Does the God of the Bible Know Everything That Will Happen?

A big question that most people have about biblical prophecy is, “Can I trust that what I read in the Bible really will happen?” Does the Almighty God, the creator of the Universe, really know the future? Did you know that a quarter of the contents of the Bible are made up of prophecies about the future? In describing His foreknowledge of events that will happen, the Lord Himself states:

9Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.
10I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.
 I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please’ (Isaiah 46:9-10).

3I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. 4For I knew how stubborn you were; your neck muscles were iron, your forehead was bronze. 5Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, ‘My images brought them about; my wooden image and metal god ordained them.’ 6You have heard these things; look at them all. Will you not admit them? “From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you. 
7They are created now, and not long ago; you have not heard of them before today.
So you cannot say, ‘Yes, I knew of them’ (Isaiah 48:3-7).

When the people of Israel were wandering far from God and worshipping demons masquerading as nature deities in the form of idols, He used the prophet Isaiah, to speak to them as to whom was God. To set Himself apart from other so-called deities, God said: “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you” (Isaiah 42:8-9).To prove and authenticate that He alone is God, the Lord challenged the false gods and idols to do the same:

21“Present your case,” says the LORD. “Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King. 22Tell us, you idols, what is going to happen.
Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come23tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods.
Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear (Isaiah 41:21-23).

The Lord God put all the false religions to the test—”tell us what the future holds if you are God.”. No other scriptures from any other holy book tell the future ahead of time. To prove that He is God, again and again, He spoke of things that were future. Let’s take one for today, the prophecy about the city of Tyre in Ezekiel 26:1-14. I don’t have room to reproduce the whole passage. You can read it online elsewhere or in the Bible. God spoke ahead of time about six specific things that would happen to the city:

  • Nebuchadnezzar would attack the city and capture it (v.7, 10).
  • Many nations would come against the city and plunder it (v.3-5).
  • There would be a siege on the city by Nebuchadnezzar (v.8).
  • The stones, timber, and rubble of Tyre would be thrown into the sea.
  • The city would be a bare rock and a place for fishermen to spread their nets.
  • The city would never be rebuilt.

 Seventeen years after this prophecy, history records that the Babylonian king came against the mainland city of Tyre. You can check this out on Wikipedia.org. He was after the great treasure that was there—the city of Tyre had become very prosperous. Nebuchadnezzar was after their wealth to finance his army. When he arrived with his army, their dust covered the city. He used massive force, and with battering rams, he broke down the walls and captured the city. There was only one problem, though; ships had shifted the majority of the treasure to the two little islands that were half a mile from the land. Nebuchadnezzar and his army were furious but try as they might; they were unsuccessful in capturing the island fortress, partly because they had no ships. Nebuchadnezzar carried on down the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Some would say that this left the prophecy partially unfulfilled, and for several years it was so. 240 years later came Alexander the Great on his conquest of the Persian Empire. He also attacked the city of Tyre, and to get to the island off the coast; he built a causeway with the rubble that of the mainland city of Tyre. Literally, all of the ruins of the city of Tyre was thrown into the sea to make the causeway. Alexander finally captured the city, and even today there are pictures of the local fishermen spreading their nets on the bare rock of where the ancient city stood. The causeway changed the way the tide ran past the city making the old island city now underwater, just as Ezekiel prophesied.

A Jewish traveler in the 1100s, named Benjamin of Tudela, came to the old spot where Tyre once existed and wrote:

“A man can ascend the walls of New Tyre and see ancient Tyre, which the sea has now covered, lying at a stone’s throw from the new city. And should one care to go forth by boat, one can see the castles, marketplaces, streets, and palaces in the bed of the sea. New Tyre is a busy place of commerce, to which merchants flock from all quarters.”

Benjamin of Tudela, the Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela. Keith Thomas

The Great Banquet Invitation

15When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” 16Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’  18“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 19“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 21“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22” ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in so that my house will be full. 24I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet’ ” (Luke 14:15-24).

