A Prophetic Reason: The Predictions Of The BibleErwin W. Lutzer | November 2, 1997
Selected highlights from this sermon
A lot of people have claimed to make prophesies. Many hold up Nostradamus as an example, and maybe they even mention the Bible Code. But these crumble in comparison to the overt prophesies of Scripture.
Isaiah and Ezekiel are just two examples of precise prophets in the Bible. Moved by God, these men relayed to their readers what was still yet to come, including the captivity of Judah and the destruction of Tyre. As for us, we take comfort in the fulfilled prophesies of Scripture, because they remind us that more fulfillments are yet to come.
You know, I think that prophecy can be fun. And it can be fun especially if you cloak your prophecies in so much ambiguity, and you have some followers who are willing to try to unpack it and to make sense out of it, and to give you the benefit of the doubt, and to interpret it in such a way that after the events happen it’s clear that you knew in advance they would. Another thing that I have often said to psychics and to seers, if ever I have the opportunity to speak to them, is it is much easier to predict an event after it happens than before it happens, so sometimes what you should do is just wait around until it happens, and then say you predicted it 20 years ago. That’s more exact. (chuckles).
You know, in the year 1503 there was a man born in France by the name of Nostradamus. At the age of 50 he would sit on a pyramid (actually it was like a tripod) and the angles of the legs were the same as the pyramids of Egypt. And then he would have a cauldron, a pot of boiling water beneath him, and as he stared into the vapors he would work himself into a trance. That’s what he did. And oftentimes during those periods he would spin out all of these predictions which he did in quadrants, that is to say in four-line segments. And then when he gathered them together in groups of one-hundred, he called them centuries, though they had nothing whatever to do with time or with centuries. And so even in his day he was oftentimes admired as a prophet.
He wrote using puns, word games, mysterious illusions, threw in some words from other languages, and then what he did is he took his prophecies and he scrambled them, taking one line and putting it somewhere else, so that future generations can try to unscramble it and to understand it and to think of him as a great prophet.
You know of course, that he predicted the rise of Hitler, don’t you? In fact, could there be anything more clear than this? Let me read it to you, and here it is. “In the year that is to come soon, not far from Venus, the two great ones of Asia and Africa, shall be said to come from the Rhine and from Hister, crying in tears, shall be at Malta and on the Italian shore.” Could there be anything more clear than that? Doesn’t that bless you?
You say, “Well, where is Hitler?” Well, Hister, because you know the Rhine River refers to Germany, Hister is really Hitler. Oh really? I thought maybe it’s the Hister River, but no, no, that’s Hitler. Huh! Couldn’t be clearer to me!
You know, of course, that he predicted both the assassination of President Kennedy and his brother, Robert, in the very same prophecy. Now look at how clear this is. “The great man will be struck down in the day by a thunderbolt, the evil deed predicted by the bearer of a petition.” According to the prediction another falls at nighttime. There’s Robert Kennedy. “Conflict in Reims, London, and pestilence in Tuscany.” Seems clear to me! What do you guys think? (chuckles)
You know, if Nostradamus could live today… I mean we know that he’s living somewhere where he’s not going to be smiling very probably, but if he were in a place where he could entertain a humorous thought, he must marvel at the fact that those who have followed him throughout the centuries have taken his prophecies and they have twisted them, they have turned them, they have substituted words, they have interpreted them, and they have made him out to be this great fantastic prophet who prophesied things hundreds of years in advance, we are told.
Well, I’m here to tell you that he’s a false prophet for a couple of reasons. First of all, many of these predictions are contradictory. During World War II the Nazis used some of the predictions to show that they would win, and the Allies interpreted him to mean that they would win. You can have Nostradamus on both sides of the same fence here.
Not only that, but scholars who have honored him cannot agree with what he meant because of all of these illusions and puns that somehow have to be made sense of. And they are constantly substituting one word for another, and using his literal meaning simply as a vehicle to find some hidden mystical meaning. Some of his clearest predictions have not come to pass, but twentieth century cultists still think of him as a great prophet, and there are movies that are made, and television programs made to show that Nostradamus was a great man.
