Monday, 19 July 2010

The Bible, God's living word

A summary of the Bible Hour presentation at the Christadelphian Hall, Blackpool Street, Burton-upon-Trent on Sunday 18th July 2010.

This blog uses Bible references. If you don’t have a Bible, you can find the Bible text online.

Three good reasons why you can be confident that the Bible is the word of God: the Law of Moses; world history; prophecies about Christ.

1. the Law of Moses

The law that God gave to his people Israel was thousands of years ahead of its time.

At the turn of the 19th Century, two thousand women a year died of ‘childbirth fever’ in England and Wales. Dr Semmelweiss had an idea that it was to do with cleanliness, so he ordered that all the doctors in his department wash their hands between handling corpses and delivering babies. The mortality rate from ‘childbirth fever’ in his department reduced from 18.3% to 1%.

More recently, MRSA in hospitals has again highlighted the need for cleanliness.

The Law of Moses laid great emphasis on washing and hygiene – e.g. Numbers 19:11-19.

This passage from Numbers highlights other enlightened aspects of the Law of Moses which were way ahead of its time:

verses 13-15, looking after the poor (note, not handing out ‘charity’ but allowing disadvantaged people to work to look after themselves)

verse 11, honesty

verse 13, prompt payment of wages

verse 14, respect for the disabled

verse 15, impartiality in justice

verse 18, the reason for all this is respect for God.

2. a tale of three cities

Babylon was known as the Golden City – reached its height around 600BC, when it was the capital of a superpower. The Jewish prophets declared that it would be completely destroyed and never again inhabited (e.g. Isaiah 14, Jeremiah 50). Its destruction was so complete that until fairly recently people argued that it never actually existed! Since its ruins were rediscovered there have been attempts to rebuild it, but they have all failed – in fulfilment of Bible prophecy.

Tyre was a sea port at the centre of a powerful maritime empire. Ezekiel 26 foretells its downfall. Ezekiel’s words came true in astonishing detail – the city was repeatedly invaded, eventually the city was relocated to an island off the coast; Alexander the Great finally captured the island by building a causeway from the mainland using the rubble of the old city. In fulfilment of Ezekiel’s words, the city actually became a place where fishing nets were spread out to dry.

Jerusalem is the subject of many Bible prophecies, e.g. Jesus’ ‘Olivet prophecy’ in Luke 21. He foretold that it would be besieged and destroyed, and he warned people that when they saw it surrounded by armies they should flee. This happened 40 years later in AD 70: the Roman general Vespasian besieged the city, but then for a short time the siege was lifted while Vespasian was recalled to Rome to be made emperor. Christians who’d taken note of Jesus’ words took the opportunity to flee to the nearby town of Pella, but many others took the opportunity to flee for refuge to Jerusalem. Shortly afterwards the Roman army returned under Titus, and Jerusalem was destroyed.

The prophet Micah had said that Jerusalem would be ‘ploughed as a field’, and this actually happened in AD 135 when the Emperor Hadrian had a plough drawn over the city to demonstrate its complete destruction.

In Luke 21 Jesus said that Jerusalem would be “trodden down of the Gentiles (non-Jews) until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”. In 1967, Jerusalem once again came under Jewish control and became the capital of the state of Israel.

3. The life of Jesus

The life and death of Jesus were foretold in detail by the prophets in the Old Testament.

Just one example is Psalm 22, where the Psalmist describes Jesus’ death (by crucifixion, a method of execution that wasn’t known in the Psalmist’s time). For example:

verse 7 could well be a description of onlookers mocking the spasms of a crucifixion victim

verse 8 is precisely the insult the Jewish onlookers threw at Jesus

verse 14 describes dehydration by blood loss and sweat, and bones pulled out of joint

verse 16 describes the method of fixing the victim to the cross

verse 18 – the Roman soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ clothes

verse 22, the Psalm abruptly changes from a plea for deliverance from torture into confidence in God’s salvation.

These are just a few remarkable reasons why you can be sure that the Bible is what it says it is – the word of God.

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