The Textbook of the Kingdom
In these pages I have already used the Bible as if it were an authoritative source of information, and we will now look more closely to see if placing such reliance on it is justified.
If there exists a wise and powerful God who has created a race of intelligent beings on earth, it is logical to assume that there should be some means of communication between Him and them.
We could go further and say that if God also has a purpose in creating man, it is reasonable that He should find some way of imparting information about it to him. And if man's relationship to that purpose actually depends on how he responds to God, then such a communication becomes not just reasonable or desirable, but essential.
Such information could have been pre-programmed into our brains, as are so many other physical and mental capabilities: the ability to walk, the rudiments of grammatical speech, and the nest-building instincts of birds being common examples. But God does not want man to respond to Him by such means. Automatic knowledge and responses are not what He desires. A mere robot cannot give spiritual satisfaction to its maker.
The most common form of communication between people is by the use of language, either spoken or written, and this is the means used by God to address man and to tell him about His plan. The Bible claims to be the communication route between the Creator and man, and in this chapter we will briefly look at some of the evidence for this assertion.
SOME FACTS ABOUT THE BIBLE
A generation or two ago most people would not need reminding of basic facts about the Bible. But neglect of the book is so widespread today that apart from possibly knowing that it contains two sections, the Old Testament which has something to do with the Jews, and the New Testament which tells of the life of Jesus, ignorance of the Bible is common.
The Bible is one of the oldest books in the world, written over the period approximately 1500 B.C. to 100 A.D. It is not really a single book, but rather a compendium of 66 books of differing lengths all bound together in a single volume: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. The Old Testament was completed before the 3rd century B.C., and the New Testament was written during the last 50 years of the 1st century A.D. There were about 40 different writers over this long period, and they showed a wide variation in occupations and social standing. Kings, statesmen, priests, a doctor, a tax official, shepherds, a farm worker, fishermen, and an army general are among those who wrote the Bible. Separated by sometimes hundreds of miles or hundreds of years, they all made their contribution to the production of this most notable book.
The range of literary topics and styles is extensive. There are historical records, legal documents that formed a national constitution and personal letters. We find poetry and song together with guidance for everyday living. Some parts are highly figurative and allegorical.
TWO TESTAMENTS-ONE BOOK
What is not often realised is the importance of the Old Testament and the dependence of the New Testament upon it. The Old Testament was the only part of the Bible available to Jesus and his earliest followers, and the original Christian
teaching was based upon it. When the New Testament was written it continued this aspect of early Christian belief and practice. The New Testament contains hundreds of quotations from the Old Testament and continual allusions to the events it describes. The statistics are very impressive. In the New Testament there are 276 exact quotations from the Old, over 100 indirect quotations, and at least 119 allusions to Old Testament incidents (Helps to the study of the Bible, Oxford U.P.).
The paramount claim of the Bible is that it was inspired by God. The original word for 'inspiration' literally means 'God breathed', and indicates the process by which God 'breathed' His message into the minds of those 40 writers so that they said or wrote His message rather than their own. The fact of inspiration was readily acknowledged by the inspired person. Open a Bible at any of the prophetical books and you will find numerous phrases that indicate the real source of the words:
the word of the Lord(Isaiah 1:10).
Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in
my tongue(2 Samuel 23:2)
the Lord spake thus to me(Isaiah 8:11).
is the word that the Lord hath spoken(Isaiah
word which came unto Jeremiah from the Lord
Thus saith the Lord(Jeremiah 21:8).
On many occasions the people who listened to such divine messages clearly accepted that the prophet was a vehicle of God's thoughts rather than his own, and sometimes even showed their confidence in this fact by reversing the flow of communication and using the prophet to convey their requests to God. Jeremiah for example was asked by the king on one occasion:
I pray thee, of the Lord for us(Jeremiah 21:2).
In the New Testament there are clear references to this conviction that all the Old Testament was produced by the process of inspiration. Writing to a young Christian called Timothy the Apostle Paul said:
a child thou hast known the holy scriptures .... All
scripture is given by inspiration of God ....
(2 Timothy 3:15-16).
