We have all wondered whether the Bible is a trustworthy source of knowledge and guidance. There are certainly outlandish stories to consider in our assessment; talking donkeys, virgin births, and resurrections to name a few of the most famous (or infamous, depending on your worldview).
The Bible includes stories of the spiritual realm, angels, demons, sorcery, ghosts, heaven, and hell – things we cannot touch, feel, hear, or see regularly. The Bible also covers subjects related to the observable, physical world around us like people, places, and earthly events.
I propose that if there is enough evidence to verify the physical, observable content in the Bible, it is reasonable to conclude that the unseen world content to also be true and will cover the following topics to support my position: identifying trustworthy sources for evidence, how the Bible was translated through the years, science and the Bible, prophecies of the Bible, and the part faith plays on the topic.
Famous atheist authors and speakers Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Lawrence Crouse, and Sam Harris have debated Christian opponents like John Lennox, Frank Turek, and William Lane Craig, where each side has an opportunity to share their perspective on God and the origins of the universe.
Atheist opponents agree on one thing: Religion is bad. In fact, in every debate I have watched, the atheist position begins by sharing a story or several stories about the bad things that people motivated by religion have done.
Their conclusion: since religion is bad, God can’t possibly exist so the universe could not have been created by a supernatural being.
How does opinion become evidence?
I admit that theists and “religious people” lie about a great many things; stories about dying and going to heaven or hell, false prophecies that end up unfulfilled, or fake messages from God end up hurting a lot of people physically and spiritually.
Sam Harris, a famous atheist from the United States, asked in one of his debates, “What do we do if someone doesn’t value logic and evidence?”
To make a truly objective decision on any subject, you must remove emotion and presupposition about the evidence or outcome surrounding that decision.
Murder cases are solved based on evidence, not emotion.
Scientific theories are proven based on evidence rather than lucky guesses.
The problem is, we don’t all have time to investigate every possible piece of evidence to support or refute spiritual or scientific claims. We need to rely on others who have done the investigation.
The question then becomes, “Who can we trust?”
Everybody lies. Christians lie. Muslims lie. Atheists lie. Pastors lie. Scientists lie.
In the debates I watched, I hear the atheist side repeatedly claim that science is based on fact and that their profession is beyond reproach.
Let’s dive deeper into this for a moment.
Example #1. My creation studies began with an answer to prayer. Twenty years ago, after having a conversation with an atheist friend about the age of the earth, I was unsettled. I prayed that night to hear the truth about the age of the earth. Two days after I prayed, I was led to the final 15 minutes of a presentation by Kent Hovind on the age of the earth. I ended up calling Dr. Hovind and talking further with him about his beliefs and background, which led me to buy his DVDs.
I recently found one of his videos online where he covers “Lies in the Textbooks”. He does not copyright his material, so I am free to share the two screenshots below.
This slide is about a famous biologist, Dr. Haeckel, who faked drawings of embryos at various stages of development, attempting to prove the theory that human embryos would have gills at a certain stage in its development because humans descended from fish. Dr. Haekel was eventually found out and was tried in court.
The slide shares a quote from him during those proceedings. As you can see, even atheists lie to protect their beliefs too.
(Ironically, Kent Hovind was caught lying about tax-related matters in his ministry and ended up spending almost 10 years in prison because of it.)
Example #2. If you were taught evolution in school or college, you likely heard about the Piltdown man, which was hailed as being a significant find to support evolution. Years after the find, it was determined after closer study that the “Piltdown Man was an audacious fake and a sophisticated scientific fraud.” The scientists who discovered the bones, altered them to support their theory.
The biggest problem with all these hoaxes isn’t only that we were duped, but that many of them are still used in textbooks to teach our children. Our school system is using known lies in its curriculum.
Example #3. Rupert Sheldrake is the author of The Science Delusion, where he postulates that science as a belief system, or worldview, has come to restrict evidence-based scientific study. In the book, he provides ten dogmas of science which impact how scientists perceive and define the world around us. One of those dogmas is that the laws of nature are fixed.
We have been taught that the laws of nature are fixed and unchanging. In physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and math these fixed laws are represented as constants like the speed of light, “C” or gravitational pull “G”.
The speed of light has been measurable by humans for decades. Sheldrake took it upon himself to find historical readings of the speed of light. He quickly discovered that the speed of light dropped between 1928 and 1945 by about 20km/s, and then mysteriously in 1948 it went up again.
His research led him to a scientist who admitted that the scientific community had known about this discrepancy for years and decided to publish the speed of light as an average of the measures…because the speed of light is supposed to be a constant!
Gravitational pull has been measured as well and contains similar discrepancies, but “Big G” is also averaged because it is a constant.
The point I am making is not that one side or the other is bad rather, BOTH SIDES LIE.
I have shared some lies above that have been published, but what other lies are out there?
