Lesson 7: Unfulfilled PropheciesRelated Media
We’ve discussed fulfilled prophecies, but what about future, unfulfilled prophecies? We’ll consider some of those now.
Prophecies Of A Third Jewish Temple
Daniel 9:24-27 (NIV) says:
Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ [483 years] It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
In considering Daniel 9:24-27, it said there would be 483 years (69 x 7) from the call to rebuild Jerusalem to when the messiah came. As covered previously, this was fulfilled on Palm Sunday. When Christ entered Jerusalem, the people cried out, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” However, the prophecy then speaks of a prophetic gap. After the 483 years, the messiah would be killed and “a people” would destroy Jerusalem and the temple (which happened in AD 70). Then, wars would continue in Israel until the end times. After the gap, there would be one final seven-year period. At this point in history, the prophetic gap has lasted almost 2000 years.
Are prophetic gaps normal in Scripture? Yes, they are. In Isaiah 9:6, there is one. It says: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.” The child being born and the son being given was fulfilled in Christ’s first coming; however, the government resting on his shoulders won’t happen until his second coming. In the first coming, Christ was a prophet, priest, and sacrifice for the sins of the world. In the second coming, he will be a king who judges and rules the earth. Again, there is a prophetic gap of almost 2000 years, so far.
Now, let’s consider the final seven years of Daniel’s prophecy. Daniel 9:27 (NIV) says:
He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
The “he” Daniel refers to is the Antichrist—a powerful end-time figure who will be antagonistic toward God and his people. He will make a seven-year covenant with Israel. Since the context is “war will continue to the end” (9:26), this probably refers to some type of peace treaty. But, in the middle of the seven years, the Antichrist will break that treaty by putting an end to the Jewish sacrificial and offering system. He will also set up an abomination at the temple until he experiences divine judgment. The future Antichrist resembles the Syrian King, Antiochus, who did similar things to Israel during the intertestamental period, including putting an idol of Zeus in the temple, as prophesied in Daniel 11:21-35.
Many things should stand out about this prophecy: (1) First, it was originally proclaimed while Israel was exiled in Babylon and there was no Jewish temple. (2) Next, Daniel 9:26 had already prophesied the destruction of the second temple, which was built in 516 BC after the Jewish return.1 After the predicted 483 years, the messiah would be cut off, the city of Jerusalem destroyed and the temple with it, which happened in 70 AD by the Romans. (3) Finally, Daniel 9:27 alludes to a third Jewish temple, which has not yet been built.
The building of the third Jewish temple is one of the great, unfulfilled prophecies in the Bible. Currently, the Muslim place of worship, the Dome on the Rock, is located where the second temple previously stood.
Is there currently any movement on the rebuilding of the temple? Obviously, before Israel regained their land in 1948, there was no talk of rebuilding the temple. However, there is now a growing enthusiasm for its construction. Consider the results of this Jewish poll:
Ynet News reported the startling findings of a poll taken on July 30, 2009. The poll asked respondents whether they wanted to see the temple rebuilt. “Sixty-four percent responded favorably, while 36% said no. … The Temple was destroyed 1,942 years ago, and almost two-thirds of the population want to see it rebuilt, including 47% of seculars.”2
Because the majority wants the temple rebuilt, there are government leaders vigorously pushing for it.3 Also, there are groups in Israel, such as the Temple Mount Faithful, who have made calls to Rome, requesting the Pope to return vessels and treasures stolen by the Romans when they destroyed the second temple in 70 AD. The hope is that these would be used in the third temple.4
Nobody knows when the third temple will be built, but with the majority of the Jews desiring it and government officials pushing for it, it may happen soon. Then the sacrificial system will resume, which the coming Antichrist will terminate (Dan 9:27).
Prophecy Of A Revived Roman Empire
What else do we see in the Daniel 9:26-27 (NIV) prophetic timetable? There is a prediction of the nation from which the Antichrist will come. It says:
After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
In describing the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, it says the “people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” Who were the people that destroyed the temple? The Romans. What ruler is the passage talking about? Again, it’s describing the Antichrist who will make a peace covenant with Israel, as Daniel 9:27 describes. But how is it possible that this future world ruler will come from the Roman Empire, which no longer exists? Obviously, there must be a revival of Rome as a world power.
