Sadly, the faith of Christians is becoming increasingly blind and ignorant.
Many Christians feel their faith is real, but can't explain why. For example, "Since I came to Christ, my life has taken a turn for the better" is a common refrain of believers. Christianity is real to many because of their experience and feelings.
Unfortunately, testifying of one's comfort and changed life in believing the Christian message is not a unique religious testimony. The Taoist, the Buddhist, the Muslim, and the Hindu could all say the same thing. Even the radical Islamic believer trusts his life is better because of his faith in Allah. All faiths have the claim that lives will be changed for the better because of their unique, religious faith. Ironically, even skeptics and atheists will argue that their lack of faith in God brings just as much peace and feels just as right to them as the faith of the religious.
So how do you know Christianity is true? What is the basis for your assurance that Jesus Christ represents the truth of God, and followers of Jesus are in possession of the truth that other faith religions don't have? How do you know that the God of the Bible is the One True God and the biblical account of Him coming to earth, dying on a cross, and rising from the dead for the deliverance of sinners is the message that should be accepted above all other religious messages?
Other than your personal experience and testimony, you may have little or no idea how to defend your faith. You may even be uncomfortable proclaiming the exclusivity of Christ, as are many theological liberals, because you don't have a firm foundation for believing in the exclusivity of the Christian faith. Even worse, you may know that your inability to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" is probably your greatest weakness as a follower of Christ.
So let me help you.
*Only the one true God can foretell the future
God alone or, more precisely, the one true God alone, can tell us future events before they happen. The LORD, the God of the Bible, makes this claim for Himself. He says that He tells us things “before they spring into being” (Isaiah 42:8-9). No other god can do this. This, in the end, is the only way to be sure that Christianity is the one true religion and the God of Christianity is the one true God.
There is not one religious book in the world, other than the Bible, that even attempts prophecy. There are no prophecies in the Quran of Islam, the Diamond Sutra of Buddhism, the Smitri of Hinduism, the Pearl of Great Price of Mormonism, or any other holy book of the world’s religions. No other religious book, other than the Bible, even attempts to prophecy the future. God tells the biblical prophets the future, and the Bible prophecies recorded for us are so accurate in foretelling future events that nobody should ever doubt the message the Bible contains.
The Lord inspires His prophets to speak of things “not yet sprung forth,” and we are able to verify these prophecies because we have lived to see them fulfilled. For example, one set of prophecies, made hundreds of years before their fulfillment, are those prophecies regarding the coming Messiah. These “Messianic prophecies” include statements foretelling that the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham (Gen. 12:3; Gen. 22:18), would come from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), and would be a direct descendant of King David, (2 Sam. 7:12 and 13). The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), ride into Jerusalem on a donkey (Zech. 9:9) and would suffer silently before his accusers (Gen. 3:15; Isa. 53:5; Isa. 53:7). He would be considered a criminal and executed with other criminals (Isa. 53:12) while making intercession for those with whom he died (Isa. 53:12). The Messiah would have his hands and feet pierced (Ps. 22:16). He would be buried in the tomb of a wealthy man (Isa. 53:9) and his dead body would not see decay (Ps. 16:10). He would also rise from the dead (Ps. 2:7-9; Ps. 16:10 and 11; Isa. 53:9-12). These Messianic biblical prophecies (and dozens more) were given at least five hundred years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth came to earth and fulfilled them all.
Skeptics might object that Jesus could have read the writings of the Jewish prophets and self-fulfilled everything they said about the coming Messiah. I find that argument rather ridiculous, but rather than resting my assurance in the veracity of the Christian message on the fulfillment of biblical Messianic prophecies in Jesus Christ, I turn to the the stunning and amazing prophecies of Daniel 11 and 12 and discover the capstone defense of the Christian faith. The fulfilled prophecies of Daniel 11 and 12 give us irrefutable evidence that the God of the Bible is the one true God, and that He has chosen to reveal Himself as Emmanuel (i.e. “God with us”) in the Person of Jesus the Messiah.
Daniel is one of those Bible books that many Christians avoid because they find it difficult to understand. However, with just a little knowledge of world history, the ability to place Daniel in its proper context to ancient Hebrew history, and the patience to study the Bible for something more than serendipitous personal devotionals, you will find yourself supplied with an Anchor of hope in Christianity that can never be shaken or taken away.
