Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Bible Session 3

Is the Bible the truly God's Word?  Christians say yes.  The question we must ask ourselves is how can we know that the Bible is the Word of God and not just a good book? What is unique about the Bible that sets it apart from all other religious books ever written? Is there any evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word?   These types of questions must be seriously examined if we are to determine the validity of the Bible’s claim to be the very Word of God, divinely inspired, and totally sufficient for all matters of faith and practice. The Church of Divine Guidance Adult Bible Study Group is doing a study to address and answer these questions.  

Review

Uniqueness

The unity of the biblical message is further reason for why one should believe the Bible. The Bible was written over a period of approximately 1,550 years, with at least 40 human writers, most of whom did not know each other and were from varying backgrounds (king, fisherman, tax collector, shepherd, etc.). The Bible was written in various environments (desert, prison, royal court, etc.).


Three different languages were used to write the Bible, (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.)


Every year it outsells all of the top best-sellers and it has now been translated into over 1,200 different languages.
Historical Accuracy
  • The Bible comes from first-person accounts.


The Bible is primarily eyewitness accounts. Moses was there when the Red Sea split. Joshua was there when the walls of Jericho fell. The disciples of Jesus sat in the upper room and saw the resurrected Jesus appear.


1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (HCSB)3  For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4  that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,5  and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.6  Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep.7  Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
8  Last of all, as to one abnormally born, He also appeared to me.


  • Biblical history was recorded with extreme care.


When the Old Testament copyists — the scribes — would copy scrolls from one to another, they’d do so like a photocopy machine! They had a long list of rules they used to make sure it was copied exactly. They had a specified number of columns throughout the Old Testament that would always be the same. Even the lengths of those columns had to be the same. They knew how many of each letter were in each book. For example, they might have known there were 1,653 As in the book. If there were 1,654, they’d throw the scroll away and start over.


  • Archaeology proves the Bible is true.


Archaeologists have been able to dig up the places mentioned in the Bible.


In 1876, however, archaeologists discovered evidence of the Hittite nation, and by the early 20th century the vastness of the Hittite nation and its influence in the ancient world was common knowledge.  In the early 1900's, an archaeologist discovered 10,000 clay tablets in the Hittite capital. Now everyone knows that the Hittites once existed.



The Bible is scientifically accurate.
Another striking evidence of divine inspiration is found in the fact that many of the principles of modern science were recorded as facts of nature in the Bible long before scientist confirmed them experimentally.
There are a number of rather startling statements in the Bible which appear to be far more advanced than the scientific knowledge at the time of writing. Moreover, there has never been an irreconcilable discrepancy between scientific facts or laws and the scriptures.
Roundness of the earth
Isaiah 40:22 (HCSB)22  God is enthroned above the circle of the earth; its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like thin cloth and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
Jeremiah 33:22 claims that the stars of the heaven are innumerable.
Jeremiah 33:22 (HCSB)22  The hosts of heaven cannot be counted; the sand of the sea cannot be measured. So, too, I will make the descendants of My servant David and the Levites who minister to Me innumerable.”
Today scientists agree with Jeremiah. There are billions just in our galaxy! It is interesting that the Bible makes the number of stars roughly equivalent to the number of grains of sand on the seashore.
Genesis 22:17 (HCSB)17  I will indeed bless you and make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your offspring will possess the gates of their enemies.
Carl Sagan ( American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist,astrobiologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences.) also compared these two, leaning towards the number of stars being greater. Amazingly, the latest estimates of the gross number of sand grains are comparable to the modern estimated number of stars in the universe!
Linguists have determined that all the earth’s peoples must have originally shared a common language.
Genesis 11:1 (HCSB) At one time the whole earth had the same language and vocabulary.
Jonah wrote that there are mountains on the bottom of the ocean floor (Jonah 2:5-6). Only in the last century have we discovered that there are towering mountains and deep troughs in the sea.
Jonah 2:5-6 (HCSB)5  The waters engulfed me up to the neck; the watery depths overcame me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.6  I sank to the foundations of the mountains; the earth with its prison bars closed behind me forever! But You raised my life from the Pit, LORD my


