HOW THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS & THE PROPHECY OF DANIEL CHAPTER 9 PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD, THE MESSIAHSHIP OF JESUS AND THE INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE
by Brian D. Cates
Did you know there's a prophecy in the Bible that accurately predicted the very year that the Messiah would present Himself to Israel, and give up his life on behalf of others?
As incredible as this might sound, it's absolutely true.
It's a prophecy found in the Old Testament, a prophecy that no human agency, no matter how clever or determined, could have come close to predicting or to fulfilling.
This prophecy establishes beyond all reasonable doubt that Jesus of Nazareth is the
Christ and that the Bible does contain accurate predictive prophecies written hundreds of
years before their complete and exact fulfillment.
This incredible prophecy is found in the ninth chapter of the book of Daniel.
Here is that chapter in it's entirety:
In this prophecy, Daniel claims he read the prophetic book of Jeremiah and saw that the 70
year exile of the Jewish people from the land was almost over. He then prays a long,
heartfelt prayer in which he asks God to forgive him and his people and to restore them.
While he is still praying, God sends the angel Gabriel to visit Daniel.
Gabriel then relates a prophecy to Daniel, and this is the gist of it: God has
decreed that his purposes that he is working in the world through the medium of the
Jewish people will last 70 more weeks, or 490 years [a week is a period of 7 years, and so 7 x 70 = 490].
During this span of 490 years, these purposes are going to be accomplished: transgression will be finished, sin will be put to an end, atonement will be made for iniquity, everlasting righteousness will be established, vision and prophecy will be sealed up, and the most holy place or person is to be anointed.
All of this is to happen in a span of 490 years.
Gabriel tells Daniel that this 490 year period will begin to expire when a decree is
issued commanding that the city of Jerusalem and the temple be rebuilt. The next
prophetic event that would take place would be the arrival of Israel's Messiah.
The angel tells Daniel that the span of time between the giving of the decree to
rebuild and the arrival of the Messiah will be 69 weeks. Now one week is seven years
according to Jewish reckoning of that day. So the angel is saying that the 70 weeks in
which all of God's purposes will be accomplished through the Jewish people equals 490
years. Because 70 weeks equals 490 years, 69 weeks equals 483 years.
The angel has just set a TIMETABLE for the arrival of the Messiah! 483 years
after the decree to rebuild is given, the Messiah will come! Great news, right?! Imagine
how excited Daniel would be to hear this, and all other devout Jews of the day would no
doubt have been excited too. Not only is the city and temple to be rebuilt, but
now we know exactly when Messiah will come: 483 years from the time we're allowed by
decree to go back and rebuild Jerusalem and our Holy Temple!
NOW FOR THE BAD NEWS
But what Gabriel had to say next would have caused Daniel and his
contemporaries jaws to drop open in shocked, negative astonishment. The angel says that
when Messiah comes, He's going to die! And not only will Messiah die, but the rebuilt
city and temple will also be destroyed! Imagine what a hard revelation this would be for a
devout Jew like Daniel to take. The temple is the center of Jewish national and cultural
identity; God is going to let them go back and build it again only to have it destroyed all
over again later? How can this be?
Now this prophecy was written long before Jesus was ever born. There is no way any human agency could have been consciously trying to bring about the fulfillment of this awful prophecy; and any devout Jew who read this prophecy would fervently hope that it never came true.
Can you imagine as Jesus was growing up, this passage from Daniel being read in the
synagogues? What would the people have made of it? We're back in the land now, with our city rebuilt and our temple functioning again! We're eagerly awaiting our Messiah who is coming to free us from Roman oppression! When that happens we're going to become the greatest nation on the face of the Earth, and the Kingdom of God will begin immediately and we will enjoy peace and prosperity forevermore! Hey, what's this? Daniel talks about the Messiah being cut off? Our city, our temple destroyed? Never! God will never allow this to happen! I mean, we all know Daniel is a prophet, but there is no way the death of the Messiah and the destruction of our city and temple could be in God's plan!
THE PROPHECY NOBODY WANTED TO COME TRUE
If there is any prophecy found in the O.T. Scriptures that would make a 1st century Jew
shudder when he read it, it is Daniel chapter 9. There is no way any devout Jew was fervently looking forward to what was written here. If there was any Scripture that a Jewish religious leader would have gladly expunged from the Scripture, it would have been Daniel 9. It is just tragic in it's implications.
But the prophecy did come true just exactly as Daniel wrote it. King Artaxerxes of Persia issued the decree for the rebuilding of Jerusalem in 444 B.C. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey's foal on Passover Week, 33 AD, the EXACT DAY that the 483 years expired. He is the only person of historical record who showed up, claimed to be the Messiah, and died in the required 483rd year.
And then in 70 A.D. the Romans destroyed both the city and the temple. Archaeology and
historical evidence place Jesus' crucifixion in 33 A.D., which by the Jewish method of reckoning years (with 360 days rather than our 365) places as exactly 483 years after Artaxerxes' decree.
