The Bible—Is It Really From God?
ONE thing is certain. For you to accept a book as being from God, it would have to be truthful and accurate in everything it says. The people and places to which it refers should actually have existed. Would you not agree? How does the Bible measure up in this regard?
Take just one example. The Bible identifies Pontius Pilate as the governor of Judea during the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. (Luke 3:1, 2) But did Pilate actually live and, if so, was he really the ruler of Judea?
For a long time no confirmation was available. Then, in 1961, a remarkable discovery was made at Caesarea. An inscribed stone was uncovered that was originally part of a temple honoring the emperor Tiberius. The Latin inscription states: “Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judea, has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple in honor of Tiberius.” The Bible’s historical accuracy was confirmed! And there are many, many other examples that show that the Bible is accurate and reliable historically and geographically.
‘Wait a minute,’ you might say. ‘The fact that a book is accurate does not prove that it is from God!’ True. The Bible’s accuracy does not in itself prove divine inspiration. However, the Bible contains evidence that proves it is far more than an accurate history book. Thus, many sincere Bible students have become convinced that the Bible really is from God. You deserve to see what led them to that conviction. Let us examine five different lines of evidence.
Imagine that 40 people were asked to write sections of a book. Their backgrounds were varied. Some were well educated, while others were humble farmers or shepherds. Further, not all of them knew one another. In fact, most of them lived at different times in history and in different places. What do you think would be the chances that their writings would all harmonize, even in the smallest details? ‘Impossible!’ you say? Well, these are the very circumstances surrounding the writing of the Bible.
Now consider as just one example of the harmony of the writers their consistent portrayal of Jehovah God. As you can read in the Bible, its various parts provide a harmonious description of Jehovah God as to both his person and his personality. He is timeless, infinite. (Psalm 90:2; Habakkuk 1:12; Revelation 10:6; 15:3) He is invisible to human eyes. (Exodus 33:20; John 1:18; 1 Timothy 1:17) The Bible writers, when given visions of his presence, describe great dignity and majesty, as well as serenity, order and beauty. (Exodus 24:9-11; Ezekiel 1:26-28; Revelation 4:1-3) Throughout the Bible God’s dominant qualities are repeatedly shown to be love, wisdom, justice and power.
Surely, the internal harmony of the Bible—despite its many writers—is an indication that it is from a source higher than man.
Now let us consider one or two of the Bible’s comments on scientific matters. Why are these significant? For several reasons: (1) They harmonize with scientific facts; (2) they reflect knowledge that was beyond the available human knowledge at the time they were written; and (3) they are completely free from the mistaken views held at the time.
Perhaps you have heard that the Bible says that our earth hangs upon nothing and is round. (Job 26:7; Isaiah 40:22) ‘Why is that so remarkable?’ you may ask. Keep in mind that these Biblical comments agree with proved scientific fact and they are in contrast to ancient myths about the shape of the earth and how it was supported. Why, up till just a few hundred years ago most men, even those involved in science, believed that the earth was flat! So it is extraordinary that the Bible writers knew these facts about the earth thousands of years ago and that without modern scientific instruments!
Here is another example. At the time of Moses it was the custom in Egypt to use human or animal excrement as a remedy for certain ailments. Furthermore, Moses was raised in Egypt and was “instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” (Acts 7:22) But the comments he wrote at Deuteronomy 23:12, 13 are completely free from the mistaken—in fact, harmful—medical practices of Egypt. According to these words, in ancient Israel human excrement was to be considered unclean, to be buried away from populated areas and water supplies. As you know, modern medical science agrees.
Are not these examples a further indication that the information recorded by the Bible writers must have come from a source higher than themselves?
Something else that identifies the Bible as coming from God is the candor of its writers. Why? For one thing, it is contrary to fallen human nature to admit one’s mistakes, especially in writing. In this, the Bible is distinguished from other ancient books. But, more than that, the candor of its writers assures us of their overall honesty. After all, they would not likely reveal their weaknesses and then make false claims about other things, would they? If they were going to falsify anything, would it not be unfavorable information about themselves? So, then, the candor of the Bible writers adds weight to their claim that God guided them in what they wrote down.—2 Timothy 3:16.
As an example of such candor, let us consider Moses. Although he was leader of the nation of Israel, mediator of the Law covenant, prophet and judge, he did not lead Israel into the Promised Land. Why not? According to Numbers 20:1-13, Moses made a serious mistake. Read for yourself how he “acted undutifully” and “began to speak rashly with his lips,” failing to magnify God’s name. Who recorded the account in the Bible book of Numbers? Moses, who candidly made a permanent record of his own failings!—Deuteronomy 32:50-52; Psalm 106:32, 33.
