The God of Prophecy
What does one say to a professed atheist when he demands proof that God exists? One could, of course, challenge him to prove that God doesn't exist—and to prove the preposterous scenario that the universe and even the human brain just happened by chance. In fact, since God is infinite, finite beings could never arrive at an indisputable proof either for or against His existence. Furthermore, "proofs" are really beside the point.
It is impossible to "prove" philosophically one's own existence—but who doubts it? Then why is a philosophical "proof" of God's existence demanded? Who needs "proof" that one's husband or wife or parent or child exists? If God really is, then He should be able to make Himself known. And if He can't do that, then whether He exists or not would be irrelevant to practical concerns.
Of course, the problem may not be that God isn't making Himself known but that mankind fails to recognize Him when He does so. Even the natural world suggests such a probability. For example, although the entire universe is composed of energy, mankind was for thousands of years unaware of its existence—not because energy didn't manifest itself and its power, but in spite of that fact.
Could it not be the same way with the God who created energy? Surely He would be far more mysterious than anything He made—and thus even more difficult to comprehend. God is not an impersonal force like energy. He must be a personal Being with emotion, intellect, and will, or He could not have created us.
The intricately organized universe God made adequately reveals His infinite intelligence and power. But it is something else for God to manifest His love and His will for mankind. To do so, He would have to make Himself known personally in such a way that a finite man would realize beyond a shadow of doubt that the infinite God was revealing Himself. How could He do so?
Suppose God thundered from the sky with an audible voice. How could one be certain that it was God who had spoken? Suppose He made some supernatural display of power. How could it be known that God had done it and that it was not a natural phenomenon? If He came as a man, who would believe that He was God? Yet how could He reveal Himself to mankind without becoming one of us? Suppose God manifested Himself in some transcendent form. How could anyone know that it was God and not some highly evolved extraterrestrial visiting earth? How, indeed! Miracles would not suffice, for skeptics could argue that highly advanced technology seems miraculous to those who don't know how it works.
Of course, each religion claims to offer the revelations of the true god or gods. Yet even in their basic concepts of deity there are sharp contradictions, which can't all be right. Hinduism, for example, embraces multitudes of gods and worships idols that supposedly represent them, since everything is god. By contrast, Islam denounces idol worship and pantheism/polytheism and it claims that its Allah is the only true god. Buddhism, on the other hand, needs no god.
Allah was, in fact, the name of the chief god in the Kaabah, the pagan temple that Muhammad "purged" by destroying the more than 300 idols it contained. Muhammad likely kept the name of this ancient pagan moon god because it would help to convert idolaters to his new religion if they could be offered something familiar. Yet today's Muslims see no contradiction in this strategy.
The God of the Bible states unequivocally, "[B]efore me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour" (Isa:43:10-11). Nor does He simply ignore the gods of other religions. He denounces them all, including Allah, as imposters who actually represent Satan or his demons: "They sacrificed unto devils, not to God" (Deut 32:17); "The things which the Gentiles [non-Jews] sacrifice [to their gods], they sacrifice to devils" (1 Cor:10:20).
It is not kindness but cynicism and a denial of the meaning of language to suggest that all religions are the same. It is an affront to Muslims to suggest that Allah is the equivalent of the many gods in Hinduism; or to tell a Christian that his God, who gave His Son to die for our sins, is the same as Allah, of whom it is specifically stated that he has no son. In fact, Christianity stands on one side of a theological chasm, with all other religions on the other side—a chasm that renders any ecumenical union impossible without destroying Christianity itself.
One cannot deny, for example, the irreconcilable conflict between the belief that Christ died for our sins and was resurrected (which is the very heart of Christianity), and the Muslim claim that someone else died in Christ's place. To sweep such differences under an ecumenical rug (as Roman Catholicism is attempting to do) is not kindness but madness. Nor is it possible to reconcile the claim of all non-Christian religions that sin is countered by good works with the Bible's declaration that works can't save but that only Christ, because He was sinless, could pay the penalty for sin by dying in our place. And, of course, Christ's claim, "I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father except by me" (Jn:14:6), is the strongest possible rejection of all other religions as counterfeits.
Jesus Christ stands absolutely alone, without rival, in His perfect, sinless life, His death for our sins, and His resurrection. The promise of His second coming is also unique to Christianity and separates it from all of the world's religions by a chasm that cannot be bridged by any ecumenical sleight-of-hand. Muhammad never promised to return, nor did Buddha. Only Christ dared to make this promise. Nor would such a claim by anyone except Christ be given any credence, for the decayed remains of all of the others occupy graves. It is Christ alone who left behind an empty tomb. That undeniable fact is reason enough to accept His claim to Deity and to take seriously His assertion that He would return to this earth in power and glory to execute judgment upon His enemies.