Here's a good explanation about the use of Jewish reckoning of a prophetic year of 360 days rather than the Roman version of 365 days for a year:
What's so great about using the 444 B.C. Date is the fact that it uses a prophetic year (360 days) instead of the Gregorian Calendar year (365 days). There are solid biblical reasons for looking at this prophecy from a prophetic year perspective as opposed to any other type of year. 483 prophetic years is equal to 173,880 days (360 days X 483 years = 173,880 days). Going forward in time (the year 0 is skipped) from March 4, 444 B.C. (Neh. 2:1-8) 483 prophetic years would bring you out around March 30, A.D.33. which could easily be the date of the Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem found in Matthew 21. This would then be followed by His crucifixion on April 3rd A.D. 33.(3)Think about it. The Messiah has to show up before the city and the temple are destroyed.
This means that Messiah had to show up before 70 A.D., and the prophecy narrows it down ever further to an exact year after a decree is given. Jesus is the only man who fits the qualifications.
Now this looks incredible, doesn't it? Here is a man named Daniel writing accurately about events over 400 years before they occurred; he accurately predicts the exact year a man
claiming to be the Messiah will come, that this person will die, and that the rebuilt city and temple will be destroyed. There is no way a devout Jew in his right mind would dream this stuff up on his own. And Daniel's contemporaries knew this. This is why Daniel's book was revered by the Jews, and why they took it and Jeremiah's and Ezekiel's prophetic books back to Israel with them when the exile came to an end. They knew Daniel was a prophet and that God spoke to him, even if God did tell Daniel things that were hard to understand at the time.
The Jews had learned a valuable lesson from Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a prophet that God
raised up among the Jews before the exile and captivity in Babylon. Jeremiah told the people that God was telling him that the Babylonians would come and conquer them if they did not turn away from their idolatry and other sin. The people refused to believe him. The king even took a scroll with the prophecies God gave to Jeremiah written on it and cut it into pieces and burned the pieces in a fire. And when things happened exactly as Jeremiah had said they would, the Jewish people found themselves exiled in Babylon. At that point they got out their copies of what Jeremiah wrote and read it again and realized that God had been talking to them through this prophet, and by refusing to hear him they had refused to hear God. So the reason they were suffering this bitter exile was because they had refused to listen to God when He spoke to them through His chosen prophet Jeremiah. This was a painful admission for them to make.
Because of this, it's easy to see why they would accept Daniel's book as prophetic and
divinely inspired even if it contained predictions that seemed incredible and intensely disturbing to them.
THE CRITICS ATTACK THE PROPHECY
Now after reading this plain prophecy of Daniel, some critics have realized how powerful
it is, and have tried to undermine it. They charge that the most of the book of Daniel, and
especially Daniel chapter 9, was written after the fact; that is, Christians tampered with their copies of Daniel after Jesus came and after the Romans destroyed everything in 70 A.D.
In other words, the book is mostly a fabrication written after many of the events it
"prophecies" had already taken place. There are several crucial problems with such a theory.
First, how is a small sect of Jewish Christians going to influence their non-Christian Jewish
brethren, most of whom are hostile to the Christian message, into altering their Scriptures into making it look like Jesus was the Christ? And remember, the Jewish Christians only have between 33 and 70 A.D. to talk the non-Christian Jews into this.
Anyone who has studied Jewish history and ancient Jewish culture and is well versed in
the reverence the Jews had for what they believed to be divinely inspired Scripture would laugh this idea right out of court after a moment's reflection.
HOW THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS PROVE THE BOOK OF DANIEL WASN'T CHANGED
The Dead Sea Scrolls prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the book of Daniel was
accurately preserved between 70 A.D. and the 10th century A.D. Before the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, the earliest complete copy of the O.T., and therefore of the book of Daniel, dated from the 10th century A.D. Because of this, when the critics looked at the prophecies contained in Daniel, such as the accurate prediction of the supplanting of the Babylonian empire by Greece and Alexander, and then Greece being supplanted by Rome, as well as the Messianic prophecy of chapter 9, they would grin and say, "Well it's all written after the fact, you know. The Christians have tinkered with it down through the years."
This theory was confidently held by many despite the fact that there was not one shred of physical, historical evidence to verify it. The fact that there were no copies of the O.T. books dating before the 11th century "proved" to the critics that the Scriptures had been altered down through the centuries. This is an argument based upon silence, and the wonderful thing about an argument based on silence is that there is no evidence that can be brought up to disprove it because.....the argument isn't based on any evidence! Neat, huh? So a critic holding such a theory built on a lack of evidence is invincible because no one can disprove his theory.....unless an archaeologist makes an unfortunate discovery.
And in the case of the critic's theory about supposed changes to the Old Testament, this is
exactly what happened. There was an archaeological discovery that suddenly filled that vacuum of silence upon which the critics had built their cherished theories with physical, crude evidence.
