Old Testament Predictions
Note this is by no means all. For simplicity, just a few have been chosen as representative examples.
The Old Testament makes multiple specific future predictions, and no false predictions have occurred. The incredibly high odds against this speaks loudly of inspiration from God.
1. Old Testament Cyrus Prediction: (Isaiah 44:28-45:1)
Isaiah 44:28 - Isaiah 45:1 "When I say of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd,' he will certainly do as I say. He will command that Jerusalem be rebuilt and that the Temple be restored. This is what the Lord says to Cyrus, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower. Before him, mighty kings will be paralyzed with fear. Their fortress gates will be opened, never again to shut against him."
The prophet Isaiah in 700 B.C. names Cyrus as the king who will rebuild Jerusalem and cause the foundation of the Jewish temple to be laid. In 586 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. In 539 B.C. Jerusalem was conquered by the Persians. A Persian king named Cyrus then gave the decree to build the temple in Jerusalem. To occur by chance the following would have to occur by chance:
a. Jerusalem will be destroyed when it is conquered. Jerusalem was fully built when this prophecy was given. Estimated probability of 1 in 2.
b. Temple will be targeted for simultaneous destruction when Jerusalem is conquered. The Jewish temple was fully intact at the time of this prophecy. Estimated probability of 1 in 2.
c. Jewish people will become such predominant inhabitants of Jerusalem again to proceed with rebuilding the temple despite a substantial Arab presence. Estimated probability of 1 in 3.
d. The Arabs do not build a temple on the site of the former Jewish temple, preventing its construction. Estimated probability of 1 in 2. Note that is the case at the present time with the Dome of the Rock built on the site of the former Jewish temple.
e. Jerusalem is rebuilt after destruction. Estimated probability of 9 in 10.
f. The king that gives the order to rebuild is non-Jewish. (Cyrus is not a Jewish name) Estimated probability of 1 in 2.
g. The king that gives the order to rebuild is named Cyrus. Cyrus was not born until more than 120 years after the prophecy was given. He was only Cyrus I, not one in a line of Cyruses. Estimated probability of 1 in 20 even if Cyrus was a very common Persian name, as the type of conqueror nation of Jerusalem was not known at the time of the prophecy.
Combined probability therefore is 1/2 X 1/2 X 1/3 X 1/2 X 9/10 X 1/2 X 1/20 = 7.5/1000
Modified from (Probability estimates added) McDowell J: A Ready Defense. Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 1993 Pg 56-57.
2. Tyre Predictions: (Ezekiel 26:3-21)
Ezek 26:3-5 "Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am your enemy, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the waves of the sea crashing against your shoreline. They will destroy the walls of Tyre and tear down its towers. I will scrape away its soil and make it a bare rock! The island of Tyre will become uninhabited. It will be a place for fishermen to spread their nets, for I have spoken, says the Sovereign Lord. Tyre will become the prey of many nations." Ezek 26:14 "I will make your island a bare rock, a place for fishermen to spread their nets. You will never be rebuilt, for I, the Lord, have spoken! This is the word of the Sovereign Lord."
Ezekiel predicted in about 580 BC the following events will occur affecting Tyre, and their probabilities are estimated as follows:
a. Tyre’s debris will be thrown into the water. About 250 years later (333 BC), after ONE of the conquerings of Tyre (several nations came against Tyre) Alexander found that the mainland Tyre inhabitants had fled to an island ½ mile off the coast and fortified it. Alexander then built a large causeway 200 feet wide using debris from mainland Tyre in an attempt to reach island Tyre with troops in enough numbers to conquer it. Estimated probability .05 with other such causeways quite uncommon historically and considering the 250 year passage of time here.
b. Tyre will be left a bare rock, flat like the top of a rock.. Alexander scraped the old site of Tyre clean when he made the causeway out to the island and left a "bare rock". To this day mainland Tyre remains in this state. There is a great freshwater spring at the site of the mainland city of Tyre, making the location suitable for free water for a large city, yet Tyre remains bare from the 300s BC to today. The estimated probability for a site on the shore with an excellent spring being non used and non rebuilt could reasonably be considered .25.
Combined probability: .05 X .25 = .0125
3. Sidon Predictions Ezekiel 28:22,23
Ezek 28:22-23 "Give the people of Sidon this message from the Sovereign Lord: I am your enemy, O Sidon, and I will reveal my glory by what happens to you. When I bring judgment against you and reveal my holiness among you, everyone watching will know that I am the Lord. I will send a plague against you and blood will be spilled in your streets. The attack will come from every direction and your people will be slaughtered within your walls. Then everyone will know that I am the Lord."
a. Blood will run in her streets. In 351 BC 40000 Sidonians, afraid of the revenge of the Persian king shut themselves up in their homes and set fire to their own houses and perished. Over the intervening years the city has been captured over and over again, its citizens butchered and houses razed, but the city has always been rebuilt. For example it was taken three times by the Crusaders and three times by the Moslems. With this whole area having a good deal of conflict, saying blood will run in her streets has a good potential for coming true. Lets estimate 8/10.
b. Ultimate destruction is not predicted. Despite the above Sidon remains intact.
