The Oldest Book on Earth
. . . Is it Relevant in Our 21st Century?
Written thousands of years ago, the Judeo-Christian Bible is a best seller—if not the best seller. In spite of continuous opposition through the centuries to destroy it under different civilizations by religious extremists and secular governments, the Bible has emerged triumphantly.
Guinness World Records states: “Although it is im- possible to obtain exact figures, there is little doubt that the Bible is the world’s best-selling and most widely distributed book. A survey by the Bible Society concluded that around 2.5 billion copies were printed between 1815 and 1975, but more recent estimates put the number at more than 5 billion”
One Author—One Harmonious Plan The Bible includes sixty-six books by forty different writers. But in spite of misinterpretation and misrepresentation by its enemies, the fact is that it presents one har- monious Plan. Reality check: the Bible reveals the wisdom, justice and love of our Creator God and His intention to bless ALL humanity. Even in the very first chapters of Genesis—outlining the earth’s and man’s creation, as well as our first parents’ disobedience and consequences—is an explanation of humanity’s struggles and troubles throughout history, including a promise to resolve the trouble.
Instead of the Garden of Eden becoming a Paradise for all mankind—it became “cursed” with a death sentence on all people. Still, one thread, one promise of hope also began in Genesis that the “seed of the woman” would fatally “bruise” the “head” of the ser- pent (used by Satan to deceive Eve). (Genesis 3:15-17).
Remarkably, Genesis also includes the all- comprehensive wonderful promise to Abraham that in his “seed...shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22:17,18). This “seed” promised was then defined both as “stars” and also as “sand.”
That thread of promise in the Bible is confirmed to his son Isaac (Genesis 25:5), next to Jacob (Genesis 28:14) whose name was changed to “Israel” (Genesis 32:28)—then whose twelve sons inherited God’s promise to bless “all the families of the earth” (Gene- sis 26:3,4). A further affirmation of God’s Plan of blessing was penned by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Church at Galatia. “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed’” Galatians 3:8.
The Law and the Prophets The Law of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible)—as well as the books of the Prophets—all consistently point to the time when and how “all the families of the earth” will be blessed in God’s planned Kingdom. The Law was truly “a shadow [picture] of good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1).
Although God’s instructions for man are summarized by the Ten Commandments—His Plan of bringing mankind back into fellowship with Him is graphically laid out in various rituals required of His people Israel. The first feature of His Law was the institution of Passover—recorded in Exodus—with Israel’s flight from the slavery of Egypt.
“Passover” deliverance occurred in two stages: First, the firstborn only were in jeopardy—they were spared by the blood of a lamb sprinkled on the “door” posts and lintels (Exodus 12:7-23). But next the whole people of Israel had to be saved by escaping through the Red Sea from the army of Pharaoh.
New Testament Enlightenment The two-part sav- ing of Israel pictures two stages of salvation from the slavery of sin and death. Apostle Paul explained that Christians are to be “Abraham’s seed” of blessing (Galatians 3:17). This first stage is explained by James who identifies fellow Christians as “first fruits.”
“In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” NAS
If there are to be “first fruits,” the evident implication is that there must be after-fruits! Apostle Paul explains why the time lapse before “all the families” of the earth will be blessed by the “Seed” of Abraham. “And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). Thus the “Seed” of promise has to be completed first. Faithful Christians are still being prepared to be the “stars of heaven” of the promise in Genesis!
Likewise, in another graphic Biblical picture, the “Bride” of Christ has to first make herself “ready” (Revelation 19:7) before offering life to the rest of the earth’s billions.
“And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
No More “Curse” on Mankind How clearly the whole Bible harmoniously and logically lays out the origin, history and destiny of mankind. The penalty curse of death on mankind recorded in the first book of the Bible (Genesis 2:17) is lifted in the last book: “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him” “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 22:3, 4).
So the Bible not only offers a complete explanation of why there is so much pain and suffering in the world— but also offers a complete hope for all mankind—not just a few. All to be accomplished by “the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5, 6).
The Bible is Validated by Archeology However, influenced by the 17th and 18th Century rationalist thinking—and the 19th and 20th Century development of theory of evolution and pressure to be politically correct—many in the academic and religious world questioned the validity of the Bible. Yes, including theologians! Nevertheless, discoveries in archeological digs in the Middle East have been astoundingly exciting in verifying the Bible’s recorded history.
