Genesis Account of Creation

THE BOOK OF GENESIS
ITS ACCOUNT OF CREATION

THE book of Genesis opens with the grandest theme that ever occupied the thoughts of created intelligences; the Work of God, in bringing into being the material universe, and peopling it with organic, conscious life. The style and manner of treatment are in harmony with the grandeur of the theme. In few and powerful strokes, the progressive stages of the work are pictured to the mind, on a scale of magnificence unparalleled in writings human or divine.

It is much to be regretted that these characteristic traits of the account of the Creation, shadowing forth its impenetrable mysteries in broad and general outlines, should have been overlooked in its interpretation. This sublime Epic of Creation, with its boldly figurative imagery, and poetic grandeur of conception and expression, has been subjected to a style of interpretation, suited only to a plain and literal record of the ordinary occurrences of life. Hence, not only its true spirit, but its profound teachings, have been misconceived and misinterpreted; and its exhibition of the mysteries of creative power, which science traces in its own observation of Nature, have been confounded with popular misapprehensions, irreconcilable with the well-known facts of science.

A reconciliation of the Biblical account with the facts of Geological science has been attempted on a false theory; namely, that the several stages in the earth’s formation took place in an assumed interval of time between the first and second verses; an interval of vast and indefinite length, unnoticed by the sacred writer. During this interval, the successive processes in the formation of the earth was completed, and the successive orders of vegetable and animal life, the remains of which are found imbedded in its strata, were brought into existence and perished; that the account of the present state of things on the earth’s surface begins with the description in the second verse, representing the chaotic condition of its surface after the last of its great internal convulsions; and what follows, in verses 3-31, occurred in six natural days of twenty-four hours.

    The objections to this theory are:

1. There is no foundation for it in the sacred writer’s statement. He gives no intimation of such an interval. It is thrust in, where there is no indication that it was present to his mind, and no reason for it in the connection.

2. It assumes that the sacred writer has not given us an account of the Creator’s work, but only of a part of it; that for unknown ages the earth was peopled with vegetable and animal life, of which no record is made.

3. It is without support in the facts ascertained by science. Scientific investigation shows that no such convulsion, as is assumed in this theory, occurred at the period preceding the creation of man.

Hence the latest advocates of this theory are driven to the assumption, that what is revealed in verses 3-31 has reference only to a small area of western Asia; being nothing more than the reconstruction of that little segment of the earth’s surface, broken up and thrown into confusion by an internal convulsion, and the creation there of the new orders of vegetable and animal life that now occupy the globe.

On this supposition, the earth had already enjoyed the full light of the sun for ages, before the work of the first day (verse 3) began. Even then all around this little tract, the earth was in a blaze of light; but over this tract dense mists shut out the rays of the sun. God said: “Let there be light!” The mists grew thinner, letting in sufficient light for the time, though not enough to disclose the forms of the heavenly orbs, which were not seen there till the fourth day, though visible everywhere else. Then follow, in rapid succession of single days, the formation of continents and seas, the clothing of the earth with vegetation, and the peopling of it with the various classes of irrational animals, and finally with Man.

The infinite God has not revealed his work of creation on such a scale as this; and its proportions are better suited to the conception of the timid interpreter, stumbling at minute difficulties and seeking to evade them, than to the grand and fearless exposition of his work from God’s own hand.

4. It is an unworthy conception of the Creator and of his work. Why was the work of reation extended through six natural days, when a single divine volition would have brought the whole universe into being, with all its apparatus for the support of life, and its myriads of living beings? Its extension through six successive periods, of whatever duration, can be explained only by the operation of those secondary causes, which the structure of the earth itself proves to have been active in its formation, requiring ages for their accomplishment.

It is now established, beyond question, that the earth we inhabit was brought into existence many ages before man was created. During these ages it was in process of formation, and was gradually prepared, under the divine direction, for its future occupation by man. In those vast periods, succeeding each other in long procession, it was fitted up for his abode by accumulations of mineral wealth within its bosom. These processes required ages for their completion, as represented in the sacred narrative, and recorded by the divine hand in the successive strata enveloping the earth, and marking the progressive stages of its formation.*

*”Every great feature in the structure of the planet corresponds with the order of the events narrated in the sacred history.” – Prof. Silliman, Outline of Geological Lectures, appended to Bakewell’s Geology, p.67, note. “This history furnished a record important alike to philosophy and religion; and we find in the planet itself the proof that the record is true” (p.30).

The writer has no claim to speak as a geologist, and does not profess to do so. He takes the teachings of geology as given us by eminent masters of the science, entitled to speak on its behalf. But, speaking as an interpreter of God’s Word, and taking their representation of their own science, he sees no discordance between the two records, which the same divine Author has given us in his Word and in his works. The former, when rightly interpreted, is in perfect accord with the latter, when truly exhibited. And geologists themselves assert that the Word of God, so interpreted, is in harmony with the teachings of their science. This alone is sufficient to satisfy the candid and conscientious inquirer. But they assert, also, that the divine Word explains the divine work, while the divine work confirms the divine Word. Moreover, no human philosophy could have discovered, or conjectured, what is here revealed.* The divine record was made when science had not yet penetrated the mysteries of Nature; when the earth’s record of its own history was still buried deep in its enveloping strata, and had been read by no human eye. As, therefore, no one witnessed the scenes described, or had read the “testimony of the rocks,” the written account, if true, as science admits it to be, must have been of superhuman origin.

*”No human mind was witness of the events; and no such mind in the early age of the world, unless gifted with superhuman intelligence, could have contrived such a scheme; – would have placed the creation of the sun, the source of light to the earth, so long after the creation of light, even on the fourth day, and, what is equally singular, between the creation of plants and that of animals, when so important to both; and none could have reached to the depths of philosophy exhibited in the whole plan.” – Dana, Manual of Geology, art. Cosmogony, p.743.

The successive stages in the account of the Creation are as follows: –

1. The act of bringing matter into being. Its condition as “waste and empty,” and subjection to the divine influence imparting to it its active properties. Production of light, as the first effect of this imparted action.+

+Styled cosmical in distinction from solar light.

2. Separation of the fluid mass into waters above and waters below.

3. Separation of land and water on the earth. Vegetation, beginning with its lowest orders.

4. Sun, moon and stars.

5. Animal life, beginning with inhabitants of the waters, the lowest in the scale, and winged species on the land.

6. Terrestrial animals, in ascending grades. Man, and his dominion over all.++

++”In this succession,” says Prof. Dana (Manual of Geology, as above, p.745), “we observe not merely an order of events, like that deduced from science; there is a system in the arrangement, and a far-reaching prophecy, to which philosophy could not have attained, however instructed.”

These periods of creative activity, and the cessation that followed, were presented to the mind of the sacred writer under the familiar symbolism of the six days of labor and the seventh of rest. This was a natural and intelligible application of it; the word day, the simplest and most familiar measure of time, being used in all languages for any period of duration, of greater or less extent; and it is specially appropriate in such a style of representation as we find in this chapter.

The six days of labor, and the seventh of rest, having been adopted as the symbolism under which these sublime mysteries are revealed, whatever properly belongs to it, and [R1609 : page 12] is essential to its full expression, is pertinent to the writer’s object. Each period being represented by a “day,” its beginning and end are described in terms proper to represent a day: “there was evening and there was morning.” This was necessary, in order to preserve the symbolic representation.

It should be observed that the sacred writer, throughout this account, represents things under forms of expression most easily apprehended by the common mind. The narrative was given to instruct, and not to perplex and confound, the common reader, as it would have done if expressed in scientific forms, adapted to a higher stage of culture than the Bible requires, or could properly presuppose, in its readers.

Such a view of the sacred narrative exalts our conception of the divine Architect, and of his work. He who inhabits eternity has no need to be in a hurry. With him, a thousand years are as one day. It was not till ages of preparation had passed away, that his purposes found their entire fulfilment, and his work its completed unity, in the creation of man.