What is Rome’s history? After Greece conquered the world, Rome conquered Greece and became the dominant world power for many centuries. However, in the Middle Ages, Rome disintegrated. The Roman Empire, though centralized in Italy, it primarily consisted of all the European nations. It is speculated that a similar coalition will arise when it is revived. It will include some type of partnership between European nations.
From Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the fourth kingdom, many believe this to be an accurate picture of Rome’s history and future. Consider the following verses about the fourth kingdom, “the kingdom of iron”:
As for that statue, its head was of fine gold, its chest and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs were of bronze. Its legs were of iron; its feet were partly of iron and partly of clay.
Then there will be a fourth kingdom, one strong like iron. Just like iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything, and as iron breaks in pieces all of these metals, so it will break in pieces and crush the others. In that you were seeing feet and toes partly of wet clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom. Some of the strength of iron will be in it, for you saw iron mixed with wet clay. In that the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, the latter stages of this kingdom will be partly strong and partly fragile. And in that you saw iron mixed with wet clay, so people will be mixed with one another without adhering to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.
Rome is pictured as iron legs and feet mixed with clay and iron. This appears to refer to different stages of the Roman kingdom. Daniel 2:42 says, “In that the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, the latter stages of this kingdom will be partly strong and partly fragile.” In the beginning, when Rome was united, it was strong and smashed everyone into pieces. However, later it began to divide and become weaker—only retaining some of the strength of the iron. In 285 AD, Roman Emperor Diocletian divided the empire into East and West because he considered it too big to govern from Rome, though together they were still called the Roman Empire.5 However, in 395 AD, under Theodosius I, the two sides broke apart, never to be reunited.6 Eventually, the Western side was conquered in AD 476, and the Eastern side was conquered in AD 1453.7 The Roman Empire disintegrated into separate countries throughout Europe.
Is there any contemporary movement to revive the Roman kingdom—a divided kingdom yet still strong? Yes, many believe so. This is seen in the development of the European Union. After World War II, there was a growing sentiment amongst European nations to forbid such a tragedy from happening again. In fact, in 1946, British politician Winston Churchill called for a “United States of Europe!” This led to the development of many different European partnerships, including the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1952, the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) and the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, and other European entities. After many years of partnering in various ways, the European Union (EU) was formed in 1993 by the Maastricht Treaty.8 The EU is a political and economic union of European nations. One of the EU’s objectives is economic interdependence, since countries that are dependent upon one another economically are less likely to war with one another. In light of that, the EU created a common citizenship, a common dollar (the euro), and common union goals. It began with only six countries but eventually expanded to twenty-eight.9 Many see the brittle pasting-together of the European nations in the EU as beginning to fulfill Daniel’s prophecy. Before the Antichrist arrives, the ‘Roman Empire,’ which disintegrated into independent nations in the Middle Ages and has warred with one another since that time, culminating in World War II, will be reunited. It is a mixture of both strength like iron and weakness like the clay, as Daniel prophesied.
With that said, the EU doesn’t seem to be the final form of the Roman Empire. Daniel 7:23-27 gives more details:
This is what he told me: ‘The fourth beast means that there will be a fourth kingdom on earth that will differ from all the other kingdoms. It will devour all the earth and will trample and crush it. The ten horns mean that ten kings will arise from that kingdom. Another king will arise after them, but he will be different from the earlier ones. He will humiliate three kings. He will speak words against the Most High. He will harass the holy ones of the Most High continually. His intention will be to change times established by law. They will be delivered into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. But the court will convene, and his ruling authority will be removed—destroyed and abolished forever! Then the kingdom, authority, and greatness of the kingdoms under all of heaven will be delivered to the people of the holy ones of the Most High. His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; all authorities will serve him and obey him.’
In Daniel 7, an angel gave Daniel further clarification about the last kingdom: it will have ten kings who form a federation together. After them, another king will rise up, whom we know as the Antichrist. He will subdue three of the kings, leaving only seven in the federation. It then describes some of the exploits of the Antichrist. He will persecute the saints, probably in the context referring to Jews (but certainly including Christians, cf. Rev 12-13). Then his power will be taken away and destroyed forever, as the final kingdom will begin to rule on the earth. It will be an everlasting kingdom which Christ and his saints—the people of God—will rule over. One of the reasons the revived Roman Empire is so significant is because its formation tells us that Christ’s coming and eternal kingdom is near. It seems that the EU may in some form be embryonic of the final ten-king federation, which eventually becomes a seven-king federation.