Fulfilled Prophecy
The phrase “it is written” is in the Bible a lot of times.  When I searched on the Internet I found one answer that it appears about 80 times.  I don’t know if that’s true or not but I do know it’s there a bunch of times.  When it appears it’s usually referring to a prophecy.  A person making a prediction in the Old Testament was a serious matter.  If someone said that they were a prophet and giving a prophecy the test was to be 100% accurate.  
Jeremiah 28:9 (NKJV)9  As for the prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the LORD has truly sent."
If you weren’t the penalty was pretty rough.  
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 (NKJV)20  But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.'21  And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?'--22  when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
About 30% of the Bible is prophecy.  There are lots of types of prophecies in the Bible but important ones for us to consider in testing the accuracy of the Bible are those about Ancient Cities and the Messiah.  
Biblical prophecies with regard to ancient cities is equally remarkable. Skeptics have suggested that a message of impending doom spoken against an ancient city must come true eventually. Yet the dire predictions in the Bible are very specific such that the details of one city’s prophecies do not fit the next one.
Jerusalem
Daniel 9:26 (HCSB)26  After those 62 weeks the Messiah will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the coming prince will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come with a flood, and until the end there will be war; desolations are decreed.  
Matthew 24:1-2 (HCSB)1  As Jesus left and was going out of the temple complex, His disciples came up and called His attention to the temple buildings.2  Then He replied to them, “Don’t you see all these things? I assure you: Not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down!”
The Romans invaded Jerusalem in August of A.D. 70, after a five-month siege. A full account of the bloody conflict is found in Josephus (Wars V, VI).
Tyre
Ezekiel 26:1-5 (HCSB)1  In the eleventh year, on the first ⌊day⌋ of the month, the word of the LORD came to me:2  “Son of man, because Tyre said about Jerusalem, ‘Good! The gateway to the peoples is shattered. She has been turned over to me. I will be filled ⌊now that⌋ she lies in ruins,’3  therefore this is what the Lord GOD says: See, I am against you, Tyre! I will raise up many nations against you, just as the sea raises its waves.4  They will destroy the walls of Tyre and demolish her towers. I will scrape the soil from her and turn her into a bare rock.5  She will become a place in the sea to spread nets, for I have spoken.” ⌊This is⌋ the declaration of the Lord GOD. “She will become plunder for the nations,  
In Ezekiel 26:4, the prophet said the buildings of Tyre would be ripped down and that the rubble would be scraped away. This might have happened in two stages. The Babylonians destroyed the mainland of Tyre during an attack that ended in 573 BC. Then, Alexander the Great attacked the island of Tyre in 333-332 BC. It is believed that Alexander's army scraped the rubble from the mainland and tossed it into the sea, building a land bridge to the island to conquer it. The prophecy may have been fulfilled in another way: During the centuries after Alexander's conquest of Tyre, the Greeks, Romans, Crusaders and Arabs came to the area of Tyre and put up their own buildings on or near the site of the original Phoenician Tyre. In doing this, the workers would have had to remove rubble from the original Phoenician Tyre.
Nineveh
You remember that Nineveh was the city that repented after Jonah finally obeyed God and went and preached to them that if they didn’t repent God would destroy the city.  

