Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. In clear language, the Bible predicts what will happen hundreds of years before events take place. This is fulfilled prophecy, and fulfilled prophecy is a powerful reason for trusting the Bible to be true and authoritative. Today you'll hear more examples of how predicted events came to be fact, long after those predictions were made. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win, with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, we're learning about a king named Cyrus, who was named a century before his birth in Isaiah 44-28. You know, whenever our hearts become heavy because of what is happening in society, whenever things become very difficult, we have to remember that God is in charge.
You know, Dave, you and I find it very difficult to remember the future, and obviously the reason is because the future hasn't happened. But the Bible says regarding God, he calls those things that are not as if they are. What a God we serve. I've written a book entitled Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible. I wrote it to help all of us to understand that there are good reasons for what we believe.
Not only so that we might be able to answer other people's objections, but that we might in our own way be bolstered in our faith. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Simply go to rtwoffer.com.
That's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Remember God is the author of the Bible. It is I who says of Cyrus, he is my shepherd and he will perform all my desire. And he declares of Jerusalem, she will be built and of the temple, your foundation will be laid. Cyrus, Cyrus hasn't been born. Cyrus is going to be the king of Persia. And when he's writing, the Babylonian captivity hasn't even happened yet. And the Persians are going to overcome the Babylonians and he predicted that this would happen in another chapter. And Cyrus now is going to be the leader and God names him.
Look at chapter 45. Thus says the Lord to Cyrus his anointed. You say, well, was Cyrus a believer?
I don't think so. But in the Old Testament, that word anointed is often used of kings. He's going to be God's messenger. And in a moment, we're going to find out just exactly how this prophecy was fulfilled. Whom I have taken by the right hand to subdue nations before him and to loose the loins of kings to open the door before him so that his gates will not be shut. I will go before you and make the rough places smooth.
I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. And I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hidden wealth and secret places in order that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, everyone awake, who calls you by your name 170 years before you rule and a hundred and some odd years before you're even born. God says I'll call you by name.
And why is he going to do this? Verse 4, for the sake of Jacob my servant and Israel my chosen, I have also called you by name. I have given you a title of honor. Though you have not known me, God says, but I know you and I know that you're going to reign and you're going to be my servant and you're going to let Israel come back from captivity.
Wow. Now listen to what happened. This is Ezra's take on it now because you know that Ezra comes after. He's part of the remnant that returns. Listen to this. Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, this is Ezra chapter 1 verse 1.
You need not turn to it, but just listen. In order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, Jeremiah had similar prophecies. The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all of his kingdom and put it in writing saying, thus says Cyrus, king of Persia, the Lord, the God of heaven has given me all the dominions of the earth and has appointed me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. And he gives a proclamation and says, you Jews can go back home. Why did he do that? God says he's going to do it and I'm going to name him long before he's born.
And though he doesn't know me, I know him and that's going to happen. Now, isn't that refreshing after listening to Nostradamus? Cyrus means Cyrus. Jerusalem means Jerusalem. Israel means Israel. Isn't it nice that you don't have to do all these little word games to make it fit so that you can have a video on it?
I think it's nice. And you notice all throughout God always says, this is the word of the Lord. This is the word of the Lord. This is the word of the Lord.
Well, folks, it either is or it isn't. Let me give you another prophecy from the book of Ezekiel. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, chapter 26. I had the privilege of being standing on the very ground where this prophecy was fulfilled, so it's always been of interest to me.
Now, listen, let's get our history straight again. Nebuchadnezzar as I mentioned, he comes and he surrounds Jerusalem. There are three sieges.
That's why the dates are sometimes given differently, beginning say in 605 and then you count down to 586 when the final thing took place. And Tyre, a city along the sea coast which always boasted in its ships and what have you, it delights in the fact that Jerusalem has been captured and that Nebuchadnezzar has taken the people to Babylon because they were rivals in trade. Tyre had a great fleet and Jerusalem, of course, was interested in the caravan route, but they said to themselves, I'm glad Jerusalem's out of the picture because now we're going to be enriched.
