On True Prophets and Prophecies

Artwork by Elhanan ben-Avraham

Many of the biblical Prophets were scorned and rejected by the religious powers-that-be in their time, as Jeremiah was arrested and imprisoned for insurrection and betrayal.  Jeremiah had told the army not to resist the Babylonians who were being sent by G-d in judgement and were coming to tear down the Temple, but to surrender to them and live, for if they fought they would perish, which they did. He had prophesied to the people of Israel for many years before, calling for their repentance and return to G-d, to cease their sins and religious hypocrisies, but unheeded, and finally the day had come for reckoning, and seventy years was decreed for exile in Babylon, which happened according to his word in 586 BC, and lasted until the return under Ezra and Nehemiah, seventy years later. The Babylonian captivity is well described in Daniel, who was recognized by the Persian emperors as a true Hebrew prophet, and Ezekiel.

Sennchariv’s victory prism

Isaiah was respected in the court of King Hezekiah, who heeded the Prophet’s call to repentance and initiated a religious reform in which the places of idolatrous worship were removed and thus, when the Assyrians came into the land to destroy cities like Lachish (where I learned war in the IDF), in 701 BC Hezekiah and Jerusalem were delivered from the encircling besieging armies, by a hand and sword not of man.  I do wish I could take you through the Israel Museum and show you the artefacts we have confirming the historicity of those events, including the very words of the Assyrian King Sennchariv himself written on the cuneiform prism describing them,  and the huge victory stele found in his palace in Nineveh showing the battle of Lachish, the helmets of his archers carved into that stone, and the very parts of those same helmets unearthed from Lachish by archaeologists.

Yeshua was another Prophet whose plea went unheeded by the Israeli religious leadership who, hoping to placate the threat of the Romans, turned him over to betrayal in hope that his surrender would calm the cruelty of the Romans.  Forty years later, in 70 AD, the words of this Prophet recorded in the NT (which was written before the destruction) came to pass, and not one stone of the Temple was left standing upon another.  In an archaeology dig of my time you can now see those very stones where they were cast down to the ground on the 9th of the month of Av, 70 AD.

Details from Sennchariv’s victory stele of Lachish

It is written in the Babylonian Talmud: “Our rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot [‘For the Lord’] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap (on the scapegoat for Yom Kippur) become white (indicating the sins had been forgiven); nor did the westernmost light (of the Menorah) shine; and the doors of the Hekhal [Temple] would open by themselves” (Soncino version, Yoma 39b).  Forty years before the destruction of the Temple the Prophet Yeshua was crucified.

Then, after a terrific slaughter we as a people were cast out of this land for a gruelling 2000 years, hunted and haunted until our return in my own lifetime.  And here we again stand, given another chance to declare these things, and some called by Heaven not to merely speculate, but to deliver the same clear message to our day.