According to the distinguished teachers of science – Professors Silliman, Guyot and Dana – the account of the creation recognizes two great eras, an inorganic and an organic, consisting of three days each; each era opening with the appearance of light, that of the first being cosmical, that of the second solar for the special uses of the earth.*

*”I. Inorganic era:
1st Day. – LIGHT cosmical.
2nd Day. – The earth divided from the fluid around, or individualized.
3rd Day. – 1. Outlining of the land and water.
2. Creation of vegetation.

II. Organic era:
4th Day. – LIGHT from the sun.
5th Day. – Creation of the lower order of animals.
6th Day. – 1. Creation of Mammals. 2. Creation of Man.”
Dana, Manual of Geology, p.745.

It need not be supposed that the sacred writer read in these wonderful revelations all the mysteries which they contain, or that they were seen by those to whom the revelations were first addressed. It was not necessary that he or they should be made wise in physical learning beyond the wants of their time; and the symbolism itself conveyed all the instruction they needed.

– T. J. CONANT.

The above is republished from The Watch Tower, January 15, 1894.

Understanding Kingdom Mysteries

(1) Many do not realize that within God’s Plan for humanity there is good news for every man, woman and child upon the face of this earth! The word often used in popular translations to describe the message of Jesus is “Gospel,” which means “Good News.” And what Good News an understanding of God’s Plan brings! Those that are entangled in drugs, alcohol, and crime can certainly use the good news that God loves them, and that his Son died for them. (Romans 5:8) He promises that even those who have erred in spirit will be given opportunity to come to understanding, and even those who murmur will learn doctrine. (Isaiah 29:24) Isn’t this good news?

No More Sickness!

(2) None of us can say that we have never been sick at all. Some have suffered more from sickness than others; some of us have chronic illnesses from birth until death. Is there any good news in God’s Plan that can give them hope? Surely the One who made man is not unaware of his creatures’ plight. He knows the suffering, the pain, the hurt, and the death of everyone of his creatures, not only of man, but even of the animals. (Matthew 6:26) He hears the cries of those who suffer and he will bring them to their desired haven. (Psalm 107:26-30) Yes, our Creator is very much interested in the suffering of mankind!

(3) The promises of our Creator tell of a time when there will be no more mourning, nor crying, nor pain. And what a beautiful place this earth will be then! Even death, which has caused so much sorrow and pain, will be done away with! “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 21:4) Scientists do not even hope to fulfill such a prophecy! But God can bring about these conditions upon the earth! He has promised to do so. Isn’t this really what all mankind wants? Nobody really wants to die. True, there are some who prefer death to the extreme suffering they may have encountered in this present evil age. (Galatians 1:4) Should life be enjoyable for them right here on the earth, they would not want to die. What good news the Bible has for any who have become disillusioned with life’s present ills!

The World Does Not Understand!

(4) But alas! the world does not know or understand about the good news of God’s Plan! Indeed, the popular forms of Christianity believe in a good news that falls far short of the truth! The prevalent idea of the good news would have us believe that Christians are God’s instruments, amidst earth’s present turmoil and confusion, to lead as many as possible to Christ in order that they may not suffer an eternity in some horrible place. This kind of good news has been preached for many centuries. Still millions of earth’s population have died, and there are still those now living who probably will die, without not even hearing the name of Jesus, and without knowing of his saving power! Less than a hundred years ago, it was still popular to believe that the nominal church would convert the world to Christ! Every now and then we still hear some misguided minister urge his flock to save the world for “Jesus”! Billions of dollars have been spent trying to convert the world, or at least as many as possible of the world. But is this what the true Good news is about? Did Jesus commission his followers to “save the world”? Is God trying to convert the world? Is God trying to convert as many as possible of the world? Are we to think that millions, perhaps even billions of God’s human creation are on the road to some eternal doom without even hearing the `only name given whereby we must be saved?’ — Acts 4:12.

Darkness Now Covers the World

(5) Often we read of the great works being accomplished by missionaries of the popular churches in foreign lands. Are the churches accomplishing what they consider to be their mission? Actually, when we look at the statistics, the percentage of those professing Christ hasn’t changed that much over the past century, despite the billions being spent on world evangelization. Most will admit that there is much darkness in many part of the world. Most will agree that almost total darkness enshrouds hundreds of millions of men and women — people who were born in darkness, who have lived constantly in that darkness, and who every day are dying in darkness. According to the popular idea of the Gospel (Good News), these are doomed to spend an eternity of conscious indescribable suffering unless they can be reached with this Good News. Can this really be the “good news” for all mankind — that the vast majority are to spend an eternity in indescribable suffering, whatever that means?

(6) Yes, It is true that the world is lying in darkness. And it is probably more dark than most Christians realize. According to adherents.com, in 2005 there were about 2.1 billion who claimed Christianity, which includes Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostal, Anglican, Monophsite, AICs, Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), Evangelical, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Quakers, and others. This represents about 33% of the world’s population. Approximately 1.3 billion (21% of the world’s population) are numbered for the “Islam” religion, including all of its sects. Judaism is numbered at approximately 14 million (.22% of world’s population). The heathen religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism, make up approximately 30% of the world’s population, while athiests, agnostics, etc., make up about 16% of the world’s population. It is not important whether these figures are 100% accurate. The fact is that at least about 67% of the world’s population does not profess Christianity. And according to many who preach in the name of Christ, all those who are dying without Christ are sure to spend an eternity in horrible pain, every day, every night, every hour, every second, every nanosecond, without any let up at all!

(7) This is truly a sad picture. Some may think that this picture is too dark and overdrawn. However, we think just the opposite. The figures we have given probably show popular Christianity in its brightest colors possible. Many of the major denominations count almost any who walk through the doors of their churches, including infants. In many cases, some are counted as “Christian” who are still practicing Buddhism, Hinduism, Voodooism, or other pagan religions. Almost all must agree that just professing to be “Christian” does not make one a real Disciple of Jesus. Of the two billion or so professing Christians, only a small fraction could be counted as genuine disciples who “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3) Thus, even many more who are falsely professing to Christian, according many who preach in the name of Christ, will also suffer the same fate of an eternity of horrid misery!

(8) And yet there is a darker picture: the billions who have died and are not represented above. In mankind’s history, there have been countless millions that have lived and died without ever hearing any message at all about Jesus. According to the view often presented in the name of Christ, these millions are now suffering unimaginable torments for eternity in a fiery hell. What an awful picture!
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See our online studies regarding the bible hell:
http://life.rlbible.com

(9) As already pointed out, from the standpoint of what has been traditionally presented as the “gospel,” earth’s present billions who are ignorant of the only name under heaven by which we must be saved, are also sure of the same doom unless, according to this theory, they can be evangelized into accepting Jesus as their savior. G. Christian Weiss, states in his book, God’s Plan — Man’s Need — Our Mission, (Copyright 1971, The Good News Broadcasting Association, Inc., page 135) tells us: “We need to realize not only that men apart from Christ are separated from God but also that they face eternal perdition. Their present status of being lost in spiritual darkness and of being separated from God will become an eternal plight unless they come to know their Saviour, Christ Jesus….Because of this, I feel we can leave no stone unturned in the endeavor to get the message of Jesus Christ to the world.” According to this often-accepted view of the good news, the good news is actually bad tidings that every man, woman and child that has lived and died upon this earth, without ever hearing about Jesus, is now suffering “eternal perdition.” Those who believe this “good news”(?) of great eternal misery for the vast majority of mankind should be very zealous in forwarding missionary enterprises — the wonder is that they are not frenzied by it!

(10) We must remind you that this gloomy picture as presented above represents what many have taught, in the name of Christ, by tradition. However, when we look to the Word of God, the Holy Bible, we find that God’s great plan of salvation was never intended to be, or ever will be such a failure. The prophet Isaiah foretold the very darkness that has spread over the nations of the earth, but he also foretells its remedy. “Behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but Jehovah will arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the nations will come to your light.” (Isaiah 60:2,3) How happy we can be that God will not leave the nations of the earth in darkness! He has promised that they will come to his light.

