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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Does God Know Everything?

Don Stewart :: Does God Know What Will Happen in the Remote Future?

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Does God Know What Will Happen in the Remote Future? (David’s Son The Messiah, King Cyrus, and the Rise of Greece)

Does God Know Everything? – Question 33

One of the many things which separates the God of the Bible from the so-called gods in other religions is that the God of Scripture knows what will happen in the future. Not only does God know what will happen in the future, He tells us certain things which will happen. These predictions can be checked out to see if they are true.

Scripture Gives Examples of Long-Range Predictions

We find many examples, in both testaments, of the God of the Bible making predictions which have literally come true. Not only does God know the immediate future, He also knows the remote future. Indeed, there are a number of biblical examples where God foretells event which will occur hundreds of years in advance.

We will list three of these predictions and their fulfillment. They include the predictions that one of David’s descendants will be the Messiah, that King Cyrus will give the commandment for the Jews to return from exile, and the rise of Greece as a great kingdom. The evidence is as follows.

Example 1: One of David’s Descendants Will Be the Messiah

The first example will be the predictions that one of David’s physical descendants would be the Messiah, the King of Israel. We read the following words in Second Samuel.

“‘When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever...Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’” (2 Samuel 7:12-13, 16 NIV)

These prophecies are specific. David’s son, Solomon will build the temple for the Lord. Then, at some indefinite time in the future, an actual descendant of David will be the promised Messiah.

This occurred literally as predicted. Some one thousand years later, Matthew opened his gospel by stating the following.

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1 NRSV)

Jesus was a literal descendant of King David. The prophecy was fulfilled.

Conclusion on the Prophecies concerning David’s Son

The fact that the Lord predicted that one of David’s descendants would be the promised Messiah shows that God knows the remote future. Indeed, there is no other way that He could guarantee to David that one of His heirs would be Savior.

Example 2: The Decree of King Cyrus for the Jews to Return to Their Homeland

The next example concerns a decree made by the Persian king Cyrus to allow the people of Judah to return to Jerusalem. In fact, this is one of the most amazing prophecies in the entire Bible. We can summarize what occurred in the following manner.

The Historical Background

The southern kingdom of Judah had been sent into captivity for seventy years. This exile had been predicted by the prophets. However, just as the prophets predicted the coming captivity, they also predicted the return from captivity. In one remarkable prophecy, Isaiah the prophet predicted the person who would give the command for the Jews to return. His name was Cyrus.

King Cyrus is an important figure in biblical history. Indeed, he fulfilled the prediction of the Lord with respect to the end of the Babylonian Empire. This destruction brought to an end the seventy-year captivity of the Jews and their return to the land of promise.

About one hundred and fifty years before Cyrus was born the prophet Isaiah recorded the Lord making the following prediction concerning Cyrus and certain of the commandments He would give. Isaiah wrote,

This is what the LORD, your Redeemer who formed you from the womb, says: I am Yahweh, who made everything; who stretched out the heavens by Myself; who alone spread out the earth; who destroys the omens of the false prophets and makes fools of diviners; who confounds the wise and makes their knowledge foolishness; who confirms the message of His servant and fulfills the counsel of His messengers; who says to Jerusalem, “She will be inhabited,” and to the cities of Judah, “They will be rebuilt,” and I will restore her ruins; who says to the depths of the sea, “Be dry,” and I will dry up your rivers; who says to Cyrus, “My shepherd, he will fulfill all My pleasure” and say to Jerusalem, “She will be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Its foundation will be laid.” (Isaiah 44:24-28 HCSB)

Before his birth, King Cyrus of Persia was foreordained by the living God to carry out a number of specific tasks. He would be the person who gave the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem and to lay the foundation of the destroyed temple.

The Specifics of the Predictions

With respect to the predictions made by the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, we can note a number of things.

1. The Nation Would Be in Captivity

The first thing that this passage assumes is that the people of Judah and Jerusalem would be exiled from their land. This assumes that some foreign invader would remove them from their homeland.

2. The City of Jerusalem Would Be Destroyed

Not only would the people be removed from the land, the holy city of Jerusalem would be destroyed in the process. The city would be completely shattered.

3. The Temple Would Be Destroyed

The city would not be the only thing to be destroyed. The Bible says that the First Temple would also be destroyed along with the city.

4. A Command Would Be Give To Release The People From Captivity

The exile would not last forever. At a particular time a commandment would be given to release the people from this captivity.

5. This Commandment Would Be Given by a Man Named Cyrus

The person who would make this commandment would be named Cyrus. Cyrus is specified as the one who would allow the people to come back to their homeland, rebuild their city and the temple.

