The country was at war. The contingent of the Assyrian army, the most powerful in the world at that time, laid siege to the capital, Jerusalem. By human reckoning there was no way out. The city was doomed to fall to the cruel Assyrians and their king, Sennacherib. The king of Judea at that time was Hezekiah and, according to an ancient inscription, he was shut up in Jerusalem like a caged bird. The situation was hopeless and all appeared to be lost.
There was, however, a true prophet named Isaiah in the city and he was sent by God to Hezekiah with this message:
“Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria he shall not come into this city nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return and shall not come into this city.”(2 Kings 19v32-33)
Any normal sane person living in Jerusalem at that time would have considered these to be the words of a mad man, spoken perhaps to try to raise the people’s spirits. There appeared to be no way at all in which the city could be saved from the powerful Assyrian army which was camped at its gates.
But the city was saved and the prophecy was fulfilled as we read a little later in the same chapter:
“The angel of the Lord went out and smote in the camp of the Assyrians . . . .So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went and returned and dwelt at Nineveh.”
It may be claimed that this is not satisfactory evidence of prophecy being fulfilled because it is all contained in the Bible – there is no external evidence that the events ever took place. But there is!
The Assyrian kings were very boastful of their conquests. In the British Museum there is a six-sided clay prism, generally known as Sennacherib’s cylinder, which records eight of his expeditions including the siege of Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah. Sennacherib speaks of shutting up Hezekiah in a cage and taking vengeance upon anyone who came out of the city, but there is no reference at all to the capture of the city – a major event that he would certainly not have omitted to chronicle had it taken place.
What God’s prophet had foretold came to pass although it must have seemed impossible at the time it was given. Earlier in the Bible God had set out how to test a prophet:
“If the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deut 18 v 22)
Because the word spoken by Isaiah did follow it proves that he was a true prophet of God. The result of the prophecy about the saving of Jerusalem must have happened within a few weeks, if not days. There are other prophecies in the Bible which are referred to as medium term which were fulfilled after the life time of the prophet, many of which concern the coming of the Jews’ Messiah and of his rejection by the people. As we live after the fulfilment of these we know that they came to pass.
There are other long – term prophecies which still await fulfilment, but because of the accuracy of the short and medium – term prophecies we can have complete confidence in the fulfilment of the long – term prophecies which Isaiah and other Biblical prophets have given, some of which we are still waiting to see being brought to fruition.
There are prophecies of the return of the Jews to their ancient land, an event which many of us have seen during our life times, and there are prophecies about a wonderful time, still future, when God’s kingdom will be re-established on earth. This will be marvellous time when Jesus will be sent to rule the world, eventually introducing an era when there will be no more war, no illness, no pollution, no financial problems, no food shortages and no death. All these and other dreadful thing that we at present encounter day by day will become things of the past and the whole earth will revert to the full beauty it had before man spoilt it.
These are genuine promises made by God, initially to the Jews, but since the time of Jesus they have been extended to include all who believe, are baptised and then live lives trying to follow the teachings of our Lord. It is the wish of the Christadelphians that we may try to help you come to an understanding of the wonderful things taught in the Bible and how to become associated with that glorious coming Kingdom.
The apostle Paul wrote . . .
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2 v 9)
Surely this is worth looking into!