Listen, I want you to know that the Encyclopedia of Man, Myth and Magic, which is not necessarily Christian in its orientation, says this. And this is possibly the best way to assess him, and that is they suggest that he possibly composed his sayings tongue in cheek, well aware that there is an enduring market for prophecies, especially veiled ones.
No, Nostradamus could not predict the future with the kind of accuracy that we need if we’re going to talk about events that are going to come to pass. In fact, he himself said that it was his intention that after the event happened people would look back and say, “Ha ha, he predicted it.”
Well, so much for Nostradamus, but what about the Bible code? What about the Bible Code? You know, of course, that it is said that the Old Testament—the books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy)—are filled with all kinds of hidden meanings that computers have been able to decipher. Let me explain to you the way in which it is done. They assume that the Old Testament text has no spaces between the words. It is simply a string of letters. That’s the assumption. And then what they do, because now they have computer programs, they put different names into the program to see whether or not they can find some names with equidistant letters. For example, perhaps every third letter if it is taken, and you run it through the program, you discover somewhere that there is Yeshua which is the Old Testament name for Jesus. And you find these references and then you say to yourself, “See, all of this was coded into the biblical text.” I have a friend with whom I have had some correspondence, and he is working on this because you can get computer programs. And he tells me that Yeshua, the name of Jesus, occurs hundreds of times in the Old Testament if you have the computer hardware and software to be able to detect these interesting codes.
And the authors say that when the text was scrambled there seemed to be no such configurations. There didn’t seem to be these word groupings that there are in the Old Testament text. And then there are other Hebrew texts which they say do not have such groupings. In fact, the researchers took 30 names from the Encyclopedia of Great Men of Israel, and they ran them through the computers and said their births and their deaths were encoded in close proximity. Now there’s a lot of latitude there in the close proximity matter, but nevertheless, that is what is claimed.
Now, you ask my opinion, and many of you have, so I am going to give you an opinion that is not going to satisfy those of you who are great on the Bible code, and those of you who are totally against it, but I will give you my opinion. And my opinion is not authentic because, you see, I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet. As a matter of fact, I work for a non-profit organization (laughter) but I think that the Bible code is far-fetched. It’s far-fetched! It’s a stretch.
As a matter of fact, in order for us to understand why it’s a stretch, let me just take a moment and discuss its most famous prediction, namely that Yitzhak Rabin would be assassinated. Now they discovered that the name, Yitzhak Rabin was found in the book of Deuteronomy if you skip every 4,772 letters. And if you skip all of these letters then in equidistant letter sequences, you come up with his name. To be specific, and I shall be specific, the first letter of his name is in Deuteronomy 2:23. The second letter is in chapter 4, verse 42. The next one is in 7:20. The next one is in 11:1. The next one is in 13:11; 17:5 and 24:16. Now, they say, that as long as you keep 4,772 letters equidistant (spaces between them), you can come up with the name Yitzhak Rabin. And then, lo and behold, the word assassin goes right across his name.
So let’s take our Bibles in the book of Deuteronomy and let’s find where they cross. It’s in Deuteronomy 4:42. This is where the word assassin crosses. It says in Deuteronomy 4:41: “Then Moses set apart three cities across the Jordan to the east that a manslayer might flee there who unintentionally slew his neighbor without having enmity toward him in time past, and by fleeing to one of those cities in which he might live.” Well, there it is folks—the word manslayer, and he’s an assassin. And if you were following carefully, you’ll notice that one of the letters of Rabin’s name occurs in chapter 4, verse 42, and therefore, that shows that Rabin was going to be assassinated. Well, is this manslayer actually an assassin? I don’t think so, but if you’ve got to make it fit, you’ve got to make it fit because you need to say that it is predicted.
Well, we could go on and I could give you examples of how things are stretched. Now, if you look at the Bible code, you would never guess that actually Rabin’s name has letters 4,772 equidistant like that. You think to yourself it’s almost in the text and that is because there would be no way that you would have a page that would be that long that would have the whole book of Deuteronomy, so they scrunch it together, and when you look at the charts you say, “Oh my, all of these letters are altogether with only a few spaces between.”
I just read last night that somebody decided that he would do this with Moby Dick, and he’s finding all kinds of interesting associations and connections, so possibly the jury is still out, but it seems to me that the Bible code needs a couple of comments even if future generations should look at it differently.
