Prophetic Evidence of Scripture—Part 2
August 25 2009
One of the most frequently cited references to Biblical Prophecy being fulfilled is the city of Tyre. Now, if you search the internet for information about Tyre and Biblical Prophecy, you'll find explanations of how it is evidence of Scripture's truth and atheistic explanations why it is not evidence. Something to keep in mind when doing many types of investigative research: you can find what you're looking for. Almost without fail. Atheists want evidence the Bible is false. Christians want evidence it's true. We both find what we're looking for. Why? Because no one is completely open-minded.
So, why bother? Because some times people are willing to give the benefit of the doubt and think about it. If someone is absolutely unwilling to consider any evidence of truth being found in the Bible, this won't convince them. If someone is willing to consider the possibility, this might help.
On to the referenced prophecy: Ezekiel 26:8 claims that Nebuchadnezzar will destroy the mainland part of the city of Tyre; Ezekiel 26:14 mentions that the city will be desolate, not rebuilt, and used as place to spread nets. Now, these are useful tests of accuracy because there is some specific terminology used. If someone were to have prophesied that “Tyre will someday get conquered and destroyed,” that's about useless. Anybody could throw that out there. I wouldn't be going out on a limb to prophesy the destruction of New York or Atlanta someday in the future, would I? But to predict that Atlanta would become a gravel pit with an apple tree plantation would narrow down the options. For that to actually happen would be a bit less likely, unless I had some source to know the future.
So, predicting that Tyre, a city with a mainland part and an island part, would see the mainland conquered, without mentioning the island being conquered, is a specific prediction. Did that happen? It did. Then, later, Alexander the Great destroyed the rest of Tyre. Eventually, the old city of Tyre was stripped of much of its rubble and the large, flat stones are a place where local fishermen spread their nets. This took until after the Crusades before the destruction was complete.
Now, what is the counter to this as evidence? First, the great friend of all who poke holes in the Bible is time. The claim is that, given the 2,000 years, it was automatic that Tyre would be destroyed, and, being on the coast, people would mend and stretch fishnets there. Consider that for a moment, then consider that the city that is now Amman, Jordan, also existed in Biblical times, as Rabbah of the Ammonites. So did Jerusalem. Rome has existed since about the time of Ezekiel's prophecy, and this doesn't consider eastern world cities like Peking or Tokyo. It's not automatic that a city will be destroyed and not reoccupied just because of the passage of years.
Ah, but the second argument is that Tyre has been reoccupied! Well, there is a modern city of Tyre. It's within visual distance of old Tyre. But it's not at the same location, and, well, how much does modern naming count? Would one argue that New York replaces Old York? That if Orleans, France, was destroyed, it would not matter, as there are is a New Orleans? Does anyone suggest moving the Palestinians to East Arkansas, to the town of Palestine? No, because there is more to a location than a name. So, yes, there is a modern city of Tyre. It is not, however, ruled by the same empire (it's not even independent), it's not where Tyre once was, and it's not occupied even by the same people group.
What happened to old Tyre? The rubble was hauled off and used to build various other cities around that part of the world. Tyre, as a whole, will not be found again, as prophesied in Ezekiel 26:21 because it became part of cities like Acre and Antioch.
There were prophecies of the city of Sidon, part of the same empire as the city of Tyre. Sidon was prophesied to survive, and, indeed it has. Ninevah was prophesied to be lost and never rebuilt, and in fact its very existence was doubted until archaeologists found it in the last century.
There are ways to argue with these prophecies. One argument is that in places, Biblical prophecies say a city will never be “found” again. If we have rubble, it's been found. However, is that the only sense in which “found” can be taken? No, it's not. Found can also refer to the glory or power that the city held. For example, Arkansas Post here in Arkansas once was the capital of the region. While we have remains, that power will never be “found” there again.
Am I inserting a loophole to make the facts fit my theory? Perhaps I am. I come to the Bible with the assumption that the Bible is right and truthful. However, I've never seen anything that I'd say shows an absolute contradiction. Do some apparent contradictions take explaining? Certainly, but no more so than the apparent correct portions! I'm prepared to look at this world and realize it's not all explainable to me. Are you?