Inspirational Items for Your Daily Walk with Jesus:

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 "Satan well knows that all whom he can lead to neglect prayer and the searching of the Scriptures, will be overcome by his attacks. Therefore he invents every possible device to engross the mind."

"All who would be efficient workers must give much time to prayer. The communication between God and the soul must be kept open, that the workers may recognize the voice of their Captain."

DAVID DARE

8. SCEPTICS COMPELLED TO WITNESS FOR THE BIBLE

A SLIGHT RIPPLE of applause greeted David Dare’s appearance on the platform at the next meeting. He smiled his acknowledgement, and began:

“Look at mighty Babylon in the heyday of her glory. Here was a city that seemed destined to endure for ever. The ‘golden city’ had grown more and more powerful until it was now the wonder of the ancient world.

“She drew her stores from no foreign country. She invented an alphabet; worked out problems of arithmetic; invented implements for measuring time; conceived the plan of building enormous structures with the poorest of all materials — clay; discovered the art of polishing, boring, and engraving gems; knew how to reproduce faithfully the outlines of human and animal forms; attained high perfection in textile fabrics; studied successfully the motions of the heavenly bodies; conceived of grammar as a science; elaborated a system of law; saw the value of exact chronology. In almost every branch of science she made a beginning. Much of the art and learning of Greece came from Babylon.

“No, never had the world seen such a city. Its great rampart walls towered upward two hundred feet, and on top several chariots could race abreast. Gleaming in the sun, its lofty palaces and temple towers stabbed the sky above the towering walls and thrilled the approaching traveller while he was yet miles away.

“Here was the magnificent temple of Belus; and here were the world-famous hanging gardens, piled in successive terraces.

“Babylon was not only mistress of the world, but she reposed securely in the midst of the most fertile region of the whole known world. The country was so astoundingly fruitful that Herodotus feared he would be taken for a liar if he related what he had actually seen of the amazing fertility of the soil there.”

Mr. Dare ceased speaking as Mr. Emerson arose.

“Everybody here knows these facts about Babylon,” he said. “We came here to have infidelity refuted, not to listen to a lecture on the greatness of Babylon.”

“I am glad that you admit these facts,” smiled the lecturer. “And they most certainly do bear on my subject; for even before Babylon had become ruler of the world, a prophet wrote in a book and proclaimed openly that ‘Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride, shall be as when God overthew Sodom and Gomorrah.’ Isaiah 13:19, A.R.V.

“A simple statement, that, but one which disproves utterly your contention that Bible predictions are like Delphic oracles, so that no matter what happens, the event may be interpreted to be a fulfillment of the prediction.

“In effect the daring prophet says: ‘I see the greatness of Babylon; I observe her apparently impregnable walls. I know that she is mighty and powerful, the greatest city the world has ever seen. Nevertheless, this apparently imperishable city of Babylon shall be as completely obliterated as were Sodom and Gomorrah.’

“Looking back over the history of Babylon as we now know it, can anyone here in so few words, or in any words, better express the present condition of the former mistress of the world?

“But God saw you, Mr. Emerson, and all other doubters of today, and He caused the Bible prophet to word His prophecy so plainly that you could never justly accuse Him of double-meaning predictions. So He went on to say (Verse 20): ‘It shall never be inhabited.’ And for fear some hard-headed doubter might suggest that He meant something else, He added, ‘Neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation; neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall shepherds make their flocks to lie down there.’

“Now, who can make anything ambiguous out of that? Is there anyone here who does not understand these words?

“But this is by no means all. Even though the words were plain, the predictions seem to be so utterly impossible that most readers would decide the writer to be either mistaken or insane. But Jeremiah comes to the support of Isaiah, and the meaning of what these prophets wrote is clear indeed, whatever people of any nation or clime or tongue may think of their message.

“ ‘Thou [Babylon] shalt be desolate for ever.’ Jeremiah 51:26. ‘Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling place for jackals, an astonishment, and a hissing, without inhabitant.’ Verse 37.”

Mr. Emerson indicated that he wished to speak.

“To be forewarned is to be forearmed,” he said. “After such messages of impending destruction, the people would certainly have been prepared, if they knew of these predictions.”

“Yes, the people of Babylon might have exerted their strength and ingenuity to ward off their fate, but it would have availed them nothing, for ‘though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify the height of her strength, yet from Me shall destroyers come unto her, saith Jehovah.’ Jeremiah 51:53.

“Is Babylon inhabited today? Is any human being dwelling there? Not even one? Where is the man who will deny the truth of these predictions? Now, Mr. Emerson, I ask you directly: Are these predictions true? Have they been fulfilled?”

“Come on, Dad, speak up,” urged Lucile. Then in a whisper aside to George:

“Looks as if he has dad really stuck.”