How do we avoid being duped?
Keep reading, I’ll show you how to reduce the risk of being conned.
Preserving and Translating the Bible
The Bible is a compilation of testimonies from people who had encounters with God. The testimonies were written over a period of 1,500 years by at least 35 different men (likely more). They share stories of people, events, prophecies, conversations, visions, wisdom, and family lines that take place over thousands of years.
The Bible claims, in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, that God supernaturally inspired its content for a stated purpose. If true, the claim should lead us to conclude that He takes responsibility for the content and He provides evidence to validate its claims.
Why God includes certain content in the Bible I am hoping is evident as you read this article. However, rather than focus on why God includes content, I emphasize the methods used to interpret existing evidence and introduce you to the overwhelming proof supporting the Bible stories.
This section focuses on how the Bible was assembled and preserved through the years, in the next section I cover actual scientific evidence that support the Bible and its claims.
“The Bible is the most textually supported piece of literature from the ancient world. This is because thousands of biblical manuscripts offer scholars the best opportunity (in number of manuscripts, accuracy of the transmitted text, and earliness of manuscript dates) to reconstruct the English editions of our Old and New Testaments.”
– The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible, Joseph M. Holden and Norman Geisler (2013)
The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible provides an excellent analysis of the manuscripts that have been used to assemble the Bible, which I summarize below:
The Old Testament (OT) is based on manuscripts that contain the entire OT text uncovered in the following languages (age of manuscript in brackets): Syriac (AD 100-200), Latin (AD 390 – 405), Greek (AD 450), and Hebrew (2 copies: AD 900 and 1008). In addition to these complete manuscripts, portions of the OT have been discovered in an additional 14 manuscripts ranging in age from 250BC to the 10th or 11th centuries. Overall, “there are tens of thousands of manuscripts, and some fragments that date as early as 600 BC” (Holden and Geisler, 51)
The New Testament (NT) was easier to support in terms of manuscripts discovered. In fact, over 25,000 copies in at least 10 languages. Compare this support to other famous ancient books like Homer’s Iliad (1758 manuscript copies), Sophocles’ Assorted Works (193 manuscript copies), or Julius Caesar’s The Gallic Wars (10 manuscript copies), we see easily that the New Testament is by far the most supported book in terms of available ancient manuscript copies.
Looking at this spiritually, it is almost as if God was putting His stamp on the reliability and importance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Copying the Manuscripts
Significant care and effort went into copying manuscripts. Holden and Geisler identify three Hebrew groups, or traditions, whose job it was to accurately copy and carefully preserve biblical manuscripts: Sopherim (5th to 3rd centuries BC), Zugoth (2nd and 1st centuries BC), and Tannaim (up until 500 AD).
Each group followed distinct processes to copy the text and validate the reliability of the copy, some steps highlighted below:
- Developed a system of marginal notes with pronunciation marks and various instructions to make sure the smallest detail of the text would not go unnoticed by the copying scribe
- Contained a count of the total number of consonants
- Recorded the middle letter of the book by location, stating the exact number of characters that preceded and followed the letter
- Recorded corrections separately
- Analyzed handwriting to confirm writer
One important note to consider regarding the manuscripts is the most recent find, The Dead Sea scrolls in 1949. These manuscripts, carbon-dated to 202 – 93 BC, are the oldest copies available of the Old Testament (most of it). One might assume that the older manuscripts may have uncovered copying errors that might previously have gone undiscovered. However, they actually confirmed the reliability of the older copies.
“A sample typical of the whole Hebrew text was taken from the famous Isaiah 53 passage. In a thousand years of copying it, there was only one word difference (‘light’ in v. 11), and it made no difference in the meaning of the text!” (Holden and Geisler, 51).
Science, Archaeology, And The Bible
The number of books required to fully explore the relationship between science and the Bible would fill a library. We have been told that science and God, or science and the Bible, have nothing to do with each other, but I disagree.
If you believe that God created everything, then you must include the ability to explore scientifically, so that makes science and God intimately intertwined.
If you do not believe God made everything but are exploring all possibilities, then allow me to show you tangible connections you can make between the claims of the Bible and science.
I will briefly explore three evidences: 1) The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, 2) the people, places, and artifacts mentioned in the Bible, and 3) the story of Noah’s flood. The final topic under this section of the article compares the strategies used by shamans (witch doctors) from primitive tribes and some present-day scientists.
Jesus Christ From The Bible
I chose Christ as the primary focus of this section because He is the central figure to the Christian faith. Without Christ, there is no Christianity. Christ is the man that the entire Bible prophesied about from the very start (Genesis) – so whether He existed is an important fact to explore.
A well-known author and speaker, J. Warner Wallace, who is a cold case murder investigator from California, wrote a book called Cold Case Christianity. In it, he applies principles of cold case investigation techniques to the New Testament gospels to determine the validity of the testimonies of Jesus Christ.
