This Is the Word of God
SINCE our God is a loving Father, it is only to be expected that he would give spiritual instruction and guidance to his children. But how can we be sure that the Bible is his Word? Do we have any assurance that it is trustworthy and reliable?
Yes, we do, for the Son of God, Jesus Christ, in prayer to his Father affirmed: “Your word is truth.” Truth indeed marks all the Word of God, because it was written, not out of human invention or origin, but under the direction of the holy spirit of our God. That is why “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial.”—John 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21.
Many worldly authorities have commented about the Bible’s sure marks of authenticity. One of these was the famous scientist Sir Isaac Newton, who, as a critic of ancient writings, examined the Holy Scriptures and concluded: “I find more sure marks of authenticity in the New Testament than in any profane history whatever.”a And a noted archaeologist, W. F. Albright, wrote in his book Archaeology and Israel: “No major contention of Scripture has been proved unhistorical.” As to small details such as chronological and geographical statements in the Bible, Professor R. D. Wilson writes in A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament: “Whenever there is sufficient documentary evidence to make an investigation, the statements of the Bible in the original text have stood the test. . . . The chronological and geographical statements are more accurate and reliable than those afforded by any other ancient documents.”
Though other books may be historically accurate, none can equal the Word of God. Although written by nearly forty different persons over a long period of about 1,600 years, its various parts fit together like the parts of a fine watch. Truly evidence that it has one Divine Author! Unlike other books that form the basis of the great religions, it alone traces man’s history from his creation in perfection to his fall into sin, down to the present and on into the glorious future.
Moreover, on whatever subject the Bible speaks, even on scientific matters, it never goes out of date. It endorses no scientific errors that were common at the time of its being written; it does not state that the earth is flat or that it is the center of the universe. Rather, it speaks of the earth as being round and hung upon nothing. (Isa. 40:22; Job 26:7) An astronomer, P. W. Stoner, had this to say about the Bible: “Although Genesis was written thousands of years ago, every reference to astronomy in this first chapter is corroborated by the best of our present scientific information. And yet we note that books of astronomy, written 25 years ago or more, are full of serious errors and anything written more than a few hundred years ago would be suitable only for the entertainment of the reader.”b
With good reason, then, an apostle of Jesus Christ wrote to the Thessalonian Christians: “When you received God’s word, . . . you accepted it, not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.”—1 Thess. 2:13.
A BOOK OF NEVER-FAILING PROPHECIES
One of the many assurances that the Bible is worthy of our absolute confidence is prophecy. For the Bible is not just a Book of accurate history but also a Book of history written in advance! It is a Book of never-failing prophecies. Bible prophecy is not vague but so specific that it even named individuals before they were born.
The prophet Isaiah, for instance, foretold that Babylon would fall to one named Cyrus. And long before this Cyrus had been born, prophecy also foretold that the river gates of Babylon would be left open to him and that he would capture the city. (Isa. 45:1, 2) The writing of Isaiah’s prophecy was finished about 732 B.C.E. Its fulfillment came in 539 B.C.E., when Cyrus the Persian took Babylon, the river gates of the city being left open as foretold by Isaiah about two hundred years earlier.
There are many more prophecies whose fulfillment is recorded by Bible writers. As an example, Joshua foretold that the man who would rebuild the city of Jericho would lay the foundation at the forfeit of his firstborn and put up its doors at the forfeit of his youngest. (Josh. 6:26) That was spoken in 1473 B.C.E. More than 500 years later, in the days of King Ahab of Israel, the Bible reports that Hiel built Jericho at the forfeit of Abiram his firstborn and put up its doors at the forfeit of Segub his youngest, “according to Jehovah’s word that he spoke by means of Joshua.”—1 Ki. 16:34.
The fulfillment of a number of prophecies, if not recorded in the Word of God, are obvious facts of history or are recorded by secular historians. In the eighth century B.C.E. Isaiah foretold that wicked “Babylon, the decoration of kingdoms, . . . must become as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. She will never be inhabited.” (Isa. 13:19, 20) One authority says: “More thorough destruction than that which has overtaken Babylon cannot well be conceived.”c
A similar prophecy is that of Zephaniah’s against bloodguilty Nineveh: “He will make Nineveh a desolate waste.” (Zeph. 2:13) Has that prophecy, written before 648 B.C.E., been fulfilled? The facts of history show that Nineveh fell to the Chaldeans and Medes about 633 B.C.E. and later became a mound of ruins. Historians have noted that “when Xenophon and his retreating Greek army passed [Nineveh] in 401 BC it was already an unrecognizable mass of debris.”d
Before 607 B.C.E. God’s prophet Jeremiah foretold that Jerusalem, yes, “all this land must become a devastated place” for seventy years. (Jer. 25:11; 29:10) That prophecy was fulfilled when Jerusalem lay desolate for seventy years following its destruction in 607 B.C.E., after which, as also foretold, a remnant of Jews returned to their homeland in 537 B.C.E. This was, says the Jewish historian Josephus, “in the first year of the reign of Cyrus, which was the seventieth from the day that our people were removed out of their own land into Babylon.”e
Most remarkable of all, however, are the many prophecies relative to the coming of the Messiah, who was to provide a ransom for man’s sins. For example, the prophecy of Micah states: “You, O Bethlehem . . . from you there will come out to me the one who is to become ruler in Israel.” (Mic. 5:2) That prophecy was written before 716 B.C.E. More than 700 years later, or in 2 B.C.E., Jesus Christ was “born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king,” in fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy. (Matt. 2:1-6) According to one authority this is just one of more than three hundred distinct prophecies, all of which received remarkable fulfillment in Jesus Christ.f
Jesus Christ himself uttered many Bible prophecies that received striking fulfillment. For instance, he told Jerusalem that enemies would build around Jerusalem “a fortification with pointed stakes and will encircle you” and “will not leave a stone upon a stone in you.” (Luke 19:43, 44) Spoken in 33 C.E., that prophecy was fulfilled in 70 C.E. when Rome’s armies under Titus surrounded Jerusalem and encircled it with a wall or “fortification with pointed stakes,” exactly as Jesus had prophesied thirty-seven years earlier. Because of this encircling wall, Josephus reported, “All hope of escaping was now cut off from the Jews.”g Demolition of the city by Rome’s armies accords with the ‘archaeological evidences of thorough destruction of Jewish buildings all over the land.’h
Then there are those many Bible prophecies that are undergoing fulfillment today, such as those pointing forward to the “last days,” or Christ’s second presence, at which time there would be “on the earth anguish of nations” and “critical times hard to deal with,” because of a moral breakdown in public and private life. Our own eyes can behold the fulfilling of these prophecies.—Luke 21:25, 26; 2 Tim. 3:1-5, 12, 13; Matt. 24:3, 7, 11, 12, 14.