How lovely to us is the thought that eternity with Christ is pictured as a grand banquet for the children of men. You are not left out! All have been invited to the feast in the Kingdom of God. No matter what you have done, or where you have been, God offers a free pardon to you on account of the substitutionary work of Jesus on the cross for you and as you. Of all the fun things that we get to do in this world, is there anything better than eating with friends, conversing, laughing and enjoying one another’s company? It indeed is my favorite thing to do, and no doubt yours too. In another place in the Scriptures, Christ is standing at the door of your house, the house of your inner being, asking to come in and enjoy eating with you, suggesting a tender intimacy with Him:

20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20).

The above passages suggest eternal bliss and satisfaction. Parties and banquets are all about fun, laughter, and joy. To be around Jesus, to gaze upon His loveliness and laugh with him, seeing His glory and grace, and enjoying heaven with others that also love Him, what joy that will be! How humbling to realize that the God of the Universe wants to enjoy our presence over a meal that He has prepared. Jesus had been teaching concerning humility and reaching out to the poor and disabled by inviting them to a banquet. A man responds to Him by saying, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God” (Verse 15).

It seems that the words come from one of the Pharisees reclining at the table where Jesus had been invited and was eating. It is difficult to judge the man’s motivation for saying such a thing. Was it a request to find out what makes a person worthy of being invited to share in the Kingdom of God? It’s even possible that he was saying, “I can’t wait for us to recline at God’s table together.” The Pharisees considered themselves as righteous; after all, they were meticulous about keeping God’s commandments. They could not conceive that there would be Gentiles or even Jews that did not follow the law at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9). Jesus shared a parable with them that shook their thinking on just who would be in attendance at the feast in the Kingdom of God. He said that God invites the poor, the lame, the blind and the disabled into His kingdom, but those who made excuses would be shut out. Christ makes it clear that there is a free invitation to this banquet. Nothing can be done to deserve a seat at all.

There are no fixed price tickets to the best seats. It was by free invitation only. If you are a Christian, you have come to Christ at His call. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:44). If you are not yet a Christian, today you have heard the invite! You have been called and invited. The very fact that you are reading this study is proof that the Spirit of God has been drawing you to Christ. Some people are upset by the fact that the entrance to God’s Kingdom is by a free invitation only. They find it hard to receive grace or undeserved favor. Part of the reason is pride. They feel that they must accomplish something to earn their entrance fee, but no one gets into eternity by what they have done. It is only by God’s grace and mercy. Now that is something to receive and party about! Trust Him today, and if I don’t see you this side of heaven, I will see you inside the Eastern Gate when He comes (Ezekiel 44:1-3). Keith Thomas

Why Was Christ So Brutally Put to Death?

Why was it so necessary for Christ to die such a brutal and violent death? Surely God could have planned an easier death for His Son? The answer, I believe, is this: only a violent death could have exposed sin in the way it so sorely needed revealing. One preacher said, “Could Jesus have exposed sin in all of its foul horror if He had died in His bed, or by accident, or by disease?” It is one of the tragedies of human life that we fail to recognize the sinfulness of sin. God’s plan was for Christ to die as a substitute for all who would put their faith in Christ’s death as their own death, thereby showing the sinfulness of sin and the just punishment placed upon it. Out of God’s love for man, He came in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus, to take man’s place and bestow mercy and grace upon us. Another example of this kind of substitutionary legality is found in history:

During a war between Britain and France, men were conscripted into the French Army by a kind of lottery system. When someone’s name was drawn, he had to go off to battle. On one occasion, the authorities came to a certain man and told him he was among those who had been chosen. He refused to go, saying, “I was shot and killed two years ago.” At first, the officials question his sanity, but he insisted that was indeed the case. He claimed that the military records would show that he had been killed in action. “How can that be?” they questioned. “You are alive now!” He explained that when his name first came up, a close friend said to him, “you have a large family, but I am not married and nobody is dependent on me. I’ll take your name and address and go in your place.” And that is indeed what the record showed. This rather unusual case was referred to Napoleon Bonaparte, who decided that the country had no legal claim on that man. He was free. He had died in the person of another.[1]

In the viewpoint of God, when Christ died, He died as a substitute to release you from the legal claims that Satan had against you because of your sin. Christ died for you and as you. God sees Christ as taking your place just as the one man went to war in another’s place.  When Christ died, God sees you as having died too:

Since you died with Christto the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules (Colossians 2:20).