Prophecy Of A Revived Babylon
Are there anymore future prophecies to be fulfilled? There are obviously many; one of the most controversial is prophecy regarding the city of Babylon’, which will serve as the capital of the Antichrist’s kingdom during the end times.
Babylon was and is a central city in the Bible. Other than Jerusalem, Babylon is mentioned more than any other city and is commonly pictured as a place of evil. It is mentioned some 290 times (compared to Jerusalem, mentioned some 800 times).10 It is believed that the Garden of Eden, where the fall happened (Gen 3), was in Babylon. Also, after the flood, the people rebelled against God and built the Tower of Babel in the same area (Gen 11). Because of their rebellion, God confused the languages—leading people to scatter across the globe. Finally, Babylon again rose to prominence during Israel’s divided kingdom. They eventually conquered the Southern Kingdom—sending everybody into exile (Dan 1).
Many have speculated that in the same way God has chosen to show special affection for Jerusalem, Satan, who is an imitator, has chosen to show special affection for Babylon. God has called for Jerusalem to be a special place of blessing, and Satan has called for Babylon to be a special place he uses for evil. In light of this, Scripture seems to indicate that Babylon will rise to power again in the end times and be used to propagate corruption and evil. We see this in various passages. First, consider Isaiah 13:17-22:
Look, I am stirring up the Medes to attack them; they are not concerned about silver, nor are they interested in gold. Their arrows will cut young men to ribbons; they have no compassion on a person’s offspring, they will not look with pity on children. Babylon, the most admired of kingdoms, the Chaldeans’ source of honor and pride, will be destroyed by God just as Sodom and Gomorrah were. No one will live there again; no one will ever reside there again. No bedouin will camp there, no shepherds will rest their flocks there. Wild animals will rest there, the ruined houses will be full of hyenas. Ostriches will live there, wild goats will skip among the ruins. Wild dogs will yip in her ruined fortresses, jackals will yelp in the once-splendid palaces. Her time is almost up, her days will not be prolonged.
Many Biblical prophecies have a dual fulfillment—both a near and a far fulfillment. Isaiah prophesied that the Medes (and Persians) would conquer Babylon. However, the prophecy seems to go from a near fulfillment to a far fulfillment in verses 19-22. It is said that Babylon will be overthrown not just by the Medes, but also by God. After God overthrows Babylon, it will never again be inhabited by humans; it will become a place inhabited by desert creatures—jackals, owls, wild goats, and hyenas. This same prophecy is given in other passages of Scripture (cf. Isaiah 14:4, 12-15). For example, consider Jeremiah 50:1 and 39-40:
The Lord spoke concerning Babylon and the land of Babylonia through the prophet Jeremiah… Therefore desert creatures and jackals will live there. Ostriches will dwell in it too. But no people will ever live there again. No one will dwell there for all time to come. I will destroy Babylonia just like I did Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring towns. No one will live there. No human being will settle in it,” says the Lord.
The issue with this prophecy is that it has not been fulfilled yet. In 539 BC, the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon, but not in such a way that it was never inhabited again.11 It continues to be inhabited to this day. After Babylon was conquered, Daniel continued to work for the Persians in Babylon (Dan 6). Also, American soldiers camped there during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011).
Are there other prophecies which help clarify how this prophecy will ultimately be fulfilled? Yes. In Revelation, Babylon appears to be a central city in the Antichrist’s world empire. Revelation 18:1-5 says:
After these things I saw another angel, who possessed great authority, coming down out of heaven, and the earth was lit up by his radiance. He shouted with a powerful voice: “Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great! She has become a lair for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detested beast. For all the nations have fallen from the wine of her immoral passion, and the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have gotten rich from the power of her sensual behavior.” Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, so you will not take part in her sins and so you will not receive her plagues, because her sins have piled up all the way to heaven and God has remembered her crimes.