And now we get to the important analysis. Number one, it diverts attention from the Bible’s main message. You know, it used to be that you would be a godly man who would interpret the Word of God, but you don’t have to be today. You just need to be a mathematician and a computer whiz. And all that you need to do is to know what programs to run, and you need a course in statistics and probability, and in this way now, you finally get to these hidden messages. Well, I’m not so interested in the hidden messages. What really bothers me in the Bible is the clear messages. I’ve got trouble with them. I don’t have time for the hidden ones.
Secondly, you can’t really predict anything. You couldn’t predict Rabin was going to be assassinated a hundred years ago because you didn’t even know which name to put into the computer until he was alive. You don’t know what names to put in until you check the encyclopedia to find out who is famous and who isn’t. And therefore, you see, it is not really predicted. Now, I know there are those who say, “Well, you know there’s going to be an earthquake in California in the year 2010.” Well, I’d say that statistically there’s a pretty good chance that that will happen. You can pick any year and there’s liable to be an earthquake in California.
Finally, and this is very important, it is unthinkable to me (absolutely unthinkable) that God would encode in His Word all these little intricate associations, and these hidden messages, and these messages would have significance only when the age of computers arrived. And throughout all of the centuries now isn’t it something? Believers have always been denied these intricate truths, but thank God for IBM and for Apple, because at last we are able to get to the real hidden messages in the book. The Bible Code probably will not lead other people to saving faith in Jesus Christ, and as a result of that people may be interested. Some people now say they believe the Bible is the Word of God, and we would say, “You know, you should have believed that long ago, long before computers were invented, because there are good reasons for it.”
As a matter of fact, as you know, this is a series of messages entitled Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible. Today we come to the third, namely the prophetic reason. And after this introduction, now we are going to turn to God’s book and we’re going to see some explicit prophecies that are given in the Bible. And thank God they are going to be a lot clearer than Nostradamus. Thank God we don’t have to know computers. Thank God we don’t need to be mathematicians. We just need to point our finger in the text and say, “Behold God has spoken, and look at what has happened.” And I’m going to show you predictions that are so clear that unless you are absolutely determined to fold your hands and say, “Under no conditions will I believe,” I believe that they are so unavoidably clear that if you have a heart to believe at all, you’ll say, “Yes, we hold in our hands a book from God,” because only God could know the future with that kind of clarity.
Let’s begin with the book of Isaiah. You understand, of course, that this message again is difficult for me to prepare. Why is it difficult? Well, I don’t even know where to begin. I could give an exposition of Daniel and look at all of Daniel’s prophecies. We could look at prophecies as they relate to Jesus Christ. You just open the Old Testament almost anywhere and you find a prediction, but I chose Isaiah 39:6 to begin, and we shall see its relationship to another prophecy.
Isaiah, you see, writes from the year about 700 B.C. to 680. Remember that because we’re talking about B.C. therefore the larger numbers are farther away than the more recent smaller numbers, and so it was about 700 to 680 B.C. And this is what he says in chapter 39. He says in verse 6, “‘Behold the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left,’ says the Lord.”
Now that’s interesting because it was 90 to 100 years after this prediction was made in about 604 when it began (and then it ended in 586 B.C.) that Nebuchadnezzar comes down and he captures Jerusalem and he holds off all the spoils, and the people of the Southern Kingdom are hauled off to Babylon just as God predicted. And so here you have Isaiah long before the time.
Can you imagine looking into the future and seeing a hundred years from now exactly what is going to happen? But it says in verse 5: “Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, ‘Hear the word of the Lord of hosts.’” And that’s what made the difference. You say, “Well, Pastor Lutzer, I believe but I’m still not convinced. Give us something more specific, something a little bit more dramatic, something that nobody can deny.”
Alright, thank you for asking that. Let’s do that. I want you to turn to Isaiah 44. Now let’s get our chronology straight here (Okay?) because what we’re talking about is Isaiah 700 to (What shall we say?) 680 as we mentioned a moment ago, and he is predicting something that is going to happen in the year 600, and it goes to the year 586 B.C. And as I mentioned a moment ago, Israel is carried off and they are taken to Babylon. How long are they in Babylon? Seventy long years! After 70 years they get to return because a man by the name of Cyrus conquers Babylon and is now the king of Persia and he gives the Jews an opportunity to return. And notice that Isaiah, living 150 to 170 years now because we have to add 70 to the 100 (Are you following me?), mentions Cyrus as being the king who is going to let Israel come back.
