Before you decide to mark me as some liberal anti-Christian heretic, read this sentence:
The Bible is inspired by God, and evidence of the wonderfully amazing fulfillment of prophecy is all throughout the Bible.
But I don’t believe that it’s a very good tool to use in convincing people that the Bible is inspired. I know preachers who think that “fulfillment of prophecy” is the biggest and best proof that the Bible is from God. That it is the “ace in the hole” for convincing skeptics. I was told that by one of my teachers in preaching school, and I’ve heard it many times since then.
But I don’t think it’s very convincing.
Don’t get me wrong, as someone who already believes in the Bible, I find the fulfillment of prophecy to be phenomenal. It blows my mind and leaves me awestruck that God could prophesy things hundreds–even thousands of years before they actually happened. Every time I discover another type/antitype or foreshadowing prophecy in the Bible, I get excited and it makes my faith even deeper.
But that’s because I already believe the Bible is inspired.
I want you now to imagine that you don’t believe the Bible is from God. In fact, you think that it was something put together by a bunch of folks who were writing after the fact, and that it is full of contradictions. Imagine that you are opposed to the very idea that the Bible could be from God.
With that mindset, I want you to see how you would respond to these arguments:
(1) In Isaiah, it says that God would raise up a man named Cyrus, and in Ezra, we learn that Cyrus–150 years later–was the name of the king of Persia. See, Isaiah even named him over a century before he was born!
If I didn’t believe in the inspiration of the Bible, I’d say something like, “Prove Isaiah was written 150 years before Cyrus was born.” Or, “the oldest copies of Isaiah are 400 years AFTER Cyrus was king.” Or “It’s easy to claim that it was written before then, but claiming doesn’t prove it.”
(2) In Nahum, God says that Nineveh (the capitol of Assyria) would be “dissolved,” and that’s literally what happened less than 100 years later when Babylon diverted the river and dissolved the mud bricks that Nineveh was built with!
If I didn’t believe in the inspiration of the Bible, I’d say, “the oldest copies of Nahum came 400-500 years after Nineveh was destroyed. It was written after the fact.”
(3) The Old Testament foretells that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem, and would suffer and die, and establish His kingdom. All of those things were fulfilled in the New Testament.
If I didn’t believe in the inspiration of the Bible, I might say something like this: “In the Harry Potter books, things that are foretold or foreshadowed in books one through six came to pass by the time book seven was completed. According to your logic, then, Harry Potter is inspired by God.”
The point is this: if someone doesn’t already believe the Bible is inspired, then quoting prophecy and fulfillment in something they think is fiction anyway is not going to prove that it is from God. They’ll write it off as men looking at what was already written and trying to tie up loose ends in later books and letters.
There are much better ways of proving the inspiration of the Bible. And once someone is convinced that the Bible is inspired, fulfillment of prophecy is a great tool to further convince them. It will help deepen their faith. But if they don’t already believe the Bible is from God, fulfillment of prophecy won’t convince them.
Just some food for thought.