Inspiration was effected by the influence of the Holy Spirit on a selected person. The Apostle Peter gives some idea of the irresistible nature of this process:
all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture
came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For
prophecy never had its origin in the will of man,
but men spoke from God as they were carried along
by the Holy Spirit(2 Peter 1:20-21 NIV).
In the same way that a child carried in the arms of its parent cannot resist or dictate where it is going, so the prophets were under God's control when writing by divine inspiration.
All these quotations refer to the Old Testament. The New Testament writers were similarly directed by God:
we say unto you by the word of the Lord(1 Thessalonians
things that I write unto you are the commandments
of the Lord(1 Corinthians 14:37).
AN EXAMPLE OF INSPIRATION AT WORK
There is one case on record of a person who tried to resist the impulse to speak God's message, but in the end was compelled to give way. Jeremiah was being persecuted because God's words of reproof through him were unpopular with his audience. So he made this resolve:
will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in
did not reckon with the overpowering force of inspiration
by which he was being
carried along, and
soon had to admit defeat:
his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut
up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and
I could not stay(Jeremiah 20:9).
A perfect example of inspiration at work! In no way could Jeremiah hold back the impulse to speak God's words.
A DISTINCTIVE CLAIM
These assertions by the writers that they were inspired by God cannot be lightly set aside. Either it is a fact that these men did at times have an inner compulsion to speak and write things they otherwise would never have mentioned, and to select and record events for posterity that otherwise may never have been written, or it is false. If the latter, then the Bible writers have perpetrated the most gigantic fraud in history. They duped the people of their own and many subsequent generations into believing the false assertions, and on this foundation of lies there has been built up the edifice of the Jewish and then the Christian religion. If we have been deceived then the sooner we recognise it the better: but if their claims are true, and they were speaking God's words, then we should be all ears to listen.
How can you or I, nearly 2000 years after the volume was completed, make the right decision? As with the existence of God, there is no absolute proof that the Bible was inspired by Him, but there is a lot of evidence for it.
THE BOOK MAN COULD NOT HAVE WRITTEN
When people are talking or writing they must inevitably reflect the views, knowledge and conditions of the times in which they live. For example, Galileo had no idea of radio astronomy, or Newton of particle physics, and so they could not have written about these much later discoveries. Such dependence on the cultural environment would be more marked in the case of a less educated person. A medieval farm worker would not have been the sort of person to challenge the main stream of contemporary thought and propound ideas that would cut right to the heart of the culture and society of his day.
Here lies one of the strengths of the Bible's claim. It contains many features that were beyond the knowledge and experience of its writers. This can only be explained by the assumption that a higher and wiser power than man was involved in its production. This is especially relevant considering the lowly status or the restricted knowledge of the writers. I would like to give two examples of what I mean: the Bible's record of creation and its teaching about death.
THE RECORD OF CREATION
Here are specimens of non-inspired attempts to describe the origin of man and the earth:
creation myths of Hermopolis, like those of Heliopolis
and Memphis, speak of a primeval mound .... To this
mound, in the time of chaos, came the celestial goose,
the 'Great Cackler' who broke the silence of the universe.
He laid an egg and from this was born Ra, sun god
and creator of the world(R. Patrick,
of Egyptian Mythology).
to a very old legend, mankind was divided into four
races. The Egyptians, or 'men' were formed out of
the tears that fell from the eyes of Ra; these dropped
upon the members of his body and then turned into
men and women. The Libyans came into being through
some act of the Sun-god in connection with his eye,
and the Aamu and the Nehesu were descended irregularly
from Ra. Another legend declared that man was made
out of potter's mud on a wheel by Khnemu, the ram-headed
god of Philae(A Guide to the Egyptian Collections
in the British Museum p.136).
best known of the creation myths is a later Babylonian
adaptation of the Sumerian cosmogony .... Tiamat and
Apsu existed, but after other gods were born Apsu
tried to do away with them because of their noise.
One of the Gods Ea, the Sumerian Enki, killed Apsu;
then Tiamat, bent on revenge, was herself killed by
Ea's son Marduk, the god of Babylon in whose honour
the poem was composed. Marduk used the two halves
of Tiamat to create the firmament of heaven and earth.