The Dead Sea Scrolls ended arguments from silence forever. These scrolls, discovered in 1945, were radiocarbon dated as having all been made between the 2nd century BC and the early 1st century AD. This collection of 981 texts included every single O.T. book with the single exception of Esther. Comparisons were made between the O.T. of the 10th century A.D. and the Old Testament of the early to mid 1st century A.D.
Incredible! There was no appreciable difference. In the entire book of Isaiah, for instance, experts found not a single discrepancy save for variant spellings of certain words, or copyists errors. Not one meaning of single sentence of a single chapter was different. And all the other books proved just as identical; including Daniel, and especially Daniel 9.
They didn't just find ONE copy of each book, either. Here's a list of how many different copies of each Old Testament book was found in the 11 caves that comprised this fascinating archaeological find:
Archaeologists didn't find one copy of the Book of Daniel; they found EIGHT.
Just like that, a gap of over 1,000 years between complete texts of the Book of Daniel vanished!
Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest Hebrew language manuscripts of the Bible were Masoretic texts dating to the 10th century, such as the Aleppo Codex. (Today, the oldest known extant manuscripts of the Masoretic Text date from approximately the 9th century.) The biblical manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls push that date back a millennium to the 2nd century BCE. Before this discovery, the earliest extant manuscripts of the Old Testament were manuscripts such as Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209 and Codex Sinaiticus (both dating from the 4th century) that were written in Greek.Now here's a fact verified by historical research and extensive archaeological evidence: these Dead Sea scrolls were left in a cave in 70 A.D. by a small religious Jewish sect called the Essenes. Why did these Essenes put the scrolls into clay jars and then seal them up in a cave?
BECAUSE THEY WERE TRYING TO SAVE THEIR SACRED TEXTS AS THE ROMAN ARMY PREPARED TO DESTROY JERUSALEM AND THE TEMPLE IN DIRECT
FULFILLMENT OF DANIEL'S PROPHECY.
How could the Essenes' copy of the Daniel scroll have been"doctored" when the events it
predicted were taking place right outside the cave where that scroll had been put for safekeeping?
WHY THE ESSENE SECT WOULD NEVER HAVE ALTERED THEIR SACRED SCRIPTURES TO PANDER TO CHRISTIANS
It must be remembered that the Essenes were not Christians; far from it! Like the
Pharisees and temple authorities that they opposed in Jerusalem over the administration of the temple, the Essenes would be scandalized by the claims of the Christians. A "New Covenant" that repudiated the need for further animal sacrifices, that claimed that God bestowed righteousness on the faithful apart from the works of the Law of Moses through the medium of a substitutionary atonement, and proclaimed a man executed publicly as a common criminal by the instigation of the highest Jewish authorities as Israel's long awaited Messiah would have been strongly rejected by the Essenes.
The Essenes hoped and looked for a restoration of Judaism as they understood it. They
wanted the temple and the priesthood transformed to fit their model of religious purity (and the more one discovers about how things were done by men like Annias and Caiphas, the more one understands why certain segments of Jewish society would feel this way!) One thing that the Essenes certainly did not want was to see the city of Jerusalem and it's temple destroyed. If the destruction of the city and temple was what they wanted, they would have been cheering the Romans on, and would have offered no resistance.
The Essenes were legalistic to the core, and would have understood that a message that
proclaimed the establishment of righteousness by faith in a dying and rising Messiah would have wiped out their entire religious theology. They believed that righteousness came by following the Law, not by the grace of God in response to faith.
Because of this, the Essenes had no incentive to doctor their Daniel scroll so it would
appear to endorse the Jewish Christian's claims about Jesus being the Messiah. Indeed, the
Essenes had the strongest DISincentives for doing so.
Not only would the Essenes not have allowed any changes to what they considered Holy
Scripture, there is also no such time for any such doctoring to occur. We know the Romans
under Titus sacked Jerusalem in 70 A.D. We know that very close to this time the Essenes put their scrolls into these sealed jars and closed them up in a cave. And we know that the Essenes were wiped out by the Roman army shortly thereafter. So who is going to go back and find the cave, unseal the jars, take out the scrolls, make the necessary changes, put the scrolls back in the jars, reseal the jars, and then reseal the cave?
Even if we allow that in some strange way Jewish Christians did manage to convince their
Essene brethren to alter Daniel 9 to appear to be a Messianic prediction of Jesus, who in the
world convinced them to add the destruction of the temple and the city when these things hadn't happened yet? I find it hard to believe that the ink wasn't dry yet on that scroll when it was tucked away in that cave. Is 40 years enough time for anyone to convince devout Jews to throw aside generations of cultural reverence for the Scripture and add things this horrible to it? How would such a repugnant idea come to be so accepted to extremely devout Jews like the Essenes so quickly that they would add this prophecy to their Daniel scroll?
If any form critic or any other kind of higher critic can come up with an answer to that
dilemma that is not based on an argument from silence, I'll gladly consider it.
So the authenticity of the prophecy is vindicated; we have seen that no Jewish man would
ever dream this up on his own, and that there is no way Jewish Christians would have been able to persuade their non-Christian Essene brethren to doctor their Scriptures, and now we have seen that the Dead Sea scrolls are stored away for safekeeping as the things predicted in Daniel were occurring rather than after their occurrence.
