Skip Navigation Links

Here's why the critics can't ignore the Prophets

Bible prophecy is an emotionally loaded subject.
In it a great supernatural Being claims to know EXACTLY what
will happen to man in the next few years.
Some marvel most ridicule. Some believe — most criticize. Criticize?
That's the "sport of scholars."
In this article we examine "modern theology's critical analysis" of Ezekiel,
Daniel and Isaiah — and discover why the critics cannot ignore the prophets!


WHY IS IT that man cannot dismiss the Bible with a wave of the hand as he might other writings of the ancient world? The Bible — more than all other books put together — has drawn unparalleled attention from critics. Nothing in the history of literature can begin to compare with it. It has been examined, dissected, reviled, pulled apart, and even put back together again and defended.

For some reason, man could not simply say, "I don't believe it" — and then carry on as always. There are many reasons why. But standing head and shoulders above all the rest is prophecy!


Prophecy Troubles Critics

The human mind, even gifted with the greatest insight and sagacity, can go only so far in predicting future events. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the twelve minor prophets have all gone far beyond the tightly limited boundaries of mortal man. So the critics have a choice: Either they must admit that a power and intelligence greater than their own human mind had inspired these prophecies, or they must find some other way to explain them.

Guess which alternative the critics have chosen!

They have chosen to look for a human explanation. Their usual solution is ridiculously simple — they "re-date" the prophecies! They shove the date of composition forward a few centuries — so that the prophecies appear to have been written after all of the prophesied events had already occurred!

It is significant that no critic has ever attempted to deny the divine origin of these prophecies while leaving them in their own time setting.

Actually, this effort of the critics unequivocally proves the phenomenal accuracy of the prophets. Why else would a materialistic "scholar" feel it necessary to fabricate a new date? If the prophecies were not accurate — if even only one were wrong — critics would love to expose this obvious incompetence and glaring error by retaining the true dates. But they can not do so. They full well realize that Bible prophecy — if they don't tamper with the dates — is unerringly, precisely accurate in even its most intricate details.

So the critics have only one choice — they must alter the date of the prophetic statement and turn it into contemporary history.

But can we know the dates with any certainty?

We certainly can!

In this article we will demonstrate the absolute prophetic authenticity of three of the most important prophets — Ezekiel, Daniel and Isaiah.


Date of Ezekiel

Ezekiel is one of the easiest of the prophets to date. No one was any more thorough — he gives us no less than twelve specific dates in his book.

Ezekiel dates his prophecies from the year of "Jehoiachin's captivity" by Nebuchadnezzar which occurred at the time of the spring equinox in 596 B.C. (II Chron. 36:10). Since all historians agree upon the dates of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, we can compose the following list of dates for the book of Ezekiel:

Chapter 1:1-2 5th day of the 4th month in the 5th year (592 B.C.)

Chapter 8:1 5th day of the 6th month in the 6th year (591 B.C.)

Chapter 20:1 10th day of the 5th month in the 7th year (590 B.C.)

Chapter 24:1 10th day of the 10th month in the 9th year (beginning of 587 B.C.)

Chapter 26:1 1st day of a month in the 11th year (586 B.C.)

Chapter 29:1 12th day of the 10th month in the 10th year (end of 587 B.C.)

Chapter 29:17 1st day of the 1st month in the 27th year (570 B.C.)

Chapter 30:20 7th day of the 1st month in the 11th year (586 B.C.)

Chapter 32:1 1st day of the 12th month in the 12th year (beginning of 584 B.C.)

Chapter 32:17 15th day of the month in the 12th year (584 B.C.)

Chapter 33:21 5th day of the 10th month in the 12th year (end of 585 B.C.)

Chapter 40:1 10th day of the beginning month of the civil year — Tishri, the seventh month — in the 25th year (572 B.C.)

Now that's evidence! Yet some critics just toss aside such careful, meticulous dating!


Where Critics Go Wrong

Why, then, do the same critics attempt to place the authorship of the book of Ezekiel between 400 and 230 B.C.?

The answer is twofold. First they must assume — without proof — that Ezekiel's prophecies are not of divine origin. Then, proceeding from this assumption, they reason that Ezekiel had to have had certain historical information available before he could have written these remarkable "histories." His in-depth script for the fall of Tyre, for example, was still being acted out in fantastic detail until about 320 B.C. Consequently, the critics reason, Ezekiel couldn't have written it before that time! But Ezekiel's prophecies about Tyre's destruction were indeed written in 586 B.C. — as is clearly proclaimed. How then could the critics explain its incredible accuracy for the next 250 years without acknowledging their Creator God in heaven?

(In reality, the prophecy concerning Tyre is still being fulfilled today — so using the critics' own reasoning, we would have to conclude that the book of Ezekiel has not been written yet! Send for our free booklet The Proof of the Bible for a full explanation)

Let's put it bluntly: We are asked to believe that Ezekiel's dates are an out-and-out fraud. Furthermore, we are asked to believe that this fraud in dating went undetected until the present day!


A "Pseudo-Ezekiel"?

Now let's consider the problems that this imaginary, "pseudo-Ezekiel" would have had to face in getting his spurious book accepted as the work of an original Ezekiel and then have it accepted as Scripture.

During the time of the Babylonian captivity there was a recognized religious authority among the Jews. Ezekiel refers to them as the "elders of Judah" (Ezek. 8:1).