Do you think that anybody today feels that way when somebody who's wealthy and rich is in demise and they say, you know, I secretly delight in the failure of someone else? Listen to what God thought of this. Chapter 26, verse 1 of Ezekiel. Now it came about in the 11th year on the first month that the word of the Lord came to me saying son of man, because Tyre has said concerning Jerusalem, the gateway of the peoples is broken.
It is open to me. I shall be filled now that she has laid waste. I'm going to benefit from her fall. Therefore, thus says the Lord God, behold, I am against you, O Tyre. I will bring up many nations against you as the sea brings up its waves, and they will destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers, and I will scrape her debris from her and make her a bare rock. She will be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea. For I have spoken, declares the Lord, and she will become a spoil for the nations.
Verse 7, thus says the Lord, behold, I will bring up to Tyre Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, king of kings with horses, chariots, cavalry, and a great army. The very one who is destroying Jerusalem is going to get to you, too. And he will slay your daughters on the mainland with a sword.
Notice that mainland. Wow, that's going to become significant in about two minutes when I give an explanation of the rest of the text. I just, I read this and I marvel. I say, God, you must know everything. Notice it says, yeah, yeah, don't you think he does? And some of you are trying to hide from him, and he's got you cased.
He's watching you all the time. Notice it says, verse 9, and the blow of his battering rams he will direct against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers. Because of the multitude of his horses, the dust raised by them will cover you, and your walls will shake at the noise of the cavalry. We have to hurry along. Verse 11, with the hoofs of his horses he will trample all your streets, he will slay your people with a sword, and your strong pillars will come down to the ground. And that's what happened. Nebuchadnezzar came and he surrounded the city and he besieged it, and as a result of that, some of the people said, you know what we're going to do?
We're going to escape. Because, you see, a half mile from the sea coast there was an island, and so they ran to the island and they began to build some fortifications there, and Nebuchadnezzar overcame them to some extent, but he went on his way, having fully done exactly what God predicted he was going to do. This also is a prediction. But notice the rest of the story. Verse 12, also they will make a spoil of your riches and prey on your merchandise, break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses and throw your stones and your timbers and your debris into the water. Nebuchadnezzar didn't do that. Now, folks, just to show you the accuracy of God's word, notice this. We read it so quickly sometimes. Did you notice that the Lord says in verse 3, I read it, therefore thus says the Lord, behold, I am against you Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, many nations.
Nebuchadnezzar was only one nation. And all the way through, what you have is the singular. He will do this.
He will do that. But you pick it up in verse 12 and you have the plural. You'll notice in verse 11, just to show you the contrast, with the hoofs of his horses, he will trample your streets. God is finished now with Nebuchadnezzar. He's done exactly what God has said he was going to do, but we pick it up in verse 12. And they, who's they?
That's somebody else. That's the other nations that God is referring to. They will make a spoil of your riches and a prey of your merchandise, break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses and throw your stones and your timbers and your debris into the water. Well, my dear friend, for 250 years, that prophecy was not fulfilled. The debris left by Nebuchadnezzar was not thrown into the water and many nations did not come up against Tyre, really only one.
There may have been some others, but they were not significant. 250 years after Nebuchadnezzar, a guy by the name of Alexander the Great is marching into Egypt and he can't bypass Tyre because they are out on the island now. By now, they have built a fortification with huge walls and he's afraid that if he goes and conquers Egypt, he is going to be putting up with this mighty sea power at the rear of his army and he says to himself, I need to take Tyre. And no matter what he did because he was not that strong in ships, though he used some ships of other nations, he discovered that the only way he could get to them is to build a causeway one half mile, push the old city of Tyre into the sea so that his soldiers could actually march on the causeway so that they could capture the people on the island. And that's what he did.
1968, I had the privilege of being in Tyre and I noticed a number of different things. First of all, ancient Tyre has never been rebuilt. What did God say? Verse 14, I will make you a bare rock. You will be a place for the spreading of nets.
