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The Signs of the Times, vol. 13

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    “Prophecy Fulfilled” The Signs of the Times 13, 49, pp. 776, 777.

    MUCH has been said in these columns about the fulfillment of prophecy in regard to the rise and fall of the great empires and nations of history; and also about the prophecies concerning the last days. These things will never grow old, but will grow plainer and more interesting as time passes, and too much never can be said about them. Prophecy, the foretelling of events, is one of the evidences which God has given to show that it is God who has spoken, and that men might believe. “Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass; I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I showed it thee; lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.” Isaiah 48:4, 5.SITI December 22, 1887, page 776.1

    The Lord utters this as a challenge to all who deny his power: “Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen; let them show the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods.” Isaiah 41:21-23. Thus it is shown that prophecy is an attribute of Deity. “Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods.” From this it is evident that the power to show the things that are to come belongs to God alone, and by the following text it is made yet more evident; “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done.” Isaiah 46:9-11.SITI December 22, 1887, page 776.2

    Although it is interesting to study the great lines of prophecy which show the rise of the successive empires and kingdoms of the world it is no less interesting to study the prophecies concerning individual nations and particular cities. In all of them God has borne witness of himself, of his power and his wisdom. The history of Tyre is remarkable in its fulfillment of prophecy.SITI December 22, 1887, page 776.3

    Tyre “whose antiquity is of ancient days” (Isaiah 23:7), was founded by a colony from Sidon (verse 12) about twenty-five miles south of the mother city on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It was “planted in a pleasant place” (Hosea 9:13), and in the days of Isaiah 7:15 B.C., she was “the crowning city,” “a mart of nations,” and her merchants were princes, and her “traffickers” were “the honorable of the earth.” As early as the time of Jehoram, 904-896 B.C., Tyre, in company with the Philistines, invaded the land of Judah and took silver and gold and “goodly pleasant things” and carried them into her temples; “the children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem” she sold unto the Grecians that she might remove them far from their borders. Joel 3:4-6; Amos 1:6, 9; 2 Chronicles 21:16, 17.SITI December 22, 1887, page 776.4

    The builders of Tyre were so accomplished that they are said to “have perfected her beauty.” A thousand years before Christ, when Solomon was about to build the temple of God in Jerusalem, he wrote to Hiram, the king of Tyre, saying: “Send me now therefore a man cunning to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in iron, and in purple, and crimson, and blue, and that can skill to grave with the cunning men that are with me in Judah and in Jerusalem, whom David my father did provide. Send me also cedar trees, fir trees, and algum trees, out of Lebanon; for I know that thy servants can skill to cut timber in Lebanon; and, behold, my servants shall be with thy servants, even to prepare me timber in abundance; for the house which I am about to build shall be wonderful great.” King Hiram answered: “I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding, of Hiram my father’s, the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre, skillful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson; also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every device which shall be put to him.” 2 Chronicles 2:7-9, 13, 14.SITI December 22, 1887, page 776.5

    Five hundred and eighty-eight years before Christ, Tyre was so rich that she could afford to make all her shipboards of fir, and their masts of cedar of Lebanon; their oars of oak of Bashan, and their benches of ivory; their sails of fine linen with broidered work from Egypt, and their coverings of blue and purple from the isles of Elishah. The inhabitants of Zidon and Arvad were her mariners, her own wise men were her pilots, and her army was hired from Persia, Lud, Phut, and Arvad. Her traffic was so great that she enjoyed a continual “world’s fair.”SITI December 22, 1887, page 776.6

    Because of the multitude of all kind of riches, and the multitude of the wares of her own making, Tarshish came to trade in her fairs with silver, iron, tin, and lead. Javan, Tubal, and Meshech came with persons of men and vessels of brass. The house of Togarmah came with horses, horsemen, and mules. Dedan came with horns of ivory and ebony, and with precious clothes for chariots. Syria came with emeralds, purple and broidered work, and fine linen, and coral, and agate. Damascus came with the wine of Helbon and white wool; Judah and Israel with wheat, and honey, and oil, and balm; Arabia came with lambs, and rams, and goats; Sheba and Raamah came with chief of all spices, and with precious stones and gold; Babylonia and Assyria came with all sorts of things in blue clothes and broidered work, chests of rich apparel bound with cords and made of cedar; and she enriched the kings of the earth with the multitude of her riches and her merchandise. See Ezekiel 27.SITI December 22, 1887, page 776.7

    And yet for all this, she coveted more. As though this was not enough, she envied Jerusalem the trade that passed through her gates; and when Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, Tyre rejoiced and exultingly exclaimed, “Aha, she is broken that was the gates of the people; she is turned unto me; I shall be replenished, now she is laid waste.” Ezekiel 26:2. Then it was that Ezekiel uttered the following prophecy concerning Tyre: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers; I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea; for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God.... For thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people. He shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field; and he shall make a fort against thee, and cast a mount against thee, and lift up the buckler against thee. And he shall set engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers. By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee; thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein is made a breach. With the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets; he shall slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground.” Ezekiel 26:3-11.SITI December 22, 1887, page 776.8