From the description, it appears that the city will become a center of false worship, which is what the phrases “immoral passion” and “sexually immorality,” in part, refer to (Rev 18:3). This city will be instrumental in turning other nations away from worshiping God to worshiping the Antichrist and Satan (cf. Rev 13). In addition, it will be a place of tremendous wealth and trade, which will help the nations grow rich (Rev 18:3). Revelation 18:20-22 describes its destruction by God:
(Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has pronounced judgment against her on your behalf!) Then one powerful angel picked up a stone like a huge millstone, threw it into the sea, and said, “With this kind of sudden violent force Babylon the great city will be thrown down and it will never be found again! And the sound of the harpists, musicians, flute players, and trumpeters will never be heard in you again. No craftsman who practices any trade will ever be found in you again; the noise of a mill will never be heard in you again.
Essentially, the same prophecies spoken about Babylon in Isaiah 13 and Jeremiah 50 are prophesied in Revelation 18. After God destroys the city, no work will ever happen in this city again; nobody will ever be married in it, and there will be no music played in it. By comparing Old Testament prophecies with Revelation 18, it seems clear that Babylon will arise again in the end times. It will be used by the Antichrist to seduce nations to evil through wealth and false religion. Eventually, God will destroy it completely, as prophesied thousands of years ago.
With that said, theologians are divided on Revelation 18. Since Babylon is a symbol of evil in Scripture, some have said it could be any major city with worldwide influence. It could be Washington D.C., Moscow, Berlin, or Beijing; however, the problem with these possibilities is they leave Old Testament prophecies about Babylon’s absolute destruction unfulfilled. For that reason, many Bible students believe that the ancient city of Babylon will be resurrected to power during the Antichrist’s end-time, world reign.
Are there any signs of Babylon being rebuilt? Yes, there are certainly rumblings. For instance, when Saddam Hussein was in power, he vowed to rebuild Babylon and make it the great city it once was. Before his death, he started the process, but it has been left incomplete. Currently, the government of Iraq is moving forward with plans to rebuild it. Mark Hitchcock shares:
The government of Iraq is moving forward with plans to protect the amazing archaeological remains of the ancient city of Babylon, even as progress is made toward building a modern city. The project, originally begun by the late Saddam Hussein, is designed to attract scores of “cultural tourists” from all over the world to see the splendor of Mesopotamia’s most renowned city. What’s more, the U.S. government has contributed $700,000 toward the Future of Babylon Project through the state department’s budget via the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. According to reports, Officials hope Babylon can be revived and made ready for a rich future of tourism, with help from experts at the World Monuments Fund (WMF) and the U.S. embassy. The Future of Babylon project launched last month seeks to map the current conditions of Babylon and develop a master plan for its conservation, study and tourism.12
Finally, without even considering prophecy, Babylon is very strategic because of its location: It is geographically near the center of the world’s land masses. It is at the crossroads of three great continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe.13 For these reasons, Babylon has been called the most ideal place for a world trade center, a world banking center, a world cultural metropolis, or even a world capital!14 Many believe it is just a matter of time before this great city will be rebuilt and take center stage during the end times.
Other Future Prophecies
What are some of the other major, future Bible prophecies? There are many. We won’t cover these with much detail. (1) There will be a world-wide tribulation in the end times. Revelation 5-19 details much of what will happen. During this period, God will judge the earth by war, famine, disease, and other expressions of his judgment. This is also when the Antichrist will arise, inciting a rebellion against God and the persecution of his people. (2) Some think Christians will be raptured (resurrected with heavenly bodies) to be with Christ before the tribulation, during it, or at the end of it. (3) At the end of the tribulation, there will be the second coming, when Christ returns to earth with his saints to rule. Those who believe the rapture will happen at the end of the tribulation see the rapture and Christ’s second coming as occurring simultaneously. Christ will appear, saints will be raptured to meet him in the air, and they will come down to the earth with him to rule and judge. (4) After Christ returns, there will be the millennium, during which Christ rules the earth for 1000 years of perfect peace. Then there will be a period where Satan is released to tempt the nations; Christ will crush him and his followers. (5) After this, there will be the Great White Throne of Judgment. There, unbelievers will be resurrected and judged. Revelation 20 details the millennial kingdom, Satan’s final judgment, and the Great White Throne of Judgment. (6) Finally, there will be the eternal state, including a new heaven and a new earth, where there will be no death, pain, or crying—only perfect peace, righteousness, and joy, as redeemed people serve and worship God forever (Rev 21-22).
