Hidden Things of God's Revelation by Arthur C. Custance

Chapter 3

Prophetic Fulfillments That Are Irrepufable:
Or, A Tale of Two Cities

1. The Destruction of Tyre

THE CITY of Tyre, modern Sur, was one of the most notable coastal cities of Palestine. The name appears to be related to a Hebrew word meaning "rock." It was a colony of Sidon, and in Isaiah 23:7, 12 it is called a "daughter of Sidon" and stated to be even then very old indeed. The site comprised a small rocky island about a half mile from the shore, and a stretch of equally rocky shore. The city grew up in both locations. Figure 7 is a map of these sites as originally constituted. The topography has a special significance much later in history, as will be seen. The date of its foundation is not certain, though it was obviously later than that of Sidon, which is frequently coupled with it.

Tyre's fame exceeded that of Sidon, and it became a trading city of very great importance in the ancient Middle East. Herodotus described a temple of Hercules there and says this was built about 2,300 years before his time--which would place the beginning of the city as at least 2,700 B.C. if we assume that the temple was not erected in isolation. By modern reckonings with respect to the date of Abraham, this means that Tyre already had a hoary history of perhaps a thousand years before the patriarch began his journey toward Palestine.

Perhaps it would help in keeping things straight if we were arbitrarily to adopt the semantic principle that we reserve the term prediction for the foretelling of the future by extrapolating from present events, and prophecy when the prevision of the future in no way depends upon the course of current events. Strictly speaking, then, prediction could be the work of man without reference to divine inspiration, whereas prophecy would be something that only men inspired by the Holy Spirit could presume to do.

 


Figure 7. The island of Tyrus in its original form

About one thousand years after Abraham, in 590 B.C., the city became the subject of a pronouncement by Ezekiel of its coming doom. The prophecy reads as follows:

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up.

And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock.

It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD: and it shall become a spoil to the nations...

And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise: and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses: and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water...

And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD (Ezekiel 26:3-5,12,14).

To understand the significance of these prophetic statements, it is important to know something of the nature of this ancient settlement.

It has not yet been determined whether the settlement along the coast or the one established on the island is the older of the two. The coastal city appears to have been extensive, stretching for a distance of some twenty miles along the shore, although only about seven miles of this constituted the city proper. The country around was fertile and well watered at first, but later it became necessary to bring more water in by an aqueduct, the destruction of which contributed to the downfall of the city. The island, on the other hand, as we have already noted, was quite small. A wall surrounded it which on the side facing the shore was 150 feet high; at each end of the island, north and south, was an excellent harbor, also fortified. The space within the surrounding wall was crowded with buildings which, because of the restricted land available, rose to a considerable height. The population may have reached as much as 40,000. During Roman times, though the city had been robbed of most of its might, there were still many-storied buildings in use.

Historical accounts of the time of the kings of Israel refer continually to Tyre and its powerful princes. One of these, Hiram, was a friend of both David and Solomon; the citizens of Tyre contributed their skills in the building of Solomon's temple. In fact, Tyrians were always noted for their commercial activities and their technical achievements--and they were not given to war. They were traders and much preferred commerce to fighting. Isaiah 23:8 reports that their merchants were wealthy. They produced purple dyes, metal ware, and glassware; and like so many such people, they also trafficked in human beings (Joel 3:4-8; Amos 1:9,10). One of their trading posts, Carthage, in later years became a formidable rival to Rome.

Tyre's wealth excited the cupidity of successive oriental monarchs to whom from time to time they paid tribute for the privilege of being allowed to continue their way of life. In 877 B.C., both Tyre and Sidon submitted to the Assyrian Ashurnasipal and "sent him presents." Shalmanezer IV in 724 B.C. received the submission of the coastal city, but died before he could achieve the same from the island city, although in this case he was actually assisted by a Sidonian fleet. Sennacherib also brought the Tyrians into submission, but the city was not destroyed or plundered; after a checkered history involving Essarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, Tyre emerged with comparatively little harm and continued to enjoy great commercial prosperity with the decline of Assyria. According to Ezekiel 27, Tyre was soon trading with every country in the known world.