He then set in order the stars, sun, and moon, and
lastly, to free the gods from menial tasks Marduk,
with the help of Ea, created mankind from the clay
mingled with the blood of Kingu, the rebel god who
had led Tiamat's forces(The New Bible Dictionary,
These are just three of many creation stories dating from the period in which the Bible was written, 1-2000 years B.C. The Egyptians and the Babylonians believed them to describe the origin of the earth and mankind. Similar obviously inaccurate myths can be found among most other ancient races. In those days such explanations were accepted by everybody.
Except one people: the nation that produced the Bible! Keeping in mind the views held in those times, consider the Bible's record of the creation as recorded in its opening chapter. Here the origin of the world and man was not described as the result of fighting within a pantheon of gods, nor was it almost an afterthought, but the end product of a series of deliberate and purposeful acts by one supreme God.
First the heaven and earth were created, then light, followed by the appearance of dry land on a previously water-covered earth. Having thus been prepared, the areas were furnished with all the varieties of created things. Sun, moon, and stars became visible in the sky, the earth was made to bring forth luxuriant vegetation, the seas swarmed with fish, and animal life abounded on earth. Finally the human species was created and given a unique position in creation:
God created man in his own image, in the image of
God created he him: male and female created he them.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful,
and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue
it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and
over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing
that moveth upon the earth(Genesis 1:27-28).
This account was written by Moses in about 1500 B.C., just about the same time as the other accounts I have quoted. Yet instead of being a self-evidently nonsensical account like its contemporaries, it is a logical and rational sequence of events. Why is the Bible's account different? Let Professor Henri Devaux tell us:
is a description easy to be understood by men of all
time. Put this description of the successive stages
of creation into scientific language and they correspond
by their nature and their progressive stages to the
conceptions of the most scientific theories .... The
source of the information .... can only come from
revelation(Bible Confirmed By Science, p.78
So on the very first page of the Bible there is strong evidence that the book originated from men who were writing under the influence of God.
LIFE AFTER DEATH
Everybody has heard of the pyramids of Gizeh in Egypt. The largest of the group, the Great Pyramid, is immense. It stands 140 metres high,, has a base area of about 53,000 square metres and apart from a series of small chambers and tunnels, is composed of solid masonry. Thousands of slaves spent over twenty years hauling up into position blocks of limestone weighing three tonnes or more each. This massive structure was built as the tomb of king Cheops, who died about 4500 years ago; and the reason for this 2,5000,000 cubic metre pile of masonry was to provide a secure resting place for his mummified body. The pyramids highlight the Egyptian belief that at death an immortal component of man, his soul, left the body and went to the gods in heaven or some other place of reward. The body was mummified because it was held that the soul's existence in the other world depended on the preservation of the body. Hence not only the mummification, but the secret tomb chamber and the hidden entrance to prevent removal or destruction of the body by intruders.
This concept of an immortal soul that continues a conscious existence on the death of the body is found in almost every other culture in the world.
Again there is an exception-the people that wrote the Bible! Yet this was the group of people that humanly speaking needed this belief most. It was in the land of Egypt, in the shadow of the pyramids, that the nation of Israel commenced life as a distinct people. A succession of Pharaohs had brought them into slavery, making their lives pitiable and hopeless as they carried out building work for the aggrandizement of the kings. They toiled from dawn to dusk in the brickfields and quarries. Their only respite from the taskmaster's cruel lash was when they flung themselves down in their poor houses each night to sleep: their only release when, worn out and broken, they were cast aside to die. If ever a nation needed the comfort and hope of a future life at death it was Israel in bondage in Egypt. If ever they needed reassurance or inspiration they could surely have found it in the expectations of the people amongst whom they lived.
Yet one of the unique beliefs of the Jews as revealed in the Bible is that at death all consciousness is extinguished. We search in vain for any reference to an immortal soul in the pages of the Bible. Instead there are references such as these:
my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry .... O
spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go
hence, and be no more(Psalm 39:12-13).
living know that they shall die: but the dead know
not anything(Ecclesiastes 9:5).