With Biblical references hundreds of cities, kings, and other sites, one would expect to find evidence from on-site excavations, and this is exactly what has been found. The Bible is actually the most historically accurate book of history on earth. The Tel Dan inscription—“The House of David”—was discovered in 1993 in northern Israel. This significant discovery verifies the accuracy of the Bible regarding King David as a key figure in Bible history allowing for the genealogical link of David to Jesus, the King as ruler and blesser (Luke 1:31-33; John 7:42).
The “Dead Sea Scrolls” Speak The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in eleven caves along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea between the years 1947 and 1956. Fragments of every book of the Hebrew canon (Old Testament) have been discovered (except for the book of Esther).The Scrolls have enhanced our knowl- edge of both Judaism and Christianity. Furthermore, they confirm Christianity’s roots in Judaism.
Science, Astronomy and the Bible Although the Bible was not meant to be a science textbook, when it alludes to matters of science—it is clearly accurate compared with the common beliefs in ancient times.
While those ancient people living before Aristotle be- lieved the Earth was a flat disk carried by a giant (or even a turtle!) — the Bible, written centuries before Aristotle lived, recorded the earth is suspended in empty space: “He...hangeth the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7-8).
In our 21st Century, NASA discoveries using the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes have produced evidence which actually affirms the Bible account as scien- tifically accurate. The findings confirm (1) the Bible’s description of planetary formation and (2) that the Earth’s preparation should be understood as referring to a period of time—not just a 24-hour day—because the Hebrew word translated “day” (yom) can refer to an epoch. (See: http://hubblerevealscreation.com/genesis/) Before Man was created on the “Sixth Day,” almost all six epochs of time had passed.
The opening statement of the Bible—“the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep”—has been verified as the way all planets form from a “chaotic state in total darkness” as observed by the telescopes of NASA.
Furthermore, the Bible does not contradict scientific findings by saying the sun was created after the earth on the “Fourth Day.” The darkness that shrouds stars and planets in their formative period logically explain why the “lights in the firmament of heaven” (the stars, sun and moon) were not visible on earth until the “Fourth Day” (or epoch) of creation (Genesis 1:14).
End Time Bible Prophecies Today many people are nervous about world-wide international trouble which seems to be increasingly gathering: politically, socially, economically—the rise in 2014 of an Islamic State claim- ing to be the successor to Mohammad’s rule, and now more recently the fear of a world-wide Ebola epidemic.
But actually, we should and can find comfort in the Bible that predicted a climaxing of man’s trouble just before God’s promise of the wonderful Kingdom would bless “all the families of the earth” (Genesis 28:14).
Old Testament prophecy in the Book of Daniel corre- sponds with the New Testament Gospel account of Mat- thew regarding Jesus’ return at the End of the Age (Daniel 12:1-4). Jesus’ disciples had asked about those end times (Matthew 24:1-3). Daniel’s prophecy spoke of an increase of “knowledge”—education, technology etc., but also there was to be “a time of distress.” Jesus referred to that trouble as unprecedented (vss. 21, 22).
Both of those Biblical prophecies harmoniously refer to that time when Israel would also be regathered—from all over the world—and prepared to bless all humanity in God’s Kingdom. But, as Apostle Paul forewarned, (1) “the day of the Lord” would come “as travail upon a woman with child” as the old order exits (2 Thessalonians 5:1-3)—and (2) Israel would “return to the Land” in a time of “travail” (Jeremiah 30:3-7).
“Thy Kingdom Come” Thus we see in God’s Plan— laid out in the Bible—that Jesus’ prayer for God’s “Kingdom [to] come” when God’s will would be “done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10) confirms the premise that The Bible Plan is a hope-filled plan. That is why—as recorded in the Book of Acts—when Jesus was ascending to heaven, they asked, “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Yes, it would be restored to Israel—but in the Father’s time at the end of the Gospel Age—when after the Gospel had been sent to “the uttermost part of the earth” (vs. 7).
Finally, the last Book of the Bible, Revelation, describes the time when the “Bride” of Christ together with Jesus will offer the “water of life” to the whole world. That will be time the Prophet Isaiah described as when “all nations” will come up to Jerusalem to be blessed by a restored Israel—the “House of Jacob”— working together under the guidance of the heavenly “Zion” (Isaiah 2:1-4) to bless “all the families of the earth” as promised in Genesis!
Our Bible—God’s Word—is not only critically relevant to our times, but is also wonderfully encouraging for what is ahead for all mankind!