Jonah 3:4-10 (HCSB)4  Jonah set out on the first day of his walk in the city and proclaimed, “In 40 days Nineveh will be demolished!”5  The men of Nineveh believed in God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth—from the greatest of them to the least.6  When word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes.7  Then he issued a decree in Nineveh: By order of the king and his nobles: No man or beast, herd or flock, is to taste anything at all. They must not eat or drink water.8  Furthermore, both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from the violence he is doing.9  Who knows? God may turn and relent; He may turn from His burning anger so that we will not perish.10  Then God saw their actions—that they had turned from their evil ways—so God relented from the disaster He had threatened to do to them. And He did not do it.  
Well they must have reverted because;
Nahum 3:12-13, 19  (HCSB)12  All your fortresses are fig trees with figs that ripened first; when shaken, they fall— right into the mouth of the eater!13  Look, your troops are ⌊like⌋ women among you; the gates of your land are wide open to your enemies. Fire will devour the bars ⌊of your gates⌋. 19  There is no remedy for your injury; your wound is severe. All who hear the news about you will clap their hands because of you, for who has not experienced your constant cruelty?
In 612 B.C. Nabopolassar united the Babylonian army with an army of Medes and Scythians and led a campaign which captured the Assyrian citadels in the North. The Babylonian army laid siege to Nineveh, but the walls of the city were too strong for battering rams, so they decided to try and starve the people out. A famous oracle had been given that "Nineveh should never be taken until the river became its enemy." After a three month siege, "rain fell in such abundance that the waters of the Tigris inundated part of the city and overturned one of its walls for a distance of twenty stades. Then the King, convinced that the oracle was accomplished and despairing of any means of escape, to avoid falling alive into the enemy's hands constructed in his palace an immense funeral pyre, placed on it his gold and silver and his royal robes, and then, shutting himself up with his wives and eunuchs in a chamber formed in the midst of the pile, disappeared in the flames. Nineveh opened its gates to the besiegers, but this tardy submission did not save the proud city. It was pillaged and burned, and then razed to the ground so completely as to evidence the implacable hatred enkindled in the minds of subject nations by the fierce and cruel Assyrian government." (Lenormant and E. Chevallier, The Rise and Fall of Assyria).
Typically, Jonah is dated to the period of Jeroboam, i.e 780 - 750s BC, whereas Nahum is dated to either shortly before (615BC) or after (612BC) the fall of Assyria (and its capital, Nineveh). Thus, Nahum is at least 150 years after Jonah.
When Jonah goes to Nineveh to preach repentance, the amazing thing is that Nineveh does repent, much to Jonah's annoyance. That generation is completely spared the wrath of God and lives, so to speak, happily ever after.
It isn't for another 150 years (think the time between now and the American Civil War) that Nahum is writing. He is fortelling the doom of Nineveh in order to encourage (Southern) Israel from prematurely capitulating to Assyria. The later parts of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles tells the stories of Hezekiah and Josiah, set in this time period, and the constant question is whether Israel should rely on God, or trust in some bigger foreign power like Egypt or Assyria, the two big players in the region. Imagine, for example, you're Belgium just before WWII. Do you rely on God or make peace with either Germany or France, and you're beginning to get the picture.

Babylon
Isaiah 13:1 (HCSB)1  An oracle against Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw:
Isaiah 13:17-20 (HCSB)17  Look! I am stirring up the Medes against them, who cannot be bought off with silver and who have no desire for gold.18  ⌊Their⌋ bows will cut young men to pieces. They will have no compassion on little ones; they will not look with pity on children.19  And Babylon, the jewel of the kingdoms, the glory of the pride of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.20  It will never be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation; a nomad will not pitch his tent there, and shepherds will not let ⌊their flocks⌋ rest there.
Isaiah’s ministry was from approximately 740 to 698 BC.
In about 482 B.C. Babylon rebelled against their Persian and Median rulers again. Xerxes the king sent his army to capture the city. The army destroyed the temples and took away the idol of the Babylonian god Marduk (Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander, 7.17.2; Herodotus 1.183). Xerxes may have also destroyed the outer walls of Babylon.
After this punishment the city began to decline in importance. When Alexander the Great defeated the Persians 150 years later, much of Babylon was still destroyed (Arrian 3.16.4). However, many people still lived in Babylon. Alexander decided to rebuild Babylon’s temples and make Babylon a marvelous city again, but he died before he could accomplish his plan.

Babylon is still an empty city. In times of peace tourists can go see the partially rebuilt ruins of Babylon that have remained empty for almost 2,000 years.