Jesus' prediction of the destruction of the temple can be"discredited" if the critic does
enough mental gymnastics. But Daniel's prediction of the same thing 500 years before Christ cannot be discredited. (Besides, there is good reason to surmise that Jesus knew of the coming destruction of the temple by reading the prophecy of it in Daniel 9!)
The existence of this prophecy in the book of Daniel is proof of it's authenticity. Unless
the Jews believed it to be the Word of God, there was no way they would leave something so
threatening in there. The existence of the Dead Sea scrolls is proof of the prophecy's authenticity. This prophecy was actually written before Jesus came and before Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed.
So, on the basis of good, solid historical evidence, we can confidently state that the
authenticity of the passage is beyond dispute.
Now we turn our attention to the contents of the passage. What the passage predicts
actually occurred. Jesus presented himself in Jerusalem as Messiah the 483rd year after the decree and was subsequently 'cut off' or killed. The city and temple are also destroyed. That Daniel 9 contains an accurate predictive prophecy written hundreds of years before it's fulfillment is beyond debate.
Therefore the real question now is the source of the prophecy.
A LUCKY GUESS OR KNOWLEDGE FROM A HIGHER POWER?
Now it could be that Daniel was just incredibly lucky and a very good guesser. But
common sense tells you the odds against a man under his own power predicting things like this even 100 years into the future are so astronomical as to be almost absolute zero.
Besides this, we have an avenue to explore found in the historical evidence itself; that is,
Daniel's testimony as to how the prophecy came to him. He says an angel sent from God
appeared to him and told him these things.
Can we trust Daniel's testimony as to how this prophecy came to him? Is he right about
the prophecy but wrong about how that prophecy came to him? That wouldn't make any sense. Only a force beyond the world could communicate to Him the things found in the prophecy, because that force would be moving things around to cause the things prophesied to actually occur.
The only position that agrees with common sense is that Daniel received the prophecy
exactly as he said he did: an angel sent from God told it to him, and he wrote it down.
No other explanation makes sense. An incredibly lucky guess is ruled out because the
chances of Daniel being right about even one element of this prophecy are astronomical and there are FOUR elements here (time of Messiah's coming, death of Messiah, and destruction of temple, destruction of city).
There is good and reasonable archaeological and historical evidence that can demonstrate
to any reasonable person that Daniel chapter 9 contains a divinely inspired predictive prophecy.
Alternative explanations that deny this involve one in directly contradicting the known evidence.
In an era in which so many in academic religious ivory towers are doing as much as they
can to convince thinking and reasoning people that the Bible is not really a divinely inspired book, I feel compelled to make an answer to the charges that are being made against the validity of the faith to which the Bible testifies.
It seems clear to me that whatever answer is formed in response to the various claims and
theories made by these form critics must be characterized by two crucial demonstrations:
1. The demonstration of the fact that modern science has not ruled out the possibility of
the existence of a supernatural.
2. The demonstration of the fact that history contains evidence that supernatural events
have actually occurred.
If both of these demonstrations can be made to the satisfaction of a reasonable person, I
believe that a case can be made for the divine inspiration of the Bible.
THE HISTORICAL RESURRECTION PROOF & IT'S WEAKNESSES
I have noted in the past that such an argument has been formulated by noted Christian
apologists such as Josh McDowell. I call it "The Historical Resurrection Proof For The Divine Inspiration of the Bible". It looks kind of like this:
1. There is good historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead
2. Because Jesus rose from the dead, all of His claims are true
3. Jesus claimed that the O.T. was inspired
4. Jesus promised that the N.T. would be inspired
5. The entire Bible is inspired.
Of course, if you can convince someone on the basis of the resurrection accounts and
common sense that Jesus rose from the dead, this proof is very powerful and logical. If the first premise is proven.
But that's the problem when dealing with a form critic who often has a solidly entrenched
anti-supernatural bias. The Gospel accounts cannot be historically accurate because they are bearing witness of a miraculous event, something that rules the documents out of court right from the beginning as far as such a critic is concerned. The chief proof to the critic that the Bible is historically unreliable is the fact that the writings depict miraculous events occurring. So this kind of proof is not going to be satisfying at all to someone with such a viewpoint. The Christian apologist is never going to even get past first base.
In fact, as far as the form critic is concerned, not only are the Gospel documents unreliable
because they make a miraculous claim; they also are called into question by the critic because they were written after the fact. Even the most conservative of Biblical historical scholars place the earliest writings of the Gospels around 10 - 15 years after the death of Jesus. In the critic's viewpoint, this is plenty of time for the story to be altered and embellished. So this Historical Resurrection proof is dismissed out of hand by the critic since
1. The Gospel accounts claim a miraculous event occurred
2. The Gospel accounts were written years after the events they proclaim.
In order to demonstrate the divine inspiration of the Scripture, the Christian apologist is
going to have to provide a proof that
1. Demonstrates that miracles are possible and cannot be ruled out of bounds on
philosophical grounds before the historical evidence is examined
2. Demonstrates a miracle that is not written down after the fact.
WHY A PROPHETIC MIRACLE IS THE BEST PROOF FOR CHRISTIANITY
Because of this, the first thing the Christian apologist needs to provide is not historical
evidence that a miracle has occurred; he or she needs to prove first the possibility of a miracle occurring. This involves discussing philosophy, not history or science per se.