Why was this
Jewish belief unique? Why did they hold a view of death
that was such a contrast to that of the surrounding
nations, and particularly to the country among whom
they had their national roots? Why did they have beliefs
apparently so ill-suited to their circumstances at the
time when their traditions were being formed? Is it
because they had an independent and authoritative source
of information, given them by
holy men of God'
spake as they were carried alongby
the power of God upon them?
AN ACCURATE HISTORY BOOK
can the Bible possibly be accurate? It is a collection
of Jewish folklore and stories handed down from parents
to children for generations, no doubt suitably exaggerated
and embellished on the way. Eventually the stories were
written down and preserved, but in their final form
obviously bear little relation to the original events.
This is a fair summary of the opinion of most people
about the historical portions of the Bible.
Yet the experts think completely differently!
One of my favourite photographs is of a party of men sitting on a hilltop in the south of Israel. In the centre is a man reading to the others from a book. The group consists of members of an archaeological expedition about to excavate a neighbouring ancient site. The reader is Nelson Glueck, an American professor of archaeology who spent many seasons digging in the Middle East. And the book that he was reading to brief his team? Yes, you've guessed it-none other than the Bible!. Could there be a more expressive way to demonstrate the confidence that professional historians have in the accuracy of these records?
THE BIBLE IS RIGHT AFTER ALL
Despite popular opinion to the contrary, most authorities now recognise that the Bible was written by people who had intimate and recent knowledge of the events they described. As D.J. Wiseman, professor of Assyriology at the University of London has stated:
historical facts of the Bible, rightly understood,
find agreement in the facts culled from archaeology,
equally rightly understood(D.J. Wiseman,
'Archaeology and Scripture' The Westminster Theological
Journal, XXXIII (1971), 151-152.).
To this we can add the testimony of Keller, a journalist who devoted years of his life to collecting examples of the agreement between archaeological findings and the Bible:
events which previously passed as 'pious tales' must
now be judged to be historical. Often the results
of investigation correspond in detail with the Biblical
narratives. They not only confirm them, but also illumine
the historical situations out of which the Old Testament
and the Gospels grew .... The events themselves are
historical facts and have been recorded with an accuracy
that is nothing less than startling(W.Keller,
The Bible as History, 1963 Edn.,p.ix).
And he concludes by affirming the strength of the case for an accurate Bible:
view of the overwhelming mass of authentic and well-
attested evidence now available .... there kept hammering
on my brain this one sentence: 'The Bible is right
after all'(Ibid p.x).
In recent years many books have become available giving examples of how archaeological findings have confirmed the accuracy of the historical portions of the Bible. They are too numerous to list here, but most good booksellers or public libraries will be able to get them for you.
I would like to make a final comment about the accuracy of Biblical history. The fact that the events are correctly recorded is not of itself evidence for inspiration: many other history books are accurate. Where guidance was needed was in the choice of which event to record and which to leave out, and sometimes in the order in which the events are recorded. A close study of the Bible reveals that the historical events are often used as a basis for instruction to later generations, and can even prefigure in a symbolic way great events associated with man's future.
For example we have the exodus of the Israelites from the bondage in Egypt to become the people of God. The history is recorded in the second book of the Bible, but later, especially in the New Testament, virtually all the details of this event are shown to be figures of the process by which mankind as a whole is being delivered from much more distress, and a more severe bondage, to become God's people in a far greater sense. For this reason the historical records required inspiration as much as any other part of Scripture. Only if the appropriate points were selected and recorded with absolute accuracy could the corresponding lessons be noted and acted upon by later generations.
HISTORY WRITTEN IN ADVANCE
Further evidence for the inspiration of the Bible lies in the fulfilment of its predictions. There are literally dozens of these, but space limits me to only two examples.
We have already considered an outstanding example of Biblical prophecy in chapter 1. You will recall the huge multi-metal statue seen by king Nebuchadnezzar in his dream that correctly forecast the sequence of four major empires. As predicted, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome came and went, followed by a disunited state of the world and a mixture of strong and weak nations. In that chapter I used the prophecy to explain the nature and the timing of the coming Kingdom of God, but now I want to advance it as an indication of the divine origin of the message. The accuracy of the information given to the king by Daniel has been amply demonstrated. The empires did follow in the predicted order.