6. Though Cyrus Did Not Know the Lord, He Was Still Used by Him to Carry This Out

The prophet makes another important point. Cyrus was the instrument which would be used by the Lord to carry out His purposes. This is in spite of the fact that Cyrus did not know the God of Israel.

All of these things were specifically predicted by Isaiah the prophet.

The Predictions Were Fulfilled

Each of these predictions was literally fulfilled. We can note them as follows.

1. Jerusalem Went into Captivity 100 Years after Isaiah’s Prophecy

As predicted, the nation was taken into captivity to the city of Babylon. Despite repeated warnings the people did not turn to the Lord. Therefore, they went into a seventy-year captivity as was stated by God’s prophets.

2. The City and Temple Were Both Destroyed

The Babylonians not only took the people away from their land, they also destroyed both the city of Jerusalem and the temple. Again, the prophecies were literally fulfilled as God had said.

3. Cyrus Gave the Command for the Return

After the captivity was over, miraculously the commandment to allow the people to return to their land and build the city and the temple was given by a Persian King named Cyrus.

4. The Miraculous Nature of These Predictions

There are a number of miraculous things we find about these predictions recorded by the prophet Isaiah.

5. The Captivity Was Predicted

To begin with, the prophet Isaiah predicted a captivity for the nation that would not occur for some one hundred years after he wrote it down.

6. The People Would Be Released from That Captivity

We are also told that the people would be released from this captivity. It is one thing to predict a captivity, it is quite another to confidently assert that the people will return to their homeland from this captivity. Yet, it came about exactly as predicted some one hundred and seventy years after it was prophesied!

7. Cyrus Would Be the Ruler Who Would Make This Decree

The most miraculous part of this prophecy is that the man who will give the command to release the Jews is mentioned by name before he was even born! Only an all-knowing God who knows every detail about the unknown future could make such a prediction.

Was It Written after the Fact?

How can critics respond to this obvious miraculous prediction? The typical response of Bible critics is that this prophecy had to have been written long after the time of Isaiah.

Indeed, the Book of Isaiah is usually divided into a number of authors the latest of which wrote hundreds of years after the time of the first Isaiah. While some scholars have attempted to deny the unity of the Book of Isaiah their arguments have been answered time and time again by Bible-believing scholars. However, the Person who settles this issue is the only One who could speak with complete authority on the subject, Jesus Himself.

It is common today in many circles to argue that the Book of Isaiah was written by at least two different authors. Isaiah 1-39 is assumed to have been written by first Isaiah, and 40-66 by a second Isaiah.

However, we find that Jesus and the New Testament writers, quoted from both parts of Isaiah, and attributed the entire work to the same author, Isaiah.

We read in Matthew about how Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah.

When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16, 17 NIV)

This cites Isaiah 53:4 from the so-called “Second Isaiah.”

There is another illustration where “Second” Isaiah is cited. This time it is from Luke’s gospel. It says,

Now Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him” (Luke 4:16-20 NET).

This passage quotes Isaiah 61:1, 2. It is in the section written by the so-called Second Isaiah. Yet, here it is attributed to Isaiah the prophet.

Jesus Directly Quotes Isaiah

There is also a passage where Jesus clearly spells out that Isaiah wrote it. We read about this in John. It says,

Although Jesus had performed so many miraculous signs before them, they still refused to believe in him, so that the word of the prophet Isaiah would be fulfilled. He said, “Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (John 12:37, 38 NET)

Jesus personally attributed this passage to Isaiah. Yet this is a citation from Isaiah 53, the so-called Second Isaiah.

He then proceeds to cite the first section of Isaiah.

For this reason they could not believe, because again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and understand with their heart, and turn to me, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things because he saw Christ’s glory, and spoke about him. (John 12:39-41 NET)

This citation is from Isaiah 6:10. Jesus said that Isaiah was the person who said these things.

Therefore, the testimony of Jesus is that the Book of Isaiah was written by only one man, the prophet Isaiah. Since Jesus Christ has come back from the dead to demonstrate that He is the One whom He claimed to be, His Word is final. One human being wrote the Book of Isaiah, Isaiah Himself.

Conclusion on the Prophecy regarding Cyrus

From the above evidence, we can conclude that the predictions concerning King Cyrus of Persia clearly demonstrate that the God of the Bible knows the future. Indeed, He would have to exhaustively know the future to be able to make such precise predictions.

Example 3: The Rise of Greece as a World Empire

The third example concerns the nation of Greece. The Lord predicted that they would succeed Babylon and Media/Persia as a world empire. The Scripture says,

The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy goat represents the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes represents the first king. The four horns that took the place of the shattered horn represent four kingdoms. They will rise from that nation, but without its power. (Daniel 8:20-22 HCSB)

After the kingdom of Media and Persian, Greece will be the next world kingdom. This prediction was made by Daniel the prophet about 530 B.C.

