelation, chapter twelve. Here the apostle John is given, by the glorified Jesus Christ, a vision of things to come. John sees in vision a great war, not on earth, but in heaven. This war is prompted by the birth of God’s kingdom. God’s enthroned Son, Jesus Christ, and the holy angels fight against the Devil and his demon angels, hurling them out of heaven. But in what direction are these wicked spirits hurled? In our direction—toward the earth! The Divine Record says:
“So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God! . . . Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time,” that is, a short time before he and his demons are put out of operation.—Rev. 12:9, 10, 12.
“Woe for the earth!” Yes, this is exactly what we have experienced during the past five decades. And what does this fulfilled prophecy testify to? That God is dead? By no means, but just the opposite, that God lives! For it is evidence that God has asserted his kingly power in heaven and that his kingdom has taken action against the Devil and his demons, hurling them to the earth.
Therefore, seen in the light of fulfilled prophecy, world conditions today testify to the fact that the Devil has been hurled out of heaven and down to the earth, and his violent ouster from heaven shows that God is very much alive and taking steps to put an end to wickedness. Instead of being helpless to do anything about the situation, or being uninterested in man, God has made the necessary provisions for wiping out wickedness and blessing mankind eternally by establishing His kingdom in the heavens. Soon that established kingdom in the hands of Christ will put the Devil and his forces of wickedness out of operation. Truly world conditions testify, not that God is dead, but that God’s kingdom now rules in the heavens and that God lives!
KINGDOM PREACHING TESTIFIES THAT GOD LIVES
Now that God’s kingdom is in operation in heaven, God is doing something else on behalf of mankind, testifying that He indeed lives and is interested in the welfare of lovers of righteousness. What is this? He is having carried out a global witnessing campaign regarding his established kingdom, as foretold at Matthew 24:14: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”
Under what circumstances would God’s established kingdom be preached throughout “all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations”? Would the nations rejoice in hearing this “good news”? On the contrary, Jesus Christ said: “People will deliver you [Kingdom witnesses] up to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be objects of hatred by all the nations.”—Matt. 24:9.
Has a Kingdom witness been given world wide despite opposition and hatred “by all the nations”?
Consider the facts of history. For example, a professor of history, Charles Samuel Braden, wrote in his book These Also Believe: “Jehovah’s Witnesses have literally covered the earth with their witnessing. . . . It may be truly said that no single religious group in the world displayed more zeal and persistence in the attempt to spread the good news of the Kingdom than the Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
And what has been the reception given to these Kingdom witnesses? A noted constitutional lawyer, Leo Pfeffer, surveyed the scene and wrote about Jehovah’s witnesses in his volume Church, State and Freedom: “Their aggressive missionary tactics are reminiscent of those employed by the early Christians, and the reception accorded them by the nonbelievers is likewise reminiscent of that visited on the early Christians.”
In country after country political authorities, religious leaders and mobs have tried to stop the Kingdom preaching, as Jesus foretold. But the opposers have failed. The American Civil Liberties Union reported that, in six months alone in 1940, “1488 men, women and children were victims of mob violence in 335 communities in 44 states. . . . Nothing parallel to this extensive mob violence has taken place in the United States since the days of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920’s.”
During World War II, these Christian witnesses were banned in thirty-four lands. But despite mob violence in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and other lands the work has not stopped.
The Nazis tried to wipe out these Kingdom preachers, Hitler even screaming with clenched fists: “This brood will be exterminated in Germany!” And wrote Professor Ebenstein of Princeton University in his book The Nazi State: “A campaign of terror was launched against [Jehovah’s witnesses] which surpassed anything perpetrated against any other victims of Nazism in Germany.” Yet the preaching work spread and Hitler and the Nazis could not stop the good news of the Kingdom from going to the people. Why? Because the living God is behind this work.
In Communist lands throughout the world great efforts have been put forth to stop the Kingdom witnessing. The Toronto Daily Star of July 2, 1960, said: “All religion is anathema to the Soviets. Unaccountably, however, nothing infuriates them quite as much as do Jehovah’s Witnesses. . . . Pravda reports that the Witnesses are becoming increasingly active. . . . Faith is spreading, and all the mighty resources of the state seem unable to destroy it.”
Why have powerful governments been unable to stop the work of this small group of Kingdom witnesses? This Kingdom preaching in the face of worldwide opposition clearly testifies to the fact that this preaching work is not of man. If it were, it would have collapsed long ago because of the opposition to it. As an esteemed doctor of Law in the first century said: “If this scheme and this work is from men, it will be overthrown; but if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them.” (Acts 5:34-39) The fact that the earth-wide Kingdom preaching continues is proof that it is of God, that God is backing it up—yes, that God lives!
Faced with such telling testimony of fulfilled prophecies of the past and even those presently undergoing fulfillment, is it sensible to believe those who claim that God is dead? For all who approach the Bible with reverent mind there is ample evidence that God lives. Our confidence can indeed be the same as that of the apostle Paul, who long ago said: “We have rested our hope on a living God.”—1 Tim. 4:10.