Of the 26 so called holy books of various religions, the Bible is the only one containing predictive prophecy.(55) Biblical scholar Wilbur Smith compares the prophecies of the Bible with other historical books.
The Bible is the only volume ever produced by man, or a group of men, in which is to be found a large body of prophecies relating to individual nations, to Israel, to all the peoples of the earth, to certain cities, and to the coming one who was to be the Messiah.(56)
About 25% of the Bible is predictive prophecy. The Bible tells us that God gave specially chosen Hebrew prophets glimpses of future events for them to write down in the Scriptures. The test of a prophet’s credentials was 100 percent accuracy. If a prophecy proved to be untrue, he was subject to the death penalty.(57)
The three central themes in Bible prophecy in the Old Testament are:
- Israel and its holy city, Jerusalem
- The coming of the Messiah
- The return of the Messiah as King
Now to address Russell’s point, have the Bible’s predictions come true?
Prophecies Regarding Israel and Jerusalem
The Old Testament tells the story of God’s people, Israel, his dealings with them, and his future promises to them. Although he was a Jew, the apostle Paul made it clear that everyone, regardless of their race, is equally important to God.
After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is.(58)
But, why then is the nation of Israel special to God?
Israel traces its roots back 4,000 years to a man called Abraham. God called Abraham (formerly Abram) to leave his native land of Ur and begin living a life of faith and obedience. Because of Abraham’s faith, God promised him that he would become the “father of a great nation,” and through his seed the entire world would eventually be blessed.
Abraham’s descendants are what we now know as the people of Israel, the Jews. As his chosen emissary, Israel had three basic tasks:
- To provide the birthplace of the Messiah
- To be the depository of divine revelation (Scripture)
- To proclaim God’s message to all nations
God promised the people of Israel great blessing if they would obey his commands, yet severe consequences if they disobeyed him. Moses admonished them,
You must completely obey the Lord your God, and you must carefully follow all his commands.… But if you do not obey the Lord your God …the Lord will scatter you among the nations—from one end of the earth to the other.(59)
God said their disobedience would result in them being destroyed and scattered among the nations. But he also spoke of their future restoration.
I will bring my people Israel back from captivity; they will build the ruined cities again, and they will live in them.
They will plant vineyards and drink the wine from them; they will plant gardens and eat their fruit.(60)