You will be built no more for I the Lord have spoken it declares the Lord. And so we took our cameras, the old city. We noticed that it was just totally desolate and there were fishermen still spreading their nets just as God predicted. There is a city of Tyre today. It's a surrounding area but also we walked out on the causeway.
In fact, it's grown some throughout the centuries and you hardly know that you're on a causeway but we walked onto the causeway to the island. Even the dust and the debris of Tyre was cast into the sea because God said it would. And he says, I will bring up many nations against you. Who are the other nations? Alexander the Great used seven other conquered nations. He used their soldiers and he used their ships to come against Tyre. And as a result of that, the prophecy that God made was accurately fulfilled.
Why? Because the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. And what we're talking about is an event that was centuries into the future. Who could possibly have looked into the future and said, you know, someday Tyre is going to be thrown into the sea, even its dust and its stones. You just don't make predictions like that unless the word of the Lord comes to you saying. You say, well, what if you're an unbeliever? What do unbelievers do with these verses? Well, they do the only thing that unbelievers can do with the verses. You know, if you're really not going to believe, a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still, they simply say, well, these texts must have been inserted later.
Is there evidence historically that it was inserted later? No, but you believe that anyway. You have to because nobody could make predictions like this. Now, folks, where shall I go from here? My message time is almost over. I was going to talk about predictions regarding Christ's coming and we need to skip all that because this is a very large topic.
I'd like to give some conclusions. First of all, the authors of the Bible spoke with authority. Did you notice how often in my readings today it says the word of the Lord came to me?
That's why it occurs 1,500 times in the Bible. And some of you who are still quibbling, you need to just make a decision, namely, if indeed these people didn't have the word of God come to them, if they were making it up, well, then take your Bible and throw it into some kind of a trash bin because if it's wrong regarding its origin, it most assuredly is wrong about everything else. If it doesn't know whether it's a book from God or not, what good is the rest of the teaching? None of it is authoritative.
So make up your mind. How long will you halt between two opinions, said one of the prophets while standing on Mount Carmel? Secondly, God's omniscience. You are acquainted with that word, aren't you?
It just means that God knows everything. I mean, that's terrifying. You say, well, I've been hiding from everybody else all my life. Everything that I do is secret.
Well, that's fine. People may not find out, but the eyes of the Lord are upon you. And it says that all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
It's terrifying. That's why you'd better run to Christ and be forgiven and cleanse so that you can stand in the presence of a God who knows all about you. But God's omniscience is based on his omnipotence.
That means his power. You know, the reason that God knows the future so accurately is because he makes sure that the future is going to come out like he knows it's going to. One day, Peter was preaching and he said, you know, it is by the predetermined counsel and the foreknowledge of God that Herod and the Sadducees and the people would all gather together and crucify Christ. Christ died exactly when he had to die, even as the Passover lambs were being slain in Jerusalem because he was to be the Passover. And the reason that God knew all about Christ is because God made sure that it was going to come out like he predicted it. You say, well, Pastor Luther, that leads into all kinds of theological problems.
I know it does. That's why I'm hurrying to the third point so that we can ignore those problems today. I'm just reveling in the truth.
If you've got problems, tell God that you've got problems. All right. Third, past fulfillment.
Are you still with me? Past fulfillment guarantees future fulfillment. Past fulfillment guarantees future fulfillment. You know, one day Jesus in Luke chapter 4, and you can turn to this if you wish, he was reading in the synagogue and he took a prophecy of Isaiah and he started to read it and then he quit right in the middle of it. It's not because the Old Testament prophets are like Nostradamus.
They didn't take all the lines and jumble them and then add some puns and some Latinized phrases and a few foreign words so that scholars could puzzle over these enigmas, mysteries wrapped in an enigma as those prophecies are. But rather it's just that the prophets sometimes saw the past and the future come together and Jesus read Isaiah 61 chapter 4 verse 18 of Luke. The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, the recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.