The Specifics of This Prophecy

There are a number of specifics contained in this prophecy.

1. Greece Shall Be the Next Great World Empire

After the Medes and the Persians, the next empire will be Greece. They will be the third empire in Daniel’s interpretation of the four great kingdoms which we rule the earth.

2. Greece Will Split into Four Parts

The little horn, which is the first ruler of the Greek kingdom, will be a strong ruler. However, after his demise this kingdom will eventually split into four parts. This is very specific.

3. The Four Parts Will Not Be as Strong as the Original Kingdom

These four parts will not be as powerful as the original Greek kingdom; they will lack the power that the kingdom had until the leadership of the first king; the little horn.

The Fulfillment

The predictions were literally fulfilled. We can list the fulfillments as follows.

1. Greece Was the Next Great Empire

As predicted by the prophet Daniel, the Greeks succeed the Medes and the Persians as the next great empire. Alexander the Great conquered the known world, which included the empire of the Medes and the Persians. This occurred about 330 B.C.

2. At Alexander’s Death, the Kingdom Was Later Divided into Four Parts

The first king, the little horn, was Alexander the Great. At the death of Alexander, the kingdom was divided into four parts. This fulfilled the prophecy given by Daniel.

3. The Four Kingdoms Were Not as Strong as the Original

However, the collective power did not match the original kingdom. The power of Greece never reached the same heights after the death of Alexander.

Conclusion on the Prophecy regarding Greece

The fact that the Lord could specifically say that Greece would be the empire which succeeded the Babylonian and Medes and the Persians shows His absolute knowledge of the future. Furthermore, that He knew that the kingdom would later be divided into exactly four parts is another prediction which can only be made and fulfilled if someone exhaustively knows the future. Indeed, we must again emphasize that this prophecy of Daniel was made some two hundred years before Greece succeeded Media/Persia as a great world empire. We are forced to conclude that the God of the Bible has exhaustive knowledge of the future.

There Are Many More Examples

These are just three of many examples which we could cite. The conclusion seems obvious; the God of the Bible not only knows events which will happen in the near future He also can predict accurately what will occur in the remote future. Only someone with exhaustive knowledge could do this.

Summary – Question 33
Does God Know What Will Happen in the Remote Future? (David’s Son the Messiah, King Cyrus, and the Rise of Greece)

The God of the Bible does indeed know what will happen in the remote future. In fact, it is His claim that His specific knowledge of the future is that which separates Him from the so-called gods of the ancient world. Indeed, He challenges them to do what He does, foretell the future. They cannot because they do not exist. He can do it because He knows exactly what will occur in the future since He has all knowledge of all things.

We list three examples which demonstrate God’s exhaustive knowledge of remote events. Examples which make it clear that the God of Scripture is all-knowing with respect to events which are yet to take place.

In the first instance, God promised King David of Israel that one of His descendants would be the promised Messiah. This did not become fulfilled for some one thousand years after the prediction was made. It would not be possible for this to happen unless the Lord knew the future exhaustively. In fact, except for God’s exhaustive knowledge of the future, such a prediction would be absurd. Humanly speaking there were so many possible things which could have kept this from happening. But it did happen exactly as the Scripture said. Jesus Christ was an actual descendant of King David. He fulfilled everything which was promised to David and He fulfilled it exactly as it was written.

In a second example, the Lord predicted that King Cyrus would be the one who would give the commandment to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the temple. When the Lord made this prophecy, the people were not even in captivity! In fact, it would be some one hundred years before they would be taken captive by the Babylonians. Eventually, some one hundred and seventy years after the prediction, a Persian king by the name of Cyrus did indeed give the edict that allowed the Jews to return from captivity and rebuild their city and temple. Only a Being who exhaustively knows the future could do something like this. Indeed, this prediction is truly amazing.

In the third example, the Lord predicted that the name of the empire which would succeed the Babylonians and the Medes and Persians. Three specific things are mentioned.

First, the empire would be Greece. Second, when the king of this empire died it would be split into four parts. Third, the four part kingdom would not be as strong as the original Greek kingdom.

All of this was literally fulfilled. Greece conquered the Medes and the Persians. After Alexander of Macedon died, the kingdom was split into four parts. The fourth kingdom, as predicted, was not as strong as the original Greek kingdom.

Furthermore, this did not occur until some two hundred years after the prophecy of Daniel. Again, this could not have happened unless God knows the future exhaustively.

These are three of many examples which we could give from Scripture. The point is clear. Only a Being who has exhaustive knowledge of the future could predict such events with such specificity. This puts to rest the false idea of open theism that the God of the Bible does not know the future.

How Does Open Theism Deal with Predictive Prophecy? ← Prior Section
Did Jesus Know That Judas Would Actually Betray Him? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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