Wallace shares in his book that the New Testament (NT) gospels caught his attention as an atheist, so he decided to use his forensic statement analysis skills to study the gospels with the intended outcome of determining whether they were reliable testimonies of Christ’s life. He applies ten principles of forensic investigation against the NT gospels, each explored as a chapter in his book.
Three of those principles stand out to me as being areas that opponents typically attack; testing your witnesses, separating unimportant details from evidence, and the importance of the chain of custody.
I have watched debates and have been in a few conversations myself where deniers focus their argument on discrediting biblical writers, lobbing unimportant facts or details to sidetrack the argument, or cast doubt on the reliability of scriptures themselves (for various reasons).
Fifteen years earlier than Wallace, another now famous writer and speaker, Lee Strobel, published a book called The Case For Christ. Strobel applied his investigative journalist skills to the gospel record of Jesus Christ. In the book, Strobel broke down his investigation into three main areas: examining the records of Christ, analyzing Jesus as a man, and researching the resurrection story.
Both men focused on the reliability of the eyewitness testimonies found in the NT about Christ. They analyzed the accounts from perspectives like: whether they were actually there, honesty and accuracy, motive, differences within the accounts, and details within their stories. Both men independently concluded with high probability that the eyewitness accounts were reliable and accurate.
Wallace suggests that the differences between the gospel accounts are normal in any multi-witness case, typically due to differences in timing, perspective, and personal backgrounds. He reveals that a crime scene contains pieces of evidence, like a murder weapon, and artifacts that have no bearing on the investigation, like a picture hanging on a wall.
In his world, it is up to the investigator to determine what is important and what is not. The same is true for examining the bible. As we research and find “discrepancies”, are they important enough to throw out the entire investigation, or is it worth more investigation?
Eternal life is at stake, so we want to be extra careful in our investigation, right?
The coolest piece of forensic evidence that Wallace provides is an analysis of the chain of custody of gospel writings. Chain of custody is extremely important in cold cases where witnesses may no longer be around and cases rely extensively on documented and managed evidence.
Each time evidence is taken out of storage for analysis, it needs to be checked out and details provided for what the evidence is being used for. Over time, a chain of custody of that evidence is established and comes to bear in a court case because the prosecution must establish that the evidence has not been tampered with and is reliable.
The chain of custody of knowledge of Jesus can also be analyzed by handing down of the information from teacher (the apostles) to their students. Ancient manuscripts indicate the writers being identified as students of previous gospel writers. What each writer says in their writings agrees with the previous gospel accounts, so the chain of custody remains intact.
For more information, I recommend you read Wallace’s book. He writes in easy-to-understand language, not too technical, and provides significant evidence from his perspective that Christ existed, performed miracles, was crucified, and resurrected.
“You cannot enter into an investigation with a philosophy that dictates the outcome. Objectivity is paramount; this is the first principle of detective work that each of us must learn.”
– Cold Case Christianity, J. Warner Wallace
The Biblical Flood Story
There is literally a deluge of evidence for Noah’s flood. Skeptics deny that the flood was worldwide, or that it even happened at all.
I was first introduced to the evidence for the flood by Kent Hovind almost 20 years ago. Since then, I have read several articles and books from different authors who support a worldwide flood that happened approximately 4500 years ago. A fraction of the compelling evidence is summarized below:
- Geologic layers, described by naturalists as different ages of earth’s history are actually proof of sedimentary settling in water
- Sea creatures and land-dwelling creatures preserved together in tree resin as evidence of flood-type conditions
- “The top 3,000 feet of Mt. Everest is made up of sedimentary rock packed with seashells and other ocean-dwelling animals” (Creation Science Evangelism Seminar Notebook, Dr. Kent Hovind, 20)
- Evidence of rapid burial of plants and animals forming coal and oil seams
- The Grand Canyon is evidence of a rapid draining of a large body of water, probably laid down from the worldwide flood (In the Beginning, Walt Brown)
- Human artifacts found in coal deposits around the world, which means coal formed much earlier than millions of years ago.
The fact that these proofs can be seen without microscopes, telescopes, or radiometric dating makes them easily verifiable, and the list of support expands every year as more discoveries are made.
When I was a kid, my parents gave me an electronics set one Christmas, which came with instructions to make all sorts of beepers, squealers, and flashing lights. I followed one set of instructions that supposedly created a radio. I played around with the configuration until I heard sounds coming out of the speaker.
I fiddled around with the controls until I “heard somebody speaking Japanese”. I ran downstairs to exclaim to my mother, “I just made a radio that picked up somebody speaking Japanese!”
I remember my mother’s reaction, “That’s great! Keep it up!”
Deep down inside I knew she knew I was making it up.