That the Bible, which provides the historical account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is unique for this and many other reasons becomes obvious from even a superficial comparison with all other sacred scriptures. The Hindu scriptures, for example, are obviously mythological. There is no historical evidence that the characters ever existed or that the fantastic tales refer to real events that actually occurred.
The same is true of much that is recorded in other sacred writings, including the Book of Mormon. Not one pin or coin or tiniest shred of evidence of any kind has ever been found to verify that the peoples, much less the events, to which the Book of Mormon refers were real. Not a mountain, river, or any piece of topography or geography described in the Book of Mormon has ever been located. In contrast, the world's museums contain vast stores of evidence of all kinds confirming the accuracy of the Bible.
The Bible does not waste its time, as philosophers so foolishly have for centuries, in any attempt to provide some philosophical "proof" for the existence of God. The God to which the Bible bears testimony is capable of communicating with mankind and promises to reveal Himself to all who sincerely desire and seek to know Him. "Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jer:29:13), says the Old Testament; and the New echoes the same promise: "He [God] is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb:11:6).
In communicating Himself and His will, God provides both subjective and objective evidence. The Bible is full of accounts of God having given tangible "signs" to those who wanted to know Him and His will. To "put out a fleece" is a common expression that is understood worldwide. It comes from Gideon's use of a sheep's fleece as a sign: asking God for dew on the fleece and not on the ground one morning, then dew on the ground but not on the fleece the next (Judg 6:36-40).
God has, in fact, given a "sign" to the entire world for all generations. That sign is the land and people of Israel. God refers to "Israel my glory" (Isa:46:13) and says of her, "in whom I will be glorified" (Isa:49:3). How would this come about? By God's specific dealings with Israel before a watching world, after having prophesied precisely what would happen (2 Chr:7:20). Referring to the rescue of Israel at Armageddon, the subject of many Old Testament prophecies, Ezekiel:38:23 declares, "Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord."
The Bible declares that the prophecies it provides concerning Israel supply the irrefutable evidence for God's existence—and for the fact that He has a purpose for mankind. History is not merely happenstance. It is going somewhere. There is a plan. Biblical prophecies declare it irrefutably.
Prophecy, which reveals God's plan in advance, is the missing element in all sacred scriptures of the world's religions, because false gods cannot provide it. Prophecy is not to be found in the Koran, the Hindu Vedas, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Book of Mormon, the sayings of Buddha, nor the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. In contrast, prophecy comprises about 30 percent of the Bible.
Significantly, the God of the Bible identifies Himself as the One who accurately foretells the future and makes certain that it happens as He said it would. In fact, God points to prophecy as the irrefutable evidence of His existence and the authenticity of His Word: "For I am God, and there is none else. . . . Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand. . . " (Isa:46:9-10).
There are two major topics of prophecy, both of which must be studied if one is to have any understanding of the Bible: 1) Israel; and 2) the Messiah who would come to Israel and, through her, to the world. These two major topics involve specific fulfillments of prophecy that cannot be denied and that prove God's existence.
Exactly as His prophets foretold, because of their sin God scattered His people, Israel, throughout the entire world. Yet, amazingly, they remained an identifiable ethnic and national entity. That is miraculous! Moreover, for 2,500 years since the Babylonian captivity, and for 1,900 years since the Diaspora at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, in fulfillment of other prophecies, the scattered Jews have been hated and persecuted as Satan has sought to destroy them. Yet they survived—another miracle.
Furthermore, and just as the Bible declared, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have been brought back to their own land after all these centuries. Such an incredible event has never happened to any other people and certainly has no natural explanation. The Bible prophecies are so specific and numerous that no one can deny Israel's rebirth as a miracle of God. But that is not all!
The prophets also declared that in the last days Jerusalem would have a special importance for all nations. Not only would this occur during the Millennium, when Christ was reigning there on David's throne, but just prior to His return. Zechariah:12:2-3 declares, "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about. . . . I [will] make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people. . . . " God was saying that the eyes of the entire world would be upon Jerusalem for fear of what would occur there.
At the time of this prophecy, about 2,500 years ago, Jerusalem was in ruins and surrounded by desolate desert and swamp. Nothing could have been more ludicrous than to suggest that one day the concerned attention of a modern world of more than 5 billion people would be focused upon this unlikely place. Yet that has been fulfilled precisely as foretold!
Whether atheist or believer, Hindu, Muslim, or Jew, all mankind knows that the next world war, when it occurs, will break out over Jerusalem! Israel comprises only one-sixth of 1 percent of the land occupied by the Arabs. Why the great concern today over this tiny piece of arid real estate that lay abandoned for centuries? Yes, Jerusalem is sacred to Catholics, Muslims, and Jews. But that doesn't explain why the whole world is concerned with establishing peace in the Middle East. Moreover, neither Catholics nor Muslims existed when these prophecies were made.
The Bible's prophecies concerning the Jews, Jerusalem, and Israel are specific, preposterous, and impossible—yet fulfilled. There is no other explanation than that God is the author of the Bible, the Jews are His chosen people, and Israel is their land—and Jesus is the Christ.