Nevertheless, Jeremiah prophesied Tyre's subjection under the Babylonians, whose empire succeeded the Assyrian (Jer. 27:1-11). In this prophecy, Jeremiah merely indicated that the Babylonian king should conquer the people of Tyre among other cities and countries round about. He added that those people who would submit under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him "will I let remain still in their own land, saith the LORD" (v. 11). Sidon submitted to Nebuchadnezzar and was accordingly treated with comparative mercy, its people being allowed to continue to occupy their land instead of being transported to Babylon, as was customary. But Tyre resisted.

It is not known for certain to what extent Tyre suffered from Nebuchadnezzar's attack which began in 585 B.C. Josephus tells us that Nebuchadnezzar besieged the city for thirteen years (Contra Appion 1.xxi), but exactly what happened at the end of the siege is not known.

The prophecy of Ezekiel (28:19 and 29:18-20) could be interpreted as meaning that the people were reduced to a sorry state, "every head made bald and every shoulder peeled" (29: 18). But it is virtually certain that during this long siege the people of Tyre little by little removed all their belongings--with their gold and silver and other treasures--across to the island. They had plenty of ships with which to make this transfer. Women and children were also evacuated. It has been suggested, therefore, that the above quotation from Ezekiel should be interpreted as a reference to the fact that the besieging soldiers were so long on the job as to have been chafed by their body armor and rendered bald by the passing of years!

This may seem far-fetched, but the fact is that because Nebuchadnezzar was performing a service for the Lord in bringing an end to an arrogant city, and because he evidently received no spoils from the city and therefore no payment for his service, he was given Egypt as a recompense. This statement will be found in Ezekiel 29:20. There was a Tyrian historian named Menander--who may have been biased--who makes no record of actual plundering of the city by the king. Nevertheless, since he boasts about its resistance to Shalmaneser but not to Nebuchadnezzar, it seems by inference that the city must have capitulated in the end. We now have only the authority of Jerome that Nebuchadnezzar found nothing worthy of his toil because it had all been transported. When the city fell, the nobility among the remaining inhabitants, unlike those of Sidon and in keeping with Jeremiah's prophecy, were taken away captive to Babylon. In subsequent years these same princes were from time to time invited by the Tyrians in the island city to come and reign over them, for this section of Tyre was never subdued by Nebuchadnezzar, but continued its commercial prosperity. Meanwhile, the coastal city was deserted and slowly fell into ruin, never again being resettled.

Almost three hundred years rolled by while the Tyrians plied their wares throughout the Mediterranean world. It seemed indeed unlikely that the old coastal city, which had long since tumbled into decay, would ever again be the object of a conqueror's interest. Normally one does not expect a deserted city to be "attacked." But Ezekiel's prophecy was not yet completely fulfilled: Tyre's stones, its timber, and the very dust of its deserted streets had certainly not been laid in the midst of the water. Nor did fishermen spread their nets to dry upon her tumbled columns.

Two hundred and forty years after Nebuchadnezzar's siege ended, Alexander the Great succeeded his father, Philip of Macedon, and at once began a tour of conquests throughout the Middle East--conquests unequaled for their speed of execution and masterful strategy, enormously heightened by the youthfulness of the young king himself. Marching into Asia Minor, conquering the mighty Persians and apparently quite invincible, he proceeded down the coast of Palestine until he reached the site of Tyre. This was now 333 B.C. Unwilling to pass on down into Egypt while leaving such a strongly fortified city with its powerful fleet in his rear, Alexander realized that somehow he must achieve mastery of the city.

