Much of the Old Testament comes to us through the Prophets God sent to warn Israel about future events. Their prophecies are a tool to evaluate Scriptural accuracy and reliability.

There are well over a thousand fulfilled prophecies in Scripture. Some events are prophesied and fulfilled within the pages of the Old Testament, while others point to later times.

One example is that of Cyrus the Great, who was King of Persia from 559-530 BC. He didn’t know God, but God knew him from before the world’s creation.

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to Cyrus before he came to power. Yet, Isaiah lived and died nearly 200 years before Cyrus was even born. Even so, 200 years after Isaiah died, this prophecy played out as God foretold through him. Listen to how God describes himself through Isaiah to Cyrus.

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, 
    whose right hand I have grasped, 
to subdue nations before him 
    and to loose the belts of kings, 
to open doors before him 
    that gates may not be closed: 
“I will go before you 
    and level the exalted places 
I will break in pieces the doors of bronze 
    and cut through the bars of iron, 
I will give you the treasures of darkness 
    and the hoards in secret places, 
that you may know that it is I, the Lord, 
    the God of Israel, who call you by your name. 
For the sake of my servant Jacob, 
    and Israel my chosen, 
I call you by your name, 
    I name you, though you do not know me. 
I am the Lord, and there is no other, 
    besides me there is no God; 
    I equip you, though you do not know me, 
that people may know, from the rising of the sun 
    and from the west, that there is none besides me; 
    I am the Lord, and there is no other. 
I form light and create darkness; 
    I make well-being and create calamity; 
    I am the Lord, who does all these things.
– Isaiah 45:1-7 

God introduced Himself and emphasized His uniqueness, stating, “I am the Lord, and there is no other., besides me there is no God.(v5)” God alone created the world and orchestrates all that happens. He utilizes the efforts of His children, but it is God who saves. Here, He is using Cyrus to accomplish His objectives.

Who are we to question why God works in the way He does and how He uses us to fulfill His intentions? The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans in chapter 9, verse 20, states, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 

Isaiah recognizes our sometimes brazen pride but emphasizes that God owes us no explanation, further clarifying God’s relationship with humankind. He has the right to do with His creation whatever pleases Him, as Isaiah emphasizes in the continuing narrative. 

 “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, 
    a pot among earthen pots! 
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ 
    or ‘Your work has no handles’? 
Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ 
    or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’” 

Thus says the Lord, 
    the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: 
“Ask me of things to come; 
    will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands? 
I made the earth 
    and created man on it; 
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, 
    and I commanded all their host” 
– Isaiah 45:9-12 

Isaiah then focuses our attention on Cyrus and speaks of the coming salvation and restoration of the Israelites and the end of their exile from the promised land. 

 I[God] have stirred him up in righteousness, 
    and I will make all his ways level; 
he shall build my city 
    and set my exiles free, 
not for price or reward,” 
    says the Lord of hosts. 
– Isaiah 45:13 

Throughout Isaiah 45, Isaiah emphasizes the futility of serving gods of human making that cannot save. He emphasizes God’s uniqueness, that there are no others. He emphasizes His strength, power, sovereignty, righteousness, and truth.

The prophecy unfolded as Isaiah foretold, and we can read the account in the books of Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, written hundreds of years later.

The timeline of production for Biblical texts, covering more than a thousand years, makes prophecy validation possible and, in turn, validates scripture as God’s word.

Next time, we will look at Messianic prophecies.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.