DIVINE WINDOW TO THE FUTURE
So there is much prophecy in the Bible dealing with our day and even beyond! Many thrilling prophecies relate to what God is going to do on behalf of obedient mankind by means of his heavenly kingdom. Thus the Bible is a divine window to the future. As you read its prophecies, you will realize what a grand future awaits those who look to the kingdom of God. Would you like to live on a Paradise earth under that kingdom where there will be real security, with no threats to your home, your life and the life of your children? Well, then, here is what Bible prophecy shows that the future holds:
“Here I am creating new heavens and a new earth. . . . And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full. They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance. . . . The wolf and the lamb themselves will feed as one, and the lion will eat straw just like the bull.”—Isa. 65:17, 21-25.
That hope-inspiring prophecy cannot fail. Imagine a new system of things in which all threats to your security are removed! All will have their own homes with no threat of losing them. Today many own homes but because of threats to employment, high taxes or other reasons, they never really feel secure. Many have lost homes because they are not able to keep up payments. But in God’s New Order one will not need to fear losing his home and the land, with its fruit trees and vineyards, flowers and gardens, that he has made beautiful. Nor will parents fear that their children will grow up to be sent off to fight and die in wars or meet a tragic end because of crime and violence in the world. Violence and disturbance will be things of the past!
Moreover, never again will mankind need to fear the wild animal creation, for God’s sure word of prophecy assures us that even the wolf and the lamb will get along peacefully, that the lion will be no threat to domestic animals. Looking into the future by means of the divine window, God’s Word, we read this promise: “I shall certainly conclude a covenant in that day in connection with the wild beast of the field and with the flying creature of the heavens and the creeping thing of the ground, and the bow and the sword and war I shall break out of the land, and I will make them lie down in security.” (Hos. 2:18) Unlike the promises of politicians, that divine promise will never disappoint you.
To learn more about the soul-stirring blessings that God’s kingdom will bring to mankind, do not miss the feature article in this issue, “The Coming Banquet for All the Peoples.” As you read that article and the grand hope it presents, keep in mind that no prophecy in the Word of God ever fails. The God of heaven and earth assures us: “So my word that goes forth from my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.”—Isa. 55:11.
WALK IN GOD’S WAYS NOW
Seeing what wonderful prospects our heavenly Father holds out to those who walk in his ways, how should we respond to all this? Should we not want to become more acquainted with our God and his Word? Yes, we will want to study it, not just listen to others speak about it. We will want to prove to ourselves all these things, making our hope certain. We do well to imitate those persons commended in the Bible because they ‘carefully examined the Scriptures daily.’ (Acts 17:11) By such regular, daily Bible study, you will learn God’s will and his ways.
We will want to respond to God’s love further, not only by study of his Word, but by applying all this divine instruction in our lives. His own Word tells us: “The conclusion of the matter . . . is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.” (Eccl. 12:13) So we need to familiarize ourselves with those commandments, obeying them so that the Word of God is at work in us.
Putting the Word of God to work in our lives means also to obey those commandments about God’s kingdom. Jesus Christ, God’s foremost Prophet, foretold a great publicity work for our day when he said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14) So God’s will is that the greatest publicity possible be given to his kingdom. This is being done, not just by printed word, but by the spoken word, by word of mouth. If you really put the written Word of God to work in your life, you will want to respond to the invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ and loyally support his kingdom by being an outspoken advocate of it to others.
The Holy Bible—this alone is the Word of God! Only by studying it and applying it in your life can you do the will of God so as to walk in his ways forever.
a The Union Bible Companion (Philadelphia, Pa.; 1871) S. A. Allibone, pp. 29, 30.
b Modern Science and Christian Faith (Wheaton, Ill. 1950), by members of The American Scientific Affiliation p.22.
c Cyclopædia (New York; 1882), M’Clintock and Strong, Vol. I, p. 596.
d The New Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, Mich; 1963), J. D. Douglas, editor, p. 889.
e Antiquities of the Jews, Book XI, Chap. 1, ¶1; see also The Bible As History (New York; 1956), Werner Keller, p. 313.
f Archaeology and Bible History (Wheaton, Ill.; 1950), Joseph P. Free, p. 284.
g Wars of the Jews, Book V, chapter 12, ¶2, 3.
h The Bible and Archaeology (Grand Rapids, Mich.; 1962), J. A. Thompson, p. 299.