The Power of Fulfilled Prophecy
After Persian's conquest of Babylon on October 11, 539 B.C. God told Daniel about other major world events that would occur over the ensuing six hundred years -- from 530 B.C. to 70 A.D--and Daniel, in turn, foretold to the Persian/Mede Prince Darius these future world events. The prophecies God gave to Daniel included world events that would occur during the years between the close of the Old Testament (Malachi) in 440 B.C. and the beginning of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) in 4 B.C. The world events occurring between the Testaments include the fall of the Persian Empire (modern day Iran), the rise of the Grecian Empire (modern day Greece) and Alexander the Great’s conquest of the known world, the premature death of Alexander at thirty-three years of age and the division of Alexander’s empire into four districts (north, south, east and west), the great conflict between the Seleucids of the north (the Syrians) and the Ptolemies of the south (the Egyptians), and the ultimate rise of the Roman Empire and the establishment of Roman emperors as the “gods of the world.” Daniel foretold the first century BC events including the rise in power of Julias Caesar's adopted son Octavius, otherwise known as Augustus Caesar, the attempted revolt by Antony and Cleopatra against Octavius, and the assignment by the Roman Senate that Herod the Great rule the Jews in Judea on behalf of the Romans. Finally, in the first century AD the Roman Empire made the determination to destroy the Jewish Temple and the city of Jerusalem, effectively ending the Old Covenant Hebrew system of worship. All of the above events occurred during the 600 years from 530 B.C. to A.D. 70. and Daniel prophesies each and every one of the aforementioned events in specific and mind-blowing detail in Daniel 11 and 12. These prophecies are given by God to Daniel for one purpose--to identify the date of the coming Savior of the world. Daniel is accurate in every detail, giving the precise sequence of order in which these future events would occur, over five hundred years before they happened,
How could Daniel prophesy these things? God told Daniel about world events “before they sprang forth” and commanded Daniel to write down the prophecies hundreds of years before they were fulfilled. Think about this. The ability to foretell world events for the next 600 years in stunning detail would be astonishing confirmation that the One who told you the future is the true God of the universe. We can’t even tell who the next President of the United States will be, but God knows the end from the beginning, and should He choose to tell us the future, we would tell others in order to prove that our God is the one true God. This is precisely what Daniel did. God was telling the world when He was coming to earth, and your confidence that "all the fullness of the Godhead" bodily dwelt in Jesus Christ is supported by fulfilled the fulfilled prophecies of Daniel.
|Daniel in the Dead Sea Scrolls|
God refuses to share His glory.
For an incredible exposition of the fulfilled prophecies of Daniel 11 and Daniel 12 see this rare 1838 book by James Farquharson, LL.D. F.R.S. entitled "Daniel's Last Vision and Prophecy." To assist the reader who wishes not to dowload the full PDF file linked above, I am offering an abbreviated exposition of Daniel 11, to show the power of fulfilled prophecy and why you never ought to doubt Jesus Christ as the one true God.
A Brief Review of the Fulfilled Prophecies of Daniel 11
(Daniel 11:1) “In the first year of Darius the Mede, I arose to be an encouragement and protection for him" —
|Daniel Before King Darius (535 B.C.)|
Daniel had been a Hebrew captive in Babylon (modern day Iraq) since 607 B.C. However, God determined that the Babylonian Empire would fall to the Medes and Persians on October 11, 539 B.C., an event chillingly described in Daniel 5. God told the leaders of Babylon – “Mene, Mene, Tekel Upharsin,” which means “you have been weighed in the balances [of God’s justice] and found wanting.” God judged Belshazzar and the Babylonian leaders for their desecration of the Hebrew Temple vessels, and the Lord brought down the kingdom of Babylon through an invasion of the Medes and the Persians. The Hebrew captives in Babylon, including Daniel, became the captives of the Persians. Two kings ruled Babylon simultaneously in 535 B.C., Cyrus (the Persian king) and Darius (the Mede king), as their armies continued a conquest of the known world. Daniel 11 opens with Daniel being encouraged by the angel Gabriel that he (Gabriel) had "encouraged" King Darius the Mede. The order had been given by Cyrus (and Darius) to release the Jews from captivity in order allow them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their city and the Temple. The forces of hell did not like Cyrus' edict to release the Jews, and Gabriel, on behalf of Israel, "strengthened" Darius to follow through. This prophecy of Daniel 11 and 12 is called “the latter prophecy” or “the last prophecy” of Daniel. The prophecy encompasses events that would occur in the world over the next 600 years (530 B.C. to A.D. 70).
