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STUDY 3: THE BIBLE – GOD’S REVELATION

 

Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

 

THE Bible, as the torch of civilization and liberty, has long been regarded as an influence for

good by the greatest statesmen, even though many of them have unintentionally misrepresented

its teachings by holding to various errors handed down for centuries, which they believed the Bible taught.

 

Those feeling after God instinctively expect a fuller revelation from Him than that which nature

supplies. Such are therefore prepared to examine the claims of anything asserting to be a divine

revelation, and whose surface evidence seems to justify such claims. The Bible claims to be such

a revelation, and its surface evidence gives us enough hope to give it a closer investigation.

 

The Bible is the oldest book in existence, and has survived the storms of over thirty-one

centuries. Men have endeavored by every means possible to banish it from the face of the earth:

They have hidden it, burned it, made it a crime punishable by death to possess one and have

waged bitter and relentless persecution against those who had faith in it. But today it still lives

on, while many of its foes have long been forgotten. It is found in every nation and language on

earth, having been translated into over five hundred different languages. This fact alone gives us

enough circumstantial evidence that the great Being claiming to be its Author has also been its

Preserver.

 

The moral influence of the Bible has been good. Careful students of its pages have been elevated

to a purer life. Other writings on religion and the various sciences have done good, and blessed

mankind to some extent, but all other books combined have failed to bring the joy, peace and

blessing to the groaning creation that the Bible has brought. It is not a book to be read merely,

but to be studied carefully and thoughtfully, for God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and

His ways than our ways.

 

The Bible’s Central Individual

 

The Bible throughout points out one prominent individual – Jesus of Nazareth – who it claims

was the Son of God. His name, office and works are made prominent from beginning to end.

That a man by that name lived about the time the writers of the Bible claimed, is a fact of history

aside from the Bible. That He was crucified is also a corroborated fact of history. All the writers

of the New Testament except Paul and Luke were personal acquaintances and disciples of Jesus.

 

We ask: What motives inspired these men to advocate the cause of Jesus, considering that He

was condemned to death and crucified as a criminal? These men faced persecution and death, yet

continued to espouse His cause even after His death. Could they have hoped for fortune, fame,

power or any earthly advantage? On the contrary, they sacrificed everything of earthly benefit to

elevate their fellowmen and uphold high moral principles. Reason declares that their motives

were pure and good.

 

Similarly, the writers of the Old Testament were men notable for their fidelity to the Lord. One

peculiarity is that their weaknesses and shortcomings were not hidden, so if they had any selfish

motives, would they not have painted themselves as great, and possessing blameless and noble

characters?

 

Let us examine the character of the writings claimed to be inspired, and determine whether their

teachings correspond with the character we have reasonably ascribed to God.

 

The Books of Moses and the Laws Therein Promulgated

 

The first five books of the Bible are known as the Five Books of Moses, though his name is

never mentioned as their author. We may reasonably infer that he was the writer, with the

account of his death and burial being added by his secretary. One thing is certain – Moses did

lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He organized them as a nation under the laws set forth in these

books. The Hebrew nation has claimed these books as a sacred gift from Moses for over three

thousand years.

 

These writings of Moses present the only reliable history of the world, beginning with the

creation. The account in Genesis starts with the reasonable assumption that a God, a Creator, an

intelligent First Cause already existed, in the words: “In the beginning God created the heaven

and the earth” (Genesis 1: 1). Passing over the origin of the earth, the narrative proceeds to give

details of the six days [epochs] of preparing the earth for man.

We next look at the system of laws laid down in these writings, and find them to be without an

equal even to the present day. The best laws in the world today are based upon the principles of

the Mosaic Law, and designed mainly by men who acknowledged the Mosaic Law as of divine

origin.

 

The Ten Commandments

 

The Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, summarizes the whole law, which consists of an

unparalleled code of worship and morals. Though they do not teach Christ, they were not given

to Christians, but to Hebrews, to convince them of their sinful state and their need of a Savior – a

ransom.  The distinguished founder of Christianity Himself summed up those Ten

Commandments in the words: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all

thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength,” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as

thyself” (Mark 12: 30, 31).

