(NOTE: Some of the themes of these articles may not be appropriate for young readers. Please keep that in mind when sharing this information).
It is written:
“Then you must lie down on your left side. You must do this thing that shows that you are taking the sins of the people of Israel on yourself. You will carry the guilt for as many days as you lie on your left side. You must bear the guilt of Israel for 390 days. In this way I am telling you how long Israel will be punished; one day equals one year. After that time, you will lie on your right side for 40 days. This time you will bear the guilt of Judah for 40 days. One day equals one year. I am telling you how long Judah must be punished.” (Ezekiel 4:4-6)
There are literally hundreds of examples of prophecy and fulfillment which demonstrate that the Bible is the Word of God (some of which I have written about in previous articles). For the sake of brevity in this series of lessons, I will only cite one more example of prophecy and fulfillment: the 430 year prophecy of Ezekiel 4.
Ezekiel the Prophet was in captivity in Babylon with other Jews. The Babylonians had taken three groups of captives from Jerusalem in 606, 597, and 586 B.C. Ezekiel was taken in 597, and was preaching to the other Jewish captives in the northern part of the Babylonian Empire where they had been settled. Between 597 and 586, God God instructed Ezekiel to preach to the people and use an interesting sermon illustration: he was to lie on on his side in full sight of the people, so that they would understand their punishment and time of captivity.
Each day that Ezekiel lied on his side represented a year of judgment upon the people. The use of a day for a year as punishment was understood by the Jews from the time of the forty year wandering in the wilderness (cf. Numbers 14:34).
The guilt of Israel’s (the northern kingdom) sin amounted to 390 days, while Judah’s (the southern kingdom) amounted to 40 days, thus bringing a total of 430 “days” or “years” (390+40=430).
The people were in captivity in Babylon for seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10), so we bring the number of 430 down to 360 years.
Well, what happened to those 360 additional years of punishment?
Did God forget them, or overlook them?
Not at all.
We find the answer in the Book of Leviticus.
In speaking of what would happen if the people of Israel refused to repent of their sins even after being in captivity, the Lord declared:
Leviticus 26:18 (ERV)-After these things, if you still don’t obey me, I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
Leviticus 26:21 (ERV)-If you still turn against me and refuse to obey me, I will beat you seven times harder! The more you sin, the more you will be punished.
Leviticus 26:23-24 (ERV)-If you don’t learn your lesson after all this, and if you still turn against me, then I will also turn against you. I—yes, I myself—will punish you seven times for your sins.
Since the majority of the Jewish people refused to heed God’s Word to return to Israel after the seventy year captivity, it is clear that they refused to repent. With that in mind, we take the remaining 360 years of the prophecy in Ezekiel and we multiply it by seven (Leviticus 26:18, 21, 23-34). This brings us to 2, 520.
These prophecies were spoken by Moses to the children of Israel regarding what would happen to the Jewish people if they were to refuse to repent after going into captivity for their sins. God promised to multiply their captivity by a factor of “seven” under such circumstances.
This fact helps us to understand a remarkable prophecy by the Prophet Ezekiel centuries later, when the Hebrews went into captivity and the vast majority refused to repent of their sins.
So, taking the number 360, and multiplying it by 7, it brings the number of years in captivity to 2, 520 years.