Later, when Cyrus decided to give permission for the Temple to be rebuilt, "Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites . . . to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem" (Ezra 1:5). The leaders of this expedition were Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest.

A little later, about 457 B.C., Ezra comes to Palestine. Ezra is called "a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given" (Ezra 7:6). "Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments" (verse 10). Notice that Ezra was not a lawgiver, but a scribe — a copier — of an already existing code of law.

Throughout Ezra and Nehemiah, it is quite obvious that there is a ruling body of Jews concerned with ecclesiastical affairs and that there is a "holy scripture" — an authoritative body of religious writings (see Neh. 8:1).

There can be no question that this "law of Moses" was the Torah — the first five books of your Old Testament. Remember this was before 400 B.C.

Now back to the mischievous plot of "pseudo-Ezekiel." He would have had the rather formidable task of palming off on a group of Jewish priests, Levites, and governors, a totally new book which none of them had ever heard of before — and convince them that it was written during the Babylonian captivity. Quite an assignment!

The Jews have always been an intelligent, practical people with a great deal of common sense. Would they have accepted a book purporting to have foretold, in advance, the history of the last few years, yet which did not appear until after the event?

Would you have accepted such a book?

Suppose some individual would try to convince you that he has found a book listing in detail all the major events of 1967-1969 — and that the book was published in 1944! Would you immediately accept this would-be prophet?

Wouldn't it seem just a little bit contrived?

When one comprehends the exalted position of the Torah among Jews past and present, the obstacles that a "pseudo-Ezekiel" would face become absolutely insurmountable.


Why Was Ezekiel Accepted?

Why then were Ezra and the men of the Great Synagogue (the assemblage of priests and Levites constituting the religious authority) willing to accept the real Ezekiel at all? The answer becomes obvious when we understand that the Canon of the Old Testament — that is, the books making up the Old Testament — was complete by the end of the fifth century B.C. Ezra and the Jews with him in Babylon were aware of the prophetic work of Ezekiel when they returned.

Ezekiel had been part of the succession of prophets: He had held an office which was honored and respected. His prophecies had already begun to come to pass. And as they continued to be fulfilled before the Jews' very eyes — while the book was in their very possession. Nobody could question the authenticity of the book.

Interestingly enough, even the critics have not been willing to call Ezekiel an out-and-out fraud. Their reason is obvious: Frauds have ulterior motives.

And any ulterior motive would have been transparent throughout. But no such motive can be found in Ezekiel. And no fraud writes like Ezekiel writes.

Ezekiel rings true. Literature with such a powerful moral force simply does not arise from a hypocritical mind.

Finally, since both Jewish tradition and the Jewish historian Josephus state that the Old Testament was completed about the end of the fifth century B.C., there can be no question of a later date for Ezekiel.

Absolutely the only claim that can be seriously advanced to question Ezekiel's own date is the fact that NO MAN could have made the prophecies that Ezekiel made. This, however, is not evidence for a later date. It is PROOF OF A DIVINE ORIGIN!


Date of Daniel

Daniel was a contemporary of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He was carried into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar about 604 B.C. — and continued to live and write for more than the next seventy years.

Certain critics, however, date Daniel between 165 and 175 B.C.! That shouldn't come as too great a surprise. But, just for curiosity, let's examine whatever reasons they have fabricated. Again, topping the list, is the assumption that the Book of Daniel is of purely human origin.

The fundamental axiom of criticism is the dictum that a prophet always spoke out of a definite historical situation to the present needs of the people among whom he lived and that a definite HISTORICAL situation shall be pointed out for each prophecy (George L. Robinson, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia).

Consider what this means. It is a "fundamental axiom" that every prophet always spoke to and about the present needs of the people among whom he lived. In other words, Daniel is not seen by the critics as a prophet contemporary with Nebuchadnezzar, but rather as a "pious fraud" writing about 175 B.C. This "pseudo-Daniel," it is reasoned, was directing his "prophecies" to the current needs of the people in the second century B.C., since some of his "prophecies" cover that period.


Daniel Is Challenged

When one understands what was going on about 175 B.C., the critics' motives become embarrassingly obvious.

This was the time of the Maccabean revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes. The book of Daniel covers historical details of the breakup of Alexander the Great's empire into four divisions and the subsequent war between the king of the north and the king of the south, climaxing in Antiochus Epiphanes' invasion of Jerusalem. Daniel's spectacular in-advance description of the minute details of all of this (in Daniel 11 — the longest prophecy in the Bible) are too absolutely accurate to have been written hundreds of years before they took place, say the critics.

Too accurate to have been conceived by man, that is.

Therefore, the "fundamental axiom of criticism" is applied — and Daniel is quickly put into a "time-machine" and "re-materialized" some four hundred years later — as an attempt is made to set his prophecies into the "proper" historical situation of the Maccabean revolt.

There are two things wrong with this hypothesis:

1) Daniel himself did not understand all that he wrote. When he asked for further understanding, he was told: "Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end" (Daniel 12:9) .

2) Daniel's words were not directed to the people of his own time nor even primarily to those in the second century B.C., but to those living at the time of the end.

Of course, some will argue that this was an attempt to make the people of his time believe that the end was near. Fair enough, but why then did they accept the book into the Canon when the end didn't come?