What does an ancient city no longer in existence have to do with a conservation area for turtles? Probably hard to guess, right? Let me take the suspense out of it by quickly saying that the Old Testament city is Tyre, a defunct seaport along the coastline of what is now Lebanon, but currently that parcel of land is vacant of any human habitation, since it has been designated a conservation area for certain plants and endangered turtles. On the sandy coastline in Southern Lebanon, rests artesian wells, vegetation and flowers of all sorts and yes, the turtles who splash about offshore the bordering coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. The beaches of Tyre are thought to be important nesting areas for the green and loggerhead turtle. Any construction for human habitation is strictly prohibited.
In the summer months especially, this area is a popular tourist destination. One wonders if the mass of tourists are even aware of the prophetic nature of the city of Tyre that once stood on this world heritage site from the Babylonian era, where Ezekiel the prophet said that it would never be rebuilt after the siege of Nebuchadnezzar. Recorded for us are his words from hundreds of years ago: “I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishnets. You will never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.” (26:14) To think that today, that it has been made a sanctuary for wetlands and vegetation is quite remarkable when you consider how densely populated Lebanon has become.
Some folk believe in luck. Lady Chance they call it. Seems like many wish for fast money with the lotteries and ticket buying to win big. On average the Canadian who picks 6 numbers for a chance at millions has a 1 in 14 chance at succeeding. Yet, odds never seem to discourage jackpot hounds, Betting Canadians spend an average of $550 per year on gaming tickets alone. The odds of winning are quite remote. Say you’re standing on a football field. You’re blindfolded and holding a pin. A friend has released an ant on the field. Your chance of piercing that ant with your pin is about the same as winning a Lotto 6/49 jackpot. 1 in 14 million. Not exactly a sure bet. (CBS News Nov 9, 2009 Lotteries: what are the odds?).
But what if hundreds of Biblical predictions of future events and details were made which leave you aghast at the astronomical odds of them happening yet each one finding fulfillment what would you say to that? Simple computation for success behind Biblical prophecy is exactly that – astronomical, yet each predictions has taken place in exact detail as originally given! Consider further Tyre’s destruction: “They will plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise; they will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses; they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water.” (26:12) It would seem rather unusual for anyone to take stones and timber and lay them in the sea. The Hebrew verb for “lay” means to put in a particular place; it does not mean to throw the debris of Tyre into the sea but again to place each stone and timber precisely in a set location as though you are placing your shoes in a particular spot in your closet. So how is it that this would happen since invading armies are not in the habit of systematically arranging the rubble from the cities they just destroyed in a set location in the sea, a piece at a time. So then, how is God going to make good on this prophecy? The answer came 250 years later with a twenty-four year old guy named Alexander the Great.
Alexander was on his way to Egypt to continue his conquest in that part of the world when he passed before the old ruins of Tyre. Not far, on an island about half-a-mile away from the original Tyre lived the ancestors of those who during the siege of Tyre centuries earlier, escaped destruction by boarding ships and fleeing to a nearby strip of land in the sea. There they built a walled city of impregnable magnitude, or at least they thought they did. Its citizens now rebuffed Alexander’s diplomatic mission to win their affection and declare him their ruler. Alexander was incensed. In his fury he devised a plan to reach the island by constructing a 2000 foot long, 200 foot wide causeway that stretched from the mainland to the island. It took over nine months but he succeeded and razed the city and killed many of its occupants. To build the thoroughfare to the island, he took debris from the nearby old site of Tyre, from centuries earlier, placing stones and timber in the sea until he reached the island. Though it was about eighteen feet at its deepest part around the city, yet enough material along with timber from trees on nearby mountain top peaks enabled him to construct the passageway. Prophecy once again was fulfilled to the letter.
Next is in line Ezekiel was given another prediction. “Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets. (26: 5) For this to occur the way people fished had to remain the same in that area for well over twenty-three hundred years! Today, if you were to travel to Southern Lebanon to the old site of Tyre you would see a conservation area on its former site, the old causeway, and fishnets that are hung out to dry just like they did thousands of years earlier. Quite remarkable, indeed. So what is the purpose of prophecy?
For one thing, the LORD wants his people and surrounding nations to pay heed to His Rule. We find in the book of Ezekiel, about 65 occurrences or a variation of the statement “Then they will know that I am the Lord” “Then” is a term that designates time and occasion wherein God is acting in history to move it toward a divine end.
Second, and the principal lesson we wish to leave behind with you: prophecy is a powerful authentication of the Word of God; it is evidence for the reliability of Scripture. As we have seen, every detail of prophetic utterance is either been fulfilled or will be at some later point, therefore; we are assured about the veracity of His Written Word and it can be trusted and relied upon from cover to cover. “If one would dispute the Word of God, he or she must first disprove the Bible’s claim of fulfilled prophecy.” (from Bible.org., The purpose of Prophecy) In that there are 353 O.T. prophecies fulfilled in Jesus Christ alone speaks volumes for further proof where many have been accomplished and still others remain fulfillment. J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy lists 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament, for a total of 1,817. These encompass 8,352 verses. It seems to me with so much evidence before our eyes, and not one failed prophecy, that we should pay attention to what is said about salvation, seeing God’s Word is sure and dependable. You have a sure basis to put your trust in Christ and repent of your sins.
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24)