After laying a philosophical framework that demonstrates to the critic that miracles cannot
be ruled out from occurring on a priori philosophic grounds, the apologist can continue on to demonstrating if there is sufficient evidence in history that a miracle has indeed occurred.
The nature of the miracle best provided is one that is not written down after fact. That is, "I saw a miraculous event 10 years ago and now I'm writing to tell you about it." Even if the critic now sees that miracles cannot be ruled out philosophically, he or she will be able to hold that in the span of time between the supposed occurrence of the miracle and the written record of the miracles occurring, the facts will have had plenty of time to have been confused and embellished. So after proving the first point, the Apologist is only halfway home.
The historical miracle best provided to a critic is not an eyewitness account of a
miraculous event. This is because such accounts are always written down after the fact, and no matter how large or small the gap in time, the critic will make use of it to hold that the story has been changed.
The historical miracle best provided to the form critic is a Biblical prophecy where
reasonable evidence insists it was written before it's fulfillment. Such a prophecy would prove the existence of a supernatural to a logical person, especially if the Bible can be proven by historical evidence to contain more than one.
A prophetic miracle meets the two criteria where the Historical Resurrection proof fails.
1. The Bible prophecy itself is the miraculous event, irrespective of whether the
events it points forward to are also miraculous or not.
2. The Bible prophecy is not written down after fact; it is written down many
years before the event/s it predicted took place.
Having laid out the framework of my case as to why the Historical Resurrection Proof is
weak in the eyes of the modern form critic, and why it need to be replaced with a Biblical
Prophecy proof, I will now endeavor to demonstrate the first crucial point for successfully
proving the divine inspiration of the Bible; namely, that modern science and the anti-supernatural philosophy upon which it is often based do not rule out the possibility of the occurrence of miracles.
HOW WE CAN KNOW MIRACLES ARE POSSIBLE?
The argument upon which all of modern science and history's anti-supernatural bias is
based is a circular one and it can quite easily be proven to be so. First proposed by the
philosopher David Hume, it runs like this:
"Miracles are impossible because they violate the laws of nature."
Hume stated that our observations of the way nature works demonstrated that there were
certain laws by which the universe functions. Since nature is observed to usually function a
certain way, and no exceptions to these rules are ever observed, nothing can possibly violate the rules. Should someone claim to have observed a violation of the rules, their testimony must be discounted because their observations would not fit those of the majority of other men. So in Hume's argument, even if by some fluke a miracle should occur, eyewitness testimony must be rejected because people must go with what the rules say based on what the general experience has been up until now, and not any reported exceptions to those rules.
And it all looks quite convincing, especially if one has a reason for not wanting miracles to
have occurred. But when you look a little more carefully, you can see that this argument commits one of the cardinal sins of logic, and that if everyone held this argument to be true all scientific discovery would come to an abrupt halt.
Hume's proof argues in a circle. Let's turn it around and see what it looks like.
"Violations of natural law are impossible because they are miracles."
A circular argument is defined as one where the conclusion to be proved is contained in the
premise. And that is certainly true of the above statement.
Here's a circular argument that I'm sure most people have heard; it's used by sincere
Christians who haven't really thought through what they are saying:
"The Bible is the Word of God, so it is divine revelation.
Let's turn that around.
"The Bible is divine revelation, so it is the Word of God."
As you can see, when the premise to be proved is the SAME as the conclusion, you are arguing in a circle.
If a miracle is defined as "an act that violates the laws of nature", and according to Hume‵s
argument, it is, the circularity of the argument can also be seen in the following way:
"Miracles are impossible because they violate natural law."
‟Violations of natural law are impossible because they are violations of natural law."
‟Miracles are impossible because they are miracles.‶
Let's do the same thing with the "Bible proof" used above. Divine revelation and the
Word of God are the same thing from the Christian viewpoint.
"The Bible is the Word of God, so it is divine revelation."
"The Bible is the Word of God, so it is the Word of God."
‟The Bible is divine revelation, so it is divine revelation."
From this we can see how circular arguments work, and learn to avoid them.
We need to remind ourselves what the scientific method is and what that method can and
SCIENCE & NATURAL LAW
First of all, science is the classification of knowledge gained from modern humanity's
observations over time of the natural world. The classification and gaining of knowledge involves observations made both in natural settings and in experimental settings. Theories are tested, and if found to be valid, are capable of being repeated again and again.
Science tells us how nature functions in the ordinary course of events by making
observations over time. What we call modern science began in the 15th-16th centuries. What we call Natural laws are descriptions of the movements of matter based on observations made over a brief amount of time by man about how man has observed nature to function.