    When this prophecy was spoken, Ezekiel was at Babylon, and Nebuchadnezzar had just completed the destruction of Jerusalem, B.C. 587. Soon afterward Nebuchadnezzar invaded Phenicia, and all the towns hastily submitted, except Tyre, which made such stout resistance that it required of the armies of Nebuchadnezzar a siege of thirteen years, from 585, to take it. The main part of the city was on the mainland, but on an island about a half mile from the mainland, there was the temple of the chief god of the Tyrians, and there was a considerable settlement on the island also. Although the siege lasted so long, and was so persistently pressed that by the continuous wearing of the helmet “every head was made bald,” and by the constant working of the battering-rams “every shoulder was peeled,” yet the city was finally utterly ruined. And although they at last acknowledged the authority of Nebuchadnezzar, “Yet he had no wages, nor his army, for Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it” (Ezekiel 29:18), because the remnant of the people removed with all their valuables to the island. By the work of Nebuchadnezzar there was fulfilled that part of the prophecy which said that they should destroy the walls and break down the towers, and that with the hoofs of their horses they should tread down all her streets; but there were yet two important statements unfulfilled; these were: (1) “I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock;” (2) “and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water.” This part of the prophecy, however, was as perfectly fulfilled as was the other, and it was accomplished in this way:—SITI December 22, 1887, page 777.1

    After its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, the Tyrians rebuilt the city, but they rebuilt it on the island instead of on the mainland, and left the old city lying in its ruins. The new city in the course of time regained much of the glory that had so exalted the old, and one of her principal articles of traffic was fish, for when Nehemiah was rebuilding Jerusalem, B.C. 445, he says: “There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the Sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.” Nehemiah 13:16. It was built very strong, being “completely surrounded by prodigious walls, the loftiest portion of which on the side fronting the mainland reached a height not less than a hundred and fifty feet.” Thus it stood, a mighty city, when, in 332 B.C., Alexander the Great, in his course of conquest, was compelled also to besiege it, or leave behind him a most powerful enemy. He determined to take the city, and accordingly began “one of the most remarkable sieges ever recorded,” which lasted seven months. When Alexander determined to besiege the city he had no fleet, and as the city lay wholly on an island nearly a half a mile from the mainland, with the water eighteen feet deep, the prospect of his taking it would seem to have been not the most promising; nevertheless he began the work at once.SITI December 22, 1887, page 777.2

    His first move was to build a solid mole two hundred feet broad from the mainland to the wall of the city, and, says Grote, “he had stones in abundance” from Old Tyre, for the work. And here was the perfect, literal fulfillment of the prophecy, spoken more than two hundred and fifty years before, that “they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water;” for to make that mole the troops of Alexander the Great did literally lay the stones and the timber and the dust of Old Tyre in the midst of the water.SITI December 22, 1887, page 777.3

    Nor was that all, for the prophecy had also said that they should “scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock.” There was abundance of material there to have made the mole as first designed, only two hundred feet broad, without any very close scraping, if all had gone well. But the channel was exposed to the full blast of the wind, and the work was often broken by the heavy waves. Besides this, as soon as the Tyrians began to see that the enterprise really threatened them, they applied all their power and ingenuity to defeat it by annoying the builders, burning the timbers, and breaking down the mole and scattering the stones in the water. And when, even against all these hindrances, the mole had been carried almost to the city wall, on a stormy day the Tyrians, pouring out their whole naval force in ships and little boats of all kinds, drove a great fire-ship loaded with the most combustible materials against the two great protective towers that defended the advancing mole, setting them on fire, while at the same time every Tyrian that could get in a damaging blow at the mole itself did so. They burnt the towers, drove off the workmen, tore out the woodwork that held the mole together, and the waves being dashed against it, the greater part of the structure was broken to pieces and sank in the sea.SITI December 22, 1887, page 777.4

    It then became necessary to begin the mole nearly new, but, nothing daunted, Alexander at once set to work not only to rebuild the mole, but to make it broader and stronger than before. Of course the work that had been destroyed formed a good foundation upon which to make the new one both broader and stronger. But every reverse made it necessary to have more stones and especially more dust, and so it came about that in the very nature of the case the builders were compelled to literally “scrape” the dust from Old Tyre, and at the last to leave her “like the top of a rock.”SITI December 22, 1887, page 777.5