And I need to read all of this text. It’s in Isaiah 44, and I’m going to begin at verse 24, because the reason that God mentions Cyrus by name 150 to 170 years before he appears on the scene is because God is contrasting his knowledge with all of the spiritists, with the Nostradamus’s of his age, if you please.
Notice it says in verses 24-26: “Thus said the Lord God, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, ‘I the Lord, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by myself, and spreading out the earth all alone, causing the omens of boasters to fail, making fools out of diviners, causing wise men to draw back, and turning their knowledge into foolishness.’”
You can phone psychics today. I saw an ad somewhere and it said, “The first ten minutes free.” Don’t you dare do that. Don’t you ever do that. If you are into that kind of thing, renounce it in the name of Jesus. You are shaking your fist in the sight of God, and you’re also doing that, by the way, if you are reading the horoscopes, which should be actually called “horror” scopes.
May I say it? I don’t think I’ve said it from this pulpit before, but if you’re doing that kind of thing, shame on you. You’ve turned your back on God. He brings all this to foolishness. Some of you have gone to fortune tellers. You maybe even paid money. Don’t ever do that. The Bible says about all those who are have omens, and those who are diviners, who can tell you the future, and those who say they can look into the stars that God says, “I will cause these people to be fools.” They are fools!
Verse 26: “Confirming the word of his servant and performing the purpose of his messengers, ‘It is I who says of Jerusalem, “She shall be inhabited” and of the cities of Judah, “They will be built.”’” Absolutely! They are going to come back out of captivity 70 years later, and they are going to rebuild it. “And I will raise up her ruins again. It is I who says to the depth of the sea, ‘Be dried up and I will make your rivers dry.’”
Now catch this in verse 28: “It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he will perform all my desire.’ And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’”
Cyrus hasn’t been born. Cyrus is going to be the king of Persia, and when he’s writing, the Babylonian captivity hasn’t even happened yet. And the Persians are going to overcome the Babylonians, and he predicted that this would happen in another chapter. And Cyrus now is going to be the leader, and God names him.
Look at chapter 45: “Thus says the Lord to Cyrus, his anointed…” You say, “Well, was Cyrus a believer?” I don’t think so, but in the Old Testament that word anointed is often used of kings. He’s going to be God’s messenger, and in a moment we’re going to find out just exactly how this prophecy was fulfilled. “Whom I have taken by the right hand to subdue nations before him and to loose the loins of kings, to open doors before him that his gates will not be shut. I will go before you and make the rough places smooth. I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars, and I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hidden wealth in secret places, in order that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel (Everyone awake?) who calls you by your name.”
One-hundred seventy years before you rule and a hundred and some odd years before you’re even born, God says, “I’ll call you by name.”
And why is he going to do this? Verse 4: “For the sake of Jacob my servant, and Israel my chosen, I have also called you by name. I have given you a title of honor, though you have not known me,” God says, “but I know you, and I know that you’re going to reign and you’re going to be my servant, and you’re going to let Israel come back from captivity.” Wow!
Now listen to what happened. This is Ezra’s take on it now, because you know that Ezra comes after. He’s part of the remnant that returns. Listen to this: “Now in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia (This is Ezra 1:1. You need not turn to it but just listen.), in order to fulfill the Word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah (Jeremiah had similar prophecies), the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all of his kingdom and put it in writing saying, ‘Thus says Cyrus, King of Persia, the Lord, the God of heaven has given me all the dominions of the earth, and has appointed me to build him a house in Jerusalem which is in Judah.’” And he gives a proclamation and says, “You Jews can go back home.” Why did he do that? God says He’s going to do it and He says, “I’m going to name him long before he’s born. And though he doesn’t know me, I know him.”
Now, isn’t that refreshing after listening to Nostradamus? Cyrus means Cyrus! Jerusalem means Jerusalem! Israel means Israel. Isn’t that nice that you don’t have to go through all these little word games to make it fit so that you can have a video on it? I think it’s nice, and you’ll notice that all throughout God always says, “This is the Word of the Lord! This is the Word of the Lord! This is the Word of the Lord!” Well, folks, it either is or it isn’t.