“Does look bad,” George admitted.

“Do you claim these predictions are wrong, Mr. Emerson?” Mr. Dare spoke again.

“Of course, every schoolboy knows Babylon has been uninhabited for centuries,” came the answer. “But, Mr. Dare, how do we know that these predictions were not written after the destruction of Babylon, and dated before?” Mr. Emerson sat down amid a slight murmur of approval.

“Would you affirm these predictions were made after Christ’s time?” asked Mr. Dare.

“Of course not,” replied Mr. Emerson, “for everybody knows that they were included in the Septuagint.”

“True, and so the crux of the whole question is, When were the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah written? As they were included in the Septuagint, they must have been written before that translation was made. When was the Septuagint made?”

“About 200 B. C.,” answered Mr. Emerson.

“True,” replied Mr. Dare; “and for the purposes of this discussion, I will accept 200 B. C. as the date of the composition of these predictions concerning Babylon. Will you accept 200 B. C. as the nearest possible date for the giving of these predictions, Mr. Emerson?”

“Yes, certainly.”

“Does anyone here contend for a still later date?” asked the speaker, pausing for reply. No one spoke. “then do you all agree that these prophecies I have quoted could not possibly have been given later than 200 B. C.?” Again he paused, questioning. The audience nodded agreement.

“Then we are a unit as to two things: First, that the predictions are true; and second, that they could not have been made later than 200 B. C.”

Mr. Emerson spoke again: “If you admit, Mr. Dare, that the predictions you have quoted were not written before 200 B. C., you have given your case away, your cause is lost.”

David Dare smiled. “On the contrary, the cause of infidelity is thereby made extremely difficult.”

“How so?”

“Because of the astonishing fact that these prophecies were not completely fulfilled, according to the admission of the most critical sceptics, until hundreds of years after Christ was crucified.”

Gasps of surprise were heard all over the room. George looked at his sister with raised eyebrows. She smiled back, happy, for she scented a real contest. Mrs. Emerson looked annoyed. Mr. Emerson seemed startled. The audience leaned forward in interested expectancy.

“Well, his argument begins to sound conclusive,” Lucile whispered to George.

“Just wait; dad isn’t through yet.”

“I should hope not!” she smiled.

“But this is by no means all,” went on Mr. Dare. “Not only was the fall of Babylon foretold by these prophets, but they saw and described fallen Babylon as it is at this moment, at least two thousand years since they made their amazing prophecies.

“Read thoughtfully the following: Isaiah 13; 14:4-12; 21:1-10; 47:11; Jeremiah 25:12-14; 50; 51. There is enough detail in these marvellous predictions to fill a book. Those who think these predictions ambiguous, raise the hand.”

No hands went up.

“Now those who think the predictions plain and distinct, raise the hand.”

This time a sea of hands was lifted. “It looks almost unanimous,” he remarked.

“Since it was admittedly centuries after the predictions were written before they were fulfilled, no one claims that the prophecies were written after the events predicted took place. Does anyone here make such a claim? If so, please raise the hand.” Mr. Dare waited. There was no response.

“All right. Let us get this clear now. Those who not only admit that the predictions are clear and definite, but also that they were made before the events foretold, raise the right hand.”

A sea of hands went up, quickly this time.

Lucile and George looked around, glanced at each other, and smiled.

“Looks as if Mr. Dare wins the first heat,” ventured Lucile.

Mr. Emerson looked perplexed. “First time I’ve seen dad so perturbed,” responded George. Then he leaned over and spoke to his parent:

“Is this audience largely Christian, Father?”

“No,” said Mr. Emerson, puckering his brows, “and that is why I am at a loss to understand this vote. I know many of the people here, and they are as sceptical as I am, yet they are voting in the affirmative.”

“Could you vote any other way?” asked George.

“Not the way he worded his question, but we are not through yet. There are—” He broke off as David Dare began to speak.

“Since the facts I have mentioned are admitted by all of you, how do you, Mr. Emerson, explain their remarkable fulfillment?”

“Those prophets were austere religionists,” answered Mr. Emerson, “who saw the wickedness of great cities, and to them Babylon was the symbol of evil; and as they believed God more powerful than the cities, they believed He would overthrow them. So they actually predicted what they so earnestly believed and desired, and not because they had the slightest foreknowledge given from any supernatural source.”

Lucile nodded as her father sat down. “Not so bad, Dad,” she whispered.

“Clever and quite plausible at first thought,” smiled Mr. Dare. “But let us consider a few facts. If the date 200 B. C. is accepted as the approximate date of the predictions, Rome was then twice as old as New York is now, and grew more powerful than Babylon. But the prophets never predicted the destruction of Rome. It still exists after 2, 600 years. Yet these ‘religious enthusiasts’ had as much reason to desire the extinction of Rome as of Babylon.