(Daniel 11:2) “Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than them all.”
Here Daniel is given a glimpse into the future. Four additional kings of Persia would arise after the reign of Darius and Cyrus. History records that things happened precisely as Daniel recorded them. The first king was Cambyses, the son of Cyrus who ruled the Persian kingdom from 530-522 B.C. The second king was Bardiya (522 B.C.). The third king was Darius, the son of Hystaspes, who ruled from 521-486 B.C. The fourth king was Xerxes, who ruled Persian from 486 B.C. to 465 B.C. and was involved in continual attempts to defeat a newcomer to world power--Greece. After Xerxes, the Persian Empire would be ruled by lesser Persian kings.
Xerxes as portrayed in the movie 300
Ironically, many young people today are familiar with Xerxes. Fascination with ancient Sparta, and particularly the Battle of Thermopylae, has led to a rise in popularity of Xerxes in modern culture. He is depicted as a massive, evil and incompetent giant in the modern Hollywood version of the movie 300, played by Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro. This portrayal of Xerxes angered the government of modern Iran. The video game Assassin's Creed II gives Xerxes cult status. He is the leader of the Persian Empire in the video game Civilization II and Civilization III. American rapper King Gordy released an album titled Xerxes the God King on August 1, 2010. Most Christians do not even know that the Bible accurately prophesies that the fourth Persian king after Cyrus, King Xerxes, would be the richest (most powerful) king of all Persian kings. Other Persian kings would follow, but none would hold the distinction of being as powerful as Xerxes, the fourth king after Cyrus. It is during the reign of Xerxes that the biblical story of Esther occurs.
(Daniel 11:3-4) “And a mighty king shall stand up that shall rule with great dominion ... but as soon as he has arisen his kingdom will be broken up and parceled out toward the four points of the compass, though not to his own descendents.”
This “mighty king” that arose was Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.), the ruler of Greece during the rise of the Grecian Empire. Alexander the Great (Greek: Megas Alexandros) conquered all of the former Medo-Persian Empire as well as the rest of the world, and sat down and wept when he realized there were no worlds left to conquer. Alexander died at 33, at the peak of his power, and just like Daniel 11:3-4 prophesies, Alexander’s Grecian Empire was divided among four people—Seleucus (north), Antigonus (east), Philip (west) and Ptolemy (south). These four were Alexander's generals and not his relatives or descendents.
Again, many modern Christians may watch the 2004 epic film Alexander, directed by Oliver Stone and starring Colin Farrell, but never realize that the the prophet Daniel, in Daniel 11:3-4 prophesies accurately and in stunning detail the accomplishments, downfall and division of the kingdom of Alexander the Great--two hundred years before Alexander was even born. It is through a lack of understanding fulfilled prophecy that many Christians have little stomach to stand up against those who pronounce us arrogant for saying Christianity is the only true religion in the world.
From Daniel 11:5 through 11:23 we have a vivid description of the kings of the South (the Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt) warring against the kings of the North (Seleucid Dynasty of Syria). The Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt reigned from 305-30 B.C. when it was finally conquered by Roman Empire. The Ptolemies were the 32nd and last dynasty of Ancient Egypt. The Seleucid Dynasty reined over the Greco-Syrian Empire from 312-64 B.C. Again, most people have no clue that the Bible vividly describes the rise of the two greatest kingdoms of the 4th century B.C. and their wars against each other -- hundreds of years before the kingdoms arose and the wars occured. In this section of the prophecy there is a detailed description of the different kings that would reign over the Northern kingdom (the Seleucids of Syria) and the Southern kingdom (the Ptolemies of Egypt). The prophecies of Daniel in these verses, detailing the various kings of the Ptolemy Dynasty of Egypt and the Seulicid Dynasty of ancient Syria and their actions, can be compared to actual history and it is irrefutible that events in the two major world empires of 300 B.C. to 170 B.C. occurred precisely as Daniel foretold they would.
