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Seeing the Future Today

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“Seeing the Future, Today”

Isaiah 46:8-11

Big Idea:  We examine fulfilled prophecy in Scripture as evidence that God is the author of the Bible and to give us confidence that He will fulfill in time all His prophecies and keep all His promises.

I.              Introduction

A.            Two perspectives of the Rose Parade

1.             On the street – caught up in the moment

2.             From the blimp – able to see everything at a glance, gain a better appreciation

3.             Can see what it takes from a person to put on the Rose Parade

a.              Needs to have the ability and authority to get things done

b.              Needs to be able to see it through to completion

c.              Needs to have incredible vision: able to see the entire parade in his/her head, everything from the big picture of the route taken to the small details of  where the concession stands and the policemen are placed, before planning and directing.

d.             Because of their position, parade directors, in a sense, know what is going to happen before it actually does.

B.            We would all like to know what is going to happen before it actually does.

1.             To know how a test or a job interview is going to turn out.

2.             To know who’s going to win the big game.

3.             To know if the repairs I made on my car will hold up as I drive my family to Colorado.

4.             To know what’s going to happen to my kids and what kind of people they are going to be.  To know the mistakes they will make and the dangers they will encounter ahead of time.

C.            No one us have that ability, but there is Someone who does.

1.             All throughout the pages of Scripture, we read about prophets and their prophecies.

a.              Prophets had one function – to proclaim the Word of God.

b.              This function was exercised in two ways:

i.               The first was to let people know that God was not pleased with how they were treating His laws and covenants and that they should repent and change their ways.

ii.             The second was to let people know what would happen in the future, not simply as natural consequences to the choices they were making, but rather as specific events that would happen with specific people in specific places at specific times.

c.              This second was basically to prove to people that it truly was God who was speaking to them and that they had better pay close attention.

2.             Sometimes these prophecies would be fulfilled within a matter of hours, days or weeks.

3.             However, sometimes they wouldn’t be fulfilled for hundreds of years.

D.            There is one passage that I want to spend a little bit of time on so that we can see why this topic of fulfilled prophecy, the ability to know the future, is important for us today.

E.             Please turn to Isaiah 46.

II.           Transition

A.            Two weeks ago we began a new series called “From God to Us”

B.            The purpose of this series is to explain why we believe that God wrote the Bible,

1.             Which is why we preach and teach from this Book

2.             Why we believe that each one of us should live our lives based on what it says

3.             Why we believe that it has answers for all the issues we face.

a.              Pre-marital counseling example

4.             Most importantly, why I can have confidence in believing that a man raised from the dead, and promised to forgive my sins as I come to Him in faith.

C.            Last week we looked at the archaeological record as an evidence that God authored this book.

1.             Even though there were 40 different writers, writing 66 different books over a span of 1500 years

2.             With different languages, cultures, political environments

3.             Kings, doctors and priests to ranchers, fishermen and gardeners.

4.             Yet with all this diversity and potential for contradiction and error, archaeology has confirmed thousands of details and facts found in the Bible, and just as importantly, has not found a single piece of evidence that would contradict what the Bible says.

D.            Today, I want to look at fulfilled prophecy as another evidence that God authored the Bible.

III.        Exposition

A.            Isaiah 46

1.             Context of Isaiah passage

a.              Although Judah had been told several times by the prophet Isaiah that they would be taken into exile by Babylon because they had disobeyed God’s law,

b.              God tells them that He would raise up a person, Cyrus, who would defeat Babylon and allow the people to return to the Promised Land.

2.             Exposition of Isaiah 46:8-11 (read)

a.              Several things we learn about God

b.              God is faithful (8-9a)

i.               Faithful in how He has provided and protected in the past

a.)           The exodus event

b.)           Providing manna and quail in the wilderness

c.)           Bringing them into the Promised Land

d.)          Giving them a righteous Law to live by

e.)           Forgiving their sins through the atonement of blood sacrifices

ii.             He has never left them or forsaken them.  He has never broken His covenant commitment to the people of Israel.

c.              God is holy (9b)

i.               He is completely set apart from anything and everything else.

ii.             Not only is there no other god or idol that can compare to Him, there is no other thought or ideal that can compare.

d.             God is sovereign (10-11a)

i.               He alone has the ability to declare in advance the events which will soon take place.

a.)           From before the beginning of time, He has decreed His purpose not just for the end of days, but for every day that is to happen in between.

ii.             Specifically, He has willed Cyrus from Persia in the east to come and defeat Babylon and release the Jewish people from exile.

a.)           Although this reference is cryptic, it is built upon several other verses in chapters 41, 44, 45.

e.              God is omnipotent (11b)

i.               Only an all-powerful God would be able to say these to verses.

ii.             As we all know, it is one thing to say we will purpose something, it is quite a different thing make sure it is done.

f.               In this short passage we learn several things about God, but notice that they are in the context of fulfilled prophecy.

3.             Application

a.              When we see fulfilled prophecy, we can be sure of two things:

b.              First, we can be sure that God is who He says He is: faithful, holy, sovereign and omnipotent. 

c.              Second, we can be sure that the words we have written in the Bible are from God.

i.               When we have a record of God saying “I will do this”, and then doing it, we have evidence that He actually said it and wrote it down for us.

ii.             Not just once or twice, but thousands upon thousands of times over.