(11) The religious world of today finds itself with hundreds, even thousands, of religious philosophies each professing to represent a divine being or beings. From the popular Christian standpoint, almost 75% of the world is “heathen”, that is, nonbelievers in Christ. Over half of the world still knows practically nothing about Jesus. Popular Christianity has been puzzled at the continued misery and darkness of the world, and the slow progress of truth. Neither the world nor the Church is able to stop the growing crime rate, the food shortages, the sexual sins, and the many other ills that plague mankind, even though they might consider it their mission to do so. Many of their missionaries often give up in despair, not realizing that they have been trying to accomplish something which God never intended to be accomplished at the present time.

(12) But why does God permit such a great portion of the earth to remain in darkness? Why is the Bible, to a large degree, a book of parables, symbolisms and dark sayings? Why is it not completely open and clear so that everyone, everywhere would be able to understand it? Why is it that even Doctors of Divinity find its details perplexing, mysterious, incomprehensible? What excuse can be offered for the secrecy connected with a subject in which all should be interested? The answer to these questions are discussed in our next study and will open doors of truth, to a proper appreciation of the Bible as the Word of God.

Why Is the Bible So Mysterious?

(13) We should note that the Bible does declare itself to be a book of mysteries, or secrets. The four gospels of the Christian Scriptures (commonly called New Testament) are supposed by many to be the simplest and plainest portion of the Bible. They tell about the deeds and words of Jesus Messiah while he was on this earth. However, in harmony with the prophecies, the Great Teacher himself delivered his message in parables and dark sayings. “He never spoke to the people without using a parable,” that “Hearing they might hear and not understand; and seeing, they might see and not perceive.” (Matthew 13:14) There are many mysteries or secrets connected with the Bible. We have not reached the time when absolutely everything can be understood in the Bible, not even by the true servants of God. No one on earth today can grasp absolutely everything about the Bible. The conditions of Isaiah 29:18,24 have not yet come. But the Bible does say that “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more until the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18). We have not yet attained that perfect day.

“Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” — Matthew 13:13

(14) Someone might say that Jesus spoke in parables or illustrations so that the people might understand better, but this is not the reason Jesus himself gave. The followers of Jesus once asked him why he spoke to the people in parables. In giving his answer he said: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” (Matthew 13:13) Jesus then quoted from Isaiah 6:9,10, which we will quote from the Jerusalem Bible: “Go and say to this people, `Hear and hear again, but do not understand; see and see again, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people gross, its ears dull; shut its eyes, so that it will not see with its eyes, hear with its ears, understand with its heart, and be converted and healed.” Then Jesus said to his followers: “But happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear!” (Matthew 13:16, JB) In Mark 4:11,12, Jesus’ answer to his disciples is very clear: “Unto you it is given to know the mystery [secret] of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand.” If this explanation is to make any sense at all, we must conclude that he was saying that he spoke in parables to keep the multitudes of people from understanding his message, while a few, his true followers, were permitted to understand.

“This is good, and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, the witness of which will be in due time.” — 1 Timothy 2:5-6

(15) This, of course, must be the way that God has intended for it to be. But why? Because God knows, even as he promised, that eventually ‘all will be saved, and come the knowledge of the truth.’ (1 Timothy 2:4) He knows that the time will come when “the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and darkness” and that those “who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmured will learn doctrine.” (Isaiah 29:18,24 — New King James Version, hereafter referred to as NKJV) Yes, the time will come when he will “turn to the peoples a pure language” that they may all call upon him with one consent. — Zephaniah. 3:9.

“For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.” — Romans 11:32.

(16) Thousands may read the Bible but fail to understand it’s deeper meanings. God is keeping its truths secret from the people at the present time, not because he does not love them, but because he does love them. Under the present conditions the truth would be injurious to the majority of people. This is because of the sinful nature of mankind as shown in Isaiah 29. But God still loves them, and whom he loves he disciplines. (John 3:16; Hebrews 12:6) So God has “shut up all unto disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.” (Romans 11:32) How well the true believer today may exclaim: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” — Romans. 11:33.

(17) There are many scriptures that speak of the secrecy connected with the message of the Bible. The apostle Paul refers to its tidings as the message “which was a hidden mystery for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his saints [dedicated ones].” (Colossians 1:26, JB) At this point we want to emphasis that the Good News of the Bible was not made known to the world at large, but only to his “saints”. Jesus also, when speaking to his Father in prayer, said: “I bless you, Father, Ruler of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do.” (Matthew 11:25-26, JB) Often those that are well spoken of and respected by men are passed by, while those who may be considered by men in general as outwardly despicable people may be chosen to receive His secrets. — 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

(18) Proceeding the apostle Paul shows us the necessity for this secretiveness as respects the true message of Good News. He shows that if it were generally known amongst men, the Divine program would at times be interfered with. He tells us that none of the princes or prominent ones of the world understood the wisdom of God — for had they known it, they would not have put Jesus to death. As he explains: “But as it is written [in Isaiah 64:4]: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things God has prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit …. We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” — 1 Corinthians 2:8-13.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” says Jehovah. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” — Isaiah 55:8,9.

(19) But isn’t God interested in converting the world? Doesn’t he want to save as many as possible? And if he is, why didn’t he make the Bible so that everyone could easily obtain and understand it? The God who created the Universe is thoughtful of all the interests of his people. All their needs have been supplied as far as He has seen good. He made food for the nourishment of our bodies, and beautiful things for our eyes to see, and sweet sounds for our ears. If he would provide these for us, would he not also provide things for our minds concerning the future?

(20) If we had been living before God gave His people a Bible, and He had told us that He would give man His revelation in a book, we would have looked forward to it eagerly, and with pleasant anticipation, and we would wonder what kind of book it would be. A man who writes a book generally tries to make his subject as plain as possible, so that his meaning can be easily understood. Likewise some might conclude that if God should provide a book, He would make it so plain that none could fail to understand. We might expect that it would be so wonderful, that it could not be written by man, but by angels; that he would put a bright shining light around it, so all would know that it was His book; that it would have a miraculous power which would heal the sick; and if anyone should say anything against it, he would drop dead instantly; and that all might be born with this wonderful book, and be able to understand it. But when we read scriptures such as Isaiah 55:8-11, we answer: “NO! God thinks differently from man.” Therefore, God has given us a Bible, and a message, very different from what man might expect. Instead of angels writing it, poor imperfect men wrote it. There is no bright shining physical light gleaming from it. No one drops dead talking against it. There are millions on earth today that still do not even know that there is a Bible, much less be born with it or understand it. Yes, God could have made the Bible so plain that one could not get more than one meaning from it. How easily we might think that the world could be converted if such were the case. But God knows better than we, and therefore the Bible that we have is the best kind of Bible, better for us than the miraculous kind would have been.

(21) However, it is a mistake to suppose that God is not interested in converting the world. (Psalm 22:27; 150:6; Romans 14:11) He is more interested in it than any human could possibly be. Why then did He not give us a simple Bible? The reason for its obscurity must be that men have failed to understand the heavenly Father’s design and purpose for the present world. We have already given evidence that He confirmed that there would be much misconception and misunderstanding of Him and His purpose. But once we understand God’s purposes, then we can answer the question.