“The answer given by Mr. Emerson comes perilously near to admitting divine aid. He does base his explanation on a sort of ‘religious enthusiasm’ which was so keen that it gave the prophets an uncanny foresight into the future. But there seems to be more to it than just the religious frenzy born of pessimism and misanthropy.

“Even if, in a sort of religious frenzy, Isaiah and Jeremiah had guessed right about the destruction of Babylon, how can you account for the details of their predictions?

“That such a land, peopled with the world’s most highly civilized inhabitants, the ‘golden city,’ situated in the most fertile spot of the known world, should become a wild, desolate, seared, wholly unproductive and uninhabited desert, was from a human point of view utterly impossible, Not only had such a calamity never befallen any country at that time, but such a calamity has never yet taken place in Europe, China, or America — not anywhere but in Babylon — to the present day!

“Great Babylon, the city of Bel, the capitol and wonder of the world, fought against Jerusalem, a giant against a pygmy and Jerusalem became the slave of the giant. But both Babylon and its people have vanished like a dream in the night, while Jerusalem and its people still remain. These facts, predicted by the prophets, need some explaining other than to say the predictions are merely the vapourings of ‘religious enthusiasts.’

“ ‘Without inhabitant,’ said the prophets. How true. How weirdly, uncannily true! But this is not all. The positions of the world’s most important cities are usually so well chosen, so rich in natural advantages, that population clings to them. Dwindle and decay as they may, some collection of human dwellings still occupies a portion of the original site. Damascus, Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Byzantium, Sidon, have all remained continuously cities of consequence from the time of their foundation thousands of years ago to the present. But it remained for the greatest, richest of all, to sink into utter oblivion. How do you account for that, and for the fact that this was all foretold so long ago?” As no one replied, the speaker continued:

“And we are by no means through. In Isaiah 13:20 we read that ‘neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there.’ Now how did Isaiah know that the Arabian would continue to exist after Babylon had become dust?

“Although a few humble Arabs lived in tents about Babylon twenty-five hundred years ago, the Babylonians were the haughty rulers of the world. The utter extinction of the ruling race was foretold, and all the world knows that there is not a solitary living Babylonian. But the prophet also said in effect: ‘While the most powerful race on earth will become extinct, together with their world-ruling city, this small, insignificant, nomadic race of Arabs will continue on and on for two thousand years, long after this proud city has crumbled to ruins and its very site is almost forgotten.’

“How did Isaiah know that the Arabs would continue to live near Babylon? Yet the prophecy clearly implies this. Since they were a wandering race, it would be logical to suppose that in time they would either leave the vicinity of such a place as we now know Babylon to be or would themselves become extinct. But how did Isaiah know they would remain about Babylon’s ruins for two thousand year’s; that they would be there today? Imagine the jeering sarcasm of sceptics if there were not an Arab within a thousand miles of Babylon! And what Homeric mirth would be theirs if all Arabs had become as extinct as the dodo, before Babylon sank into oblivion!

“How did Isaiah know that the Arabs would continue to live in tents? In the ruins of Babylon was ample material to build many villages by the simple process of transporting it to more favourable spots. But Arabs dwell in tents to this day. The probabilities were all against this. Of no other people has this been true in the world’s history.

“And how did Isaiah know that the Arabs would not make use of the ruins of Babylon for shelter?

“Many explorers and excavators of recent years report that it is impossible to get Arabs to remain on the site of this ancient city overnight. Captain Mignan was accompanied by six Arabs completely armed, but he ‘could not induce them to remain toward night, from apprehension of evil spirits. It is impossible to eradicate this idea from the minds of these people.’ (‘Travels,’ page 235). Yet, as everyone knows, the Arabs are fearless fighters, dangerous warriors.”

Mr. Emerson interrupted here. “You make quite a point out of the little prediction about the Arabs. Some of your statements would be equally true of gypsies. They are a nomadic people, living largely in tents.”

“The prophecy concerning the Arabs,” explained David Dare, “is so obviously true that no one, not even you, Mr. Emerson. can deny the accuracy of the prediction. And the remarkable correspondence of the facts today to the ancient forecast moves the sceptics to bring in the gypsies to lesson the force of the prophecy.

“But the case of the gypsies has no bearing. In the first place, they did not come into existence until long years after the time of Isaiah. And in the second place, they do wander everywhere. They have never remained, as have the Arabs, for many hundreds of years near the ruins of ancient cities. So, even if the gypsies had lived in the time of Isaiah, his prophecy would not have been true of them. It is still a fact that the prophecy about the Arabs is amazingly unique in every particular, and every passing day serves only to strengthen its force.”

Mr. Emerson indicated his desire to speak. “I grant that you have brought forward a number of remarkable facts to make a case for prophecy, but surely you do not expect a few unusual coincidences or amazing guesses to convince us. Have you not about exhausted your evidence from Babylon?”

