50 Real People in the Bible

Bible, Bible history, Truth No Comments

In the March/April issue of Biblical Archeology Review, there was an article titled, Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible. A feature of BAR is “how many.” How many people in the Hebrew Bible have been confirmed archaeologically? The answer is 50!
Kings of Judah confirmed through archeology include: David, Hezekiah, Uzziah, Ahaz, Manasseh and Jehoiachin. Kings of Israel that have been confirmed through archeology are: Ahab, who angrily called the prophet Elijah “Thou troubler of Israel” (1 Kings 18:17), Omri, Jehu, Joash (short for Jehoash), Jeroboam II, Menahem, Pekah and Hoshea. That’s a total of fourteen kings!
Foreign kings are also mentioned, including: Sennacherib (Assyrian ruler who shut up king Hezekiah “like a bird in a cage” mentioned on Sennacherib’s prism), Tiglath-pilesar III, Shalmaneser V, Sargon II and Esarhaddon, all Assyrian kings mentioned in the Bible. Adrammelech, the son and assassin of Sennacherib has also been confirmed.
Babylonian monarchs mentioned in the Bible include: Nebuchadnessar (destroyed Solomn’s Temple in 586 B.C. and took the Jews to Babylon for 70 years captivity), Merodach-baladan II, Evil-merodach and Belshazzar. Belshazzar is featured in the book of Daniel and Daniel read the mysterious handwriting on the wall to him.
Persians kings mentioned in the Bible and corroborated by archeology include: Cyrus II (Cyrus the Great who issued the decree allowing the Jews to return to Palestine (written on the Cyrus Cylinder), Darius I, Xerxes, Artaxerxes I and Darius II. Xerxes plays a prominent role in the Book of Esther where he is called Ahasuerus. Xerxes is Greek and Ahasuerus is Hebrew.
Egyptian rulers include: Shishak, So, Tirhakah, Necho II and Hophra.
Mesha from Moab is mentioned in 2 Kings 3:4-27.
Rules in Damascus include: Headadezer, Ben-hadad, son of Hadadezer, Hazael, Beh-hadad, son of Hazael and Rezin.
In the Southern Kingdom, there were royal officers and priests that have been confirmed through archeology. These include: Hilkiah (priest during Josiah’s reign), Shaphan (scribe during Josiah’s reign), Azariah (high priest during Josiah’s reign), Gemariah (official during Jehoiakim’s reign), Shelemiah, (father of Jehucal the royal official-Jeremiah 37:3), Jehucal or Jucal, (official during Zedekiah’s reign), Pashhur, (father of Gedaliah the royal official), and Gedaliah, (official during Zedekiah’s reign).
This completes the list of 50. The list shows that Bible history is real/authentic. The list helps to verify the truthfulness of the Bible. Contrast this information about the Bible with the Book of Mormon which is not verfied by a single historical fact and you can see that the Bible is the more reliable and trustworthy document.

The Word of God and Truth

Bible, God's Word, Truth No Comments

Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38).  This is one of the most profound questions ever uttered by man.  The answer to this question is vitally important.  Jesus makes it clear that the Word of God is truth (John 17:17).  He affirmed that, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6).  He promised that the Spirit of Truth would guide the apostles into “all truth” (John 16:13-15).  The words of Jesus Christ and the apostles constitute truth.  These words are found in Scripture (II Tim. 3:16-17).  Consider the following aspects of truth.

The Bible is completely true.  All of its affirmations and denials conform to reality (this is the correspondence theory of truth).  Truth conforms to reality as God defines reality.  We do not create our own reality.  If we created our own reality, then truth would be subjective rather than objective.  We do not create our own truth.  God’s Word (objective reality) is truth!  When you destroy the foundation of truth–the Word of God–you eliminate God’s will from consideration in the everyday events of life.  This means that man is free to pursue the lusts of the flesh without restraint.  The result–anything goes!  Lies multiply when truth is suppressed or rejected.  When God speaks, His word is truth.  It matters not whether that reality is historical, factual, or spiritual.

The Word of God is the result of inspiration and revelation.  The Holy Spirit superintended the revelation of God’s will to holy men of God (apostles and prophets).  “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretaion.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Pet. 1:20-21).  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (II Tim. 3:16).  “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All  things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13-15).   The Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16) is the Word of God (I Pet. 1:25).  In God’s Word, we have an objective reality, an eternal reality, and an authoritative reality.