I wanted to make a working radio so bad that I pretended to pickup a noise that nobody could confirm, or deny, was real.
This story from my past reminds me of tribal shamans and witch doctors who gained control over the tribe through their knowledge of human behavior and “special knowledge of the gods”. To become a shaman or witch doctor, a tribe member had to pass through specific rituals and rites. They worked under an older, experienced witch doctor for years to earn and learn their power.
Often, the trick these shamans employed was mixing a little truth with a large lie to gain the trust and admiration of the tribe. Whether they knew it or not, the junior shaman was learning how to manipulate a group of humans.
Applying this to my story, I created a device that made a noise when you turned it on and played with the wires.
That was “the truth”.
My interpretation of “the truth” was that I had created a long-range radio that picked up a Japanese-speaking radio station, which was the big lie I mixed in with the truth and ran to my mother with.
Scientists rely on various scientific instruments, instead of the bone fragments and bat blood as ancient shamans may have used, to support their belief. The question is, do they mix interpretation (or misinterpretation) with “the truth”?
I think it is reasonable to believe they do.
I would consider most modern scientific instruments more reliable than bat blood and bone fragments. Instruments like microscopes and telescopes give us the ability to physically see more about the world around us, relying on our ability to see. The trouble starts when we rely on instruments that we cannot easily validate by human senses. We may have more basis to distrust the instrument, or the interpreter.
One such instrument is radiometric dating. The consensus among scientists is that carbon (C14) dating methods are accurate to around 10,000 years, but after that the method loses consistency and reliability. Other radiometric dating methods are also disputed in the scientific arena.
I recommend looking further into this topic, reading articles from both sides, if you want to make an informed decision about radiometric dating. The internet is full of arguments for both sides if you dig deep enough.
Another area of debate is the measurement of the size of the universe, its expansion rate, and the size and placement of bodies within our universe like galaxies, stars, and extra-solar planets. Various methods, which have changed over the years, are used to calculate these elements.
Not all experts agree with the “measuring sticks”, but I will not explore the arguments here. I mention the topic to urge you to also consider researching the “facts” related to distances of extra-solar objects and expansion of the universe, and remember to use sources from both sides of the argument.
This brings us to interpreting the data we uncover.
If we read the Bible literally (where it makes sense to do so), assume “In the beginning” was the beginning of the creation, that each day of creation was literally a day, and considering the documented genealogies throughout the Bible, we would calculate the earth to be around 6,000 years old.
That interpretation forms an overall belief system. There are other belief systems about the age of the earth like gap theory and day-age theory, which align the Bible to “science”. A noteworthy observation is that all belief systems come with problems; some between science and the Bible, others between the Bible and the Bible.
However, any interpretation of observation must be supported by facts to determine its reliability and validity.
We make observations about the world around us and look for clues that might support or deny our overall belief system. Some observations require tools, methods, instruments, inference, logic, and math in various combinations.
We interpret those observations based on our personal backgrounds and, if we’re honest, our presuppositions and adjust our belief system, as necessary.
A problem comes when we cannot view the evidence for ourselves and must rely on others to view and interpret the evidence for us. We must then ask ourselves: Is this person trustworthy? Does he/she have my best interests in mind? What are this person’s motivations?
Once we understand these characteristics about the person we choose to gather information from, we can make an informed decision.
Do you trust yourself? Who do you trust? Why or why not?
The People, Places, And Artifacts in the Bible
If the Bible stories are true then it is reasonable to expect there is archaeological evidence for the people, places, and artifacts mentioned in the Bible. The Bible covers over about 4000 years of history and hundreds of people who lived during that time, including famous kings and queens.
Documents and artifacts uncovered that date back 1000 BC include the names of people from the Bible written on them. In fact, 73 Old Testament people are referenced in over 60 separate artifacts and documents. Additionally, 34 New Testament people are included on 34 separate documents and artifacts dating back to the first century AD.
Of note, Christ’s name appears on 11 separate artifacts.
One of the coolest discoveries related to Christ, which has been at the center of controversy for years, is the final resting place of James’, the brother of Jesus, bones. An ossuary was typically a limestone box used from about 200 BC until around 70 AD to hold the bones of a deceased person. Apparently, over 10,000 ossuaries have been excavated over the years.
However, an ossuary with the inscription “Jacob (James), son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” on it was discovered around 2002. After a long battle in Jewish court, scholars from both sides of the argument now largely agree that the ossuary is authentic.
The Exodus from Egypt
One of the most known and shared stories of the Old Testament is the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, when Moses led his people out of Egypt after a series of terrible plagues from God finally convinced Pharoah to let them go. Soon after the Israelites left, Pharoah changed his mind once again and chased after them, eventually ending in the Red Sea (or Sea of Reeds, depending on the source).