Bible Study Audio


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Monday, March 21, 2016

The Bible Session 2

Is the Bible the truly God's Word?  Christians say yes.  The question we must ask ourselves is how can we know that the Bible is the Word of God and not just a good book? What is unique about the Bible that sets it apart from all other religious books ever written? Is there any evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word?   These types of questions must be seriously examined if we are to determine the validity of the Bible’s claim to be the very Word of God, divinely inspired, and totally sufficient for all matters of faith and practice. The Church of Divine Guidance Adult Bible Study Group is doing a study to address and answer these questions.  

Introduction

The best-selling book in history remains one of the most controversial. Revered by Christians as God's holy Word, the Bible spans centuries of history, contains a variety of literary styles and culminates in the person of Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament is primarily a record of God's dealings with His chosen people – the Hebrews or Jews. The New Testament continues the record with first century accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus and the struggles faced by new Christians in a hostile culture.
Liberal theologians sometimes point out that our view of the Bible doesn't really matter. So long as we gain strength and insights from it, they say, that is enough. Following this line of reasoning, they remove many miracles of the Bible or simply treat them as myths. For example, it is filled with miracles. In the Old Testament, God parts the Red Sea, allowing His people to escape a hoard of angry Egyptians. In the book of Joshua, the sun is said to have stood still, while Jonah records a prophet swallowed by a large fish. In the New Testament the blind receive sight, Jesus walks on water and is resurrected after being executed on a cross.
This is a mistake, particularly when it comes to the Resurrection of Christ. Our view of the Bible matters immensely, especially if what it claims is indeed true. If it is, as we have argued, then our eternal destiny hinges on how we will respond to Christ and His calling. Will we reject Him or accept Him?
Today the Bible is controversial for several reasons. In a largely naturalistic age, meaning belief only in the material world, miracles are often doubted. The supernatural – anything beyond the natural world – is dismissed or relegated to a second-class status. This often results in doubt about the Bible. Can we trust it to be true? Are we really expected to believe the supernatural events it records? This is a bias that defines miracles out of existence rather than reasoning that if God exists, then miracles are possible.

Review

Last week we started our study of The Bible with what the Bible says about itself as the Word of God
Psalm 19:7-10 (NKJV)7  The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;8  The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;9  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.10  More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.


The Law of the Lord Transforms You (converts the soul)
It Gives Wisdom and Joy


We can’t really say  believe the Bible just because the Bible says it should be believed. We should be able to test its truthfulness by historical and scientific means and there’s plenty of evidence to do just that.


Uniqueness
The unity of the biblical message is further reason for why one should believe the Bible. The Bible was written over a period of approximately 1,550 years, with at least 40 human writers, most of whom did not know each other and were from varying backgrounds (king, fisherman, tax collector, shepherd, etc.). The Bible was written in various environments (desert, prison, royal court, etc.).


Three different languages were used to write the Bible, (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.)


Writing any volume of such length and being in complete harmony would indeed be a wonder, much less dealing with a topic so controversial as religion and, despite covering controversial subjects, it carries one harmonious message.No book in the history of the world has been as widely circulated as the scripture. Every year it outsells all of the top best-sellers and it has now been translated into over 1,200 different languages.

Historical Accuracy

How do we know the Bible is historically accurate? The same way you judge any other history:
  • The Bible comes from first-person accounts. An historian would look to see if the historical information is written down by someone who saw it, whether it’s second hand, or whether it’s a fable, written hundreds of years later. The Bible is primarily eyewitness accounts. Moses was there when the Red Sea split. Joshua was there when the walls of Jericho fell. The disciples of Jesus sat in the upper room and saw the resurrected Jesus appear.
  • Biblical history was recorded with extreme care. When the Old Testament copyists — the scribes — would copy scrolls from one to another, they’d do so like a photocopy machine! They had a long list of rules they used to make sure it was copied exactly. They had a specified number of columns throughout the Old Testament that would always be the same. Even the lengths of those columns had to be the same. They knew how many of each letter were in each book. For example, they might have known there were 1,653 As in the book. If there were 1,654, they’d throw the scroll away and start over.
  • Archeology proves the Bible is true. Archeologists have been able to dig up the places mentioned in the Bible. For example, they’ve found the Pool of Siloam where the blind man was healed and portions of Herod’s temple.   The Hittite Empire is a great example of how archeology has shown us that the Bible is historically accurate. For generations, historians had no record of the Hittites’ existence anywhere else other than the bible.  


