Dr. Hugh Ross earned a BS in physics from the University of British Columbia
and an MS and PhD in astronomy from the University of Toronto. For several years
he continued his research on quasars and galaxies as a post-doctoral fellow
at the California Institute of Technology.
Unique among all books ever written, the Bible accurately foretells specific
events-in detail-many years, sometimes centuries, before they occur. Approximately
2500 prophecies appear in the pages of the Bible, about 2000 of which already
have been fulfilled to the letter?no errors. (The remaining 500 or so reach into the
future and may be seen unfolding as days go by.) Since the probability for any
one of these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance averages less than one
in ten (figured very conservatively) and since the prophecies are for the most part
independent of one another, the odds for all these prophecies having been fulfilled
by chance without error is less than one in 102000 (that is 1 with 2000 zeros
written after it)!
God is not the only one, however, who uses forecasts of future events to get
people’s attention. Satan does, too. Through clairvoyants (such as Jeanne Dixon
and Edgar Cayce), mediums, spiritists, and others, come remarkable predictions,
though rarely with more than about 60 percent accuracy, never with total accuracy.
Messages from Satan, furthermore, fail to match the detail of Bible prophecies,
nor do they include a call to repentance.
The acid test for identifying a prophet of God is recorded by Moses in Deuteronomy
18:21-22. According to this Bible passage (and others), God’s prophets, as distinct
from Satan’s spokesmen, are 100 percent accurate in their predictions. There
is no room for error.
As economy does not permit an explanation of all the Biblical prophecies that
have been fulfilled, what follows in a discussion of a few that exemplify the
high degree of specificity, the range of projection, and/or the "supernature"
of the predicted events. Readers are encouraged to select others, as well, and to
carefully examine their historicity.
(1) Some time before 500 B.C. the prophet Daniel proclaimed that Israel’s long-awaited
Messiah would begin his public ministry 483 years after the issuing of a decree
to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25-26). He further predicted that
the Messiah would be "cut off," killed, and that this event would take place prior
to a second destruction of Jerusalem. Abundant documentation shows that these
prophecies were perfectly fulfilled in the life (and crucifixion) of Jesus Christ.
The decree regarding the restoration of Jerusalem was issued by Persia’s King
Artaxerxes to the Hebrew priest Ezra in 458 B.C., 483 years later the ministry
of Jesus Christ began in Galilee. (Remember that due to calendar changes, the
date for the start of Christ’s ministry is set by most historians at about 26
A.D. Also note that from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D. is just one year.) Jesus’ crucifixion
occurred only a few years later, and about four decades later, in 70 A.D. came
the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus.
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 105.)*
(2) In approximately 700 B.C. the prophet Micah named the tiny village of Bethlehem
as the birthplace of Israel’s Messiah (Micah 5:2). The fulfillment of this prophecy
in the birth of Christ is one of the most widely known and widely celebrated
facts in history.
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 105.)
(3) In the fifth century B.C. a prophet named Zechariah declared that the Messiah
would be betrayed for the price of a slave?thirty pieces of silver, according
to Jewish law-and also that this money would be used to buy a burial ground
for Jerusalem’s poor foreigners (Zechariah 11:12-13). Bible writers and secular
historians both record thirty pieces of silver as the sum paid to Judas Iscariot
for betraying Jesus, and they indicate that the money went to purchase a "potter’s
field," used?just as predicted?for the burial of poor aliens (Matthew 27:3-10).
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1011.)
(4) Some 400 years before crucifixion was invented, both Israel’s King David
and the prophet Zechariah described the Messiah’s death in words that perfectly
depict that mode of execution. Further, they said that the body would be pierced
and that none of the bones would be broken, contrary to customary procedure
in cases of crucifixion (Psalm 22 and 34:20; Zechariah 12:10). Again, historians
and New Testament writers confirm the fulfillment: Jesus of Nazareth died on
a Roman cross, and his extraordinarily quick death eliminated the need for the usual breaking
of bones. A spear was thrust into his side to verify that he was, indeed, dead.
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1013.)
(5) The prophet Isaiah foretold that a conqueror named Cyrus would destroy seemingly
impregnable Babylon and subdue Egypt along with most of the rest of the known
world. This same man, said Isaiah, would decide to let the Jewish exiles in
his territory go free without any payment of ransom (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1; and 45:13).
Isaiah made this prophecy 150 years before Cyrus was born, 180 years before
Cyrus performed any of these feats (and he did, eventually, perform them all),
and 80 years before the Jews were taken into exile.
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1015.)
(6) Mighty Babylon, 196 miles square, was enclosed not only by a moat, but also
by a double wall 330 feet high, each part 90 feet thick. It was said by unanimous
popular opinion to be indestructible, yet two Bible prophets declared its doom.
These prophets further claimed that the ruins would be avoided by travelers, that the
city would never again be inhabited, and that its stones would not even be moved
for use as building material (Isaiah 13:17-22 and Jeremiah 51:26, 43). Their
description is, in fact, the well-documented history of the famous citadel.