To state that these Natural Laws are the highest authorities in the universe that are
causing things to function the way we presently observe them to function is to trap oneself in a philosophic Never-Never Land. Natural Law has not produced a single event in the entire history of the cosmos. They are simply a description of the patterns that Nature is observed to regularly follow when nature gets around to doing something.
This truth reveals the very prevalent fallacy of modern thought, which says, "Since the
universe is governed by the Laws of Nature, these Laws exercise control over whatever occurs; therefore a miracle is impossible because it would violated the government of Natural Law."
C.S. Lewis explained the problem with this kind of thinking this way. "When billiard ball A strikes billiard ball B, the momentum lost by A exactly equals the momentum gained by B. That is a natural law. That is, that is the pattern that the motions of the two billiard balls must follow.....provided something sets ball A in motion. And here's the snag.......the LAW won't set it in motion. The conclusion suddenly rose into my mind...in the entire history of the universe the laws of Nature had not produced a single event."
To say natural laws are providing the matter in the universe with the energy to move is to
say that descriptions of the movements of matter are empowering matter with the energy to move. It‵s saying that descriptions of the movements of matter have legislative authority over the movements of matter. This is a nonsensical proposition. Manmade descriptions of the movements of matter in nature exercise no control whatsoever over the movements of matter in nature. Wherever the energy came from to get things moving, Natural Law certainly did not supply it for the very simple and obvious reason that Natural law has not caused a single event. Ever. If this is true, what does one make of the supposedly scientific proposition that "The Laws of Nature operating on their own have given rise to our present Universe."?
Natural Law causes nothing to happen. Not only that, it also cannot prohibit anything
from happening. If Nature should suddenly move in different way from which it has been
observed to move in the recent past, I sincerely doubt that a manmade description of the Laws of Nature is going to leap from the scientific textbooks and shout "Stop that!!!"
THE THREE MAJOR FALLACIES OF ANTI-SUPERNATURALISM
The first major fallacy of Hume's argument is that it is circular in nature. The second is
that is supposes that Natural Law has a governing authority over the movements of nature, when it clearly does not. The third major fallacy is that it mandates that any knowledge that is not presently possessed about the movements of nature are going to be shut out in the future, because the argument states that the Laws of Nature are rooted and fixed, and whatever exceptions to them occur in the future are to be discounted, no matter how convincing the proofs are.
If a miracle is seen as an exception to the Laws of Nature as presently understood by
observation of the recent past, how can any new scientific discoveries get their foot in the door? It seems rather crass to say to the person who has witnessed an exceptional event or made a new discovery, "Sorry, but a few years ago we decided we already knew everything there was to know about how nature works. We ratified our present understanding of Natural Law into an immutable and fixed Decree, which your new testimony contradicts. So go away."
On philosophic grounds it is impossible to prove that the forces of nature are the highest
authority in the Universe. Any argument in favor of the proposition can be reduced to: "There isn't any higher authority than the way I have observed natural forces to work, and because I have never observed the forces of Nature to work differently, it is impossible for them to work differently." With this kind of thinking, a witness to a miracle and a Galileo get the same hook from stage right.
These three fallacies render the Natural Law argument against miracles null and void. The
possibility of an authority above the forces of nature is left open and cannot be excluded on a priori grounds. The possibility that nature might move in ways not generally observed by a majority of persons in the recent past is also left open. All this proves, of course, is that it's POSSIBLE for a miracle to occur.
It is up to the facts and data of history to provide the evidence as to whether a miracle has
ever occurred or not. I believe sufficient evidence can be supplied.
HISTORY ITSELF DEMONSTRATES THAT A MIRACLE HAS OCCURRED
The great thing about the Bible Prophecy Proof for the Inspiration of the Bible is that you
only have to prove one. One proven Bible prophecy that cannot be explained away as:
1. Having been written after the fact
2. Having been consciously fulfilled by human agency
3. or having been just an incredibly lucky guess.....
will establish the existence of the supernatural, and by inference, the inspiration of the Bible.
Here is the Historical Biblical Prophecy Proof of Daniel Chapter 9 laid out in eight points:
1. The Old Testament Book of Daniel is written around 475 B.C. it's ninth chapter states a decree will be issued to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. When the decree is made, a 483 year 'clock' would begin to counting down, ending with the arrival of God's great deliverer of the Jewish people, Israel's Messiah.
2. Artaxerxes, the ruler of Persia, issued a decree to rebuild Jerusalem in 444 BC.
3. In the required 483rd year, Jesus of Nazareth rode into Jerusalem on a donkey's foal, proclaimed He was the Messiah to the nation's religious leaders, and was crucified for it.
4. In 70 AD the Romans destroyed Jerusalem & it's temple.
5. The Dead Sea Scrolls provided scholars with eight 1st century copies of the Book of Daniel that demonstrated it was not altered in any way.