Although there is no evidence discovered yet of the Red Sea crossing, there is plenty of extra-biblical evidence supporting the destruction of Egypt through Bible-like plagues. A major find supporting the Israelite Exodus comes from within Egypt in the form of a manuscript discovered 200 years ago. The Ipuwer papyrus records plague-like events that occurred in Egypt around 1500 BC.
Several opponents to the Egyptian plagues as recorded in the Bible have offered arguments attempting to provide natural explanations, but most are outright discredited or enough evidence exists to reasonably ignore the argument that the plagues were natural phenomenon.
City of Sodom
Many of us have heard the story of Sodom and Gomorrah from Genesis; how Abram saved his nephew Lot from the men of the city who wanted to have sex with the angels with him. We read that the city was full of every form of debauchery that God was going to completely destroy it. God had given them instructions to leave and not look back at the destruction, but Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.
The story is the center of controversy (most stories of the Bible are, so you might want to expect that moving forward) because homosexuality is mentioned and inferred as the reason for punishment. However, that is a topic for later discussion.
Another section in The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible tells us the story of how the city of Sodom was discovered recently and what was found.
“Bab edh-Dhra was later excavated, in the mid-1960s, by Paul Lapp and again in 1973 by Walter Rast and Thomas Shaub. Evidence shows this well-settled and fortified city was equipped with a massive cemetery, homes, building structures, monoliths, cultic structures – enough infrastructure to house a large number of inhabitants. The examination of the cumulative data has revealed that the city was destroyed by an enormous fire, which is confirmed by an extremely thick layer of ash present at the site. In view of these facts, many scholars (including Bryant Wood) have identified Bab edh-Dhra as the biblical city of Sodom.” (Holden and Geisler, 215)
The section goes on to provide more details about how they arrived at that particular location taking verses from the Bible as clues, words used in translation, physical surveying the landscape, and applying logical reasoning to narrow down the area to dig.
Fulfilled Prophecies of the Bible
There are literally hundreds of prophecies in the Bible. A good majority of them have been fulfilled, as historians and archaeologists have discovered by the evidences uncovered over recent years.
There are also hundreds of books dedicated to the study of biblical. To attempt to cover all available information would be foolish for me in this context. I will simply share three of the more well-known areas: New Testament fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, history of ancient nations, and present-day events.
The two books I primarily use for reference in the prophecy section are: Exploring Bible Prophecy From Genesis to Revelation by Tim Layahe and Ed Hindson, and Bible Prophecy and the End Times by Charles H. Evans.
New Testament Fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecy
Christopher Hitchens brought an intriguing argument to one of his debates. He said that Christ riding into Jerusalem on a donkey as fulfillment of prophecy is invalid because Jesus knew the scriptures, and the scriptures said he would do it. In fact, there are a number of prophecies Jesus fulfilled, which could be claimed as invalid using the same argument.
Initially, I thought that was a great point. However, there are three points to consider with this example:
- Hitchens did not include the rest of the story:
- As Jesus approached the city, he instructed his disciples to get an unknown donkey and colt from a specific unknown owner in a nearby village and even instructed them to tell him what to say if they were questioned why they untied it, which happened as he predicted.
- People recognized Christ as their eternal King and praised him as He entered the city. If He was nothing, why praise him? Did He hire all of them for show? If so, how? All other scripture points to the fact that Jesus was poor.
- If God foretold this event, and Jesus was fully God and fully man, why would He NOT want to fulfill the prophecy?
- If this was the only prophecy that was fulfilled about Christ, I would agree it is a pretty weak example…but it is not. There are many detailed and specific prophecies about Christ’s life that were fulfilled.
I began this section with that example because I want to illustrate that you could pick apart pretty much any prophecy and cast doubt on it. However, some prophecies are harder to pick apart than others just due to the circumstances surrounding the event.
A major point to consider is the volume of prophecies that have been fulfilled, which should make you pause and rethink your mindset about prophecies and the Bible in general.
Christ Out of Bethlehem
“Micah prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, 700 years before his birth (Micah 5:2). He said, out of Bethlehem will come one who will be ruler over Israel. And that’s where Jesus was born.” (Charles Evans, 4. Early Prophecies Fulfilled – 26/63)
Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth during Mary’s pregnancy. Caesar Augustus called for a census near the end of her pregnancy, likely in support of taxation. At that time, everyone went to the city of their lineage where records of their families were kept. Mary and Joseph, both being in the lineage of David, had to travel to David’s hometown of Bethlehem.
Coincidence? I think not.
(On a related note, the Bible also prophesied that the Christ would be born of David’s lineage…)
I have experienced the two births of my own sons and witnessed the time leading up to the birth of my first grandson (and pending grand daughter coming in 2022!). Mothers are well-known for “nesting”, which is a powerful motivator for decision-making and overall behavior during this time.
