WORD OF GOD
THE BIBLE consists of 66 books
written during a period of about one thousand five hundred years. There were
many writers ranging from peasant to monarch and the books were written in a
number of different countries-Israel, Egypt, Babylon and Italy. In spite of
these features and contrary to the statements of many people
is complete harmony
throughout the Bible.
The Old and New Testaments are
inseparably linked. The following figures illustrate the point.
In the writings of
quotations from OT
- not exact quotations
The first verse of the New Testament is as follows:
"The book of the
generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."
Then follows a genealogy in which a number
of well known Old Testament names occur.
The foregoing facts can be explained if we
accept the Bible as a whole as
Divinely inspired, ie,
the writers all being guided by the Spirit of
God. In early Christian times both New and Old Testaments were accepted in
this way as Divinely inspired. Paul wrote that he thanked God without
"... because, when ye received the
word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but
as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you
This of course refers to matters
recorded in the New Testament, but the apostle is equally definite about the
Old as is shown elsewhere. [2 Tim 3v16-17] If the Bible is opened at almost
any page in the second half of the Old Testament, which contains the
writings of the prophets, chapter after chapter begins with words like:
"Hear the word of the
"The word of the Lord came to me"
The Bible claims to come from God: it
claims to be inspired. The word
inspired is connected with
'breathing' so that when Paul wrote,
"Al1 scripture is given by
inspiration of God"
it means 'All scripture is God-breathed' or
'breathed out by God'. In this short phrase is the astounding claim of the
Bible to be the Word of God.
Jeremiah was one of the prophets of Israel
and one of the longest books in the Bible bears his name. He was sent to rum
the people of Israel from their wicked ways back to God, who said to him:
"Thou shalt go to all that
I [God] shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak
... Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord
said unto me, Behold, 1 have put my words in
Jeremiah had a very hard task in front of
him; the people were unresponsive and antagonistic to his message. He
suffered greatly and expressed his troubles to God in the following words:
"O Lord, you deceived me,
and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all
day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming
violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult
and reproach all day long."
Jeremiah 20v7-8 [NIV]
Jeremiah was a lone voice for God amongst a
wicked people and he confesses to the Lord that, in the past, he had decided
to act as his messenger no more:
"But if I say, "I will not
mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a
burning fire, shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in;
indeed I cannot"
Jeremiah 20v9 [NIV]
Jeremiah was the chosen instrument of God
and despite the unpleasantness he was experiencing and his own desire to
speak no more in God's name, Jeremiah was powerless to cease; his work
Think of that definition of inspiration we
mentioned earlier-'God-breathed', how true this is of Jeremiah's words and
writings; he was one of those prophets Peter had in mind, a man carried
along by the Holy Spirit an instrument in God's hands speaking His words to
How can we be sure that the Bible is God's
word? God does not ask the impossible. He always gives us sound reasons and
strong evidence for belief.
There are a number of lines of evidence
which can give us confidence in the Bible and we have already drawn
attention to its unique construction and honest portrayal of events. The
Bible is historically accurate down to the smallest details, an accuracy
which has been repeatedly tested by the science of archaeology.
Another unique feature of the Bible record
is its many and varied prophecies - the ability to chart accurately the
affairs of men and nations, often centuries in advance. This is not the
stuff of fairy tales but sober fact. This ability to foretell future events
even down to the 20th century is one of the hallmarks of the Bible, stamping
it as a Divine record.
In order to whet your appetite for further
reading and study we will consider two lines of evidence, historical
accuracy and prophecy.
Let us look at the text itself and note
some examples of its accuracy which it is possible to prove. From the New
Testament we have chosen the following words of the apostle Paul:
"In Christ Jesus ye who
sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our
peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of
partition between us." Ephesians
Paul is declaring that through Jesus,
Gentiles had been brought within the scope of the Divine purpose. There was
now no difference between Jew and Gentile. [Galatians 3v26-29] In the past
the distinction had been very marked, so much so that Gentiles were
forbidden on pain of death to go inside the inner court of Herod's temple at
Jerusalem. On one occasion the Jews saw Paul with an Ephesian and thought he
had been taken into the temple. This caused a considerable stir. [Acts
Along the balustrade between the two courts
was a notice in Greek forbidding Gentiles to go within the sanctuary on pain
of death. Excavators have discovered in the temple area one of these
notices, and there is a cast in the British Museum-the original is in
Constantinople. So the reference of Paul to the 'middle wall of partition'
was not only apt, but it was accurate and has been confirmed. Examples of
such accuracy can be multiplied.
You will be familiar with the record of
Joseph and Mary, the mother of Jesus, who travelled from their home in
Nazareth to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. The gospel writer Luke gives us
the reason why that long journey was undertaken. He wrote:
"And it came to pass in
those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all
the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was
made when Cyrenius was governor
of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea,
unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the
house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife,
being great with child."