Tyre was now a fortified island which it appeared could be captured only with the assistance of a fleet. The obvious fleet to use was that owned by the Tyrians themselves. So the young king politely requested permission to offer sacrifice to their main deity Melquath in the temple within the city walls. Nevertheless, the Tyrians realized that Alexander would not enter the city alone, but would take enough soldiers with him as a bodyguard that they would be in danger of being forced to surrender as soon as he had got within the walls. They rather sensibly refused his request.

With no fleet of his own and no possibility of capturing theirs, with a greater determination than ever to subdue the city, Alexander at once set about entering the city by the only other means available to him--namely, the construction of a causeway from the shore to the island.

Materials were at hand in abundance. Spread along the shore facing toward the island were the ruined houses and palaces, temples and theaters of the old city which had been brought into ruin by Nebuchadnezzar. However, the task was no mean one. So great was the need for materials that the soldiers dragged timbers, columns, pieces of statuary, every single thing they could find to cast into the sea. At one point a great storm arose at sea and washed part of the mole away, much to the comfort of the Tyrians, who must have been assured that God was on their side. But the damage was repaired and the causeway was completed after seven months of diligent toil in which even the very dust of the city was scraped from the shore and thrown into the sea. In 332 B.C. Alexander entered the island city and forever destroyed the insularity of the site of Tyre. According to Diodorus Siculus, eight thousand Tyrians fell fighting along the walls and another two thousand were crucified around the city by Alexander's soldiers. Women and children were sold as slaves to the number of at least thirty thousand. Alexander, after sacrificing to Melquath and establishing memorial games to be celebrated every five years (II Macc. 4:18), made a man named Baal-Amin, a member of the old royal house, regent of what remained of the desolated island city.

Tyre revived once more for a while and recovered some of its former prosperity. But little by little a long, slow decay set in until in modern times the population has dwindled to a few thousand. Our Lord visited the region (Matt. 15:21-31; Mark 7:24-31), and the people from the region occasionally attended on His ministry. Since those days, the island fortress passed from Moslem to Crusader and back into Moslem hands, and as a city of commerce it slowly passed into oblivion.

Such is the story of Tyre. What was once an island is now a peninsula, as shown in the map (Fig. 8), the original causeway having served to trap drifting sand and debris, thus widening the connection with the shore. Today fishermen spread their nets on the proud ruins of Tyre, which barely rise above the waves: so has the prophecy of Ezekiel been fulfilled.


Figure 8. The
peninsula of Tyre as it now is, showing also the ancient harbors

How unlikely it all was! What kind of human foresight would have enabled a man to foresee that a thriving city stretching for twenty miles along the shore, of which seven miles were densely populated and built up with large buildings, would one day be desolated and then laid in the midst of the sea, even its very dust? But it all came to pass. And the drama of these fulfillments is driven home in the illustration which has been given here (Fig. 9) of fishermen actually spreading nets on Tyre's remains "in the midst of the sea."

Fig. 9. This drawing is taken from a photograph of a fisherman stretching his nets to dry on the remains of the coastal city of Tyre.

2. The Building of Jerusalem

In this "Tale of Two Cities," we have one set of prophecies concerned with the destruction of a city and a second set of prophecies concerned with the building of a city. Tyre was destroyed as foretold. The details of the "building" are just as specific and certainly as unforeseeable from a human point of view as were those governing the final eclipse of Tyre.

We shall consider four of the prophecies relating to the building of Jerusalem. In about 730 B.C., Micah wrote (3:12):

Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.

This prophecy was quoted by Jeremiah in about 609 B.C., but about three years later he added the following (31:38-40):

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner.

And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath.

And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the Lord; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.

About one hundred years later, Ezekiel made the following prophecy concerning Jerusalem (44:2):

Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut.

Zechariah, one of the last prophets, wrote this prophecy concerning Jerusalem around 487 B.C. (14:10):

All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate, unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses.