    But even yet there was one more word of prophecy unfulfilled: “Thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon,” and it is evident that this refers to the city on the island rather than to that on the mainland, for another passage says, “It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea.” Ezekiel 26:14, 5. This was not fulfilled by the capture of the city by Alexander. Although he took the city he did not destroy it, and although Alexander sold many of the people into slavery, yet the place was soon repeopled, and regained much prosperity. Under Roman rule Tyre was a free city till the reign of Augustus, who for seditious conduct deprived her of this liberty. At that time she is described by Strabo as a city of great wealth, which was chiefly derived from dyeing and selling the Tyrian purple. He also says that the houses consisted of many stories, even of more than in the houses at Rome. It is often mentioned in the Gospels, and there was a company of Christians there with whom Paul stayed a week as he made his last journey to Jerusalem. Acts 21:3, 4. The number of Christians multiplied till Tyre became the seat of a bishop in the second century. And in the fourth century Jerome called it the noblest and most beautiful city of Phenicia, and wondered at what seemed to be the non-fulfillment of the prophecy that pronounced its desolation. In the time of the crusades it sustained a long siege, and was taken in 1124, and was made an archbishopric; but from the conquest of Syria by Selim I., A.D. 1516, its decline was rapid, and soon its ruin became complete.SITI December 22, 1887, page 777.6

    In A.D. 1610-11 it was visited by Sandys, the traveler, who said: “This once famous Tyre is now no other than a heap of ruins; yet they have a reverent aspect, and do instruct the pensive beholder with their exemplary frailty.” In 1697 Maundrell visited it and said of it: “On the north side is an old Turkish ungarrisoned castle, besides which you see nothing here but a mere Babel of broken walls, pillars, vaults, etc., there being not so much as one entire house left; its present inhabitants are only a few poor wretches, harboring themselves in the vaults, and subsisting chiefly upon fishing.”SITI December 22, 1887, page 777.7

    In 1751 Hasselquist was there, and said: “We ... came to Tyre, now called Zur, where we lay all night. None of these cities, which formerly were so famous, are so totally ruined as this, except Troy. Zur now scarcely can be called a miserable village, though it was formerly Tyre, the queen of the sea. Here are about ten inhabitants, Turks and Christians, who live by fishing.” About 1780 Volney was there, and said: “The whole village of Tyre contains only fifty or sixty families, who live obscurely on the produce of their little ground, and a trifling fishery.”SITI December 22, 1887, page 777.8

    In 1820 Jolliffe wrote of it: “Some miserable cabins ranged in irregular lines, dignified with the name of streets, and a few buildings of a rather better description, occupied by the officers of government, compose nearly the whole town.” And in 1838 Dr. Robinson spent a Sunday there, and wrote of it thus: “I continued my walk along the shore of the peninsula [formed by the mole of Alexander the Great], part of which is now unoccupied, except as a place to spread nets upon, musing upon the pride and fall of ancient Tyre. Here was the little isle once covered by her palaces, and surrounded by her fleets; but alas! thy riches and thy fame, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy calkers and the occupiers of thy merchandise that were in thee—where are they? Tyre has indeed become like the top of a rock. The sole tokens of her ancient splendor—columns of red and gray granite, sometimes forty or fifty heaped together, or marble pillars—lie broken and strewed beneath the waves in the midst of the sea; and the hovels that now nestle upon a portion of her site, present no contradiction of the dread decree, ‘Thou shalt be built no more.’” And those who have visited it since “all concur in the account of its general aspect of desolation.”SITI December 22, 1887, page 777.9

    Thus the word uttered by Ezekiel two thousand four hundred and seventy-four years ago, concerning Tyre, has been completely and literally fulfilled. Ezekiel said that they should break down her walls and destroy her pleasant palaces. Fifteen years afterward it was done. Ezekiel said they should lay her stones and her timber and her dust in the midst of the water, and they should scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. Two hundred and fifty-five years afterward it was done. Although the city was rebuilt in the midst of the sea, Ezekiel said in 587 B.C. that Tyre should be like the top of a rock, and should be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea. That is what she was in A.D. 1697, and that is what she is at the present time, and she shall be built no more. The word spoken by Ezekiel, 587 B.C., is the word of God. Empires perish, nations fall, cities are brought to ruin, the grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of our God shall stand forever.SITI December 22, 1887, page 777.10

    In A.D. 1727 Anthony Collins, an English deist, said: “A prophecy literally fulfilled is a real miracle, and one such produced to which no exception could justly be made, would go a great way in convincing all reasonable men.” We have here noticed some prophecies, more than one of which has been so literally fulfilled that we cannot conceive of any exception that could justly be made in any point. There are yet others that we hope to notice, and as one such “would go a great way in convincing all reasonable men,” several such ought entirely to accomplish the task of convincing at least all the reasonable men whom we can reach.SITI December 22, 1887, page 777.11