Consider next the shortcomings of the apostles of Jesus Christ. At times they were slow to understand (Matthew 16:5-12), showed little faith (Matthew 17:18-20) and revealed a tendency to seek prominence. (Matthew 18:1-6; 20:20-28) Why, they even abandoned Jesus on the night he was arrested! (Matthew 26:56) Did you notice that all these shortcomings were recorded by Matthew, one of the 12 apostles?
Do you not agree that the candor of the Bible writers is further evidence that the Bible is more than a mere human book and evidently contains ‘not the word of men, but the word of God’?—1 Thessalonians 2:13.
The preservation of the Scriptures also indicates that the Bible really is from God. Consider these two reasons:
(1) Since the Bible writers originally wrote on perishable material, the Scriptures had to be recopied by hand numerous times throughout the centuries in order to be preserved for future generations. Why is this so remarkable? Not only because there was the risk of human error but also because there were deliberate efforts to tamper with the text. Yet the Bible has come down to us with amazing accuracy, as the discovery of ancient Bible manuscripts confirms.*
(2) The Bible’s preservation is all the more amazing when you consider that it has survived fierce opposition. There were times when popes and councils prohibited the reading of the Bible under penalty of excommunication. Many Bible lovers were burned at the stake. But the Bible survived all this opposition and became the world’s best-seller.
No other book in human history has survived with accuracy despite repeated recopying by imperfect humans and centuries of bitter attacks by enemies. Is this not convincing proof that the Bible contains “the saying of Jehovah,” which “endures forever”?—1 Peter 1:24, 25.
Perhaps the strongest proof that the Bible is from God is the fulfillment of its many prophecies. What man is there that can foretell the future with unfailing, pinpoint accuracy, hundreds, even thousands, of years in advance? Men have difficulty in predicting the weather more than a few hours in advance!
‘But how do we know that Bible prophecies were really written in advance?’ you may ask. To answer that, turn to Isaiah 13:19, 20 and read Isaiah’s prophecy regarding the destruction of ancient Babylon. Notice that Isaiah did not foretell just the destruction of Babylon. He also said: “She [Babylon] will never be inhabited.” Babylon is desolate to this day. How could Isaiah possibly have written his prophecy after the fulfillment?
Furthermore, although Babylon was conquered by the Medes and the Persians in 539 B.C.E., Isaiah’s prophecy was not completely fulfilled at that time. In fact, there were still people living in Babylon down to the first century C.E. (1 Peter 5:13) Apparently, it was not until the fourth century C.E. that Babylon became finally desolated, thus completely fulfilling Isaiah’s words. There is no doubt that Isaiah wrote his book before that, for even the Dead Sea Scrolls (Bible manuscripts first discovered in 1947) contain a copy of Isaiah dating from the first or second century B.C.E.
The Bible contains scores of other long-range prophecies that were fulfilled. More than that, a study of the Bible reveals that it contains prophecies that you are seeing fulfilled today. (Consider the accompanying box.) Can there be any doubt that the Bible writers spoke from God?
After reviewing the evidence, what do you conclude? At the very least, does not the Bible merit your investigation? There is compelling reason for you to investigate it. As we noted in the previous article, never before in history has there been a greater need for reliable guidance in human affairs. The Bible contains principles that, if applied, can help you to cope with economic hardships, live peaceably with your fellowman and build a happy family life. What about the global problems that are beyond human control? The Bible outlines the permanent solution to be effected by God’s Kingdom under Christ in the near future.
Would you like to find out more about these things? Why not get in touch with Jehovah’s Witnesses locally or write the publishers of this magazine? You have everything worth while to gain.
See the book Aid to Bible Understanding, pages 1106-1110, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
[Box on page 7]
Bible Prophecies That We Have Seen Fulfilled
1. World wars (Revelation 6:3, 4)
4. Increase in earthquakes (Luke 21:11)
5. Ruining of the earth, such as by deadly pollution (Revelation 11:18)
6. Worldwide preaching of the good news of God’s Kingdom by Jehovah’s Witnesses (Matthew 24:14)
[Picture on page 5]
Men who have walked on the moon or orbited the earth can testify to the Bible’s scientific accuracy
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Why is it significant that Moses recorded his grave mistake?