God Is Not Now Trying
to Convert the World

(22) We must get rid of the misconceived idea that God is NOW trying to convert the world, or that he is NOW trying to save as many as possible from some eternal doom, as most religious people suppose. If God were trying to convert as many as possible of the world to save them from some eternal doom, would he have not been anxious for his disciples to go to all peoples? Instead he told his disciples NOT to go to the Gentiles. (Matthew 10:5) Jesus was not here being cruel, but he knew of His Father’s purposes to enlighten the whole world at a future date. We know that God is not now trying to convert the world, because the world is not converted — far from it! God accomplishes everything he purposes to do. (Isaiah. 55:10,11) If it were God’s purpose to convert the world NOW, then the Good News failed — it did not accomplish its work. But God has not been trying to convert the world. He does not have to try, because He is omnipotent (John 12:37-40). If people of the world had understood the true Bible message, they would have believed, but that was NOT God’s purpose (Matthew 13:10-17; 11:23; 10:5,6; Acts 16:6,7; 1 Peter 1:10-12). God did NOT intend that they should NEVER be converted, because he has promised a time to come when they will be converted, but this has not yet begun, nor will it be accomplished as long as this present evil world continues (2 Timothy 3:1,2; 2 Peter 3:3,4; Matthew 24:37; Isaiah 6:9-11; Dan. 12:1; Zephaniah 3:8-13). The Bible tells us that in “the time of the end” of this world there will be a “time of trouble”. This will mean great distress and sorrow for the world of mankind. But this does not mean the destruction of this planet, for the promise is that the earth will blossom as the rose. (Isaiah 35:1,2; Genesis 8:21,22; Ecclesiastes 1:4; Isaiah 45:17,18; Genesis 13:15; 15:18; Acts 7:4,5) The present order of things will be destroyed, and a new order of things will be established. God’s Word will continue to be misunderstood until this age (this present evil world) is over. (Zephaniah 3:8,9) Then the darkness surrounding the true Good News will be removed (Isaiah. 25:7; Haggai 2:7). God has purposed the conversion of the world, but not during the past 2000 years. The reason why the Good News is kept secret is that his plans might be hidden from all but the truly meek and lowly at heart who respond to his call, until the due time for all to know. Our Lord was glad that these things were hidden, and thought it right for the Heavenly Father to keep them hidden from the worldly. — Matthew 11:25,26.

A Bright Future for the World!

(23) In Isaiah 29:11 it is declared prophetically that the vision of all things (Lesser) is become as the words of a sealed book. Men have turned things upside down, as was foretold (vs. 16). The world needs to be enlightened! Will the world be enlightened by missionaries being sent out in this present evil world? The facts indicate that it will never happen this way. The day in which the world will be enlightened is called in the Bible the “judgment day”. It is not a 24-hour day, but as shown in 2 Peter 3:7,8, it is a 1000 year day. During that judgment day the inhabitants of the earth will learn righteousness. — Isaiah 26:9.
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See our study: “Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment

(24) What now stands in the way of the enlightenment of world? -1- Satan the Devil puts evil thoughts and desires into men’s minds and hearts. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9) Hence, if the world is to be enlightened, Satan must be removed that he might not use his power to mislead people. (Revelation 20:2,3) -2- Imperfect missionaries now lack the power and means to accomplish the work. Worldly governments interfere. It will not be so in that Millennial day, for the entire world will then be under the control of Jesus and his authorized agents. (Daniel 2:35,44; Isaiah 11:9; Psalm 72:2-8) -3- Suitably trained teachers must be chosen. Men have thought that they could chose and train them, but only God can do that, and instead of a three or four years’ training, it takes all of a dedicated lifetime (Romans 8:18,19; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Isaiah 26:9). -4- Ignorance, darkness, confusion prevail now, and there are many confusing, contradictory, false religious teachings; but in that day the knowledge of God will fill the whole earth, and all will know him. (Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 31:34) The Good News message contained in the Bible will come out of its obscurity as its message is made plain (2 Corinthians. 4:4; 1 Corinthians. 11:13-15). Will God give mankind a new Bible? We do not think so. However, provisions will be made so that its books will be opened and all will be judged by the things written in those books (Revelation 20:12,13; Isaiah 29:18; John 12:46-48). God will remove the vail that is spread over all nations (Isaiah 25:7; 2 Corinthians 4:3). The way will then be made so plain that even a foolish man will not err therein (Isaiah 35:8). Now the Good news message is so obscure that even the wise men stumble at it (John 6:60,61). Yes, the day of judgment is coming, when Jesus will judge everyone in righteousness, and the books that now appear to be obscure will be opened and will be understood. — Acts 17:31; Revelation 20:12; Isaiah 29:18.

(25) But what about those who have died — especially those who have died without ever hearing of Jesus (Jesus)? How will they benefit from this enlightenment if they are dead? God has promised that he will awaken all of these from the sleep of death. “Marvel not at this, for an hour is coming, in which all those in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have practiced good to a resurrection of life; and they that did evil, to a resurrection of judgment [Greek — krisis].” (John 5:28,29 — King James II Version). Jesus is the true light that enlightens every man that comes into the world (John 1:9). The light will enter their hearts also (1 Timothy 1:4). Jesus speaks of those who did not believe in his day, that they would be saved, so as to be judged anew in the last day. (John 12:47,48) God wills all men to be saved [delivered from death], and to come to an accurate knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4) The salvation spoken of here is not salvation into life for all eternity, but rather salvation [deliverance] from the death state. Having arisen from the dead, they are then taught the truth that they might live and never die again. — 1 Corinthians 15:54; Isaiah 25:8.

(26) Someone may ask, “Does the Bible declare that everyone will live forever?” We answer: “No.” (Psalm 18:44; 66:3) As soon as they understand about God and his purposes, many will obey him, but will still not develop the right heart attitude. With some, as they see the goodness of God and happiness righteousness brings, this feigned obedience will change to meekness and heart obedience. But others will refuse to obey at heart. “Show favor to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness, in the land of uprightness will he deal falsely.” (Isaiah 26:10) Some will thus show that they are wicked at heart. For such there will be no excuse. There will then be no inherited weaknesses, and none will suffer for the sins of others; it will no longer be said that “the fathers have eaten the sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” — Jeremiah 31:27-30.

Will The World
Receive A Second Chance?

(27) Will it then be a second chance? This question could be answered yes and no, for it depends on which way you are viewing matters. We must remember that our first chance to live forever was lost for us through Adam when he disobeyed in the Garden of Eden (Romans 5:12,15-18). The human race that descended from Adam never received an individual chance in that trial. But in the Millennial day each person will be tried individually — and in that sense it will not be a second chance, but the FIRST real opportunity they have ever had to understand and respond to the Good news. Yet none who have had a full opportunity in this present evil world will have another one (Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:26-29). A full opportunity means one that is broad and complete, such as few have had amidst all the confusion and turmoil in this present evil world. Even in countries where the Bible is printed in abundance, children are raised with such incorrect training of mind and inclinations, and there is so much confusion as to what is and what is not right, can one honestly say that these have received any complete and absolute chance for life? Jesus said that such are not judged NOW but that they will be judged in the “last day” — that judgment day when they will be enlightened. (John 12:47,48; Isaiah 26:9; 29:18,24) This will actually be their FIRST individual chance to live forever.

(28) There is yet another reason that the Bible message is kept secret from the world of mankind. It is only by keeping it secret from the world that the world seeks to try out all its own devices separate from God. God wants to teach man a lesson concerning the vanity of life separated from him. As the wise King Solomon said concerning all of man’s own works: `Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.’ (Ecclesiastes 1:2) `Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? For who knows what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spends as a shadow? For who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?’ (Ecclesiastes 6:11,12) `What profit is there for the worker in that which he works? I have seen the travail which God has given the sons of men to be exercised by it.’ (Ecclesiastes 3:9,10) Man tries to better this world in many ways. He tries one thing after another, not realizing the vanity of his efforts. All of mankind’s experimentations are being permitted by God. Due to Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-19), the world has been subjected to a bondage of corruption and vanity, which is only escaped through faith in Jesus (Romans 8:20,21; Ecclesiastes 1:2,14; 2:11,17; 3:19; 9:9; 12:8; 2 Peter 1:4), and every man, born through Adam is born into the world as a child of wrath, a son of disbedience, having been born in an unjust state, crooked, from which none can make himself straight, justified, thus leaving his salvation from such a condition on through Jesus. (Ecclesiastes 1:13,14,15; 7:13; Ephesians 1:1-3) Nevertheless, God is allowing man to rule over another to his own hurt, so that they will better appreciate who Jehovah is and the righteous rule that will come. (Psalm 83:18; Ecclesiastes 8:9; Isaiah 2:1-4) It is a disciplinary process that will eternally benefit all who avail themselves of Messiah’s righteous rule. While the whole world is now being subjected to this vanity by the will of God, God knows that he will bring the world of mankind out of this corruption and back into harmony with him (Romans 8:19-22). What a happy prospect for those who are now blinded by Satan’s evil influence!