1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died,and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-3).

The Lord Jesus, through His death, burial and resurrection came to give us His life. We received physical life from our forefather, Adam, but Christ came to give us the life of God, and this life is imparted to us when we wholeheartedly put our faith and trust in Him. When we believe, our sins are washed away, and the Spirit of God baptizes us into the spiritual organism of the Body of Christ. The life of God flows into each of us that are connected to Him by faith. God loves you and wants to invite you to abandon your sin and walk the rest of your life in freedom from the bondage of sin. Will you give Him your life? Pray a simple prayer from your heart asking Him to forgive your sin and come into your life. Receive the gift of God—salvation in Christ. Keith Thomas

[1]1500 illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Edited by Michael P. Green, Printed by Baker Book House, Page 360.

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4″ For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ” 6And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8).

The picture Jesus gives us is that of a judge who has no relationship with God. He does not fear that he will be judged for his actions. In his confession, he did not care about God or men (v. 4). This judge did not show deference to anyone. He did not have respect for the people he was appointed to judge. This judge may have been a judge that they all knew in the area, one appointed by Herod or by the Romans. This judge’s position gave him liberty to do whatever he wanted to further his own ends.

Jesus then gives us the epitome of a helpless person in a desperate situation. She is poor and defenseless with no family to help her. Widows often experienced hardship as Luke 20:4 points out, the teachers of the Law would often devour their resources after the death of their husbands. We don’t know how she was cheated, but the judge was undoubtedly on the side of her opponent.

The widow had no resource in the pursuance of her claim. The only thing she could use was persistence. Her constant pleading and begging was her only hope of obtaining the justice she deserved. Verse 3 says that she “kept coming.” She would not be beaten down by constant refusal and rejection. I picture her coming morning and evening to the courthouse. Every time the magistrate went out to market, she followed him around, persistently arguing her case. The passion of her heart began to make people talk, i.e., wondering to themselves if his injustice was wronging her. I’m sure she was an embarrassment to him as people learned of her plight. Finally, the unjust judge gave in to her, not due to the strength of her cause, but because she kept bothering him. He was merely being worn out!

In verse 5, the Greek word translated as “wear me out” is hypōpiazē, which means, “to give a black eye.” She was beating him up, not physically, but in a figurative sense, with her insistent passion and pleading words. The same word is used by Paul the Apostle in describing his habits of personal discipline: “but I pommel [hypōpiazē]my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27). It could mean that the unjust judge thought that she might give him a black eye! More than likely, though, it was the fact that his reputation was being pummeled and taking a black eye. It also could be figurative of his losing sleep over it. He was so worn out, and it was easier to consent to her plea.

This judge is a sharp contrast to the Holy God we serve. The application Jesus makes is that, if this unjust judge yields to persistent asking, then how much more will the Judge of all the earth render justice and quickly!

When Edmund Gravely died at the controls of his small plane while on the way to Statesboro, Georgia, from the Rocky Mount-Wilson Airport in North Carolina, his wife, Janice, kept the plane aloft for two hours. As the aircraft crossed the South Carolina/North Carolina border, she radioed for help: “Help, help, won’t someone help me? My pilot is unconscious.” Authorities who picked up her distress signal were not able to reach her by radio during the flight because she kept changing channels. Eventually, Mrs. Gravely made a rough landing and had to crawl for forty-five minutes to a farmhouse for help. How often God’s people cry out to him for help but switch channels before His message comes through! They turn to other sources for help, looking for human guidance. When you cry out to God for His intervention, don’t switch channels![1]Await His answer and keep looking to Him. Keith Thomas

[1]Edited by Michael Green,1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Published by Baker Book House, Page 279.

