Fulfilled Prophecy: Evidence for the Reliability of the Bible

By the time I turned seventeen, my studies in astronomy (which began at age seven) had convinced me that a Creator must exist. The big bang theory, though still contested by some astronomers, seemed the best fit with emerging data. I read what many well-known philosophers had to say about the origin of the cosmos and came away with no clear answers. So, I decided to look into the various “holy books” of the world’s religions. I hoped to determine whether any could have been inspired by the cosmic Creator.

Nearly all these writings included predictions, or “prophecies,” of future events. These forecasts were intended to show that their message, or “messengers” came from God or gods to humanity. However, I found that they either forecasted easily predictable events or failed completely to match future historical and/or scientific facts. With one clear exception, their record for accuracy seemed abysmal. 

That single exception was actually a collection of books into one, the Bible. Unique among all books ever written, the Bible accurately described the human condition and offered a response to it—in the person of Jesus. It also consistently predicted future scientific discoveries and future specific events, places, and even names in human history—in detail—many decades, centuries, or millennia in advance. I found not just hundreds but a couple thousand prophecies in the pages of the Bible, the majority of which had been clearly fulfilled already. The remaining few hundred reached into the future, but based on the astounding accuracy of all those I checked, it seemed reasonable to anticipate their likely fulfillment, in due time. 

As a budding physicist, I couldn’t resist calculating the probability that these prophecies could have been fulfilled by chance, or even by informed guesses. (Probabilities carry great significance in my research discipline.) Figuring very conservatively, I determined that the odds for chance, error-free fulfillment of these prophecies would be less than one in ten followed by a mind-boggling string of zeros, a number far greater than ~ 1 in 101000.

To visualize this tiny probability, just imagine winning the California lottery ten consecutive times with the purchase of just one ticket each time. That chance is about 1 in 1080. One chance in 101000 is equivalent to the probability of winning the California lottery 125 consecutive times purchasing just one ticket each time, a probability that is practically indistinguishable from winning the California lottery 125 consecutive times without purchasing a single ticket!

The would-be future-tellers of our time, “clairvoyants” such as Jeanne Dixon and Edgar Cayce, as well as mediums, spiritists, and other prognosticators, also make some remarkable predictions. However, they do so with only partial accuracy, at best, and with a purpose vastly different from that of biblical prophets. The biblical prophets called people back to God, not to themselves, and never for personal gain or notoriety.  

According to what’s written in Deuteronomy 18:21–22 and other Bible passages, prophets who claim for God (or from a supernatural source) are putting their life on the line. Total accuracy, no errors—that was the standard. A false prophet faced the severest of consequences.  

Much of my research and writing has been focused on the Bible’s consistent success in accurately predicting future scientific discoveries.1 My intent, here, is to briefly describe a select few of the thousand-plus biblical predictions (prophecies) of historical events. This sampling illustrates the astounding specificity, range of projection, and/or “supernature” of various predictions. Readers are encouraged to select others, as well, and to carefully examine their historical accuracy.

(1) After leading the ancient Israelites out of Egypt to the border of the land God had promised to Abraham and his descendants, Moses prophesied that their new nation would eventually be conquered, not once, but twice. He predicted that the Jewish people would be carried off as slaves each time, first by the Babylonians, and then by a world kingdom, which we now know as Rome. According to Moses, this second conqueror would take the captives to Egypt in ships, where they would be sold or given away as slaves, and scattered to various parts of the world. 

These predictions were fulfilled precisely. The first conquest took place in 607 BC and the second, in AD 70. Further details were predicted by later prophets including Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Hosea. These prophets foretold that the Jews would remain scattered throughout the entire world for many generations, but without becoming assimilated by other nations and cultures, and that the Jews would one day return to the land of Israel to reestablish their nation (see Deuteronomy 29; Isaiah 11:11–13; Jeremiah 25:11; Hosea 3:4–5, 6:1–2). This prophetic message sweeps across 3,500 years of history to its fulfillment—in the twentieth century AD.
Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1020.

(2) In the tenth century BC, several centuries before crucifixion was invented by the Assyrians or employed by the Romans, both Israel’s King David and the prophet Zechariah predicted the death of Israel’s Messiah in words that perfectly depict that mode of execution. They said that the Messiah would have his hands and feet pierced by Gentiles, suffer severe dehydration, his side would be pierced, and (contrary to customary procedure in crucifixion) none of his bones would be broken (Psalm 22 and 34:20). Psalm 22 also predicted that during the Messiah’s execution people would stare, gloat, mock and insult him, divide up his clothes, and cast lots for one of his garments.2

Historians and New Testament writers confirm the fulfillment of each of these prophecies when Jesus of Nazareth died on a Roman cross. A spear was thrust into his side to verify that he was, indeed, dead, and this finding eliminated the need for the typical breaking of bones. 
Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1014.

(3) In the ninth century BC, a prophet named Jahaziel prophesied that King Jehoshaphat, leader of Israel’s southern kingdom, and his tiny band of soldiers would be victorious—without even engaging in battle—over three allied enormous, well-equipped, well-trained approaching armies on the condition that they would stand and face the three armies. Just as predicted, Jehoshaphat and his troops stood watching in amazement as these foes turned on each other and totally annihilated each other (2 Chronicles 20).
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 108).

(4) In approximately 700 BC, the prophet Micah named the small village of Bethlehem as the birthplace of Israel’s future Messiah (Micah 5:2). Given the significance of this future Savior, one would anticipate his arriving in a city of major spiritual and political significance, such as Jerusalem, as opposed to a lowly township.

Given the number of towns and villages in Israel during the years of Roman occupation, the probability of such a landmark event in Bethlehem would seem minuscule. Even the Jewish religious leaders discounted Jesus’s Messianic identity on account of it. The fulfillment of this prophecy, the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, is one of the most widely known and celebrated facts in history.
Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 104.