Truth and inerrancy are synonymous.  The statements of scripture are always without error.  Skeptics look for errors in the Bible in vain. Error stands in opposition to truth.  The concept of inerrancy must be qualified.  Consider the following areas of study.
1.  Modern technical precision.  The Bible records numbers–size of a crowd, or the size of an army, or the number of years between one event and another–by rounding them.  The rounding of numbers does not constitute errors of facts.
2.  Irregularities of grammar or spelling.  For example, New Testament authors sometimes give a different spelling to Old Testament names.  These are not errors.
3.  Observational descriptions of nature.  The Bible speaks of the sun rising or the sun setting.  These are descriptions as they appear to the observer on earth.  They are not errors.
4.  Reporting falsehoods.  The Bible records the lies of Satan and the fradulent teachings of false prophets.  But, it reports them as lies and not the truth.
5.  The use of hyperbole.  Hyperbole is a figure of speech where exaggeration is used to make a point.  When the Bible says that the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven–it does not mean every single person, but that the preaching of the gospel was pervasive in the world (Col. 1:23).
6.  The use of free citations.  The New Testament writers frequently quote from the Old Testament.  About 10% of the New Testament is made up of Old Testament quotations or allusions.  But, the New Testament writers adapt many of these Old Testament quotations to their intended purpose.  These are not mistakes or errors.
7.  Arrangement of material.  Sometimes chronological arrangment of material is used by a writer and sometimes it is not.  The author may have a different purpose and so arrange material to fit that purpose.  However, these are not errors.

The Bible is not full of contradictions.  Alleged contradictions in the Bible can be answered by showing that two statements, that seem to be incongruous, can be harmonized.  The law of contradiction is as Aristotle noted, “that the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect.”   “In other words, if the same thing is said to be and not be (1) for the same person, place, or thing. (2) at the same time, and (3) in the same sense (respect), then a genuine contradicton exists” (Eric Lyons, Dealing Fairly With Alleged Bible Contradictons Part II, Reason and Revelation, Nov. 2013, p. 122).  The Bible has been falsely charged with contradictions.  If the Bible contradicted itself, then it would not be true.  If it is not true, then it is not believable.

The Holy Spirit affirms, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2, see also Heb. 6:18).  God’s Word reflects His truthfulness.  The Word of God reflects the very nature of God Himself!  The Word of God does not lie.  But, any doctrine that contradicts the plain teaching of God’s Word is a lie.  Thus, we have a truth test and can try the spirits to see if they are of God (I John 4:1 and II John 4).  Why not put your own beliefs to the test of truth and see if they endure.

Time Will Tell?

apologetics, Truth, unbelief No Comments

In Acts 5:33-40, the Sanhedrin convenes to attempt to stop the apostles from preaching in the name of Jesus.  Earlier, they had imprisoned the apostels and forbade them from teaching in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:3,18).  However, the apostles were let go and continued their work and ministry.  The apostles were imprisoned again (Acts 5:18), but, they were miraculously delivered by an angel of the Lord (Acts 5:19).  They went to the temple and continued preaching the gospel.
The Sanhedrin met and sent for the apostles to appear before them.  They found out that the apostles had been freed from prison (Acts 5:25) and were teaching in the temple.  The captain of the temple with his officers went to the temple and brought the apostles to the council (Acts 5:27).  An exchange of words occurred between Peter and the high priest.  Peter resisted the authority of the council and boldly declared that the apostles would obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).  The council was infuritated and took counsel to kill the apostles (Acts 5:28-32).
At this time, Gamaliel stood up to give his advice to the council.  Gamaliel was a Pharisee.  The Pharisees were a Jewish sect that insisted on the strictest observance of legal regulations and, also, the traditions that added a mass of regulations to the Mosaic Law.  Gamaliel was a teacher of the law of  Moses and was held in honor by all the people.  Saul (Paul) studied under him in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3).  Gamaliel was a member of the Sanhedrin.  The Sanhedrin was the highest Jewish court comprised of 70 members who belonged to the Sadducees (another Jewish sect that denied the existence of angels and  the resurrection) and Pharisees.
Gamaliel addressed the court without the apostles being present.  First, he related two historical incidents of uprisings and, then, he made an application to the present situation.
The two historical cases of uprisings that Gamaliel mentioned involved men by the name of Theudas and Judas.  Theudas was a man of self-proclaimed importance.  He had a following of 400 men.  But, they were all dispersed and came to naught following his death.  Judas (Acts 5:37) was a Galilean who made an uprising in the days of the enrollment for taxation (Luke 2:1-2).  His rebellion was greater than that of Theudas, but, he, too, perished and his followers dispersed.
Gamaliel made an application to the present circumstances involving the followers of Jesus Christ (Acts 5:38).  He said, “And as to now…”  His application is faulty for the primary reason that neither Theudas nor Judas arose from the dead.  But, Jesus did!  The historical incidents are not parallel to the present circumstances.
Gamaliel made two conditional statements.  The first statement was, “If this counsel or work be of men, it will come to nought.”  This is a third class conditional statement and indicates that Gamaliel felt it was very unlikely.  The second statement was, “If it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.”  This statement is a first class conditional statement and is the more likely to be true.
Every religion built by men will be overthrown.  This is true, but when?  It may be that it would not be overthrown in their lifetimes and so the truthfulness or falsity of the religion would be undecided.  Can we sit down in indecision until this final proof is produced?  Is there a better way to detemine whether a religion is true or false?  The second alternative also is flawed.  If it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it.  If they wait until the final proof is made according to time, then, they may miss the blessings of believing.  The waiting game puts their own souls in jeopardy.  The implication of Gamaliel’s counsel is that God has not provided enough information to determine the truth about Christianity.  We must wait and see the fate of any religion before we can determine whether or not it is of God.  Gamaliel belongs to that class of men where the most convincing evidence is unconvincing.  He belongs to the class of unbelievers.  He knows Jesus was resurrected from the dead!  Yet, he is still in denial.
Gamaliel’s counsel is the counsel of indecision because it is based on unbelief.
Time will tell or truth will tellTruth is a better basis upon which to decide the legitimacy of any religion.  Deciding for Jesus is evidence of an authentic faith rooted and grounded in truth.  Have you decided?