How was it that Daniel was so accurate? The succession of four empires with no fifth following could not reasonably have been deduced from then current events, and we cannot imagine that it was a lucky guess. Even after 2500 years can we improve on Daniel's analysis of the situation:
is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets(Daniel
THE EXACT TIME OF THE DEATH OF JESUS
From a prophecy that spans thousands of years we turn to one whose timing was so precise that divine control of its fulfilment must be the only logical explanation.
Daniel was a young Jewish prince who had been taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar and brought to Babylon with thousands of his fellow countrymen. A few years later Jerusalem was destroyed and Israel ceased as an independent nation. Seventy years after his captivity Daniel prayed to God requesting that the fortunes of the ruined city be reversed. In response God told him that Jerusalem would be rebuilt, and also went on to give him an indication when the Jews could expect their 'Messiah'-the 'Anointed One', as the name means. The Messiah's mission was to become the saviour of Jerusalem and of the whole world.
prophecy is contained in Daniel chapter 9, verses 24
to 27 where we read that God told Daniel of a period
70 weeks, towards the end of which
the Messiah would come. The seventy weeks were subdivided
into three periods: seven weeks, a further sixty two
weeks and a final week consisting of two half weeks.
7 + 62 + 0.5 + 0.5 = 70 weeks
expiry of this period several things would happen. At
the end of the second subdivision, that is 7 + 62, or
69 weeks God said the Messiah would appear. Some time
later the Messiah would be
cut off, a reference
to his death. The final week would be spent confirming
God's covenant with His people, but in the middle of
that week something would happen to cause the sacrificial
offerings in the Temple to come to an end. As you can
see, it was quite a detailed and precise prediction.
Did it come to pass?
God said that the starting point for this period was to be a command to restore the city of Jerusalem, and a date for the commencement of this period is easy to determine to within a year or so. By the time that this prophecy was given in response to Daniel's prayers for the desolated city, Persia had taken over from Babylon as the world power.
In B.C.455. the Persian monarch Artaxerxes Longimanus issued an edict and gave to the Jewish priest Ezra a lavish grant to restore the city and Temple of Jerusalem, as recorded in Ezra chapter 7. This date therefore marks the commencement of the 70 weeks of the prophecy. But adding 70 real weeks to this date brings us forward only a year and four months, so the weeks obviously are not to be taken literally.
In the Bible one day is often made to stand for a year (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6). On this basis the 70 weeks or 490 days become 490 years, and the equation can be re-written as:
49 + 434 + 3.5 + 3.5 = 490 Years
The first two numbers add up to 483, and coming forward this number of years from the starting date of B.C.455 we arrive at A.D.28, which is exactly the time most scholars believe that Jesus first appeared in public.
of preaching, or
confirming the covenant with
many, lasted 3.5 years, or half way into the last
'week'. After these 3.5 years Jesus was then
offas the prophecy had foretold. His personal
sacrifice for sin did indeed render all the Temple offerings
superfluous as the prophecy had also indicated, because
animal sacrifices were unnecessary once Jesus had died.
facts of the situation have to be faced. The date of
the appearance of Jesus and the length of his ministry
was accurately predicted nearly 500 years before. How
could Daniel have written such an accurate prophecy
without guidance from the One who,in the words of Scripture
knows the end from the beginning?
If space allowed many more examples of fulfilled Bible prophecy could be examined in detail. Further instances of predictions that have been and are being fulfilled relate to another destruction of Jerusalem (this time by the Romans), the scattering of the Jews among all countries and their eventual restoration to their homeland. But I will allude to these in a different context in chapter 11.
WHAT JESUS THOUGHT OF THE BIBLE
To all who claim to be Christian, Jesus must be the final authority on all matters of belief. What did Jesus say about the Old Testament and how did he respond to the claims of its writers to be inspired by God?
The answer is completely clear. He regarded the Old Testament as the basis of his teaching and invested it with his complete approval.