(29) For a proper appreciation of the true Gospel, more is required than what has been taught by man’s traditions and creeds, even if they have proclaimed by men as “orthodox”. Jesus said that true worshipers must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23) It is not enough to say that you claim Jesus as your savior and lead what is considered a good moral life. Jesus said, “Not every one that says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he who is doing the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, `Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works?’ And then will I profess to you, `I never knew you: depart from me, you who work illegally [outside his commands].'”

(30) In Proverbs 2:3-6, we are given some guidelines for obtaining true wisdom from above: “If you cry for discernment, lifting up your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as hidden treasures, then you will understand the reverence of Jehovah, and find knowledge of God.” See what is required? This seeking must become the most important thing in our life. Our minds must rise above everything we see, feel and touch so that we might receive the holy spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:10,12) Jesus said: “True worshipers will worship in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such who worship him. God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23,24) Without this total dedication to seeking and the doing of God’s will, one may understand a few bits and pieces here and there of God’s word, but he will not be given the more precious things of the treasures hidden in its pages. With whole-souled dedication, we will continue to seek and understand more and more each and every day. These words of our heavenly Father become to us more precious than any earthly treasure. Praise Yah!

Walking In The Light

(31) It is a mistake to suppose that those without faith, and consequent justification, should be able to have a clear appreciable understanding of truth. An appreciation of truth is given gradually to those who are justified [declared righteous] before God. The Psalmist says: “Light [truth] is sown for the righteous.” (Psalm 97:11) For each of God’s people a lamp is provided whose light dispels from his pathway much of the darkness. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105) Actually, there is none just, “none righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3:10) The class referred to is “justified by faith.” (Romans 5:1) This justified class is privileged to walk in the pathway that shines more and more. (Proverbs 4:18) Having this light separates them from the world of darkness around them. They see and understand things that are hidden from the world of darkness. The world cannot see or understand the true gospel with true appreciation, nor can those Christians who remain as “babes” in Christ all their lives. While it is true that the path of each individual true worshiper is a shining one, yet the special application of this statement is to the just (justified) as a class. Faithful men of old have walked in its increasing light; and the light will continue to increase beyond the present — “to the perfect day.” It is one continuous path, and the one continuous and increasing light is the greater revealment from God as His Divine Plan progresses.

(32) Nevertheless, many who believe in Christ fail to make progress in their walking in the light. They do not concern themselves with trying to understand but a few basic principles from the Bible. Because of their unfaithfulness and unconcern, they are permitted to a degree allowed to sit in darkness, when they might have been walking in the increasing light. — 2 Peter 1:5-9.

(33) To aid us to walk in this path of light, God gives us his holy spirit. If we submit to his spirit, the spirit of dedication to what he declares to be right, then it will guide us into truth through the only channel of truth that is given, that is the Bible. The holy spirit will take the things written and show them to us from the Bible itself, although in doing some other servants of Christ may be used in teaching such truths. But be careful that you do not develop a spirit to go beyond what is written. (1 Corinthians 4:6) Satan and his demons are ever actively trying persuade the followers of Jesus to accept philosophies and imaginations that appear to be light, when it is really darkness. (Isaiah 5:20; 2 Corinthians 11:14,15; Galatians 1:8; 1 Peter 5:8) Satan will use family, friends, neighbors, state powers, as well as professed Christians, in an effort to dissuade a consecrated Christian from following the light of truth as revealed in the Bible. (Matthew 10:16-42; 2 Corinthians 11:26; Galatians 2:4; 2 Timothy 4:3) God has revealed his truth by means of his holy spirit through the prophets in the Old Testament and through Jesus and his apostles in the New Testament. (Mark 12:36; Luke 4:11; 10:21; 24:27,44; Acts 1:16; 2:33; 10:38; 28:25; Hebrews 1:1,3; 3:7; 1 Peter 3:10-12; 2 Peter 1:21) God, by means of his holy spirit, especially led the apostles into all the truths concerning Christ and what he said. (John 14:26; 16:4-13; Acts 1:2; Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:2) We who live today are not apostles through whom the truths were delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3) in the first century, thus we receive the truths only as related to recorded Word of God. The truths revealed to the apostles and made available to us are recorded in the Bible (the commonly-accepted 66 books) itself. (Ephesians 3:3-12; Colossians 1:25,26; 1 John 4:6) Of course, without the holy spirit, these things that are recorded will still be a mystery to us. (Mark 4:11; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10) It is the Holy Scriptures alone that are able to make us wise unto salvation, and which provide the lamp that can guide us in the path through faith which in Christ Jesus, not vain philosophies that have to be imagined, added to, and read into the Scriptures, no matter how popular, revered and cherished such philosophies might be held in the tradition of men. — Psalm 119:105; Colossians 2:8; 2 Timothy 3:15; 2 Peter 1:19.

(34) Before Jesus came, the early worshipers of God knew very little about the gospel. Abraham received very vague promises about the coming blessings for all the families of the earth. (Genesis 12:3; 22:18) The laws and ceremonies given to the fleshly nation of Israel only gave dim shadows concerning the wonderful good news. (Colossians 2:17) Then when Jesus came, true worshipers received a great increase in light. Until then God’s people had been expecting a deliverer to come who would save the fleshly nation of Israel from its enemies and exalt them as the greatest nation on earth. When the deliverer came, however, he was so different from what most of them expected that the majority were blinded to the gospel. To them it was hidden, a secret or mystery. (Romans 11:7-10; 16:25)

The Foretold Apostasy Has Produced Strong Delusions

(35) Before Jesus died, he foretold that there would be even greater increase of light to follow. He said: “I have many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now; howbeit when he, the spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…and he will show you things to come.”–John 16:12,13

(36) But as Jesus foretold, it was not long before teachers arose who were teaching false doctrine. (Matthew 7:15; 24:10-12) Even before the apostles had died these false teachers had begun to deceive many. (1 Corinthians 11:13-15) They had begun to teach another gospel and another Jesus other than what the apostles had taught. (Galatians 1:6,9; 5:7; 1 Corinthians 11:3,4; 2 Timothy 4:3-4) These false teachers in time corrupted the entire organization of the early church. As a result, traditions and rituals of men began to be observed, and customs from the false religions were adopted. The philosophies of the Greeks and Romans were introduced as a supplement to help understand the scriptures. As true worship became polluted with false teachings and practices, a distortion of Christianity was born, as illustrated by weeds being sown amongst the wheat. (Matthew 13:25) This popular Christianity was nothing more than the ancient pagan Roman religion with the name of Christ attached. Thus the given light was gradually hidden so that its light could not penetrate the strong delusions then prevailing. — 2 Thessalonians 2:11.

(37) Through the centuries, some have tried to break away from the traditions of men and return to God’s word. Among these were Luther, Zwingli, Melanchthon, Wycliffe, and Knox. These called attention to the fact that the apostate church had laid aside the word of God in favor of the decrees and traditions of men. (Matthew 15:3-20) The shining light, although present in the recorded Word itself, was not generally appreciated then, but there were a few men who were walking in what light they could understand. Very few had actual access to Bible for a long time, and depended on their “priests” or others for what morsels could actually come from the written word. As some began study the bible itself, they began understand more and more that the traditions and creeds of men were not in harmony with what they reading. While many of these men discarded much of the false teachings and practices that had arisen, they still retained a large amount of the false traditions that they had learned as a result of the apostasy. The undeveloped Christian, babes in Christ, often allow carnal thoughts to influence they way they think, and find justification for such in the Bible. Thus, many who have listened to these men of God (often referred to as “reformers”), have refused to progress in understanding, and thus many seek only to believe what their favorite “reformer” taught, and fail to realize truths simply because they are thought to contradict the teachings they have accepted. Thus, they may blind themselves to many truths that might go beyond what their favorite “leader” said. They have set stumbling blocks for themselves, so that they do not progress in the way of the truth. They cling to the “traditions” of their religious fathers, without given thought as how such might not be fully in harmony with God’s word.