Lessons Learned From Jury Duty

faith, Jesus Christ, Truth No Comments

This past week I have had the privilege of serving on jury duty.  I have been away from my desk as a result and have not had the opportunity to keep up with my blog.  I am returning today to that task and would like to share some of the observations that come from my experience.
First, I learned what is reasonable is important to a jurist.  Here is an example of what is reasonable.  We know that some people run red lights.  In our area around Columbus, Ohio, several red-light cameras have been installed at specific intersections in order to record people running red lights and, later, a ticket is sent to their address for the violation.  This has been publicized in many different media forms.  We also know that some traffic accidents are the result of people running red lights.  Why, then, do we not stop at all green lights in order to avoid collisions with those people who run red lights?  It would not be reasonable to do so.  Green means go not stop.  If we stopped at green lights, more accidents would follow.  Also, it would be very disruptive.  Consequently, we deem it would be irresponsible and unreasonable to stop at green lights.  To be reasonable means that “it makes good sense.”
Second, what does the phrase, “beyond reasonable doubt” mean?  No prosecutor could prove his case 100%.  But, he could present sufficient evidence to convince an individual juror “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  Consider this scenario.  A person enters a bank and robs it at gun point.  Later, the following evidence is presented to convict him or her.  There is an clear image of the suspect on a video camera.  A witness places the suspect at the scene at the same time as the crime.  A gun with the suspect’s finger prints on it is presented as material evidence.  But, another witness fails to recall the color of his shirt and mistakes his red shirt for some other color.  Would there be enough evidence to convict the suspect “beyond a reasonable doubt?”
Third, which is more convincing, description or recognition?  If you were asked to describe the president of the United States at the present time you could give a description like this:  he is a male, middle aged, tall, thin, moderately brown skin, with graying hair.  But, how many other men in America would fit that same description?  Yet, if he walked through the door of your house, you would be able to recognize him immediately.  Recognition is stronger than description.
Let’s apply what we have learned.  In order to have faith in Jesus Christ, we must consider the evidence that He is the Messiah and the Son of God.  John writes his Gospel with this purpose in mind (John 20:30-31).
First, could we prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God?  The evidence given in the gospels is sufficient for such proof.  We have: (1) Prophecy and its fulfillment.  For instance, Isaiah prophesied specifically what the Messiah would accomplish in Isa. 61:1-2.  This prophecy was applied by Jesus to himself in Luke 4:16-21.  Then, Jesus accomplished the specific factors that were prophesied.  The prophecy is confirmed by historical reality.  (2) Miracles.  Jesus performed a wide range of miracles including raising the dead (John 11).  The miracles were not denied even by Jesus’ enemies.  They may have attempted to attribute His power to the devil (Matt. 12) but, Jesus was able to refute this attack on His person.  (3) the Scriptures.  Many times the Gospel writers indicate that something that Jesus did or that was happening to Him was the fulfillment of the Scriptures.  The Scriptures have their own authority and their veracity is supported by their correspondence to historical details.  Truth is that which conforms to reality.  (4) Eyewitnesses.  Eyewitnesses, those who recognized Jesus, give testimony that they saw, heard and experienced life with the Lord before and after His death on the cross.  The post-resurrection appearances of Jesus to many people, including His disciples, is strong evidence of His resurrection from the dead. Of special mention in this class is the prophet Moses.  Moses’ credibility as a witness is unimpeachable.   (5) Jesus Himself.  Jesus bears witness to His identity and His mission.  What Jesus says perfectly agrees with what He did.  There are no discrepancies.  His own testimony is believable.  (6)  God.  At least three times during Jesus earthly ministry, a voice out of heaven speaks and declares Him to be the Son of God (Jesus’ baptism, Luke 3:21-22; Jesus’ Transfiguration, Luke 9:34-35; Before Jesus’ Death, John 12:28-32).
Second, unbelief is irrational and unreasonable.  Truth is that which conforms to reality as God defines reality.  To deny reality is to deny truth.  To deny reality is irrational and unreasonable.  Those who deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God are irrational.  There is sufficient evidence to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World and the Son of God.

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