 

The government established by Moses differed from all others, ancient or modern, in that it

claimed to be that of the Creator Himself. The people were held accountable to God alone,

whose laws and institutions, civil and religious, claimed to have come from God, and which

were in perfect harmony with what reason teaches us to be His character. The Tabernacle, in the

center of the camp, had in its “Most Holy” compartment a manifestation of the Lord’s presence

as their King, in which by supernatural means they received instruction for the proper

administration of their affairs as a nation. An order of priests had complete charge of the

Tabernacle, and through them alone access and communion with the Lord was permitted.

However, the rights and privileges of the priests were limited, for they were given no civil power

whatever.

 

As God’s representative in delivering Israel out of Egyptian bondage, circumstances had

centralized the government in Moses’ hand. Though he was an autocrat in power and authority,

his meekness made him the overworked servant of the people. At that time a civil government

was formed, which was virtually a democracy, though in reality it was a theocracy, a divine

government, for its laws were given by God, through Moses, and no amendments were

permitted. God also directed Moses to select various elders, captains and officers from among

the people to relieve Moses of his too great burdens.

 

This republican form of government lasted for over four hundred years and was only changed to

a kingdom at the request of “The Elders,” without the Lord’s approval. Though Israel was one

nation, the tribal division that was first recognized after Jacob’s death continued, with each of

the tribes electing certain of their members as representatives, or chiefs. Moses instructed these

judges to try the various cases coming to them with a righteous judgment, and if they determined

that a case was too hard for them, they were then to bring it to Moses. After Moses’ death such

hard cases were brought directly to the Lord through the High Priest, with the answer being Yes

or No, by the Urim and Thummim respectively.

 

Divine Wisdom shown in Israel’s Laws

 

All the laws were made public, any who chose could copy them and the priests read them to the

people at their septennial festivals. The rights and interests of foreigners were considered, for the

law was the same for them as for one of their own country (Exodus 12: 49) (Leviticus 24: 22).

 

Even the lower animals were not forgotten. Cruelty to these as well as to human beings was

strictly prohibited. An ox was not to be muzzled while thrashing the grain, for any laborer is

worthy of his food. Even the ox and the ass were not to plow together, because they were so

unequal in strength, that it would be cruel to the latter. Their rest was also provided fo

(Deuteronomy 25: 4) (Deuteronomy 22: 10) (Exodus 23: 12).

 

When Israel gained possession of the land of Canaan, the Levites did not receive a share of the

land except for certain cities or villages to dwell in which were scattered among the various

tribes whom they served in religious matters. To make up for it, the tithe, a voluntary

contribution from the eleven tribes, was provided for them (Deuteronomy 12: 19)

(Deuteronomy14: 27).

 

The sanitary arrangements of their law are remarkable, and were at least equal to the latest

conclusions of medical science on the subject. Surely their law is a marvelous display of wisdom

and justice!

 

The Prophets of the Bible

 

God’s prophets were usually not of the priestly class, in fact, their prophecies were generally

distasteful to the degenerating priesthood and to the idolatrously inclined people. Most of their

messages were reproofs for sin, along with warnings of coming punishments. Occasionally their

messages were promises of future blessings, after the people had become cleansed from sin and

had returned to the Lord’s favor. They were generally reviled and many were imprisoned and put

to violent deaths. In some cases it was years after their death before their true character as God’s

prophets was recognized. The law gave all the authority to teach and reprove, but most were

absorbed in business, etc., so few reproved sin and exhorted the people to godliness. But the

preachers who did so are termed “prophets” in both the Old and New Testaments. The term

prophet generally signifies a public expounder, yet not all of them were prophets of God; some

were prophets of idolatry, such as “the prophets of Baal.”

 

Prophesying, in the ordinary sense of teaching, later became popular with a certain class, but

degenerated into Phariseeism – teaching the traditions of the ancients, instead of God’s

commandments, thereby opposing the truth and becoming false prophets, or false teachers

(Matthew 15: 2-9).

 

Out of the large class of prophets, God at various times chose some whom He specially

commissioned to deliver messages, relating at times to things then at hand, and at other times to

future events. These were the ones who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the holy spirit.

We may designate them

 

Divinely Commissioned Prophets or Seers

 

We ask: Is there any link between the records of Moses, the other prophets, and the New

Testament writers? If we find a common line of thought between them – which covers a period

of fifteen hundred years – this should give us good reason to accept their writing as divinely

inspired, especially if their theme is grand, noble and in harmony with the character and

attributes of God.

 

This we do find: One plan, spirit, aim, and purpose pervades the entire book. Its opening pages

record the creation and fall of man; its closing pages tell of man’s recovery from that fall; and its

intervening pages show the successive steps of the plan of God for accomplishing this purpose.

