5. A Future Glory
One of the great features of the Bible is that it talks about things that were yet to happen in the future. Some of these things sound good, and some of these things sound bad. A term often used of these predictions is “prophecy”, and the Bible contains many prophecies of this form.
Some of the prophecies were written over 3000 years in the past, and they have varying prediction horizons. Some speak of events that were to happen shortly after they were given, while others speak of events far into the future. The ones of most interest to us today fall into one of two categories:
- Prophecies that we know were fulfilled, and we know that they were fulfilled after the prophecy was given
- Prophecies that were for long into the future and have not yet been fulfilled.
The first are useful because they may be used to establish the authenticity of the Bible and its message. The ability to accurately predict the future is good evidence for the power of an almighty God. The second type are also interesting to us because, if true, they can give us a glimpse into the future, and the plans that God has with the earth. Both of these types of prophecy may be found in the Bible.
The Past Foretold
Considering that there is a considerable focus of the Bible on the Middle-East, it is not surprising that much of the foretold history relates to the nation of Israel.
One of the things that the Bible has predicted is that the city of Jerusalem would be a point of interest and a hotbed of political instability. On small example is in the book of Zechariah, where the city of Jerusalem is isolated as a place of future conflict,
Zech 12:2.: "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. 3. "And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. NKJV
This aptly describes the very difficult region of the middle east today. It is quite clear that these words were written over 2000 years ago, yet they isolate what was to be one of the most troubled regions of our time.
Although this is only a small part of the predictive content of the Bible, this is a sample of the fulfilled predictions which help to establish its authority.
The Future Foretold
There are some well-known passages from the Bible that speak of a future time when the world will be a better place. Some of these just allude to the time, but others are quite specific about the conditions
The Book of Isaiah is a collection of prophecies relating to Israel, and the part of Israel known as Judah. One of the early passages relates to a time known as the “latter days”.
Isaiah 2:1.: The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2. Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD's house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. 3. Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4. He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore. NKJV
This passage speaks of time that has never yet come on the Earth during recorded history. It may be the dream of the United Nations, but world peace is still a long way from being a reality. This passage promises a time when people will be willingly following the leadership of God, and when nations will be at peace.
Chapter 11 of Isaiah goes even further, detailing a time when there will be no violence.
Isaiah 11:1.: There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. 3. His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; 4. But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; ... 6. " The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. 7. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. ... 9. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. NKJV
The person referred to as the “Branch” is understood to be referring to a promised Messiah. Christians believe that this Messiah is Jesus Christ, while the Jewish people believe he is yet to appear. Under the just rule of the Messiah, people are promised peace and prosperity. This is the sort of world that many people have hoped for, and are still hoping for.
The book of Daniel also contains many prophecies and promises of future times. Daniel is a particularly useful book in our times because the prophecies cover a wide range of timescales. In chapter 2, a vision is shown that describes the progression of world empires from 600BC to present times. It identified Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman and a divided empire. In the end, however, it described how these empires would be replaced by a kingdom of God.
Daniel 2:44.: "And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. NKJV
This kingdom corresponds well with the images given by Isaiah. It is an everlasting kingdom of God with universal acceptance.
This is consistent with a promise given in the early days of Israel, while they were in the wilderness between Egypt and the promised land of Israel. After the people rebelled against God, Moses asked God for their forgiveness,
Numbers 14:19.: "Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray, according to the greatness of Your mercy, just as You have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now." 20. Then the LORD said: "I have pardoned, according to your word; 21. "but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD -- NKJV
In this case God was promising that the earth would be filled with His glory, which is consistent with the other prophecies.
These Four prophecies speak of a promise to the nations of the Earth. The claim is simply that there will come a time on the Earth when there will be peace and happiness. There is no claim in these passages that any particular people will be able to take a part in that world as described.
However, the Bible says more on the subject, and says a lot about how people can choose to have a part in this future kingdom. It claims to be the genuine source of information about how to be involved in the establishment of this kingdom, and to be a part of it.