All these prophecies have about them elements of surprise in the way in which they have been fulfilled so that it is scarcely possible for even the most skeptical listener, after being informed of the details, to suggest that such prophetic statements could ever have resulted merely from keen insight with regard to the future history of the city, or a happy coincidence turning a wild guess into an established fact.

The first statement has to do with "Zion," a name by which Jerusalem was often known in Old Testament times, and it will be well to undertake a brief survey of the known history of it. That Zion should be plowed as a field--even to this day--will then be seen in its proper light as a most extraordinary circumstance.


Figure 10. Probable topography of the site of Jerusalem

There is little doubt that the topography of the site of Jerusalem has been modified radically in one respect. These modifications go a long way toward explaining how it comes about that what is now a gently sloping expanse of plowed field and farmland falling away southward outside the walls of the present city was at one time the site of a notable stronghold built upon a hill, variously referred to as the Hill of Zion or Mount Zion or the Hill of Ophel.

In Figure 10 we have redrawn from several sources, and with the help of some details provided by Josephus, what was apparently the topography of Jerusalem when it was occupied only by a Jebusite fortress. This fortress was so strongly fortified that David had considerable difficulty in capturing it; indeed he succeeded, not by a frontal attack, but probably by making use of a passage which the Jebusites had cut through the solid rock leading from within the walls to an intermittent spring. The spring, Gihon, which was of fundamental importance to the citizens, was outside the city walls (II Sam. 5:8). David made this fortress his headquarters, and to the north of the site across a small valley he built his palace and planned the temple which Solomon later erected.

 


Fig. 11. Aerial view of Jerusalem with the area of ancient Zion
marked by the dotted line.

Looking at an aerial view of modern Jerusalem, such as is shown in Figure 11, one sees to the south of the temple precincts the gentle slope leading down from the city wall and ending at the junction of the Tyropoeon Valley and the Kidron Valley. It is exceedingly difficult to visualize a slope of this kind being so strongly fortified as to defy not only David but many others who had attacked it. All around there now exist higher hills, and especially Mount Moriah, upon which the temple stands. In this aerial photograph the supposed boundaries of the Jebusite fortress which afterward came to be called the City of David and Mount Zion are indicated with a broken white line.

A study of how this site came to assume the form it now has is instructive, since it shows how utterly unlikely it was that Zion should be uninhabited in the future and plowed as a field. It will be seen that Micah was rather like a man who looking at Manhattan Island and seeing it as the very hub of a capital city--upon whose site and in whose buildings were accumulated the traditional wealth and most treasured memories of a people whose history already stretched back over a thousand years--was bold enough to say: "This island will become a mud flat with not a building upon it and virtually valueless as a piece of real estate."

A prophet who would stake his reputation upon such a prediction would not be taken very seriously by people who had strong emotional ties with the site in question and who knew it as one of the busiest sections of the city, crowded with people and buildings and strongly fortified. Yet, if allowance is made for the fact that the wealth of Jerusalem was not measured in money, it might be said that Micah's prediction was all the more unlikely: for people with a long history tend to treasure sites sacred to that history even more highly than sites which are only economically valuable.

David's city grew to the north and then to the northwest, encompassing more and more territory as the centuries rolled by. This is indicated in Figure 12. In plan C it will be noticed, however, that the city of David is no longer a separate, fortified entity. How does this come about? Archaeology has revealed that this area of presently plowed land contains a number of deeply buried foundations of structures which must once have formed part of the defense of the original city. Until these remains were uncovered, tourists were conducted to the western hill which is across the Tyropoean Valley to see the sights of Zion, the traditional city of David. It is now known that this was a mistake. When David attacked the fortress held by the Jebusites, he evidently made a breach in the north wall, a wall which must have run parallel to the wall that now marks the southern boundary of the temple site on Mount Moriah. The other three sides of the fortress were too high to be scaled; but here at the north end of a valley, of which there is no longer any evidence and which was not nearly so deep as the Tyropoean or Kidron valleys, the wall was not so high. But since both David and Solomon speak subsequently of going up to the temple, one must assume that the Jebusite fortress, which David left much as it was when it became his capital, was slightly lower than Mount Moriah.

