I NEED HARD EVIDENCE!!
How often have you heard this?
Many sceptics would often say they need hard evidence to support God’s existence or to support the inspiration of the Bible.
This claim is not so unusual if we consider the response of Thomas after Jesus had appeared to the other apostles. Their word wasn’t enough for him and he claimed that he would only believe if he could physically see the marks in Jesus’ hands.
To those who will say that God does not provide hard evidence as it nullifies faith, you would then need to explain why Jesus gave Thomas what he asked for e.g. hard evidence of the holes in his hands/feet.
Jesus also said to his would be followers that if they don’t believe in what he says they should “at least believe on the evidence of the miracles” which were there to provide evidence confirming Jesus’ claim of divinity.
Also, the purpose of this blog is to show that there is in fact hard evidence which could convince even the most hardened sceptic. That being said it is important to say that if someone wants to, they can and will deny such evidence regardless of how objective it appears. The following evidence will only convince what I would term the seeking sceptic.
God as we know has revealed himself through his son demonstrating his love for the world.
He has however went further than this and has informed us ahead of time what he would do and when, so that we could know for sure that God has indeed intervened in our world.
Let us now look at God’s Word which reveals to us when his Son would come to earth, but was revealed to us ahead of time.
Please also remember one thing as you look at the following prophecy. Remember that to find the truth or anything of value takes effort on our part, just as it is with items of value (Gold, jewels, diamonds etc), so it is with the Words of God, there is always a requirement to do some digging.
This is clearly demonstrated in Jesus’ use of parables, speaking in such a way so as to filter out people and discover those who were actually seeking the truth.
As with everything, nothing of value will be found easily and God’s promise to all is:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”. Matthew 7:7
Before looking at the following prophecy there are 4 things that any supposed prophecy must satisfy in order to be deemed inspired and prophetic.
1) have been written prior to the events and be free of corruption
2) have been about a specific person or event e.g. sufficiently descriptive and not so vague so as to be attached to just about any person or event
3) have been fulfilled and then backed up historically by those with no vested interest in its fulfilment
4) be shown (in this case) that Jesus knowing the prophecy, could not have deliberately tried to fulfil it.
We will be looking at Daniel 9:24-25 which is a clear Messianic prophecy and what follows will be based on the four points above.
“Seventy sevens are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the anointed one, the ruler comes, there will be seven sevens and sixty-two sevens. It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.”
1) Daniel was written at least 200-300 years before Jesus came. The book was most likely (as per most scholars) written between 350-600BC, but due to the discovery of the dead sea scrolls we can say with absolute certainty that Daniel was written long before Jesus came. The dead sea scrolls were all dated to at least 150BC.
2) This prophecy was clearly about the Messiah due to terms such as “finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness.”
Few scriptures could be as clear as this and the Jews had always accepted this as a Messianic prophecy.
4) Let us skip no.3 for now and then cover no.4. Given that this prophecy is telling us before time when Jesus would come and die it is impossible that he could have arranged this timing himself (unless of course he was God).
3) We have left this to last due to the incredible nature of this prophecy. This prophecy specifically tells us when the Messiah would come hundreds of years before he did.
It says that after the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem there will 62 & 7 sevens until the coming of the messiah. So 62 & 7 sevens works out as 69 sevens which is 483 years (69×7=483).
There will it says then be 483 years from this decree until the coming of the Messiah.
This decree has been documented historically and is described in Nehemiah 2. The date of this decree is 444BC and was issued by Artaxerxes.
If we add 483 years to 444 BC it would give us AD39 but as there is no year 0 it would give us AD40.
We then need to account for differences in the Hebrew calender namely that their year was 360 days as opposed to 365 days.
We can work out the difference as follows.
483 x 365 days = 176,295
483 x 360 days = 173,880
176,295 – 173,880 = 2,415
e.g. this would give us 2,415 more days
2,415 / 365 = 6.6 extra years rounded up to 7
Taking away 7 years which accounts for the difference in the Hebrew calender becomes:
AD40 – 7 years = AD33
So a prophecy written hundreds of years before the coming of Jesus tells us that he would come to take away sins in AD33.
Do we have any evidence to support this date? The simple answer is yes we do.
Two dates have been suggested for Jesus death either April AD30 or April AD33 with the majority of evidence supporting the later date.
This date is based on the lunar eclipse which would explain the blood red moon described in scripture and also accounts for the 3 passovers described in John. Other recent evidence from Discovery News indicated that based on earthquake activity at the Dead Sea near Jerusalem, Jesus was most likely crucified on Friday 3rd April, in the year AD33.
We have historical evidence to support this date. Tacitus (Roman historian) who had no belief or affiliation with Christians wrote that Jesus was executed under Pontius Pilate (AD26-36) at the time of Tiberius (Roman Emperor) who was in power between AD14-37.
Josephus was a Jew and as such would be considered hostile to Christ and his teachings. He also confirms how Jesus died and that it was during the time of Pontius Pilate, confirming the Biblical account and importantly confirming the date of his death.
It is well supported historically and by many scholars that Jesus rode into Jerusalem in AD33 heralding his anointing as a King and that he was killed soon after.
It is recognised that others hold to different dates for either the decree or Jesus’ death. Regardless of and accounting for any differences, Jesus’ death was undoubtedly between AD30 and AD33 and this makes the prophecy in Daniel astoundingly accurate.
In summary, the evidence is extremely strong that this Messianic prophecy was written about Jesus long before he came, he couldn’t have fulfilled this himself and the evidence (including evidence from hostile witnesses, Tacitus & Josephus) confirms how and most importantly in this case, when he died.
Study this out for yourself and post any comments you may have.
Thanks for reading.
Coming next – More fulfilled prophecy!