(38) Furthermore, although the faith itself was delivered in the first century, there are certain truths that God allows to be understood when they are due to be understood. Those who hold to tradition miss out on these truths. For instance: In Noah’s day, it was truth that God was going to bring a flood to destroy that world. For Noah to walk in the light that was then due, he had to put faith in obedience to that truth. However, Abel remained faithful without having any knowledge of that truth. So today, we would not be preaching truth if we were to preach about a coming flood. But there are other truths that are due to be understood by the just in our day. So if we have all the light that was understood several hundred years ago, or even 60 years ago, and that only, we are measurably in darkness.

A Storehouse Of Treasures

(39) The way we receive all light, however, is through the Bible! There is indeed a storehouse of knowledge contained in the Bible, providing food for the spiritually starved who will walk in its shining pathway. There is milk for the babes, and strong food for those more developed. (1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:14) Not only this, but we can also find food in the Bible that is suited for different seasons or conditions. Jesus told us that the faithful servant brings forth food in due season for the master’s household — “things new and old,” from the storehouse. (Luke 12:42; Matthew 13:52) If we are entirely dependent on the writings or beliefs of men who have died a long time ago, we will miss the new things being brought forth from God’s word. We might be able to bring forth many good old things, along with a degree of error, but nothing new.

(40) In addition to this, the various teachings of the popular churches conflict with each other. So much so that many have said: “The Bible is an old fiddle upon which any tune can be played.” This represents the apathy and lack of faith that prevails in our day. And no wonder! The Bible has been misrepresented and confused with human traditions. People no longer bow blindly and superstitiously in reverence to the opinions of fellow-man. They demand reason. And the true worshiper is told to always be ready to provide a reason for the hope that is in him. (I Peter 3:15) This reason should be based on the word of God as contained in the Bible. It is only this source that is able to make us wise, “that the man of God may be perfect [complete], thoroughly furnished.” (II Timothy 3:15-17)

(41) “The path of the just shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4:18) That perfect day did not come in Luther’s day; nor are we yet in that perfect day. We still need to take heed to the word of prophecy, “as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn.”–II Peter 1:19

(42) Not only this, we need to “walk in the light,” continue to make progress. If we don’t, the light will continue on down the path, leaving us to walk and stumble in the dark. This is what happens to many people who profess Christ. — Isaiah 42:7; Psalm 1:1; Hebrews 12:1

(43) We have the accumulated light of what is usually called the “Old Testament” as well as the “New Testament.” Yet the complete light has not yet been revealed. It will not be so revealed until that perfect day. And what is understood today is not comprehended by the world in general, but only by those who through repentance and faith in Jesus earnestly seek it. (Ephesians 1:9,10,17,18; 3:4-6; I Corinthians 1:6-7; Matthew 13:10,11,16,17; Proverbs 2:1-5) We might note that neither the prophets nor the angels understood the meaning of the prophecies that were given before Jesus came. The truths of those prophecies were kept secret until the due time for them to be understood. And even more prophecies can be understood now than in the days of the apostles. — I Peter 1:10-13; Daniel 12:8-10

(44) Jesus promised that the Spirit of truth would guide his followers into all truth. This promise appears to be directed toward the apostles, and through the apostles to all Christians. While this has been fulfilled in the revelations given through the New Testament Scriptures, yet we believe that there is a further revealing yet to be accomplished in the “perfect day” spoken of in Proverbs 4:18. The revealing of truths has been gradual, little by little. Not only is this true of the justified as a class, but it is also true of each individual walking the path of light. Not everyone of God’s people understands everything revealed all at the same time. Some may understand more in one direction, while another may understand more in another direction. To illustrate, Peter was told to go to the uncircumcised Gentiles with the message of the gospel. This was something different. He at first spoke against it. Later, many of the other disciples of Jesus still did not demonstrate an understanding of the new light that had been revealed. Only the apostle Paul stood out as having a complete understanding of the adjustments in the divine arrangement revealed at that time. (Acts 10:28; 11:1-3; Galatians 2:11-1) Additionally, Paul speaks of some who are babes in Christ, and yet carnal in the way they think. — 1 Corinthians 3:1.

(45) Furthermore, the scriptures shows that we are now iving in the time when many prophecies of the Bible can be understood. Indeed, some of these prophecies tell us what we should be doing right now. Some of the prophecies have special application to us who are living now. We, therefore, need to be aware of the prophecies and their meanings for us today.
(46) There is truly a storehouse of hidden treasures for everyone within the pages of the Bible. If you are not aware of these wonderful treasures, isn’t it time for you to take the Bible and become acquainted with it? And even if you are acquainted with many things in the Bible, as you search even deeper into its hidden treasures, you could be amazed at what beautiful gems you may uncover within its pages that you did not know were there.

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Questions

(1) For whom do we find good news in the Bible?

(2) What good news is found in the Bible for those who are suffering from sickness?

(3) What conditions do all people yearn for, as described in the Bible at Revelation 21:3-5?

(4) a) What is the prevalent view of the gospel message? b) What questions are raised concerning this message?

(5) Are the churches accomplishing the mission they suppose that God wants them to do? Explain.

(6) What can be said about the world religious statistics?

(7) What can be said of the millions who do profess to believe in Christ?

(8) What does the popular Christian theology believe has happened to the billions who have lived and died without hearing any message about Jesus?

(9) According to popular Christianity, what fate awaits the billions on earth today who remain ignorant of Jesus?

(10) What brighter picture does the Bible give concerning the fate of the non-believing nations?

(11) What is the state of religions in the world today?

(12) What questions are raise concerning the vast ignorance prevalent in the world regarding Jesus and the Bible?

(13) Have we reached the time when everything in the Bible can be understood?

(14) Did Jesus speak in parables to help people understand, as many believe? Explain.

(15) Is God being cruel in making the Bible hard to understand?

(16) If God loves the human race, why doesn’t he make the Bible plain for all to understand?

(17) What are some of the scriptures that tell of the secrecy connected with the message of the Bible?

(18) How does the apostle Paul show the necessity of this secretiveness concerning the divine program?

(19) What questions are raised concerning God’s desire to convert the world?

(20) If we had lived before God had given a Bible, what kind of Bible might many have expected to receive?

(21) If God is interested in converting the world, what question arises concerning the Bible, and what is needed to answer the question?

(22) a) How do we know that God is not now trying to convert the world? b) Will the world ever be converted during the reign of this “present evil world?”

(23) When will the world be converted?

(24) What hinders the enlightenment of the world in the present age?

(25) Will those who have died also be enlightened?

(26) Are we to understand that everyone will gain eternal life?

(27) Will the judgment day be a second chance for the present-day unbelievers to gain eternal life?

(28) What other reason is given in the Bible for the secretiveness connected with its message? How will this aid mankind?

(29) What is needed in order to understand the true gospel?

(30) Thus what does one have to do to understand the secrets of the Bible?

(31) Who only are able to “walk in the light”?

(32) What happens to many who receive some light but refuse to progress in it?

(33) What has been given us as an aid to “walk in the light”?

(34) Trace the increase of light up to the time of Jesus.

(35) How do we know that even more light would come after the death of Jesus?

(36) What happened to the early Christians after the death of Jesus?

(37) What happened to the shining light during the centuries that followed up to the nineteenth century?

(38) How have many missed truths when due?

(39) a) Where should truth-seekers go to be fed? b) What kinds of food may be found there? c) What happens if we center our beliefs entirely on writings or teachings of men who have died a long time ago?

(40) What condition exists in the popular churches?

(41) Have we reached the perfect day yet? If not, what do we still need to do?

(42) What happens to many who profess Christ?

(43) (a) Has the complete light yet been revealed? (b) What examples show that the revealing of light has been increasing, and to whom?

(44) Do all Christians understand all the revealed light at any given time, and what shows this?

(45) Why should we come to understand the meaning of prophecies?

(46) What invitation is open to any wishing to understand the Bible’s secrets?

Originally published around 1990; updated several times since. Updated March 2013; Last Update July 2014.

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Related:

Will Billions Be Eternally Destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon?
The Restoration of All Things
The Ransom for All

Faith of our Fathers (Dawn)

The following are links to a series of studies presented by the Dawn Bible Students Association, related to church history and the formation of the Roman Catholic Church and its doctrines.

PART ONE

Introduction * Comparison of Catholic and Protestant Beliefs * Highest Authority—The Church or the Bible?