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 109.)
(7) The exact location and construction sequence of Jerusalem’s nine suburbs
was predicted by Jeremiah about 2600 years ago. He referred to the time of this
building project as "the last days," that is, the time period of Israel’s second
rebirth as a nation in the land of Palestine (Jeremiah 31:38-40). This rebirth became
history in 1948, and the construction of the nine suburbs has gone forward precisely
in the locations and in the sequence predicted.
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1018.)
(8) The prophet Moses foretold (with some additions by Jeremiah and Jesus) that
the ancient Jewish nation would be conquered twice and that the people would
be carried off as slaves each time, first by the Babylonians (for a period of
70 years), and then by a fourth world kingdom (which we know as Rome). The second
conqueror, Moses said, would take the Jews captive to Egypt in ships, selling
them or giving them away as slaves to all parts of the world. Both of these
predictions were fulfilled to the letter, the first in 607 B.C. and the second in
70 A.D. God’s spokesmen said, further, that the Jews would remain scattered
throughout the entire world for many generations, but without becoming assimilated
by the peoples or of other nations, and that the Jews would one day return to the
land of Palestine to re-establish for a second time their nation (Deuteronomy
29; Isaiah 11:11-13; Jeremiah 25:11; Hosea
3:4-5 and Luke 21:23-24).
This prophetic statement sweeps across 3500 years of history to its complete
fulfillment?in our lifetime.
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 120.)
(9) Jeremiah predicted that despite its fertility and despite the accessibility
of its water supply, the land of Edom (today a part of Jordan) would become
a barren, uninhabited wasteland (Jeremiah 49:15-20; Ezekiel 25:12-14). His description
accurately tells the history of that now bleak region.
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 105.)
(10) Joshua prophesied that Jericho would be rebuilt by one man. He also said
that the man’s eldest son would die when the reconstruction began and that his
youngest son would die when the work reached completion (Joshua 6:26). About
five centuries later this prophecy found its fulfillment in the life and family
of a man named Hiel (I Kings 16:33-34).
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 10~).
(11) The day of Elijah’s supernatural departure from Earth was predicted unanimously?
and accurately, according to the eye-witness account?by a group of fifty prophets
(II Kings 2:3-11).
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 109).
(12) Jahaziel prophesied that King Jehoshaphat and a tiny band of men would
defeat an enormous, well-equipped, well-trained army without even having to
fight. Just as predicted, the King and his troops stood looking on as their
foes were supernaturally destroyed to the last man (II Chronicles 20).
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 108).
(13) One prophet of God (unnamed, but probably Shemiah) said that a future king
of Judah, named Josiah, would take the bones of all the occultic priests (priests
of the "high places") of Israel’s King Jeroboam and burn them on Jeroboam’s
altar (I Kings 13:2 and II Kings 23:15-18). This event occurred approximately
300 years after it was foretold.
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1013).
Since these thirteen prophecies cover mostly separate and independent events,
the probability of chance occurrence for all thirteen is about 1 in 10138 (138
equals the sum of all the exponents of 10 in the probability estimates above).
For the sake of putting the figure into perspective, this probability can be compared
to the statistical chance that the second law of thermodynamics will be reversed
in a given situation (for example, that a gasoline engine will refrigerate itself
during its combustion cycle or that heat will flow from a cold body to a hot body)?
that chance = 1 in 1080. Stating it simply, based on these thirteen prophecies
alone, the Bible record may be said to be vastly more reliable than the second
law of thermodynamics. Each reader should feel free to make his own reasonable
estimates of probability for the chance fulfillment of the prophecies cited
here. In any case, the probabilities deduced still will be absurdly remote.
Given that the Bible proves so reliable a document, there is every reason to
expect that the remaining 500 prophecies, those slated for the "time of the
end," also will be fulfilled to the last letter (see Signs of the End, Tribulation
Dooms, and The Rapture Promise). Who can afford to ignore these coming events, much
less miss out on the immeasurable blessings offered to anyone and everyone who
submits to the control of the Bible’s author, Jesus Christ? (See the paper entitled
Grace for a list of these benefits.) Would a reasonable person take lightly God’s
warning of judgment for those who reject what they know to be true about Jesus
Christ and the Bible, or who reject Jesus’ claim on their lives?
Now is the day of salvation! Now is the time of God’s favor! Please do not let
it go by without further consideration.
*The estimates of probability included herein come from a group of secular research
scientists. As an example of their method of estimation, consider their calculations
for this first prophecy cited:
Since the Messiah’s ministry could conceivably begin in any one of about 5000
years, there is, then, one chance in about 5000 that his ministry could begin
in 26 A.D.
Since the Messiah is God in human form, the possibility of his being killed
is considerably low, say less than one chance in 10.
Relative to the second destruction of Jerusalem, this execution has roughly
an even chance of occurring before or after that event, that is, one chance
Hence, the probability of chance fulfillment for this prophecy is 1 in 5000
x 10 x 2, which is 1 in 100,000, or 1 in 105.