These verses clearly show that Joseph's
family originated from Bethlehem and in order to obey the Emperor's decree
they travelled the many miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
The record reads as sober historical fact
but critics of the Bible found fault with the record. They seized upon this
historical aspect concerning the census and dismissed it as complete
fiction, arguing that there was no census in the Roman Empire at that
particular time and no decree for the people to return to their family home.
For good measure, they also stated that Cyrenius was not governor of Syria
at that time.
Like so many other critics of the Bible
record, those who found fault with Luke's account have subsequently been
proved completely and utterly wrong. Archaeology has proved the Bible record
right in all its detail; discoveries have shown that the Romans did have a
regular enrolment of taxpayers and held a census every 14 years, taking
place first in the reign of the very Emperor mentioned by Luke-Caesar
Archaeologists have also shown that
Cyrenius was governor of Syria about the time of Christ's birth; this
information is based on an inscription found in Antioch. It appears that
Cyrenius was twice governor and the critics of Luke's account knowing only
of his later governorship around AD 6 dismissed Luke as an inaccurate
historian. They should have been more careful.
Finally a papyrus found in Egypt which
contained direction for the conduct of one such census agrees with Luke that
registration in the family home was
Sir William Ramsey, one of the great
archaeologists of the last century made the following conclusion after 30
years' study of Luke's writing:
'Luke is a historian of the very
first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, this author
should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.'
[The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New
Testament. Sir W. M. Ramsey]
This conclusion is not surprising is it?
After all, the author is God; Luke, like the rest of the Bible writers, was
only recording His
words. If we can trust the Bible record in
such small details we can have confidence in the record as a whole.
Turning now to the Old Testament we can
find very many instances of historical narrative which are confirmed by
The following is recorded about Hezekiah,
King of Judah, for example:
"And the rest of the acts
of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and
brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the
chronicles of the kings of Judah? "
"This same Hezekiah also
stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to
the west side of the city of David."
2 Chronicles 32v30
An inscription was found in Jerusalem in
1880 in the reputed Pool of Siloam. It is agreed by all recognised
authorities that this Siloam Inscription (a cast of which is in the British
Museum) has reference to the above-mentioned water supply and its
construction. The following is a translation:
'(Behold) the excavation! Now
this had been the history of the excavation. While the workmen were still
lifting up the axe, each towards his neighbour, and while three cubits
still remained (to cut through), (each heard the voice of the other who
called to his neighbour, since there was an excess in the rock on the
right hand and on the left). And on the day of the excavation the workmen
struck each to meet his neighbour, axe against axe, and there flowed the
waters from the spring to the pool for a thousand two hundred cubits; and
... one hundred cubits was the height of the rock over the heads of the
Confirmation like this serves to strengthen
our belief in the Bible, and as there have been many such cases, there can
be no doubt about the
reliability of the accounts.
The Book of Chronicles quoted above is one
of the historical books of the Bible. The first Book of Chronicles contains
no less than sixteen chapters devoted to genealogical particulars, family
and personal details, extensive lists of names tracing pedigrees back to the
sons of Jacob, Levitical families and the allotment of cities to priests in
their distribution throughout the rest of the tribes of Israel, Levitical
orders in the service of the temple, etc.
How did such statistical documents come to
be written? They must have been written in the first instance because of
facts which it was desirable to record facts about the land, the people and
their transactions. Just as we can refer to our registers of such things and
confirm past happenings, so these writings in the books of Chronicles and
elsewhere in the Bible prove the 40 years in the wilderness, the exodus from
Egypt, the work of Moses, the accounts of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is
thus in general, the historical foundation on which the Bible stands.
Finally, let us look briefly at Bible
prophecy, the most fascinating of subjects; if you are familiar with the
Bible at all you will know that the history of the Jews forms a large part
of the record. For reasons that we cannot pursue now, they are the chosen
people of God and they are the subject of many prophecies in the Bible.
The most amazing prophecies concern the
dispersion of the Jewish people from their land in the first and second
centuries AD and their subsequent return after centuries of wandering and
Israel today is a nation constantly in the
news and a military power to be reckoned with. Their re-emergence as a
national force is a living witness, firstly to God's existence and secondly
to the truth of the Bible record.
Jesus Christ himself predicted the day when
they would be driven from the land:
"And they [the Jews] shall
fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all
nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the
times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
These words were fulfilled in AD 135 when
the Roman armies again attacked Jerusalem and the Jews were taken into
Their regathering has also been on record
for thousands of years. Here are two examples of many taken from the prophet
"For, lo, the days come,
saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel
and Judah, saith the Lord: and I will cause them to return to the land
that I gave to their fathers,
and they shall possess it."
"Hear the word of the
Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that
will gather him,
and keep him, as a
shepherd doth his flock."
These prophecies deserve your study; they
are remarkable and have been fulfilled in the twentieth century. Israel is a
living miracle; the Bible makes it clear that when Israel is regathered as a
nation then the Kingdom of God will soon be established on the earth.
Prophecy is beyond the power of
man, there is only one satisfactory answer to these things and it is the
answer already quoted:
spoke from God
as they were
carried along by the Holy Spirit."
2Peter 1v21 [NIV]