Genesis 10:15 (NKJV)15  Canaan begot Sidon his firstborn, and Heth;


Genesis 15:18-21 (NKJV)18  On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates--19  the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites,20  the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim,21  the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites."


Joshua 3:10 (NKJV)10  And Joshua said, "By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites:


2 Kings 7:6 (NKJV)6  For the LORD had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses--the noise of a great army; so they said to one another, "Look, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us!"


In 1876, however, archaeologists discovered evidence of the Hittite nation, and by the early 20th century the vastness of the Hittite nation and its influence in the ancient world was common knowledge.  In the early 1900s, an archeologist discovered 10,000 clay tablets in the Hittite capital. Now everyone knows that the Hittites once existed.


The Excavated Walls of Jerico
Associates for Biblical Research has extensively excavated Jericho. Just one of the interesting features about this city is that the walls appear to have fallen outward. While an invading army would typically ram the walls inward upon the debris, the Bible declares that God caused the walls to fall flat so that the Israelites could go straight in.



Many thought the Biblical references to Solomon s wealth were greatly exaggerated.
1 Kings 10:23 (HCSB)  King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the world in riches and in wisdom.
Recovered records from the past show that wealth in antiquity was concentrated with the king and Solomon's prosperity was entirely feasible.
It was once claimed there was no Assyrian king named Sargon, because this name was not known in any other record.  Then, Sargon's palace was discovered in Khorsabad, Iraq. The very event mentioned in Isaiah 20, his capture of Ashdod, was recorded on the palace walls. What is more, fragments of a stela memorializing the victory were found at Ashdod itself.
Isaiah 20:1-6 (HCSB)1  In the year that the chief commander, sent by Sargon king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and attacked and captured it—2  during that time the LORD had spoken through Isaiah son of Amoz, saying, “Go, take off your sackcloth and remove the sandals from your feet,” and he did so, going naked and barefoot—3  the LORD said, “As My servant Isaiah has gone naked and barefoot three years as a sign and omen against Egypt and Cush,4  so the king of Assyria will lead the captives of Egypt and the exiles of Cush, young and old alike, naked and barefoot, with bared buttocks—to Egypt’s shame.5  Those who made Cush their hope and Egypt their boast will be dismayed and ashamed.6  And the inhabitants of this coastland will say on that day, ‘Look, this is what has happened to those we relied on and fled to for help to rescue ⌊us⌋ from the king of Assyria! Now, how will we escape?’”  
Another king who was in doubt was Belshazzar, king of Babylon, named in Daniel 5.
Daniel 5:1 (HCSB)1  King Belshazzar held a great feast for 1,000 of his nobles and drank wine in their presence.
The last king of Babylon was Nabonidus according to recorded history. Tablets were found showing that Belshazzar was Nabonidus' son who served as coregent in Babylon. Thus, Belshazzar could offer to make Daniel “third highest ruler in the kingdom” for reading the handwriting on the wall, the highest available position.
Daniel 5:16 (HCSB)16  However, I have heard about you that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Therefore, if you can read this inscription and give me its interpretation, you will be clothed in purple, have a gold chain around your neck, and have the third highest position in the kingdom.”
Next Week We Are Going to Look At the Bible's Scientific Accuracy, Prophecies of the Fate of Cities and Nations, and Prophecies of the Messiah.
Bible Study Audio

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Prayer Warrior: Praying Your Way To Victory - Session 5 - Condition Yourself To Be All You Can Be

The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group is going through Prayer Warrior The Power Of Praying Your Way T...