|Slaughtering a pig on the altar|
In Daniel 11:24-35 we have a lengthy and vivid description of a Seulicid king named Antiochus Epiphanes (215 B.C. to 165 B.C.) who battled the Egyption Ptolemies, but lost his most aggressive campaign against them when the rising Roman Empire sided with the Egyptian Empire and "drew the line in the sand" in 168 B.C. and told Antiochus not to cross it or he would be entering into war against both Rome and Egypt. This is where the saying "a line in the sand" originates. Antiochus did not cross it for fear of the Romans and, humiliated and angry, Antiochus left the outskirts of the Egyptian empire and made his way back north to Syria. However, he stopped on his journey back home in Jerusalem and vented his anger against the Jews and the Temple of the Jews. In this section of Daniel's prophecy (remember the prophecy was made in 535 B.C.), Daniel vividly foretells what Antiochus would do against the Jews and the Temple in 168 A.D. The "abomination of desolation" (v. 32), which occurred in the Hebrew Temple of Jersualem, included Antiochus slaughtering a pig on the holy altar. Many Jews were also murdered by the wicked king.
(Daniel 11:33-35) “ ... but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”
The people who “know their God" and are strong, in context, are the Maccabbees. These three verses in Daniel describe the Jewish followers of Judas Maccabeus, who arose in revolt against the tyranny of the "evil king" Antiochus . They led the Jews to seek to overthrow the Seulicid Empire and Antiochus Epiphanes beginning in 167 B.C. The war of the Maccabbees against the Seulicids lasted for seven years and is recorded in the historical books of I and II Maccabees.
(Daniel 11:36) “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods ...
The description of the king who prospers and exalts himself above every God is a reference to the rise of King Herod the Great, who put an end to Maccabean (Hasmonean Jewish) rule of Judea. Herod was made King of the Jews by the Roman Senate in 39 B.C. but it took him three years to defeat the Maccabeans and gain control of Jerusalem in 36 B.C. Herod's allegience throughout his reign as King of the Jews was to Rome.
|Herodium, one of Herod's walled "fortresses."|
(Daniel 11:37-38) “Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate shall he honor the god of fortresses [Hebrew: Maozim]: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold, and silver …”
This prophecy of the one who worships the god of fortresses (Maozim) refers to Herod the Great (74 B.C. to 4 B.C.). Herod was an ethnic Idumean and worshiped the "god of fortresses." He built over a dozen heavily fortified fortresses, including Herodium and Masada during his tenure as King of the Jews. His fortresses are still able to be to toured throughout Israel today.
(Daniel 11:39-44) Describes the expansion of the King Herod's influence and grip of power over all Judea, the land of the Jews, and the rebuilding of the Temple with "costly stones," which Herod heavily fortified to garrison his army (i.e. "the Antonia Fortress"). The Roman Senate had designated Herod King of the Jews in 39 B.C., but it took Herod three years to defeat the Maccabeans and gain control of Jerusalem. Herod the Great, ruled Judea with an iron fist from 36 B.C. to 4 B.C. Though he sought to gain favor with the Jews by ordering the rebuilding of the Temple, called "Herod's Temple," he was a singularly vile and wicked 'King' to the Jews.
Five years into Herod's reign over the Jews (31 B.C.), Cleopatra of Egypt convinced Antony to attack Octavius of Rome. The year long battle between the "king of the south" (i.e. Cleopatra) and the king of the north (i.e. Octavius) is vividly described in Daniel 11:40-44. Octavius initially defeated Antony and Cleopatra in the naval battle called Actium (September 16, 31 B.C.), overwhelming the aggressive Egyptian forces "like a whirlwind" (v. 40). King Herod of Judea, who had initially aligned "with" Cleopatra, eventually switched his allegience to Octavius. After Cleopatra and Antony retreated their forces to Alexandria, Octavius marched his Roman armies south, through Judea, moving his massive infanty to attack the Egyptians forces in Egypt. Octavius' army defeated Antony and Cleopatra and their Egyptian armies in 30 B.C., putting an end to the Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt.