 


Fig. 12. Successive boundaries of the fortified city of Jerusalem

One might ask, Why did the Jebusites choose a site dominated by higher ground to the north? The answer is that Mount Ophel or Zion was still clearly defined and therefore could be strongly fortified. And it had this paramount advantage over all other sites in the area, namely, an excellent water supply in the spring Gihon at its southern foot. This spring apparently welled up intermittently, and by means of a conduit, the Jebusites had been able to guarantee themselves a supply of water by dropping a passageway through the solid rock from within the walls to meet this underground system. These engineering works have all been excavated.

In the time of the Maccabees, when fanaticism rendered the temple site doubly precious, the city of David (which with the passing of the years had raised in level as other eastern cities did until it actually dominated the temple site) proved on more than one occasion to be a potential hazard where defense of the temple itself was concerned.

Accordingly it was decided by Simon Maccabee, high priest from 141 to 135 B.C.--who was both powerful and popular--that the ancient citadel of David should be removed and the very Mount of Ophel upon which it stood should be cut down until it stood below the level of the temple site. The Jews were called together, and the people, acknowledging the wisdom of Simon's proposal, set themselves to work and leveled the mountain! According to Josephus (Antiq. xiii, 7:7), working day and night without intermission, the people took three whole years to complete the undertaking. After this the temple was the highest of all buildings, and its site considerably higher than the surrounding territory. In this process of leveling off, the top of the hill was moved mainly toward the south, leaving a gentle slope and burying a lot of the old foundations. The small valley in between also disappeared completely.

So began the series of events which led to the complete fulfillment of Micah's prophecy. But not immediately. For the site was again occupied, and according to Josephus was still quite thickly populated between A.D. 40 and 70.

The final chapter in the dereliction of the site began with the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 70. The people who dwelt in this part of the metropolis fled into the city or into the country. It is not certain whether Titus actually destroyed the deserted buildings of Zion; he may in fact have made use of them during the seige. At any rate, Jerusalem itself suffered a frightful devastation, and the slaughter of its people was unimaginably great.

The temple itself--though Titus actually tried to preserve it against being destroyed--was nevertheless put to fire. Its vast treasures were plundered, and as much as possible of the gold sheeting which covered the walls and doors and columns was removed by the soldiers. However, the heat of the fire was so intense that much of the gold was melted and ran between the stones of the building, which had been laid without mortar. For the next twenty-five years or more, men continued to pry these stones apart, one by one, to obtain the gold which they knew had run between them. And thus it came about the Lord's words were exactly fulfilled: "There shall not be left here one stone upon another" (Matt. 24:2).

But the nationalism of the remnant of the Jewish people once more led them to hope against hope that they could overwhelm the Roman garrison which had been left to guard what remained of the city and its people. They were incited to a fresh attempt to set up a free state by a man named Bar Kokhba, who pretended to be the Messiah. At this time the Romans were under the emperor Hadrian, who seems to have been one of the more benevolent emperors. But the Romans had had enough and it was decided that the city must be completely destroyed and so reconstructed as a new city with a different name, embellished with pagan temples, and dedicated to Jupiter in such a way that the old associations would be altogether obliterated. The Jews were rigorously excluded from the site. In A.D. 135, the rebellion having been put down and the city virtually leveled to the ground, Hadrian began the construction of a new city which was to be called "Aelia Capitolina." According to the Jerusalem Talmud (Ta'anith 4), the actual temple site was plowed by one named T. Annius Rufus.

Hadrian died in 138, and his adopted son, Titius Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus, carried on the construction of the new Roman colony. An inscription of his has been preserved on a stone which was used as second-hand material some two hundred years later by Julian, who attempted to rebuild the temple.