The drive to remain home and prepare for the birth would have been strong in Mary. She would have needed a stronger motivation to leave the home and go to a strange place where they had no help, no money, or no place to stay at a time when the baby could have been born.
God provided that motivation.
Going back to Hitchen’s argument, could Mary and Joseph known Christ would be born in Bethlehem? Maybe, but the purpose of the trip was not about fulfilling prophecy, it was about taxes, which had life or death consequences.
So…was the Roman empire in on the conspiracy, too?
Christ Speaking in Parables
“From the introduction of this psalmic rehearsal of Israel’s history Matthew plucked a familiar verse – ‘I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old’ (Psalm 78:2) – that he applied typologically to Jesus’ teaching method (Matthew 13:34-35)” (Lahey, Psalms – 73/110)
According to Google, the Bible records 55 parables that Jesus taught his followers. The Gospel of Matthew records that Christ spoke to them in parables in fulfillment of the prophecy of Psalms 78:2. However, Jesus tells the disciples that he spoke to the people in parables because the people themselves fulfilled another prophecy from Isaiah 6:9-10.
The simple concepts Jesus was teaching through parables added to the knowledge and faith of believers, but non-believers did not understand because they were not approaching Jesus’ teachings in faith.
“One purpose of His parabolic teaching was to conceal His doctrine from the unfit (see on vv. 10-16) as a punishment for their wilful blindness and spiritual unreceptiveness. But the parables also served to reveal the truth in suggestive and stimulating forms to the fit. They arrested the attention, remained in the memory, and could not fail in a reflective and devout mind to unfold gradually somewhat of their meaning. They acted as a test. They repelled those who were unreceptive and lacking in industry and earnestness, but they attracted the earnest disciples who knew that precious treasure was concealed beneath the surface, and were willing to dig deep until they found it.”
- A Commentary on the Holy Bible: The One Volume Bible Commentary.
As we see, there are many reasons why Christ spoke in parables, but one of them being fulfillment of scripture, which, again, Hitchens might argue is invalid. I contend that the argument itself is invalid because of reasons 2 and 3 above.
Would you not want to worship a God who keeps his word?
Christ Sold for 30 Pieces of Silver
“Zechariah also prophesied in verse 11:12, that the ‘afflicted of the flock’ would be paid 30 pieces of silver. 500 years later, a member of the flock, the disciple Judas Iscariot, was afflicted by unbelief and betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Matt 26:14-16).” (Charles Evans, 4. Early Prophecies Fullfilled, 34/63)
One of the most meticulous prophecies related to the life of Jesus was the price Judas received by the Pharisees for betraying Jesus. Zechariah predicted that, not only would Jesus be betrayed by one of his closest followers, but that the betrayer would receive thirty silver coins as the price.
Interestingly, thirty pieces of silver was the price of a slave as recorded in Exodus 21:32. Whether the pharisees thought Jesus was the slave or Judas was, we will never know.
We have no idea if Judas escaped hell. Christ indicates that Judas was “the one doomed to destruction”, whether that means earthly or eternal destruction is a topic for another article. The Bible does not say that he repented, only that he hung himself and died.
Matthew Henry commented on the motivation behind Judas’ actions and the resulting outcomes of his actions:
“…nor does it appear that [Judas] had any suspicion that the gospel was a cheat: no, it was not the hatred of his Master, nor any quarrel with him, but purely the love of money; that, and nothing else, made Judas a traitor…After he had made that wicked bargain, Judas had time to repent, and to revoke it; but when lesser acts of dishonesty have hardened the conscience men do without hesitation that which is more shameful.”
- Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary
From a prophetic perspective, the Pharisees would have full knowledge of the scriptures. Judas may or may not have, after being with Jesus for as long as he was. However, the question that begs to be asked is: Why would the two parties involved in the transaction, neither of them believing Jesus was the Christ, want to fulfill a prophecy about him, thereby adding to the proof He was who He said He was?
What do you think?
History of Nations
There are books dedicated to the study of Daniel’s prophecies, especially the ones concerning the nations. Daniel’s visions are important because the prophecies seem to include nations from about 600 BC to the Millennial reign of Christ sometime in the near future.
Daniel records three separate visions in his book, each reveal supportive and additional information about the previous vision. God showed him the major empires that would rule over Jerusalem (and most, if not all, of the world).
He accurately predicted certain times and circumstances related to the replacement of three major empires, and here is ample extra-biblical evidence to support the claims of Daniel’s prophecies as being true and accurate.
Scholars agree that the book of Daniel was completed around 530 BC, but would have started sometime after 604 BC, when King Nebuchadnezzar had his first vision. At least half of the book of Daniel shares details of over 2,500 years of history – from 626 BC to present day.