6. But this means the Bible contains what can only be described as a miracle.
7. A supernatural power working through a writer in the 4th century is the only logical explanation.
8. A supernatural power created Israel's Messianic hopes, and then fulfilled them in Jesus of Nazareth.
The last three claims of the proof rest on the historical framework provided by the first five claims. If history proves the validity of the first five points of this proof, it would be very, very difficult to deny the validity of the 3 conclusions at the end. While the Resurrection Proof for the Inspiration of the Bible only has one historical claim (which we have seen that the critic will often dismiss out of hand), the Biblical Prophecy Proof based on Daniel 9 has FIVE historical claims.
Daniel's book was written, even according some of the most liberal scholars, by 250 B.C.
This is a historically verifiable fact. And get this: there isn‵t any verifiable historical evidence that proves it was not written when it claims to have been written. All arguments that claim the book was written after the 4th century have no historical evidence to back them up. The main reason for holding a late writing date for the book is ‟Well gee, if it was written in the 4th century that means the author accurately predicted a whole lot of stuff. And that‵s impossible, so of course the book is written later.‶ Note that such arguments are based on an a priori anti-supernaturalism, not on scientific or historical evidence. It is therefore a historically verifiable fact that Daniel 9 was written hundreds of years before the events it predicted.
In chapter 9 of his book, Daniel claims to receive a visit from an angel who reveals to him
that between the time a decree is given to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, and the arrival of the Messiah will be 483 years. Artaxerxes the king made such a decree in 444 B.C. This is a historically verifiable fact.
In the specified 483rd year, the only one in which Messiah was supposed to arrive, Jesus of
Nazareth appeared in Jerusalem and was killed. This is a historically verifiable fact.
In 70 A.D., the rebuilt temple and city, which had not even stood when Daniel wrote his
9th chapter, were destroyed by the Romans exactly as that 9th chapter predicted. This is a historically verifiable fact.
There is no way the devout Jews of 30-70 A.D., including the Essenes, would have altered
their sacred Scriptures to suit Jewish Christians. This is a historically verifiable fact.
If all five of these historical claims are proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the existence of
an inspired prophecy in the O.T. must be accepted as a fact.
WHAT ARE THE REAL-WORLD IMPLICATIONS OF A GENUINE BIBLE PROPHECY?
From what we have seen, it is obvious that Jesus of Nazareth was a man who had definite
supernatural forces at work in His life. His death must have meant something if a Higher Power predicted it hundreds of years before it happened.
Because Daniel 9 has now been revealed by good and reasonable historical evidence to be
a genuinely inspired prophecy, this means there was an intelligent Higher Authority above and beyond the forces of nature and the whims of mankind that was directing and guiding events in the world.
Once we are faced with the validity of this prophecy, logic leads us to consider the other
prophecies of the Old Testament regarding the Messiah. Can it be that all the other prophecies are wrong while this one single prophecy is right?
Every prophecy must be investigated on it's own historical merits.
Are there any other prophecies given in Scripture concerning the Messiah that have
evidence of supernatural inspiration? And can it be reasonably demonstrated that any of these prophecies were fulfilled in the life and death of Jesus?
Well, the O. T. is chock-full of Messianic prophecy. And if Jesus fulfilled this one huge
prophecy of Daniel 9 by showing up and dying on the right year, it behooves us to investigate and see if he fulfilled any of the other prophecies.
The Messiah was supposed to be born in the city of Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-5)
The Messiah would born of a virgin. (Isaiah 7:14-16)
The Messiah was supposed to come to Jerusalem riding on a donkey's foal. (Zechariah
The Messiah would be announced by a forerunner. (Malachi 3:1) John the Baptist
prepared Jesus' way.
The Messiah would be God Himself (Isaiah 9:6-7).
The Messiah would be consumed with zeal for the purity of God's house, something that
would cause dishonor and shame to heaped upon Him. (Psalm 69:5-9)
The Messiah would come humbly and be rejected (Isaiah 53)
The Messiah would identify with sinners, be counted as a sinner Himself, and
intercede with God on behalf of sinners (Isaiah 53)
The Messiah would be despised and rejected (Isaiah 53)
The Messiah would be valued at 30 pieces of silver. (Zechariah 11:12-13)
The Messiah would be scourged. (Isaiah 53)
The Messiah would take the sins of the world upon himself (Isaiah 53)
The Messiah would not plead His own case under oppression and persecution. He would not say anything in his own defense at a trial. (Isaiah 53)
The Messiah would intercede for his enemies as He suffered. (Isaiah 53)
The Messiah's enemies planned to bury Him as the wicked were buried, but instead,
He would receive the burial of a rich and honored man. (Isaiah 53)
The Messiah would pour Himself out to death. (Isaiah 53)
The Messiah would be crucified. (Psalm 22) Note: During David's time, a method
of executing someone by piercing the hands and feet was unknown.