After the the conquest of Egypt, Octavius (63 B.C. to A.D. 14) became the first emperor of Rome, receiving the title Augustus Caesar from the Roman Senate. Augustus was the first in a long line of Roman emperors who would claim 'deity' for themselves. The Roman Emperor became known as “The Son of God and the Savior of the World” according to Roman inscriptions of the day. It is to this foolish designation of the Roman Emperor to which Peter refers in Acts 4:12: “For there is none other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
King Herod of Judea, in tribute to the new Emperor of Rome, and possibly hoping to make the Emperor forget Herod had initially alligned "with" Cleopatra, built for Augustus a city on the Mediterranean coast in Judea and called it "Caesarea by the Sea," the place the Apostle Paul would later be held as a prisoner before being shipped to Rome. It was during the reign of Caesar Augustus as Emperor of Rome (30 B.C. to 14 A.D.) and King Herod as Roman tetrarch of Judea (36 B.C. to 4 B.C.), that the prophesied Savior of the World, the eternal Son of God and true King of Kings would enter the world (i.e. "At that time Michael ... shall arise"). When Herod the Great heard the rumors of this "coming King" he was greatly troubled.
|The Magi from the East|
“Rumors from the East and from of the North shall trouble him” is a reference to the Wise Men who came asking King Herod, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews.” In great trouble and inner turmoil, not only because of the words of the Wise Men, but also because of threats from the North (Rome) against him, Herod ordered all young boys in the land of Judea put to death. Yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. The death of Herod the Great in 4 B.C. is an astonishing portrayal of isolated abandonment, even by those closest to him, and an inability to cure him of his multiple diseases. Daniel 11 concludes with the death of King Herod in 4 B.C., which corresponds precisely to the year of the birth of Jesus Christ, the true Son of God and Savior of the world (Luke 2:1).
"At that time Michael... shall arise" (Daniel 12:1).
I find it so unfortunate that many modern-day Christians have missed the power of fulfilled prophecy in Daniel 11 and 12 and, as a result, have missed the clearest evidence there is that Jesus Christ is the one true God. The purpose of God giving Daniel a glimpse into the future was to confirm that the Son of God and the Savior of the world, Jesus of Nazareth, born in 4 B.C. was the one true God of the universe come to earth. God gave Daniel a glimpse into the future, something only the one true God can do, in order to reveal WHEN MICHAEL SHALL ARISE.
Futurists--those who constantly try to tell us that Daniel 11 and Daniel 12 are prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled and relate to some future antichrist and a future coming of our Lord--have missed the power, the purpose and the truth of Daniel's prophecy. In closing, I leave you with the words of two people, John Gill, the greatest Hebrew scholar Baptists have ever produced, and 19th century Scottish pastor James Farqurharson as they reveal who "Michael" is in Daniel 12:1 (I trust John and James much more than I do Tim Lahaye or Hal Lindsey).
"Michael the Archangel, who has all the angels of heaven under him, and at his command, is the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ; who is as God, as the name signifies, truly and really God, and equal in nature, power, and glory to his divine Father" (John Gill).
"It is undeniable that the archangel Michael is the only archangel of whom we know any thing from holy writ. It cannot be proved from holy writ,—and if not from holy writ, it cannot be proved at all,—that any archangel exists but the one archangel Michael; and this one archangel Michael is unquestionably the Michael of the book of Daniel. The Archangel, in 1 Thessalonians 4.16, whose voice is to raise the dead, can be no other than our Lord; and in the 9th verse of Jude, the Archangel is named Michael. Although not of “the nature of angels" (Hebrews 2:16), our Lord is their Commander, for authorities, and powers, are subject unto him (I Peter 3:22), and “thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, and all things, were created by him, and for him" (James Farquharson)
In summary: The book of Daniel was written in the 6th Century BC (539/538 B.C. to be exact) and describes in detail the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek Empire, the Seleucids of Syria, the Ptolemies of Egypt, and the Roman Empire—hundreds of years before they ever existed. The details of these historical events are so accurately foretold by the prophet Daniel that pagan scoffers have ridiculed the book of Daniel by saying it could have only been written AFTER Rome came to power and conquered the world, and that the author of the book "claimed" to be Daniel the prophet. In 1947 the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, including full copies of Daniel manuscripts that date back well before the fulfillment of the Daniel prophecies.
The basis for your trust of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is fulfilled prophecy. Only the one true God can tell us the future, long before the events of the future "spring forth." He told us about world events immediately preceding the time "Michael ... shall arise." It happened just as He said.
Michael, the Son of God and Savior of the world, has come. All religions are not the same. There is only one true religion and only one true God, and may an understanding of Daniel 11 and 12 cause you to never shrink away from boldly proclaiming the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, for "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).