Zacchaeus, Come Down Immediately!

1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ ” 8But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:1-10).

Zacchaeus had a problem in trying to see Jesus–he was small of stature. The crowd along the road would not let him push through. I am sure that when people saw who was struggling to get through the crowd, that there was an elbow or a kick designed to hurt him, but his curiosity could not be satisfied until he had seen Jesus. He ran ahead along the road to the place where there was a significant Sycamore Fig tree and hastily climbed up the short trunk and hid in the full branches. Which one was Jesus? Zacchaeus did not know Jesus, but the Lord knew him. Perhaps Christ had come this very way because he knew where Zacchaeus would be waiting.

Do you think he knew which one was Jesus as he looked down from the tree? I’m sure his heart skipped a beat when the crowd stopped as the Lord looked up into the tree, saying: “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

I am amazed at the condescension of Christ. Not only did He look down from heaven but He also came down and entered into our painful world. Furthermore, here He is looking up to Zacchaeus and asking him to come down. God always humbles a soul before he brings him to heaven. We must let go of every branch that we hold on to and come down. There is a need for all of us to come down in our estimation of ourselves. Zacchaeus would have felt very humbled that the Lord knew him by name. He had lived his life climbing to the top of the ladder and realized that the ladder was against the wrong wall. Zacchaeus had chased money all his life but had become hated by the people around him. He had lost all self-respect due to the way he had treated people, yet Jesus valued him so much that Christ would come to his house!

Do you realize that the God of the universe knows you by name and values you profoundly? He wants to come and live inside your house. He values us so profoundly that He calls each one of us individually in the midst of our circumstances. Zacchaeus was singled out by Jesus and directly called by name. He is told by Christ “I must stay at your house today.” There doesn’t seem to be an act of faith that brought Christ to his door, except, perhaps, his curiosity in wanting to see Christ. Jesus deliberately came to the place where Zacchaeus was and initiated the conversation that brought a saving response. The phrase “must stay” (NIV) or “must abide” (KJV) is used. It denotes a compulsion of any kind, such as unavoidable, urgent, compulsory necessity.”[1]It seems that it was all written into God’s plan, the calling of Zacchaeus.

He directly calls each one of us: “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). The Bible tells us that God has ordained (To prearrange unalterably; predestine: by fate ordained beforehand those who are saved. We may think that we are the ones searching for God, but He is the Shepherd, searching for His lost sheep. God orders our circumstances to cause us to call out to Him. We cannot say that God ordered the depths of sin that we got into, our own choices were involved, but the Bible declares that God uses all things to work together for our good to bring us to Christ(Romans 8:28). What do we mean by the word election? Wayne Grudem in his book, Systematic Theology, defines the election as “an act of God before creation in which He chooses some people to be saved, not on account of any unforeseen merit in them, but only because of His sovereign good pleasure.”[3]Zacchaeus and all those of us that have been born again, were called and chosen before the foundation of the world to be His elected ones.

4For he chose us in him before the creation of the worldto be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sonsthrough Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves (Ephesians 1:4-6).

What marvelous grace God has lavished on us! It boggles the mind to think that He has planned to call us out before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless, adopted as His sons and daughters. Zacchaeus as well as you and I were called before the beginning of the world ever took place. He had us in His mind and heart. Zacchaeus was one of the last people would think would be saved. This encounter came about in the city of Jericho, a cursed city (Joshua 6:26), yet Christ came there and called Zacchaeus. He called the worst of sinners from the worst of cities with the worst of trades. Maybe He’s doing the same for you today! Keith Thomas

[1]Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, Notes on Page 1604.

[2]Dictionary.com

[3]Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, Published by Zondervan, page 670.