At any rate, this new city was well fortified with a surrounding wall which, for part of its course--especially to the north and around the temple site--followed the old city wall. But on the south it appears to have been built along a line which marked where the defenses of the Roman garrison were situated during the rebuilding of the city. The old city of David, the Jerusalem of many Old Testament passages, now lay completely outside the city walls and without any defenses whatever, the great majority of its buildings being in a state of ruin.

Time completed the process. Little by little, open spaces between ruined buildings were cultivated and extended until they joined. Today it is occupied by plowed fields.

Between the prophecy of Micah in 730 B.C. and the fulfillment of this most unlikely prediction, a series of events occurred which surely nobody but God Himself could possibly have foreseen.

But the story of these disastrous times is not completed yet, for Hadrian's fortifications in the centuries that followed suffered with the ravages of time. What is now known as the Golden Gate was in such a state of dangerous disrepair by the time of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent that it no longer formed a gate at all. The road leading up to it--what at one time was probably a street connected to its inside entrance--had long since disappeared. It stood only as a seriously weak spot in the defenses that still remained to the city, and in A.D. 1534 the sultan walled it up completely. In fact it appears to have been filled in across the entire depth of the wall.

The significance of this fact is that, although the superstructure is of later date, the foundations are undoubtedly those of the gate through which Christ entered Jerusalem in triumph a few days before His crucifixion. The gate by which the Lord, the God of Israel, entered in is now shut. And there is one circumstance which guarantees that the gate will never be opened as a thoroughfare again--as complete a guarantee as is conceivable. All along the wall at this section is a graveyard. For four hundred years it has been closed--closed by the act of a man who most assuredly had no intention of contributing to the fulfillment of prophecy. And the dead keep watch around it as though to assure the living that when God closes, no man opens. It is difficult to think of any other circumstance that could so effectively and so simply seal this gate against the future while leaving the structure so obviously what it really is for all to see.

So much for the past.

What of the future of this historic city? If any modern real estate agent had had the confidence that Jeremiah had in the word of the Lord as he pronounced it in chapter 31:38-40, he might have made a "killing" indeed. For Jerusalem has gradually been built up, tracing out exactly the lines which are here predicted. The extraordinary thing is that the most historic portion of the city, namely the "city of David"--which one might have supposed would be of prime interest in any long-range view of the city's development--is omitted from consideration altogether. By contrast, the ultimate growth of the city is predicted as moving toward the northwest, which encompassed among other things the Valley of Dead Bodies which would not normally be thought of as having a bright future in the real estate world.

In Jeremiah's time, the city seemed undoubtedly to be moving toward the south. But from Roman times onward, seven hundred years after Jeremiah, it began a growth toward the north which in recent years has been greatly accelerated until his prophecy is now almost completely fulfilled. An excellent description of how this has come about is given by George T. V. Davis in his little book Rebuilding Palestine According to Prophecy. In Figure 13 we have provided a drawing of his map of ancient and modern Jerusalem in which each of the places mentioned by Jeremiah is identified. The arrows indicate the direction in which its growth has taken place. This map is taken from Fulfilled Prophecies that Prove the Bible by the same author.


Figure 13. The growth of ancient and modem Jerusalem.

Let us repeat Jeremiah's words: "...The city shall be built to the Lord from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner. And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about [shall swing around] to Goath. And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the field unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate towards the east...." As Davis rightly says, here is an Israelitish prophet daring to predict, with the precision of a surveyor, the exact building development in a great city which was not witnessed until hundreds of years after his words were penned. No other writer outside the Bible has ever attempted such a thing.