Let me give you another prophecy from the book of Ezekiel. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel! Chapter 26! I had the privilege of standing on the very ground where this prophecy was fulfilled, so it’s always been of interest to me.
Now listen! Let’s get our history straight again. Nebuchadnezzar, as I mentioned, comes and surrounds Jerusalem. There are three sieges. That’s why the dates are sometimes given differently, beginning in, say, 605 and then you count down to 586 when the final thing took place, and Tyre, a city along the seacoast, which always boasted in its ships and what have you, delights in the fact that Jerusalem has been captured, and that Nebuchadnezzar has taken the people to Babylon because they were rivals in trade. Tyre had a great fleet, and Jerusalem, of course, was interested in the caravan route. But they said to themselves, “We’re glad Jerusalem is out of the picture because now we’re going to be enriched.”
Do you think that anybody today feels that way when somebody who is wealthy and rich is in demise, and they say, “You know, I secretly delight in the failure of someone else?” Listen to what God thought of this. Chapter 26:1 of Ezekiel says: “Now it came about in the eleventh year on the first month that the Word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Son of man, because Tyre has said concerning Jerusalem, “Aha, the gateway of the people is broken,” it is open to me. I shall be filled now that she is laid waste. I’m going to benefit from her fall.’ Therefore, thus says the Lord God, “Behold I am against you, oh Tyre. I will bring up many nations against you as the sea brings up its waves, and they will destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers. I will strike her debris from her and make her a bare rock. She will be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea for I have spoken,” declares the Lord, “and she will become a spoil for the nations.”
Verse 7: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold I will bring up to Tyre Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and king of kings with horses, chariots, cavalry and a great army. The very one who was destroying Jerusalem is going to get to you too. And he will slay your daughters on the mainland with the sword.’”
Notice that mainland. Wow! That’s going to become significant in about two minutes when I give an explanation of the rest of the text. I read this and I marvel. I say, “God, you must know everything.” Don’t you think He does? And some of you are trying to hide from Him and He’s got you cased. He’s watching you all the time.
Notice it says (verse 9), “And the blow of his battering rams he will direct against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers. Because of the multitude of his horses the dust raised by them will cover you and your walls will shake up the noise of the cavalry.” We have to hurry along. Verse 11: “With the hoofs of his horses he will trample all your streets. He will slay your people with the sword and your strong pillars will come down to the ground.”
And that’s what happened. Nebuchadnezzar came and he surrounded the city, and he besieged it, and as a result of that, some of the people said, “Do you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to escape,” because, you see, a half mile from the seacoast there was an island, and so they ran to the island and they began to build some fortifications there, and Nebuchadnezzar overcame them to some extent. But he went on his way, having fully done exactly what God predicted he was going to do. This also was a prediction.
But notice the rest of the story. Verse 12: “Also they will make a spoil of your riches and prey on your merchandise, break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses, and throw your stones and your timbers and your debris into the water.” Nebuchadnezzar didn’t do that.
Now, folks, just to show you the accuracy of God’s Word, notice this. We read it so quickly sometimes. Did you notice that the Lord says in verse 3 (I read it.): “Therefore thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I am against you, Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you?’” Many nations! Nebuchadnezzar was only one nation, and all the way through what you have is the singular. He will do this. He will do that. But you pick it up in verse 12 and you have the plural.
You’ll notice in verse 11, just to show you the contrast, “With the hooves of his horses he will trample your streets.” God is finished now with Nebuchadnezzar. He’s done exactly what God said he was going to do, but we pick it up in verse 12: “And they…” Who is they? That’s somebody else. That’s the other nations that God is referring to. “They will make a spoil of your riches, and a prey of your merchandise, break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses, and throw your stones and your timbers and your debris into the water.”