A reasonable estimate of this can be considered 5/10 with the multiple razings of houses that have occurred.
Combined probability: 8/10 X 5/10 = 40/100 = 40%
4. Samaria Predictions: (Micah 1:6)
Micah 1:6 "So I, the Lord, will make the city of Samaria a heap of rubble. Her streets will be plowed up for plowing vineyards. I will roll the stones of her walls down into the valley below, exposing all her foundations. "
a. Samaria will be made a heap of ruins in the open country. Today only the shafts of a few pillars remain among a heap of stones. Cities in this area may go through periods of defeat and damage, but for a city of that magnitude to become a heap of stones and remain that way has a reasonable probability of only about .05 (1/20).
b. Samaria will become a planting place for a vineyard. Today her area is covered with corn fields and olive gardens. This area is fairly appropriate for a vineyard, and would have a high probability of .7 or so given that she has been reduced to ruin already.
c. Her stones will be thrown down into the valley. Most of her stones have been thrown down into a nearby valley. To have most of her stones disposed of in this way, even knowing there is a nearby valley would have a probability estimated at about .5.
d. Her foundations will be laid bare. Her foundation stones lie scattered about on the slope of the hill. To have the foundations stones left lying instead of utilized would have a probability estimated at 0.5.
Combined probability: 1/20 X 7/10 X 5/10 X 5/10 = 175/20,000 = 0.875%
5. Prophecies about the Philistines and their major cities. Amos 1:8 (775-750 BC) Zephaniah 2:4-7
Amos 1:8 "I will slaughter the people of Ashdod and destroy the king of Ashkelon. Then I will turn to attack Ekron, and the few Philistines still left shall be killed. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!"
Zephaniah 2:4-7 "Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron-- These Philistines cities, too, will be rooted out and left in desolation. And how terrible it will be for your Philistines who live along the coast and in the land of Canaan, for this judgment is against you, too! The Lord will destroy you until not one of you is left. The coastal area will become a pasture, a place of shepherd camps and enclosures for sheep. The few survivors of the tribe of Judah will pasture there. They will lie down to rest in the abandoned houses in Ashkelon."
a. "There will be no more Philistines" There are none who can identify themselves as Philistines to this day. Probability of the Philistines being destroyed so utterly that no one can or will stand up and identify themselves as a Philistine can be estimated at 0.1
b. Gaza will be destroyed to the point of baldness. Although there is a modern Gaza, the site of the original Gaza was overlooked when it was rebuilt, with the original site so flat that it is buried under sand. Estimated probability 0.05
c. Askelon will be destroyed and then restored: After centuries of being desolate ruins, it has been restored and it is a city of the Israelites. Estimated probability 0.2
Combined probability: .1 X .05 X .2 = .001
6. Predictions about the Jewish People:
Gen 12:1-3: "Then the Lord told Abram, 'Leave your country, your relatives, and your father's house, and go to the land that I will show you. I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. ' "
Gen 13:14-15 "After Lot was gone, the Lord said to Abram, 'Look as far as you can see in every direction. I am going to give all this land to you and your offspring as a permanent possession.' "
a. Abraham’s name will be great:: This is clearly true. For it to remain a name in favor over all this time has an estimated probability of .25
b. Abraham’s descendants will have their land forever, and will number as the stars in the heavens. Despite being taken into captivity and taken away as a nation in 600 BC, returning to their homeland only to have Jerusalem completely destroyed, all its inhabitants killed or scattered, and having 6 million die in concentration camps, the state of Israel was reborn on May 14, 1948. Not only have the Jewish people survived, but all early nations that have persecuted them earlier, (Moab, Ammon, Edom, Philistia) have either been destroyed or lost their individual identity. Probability of regaining a homeland surrounded by Arab nations all of whom are hostile appears to be 0.1 or less.
c. Just keeping an ethnic identity over such a long time is unprecedented. The Jewish people have never lost their identity. Probability of retaining identity estimated at 0.1.
Combined probability .25 X .1 X .1 = .0025
7. Summary of probabilities of predictions 1-6 since they are independent prophecies.
Note the above do not cover all the prophecies but are all independent of each other.
All prophecies must be true to clearly be convincing that the Old Testament is from God, so their probability can be multiplied together to get an overall probability of Old Testament prophecy being fulfilled.
Therefore, rounding off for simplicity the probabilities 1-6 above, they would be .0075 X .0125 X .5 X .00875 X .001 X .0025 = Approx 1 in 1,000,000,000,000. Keep in mind this is only 6 predictions, and all Old Testament predictions thus far have come true. To conceptualize what this means, let's suppose there is a 1 in 1000 chance of winning something by chance, and 1 in 1,000,000 of winning the big prize. 1.5 in 1,000,000,000,000 is a little more than a 1 in a trillion chance. There is clearly no way that these predictions could have been from any source other than divine.
Note that examples and probabilities above were modified and restructured primarily from A Ready Defense by Josh McDowell ) Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 1993 Pg 56-73. For other excellent materials his web is www.josh.org