The first vision was an answer to prayer. Nebuchadnezzar had a vision that he did not understand and canvassed his kingdom of magicians and seers demanding them to tell him what his dream was and the meaning of it – under penalty of death if they could not.
Daniel prayed for the details of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and God answered.
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was about a statue that had a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet and toes of clay and iron. The head of gold represented the current Babylonian empire, silver chest represented the Medo-Persian empire, the remaining parts were not described in the Bible, but were discovered much later in history.
Daniel foretold that the Babylonian king and his kingdom would soon be conquered by a Medo-Persian empire, which happened around 539 BC. The Greek empire rose about 200 years later and conquered the Medo-Persians, taking control of Jerusalem (and much of the world) around 330 BC. About 270 years after that the Roman empire seized control from the Greeks around 63 BC – leading up to the Jesus’ time. At the end of the vision, a large rock cut out of the side of a mountain crushed the feet and toes into pieces.
This vision was confirmed by God by giving Daniel another vision with similar meaning, but more details and different background. Instead of a statue, Daniel was shown four beasts rising out of the sea: a lion, bear, leopard, and an unknown frightening, powerful beast. Each new beast had different characteristics.
Again, Daniel asked for the interpretation which God provided. Each beast represented empires that would rise up; however, in this vision, the final beast was destroyed and the kingdom handed over to the saints of God. By analyzing the characteristics of the beasts, scholars determined that Daniel was again shown those same empires that would rule the earth as shown with the statue.
An additional piece of information was given to Daniel about the third beast, who had a horn that broke off and four horns grew up in its place. Interestingly, the Greek king Alexander the Great, who swiftly conquered the Medo-Persian empire, died early in his reign and the kingdom was handed over to his four generals. This was prophesied to happen at least 200 hundred years earlier!
With Daniel’s visions, we see ancient extra-biblical manuscripts support a prophecy that is still unfolding to this day.
Prophecies About Present Day
If you believe the Bible, it would be easy to conclude that we are in the final days just before Christ comes back. The Old and New Testaments cover several topics related to what society and the nation of Israel will look like:
- Wars and rumors of wars, nations will rise against nations
- Famines and earthquakes will increase
- Christian believers handed over and persecuted, put to death
- False prophets causing many to turn away from the faith
- Love of most people will grow cold
It is easy to see around us; people fighting on Facebook, abortion being accepted as normal practice, the world wars and other wars that have taken place even since I was born in 1973 – the 20th century was the bloodiest century in history, protests in every nation, starvation around the world, earthquakes and tsunamis destroying cities and killing hundreds or thousands.
Christ calls these “birth pains”, the beginning of things to come.
Specific prophecies about Israel during these end times are found in the Old Testament:
- Israel would be a nation again (Ezekiel 37:14, 20-22)
- Israel would take ownership of Jerusalem (Deut 11:24 – promised land, Zech 8:8, Zech 12:2-3, 6-9),
- Relations between Egypt and Israel would be healed, but not “perfect” (Isaiah 19:23-25)
Just after the second World War, the United Nations voted to restore the nation of Israel on May 14, 1948. Ezekiel’s prophecy fulfilled.
In 1967, a war occurred between Israel and some surrounding nations who were poised to destroy Israel. Those nations were soundly defeated by Israeli forces in six days, who then expanded their territory to include Jerusalem and several other strategic locations. Zechariah’s prophecy fulfilled.
In 1978, a Peace Treaty was struck between Israel and Egypt, which was negotiated with the help of U.S. President, Jimmy Carter. The slow process of negotiations ended in both countries signing the Camp David Accords, who then opened trade agreement talks. Isaiah’s prophecy fulfilled.
As I mentioned previously, any of these prophecies individually can be discredited, but putting them together one begins to see a pattern of God’s will being accomplished over history.
How Faith Fits In
The Christian system of belief is based in faith. A quick search of the NIV Bible yields 246 verses with the word “faith” included at least once. Faith is an important topic. In fact, God tells us plainly that it is faith in Him that he values most in his children:
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
1 Peter 1:7 These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Richard Dawkins, in a presentation found here, references a Christian scientist specializing in geology, Dr. Kurt Wise. Dawkins refers to Dr. Wise’s “firewall of faith”, which he writes about in his book, The God Delusion:
“Kurt Wise story is just plain pathetic – pathetic and contemptible. The wound, to his career and his life’s happiness, was self-inflicted, so unnecessary, so easy to escape. All he had to do was toss out the bible. Or interpret it symbolically, or allegorically, as the theologians do. Instead, he did the fundamentalist thing and tossed out science, evidence and reason, along with all his dreams and hopes.”
Dawkins misquotes Wise here.
If you read Dr. Wise’s story here you will learn he actually says, “Therefore, I tossed into the fire all my dreams and hopes in science.”