Well, my dear friend, for 250 years that prophecy was not fulfilled. The debris left by Nebuchadnezzar was not thrown into the water, and many nations did not come up against Tyre. There was really only one. There may have been some others but they were not significant. Two hundred fifty years after Nebuchadnezzar had died a man by the name of Alexander the Great is marching into Egypt and he can’t bypass Tyre because they are out on the island now. By now they have built a fortification with huge walls, and he’s afraid that if he goes and conquers Egypt he is going to be putting up with this mighty sea power at the rear of his army. And he says to himself, “I need to take Tyre,” and no matter what he did, because he was not that strong in ships (though he used some ships of other nations), he discovered that the only way he could get to them was to build a causeway one-half mile, push the old city of Tyre into the sea so that his soldiers could actually march on the causeway, so that they could capture the people on the island. And that’s what he did.
In 1968 I had the privilege of being in Tyre, and I noticed a number of different things. First of all, ancient Tyre has never been rebuilt. What did God say? Verse 14: “‘I will make you a bare rock. You will be a place for the spreading of nets. You will be built no more for I, the Lord, have spoken it,’ declares the Lord.”
And so we took our cameras to the old city. We noticed that it was just totally desolate, and there were fishermen still spreading their nets, just as God predicted. There is a city of Tyre today. It’s a surrounding area. But also we walked out on the causeway. In fact, it has grown some throughout the centuries, and you hardly know that you are on a causeway, but we walked onto the causeway to the island. Even the dust and the debris of Tyre were cast into the sea because God said it would be. And he said, “I will bring up many nations against you.”
Who were the other nations? Alexander the Great used seven other conquered nations. He used their soldiers and he used their ships to come against Tyre. And as a result of that, the prophecy that God made was accurately fulfilled. Why? It’s because “the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” And what we are talking about is an event that was centuries into the future. Who could possibly have looked into the future and said, “You know, some day Tyre is going to be thrown into the sea—even its dust and its stones.” You just don’t make predictions like that unless the Word of the Lord comes to you saying!
You say, “Well, what if you are an unbeliever?” What do unbelievers do with these verses? Well, they do the only thing that unbelievers can do with the verses. You know, if you’re really not going to believe, a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. They say, “Well, these texts must have been inserted later.” Is there evidence historically that it was inserted later? No, but you believe that anyway. You have to, because nobody could make predictions like this.
Now folks, where shall I go from here? My message time is almost over. I was going to talk about predictions regarding Christ’s coming, and we need to skip all of that, because this is a very large topic. I’d like to give some conclusions.
First of all, the authors of the Bible spoke with authority. Did you notice how often in my readings today it says, “The Word of the Lord came to me”? That’s why it occurs 1,500 times in the Bible. And some of you who are still quibbling, you need to just make a decision, namely if indeed these people didn’t have the Word of God come to them—if they were making it up, well then take your Bible and throw it into some kind of a trash bin because if it’s wrong regarding its origin, it most assuredly is wrong about everything else. If it doesn’t know whether it’s a book from God or not, what good is the rest of the teaching? None of it is authoritative. So make up your mind! “How long will you hold between two opinions?” said one of the prophets while standing on Mount Carmel.
Secondly, God’s omniscience! You are acquainted with that word, aren’t you? It just means that God knows everything. I mean, that’s terrifying. You say, “Well, I’ve been hiding from everybody else all my life. Everything that I do is secret.” Well, that’s fine. People may not find out, but the eyes of the Lord are upon you. And it says that all things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. It’s terrifying. That’s why you’d better run to Christ and be forgiven and cleansed so that you can stand in the presence of the God who knows all about you.
But God’s omniscience is based on His omnipotence. That means his power. You know the reason that God knows the future so accurately is because He makes sure that the future is going to come out like He knows it’s going to.
One day, Peter was preaching and he said, “You know, it is by the predetermined counsel and the foreknowledge of God that Herod and the Sadducees and the people would all gather together and crucify Christ.” Christ died exactly when He had to die even as the Passover lambs were being slain in Jerusalem, because He was to be the Passover. And the reason that God knew all about Christ is because God made sure that it was going to come out like He predicted it.
