Is the Bible a true account of God's word to mankind? One proof that the Bible is the word of God is the multiple ways that the prophecies of various prophets were shown to be fulfilled in later portions of scripture. God didn't just reveal His commandments for humanity to His spokesmen. He spoke the future into their minds and hearts.
God reveals the future to declare His power
The Voice of God is powerful! It is as the sound of a mighty thunder (Job 40:9; Psalm 81:7; 104:7; Revelation 14:2)! His Voice would drop anyone to their knees in trembling and holy reverence. God speaks His purposes into existence (Jeremiah 4:28; Ezekiel 22:14; 36:36). And He thunders out His plans well in advance:
Indeed, the Lord God does nothing without revealing His counsel to His servants the prophets. -Amos 3:7, HCSB
One of God’s reasons for revealing His purposes through the prophets and apostles is to prove His divinity and Absolute Authority over the affairs of humanity. Our Creator refuses to let false gods or people get the credit for His works.
I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them." – Isaiah 42:8,9, ESV
I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. For I knew how stubborn you were; …Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, ‘My images brought them about; my wooden image and metal god ordained them.’ – Isaiah 48:3-5, NIV
God knows that we are very self-centered and easily deceived by the demonic deceptions of false gods. He refuses to let His glory be given to another. So the Bible clearly states that God tells us things before they happen to prove that He is our creator and to keep mankind from mistaking certain events as self achieved or determined by idols.
God has also been very fair to us by letting us know well in advance that there will be consequences for our sin. He prophesies both earthly and eternal judgment before it happens and He also revealed the events of Christ’s birth, life, and death beforehand so that we may understand how to avoid His judgment.
God revealed the events of Jesus Christ centuries before His birth
The most important things that God chose to tell humanity before they happened were the events of the birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is not mentioned by name in the Old Testament. God only used the term Messiah twice as well (Daniel 9:25,26). God chose to veil the full identity of the future Savior until the appointed time.
The following verses are some samples of how God revealed the future events of the life of Christ to the prophets of the Old Testament.
Isaiah prophesied the birth of Jesus Christ, saying “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14) KJV. An angel confirmed the fulfillment of this prophecy to Joseph when the virgin Mary had become pregnant by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18-23).
Moses revealed the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ–how God would put His words in His mouth and how judgment will fall upon all who will not listen to Him:
Jehovah your God will raise up to you a Prophet from the midst of you, of your brothers, One like me. To Him you shall listen, …I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brothers, one like you, and will put My words in His mouth. And He shall speak to them all that I shall command Him. And it shall happen, whatever man will not listen to My Words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him. – Deuteronomy 18:15-19, MKJV
When the apostle Peter began his ministry after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, he declared that the above prophecy was indeed referring to Jesus Christ (Acts 3:20-23).
In the following verses, the Psalmist David makes reference to Jesus’ discomfort as He suffered on the cross, and in one of his other psalms, he accurately prophesies Christ’s resurrection by proclaiming that He won't be left in hell after dying for our sins.
They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. – Psalm 69:21, NKJV
For You will not leave My soul in hell; You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption. – Psalm 16:10, MKJV
There are many Old Testament prophecies of the future events of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, ascension, 2nd coming, and millennial reign. In a nutshell, here’s just a few more step-by-step prophecies in the Old Testament. In parentheses, I provide both the original Old Testament prophecy and the New Testament fulfillment of the same event.
1. Isaiah foretold how Jesus would personally meet the needs of hurting people during His 3 year ministry on earth (Isaiah 61:1,2; Luke 4:17-21).
2. King David revealed the coming Messiah as the cornerstone of the spiritual temple of God (Psalm 118:22,23; Matthew 21:42).
3. David also spoke of the "last supper" where Jesus would expose Judas as his betrayer (Psalm 41:9; John 13:18).
4. The prophet Isaiah prophesied, “and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” KJV, referring to His death on the cross for our sins–next to two thieves as though he were a common criminal (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 22:37).
5. God showed the prophet David how the soldiers would part Jesus’ garments and cast lots for his coat after His crucifixion (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23,24).
6. David also foretold that the soldiers would not break Jesus’ legs (Psalm 34:20; John 19:33-36).
7. Lastly, the LORD spoke by Zechariah to reveal the reaction of people as they looked at Jesus’ pierced body (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:37).
Those prophecies all came true hundreds or thousands of years after they were written in the Old Testament to give us proof that God reveals events before they happen.
Peter confirmed in the New Testament that “all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.” (Acts 3:24, ESV), explaining that God repeatedly revealed the future events of Christ’s life and purpose through many prophets over a period of many centuries. Peter also wrote that “the Spirit of Christ” Himself (who is the Word of God incarnate) was in the prophets to testify of “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (I Peter 1:9-12, KJV)
See the following references for further research: Psalm 22:14-18; Isaiah 53:1-12; Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:31; John 1:45; Acts 13:14-27; Romans 16:25,26
So, God has revealed many things before they came to pass to prove that He alone is our Creator. Other false gods or egotistical people cannot take credit for occurrences that Jehovah has foreordained will take place. Throughout time, His many plans and purposes have been pre-recorded in the Bible decades, centuries, or millennia in advance. We cannot say that God has not given us fair warning of how to escape His judgment and enter into a meaningful relationship with Him through the Savior Jesus Christ.
Check out the next segment in this series: Why believe the Bible III, How the prophets and apostles were appointed