“On the contrary, I have only touched the edges of the abundance of confirmation. there are more than a hundred particulars in the prophecy, each one which furnishes remarkable evidence of prophetic foresight. All taken together, they would fill a large book. I shall take time to mention but two more.

“In Jeremiah 51:58 we are told that ‘the broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken.’ For centuries after this sentence of destruction was issued against these, the strongest walls ever built about a city, they continued to be numbered among the seven wonders of the world.”

“There is nothing so remarkable about either this prediction or its fulfillment,” interrupted Mr. Emerson. “The prophet, as you call him, who would predict the destruction of the city, would naturally predict the destruction of the walls.”

“You forget,” replied David Dare, “that all ancient cities had walls, and that other cities with walls not nearly so strong as those of Babylon have been destroyed, but their walls remain in a remarkable state of preservation. However, all I desire to prove by this is that Jeremiah was right. Suppose, for instance, that the walls were standing today in grim defiance of the prophet’s words. The Great Wall of china, not nearly so strong, though older, is still standing. If you, Mr. Emerson, could tell this audience that you had seen Babylon’s magnificent walls jutting, like the pyramids of Egypt, above the surrounding plains, what a blow it would be against the Bible. But you can not do this, for the prophet was right as usual.

“Finally, we read: ‘Chaldea shall be a spoil: all that spoil her shall be satisfied, saith the Lord.’ Jeremiah 50:10. ‘Come against her from the utmost border, open her storehouses: . . . and destroy her utterly.’ Verse 26. ‘A sword is upon her treasures; and they shall be robbed.’ Verse 37. ‘Abundant in treasures, thine end is come.’ Jeremiah 51:13.

“There are two particulars to be noted: First, there is an implication in the little word ‘all’ that Babylon and the other cities of Chaldea would often be despoiled. Nothing like this was predicted of Tyre or of Nineveh or of many other cities and countries doomed by prophetic wrath to destruction.

“Second, how did the prophet know there would be riches enough to tempt and satisfy spoiler after spoiler? Tyre was one of the richest cities of earth, but after one spoilation by Nebuchadnezzar nothing was left to tempt another conqueror.

“But the teeming riches of Babylon and the surrounding country bade defiance to the greedy ravages of successive plunderers. No sooner did a fresh horde of conquerors pillage the country than another army was preparing to fight them for the booty, and loot the country anew.

“Cyrus took huge treasures; Xerxes and his army took $150 million in gold alone, besides other rich plunder. Then came Alexander, but so far from finding Babylon’s wealth exhausted, he gave from her stores $50 to every soldier in his vast army and kept immense wealth for himself. Continuously for two hundred years after the death of Alexander, the Parthians ravaged this country, and then came the Romans from a long distance, according to the prediction, for the same purpose.

“One would think that after several hundred years of plundering, not much of value could be left. Gibbon, the sceptic, is the best commentator on this prophecy, because an unwitting one. He tells of numerous expeditions, covering a period of several hundred years, gathered for the purpose of sacking Babylon’s ruins and the ruins of adjoining cities. He says that the spoil was such as might be expected from the riches and luxury of an Oriental camp. And later, when the Romans, under Heraclius, ravaged Chaldea, Gibbon tells us that ‘though much of the treasure had been removed, . . . the remaining wealth appears to have exceeded their hopes, and even to have satiated their avarice.’ — ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,’ Volume 4, page 480.

“Again, Gibbon has painted the joy of still another band of conquerors in 636, hundreds of years after the prophecy was uttered: ‘The naked robbers of the desert were suddenly enriched beyond the measure of their hope or knowledge. Each chamber revealed a new treasure secreted with art, or ostentatiously displayed; the gold and silver, the various wardrobes and precious furniture, surpassed (says Abulfeda) the estimate of fancy or numbers; and another historian defines computation of three thousands of thousands of thousands of pieces of gold.’ — Volume 5, page 180. And this after centuries of ravaging, looting, pillaging by the huge armies and mighty conquerors of earth! And rich treasures are still being found right up to the present moment, as you will know.

“But nowhere on earth have the conquerors of empires gone back again and again for hundreds of years for loot, and come away laden beyond the dreams of avarice, regardless of the immense booty carried off by the previous despoilers. Yet the prophet foretold what the sceptic Gibbon recorded as history.

“Although the picture of ruined Babylon was given so many years ago, there are few spots on earth of which we have so clear and true a picture. The historian writing now cannot so faithfully delineate conditions as did Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah more than two millenniums ago.

“You may believe that they made clever guesses, or that the marvellous truth of all their forecasts was coincidence only, if you can; but your credulity or faith in that convenient solvent of difficulties, coincidence, arouses my wonder.”

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