What the Bible reveals about Time and God’s timings has helped to clarify for me the Creation itself and our roots—who we are, and why, flows from this understanding.
I found God’s inspiration of scriptural wording to be very precise. Statements about what was to occur in the future (prophecy) were played out exactly as predicted. These include major events such as the 70-year captivity of the Jews in Babylon and a 400-year wait before the Israelites could possess the Promised Land.
Can we doubt that Heaven, where God lives, is where he plans our future, including our personal times and timings? It is as we found in Psalm 139, that our times are in His hands.
The only alternative is for future events and time lines described by prophets to be just lucky guesses.
Let’s take a few predictions about ancient Tyre and challenge ourselves to guess how they were later fulfilled in history, providing you do not already know the historical answers of course. If you guess accurately without prior knowledge how God fulfilled this prophecy, you will have done better than upwards of 200 adults to whom I have set this as a challenge. Not one of them succeeded, but then neither had I!
We’ll start with some historical facts:
“Old Tyre” as the ancient Greeks referred to it, was a very wealthy large Mediterranean city on the coastline of what is now modern Lebanon. It had a further lesser settlement on an island a kilometre or so across deep water. This island settlement was small, around five kilometres in circumference, but with two good ports.
The people of Tyre had proven to be implacable enemies of the Israelites. God inspired the prophet Ezekiel around 586 Bc to make a series of predictions against Tyre, all of which were fulfilled over Time to the letter.
Here are just four of them (Ezekiel 26):
When we look at a map of the Middle East today, we see Tyre still exists in Lebanon on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Is the prophecy still unfulfilled? Maybe it was only partially correct?
Historical records set the scene. Many nations did come against Tyre over the years, including the Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Babylonians and Greeks. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, specifically named in the prophecy, did attack Tyre—laying siege to the city for twelve years and breaking down its walls and towers as foretold. However, the Tyrians fled across the sea to their offshore island, taking much of their wealth with them. Nebuchadnezzar commanded a predominantly land army and had no practical means of transporting it across to the island. After his siege, it has been suggested that the Tyrians sued for peace by presenting Nebuchadnezzar with some tokens of their incredible wealth to forestall future attacks, promising to be a vassal city loyal to him. In any case, for whatever reason, he marched away, leaving behind the tumbled down ruins of ancient Tyre.
Surviving Tyrians, from their island sanctuary, rejoiced as they watched Nebuchadnezzar and his army depart.
How do you think God might have fulfilled verse 4? “I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock.”
Maybe an earthquake? But the upheaval of earthquakes does not leave a scene of devastation as bare as a rock. Perhaps volcanic action would cover the ancient city with lava that solidified into rock after ancient Tyre’s walls and houses were demolished and the rubble thrown into the sea?
While you are thinking, here are a few more details. The Tyrians, being a seafaring people, had a good fleet and felt secure on their island, and so did not rebuild Old Tyre from the ruins on the mainland. Instead, they bolstered the island defences with underwater reefs cunningly constructed and placed, such that they would not get covered by sand, but would dash to pieces any ships of an invading fleet.
It was over 200 years before the remaining prophecies regarding Tyre were fulfilled. This fits consistently into the pattern that many years of earthly Time may pass before a plan formulated by God in Heaven, even one revealed to man, is completed on our planet.
Alexander the Great came in 332 BC with his marauding Greek troops. The islanders scorned his threats to conquer them, and in fact butchered his messengers in full view on the walls of their island haven, disembowelling some and tossing their bodies into the sea. Not only did Alexander want the immense wealth of the Tyrians, he did not want to leave such a vicious, powerful enemy in his wake with its two good ports for hostile Persian ships to use (coming against him) while he was marching further south. However, he at once realised his small fleet would be damaged by the underwater rocky reefs. His ships could only encircle the island to prevent Tyrian ships escaping. He could not conquer Tyre from the sea.
What should he do?
Greek history tells us precisely what he did.
A brilliant strategist, despite knowing it would be a difficult and tedious procedure, Alexander devised an extraordinary and unique plan of attack. He set his army to dismantle the ancient ruins of Tyre on the mainland and cast her stones, timbers, rubble and even soil into the sea (verse 12)—and slowly built a causeway across the sea towards the island fortress. The causeway was a minimum of 60 metres wide, giving width enough to carry his fearsome army over it in breadth as well as depth.
Ultimately, Alexander succeeded in his conquest and put 10,000 Tyrians to the sword and sold 30,000 as slaves.
His causeway still exists today and has joined the island city of modern Tyre to the mainland. Modern Tyre thereby is no longer sits on an island; Alexander’s causeway has turned it into a peninsula.
Old Tyre, though, was never rebuilt (verse 14).
How did you do? Tyre is the only known case where an ancient city not only ceased to exist but was flattened as a result of its stones, timbers, and even rubble being cast into the sea, leaving it a bare rock—precisely as foretold in the Bible. These events were recorded by the pagan Greeks in their own history.
What I learnt from this is that common sense, logic and flights of imagination are all inadequate in attempting to deduce God’s fulfilment of anything in scripture, least of all the Creation plans outlined in such broad terms in Genesis 1. There is no room here for any Christian arrogance regarding times, methods or epochs.
Professor Stoner6 and his students investigated the fulfilment of seven of the predicted details about Tyre that are historically verifiable. The team tackled the question as to whether Ezekiel could have made lucky guesses of what would happen to Tyre in the future. They used probability theory and very conservative estimates. I will quote from his book:
If Ezekiel had looked at Tyre in his day and had made these predictions in human wisdom, these estimates mean that there would have been only one chance in 75,000,000 of their all coming true. They all came true, in the minutest detail.
If you backed a horse with the odds of winning of 1 in 75,000,000—how much money would you gamble on it? Keep it small; that horse is not going to win! Or if a surgeon told you that your chances of surviving a particular operation were only 1 in 75,000,000, would you be happy to go ahead? Yet those who disbelieve there to be a God in control of biblical prophecies, and thereby of their own future, are taking a chance much greater than this magnitude. Hundreds of other prophecies have already been fulfilled in history and only a handful remain before Christ returns physically to Earth to wind-up life here.
God’s statements in Genesis 1 are of the same ilk as prophecies because God is stating from Heaven what he will accomplish in the future on Earth. To this day, he has always achieved what he has foretold.
It is as we learn in Matthew 19:26, that “With God, all things are possible.”
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