The Bible --Part 11

The Bible
Part 11

James Gunn

Thy Words were found and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart. Jeremiah 15:16

Christian Evidences

This prediction was fulfilled in the days of Ezra (Ezra 1), in the year 538; that means the fulfilment was about 134 years after Isaiah’s prediction. This also means that Cyrus, one of the most considerate and tolerant monarchs of the ancient world, was named in the Word of God 100 years before he was born.

This might be added, Judah went into captivity 586 B.C. and the temple was finished by those that returned, and its priestly order and sacrificial ritualism restored in 515 B.C. The nation was without these for 70 complete years. These figures from history are in perfect accord with God’s Word to Daniel (Dan. 9:1-2).

Third, her future: In order to bring out some of these convincing evidences of the prophetic word, let us pass over many centuries of Jewish history during which God scattered them. He had said, “I will sift the house of Israel among all nations like as corn is sifted in a sieve” (Amos 9:9). Israel ceased to be a nation in A.D. 70, and her peoples have been a hissing and a by-word among all nations, but the Lord prophesied a great recovery for His ancient people, the Jews. First, as to their return to the Land of Promise, “The Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His People, …and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isa. 11:10-16. Zech. 12:6-14). This prediction, at least in part, has been fulfilled. After World War 1 Britain, in deference to Dr. Wiesman, who had contributed so much to their war effort, assumed the administration of Palestine under the Balfour Declaration. In 1947 Britain handed over the problems of Palestine to the United Nations and in November of that year the United Nations decided to divide Palestine into two countries to be shared by the Jews and Arabs.

In May, 1948, Israel was declared a republic with full national status, and that after 1878 years of non-existence as a nation.

In January of 1949 Israel held her first general election, and in May 11, 1949 she was admitted as a member into the United Nations. These events fulfilled, at least in part, a prophecy made more than 2500 years before.

With prophecies regarding the recovery of God’s ancient people, there is in second place, prophecies in regard to Jerusalem their capital city: “Jerusalem:… it shall belifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king’s winepresses. And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited” (Zechariah 14:10-11; 2:12. Jeremiah 31:38-40).

There is also a third element in the prophecies in connection with Israel, that of rebuilding the temple and re-establishing the priesthood and sacrificial ritualism.

That Jerusalem, the entire city, is now in the hands of the Jewish authorities, all know. These authorities are determined to keep the city, and that in spite of the threats of enemies and the advice of friends. Furthermore, there are indications that the nation of Israel is making plans for a future that is predicted in the Holy Scriptures. An article that was published in the Evening Telegram, Toronto, Ontario, about the middle of September intimates these intentions: “Jerusalem: A major religious controversy is building up around the Old City enclosure known as the Dome of the Rock.

“To Jews this compound is sacred as the original site of King Solomon’s Temple. But for centuries, it’s been a Moslem enclave second only to Mecca as Islam’s holiest shrine.

“A few weeks ago, Israel’s chief army chaplain, General Shlomo Goren, held a prayer service within the compound, and the fury of Jerusalem’s Moslems hinted that a synagogue would soon share the site with the mosque.

“Jewish orthodox circles were also incensed but their protests had nothing to do with Moslem sensitivities.

“Israel’s chief rabbis cited ancient Talmudic laws forbidding Jews to pray on the site until the temple is rebuilt and sacrificial rites are resumed.

“Passions subsided and Moslem authorities continued to administer the compound, charging non-Moslems a small admission fee in accordance with longtime practice.

“Last week, Israel ordered the abolition of these fees and when Moslem leaders refused to comply, a second gate was flung open to give free access.

“A reluctant court has now ordered the Religious Affairs Ministry to state why the Dome of the Rock should not be guarded by people interested in the site as a Jewish holy place.

“Chief Rabbi Isser Unterman tried to be reassuring when he said, ‘Lengthy spiritual preparation is required before temple services can be renewed. The public is not yet ready to accept the idea of a sacrifical service.’”

Surely the history of Israel presents evidences of the reliability and veracity of the Word of God. Fulfilled prophecy witnesses to the authenticity and inspiration of the Bible.

The Lord Jesus: The fulfilled prophecies both about the Lord Jesus and by the Lord Jesus provide further strong evidence of the historicity and reliability of the Holy Scriptures.

First: The place of His birth. Seven centuries before Christ was born, the pre-exilic Prophet Micah wrote: “Thou Bethlehem, Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). Micah thus designated the place of Christ’s birth, the purpose of His birth and His pre-existence.

The fulfilment of this prophecy is recorded by Matthew in chapter 2:3-15.

Second: The manner of His birth. Another pre-exilic Prophet, Isaiah,
similarly, seven centuries before Christ, predicted the manner of Messiah’s birth
(Isa. 9:6-7). While prophesying the birth of a truly human child, he applies to that
child a number of titles belonging only to Deity. Isaiah indicated in this way that
this child was born of Mary but given by God as a Son. In fact, one of these titles
pictures Christ not as the child of time but as the paternal source of Eternity. The title Everlasting Father actually is the Father of Eternity.

The record of the fulfilment of this remarkable prophecy is found in Luke chapter two.