The first fact to notice about this prophecy is that the building of the city from the Tower of Hananeel to the Gate of the Corner, which was the Jaffa Gate, took place centuries ago and was in fact completed in our Lord's time. It was therefore part of the Holy City in a stricter sense, and the phrase "shall be built to the LORD" has added significance. This then was the first step in the fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy. On the map which we have adapted from Davis there is a series of arrows moving counterclockwise and enclosing this area. A wall was built around this portion of the site by Nehemiah (about 445 B.C.--some 150 years after Jeremiah). This wall was known as the "second wall." Its original course is not absolutely certain, but all maps available to us indicate a fortification sweeping around much as is shown in Figure 13. Whatever uncertainties exist in this aspect of the matter, there is no uncertainty that Jeremiah exactly predicted the initial steps in the city's ultimate growth.

The next steps of development came much later. The "measuring line" was to "go forth over against it" (Jer. 31:39), a phrase which I think is intended to mean adjacent to it--the it being the previous stage of development, upon the Hill Gareb. After this, the line of buildings was to swing clockwise in a circuit ("shall compass about") to Goath. Included in this circuit of development were to be two rather unlikely sites, the Valley of Dead Bodies and the Valley of the Ashes. Both are indicated on the map. The circuit was completed when it had once more reached around unto the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east.

There is still a difference of opinion as to the location of Goath. Even Grollenberg's Atlas of the Bible (1957) states only that it was near Jerusalem. Davis says it is commonly accepted by those well-acquainted with the modern city of Jerusalem that Goath was some little distance west of the Hill Gareb, i.e., toward Jaffa (or ancient Joppa). At any rate, a new suburb has quickly built up in this district which previously was almost worthless land; a large tract of it was formerly owned by an orphanage, but has since been sold for millions of dollars.

The city then developed toward the Place of the Ashes, a great heap which probably represents the remains of animals used for temple sacrifices. The Valley of Dead Bodies soon experienced the same development, as did also the land lying to the east encompassing all the fields stretching right up to the Brook Kidron and down again toward the old city and the Horse Gate.

The greater part of modern Jerusalem lies outside the walls of the old city that Jeremiah knew. Davis states that a few years ago the then president of the Chamber of Commerce in Jerusalem told him how only three years before a man had purchased less than an acre of land near the Hill Gareb for $45,000: and only three years later refused an offer of $145,000 for it. He mentions also a Christian Arab businessman in the city who with some partners bought a tract of land outside the city walls around 1925 paying $80,000 for it. He and his friends built their homes there and found that ten years later the value of their property had increased to $80,000.

How many men witnessing these events must have wished indeed that they had only had faith to trust the Word of God. That such has not been the case is both remarkable and instructive: apparently no real estate fortunes have actually been made by exercising this kind of faith. One wonders why. The truth is, I think--and this is why I suggest it is instructive--that God somehow conceals many clearly stated prophetic truths from our vision until the event has been fulfilled. Neither the Jewish people as a whole nor the disciples themselves recognized at the time how completely the events of Jesus' life were fulfilling clear, straightforward prophetic statements. Only afterward did it become obvious.

To me, this is a reminder that we cannot predict the time before it comes, though we may be able to tell it in the passing of it.

Epilogue

HERE, THEN, we have some predictions made about two cities in the Middle East, one of them to be torn down and the other to be built up. The circumstances surrounding the fulfillmemts of these predictions are such that the argument for the reality of fulfilled prophecies is proved to be perfectly valid as a clear demonstration that the men who set them down were instructed by One who had complete foreknowledge.

The evidence cannot be undermined by any of the usual "explanations" which are brought forward by those who argue against such things. There is, for example, no question of literary deceit in which, after the events had transpired, the pretended predictions about them are put back into the mouth of a prophet who is supposed to have lived long before. This would be prediction after the event.

For example, Higher Critics--partly because they make the assumption that prophecy in any specific sense is not possible-- argue that Daniel's vision of four successive world empires (Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman) was really written by someone who lived after these powers had already appeared and then put back into Daniel's mouth so as to strengthen the faith of his Jewish brethren by proposing that these events were part of God's purposes and were fully foreseen. These "visions" were really penned, we are told, when the last world empire was already in the making and the other three had already passed into history. If one were to use Daniel's visions and their subsequent fulfillment as proof of the reality of fulfilled prophecy, it is almost certain that someone in the audience would raise the Higher Critics' objection, and a useless argument would result that would probably completely undermine the whole purpose of presenting the evidence in the first place. That is not the case with these two cities.