In view of this great "sign" that God has given to the world, can anyone honestly be an atheist? Or can anyone deny that Jesus Christ is the only Savior? His advent was prophesied, as well, by the same prophets and is intimately connected to Israel. All that the prophets foretold concerning the coming Messiah was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth—and the early church used that fact in proclaiming the gospel (Acts:2:22-36). So should we.
Study the biblical prophecies concerning Israel and her Messiah. I give many of them in Whatever Happened to Heaven? and Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist. We need to get back to prophecy and use it in persuading others to turn to Christ as Paul did (Acts:17:2-3; Rom:1:1-5). Yet prophecy is the most neglected biblical topic in the church today. Not so for Bereans!
We will return to this important topic from time to time if the Lord tarries and spares us to do so. —Dave Hunt
Questions and Answers
Question: I have studied prophecy for over 20 years, exposing myself to a multitude of counselors, as Scripture encourages, and have found the preterist view to be more scriptural. Mr. Hunt appears to think that anyone who does not share his premillenial eschatology is a borderline heretic. I am beginning to be annoyed by this arrogance. (March 1997)
Response: If we have ever given the impression that it is heresy not to believe “premillennial eschatology,” it was not intended. As for the preterist position that the Olivet discourse (Mt 24-25) and Revelation 1-20:6 were all fulfilled in A.D. 70 (and that Nero was the Antichrist, etc.), this is easily refuted.
In Matthew:24:21, Christ declares that the “great tribulation” of which He speaks will be the worst that “ever shall be.” Inasmuch as the persecution of both Jews and Christians under Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and others, since the 1940s has been far worse than that suffered by the Jews in A.D. 70, this verse was not fulfilled then.
Christ then warns (v. 22) that “except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.” Obviously this was not fulfilled in A.D. 70, for there was no danger at that time that all flesh would be wiped out. Its fulfillment can only be future. Verses 27-31 present further events that clearly did not happen in A.D. 70: the coming of Christ like lightning across the sky; the appearance of “the sign of the Son of man in heaven” and His visible “coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”; and His angels gathering “together his elect from the four winds. . . . ” Since these events have not happened, they must yet be future. I would respectfully offer this as solid evidence for the futurist position.
Question: How can a Christian who is honestly seeking the truth concerning end-time prophecy ever expect to come to the correct view of this matter when one considers the many positions that are held by those who are really godly saints? They hold to the essential teaching of God’s Word but differ widely when it comes to end-time prophecy. This is a serious question from one who is seeking the truth. (May 1999)
Response: Although these godly persons differ about eschatology, you noted that they agree upon the essentials of the faith. Biblical teaching on salvation and sanctification is abundantly clear. In contrast, much prophecy is hard to understand—perhaps to keep Satan in ignorance thereof. Furthermore, eschatology is largely neglected, which contributes to the lack of understanding. Even godly saints often adopt the attitude, “What’s going to happen is going to happen, so why study prophecy?” Yet the Bible is about 30 percent prophecy; “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rv 19:10), and a special blessing is promised to those who heed prophecy (Rv 1:3).
Christ, who rebuked the rabbis for not knowing and heeding the signs of His first coming (Lk 12:56), gave specific end-time signs by which the nearness of His second coming would be recognized—and surely He gave these signs for a purpose.
Unfortunately, some prophetic writers and speakers attempt to identify details where only a broad picture is given in Scripture. Some even presume to reveal the date of the Rapture or the identity of Antichrist, in spite of the fact that the Bible specifically says that no one can know the day or the hour of Christ’s return (Mt 24:36) and that Antichrist cannot be revealed before “his time” (2 Thes 2:6-9). Such attempts lead to confusion.
Further confusion is caused when some prophetic expositor tries to show that the European Union is the kingdom of Antichrist, or that God is about to destroy America for its sin, or that the Gulf War will lead into Armageddon, or that Y2K fulfill[ed] certain prophecies, etc., etc. There is a temptation for prophecy teachers to want to be the first to gain a new insight, to be “on the cutting edge” in recognizing the prophetic significance of some breaking news event, to sensationalize.
Avoid novel insights. Stick to the plain language of Scripture and to the unvarnished facts. It is a solemn matter to study God’s Word, to understand what it says (including the 30 percent that is prophecy), and to obey it. That responsibility is inescapably yours, regardless of how many conflicting opinions there are. If every person in the world disagrees with you, still you must come to your own conclusion. You are accountable to God, and when you stand before Him you stand there alone, fully responsible for your own thoughts and deeds and biblical interpretations, not for another’s.
The Bereans were commended for checking Paul out against the Scriptures and on that basis coming to their own conclusions. We must each do the same. The first principle of every cult is that a certain leader or hierarchy alone can interpret the Bible and everyone must accept what they say. A Berean attitude is the death of all cults.