He closed the book and gave it to the attendant and the eyes of the synagogue were fixed upon him. And he said to them, today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. Isaiah 61 has been fulfilled because I'm here and I'm doing all these things. But in Isaiah 51 the next phrase is, and to the day of vengeance of our God.
And Jesus didn't read that. Why? Because he's coming again to bring vengeance.
In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power. Listen to me. If you're banking on the fact that since Jesus hasn't returned throughout the centuries, he's not returning in the future. I want you to know today that you are going to lose your gamble.
You're going to lose your gamble. Because Jesus said as the lightning comes from the west and shines to the east, even so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. He's going to come in glory. He's going to come in power.
He came the first time as it was predicted that he would come in humility at Bethlehem. But he's going to return to the Mount of Olives with power and grandeur, and he will be the judge of all those who do not believe. And so I suggest today, you know, you who are sitting on the fence intellectually, morally, spiritually, I suggest that you do the wise thing. Don't think that, and I hope this doesn't come out wrongly, but don't think that you know more than God.
My suspicion is that you don't. Now there's something I'd gamble on. You know less than God that I know less than God. And he's got the whole future mapped out, and you'd better prepare for it. You say, well, I'm living high now. I mean, everything is going well. I've got a promotion. Life is pretty good to me.
Yeah, yeah. But what about the future? What about the future? In God's hands. And if you do not come to Christ, you will be judged by him.
You'll be judged by him. Did you know that during the period of the Reformation, an area and a period of time over which I have more than simply a passing interest, that there were at one time 20,000 Huguenot congregations in France? The Huguenots were the Protestant believers who were preaching the Gospel. Twenty thousand congregations.
So much so that there were some people during that era who actually thought that France might turn toward the Reformation and begin to preach the Gospel. And then you have Louis XIV come on the scene and terrible persecution breaks out against the Protestants. They are put to death. They're massacred. But thousands of them flee. In fact, 20,000 flew to Germany. They didn't fly, but they, what shall we say, they went to Germany. And that's why Frederick the Great, bless his heart, he actually has a statue on the Reformation monument in Geneva. It's because the Germans, they've done a lot of things wrong, needless to say, but occasionally the Germans did something right. They welcomed these people.
In Paris today, there is a monument to the Huguenots. And you know the Bible is spoken of in the scriptures as a hammer. It's not my word like as a fire says the Lord and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces. And it is also, in a sense, an anvil upon which a hammer blows.
And on that monument in Paris to the Huguenots are written these words. Hammer away, ye hostile hands. Your hammers break. God's anvil stands. So hammer away.
Study it in your colleges. Dissect it. Strip it of its miracles. Make it into a purely human book. Deny it on every hand. Criticize it. Make it into something that gives us nothing more than the history of God's revelation to the Jews and not something from God.
And I want you to know today that if you do that, you are the one that will break. God's word will not. It will not.
Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. My suggestion is that you do the wise thing. Believe it. Love it. Live it. Trust it, Savior. And its message can carry you all the way to heaven. What you have just heard me say is really the essence of running to win and the heart of our ministry. We delight to exalt the Bible. We delight to exalt Jesus Christ. We delight to preach the good news of the gospel that men and women might believe.
And thankfully, as a people just like you, God has enabled us to have a wide and growing ministry. It's all about God's word. I've written a book entitled Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible. These reasons have to do with logical reasons, historical reasons, prophetic reasons, Christological reasons, scientific reasons.
I want you to understand that there are many, many good arguments to show that the scriptures are what we believe them to be. Now for a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I'm going to be giving you that contact info again. I know what it's like to get information and you don't have a pencil in your hand or a pen, but I want to thank you so much for enabling us and becoming a part of this ministry and we want to bless you.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible. Our faith is well placed. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win comes to you from the Moody Church in Chicago. Next time, why the testimony of Jesus is a good reason to trust the same scriptures He trusted. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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