Second, the possibility that such prophecies as these were what might be called "inspired guesses" which happened to turn out to be correct is surely excluded. For example, in Luke 21:24 the Lord said, "And Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." To the Christian who needs no convincing, "trodden down" was a prophecy that has been fulfilled to the letter many times in the last two thousand years. To the non-Christian, it might well be taken merely as the insight of a wise man who could see that by its very position in the Middle East, at a kind of crossroads between world powers ranged around it, the city was almost bound to be subject to such vicissitudes. Again, the illustrations we have used are remarkable for their very unlikelihood.

Third, the events that transpired to bring about the exact fulfillment of these prophecies were, most assuredly, not deliberately undertaken in order to guarantee their fulfillment. It is hardly necessary to illustrate this further. The only possible exception might have been the circumstances which led to the modern growth of Jerusalem: but as we have seen, the very people most likely to profit by deliberately sponsoring its fulfillment would be those desiring to exploit real estate values. And apparently these people did not--except in one or two cases, and rather by accident than design--make a "killing" when they might easily have done so. It does not appear that any group of people gambled on this prophecy in order to make money. All those who contributed to the fulfillment of the prophecies studied here did so apparently with no other intent than the expedient of achieving an immediate objective each of them had in view at the time.

Fourth, the original prophetic statements are so clear and straightforward that there is absolutely no question as to their having been specifically fulfilled in the events described. Not a few prophecies in the Old Testament take such a veiled form that a hostile mind might well object that the claim to their fulfillment could be argued at several different points in history. For example, Isaiah (7:14) declared that a virgin should conceive and that before the child should come to know the difference between right and wrong, the ruling king would be deposed. Every believer holds with the New Testament that this was ultimately fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ. But it may be argued that Isaiah's immediate reference was to a young child to be born of an unmarried girl living in his own day, for otherwise it could not possibly be a sign to Ahaz. It is, in fact one of the reasons why the word translated "virgin" has also the meaning of an unmarried woman. Quite a few important prophecies have this element of dual fulfillment, so that if one wanted to, one might say they were really not very specific and might indeed have been fulfilled even more than twice. The prophecies we have illustrated are not subject to this criticism.

Finally, the fulfillment is there for anyone to see who has the means and the will to undertake the journey. The columns of Tyre lie in the water, and fishermen spread their nets. One can walk over the plowed ground which once was Zion. One can explore the suburbs of revived Jerusalem and observe for oneself the exact lines of its growth. Many specific prophecies were unmistakably fulfilled by the events of our Lord's life, but we have no proof of this except in the Gospels: and it is only begging the issue to expect this kind of evidence of fulfilled prophecy to be acceptable, since the proof of fulfillment is drawn from the very Scripture which we are trying to validate. It is analogous to defining a word with the word itself in the definition. The prophecies explored in this paper require no more than the reasonable use of one's critical faculties in evaluating the evidence presented.

We are left, therefore, with no other alternative than to assume that a real communication took place between God and man--a communication which involved much more than merely a vague sense that God "is speaking to one" in the kind of way that poets and others say God speaks to them in Nature. In other words, there is a real possibility that the normally accepted channels for passing information and acquiring knowledge which exist in the natural order of things today is not the only means available. If this is true, it would surely be folly not to make at least some effort to explore personally the implications of some of the other prophetic statements which God has assured us will come true in the experience of any individual who fulfills the conditions.

These too are prophecies. Speaking of man's heart, Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in and will sup with him and he with Me" (Rev. 3:20). This is a promise of the closest possible fellowship within. And Jesus also said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).

Corrections, June 12, 1997.


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