Notice that Dr. Wise did not “toss out science”, he tossed only his hopes and dreams IN science, and later in the next paragraph he tells us that God showed him that science was still a crucial tool.
The other thing you’ll notice is that he was in about grade 10 at the time he lost faith in science to explain our origins.
Dr. Wise chose to have faith in God. He had enough experience with God to know that God cared for him but on the topic of creation and age of the earth, what he learned in school did not agree with what the Bible said about the beginning.
He studied the evidence.
He compared the evidence to what the Bible claims and chose to trust God and put his faith in Him.
The topics I cover in this article are tough to grasp and maybe be difficult to believe, given the education you have received formally and informally over the years.
If you want to be sure what to believe, sometimes you must stick your toe in the water as a small act of faith in God before He opens the door for you.
I believe there is enough evidence to verify the physical, observable content in the Bible and, therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the unseen world content to also be true. In fact, the Bible is the most supported ancient writing in terms of historical documentation and archaeological evidence.
The Bible contains historical content, moral guidance, scientific knowledge, prophecies, and explains the only way to be with God for eternity.
What we are left with is choice.
Left or right?
Up or down?
It is that simple.
Will you believe the Bible or not?
As a replacement for a moral standard defined by the Bible, Sam Harris states in a debate, “The minimum standard for moral goodness is to avoid the worst possible misery for everyone.”
He is basically saying human pain is the basis for moral law, which is ironic because the ten commandments are also based in pain – if any one of them is broken, somebody gets hurt.
What if I knew about the worst possible misery that could happen to you, but there was a way to avoid it? Would you want to know?
The answers are in the Bible if you have faith to believe it.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Cold Case Christianity:
“Finally, we have to learn to be comfortable with some ambiguity. No scene is free of artifacts, and the biblical crime scene is no different. There may be a few passages of Scripture that seem out of place or difficult to understand. At times like these, we have to ask ourselves if the reliable testimony of the biblical narrative is sufficient to accommodate an unexplained artifact.”
– Cold Case Christianity, J. Warner Wallace
“The All Time best arguments against religion/faith #5.” Youtube, uploaded by The Wonderful Truth, 6 June 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tK-aKJ5JbE0.
Answers In Genesis. “Radiometic Dating” Accessed 21 December 2021, https://answersingenesis.org/geology/radiometric-dating/.
Answers In Genesis. “Worldwide Flood, Worldwide Evidence” Accessed 21 December 2021, https://answersingenesis.org/the-flood/global/worldwide-flood-evidence/.
Brown, Walt. In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood (Center for Scientific Creation, 2001).
Clarey, Tim. “Mind-Blowing Marine Ammonite in Tree Resin” Last updated 30 May 2019 https://www.icr.org/article/ammonite-in-tree-resin/.
Dummelow, J.R. A Commentary on the Holy Bible: The One Volume Bible Commentary (WORDsearch Corp., 2010), Quickverse.
Evans, Charles H. Bible Prophecy and the End Times (Charles H Evans, 2016), Kobo.
Hartley, Gregory & Maryann Karinch. How To Become an Expert on Anything in 2 Hours (New York: AMACOM, 2008).
Holden, Joseph M. and Norman Geisler. The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible (Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2013).
“The God Debate II: Harris vs. Craig.” Youtube, uploaded by University of Notre Dame, 12 April 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqaHXKLRKzg.
Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary (WORDsearch Corp., 2011), Quickverse.
History Channel. “Here’s How the Camp David Accords Impacted the Middle East” Uploaded by HISTORY, 23 April 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbc9ElB5vfQ.
Hovind, Kent. “3 great evidences of the flood with Dr Hovind!.” Youtube, uploaded by Kent Hovind OFFICIAL, 16 October 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2WvmycLSCo.
Hovind, Kent. Creation Science Evangelism Seminar Notebook (Pensacola: Creation Science Evangelism, 2003).
Hovind, Kent. “Creation Seminar 4 Lies in the Textbooks Dr Kent Hovind (With Subtitles).” VoiceTube, uploaded by Austin Tao, 2 August 2015, https://www.voicetube.com/videos/27144.
Layahe, Tim and Ed Hindson. Exploring Bible Prophecy From Genesis to Revelation (Oregon: Pre-Trib Research Center, 2006), Kobo.
Sheldrake, Rupert. The Science Delusion (London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, 2013).
Strobel, Lee. Case For Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), Kobo.
The Trustees of The Natural History Museum, London. “Piltdown Man” Accessed 12 December 2021, https://www.nhm.ac.uk/our-science/departments-and-staff/library-and-archives/collections/piltdown-man.html.
Wallace, J. Warner. Cold Case Christianity (Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2013), Kobo.
Wise, Dr. Kurt P. “In Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to believe in Creation” Accessed 22 December 2021, https://creation.com/kurt-p-wise-geology-in-six-days.