You say, “Well, Pastor Lutzer, that leads into all kinds of theological problems.” I know it does. That’s why I’m hurrying to the third point so that we can ignore those problems today. I’m just reveling in the truth. If you’ve got problems, tell God that you’ve got problems. (chuckles)
Alright, third, past fulfillment (Are you still with me?) guarantees future fulfillment. Past fulfillment guarantees future fulfillment. You know, one day Jesus, in Luke 4 (and you can turn to this if you wish), was reading in the synagogue, and he took a prophecy of Isaiah. And He started to read it and then He quit right in the middle of it. It’s not because the Old Testament prophets are like Nostradamus. They didn’t take all the lines and jumble them and then add some puns and some Latinized phrases and a few foreign words so that scholars could puzzle over these enigmas—mysteries wrapped in an enigma, as those prophecies are. But rather it’s just that the prophets sometimes saw the past and the future come together. And Jesus read Isaiah 61 (in chapter 4, verse 18 of Luke): “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Isaiah 61 has been fulfilled because I am here, and I am doing all these things. But in Isaiah 61 the next phrase is, “and the day of vengeance of our God.” And Jesus didn’t read that. Why? Because He’s coming again to bring vengeance, in flaming fire taking vengeance of them that know not God and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord in the glory of His power.”
Listen to me. If you’re banking on the fact that since Jesus hasn’t returned throughout the centuries, He’s not returning in the future, I want you to know today that you are going to lose your gamble. You’re going to lose your gamble because Jesus said, “As the lightning comes from the west and shines to the east, even so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” He’s going to come in glory. He’s going to come in power. He came the first time as it was predicted that He would come in humility at Bethlehem, but He’s going to return to the Mount of Olives with power and grandeur, and He will be the judge of all those who do not believe.
And so I suggest today, you know, you who are sitting on the fence intellectually, morally and spiritually, that you do the wise thing. Don’t think that (and I hope this doesn’t come out wrongly) but don’t think that you know more than God. My suspicion is that you don’t.
Now there’s something that I’d gamble on. You know less than God, and I know less than God, but He’s got the whole future mapped out, and you’d better prepare for it. You say, “Well, I’m living high now. I mean, everything’s going well. I’ve got a promotion. Life is pretty good to me.” Yes, but what about the future? What about the future? It’s in God’s hands, and if you do not come to Christ, you will be judged by Him. You will be judged by Him!
Did you know that during the period of the Reformation, an area and a period of time over which I have more than simply a passing interest, there were at one time 20,000 Huguenot congregations in France? The Huguenots were the Protestant believers who were preaching the Gospel. There were 20,000 congregations—so much so that there were some people during that era who actually thought that France might turn toward the Reformation and begin to preach the Gospel. And then you have Louis XIV come on the scene, and terrible persecution now breaks out against the Protestants. They are put to death. They are massacred, but thousands of them flee. In fact, 20,000 fled to Germany. And that’s why Frederick the Great, bless his heart, actually has a statue on the Reformation Monument in Geneva. It’s because the Germans got a lot of things wrong, needless to say, but occasionally the Germans did something right. They welcomed these people.
In Paris today there is a monument to the Huguenots. And you know the Bible is spoken of in the Scriptures as a hammer. “Is not my Word like as a fire,” says the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” And it is also, in a sense, an anvil upon which a hammer blows. And on that monument in Paris to the Huguenots are written these words: “Hammer away ye hostile hands. Your hammers break. God’s anvil stands.”
So, hammer away. Study it in your colleges. Dissect it. Strip it of its miracles. Make it into a purely human book. Deny it on every hand. Criticize it. Make it into something that gives us nothing more than the history of God’s revelation to the Jews, and not something from God.
And I want you to know today that if you do that, you are the one that will break. God’s Word will not! It will not! “Forever, oh Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven.” My suggestion is that you do the wise thing. Believe it! Love it! Live it! Trust it’s Savior! And its message can carry you all the way to heaven.
Let us pray.
And now, Father, we ask in the name of Jesus that You will do in the lives of those who have listened what only You can do. We have done what we can do, which is pretty feeble. We ask, Father, that You will create faith in the hearts of those who do not know You as Savior. Help them to look to Christ and be saved, even at this moment.
In fact, if you don’t know Jesus, why don’t you just simply say, “Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. Save me because I accept You and believe You as the Son of God.”
If you are a believer and you are not studying the Word because you have some doubts about it, I ask you to get on your knees and to begin to read it in humility, and let God speak to you that you might know with deep conviction that we hold in our hands the Word of the living God.
Father, do that in all of our lives we ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.