B.            Fulfilled Prophecies

1.             National

a.              Daniel’s Sequence of Empires (Dan. 2, 7, 8)

i.               Daniel received several visions of what the future world order would be.

ii.             Living and writing in the late 500s BC, God showed Daniel in chapters 2, 7 and 8 that there would be four Gentile nations that would rule over the Jewish people in order:  Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome

iii.           This is confirmed historically, identifying Greece specifically 200 years before their rule.

iv.           Also, Daniel saw a final kingdom that would come in the end days that would spread to cover the entire earth.

a.)           This kingdom would shatter the previous kingdoms

b.)           The King of this kingdom would reign sovereign over all people and His kingdom would have no end.

c.)           Read Dan. 7:13-14.

b.              Tyre’s Destruction (Ezek. 26)

i.               Prophecy offered around 587 BC

ii.             Very specific as to details of how it would be destroyed

a.)           Nebuchadnezzar besieged it starting in 586BC for 13 years, fulfilling verses 7-8.

b.)           Alexander the Great later came in around 250 years later and fully razed the city until it was like a bare rock, fulfilling verse 4.

c.)           Both led multi-national forces, fulfilling verse 3.

iii.           Interesting that the “mainland” is mentioned in verse 8, as Tyre was both on the coastal mainland and also on an island about ½ mile offshore.

a.)           Although Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the mainland city, the people fled to the island where they built up a stronghold with walls 150ft high.

b.)           Alexander came in 332 BC and built a causeway from the mainland to the island from all the debris and rock that was left from Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction 250 years earlier.

c.)           In this way Alexander was able to destroy the heavily fortressed island city fulfilling v. 12.

d.)          This causeway and the ruins of Tyre still exist today, and is called Alexander’s Isthmus.

2.             Personal

a.              Not only does God direct the affairs of whole nations and people groups, He is sovereign over individuals as well

b.              Cyrus

i.               As I mentioned earlier in Is. 45 & 46, God declared that a Persian man named Cyrus would release the Jewish people from captivity and allow them to rebuild their temple.

ii.             Roughly 160 years after the prophecy, a Persian king named Cyrus did just that.

iii.           Also interesting that Isaiah prophesied that the temple would be destroyed about 100 years before it actually happened.

c.              Josiah

i.               In 1 Kings 13 two unique prophecies are given by an unnamed prophet (Read 1 Kings 13:1-3)

a.)           First, in verses 1-2, a child would become king in Judah, his name would be Josiah, and he would burn human bones on an alter to a false god.

b.)           Second, in order to validate the first prophecy, in verse 3, he gave another that the altar he was talking about would be torn down.

ii.             Almost immediately the second sign came to pass (v. 5), to prove expressly that this man was indeed a prophet from God.

iii.           However, it took nearly 300 years, before an 8-yo boy named Josiah became king in Judah (Read 2 Kings 22:1)

a.)           During his successful reign, he destroyed all the idols, broke down all the temples where priests would worship false gods and tore down all the altars where improper sacrifices were offered and incense was burned.

b.)           Including one altar in particular (Read 2 King. 23:15-16).

3.             Messianic

a.              One of the most intriguing individuals in all of Scripture is the person of the Messiah.

i.               According to the Bible, the Messiah was to be the God-Man who would deliver His people from sin once for all and bless them for all eternity as he reigns over them as King.

ii.             To help identify who Messiah would be and when He would come, God has given several prophecies that no individual could manufacture or manipulate.

a.)           Micah 5:2 – Born in Bethlehem

b.)           Is. 40:3 – Preceded by a messenger

c.)           Deut. 18:18-19 – A prophet like Moses

d.)          Isaiah 53:3 – Would be rejected by His own people

e.)           Ps. 22:16-18 – Would be crucified and His tormentors would cast lots for is clothing

f.)            Is. 53:12 – He was to suffer with criminals

g.)           Exodus 12:46 – Not a bone of His would be broken

h.)           Psalm 16:10 – He would rise from the dead

iii.           All of these were fulfilled by one man, Jesus of Nazareth.

a.)           The evidences of fulfilled prophecy that Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah – The Son of God –  are overwhelming.

b.)           Therefore, since Jesus is the Messiah, we can believe that His offer to forgive us our sins is really true.

b.              Play movie clip

c.              The odds that someone would fulfill these 8 prophecies by mere random chance is literally impossible.

i.               The odds that someone would fulfill nearly 300 prophecies by mere random chance, as Jesus did, is beyond comprehension or description.

ii.             However, it can only be possible, if God, determining the end from the beginning, wrote these prophecies down for us so that we would know with absolute certainty that Jesus is the Son of God, and that salvation only comes through Him. 

IV.        Conclusion

A.            Although we can’t know with exact detail what the future might bring.

1.             If my car will hold up, my team will win the championship, or how my kids will turn out.

B.            We have a God who does know these things

1.             And not just know of them, but is purposely and actively making sure that what He desires will indeed happen.

2.             Things that are for His glory and for our good.

C.            And He has written many of them down in a book for us so that we can have confidence in Him in all things.

1.             2 Peter 1:19, 21, “And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, …For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

2.             By examining the evidence of fulfilled prophecy, we are not only reading the very words of God in the Bible, but we are witnessing His hand move in history.

3.             We can be sure that He is who He says He is and that He will accomplish exactly what He desires to accomplish.

4.             We have been given a gift: a book from God to us.  Do you believe it?

V.           Prayer

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