In his discussions
he often said to his opponents
Have ye never read
....(e.g. Mark 2:25), and then based his teaching
on a passage from the Jewish Scriptures. On specific
occasions he was most emphatic about the writings of
Moses (the first five books) and the books of the prophets:
ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for
he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings,
how shall ye believe my words?(John 5:46-47).
they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will
they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead
As regards the New Testament, Jesus told his disciples that they would be the subject of that same process of inspiration as were the Old Testament writers:
the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
he shall teach you all things, and bring all things
to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you
And this gift of the Holy Spirit gave them the authority of Jesus, and even of God Himself:
that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth
you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth
him that sent me(Luke 10:16).
So there is no doubt about Christ's teaching concerning both the Old and the New Testaments.
The position Christians should hold in relation to the Bible is therefore crystal clear. All the Old Testament should be regarded as inspired by God, and be seen as containing essential information for all followers of Jesus. Any system of belief that relegates the Old Testament to an inferior status or disregards it altogether cannot honestly claim Jesus as its founder. Similarly, the New Testament should also be accepted as the work of the Holy Spirit.
CONSISTENCY AMONG VARIATION
One of the strongest evidences for the inspiration of the Bible is the fact that although it was written over so long a period of time and by so many different authors, the overall message is consistent. And this consistency is maintained despite huge variations in the culture and background of the times as the centuries rolled by. Even more important, it has a theme that gradually expands and develops as the revelation progresses.
AN IMAGINARY BOOK
To help appreciate what I mean by this, imagine a book written in England over a length of time similar to that taken to write the Bible.
The start of this imaginary book was the mid 5th century A.D., about the commencement of the 'Dark Ages' when the legacy of Roman culture and learning was being lost as the occupying armies were recalled to Rome, leaving the island to squabbling British tribes. A man started writing a book designed to put forward ideas about topics such as religion, morality, and hope for the future.
The man had been educated in the Roman way of life, but abandoned it to become head of one of the local tribes. He contributed the first five chapters of the book. On his deathbed he commissioned the leader of his army to continue the writing, and he wrote the next chapter.
After an interval of a century or two, as Britain was being converted from paganism to the new Christian faith, the most prominent religious leader of the day added two more chapters.
Can you imagine the muddle the book was in by this time? The later writers would not know the theme, and certainly not the ending that the original writers had in mind. But even so the work went ahead. In the 9th century the king of the region added considerably to the book. This was followed by a contribution from his son. By contrast, a supposedly illiterate peasant farmer added another section. Then, soon after the time of the Norman Conquest, three chapters were penned at the same time by men who had no contact with each other. One was a priest in England; but the two other writers were in distant countries: a member of the royal family who had been captured in battle, and another priest who was in exile.
I think you must agree that by now there was every prospect of such diversity between the chapters that any coherent message would be lost, and the meaning so confused as to become unintelligible.
But even so, imagine the writing went on. After a few more chapters were produced there was a gap of about 450 years during which nothing was added. This interval, corresponding to the time between the 14th and 19th centuries, saw an unprecedented change come over Europe. There was an upsurge of learning that led to the Industrial Revolution and laid the foundations of modern science and technology. The Reformation took place, and ideas on religion underwent drastic change. The Arts flourished, with particular emphasis on the revived culture of ancient civilisations such as Greece and Rome. Easier travel broadened human experience and made available the views and traditions of far-off peoples.
And then at the beginning of the 20th century, in a world that would be unrecognisable by men of the 14th because of its vastly superior knowledge, achievement and different outlook, work began again on the book that had been started nearly 1500 years before. A flurry of activity now, compared with the steady output of previous centuries, but again with a wide cross section of authors. Two poorly educated fishermen, a doctor, an Inland Revenue tax official and a brilliant graduate from one of the best universities.
At last, the book was deemed to be finished. I leave you to imagine the result! Would there ever be a book with more contradictory viewpoints, different interpretations of what the world was all about, different concepts of how things came to be as they are, and immense diversity about the prospects for the future? Could you imagine such a book becoming a best seller, or men dying in its defence?