The Messiah would be mocked by His enemies as He suffered. (Psalm 22)
The Messiah would be forsaken by God as He suffered. (Psalm 22)
The Messiah's garments would be divided among his persecutors, and they would
cast lots for his clothing (Psalm 22)
The Messiah would be given gall and vinegar to drink as he suffered (Psalm 69:21)
The Messiah would rise from the dead. (Psalm 16:7-11)
Every single one of these prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus was very familiar with Daniel chapter 9; this means he knew the exact year and day
that He was going to die many years in advance. Jesus truly lived His life under a sentence of death.
JESUS THE SUPERNATURAL MAN
Hundreds of years before Jesus was born a Higher Power outside the natural world
revealed to a Jewish man named Daniel the exact year the long awaited Messiah would come and die. Does this not verify that the Jewish expectation of a Messiah was not the invention of man, but instead an expectation fixed and rooted within them by that self-same Higher Power?
This means a key claim of the Jewish O.T. is true; the Jewish race was called out and
created and set apart from other nations in order to achieve the purposes of this Higher Power.
Messianic prophecies were written over a 1,500 year span by more than 20 different men,
and Jesus showed up in 33 A.D. and fulfilled all of the prophecies. Either all this stuff was written after the fact (impossible), all of these writers got together and colluded (equally impossible), it's a case of blind freak luck (unlikely), or some Power beyond nature revealed all this Messiah stuff to the Jews and then brought it all to pass.
As long as one holds to the untenable anti-supernatural bias, blind freak luck IS the best
alternative. After all, these are usually the same people who believe that blind freak luck is the best explanation of how you go from a fish in the ocean to a man. If you can believe that, it's not a problem to talk yourself into believing just about anything.
Once cannot be forced into believing that Jesus is the Messiah (with all that such an
admission would entail); all that can be maintained is that there is a REASONABLE case that He was.
And the first step in making that reasonable case is to expose the fallacies of a priori
philosophical anti-supernaturalism. As we have seen, this is quite easy to do.
Once the possibility of a Higher Power behind Nature has been established, it can be
demonstrated that the activity of such a Higher Power is the most REASONABLE explanation for the prophecy of Daniel 9, and hence, all the Messianic prophecy of the O.T.
The Daniel 9 prophecy verifies the other Messianic prophecies of the Scriptures, since it
would mean that the reason that the Jews were expecting a Messiah was because this Higher
Power revealed to them that He was sending this Person into the world. In other words, the writings of Moses, David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc., are also prophetic, and
not just Daniel. So these writings are inspired too.
As we have seen, Jesus fulfilled many Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, and not
just Daniel 9. So it follows that the Higher Power who moved those prophets to write those
prophecies was intimately involved in the life and death of Jesus as He went about fulfilling those inspired prophecies.
This means the Higher Power would have purposes to achieve in Jesus' life and that those
purposes would be accomplished. The forces of Nature have their way with puny humankind all the time; how could humans then frustrate the plans and purposes of a Power that stands above and beyond those awesome forces of Nature?
(By the way, this gives you insight into why the disciples were so shocked by Jesus‵
ignoble death on the cross; believing that an Almighty God had sent Jesus into the world to
establish the Kingdom, it just did not compute in their minds that God could have sent His Son to die on a Roman cross like a common criminal, expose to public shame and mocking. In the disciples mind, something had gone seriously wrong with the Divine Agenda!)
If it was so important to this Higher Power that Jesus accomplish his divinely ordained
mission, how important would it be to this Intelligent Being that the fulfillment of this divine mission be accurately preserved? Can man frustrate the purposes of this Awesome Power in this regard? It is not reasonable to assume so.
It then follows that both the oral and written sources of Jesus' fulfillment of his divine
mission would be accurately preserved.
If the mission of Jesus was important to this Intelligent Being, would this Being bring
about the mission's fulfillment and then let people invent whatever interpretation struck their fancy as to what it really meant?
The O.T. prophecies state the Messiah's mission, and how that mission had importance
and impact on all people, Jews and Gentiles alike. Would this Divine Being allow the important meaning of the Messiah's fulfilled mission to be discarded, distorted, or "improved" in any way, even by sincere but misguided followers of the Messiah? This is not reasonable.
Therefore, it follows that the N.T. Scripture is just as inspired as the O. T. Scripture.
For you see, once you put God back into the picture, you can see quite plainly that He is
in control of the process from start to finish.
Once you admit there is a God out there who gave this prophecy to Daniel, you have to
admit it is a reasonable position that the entire Bible is inspired.
Jesus not only endorsed the inspiration of the O.T.; he promised his disciples the
inspiration of the N.T. If God was with Jesus and working through Him, Jesus would not be
wrong on such an important subject as the fulfillment of O.T. prophecy by his ministry and the preservation of the memory of that ministry in the N.T.
The Bible is a supernatural book. The divinely inspired prophecies of the O. T. are
fulfilled in the divinely-inspired events of the N.T.
If the Bible is a supernatural book, then Jesus of Nazareth is a supernatural man, because
the O.T. prophesied His coming, and the N.T. heralds His arrival and accomplishment of His mission. In this regard, the entire divinely inspired Bible is about Jesus the Christ, and what God has done through Him (the past), what God is doing through him today (the present) and what God will do through Him (the future).