“The prophet Ezekiel (590 B.C.) was aware of Jeremiah’s prophecy that the Jews would be able to return to their land from Babylon after seventy years (in 536 B.C.). However, God gave Ezekiel a new revelation that looked much further into the future, revealing how long it would be until the Jews would finally reestablish their nation in the last days. The prediction is found in Ezekiel 4: 3–6…In this passage, Ezekiel declares that each day represents one biblical year. This means Israel would be punished for a combined period of 430 years (arrived at by adding 390 years plus another 40 years). The beginning point occurred in the spring of 536 B.C., at the end of the first 70 years of predicted captivity in Babylon (see Jeremiah 25: 11). However, in the month of Nisan in 536 B.C., only a small remnant of the Jews from the southern kingdom (Judah) chose to leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem. The Jewish exiles who remembered their former homes in Israel were now more than 70 years old. Their children who had been born in Babylon had little attachment to the former home of their parents. The vast majority were happy to remain in the Persian Empire as colonists rather than travel six hundred miles to rebuild the devastated colony of Israel. God decreed to Ezekiel a period of punishment of 430 years for Israel’s and Judah’s sin (390 years + 40 years = 430 years). However, when we deduct the 70 years of punishment that the Jews already had endured during the 70-year Babylonian captivity, there still remained 360 years of further punishment beyond the year 536 B.C….Since the majority of the Jews refused to repent after the Babylonian captivity ended, the period of 360 years of further punishment declared by Ezekiel 4: 3–6 was to be multiplied by seven. This meant that the Jews would remain without an independent nation for another 2,520 biblical years, starting from 536 B.C. The period of punishment was to last 2,520 biblical years (of 360 days each), rather than 2,520 calendar years (of 365.25 days)….Ezekiel’s prophecy declared that the end of Israel’s punishment and her final restoration to the Promised Land would be accomplished in 2,520 biblical years of 360 days each, or 907,200 days. To convert this into our calendar year of 365.25 days we simply divide 907,200 days by 365.25 days, or 2,483.8 of our modern calendar years. So Israel’s worldwide captivity would end precisely 2,483.8 calendar years after the end of the Babylonian captivity (the spring of 536 B.C.). In these calculations we must keep in mind that the year 1 B.C. was immediately followed by the year A.D. 1. There was no year zero….The Babylonian captivity ended in the spring of 536 B.C., or 536.4 B.C. Subtract 536.4 from the duration of Israel’s captivity (see Ezekiel 4: 3–6, as discussed above), which is 2,483.8 calendar years. The result is A.D. 1947.4. Now adjust for the fact there was no year zero between 1 B.C. and A.D. 1, so the end of Israel’s captivity would occur, on our modern calendar, in the year 1948.4. On the afternoon of May 14, 1948, the Jews proclaimed the independence of the reborn State of Israel. As an old rabbi blew on the shofar, a ram’s horn, the Jewish people celebrated the end of their worldwide dispersion and captivity. At midnight, as May 15, 1948, began, Israel officially became an independent nation. This great day marked the first time since the days of Solomon that a united Israel took its place as a sovereign, independent state among the nations of the world. This was the fulfillment of prophecy of such remarkable precision that one is forced to marvel at the power of God to control all of humanity’s plans and their outcomes. God remains in full control of the events of humanity and the world. The universe is unfolding precisely as our Lord ordained millenniums ago.“ (Grant R. Jeffrey, The Signature Of God: Conclusive Proof That Every Teaching, Every Command, Every Promise In The Bible Is True, 161-164 (Kindle Edition); WaterBrook Press @Books)
Another researcher has broken this time frame down into actual days:
“Here God declares that if Israel does not repent after the Babylonian captivity, when Cyrus freed Israel , then the remaining time would be multiplied sevenfold. If you multiply 360 years by seven, you get 2520 prophetical years….From these two prophets we are told the time of the second return of Israel . To see this we must first convert the Jewish years to Roman years so we can see the outcome on our modern calendar. 2,520 Jewish years times 360 days per year is 907,200 days. Cyrus issued his decree freeing the Jews and declaring the state of Israel to exist again on August 3, 537 BC . This date plus 907,200 days (plus one year changing from BC to AD) brings us to May 14, 1948 . This was the very day that the UN declared Israel to be a sovereign state.” (Ken Johnson, Th.d., Ancient Prophecies Revealed: 500 Prophecies Listed In Order Of When They Were Fulfilled, 91 (Kindle Edition)
This prophecy has been fulfilled in our day and age, and stands as further proof of the inspiration of the Bible.
Some have objected to the specificity of this prophecy claiming that the Jews had gone into captivity numerous times, and yet this prophecy was not fulfilled then. But they are obviously overlooking the specifics of this prophecy: God declared that the prophecy would begin when the people went into and captivity and refused to repent! It is interesting that in the Book of Judges, when the people went into captivity for their sins, we are told that each time they repented (cf. Judges 3:9, 15; 4:3; 5:28; 6:6-7; 7:20-21; 9:7; 10:10-12; 15:18).
Others have argued that this would grant a special status to the Jewish people as God’s chosen people. Yet this is clearly not the case, since God had declared time after time that the Jewish people have been rejected as being His chosen ones since they rejected His Son (Romans 11:19-22). While they may still be saved through the Gospel (Romans 11:23-25), it is only in the church that one is a legitimate seed of Abraham today (Galatians 3:7; 26-29).
This prophecy stands as a powerful and conclusive proof of the inspiration of the Bible, and of the faithfulness of God to His Word.
In our next articles, we will look at some of the findings of archaeology as proof that the Bible is the Word of God.
Then, having been sufficiently armed with some of the proofs of the Divine inspiration of the Bible, we will return our attention specifically to more issues directly relating to paganism.