Monday, June 22, 2015

Reasons to Believe - Day #1

So this week we are looking at some Reasons to Believe.  This is Day #1.  If you would like seven days of Reasons to Believe delivered to your inbox, give me your email address above.  Only days #1, #4 and #7 will be posted on this Blogsite.

So let's start off easy . . .

“How do I know I can trust the Bible?”

This question stems from an age of video cameras and DNA proof.  So many people wish the Bible was more ‘scientific.’  We wish the Bible was a collection of facts and not 'stories.'  If only Genesis started off with "In the beginning there was a huge explosion between Helium and Hydrogen atoms that released a massive amount of heat and force . . ."

But it didn't . . . because science came into existence about 500 years ago and the Bible was written thousands of years ago.  In fact, the very thing that causes us to doubt the Bible is the thing that authenticates it.  I
f the Bible was 'scientific' it would be as fake as a copy of Gone With the Wind in HD.  Gone With the Wind was made in 1939 - you will never own a High Def version, but you wouldn't want one because it would not be the original.  

So 'unscientific' is actually better in this case.

This is what I mean: God made sure to reveal Himself a long time ago.  During that time all truth came through stories - passed on through elders and told to each generation.  So God worked with how man understood.  He gave us stories.  God didn't make up stories - He acted in history to give people history to write about.  He knew truth came through stories so He acted in time.  The very thing that makes it real is the thing that we question.  

So the Bible is history - a history of God's interactions with a specific family (the family of Israel) through time and arrives at a person named Jesus.  

This is also what makes the Bible unique.  

Hindu and Buddhist scriptures are meant to be allegorical.  No one reads them thinking it actually happened.  Taoism, Confucianism and more current expressions of spirituality like Sikhism are collections of wise sayings and spiritual ideas.  Only Judaism (which is half of Christianity) and Islam (which draws on the Old Testament) claim to be historically accurate. 

And the stories line up with the facts.  Some examples:

·      Joseph is sold into slavery for twenty Shekels of silver – archeology confirms from receipts of this time that this is the price for a slave.
·      Abram leaves Ur, travels to numerous cities all mentioned in other histories of the Ancient Near East.
·      Records from Assyrian and Babylonian battles talk about leaders from Israel.  David, Abraham, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are all mentioned by name outside the Bible.

These are not myths. 

Early in the 20th century, religious ‘experts’ taught that the stories of the Old Testament were invented by later generations  They mocked the Bible for listing people groups like the Perizzites and Jebusites when there was no evidence for these people anywhere in the Middle East.
·      Funny, but a decade or so later they found the remains of the Perizites and the Jebusites.   This happens over and over.
·      The Old Testament story of Jericho was derided as myth.  Interesting how when Katherine Kenyon excavated the site in the 50’s she found evidence that supported the Old Testament account (including the city taken in the spring and the walls falling outward just like a ramp – as described in the scriptures). 

Perhaps one of the most fascinating things that have happened was the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Up until about 1950 we had copies of the Old Testament that were written about 2,000 years after the events took place.  So the experts reasoned that there was a fair amount of time for a lot of the stories to have become very inflated.  Kind of like “Whisper Down the Lane.”  

In 1948 we discovered a library of Old Testament scrolls stored from about 1,400 years earlier in Israel.  

This is where it gets really interesting . . .

It looked like the skeptics had finally found what they were looking for.  They had a copy of the Bible that predated the oldest known manuscript by over 1,000 years.  They thought that this was the evidence they needed to show that the Bible is just like any other religious text.  Perhaps the Exodus was really a story of a family escaping from Egypt but ballooned into the spectacle we read of in the Bible.  Maybe Noah was the story of a guy who took a trip in a small boat with his pets but snowballed into saving the world.  This was the chance to show that the Bible is a collection of folktales added to over the centuries. 

Well 1950 came and went – we heard nothing from the team of translators.

1960 came and went.

1970 came and went.

Finally 1980 came and went and after pressure was put on this team of scholars they released their findings.  Their conclusion?

Essentially nothing had changed.

There were a few changes here or there (even language changes over a thousand years) but the Bible remained the same over a period of 1400 years.   The team leader, Geza Vermes, stated that the result was nothing less than miraculous.  This from a person who does not identify as a believer.

The Bible is very unique.

These are just a few examples.  There are books of material that testify to the fact that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  No matter how many people try to discredit the Bible it just continues to stand on its own and change people’s lives.  There is no other book like it in the world. 

You probably won’t remember all the details in this article.  What is important to remember is the next time someone wonders out loud whether the Bible is just like all the other religious books you can say with conviction that it is different.

Just a start on the Reasons to Believe.  See you tomorrow.

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