(5) At the time of King Nebuchadnezzar (sixth century BC) and of the four kings who succeeded him, Babylon was a huge city measuring 196 miles square. It was enclosed not only by a moat, but also by a double wall 330 feet high, each wall 90 feet thick. Contemporary historians declared it impregnable and indestructible. Modern historians have determined that nothing less than the military might of World War I armies would have been able to conquer such a city. Yet two Bible prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, forecast impending doom. They prophesied further that the ruins of Babylon would be avoided by travelers, that the city would never again be inhabited, and that no one would use its stones as building material (Isaiah 13:17–22 and Jeremiah 51:26, 43). 

These events are, in fact, the well-documented history of that famous citadel.
Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 109.

(6) Isaiah also prophesied that a conqueror named Cyrus would be the one to defeat the Babylonian empire—entering and destroying the seemingly impregnable citadel—as well as to subdue Egypt along with most of the rest of the known world. This same conqueror would eventually choose to let the Jews taken into exile and held captive by the Babylonians return to their homeland without any payment of ransom (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1; and 45:13).

Isaiah made this prophecy 150 years before Cyrus was born, 180 years before Cyrus performed any of these feats (and he did perform them all), and 80 years before the Jews were taken into exile by the Babylonians.
Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1015.

(7) In roughly the same era, Jeremiah the prophet predicted the specific locations and sequence in which Jerusalem’s nine suburbs would be rebuilt outside the old city walls (Jeremiah 31:38–40). He referred to the time of this building project as “the last days,” the time period after Jesus’s earthly ministry and after Israel’s much later rebirth as a nation in the land of Israel. 

This rebirth became history 2,600 years later, in 1948, and according to multiple newspaper reports at that time, the construction of the nine suburbs progressed in exactly the locations and order Jeremiah predicted.
Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1018.

(8) Jeremiah, affirmed by Ezekiel, also predicted that despite its fertility and the accessibility of water, the land of Edom which is today a part of Jordan, would become a barren, uninhabited wasteland (Jeremiah 49:15–20 and Ezekiel 25:12–14). This prophecy accurately describes the reality of this now bleak region.
Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 105.

(9) Sometime before 500 BC, the prophet Daniel prophesied that Israel’s long-awaited Messiah would begin his public ministry 69 “weeks” (defined in Daniel 4:23–34 as 7-year periods, thus 483 years) after a decree was issued to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25–26). Daniel further predicted that the Messiah would be “cut off” (meaning killed) prior to a later destruction of Jerusalem. 

These time predictions match closely with the timing of Jesus’s life and death. The decree to restore Jerusalem was issued by Persia’s King Artaxerxes (and recorded by Hebrew priest Ezra) in 458 BC. Roughly 483 years later, the ministry of Jesus began in Galilee. Jesus’s crucifixion occurred just a few years later, followed in AD 70 by Titus’s devastation of Jerusalem.

While historians have established an accurate date for the destruction of Jerusalem, the dates for the start of Jesus’s Messianic ministry, as well as for his birth and crucifixion, are known a little less accurately, but to within a few years. Most historians assign a date of ~26 AD to the beginning of Jesus’s ministry. Note also that the Persian king issued two more decrees within a few years of 458 BC concerning the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and the construction of Jerusalem and its walls. Thus, there has been some debate as to the exact date.
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 106.)

(10) In the fifth century BC, the prophet Zechariah predicted that the Messiah would be betrayed for the price of a slave, which was thirty pieces of silver, according to Jewish law. The prophet went on to say that the thirty pieces of silver would be used to buy a burial ground for poor foreigners among Jerusalem’s population (Zechariah 11:12–13). 

Bible writers and secular historians both record thirty pieces of silver as the sum paid to Judas Iscariot for betraying Jesus. Evidence further indicates that the money, initially thrown back into the Temple by Judas, could not be received as an offering to God because it was “blood money,” and thus was used to purchase a “potter’s field,” a burial place for poor aliens (Matthew 27:3–10), just as predicted.
(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1011.)

Since these prophecies cover separate and independent events, the probability of chance occurrence for all ten is about 1 in 10110 (a multiplication of their distinct probabilities). For the sake of putting the figure into perspective, this probability can be compared to the statistical chance that the second law of thermodynamics will be reversed in a given situation (for example, that a gasoline engine will freeze and be encrusted with ice during its combustion cycle or that heat will flow from a cold interstellar molecular cloud to a hot star). That chance equals about 1 in 1080. Stating it simply, based on these ten sets of biblical prophecies alone, the Bible record may be said to be vastly more reliable than the second law of thermodynamics. 

Each reader should feel free to make his own reasonable estimates of probability for the chance fulfillment of the prophecies cited here. In any case, the probabilities deduced still will be absurdly remote.

Given that the Bible shows itself to be such an astoundingly reliable document, it seems only reasonable to take to heart its message. As the Bible itself declares, its words are the words of Life. 

We can reasonably expect that the remaining prophecies, those slated for the “time of the end,” will also be fulfilled to the letterWho can afford to ignore such a book, to miss out on the immeasurable blessings offered to anyone and everyone who submits to the authority of the Good News it proclaims? 


  1. Hugh Ross, Rescuing Inerrancy: A Scientific Defense (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2023); Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Latest Scientific Discoveries Reveal God, 4th ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2018); Hugh Ross, Navigating Genesis (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2014); Hugh Ross, Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job: How the Oldest Book in the Bible Answers Today’s Scientific Questions (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011); Hugh Ross, More Than a Theory: Revealing a Testable Model for Creation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009).
  2. Hugh Ross, “Psalm 22: Jesus’ Crucifixion Predicted,” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog), Reasons to Believe, March 11, 2024.