Composition of the Bible

The rest of this series is evidently not in html format but rather the only links provided are to the whole issue of magazines in pdf. You will have to search for the related section that continues the series.

Interpreting the Bible (see page 34)

Was the Early Church Catholic? (see page 36)

Development of the True Church (see page 24)

PART TWO

Introduction * The Virgin Mary

Veneration of Saints and Images

Attaining Salvation

Biblical Numerics

PLEASE NOTE! Provision of links to other sites does not mean endorsement of each and every expression stated in these references, nor endorsement of the total teachings and practices of the individuals or groups that provide the websites.

While investigating rebuttals to Ivan Panin’s numerics, we note that so far in all of the rebuttals the basic heptadic sums of the vocabularies of sentences that appear throughout the Bible is never given any or much attention. These heptadic sums, to us, are the greatest evidence of numerics that the Bible is the divine work of God. Often it is attempted to show that such numerics can be found in other writings. Yet when one examines what is presented in these other writings, the supposed demonstration falls totally and completely short of the heptadic structure of the Bible. In other words, the one endeavoring to discredit Biblical Numerics presents a few lines, and certain “patterns” are given of occurences of words, etc., which is mostly meaningless as far as trying to make a comparison to the heptadic structure of scripture. At least, this is the case in most of what we have examined; these demonstrations are actually psuedo-refutations, for they do not come even close to duplicating the heptadic structure of the Bible.

On the other hand, we have seen over-zealous advocates of Biblical numerics make what appears to be absurd claims regarding numerics. In some cases, the claim is made that the numerics prove the King James Version is the only true translation of the Bible; this is certainly a false claim, for in many places the sums indicate the King James Version to be incorrect. Nevertheless, these over-zealous claims are thought by many to actually represent Biblical Numerics, and thus, by attacking these false claims being made, some have claimed to prove that Biblical Numerics in toto is false.

Nevertheless, we would not be too dogmatic about Biblical numerics as a method of “correcting” Biblical misinterpretations, as Biblical numerics can also be misused — usually misrepresented — to prove all kinds of things. However, the “heptadic structure” of the vocabulary of Biblical sentences is more solid and can offer great evidence of a copyist error, or where pauses should be, etc. It is in reality a tremendous proof that most of the Greek text as we have it is authentic.

We do not believe Panin’s works to be totally flawless, but there is enough evidence there to convince one of the divine numerical structure of the Bible. Our conclusion is that, while Biblical Numerics can be a useful tool, many of the extreme claims should be avoided.

We are not too sure about the “Biblical Codes” theories (which is something different from Ivan Panin’s and Paul Johnson’s Biblical Numerics studies), as we haven’t studied this very much. On the surface, it sounds too fantastic. While Biblical numerics could be referred to as “codes” in the Bible, usually what is referred to as “Bible Codes” is something different from Biblical numerics, and the two should not be confused. Most people do not discern the differences of the supposed other claims of “Bible codes” such as “Equidistant Letter Sequences (ELS)”, and that of the numeric sums of the vocabulary of every sentence in the Bible. The whole matter is so confused together that to the one being presented with all of these “arguments” and counter-arguments for all sorts of numerics and codes, the result for many tends to dismiss all. Believing as we do in that Satan is a real person, we are sure that this is his intent.


Numeric English New Testament

By Ivan Panin

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Related Links

Please note that none of the authors in this section share our belief in the ransom for all. Nor do we necessarily agree with all conclusions presented by these authors.

Bible is Now Proven Valid — Scientifically!
Ivan Panin’s scientific demonstration of the inspiration of the Scriptures
Biblical Numerics Examined Part 2 – Subtitle: The Bible is proven to be Divinely Inspired By Mathematics — Story of Panin and his life’s work.
God Counts
God – The Bible – Numbers
The Last Twelve Verses of Mark: Their Genuineness Established – by Invan Panin. Second Source
Is God a Mathematician? – a brief summary of Ivan Panin’s life and works
Bible Numerics – a site “mainly dedicated to numbers and patterns within the Bible, but other Bible topics such as science and the Bible also get a mention.”
Overwhelming Mathematical Evidence Of the Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures From the works of Ivan Panin; Edited by Dr. Keith L. Brooks; Re-Edited by Bernie Koerselman (Booklet can also be downloaded in PDF format.)
Bible Numerics by Jerry Chin – Presents a study of Genesis 1:1 and Exodus 34:6b-7..
The Astonishing Pattern of SEVENS in Genesis 1:1 By Grant R. Jeffery, from his book: The Signature of God
The Writings of Ivan Panin
God is a Mathematician by Keith Newman
Evidence of Design – Beloved Numerologist by Chuck Missler. (We don’t believe Panin would ever claim to be a Numerologist, as the definition of that word usually denotes a form of spiritism.)

Credibility of the Bible

Our Creator

(1) Even if you are not sure that you believe in a Creator, there are many things that you know to be true. We can use things that we know to be true to help us arrive at some reasonable conclusions about our Creator.

(2) Yet by using our reason alone, we still cannot arrive at definite conclusions regarding the Creator’s purposes and what he wants us to do. We still could not be sure that our conclusions were correct. What we would need is a direct revelation from our creator.

(3) What, however, can we learn without a direct revelation? If we look into the sky with a telescope, or even with our natural eyes alone, we can see there the immensity of creation, its symmetry, beauty, order, harmony and diversity. We should reasonably be influenced to believe that the Creator of these is vastly our superior both in wisdom and power. — Isaiah 40:26.

(4) Every plant and every flower speaks volumes of testimony on this subject. Their very sight is beautiful. From these we obtain a large diversity of foods and aromas. How reasonable to believe that the Creator provided these things for the benefit of mankind.

(5) But as we study how all these things are made, they tell us even more about how great their Creator must be. With all of mankind’s knowledge, we have not been able to even duplicate these wondrous creations. (Psalm 104:14-24) Certainly these marvels of creations did not just come here by chance. If so, why has not man been able to duplicate these wonders of creation? No, the possibility of all this happening by chance is so small, so tiny, it can only be believed by those who refuse to look at the facts.

 

Is Evolution the Creator?

(6) Some who deny the existence of an intelligent Creator claim that nature is the only God. They claim that all forms of animal and vegetable life came to be here without the help of any intelligent God or Creator. These usually say all life came to be on the earth in a process they call “evolution.”

(7) According to the theory or idea of evolution, life started as result of spontaneous biogenesis and then somehow developed into a single cell billions or trillions of years ago. This cell split and made another cell. These two cells split and made four cells. These cells kept splitting and making more cells until finally there millions of cells. Somehow, these cells, without the ability to think, decided to join together to form a different kind of life. In time, enough cells joined together to make the small microbes. Then, as millions of years passed, they finally decided to form into fish, then later into birds, dinosaurs, tigers, apes — and last of all — man. According to this theory, this whole process took billions or trillions of years — all without the help of any intelligence at all! (Some who profess Christianity claim to also believe that man evolved from lower animals. See: our publication, The Ransom For All to see why the Bible and the theory of man’s evolution cannot be harmonized.)

(8) The theory of evolution without a creator, however, lacks proof. All about us we see that the various creatures are of fixed kinds — that is, they do not change from their basic animal kinds. They do not evolve to higher kinds. Some scientists have succeeded in producing mutations and crossing some species. But they have never succeeded in bringing forth a completely new fixed kind of animal that is able to reproduce and carry on its own “kind.” No instance is known where one “kind” has changed to another kind. There are fish that can use their fins for a moment as wings, and fly out of the water. There are frogs that can sing. Yet they have never been known to change into birds.

(9) It is true that different types of the same general “kind” or family have come into existence. This has often been referred to as examples of evolution, to which we find no objection to in the Bible. Thus we have different types that belong to the dog family, the cat family, etc. Yet there has been no blending of the various “kinds” to produce a sustainable new “kind.” Nor is there any proof of one kind evolving from another. Surely if unintelligent nature were the creator or evolver she would continue the process. There would be no such thing as fixity of kind, since without intelligence nothing would arrive at fixed conditions. Evolution would be a fact today. We would see about us fish becoming birds, and monkeys becoming men.