The Purpose Of Prophecy
Why does God give prophecies in the Bible?
1. God Gives Bible Prophecy As A Sign Of Intimacy With His People.
In John 15:15, Christ said to his disciples: “I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father.” Likewise, when God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, God shared his plans with Abraham because he was God’s friend (Gen 18). God does the same with us through both doctrine and prophecy. God’s sharing prophecy with his followers is a sign of intimacy and trust—just as how we share intimate details with those whom we love and trust.
2. God Gives Bible Prophecy So We Can Have Peace And Comfort During Turbulent Times.
In John 16:32-33, Christ said this to his disciples, as he warned them of his impending death and how they would be scattered:
Look, a time is coming—and has come—when you will be scattered, each one to his own home, and I will be left alone. Yet I am not alone, because my Father is with me. I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.”
As the disciples watched Christ die and many former disciples desert him, they could take comfort in Christ’s words. God was not taken by surprise—even these horrible events were part of his greater plan. Similarly, much of biblical prophecy is given so that believers can have comfort in turbulent times. God is in control, and we can trust him.
3. God Gives Bible Prophecy To Prove To People That He Is God.
As mentioned earlier, in Isaiah 41:21-24, God challenged the false gods to prove their deity by predicting the future or telling the past, which they could not do. This proved that they were frauds. Then God prophesied to prove his deity. He predicted over 150 years before it happened that the Persian king, Cyrus, would send Israel back to their land after the Babylonian captivity.15 In speaking about Cyrus, God said:
For the sake of my servant Jacob, Israel, my chosen one, I call you by name and give you a title of respect, even though you do not recognize me. I am the LORD, I have no peer, there is no God but me. I arm you for battle, even though you do not recognize me. I do this so people will recognize from east to west that there is no God but me; I am the LORD, I have no peer.
God gave and fulfilled the prophecy so people would recognize that there is no God but the LORD. For this reason, we should use prophecy as an apologetic tool, to help people believe in the validity of Scripture and ultimately God.
4. God Gives Bible Prophecy To Strengthen The Faith Of Those Who Believe.
In John 14:28-29, Christ talked to the disciples about his death and resurrection. He said:
You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.
Christ told them beforehand to confirm their faith. Likewise, God confirms the faith of believers through Bible prophecy as well. This is especially true as we consider fulfilled Bible prophecy in comparison to unfulfilled prophecy. We can trust that, in the same way God fulfilled prophecies about Cyrus, Josiah, Israel, and Christ, he will fulfill all future prophecies down to the most microscopic detail. God is faithful to his Word.
One of the things that makes the Bible unique is that it is a book of prophecy. It records around 1000 prophecies—500 have been fulfilled and 500 await their fulfillment. Prophecies not only show God’s wisdom, but also his control over all of history. It truly is His-story!
- In the reading, what unfulfilled prophecy stood out most to you and why?
- Why do many believe that Israel’s temple will be rebuilt before the end-times?
- Why do many believe that the Roman Empire will be revived?
- Why do many believe that Babylon will be the capital city of the Antichrist’s empire during the end times?
- Why does God give prophecy? Why is it so important?
- In what ways does studying prophecy encourage your faith?
- What other questions or applications do you have from the reading?
Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown
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1 “What was Zerubbabel’s temple/the second temple?” accessed 8/8/19 from https://www.gotquestions.org/Zerubbabel-second-temple.html
2 Hitchcock, Mark (2010-04-01). The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy, (p. 180). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
4 “A Request to Pope Francis to Return Temple Menorah and other Temple Vessels Hidden in the Vatican” accessed 8/8/19 from https://www.templemountfaithful.org/articles/letter-to-pope-francis-to-return-stolen-temple-items.php
6 Accessed 9/19/19 from https://www.historyhit.com/divorce-and-decline-the-division-of-east-and-west-roman-empires/
7 Hitchcock, Mark. The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy, (p. 112). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
9 “From 6 to 28 members” accessed 8/8/19 from https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/policy/from-6-to-28-members_en
10 Hitchcock, Mark. The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy, (p. 184). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
11 Hitchcock, Mark. The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy, (p. 188). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
12 Hitchcock, Mark (2010-04-01). The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy, (p. 195). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition
13 Hitchcock, Mark. The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy, (p. 194). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.