Wednesday, 19 March 2008

A kingdom that shall never pass away

One of the most striking things about Biblical prophecy is its sheer boldness.

Most Westerners today of course aren't really familiar with the Bible, or with other religions, and tend to assume that other religions must be quite like what's in the Bible, whatever that is. This, though, isn't true at all. The Bible is quite unique in the long range promises of enormous scope which it makes. Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, to take three prominent examples, hardly make any prophecies at all.

Biblical prophecy is astonishing because its exponents, in the most dire situations where the people of Israel seemed to be completely dominated or even crushed by some super-power, boldly proclaim that all the kingdoms of the earth shall pass away but that the kingdom God is building never will. They flatly state that the nations that then existed will one day be found no more, but that all over the earth people will be worshiping the God of Israel because of the coming Messiah. "All nations whom you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord; and shall glorify your name." - Psalm 86:9. "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it." - Isaiah 2:2. The astonishing thing about so many of these prophecies is just how far away they seemed from even being slightly possible at the time they were given. It's the nature of false prophets to limit their predictions to the feasible, in case they should make their own fraud obvious.

Whether it's under the suffocating dominance of the almighty historical empires of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar, or the Medo-Persian empire, or whilst looking forward to the immense coming conquests of Alexander the Great, or under the seemingly invincible reign of the Roman Empire and its Caesars, the plot never changes. All these empires will pass away, but the work that God had begun in Israel would continue to grow and grow, until it covers the whole earth and has superseded the nations and empires of the world entirely.

Were the Biblical prophets right? Has invincible Babylon continued to do exactly as it pleased? Is Caesar still the indisputable lord of the human race? Is the unconquerable might of Rome still prevailing? If not, are God's people still here? Has the story which began with Israel continued, and gained multitudes adherents across the globe? Do peoples across the world now worship the God of Israel, because of someone who came? What does these remarkably large and accurate prophecies tell us about the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth?

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