Third: The description of His nature: There are a number of Old Testament predictions regarding the nature of the Lord Jesus. These intimate that in Him both the human and divine are united in one personality. His pre-existence is stated by Micah (5:2). His Deity is certainly inferred, as we have seen in Isaiah 9:6-7. In this connection there is another Old Testament passage that should not be ignored, Zechariah 13:7: “Awake, O sword against the Man that is My Fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn Mine hand upon the little ones.” The word “fellow” means neighbour or near one and involves similarity of nature and proximity of person. The passage teaches that this shepherd is good in contrast to the evil shepherd described in the earlier part of the chapter. As such He is perfectly human and also essentially divine. His life was taken from Him as a substitute for that of His sheep.

Matthew records that the Lord Jesus accepted this as a prophecy of His own death. See Matthew 26:31. Furthermore, on another occasion Christ claimed absolute equality with the Father God, He said, “I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him” (John 10:30-31).

Fourth: The mode of His death: That the death of Christ was to be substitutionary was predicted by Isaiah in his chapter 53, and that this was believed by the apostolic Christians is obvious from certain New Testament references (Acts 7:32. 1 Peter 2:24) made by Luke and by Peter.

That His death was to be crucifixion is intimated in Psalm 22 the opening words of which were used by Christ in the hour of His death (Matt. 27:46. Mark 15:34).

It is improper to say that crucifixion as a mode of execution was unknown to David for it dates from ancient times. The peoples who used it considered it the most horrible of all deaths. Crucifixion was practised by the Egyptians (Genesis 40:19), The Persians (Esther 7:10), the Assyrians, Scythians, Indians, and even the Germans. It was common among the ancient Greeks and Romans. After the conquest of Tyre, Alexander the Great ordered two thousand Tyrians to be crucified as punishment for the resistence of that city.

It may be that in derision the Philistines crucified the body of King Saul. Samuel records, “They fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan” (1 Sam. 31:10).

In Psalm 22 David carefully describes the horrors of this mode of death, and the Gospel narratives show how literally these were endured by Christ. The manner of Christ’s death is another evidence of the veracity of the Word of God.

Fifth: The arrangements of His burial: It was not the custom of the ancients to bury the bodies of the crucified; these were left to be devoured by the vultures and wild beasts. The Romans, by an act of legislation exempted the Jews from such an end, and permitted that they bury their own when executed by crucifixion. That this was how they intended to dispose of the body of the Lord Jesus seems clear from the prediction of Isaiah, “They made His grave with the wicked” (Ise. 53:9). God through Isaiah predicted otherwise. “They made His grave…with the rich in His death.”

This prophecy was actually fulfilled by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (Matthew 27:57-60. Mark 15:42-46. Luke 23:50-56. John 19:38-41).

These prophecies so literally fulfilled in Christ provide clear and forceful evidence of the veracity of the Holy Scriptures.

There are also some prophecies by the Lord Jesus which give substantial proof of the truth of Scripture.

Some might have difficulty in accepting the predictions of Christ concerning Himself because they are recorded in the Sacred Writings completed after the predictions had been fulfilled. As evidences of reliability these should be accepted only in the light of other predictions, the fulfilment of which happened after the Sacred Records were made, but are found in secular history.

First: Christ predicted His death and resurrection just as they happened. Christ predicted that He would be betrayed, condemned, delivered to the Gentiles, mocked, scourged, crucified, and that He would rise again from among the dead, exactly those matters that become perfectly true. See Matthew 20:17-19. Mark 10:32-34. Luke 18:31-33.

Second: Christ predicted the destruction of Jerusalem. There are two passages which in general are accepted as prophecies concerning this event. One in the Gospel of Matthew and the other in the Gospel of Luke. According to Luke (chapter 21), Christ predicted the actual destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 70. These predictions are very eschatological and describe a period of unparalleled suffering and sorrow for the Jewish people in the end times. Of this period of great tribulation the fall of Jerusalem is an illustration.

Christ’s prophecy concerning the seige and the plundering of the city was dreadfully fulfilled by the Roman legions in A.D. 70.

This study involving archaeology and fulfilled prophecy demonstrates the veracity, historicity and reliability of the Sacred Scriptures, the Holy Bible.

The claims of veracity when so substantially proved indicate superhuman guidance in the truth and superhuman preservation from error; therefore, evidence of veracity and reliability must be accepted as proofs of divine inspiration.

Appendix to Christian Evidences No. I

Spirit, soul and body: All organic life has a body, a physical form. This is true of the vegetable, the animal and man. The kind of life in many cases may be determined by the shape and substance of the body.

Animal life not only has a physical, visible form, a body; it also has a soul. This is true of all animals and of man (Gen. 1:30, margin or J.N.D., Gen. 2:7). The soul is that capacity that enables the creature to express itself through its body in patterns of behaviour. The soul may be considered as composed of mind, emotion and will. All animals have all of these so also has man. A cat attempting to disturb a bird’s nest was shot in the rump by a man with an air-gun. It jumped a distance off the ground, took one glance at the man, and raced away to safety. Several days later, it returned. When the person with the air-rifle appeared, it did not hesitate to dash away. It had a mind to recognize its former assailant. This recognition stirred the emotion of fear, and the will to escape propelled its legs faster than usual to make good its escape.

The spirit is only found in man; this raises him far above the animal for it is the capacity to fellowship with God. The spirit of man is linked closely with his soul. We know that the Word of God distinguishes these (Heb. 4:12). These two parts of human personality are linked together because fellowship with God requires mind for this in on an intellectual level; fellowship with God requires emotion for man may love or hate God, he may seek His fellowship or shun it. Furthermore, fellowship with God requires will for man has the power to decide for or against intercourse with God. Spirit, then, is the capacity for God consciousness and enjoyment.