The harmony, yet contrast of the first three and last three chapters of the Bible is striking. One

describes the first creation, the other the restored creation, with sin and its curse removed. One

shows Satan and evil entering the world to deceive and destroy, the other shows his work

undone, the death state’s “destroyed” restored, evil extinguished and Satan destroyed. One

shows the dominion lost by Adam, the other shows it restored and forever established by Christ,

and God’s will done on earth as in heaven. One shows sin as the producing cause of degradation,

shame and death, the other shows the reward of righteousness to be glory, honor and life.

 

Genesis teaches that man was tried in a state of original perfection in one representative, Adam;

that he failed, and that present imperfection, sickness and death are the results. God, however,

has not forsaken him, but will ultimately recover him through a redeemer, born of a woman

(Genesis 3: 15). The necessity of the death of a redeemer as a sacrifice for sins, and of His

righteousness as a covering for our sin, is pointed out in the clothing of skins for Adam and Eve;

in the acceptance of Abel’s offerings; in Isaac on the altar; in the death of the various sacrifices

giving the patriarchs access to God, and of those instituted under the Law Covenant and

continued throughout the Jewish age. The prophets point out who that redeemer would be

through their many written prophecies, especially describing His many sufferings.

 

Harmony of the New Testament Writers

 

The New Testament writers record the fulfillment of those prophecies in Jesus of Nazareth, and

using logical reasoning, show that such a ransom price as he gave was needful, before the sins of

the world could be blotted out (Isaiah 1: 18). They recognized that not only would their nation be

blessed, but that all the families of the earth would be blessed. They also saw that before the

blessing of either Israel or the world, the selection of a “little flock” from both Jews and Gentiles

would take place, who would be made the joint-heirs of the Great Deliverer.

 

The Bible holds out a unique doctrine, that a future life for the dead will come through a

RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD, and when that time comes, the wicked will no longer rule

the earth, for “The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning” (Psalm 49: 14). Paul

states: “If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen,

then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. . . . Then they also which are fallen asleep

in Christ are perished. . . . But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of

them that slept. . . . For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive”

(1 Corinthians 15: 13-22).

 

The Bible consists of many parts, prepared by many pens, yet is one complete and harmonious

whole. Though some parts take a more prominent role, all are useful and necessary. Many

skeptics today denigrate its miracles, not recognizing that they are so interwoven in the Bible,

that to discredit them, is to discredit the whole. Furthermore, it would disparage those who wrote

about the miracles and those who accepted them as true, making it impossible for us to accept

their testimony as divinely inspired.

 

We have reasoned that there is a God, a supreme, intelligent Creator, whose perfect wisdom,

justice, love and power exist in perfect harmony. We have found it reasonable to expect a

revelation of His plans to His creatures, one that they may appreciate and take an interest in. We

have found the Bible, claiming to be that revelation. We have examined its writers and found

them possessed of wisdom and purity of motive, and conclude that such righteous and

benevolent sentiments and laws must be of God and not of men. We have seen the harmony of

testimony concerning Jesus, His ransom-sacrifice, and the resurrection and blessing of all as the

outcome, in His glorious kingdom to come. Reason has told us that such a plan so grand and

comprehensive, must be the plan of God.

 

Truth Most Precious

 

Great truths are dearly bought. The common truth, Such as men give and take from day to day, Comes in the walk of

easy life, Blown by the careless wind across our way

 

Great truths are dearly won; not found by chance, Nor wafted on the breath of summer dream; But grasped in the

great struggle of the soul, Hard buffeting with adverse wind and stream.

 

Sometimes, ’mid conflict, turmoil, fear and grief, When the strong hand of God, put forth in might, Ploughs up the

subsoil of the stagnant heart, It brings some buried truth-seeds to the light.

 

Not in the general mart, ’mid corn and wine; Not in the merchandise of gold and gems; Not in the world’s gay hall

of midnight mirth, Nor ’mid the blaze of royal diadems.

 

Not in the general clash of human creeds, Nor in the merchandise ’twixt church and world, Is truth’s fair treasure

found, ’mongst tares and weeds; Nor her fair banner in their midst unfurled.

 

Truth springs like harvest from the well-ploughed fields, Rewarding patient toil, and faith and zeal. To those thus

seeking her, she ever yields Her richest treasures for their lasting weal.

 

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