WRITING THE BIBLE
The point of describing such an imaginary book is that the Bible was written in just the same way. Every one of the fictitious authors has his counterpart in the writers of the Bible. The 1500 year time span of writing is similar as well, and even the social, religious and political changes during these centuries find parallels with the varying background of Bible times.The man who wrote the first five books was MOSES The army captain JOSHUA The religious leader SAMUEL The king DAVID The king's son SOLOMON The farm worker AMOS The three out of contact with each other: The priest at home JEREMIAH in Jerusalem The exiled priest EZEKIEL in Chaldea The captured prince DANIEL in Babylon
The interval between the 14th and 19th centuries is almost the same as the gap between the writing of the Old and New Testaments. As in Europe during the Renaissance, so in the Mediterranean world after the 4th century B.C. there was a revolution in thought and learning. This came especially from the Greek philosophers whose ideas permanently altered the outlook of the then known world. So it was after a similar gap and in vastly altered circumstances that the writing of the Bible was again taken up by writers equivalent to those in the imaginary book:The two fishermen PETER and JOHN from rural Galilee The doctor LUKE, the
beloved physicianA tax official MATTHEW The graduate PAUL, probably the most promising intellectual of his day
But what a difference with the Bible! Instead of being chaotic in its plan, unintelligible in its content: instead of showing a gradual alteration of its concepts to suit the changing ideas of the day: instead of reflecting the dissimilar backgrounds, the differing educational, cultural and social standing of its writers, the Scriptures display complete unanimity of thought, teaching and purpose. And despite the diversity of its writers and the long period over which it was produced, it has a consistent theme, hinted at in its opening pages, gradually developing step by step, and coming to a climax in a magnificent ending.
Why is the Bible so different from what would have been expected in the circumstances? The only reasonable answer is that during those fifteen centuries there was One who was controlling the minds and guiding the pens of those 40 writers so that the completed book made sense.
What is your verdict?
Do you agree?
If not, what is your explanation of the phenomenon?
HAVE WE GOT THE ORIGINAL BIBLE?
For some a genuine anxiety arises from the age of the Bible and the fact that it was written in languages different from ours. None of the original manuscripts written by the authors has survived. The ones that are used as the basis of our Bible today are copies .... of copies .... of copies. How can we be sure that mistakes have not crept in. The late Sir Frederick Kenyon, the Director of the British Museum in London where so many of the Bible manuscripts are housed, was an expert on the subject. In his book The Story of the Bible he traces the history of the English version of the Bible from the earliest manuscripts to our own day. He notes all the effort that has gone into finding the old scrolls and papyri, the care with which they have been preserved and copied, and the skill that has been brought to bear on the translation into our language. He then concludes his book with some words that can put all our minds at rest:
is reassuring at the end to find that the general
result of all these discoveries and all this study
is to strengthen the proof of the authenticity of
the Scriptures, and our conviction that we have in
our hands, in substantial integrity, the veritable
Word of God(F. Kenyon,The Story of The Bible
This chapter has not advanced our study of the Kingdom of God, but it has been essential as a foundation for all we now have to consider. I hope that we can now examine the teaching of the Bible in the knowledge that the evidence for its authenticity is unassailable.
We started by looking at the Bible's claim to come from God by the process of inspiration. We then considered the various ways in which the Bible gives indications of its superhuman origin. We saw that it contains a surprisingly logical, even 'modern' creation record, and its concepts of the death state were unique and unexpected for its time.
We then had a brief look at its historical accuracy and showed how the science of archaeology strongly indicates that the records are reliable accounts of what happened, not traditions that became garbled in ages of oral transmission.
Fulfilled prophecy was another evidence, and we examined one that foretold the broad sweep of history, and another that was detailed and precise. In both cases everything happened just as predicted.
To those who accept the claims of Christianity we noted Christ's teaching about the Bible. We concluded with the analogy of an imaginary book written over 15 centuries by many differing authors to emphasise the uniqueness of the Bible's production and the consistent nature of its teaching.
you now agree with Henry Rogers when he said of the
It is not such a book as man would have
written if he could-or could have written if he would.
With a confidence derived from this strong evidence we now take up our investigation into the grand theme of the Bible. We will find that this theme is nothing less than the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth, and the redemption of the human race.