(10) It is further claimed that the original plants and animals, from which present varieties came, became extinct millions of years before the arrival of man. Skeletons and fossils of animals and plants which do not now exist, found deep below the earth’s surface are used to support this theory. Scientists have found remains of animals that lived many thousands of years ago. Some bear a resemblance to men. However, the evidence is wholly lacking that man was evolved from such creatures, or that these creatures came from a common ancestor of man. Additionally, there is no way to determine factually how old any of these fossils are. Nor is there any genuine evidence from the fossils found that one kind evolved into another kind. Many scientists admit that the evidence of the fossil record for evolution is extremely sparse. For more information regarding evolution, see our Creation and the Bible subdomain.

(11) Back of all the intricate machinery of the laws of creation is the hand of its great Author, the intelligent, omnipotent Creator. We conclude, then, that the theory of evolution without a Creator is not reasonable. Additionally, it contradicts the Bible when it claims that intelligent beings came into existence by a power not having intelligence.

(12) We maintain, then, that the existence of an intelligent creator is a clearly demonstrated truth. The proof lies all around us. Additionally, our own bodies supply verification of his workmanship. Every power of our minds and bodies speaks of a marvelous skill beyond our comprehension. (Psalm 19:1; 139:14-16; Hebrews 3:4) And he is also the designer and creator of what is termed the laws of the universe. We contend that our Creator ordered and established these laws. Despite the few irregularities they note, even atheistic scientists stand in awe at the beauty and harmony seen in the operation these laws. (Isaiah 40:26; 42:5; Psalm 19:1) Certainly the Bible is correct in attributing the creation of the heavens, moon, stars and man to God. — Psalm 8:1,3-5.

(13) Nonetheless, when one realizes the existence of this mighty God he may feel dread because of his omnipotent strength. Thus we need more than just realizing his existence. We need to have assurance that he possesses qualities of love and goodness to equal his power. Of this fact we are also fully assured by the same evidence which proves his existence, power and wisdom.

(14) Reasonably we judge that the grandest thing created is not superior to its Creator. Hence we conclude that the greatest manifestation of benevolence and justice among men is inferior in scope to that of the Creator, even as man’s wisdom and power are inferior to his. And consequently we have before our mental vision the personal attributes of the great Creator. We project that he is wise, just, loving and powerful. We further reason that the scope of his attributes are immeasurably wider than that of his grandest creation.

(15) We have now shown that it is feasible to conclude that God exists. We have additionally shown what we can reasonably accept concerning his attributes. Now one might inquire: “What should we expect of such a being?” Should he decide to use his power to create, would he not use his power of creation in harmony with his own nature — wisely, justly and benevolently? Regardless of the means to that end, would not the final outcome be consistent with his nature and personality? Would not every step be approved of his infinite wisdom? What could be more reasonable than such exercise of power as we see manifested in the creation of the countless stars, and galaxies in the universe, and in the wonderful variety of earth? What could be more reasonable than the creation of man, endowed with reason and judgment, capable of appreciating his Creator’s works, and judging of his skill — of his wisdom, justice, power and love? All this is reasonable, and all in perfect accord with facts known to us.

 

THE CREATOR’S
Provision of a Revelation

(16) Would not a wise and good Creator be moved by his love and justice to supply the wants of his creature’s nature by giving him some revelation? Would it not be a reasonable supposition that God would supply to man information concerning the object of his existence, and his plans for his future? On the contrary, we ask, would it not be unreasonable to suppose otherwise? Would such a being make such a creature as man, endow him with powers of reason reaching out into the future, and yet make no revelation of his plans to meet those longings? Such a course would be unreasonable, because contrary to the personality which we have reasonably attributed to God. It would be contrary to the proper course of being controlled by justice and love.

(17) Suppose that the Creator decided it not wise to grant his creatures a knowledge of his future destiny or his share in the Creator’s plans. Then surely divine justice, as well as divine love, would not want his creatures to be continually tormented and perplexed with doubts, fears, etc. Thus the Creator would have insisted that his creatures should be limited in his capacity to reason. Power would have been used under those limitations.

(18) However, man has capacity for appreciating a revelation of the Creator’s plans and purposes. Therefore we reason that the Creator’s personal qualities would see to it that man should receive such a revelation. Accordingly, we have abundant reason for expecting that our creator would grant such a revelation, in such time and manner as his wisdom approved. So, then, in view of these considerations, even if we were ignorant of the Bible, reason would lead us to expect and to be on the lookout for some such revelation as the Bible claims to be. And furthermore, we note the order and harmony of the general creation. We see the grand procession the spheres and systems keep time and place.

(19) Yet there are irregularities that seem to mar the harmony and order of the universe. On earth, we have earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and many other erratic disturbances that upsets the tranquility of creation. In space, scientists tell us of many other irregularities. We reasonably conclude that these minor irregularities are being permitted only temporarily. We reason that the elements of the world at present are responding to the same outworking of the Creator’s plan that will eventually benefit all his creatures. Thus we expect some assurance that all will ultimately be perfect and harmonious on earth and throughout the universe. We further expect some explanation as to why it is not so at the present. These are requests which are not unreasonable for reasoning men to ask. Nor is it unreasonable to suppose that a loving and wise Creator would provide answers to these questions. Hence we should expect the revelation sought to include such an assurance and such an explanation.

(20) We will now begin an examination of the general attributes of the Bible which claims to be just such a revelation. We will want to see if it presents the personality of God in perfect harmony with what we have reasonably concluded. If so, we should conclude that it thus proves itself to be the needed and expected revelation from God, and should then accept its testimony as such. If the Bible is of God, we should find that its teachings, when fully appreciated, will be seen in perfect harmony with the creator’s attributes of wisdom, justice, love and power.

(21) No other book in the world has been given such a wide circulation as the Bible. Its influence for good in society has been recognized by the greatest statesmen, even though they for the most part have looked at it through the diverse glasses of popular beliefs and traditions. Traditional Christianity has, for the most part, claimed to believe in the Bible. Yet their traditions grossly misrepresent its teachings. Thus these “friends” of the Bible often do more harm than those who outright oppose the Bible. But the Bible tells of a time when all, both its friends and foes, “will come to understanding.” And “those who murmured will learn doctrine,” thus bringing vindication to the Deity of the Bible! — Isaiah 29:24

(22) We have shown that the light of creation leads us to expect a fuller revelation of God than that which creation supplies. Therefore, what would be the reasonable thing to do? If a book shows a reasonable surface evidence that it is a divine revelation, should we not be prepared to examine its claims? The Bible claims to be such a revelation from God. Additionally it does come to us with sufficient surface evidence as to the probable correctness of its claims. This gives us a reasonable hope that a closer investigation will disclose more complete and positive evidence that it is indeed the Word of God.

The Oldest Book

(23) The first book of the Bible, Genesis, contains the earliest known writings. Its opening chapters were written over 6,000 years ago. Through the centuries men have endeavored by every means to abolish the Bible from the face of the earth. They have hidden it, burned it, and even made it a crime punishable with death to have it in possession. The most bitter and relentless persecutions have been waged against those who had faith it. Yet still the book lives. Today many of its foes slumber in death. Hundreds of volumes that have been written to discredit it and to overthrow its influence have long since been forgotten. Nonetheless, the Bible has found its way into every nation and language of earth. At least part of it exists in over 1,300 languages. The fact that this book has survived so many centuries, notwithstanding such unparalleled efforts to banish and destroy it, is at least strong circumstantial evidence that the great Being whom it claims as its Author has also been its Preserver.

(24) The Bible is not a book to be read merely. It is a book to be studied with care and thought. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and his ways than our ways. (Isaiah 55:8,9) And if we really want to understand the plan and thoughts of the infinite God, we must bend all our energies to that important work. The richest treasures of truth do not always lie on the surface. They require rugged digging in order to obtain. — Proverbs 2:3-5.

(25) This book throughout constantly points to two persons. The first is, of course, the Creator Himself. The general theme of the Bible is that God will be vindicated before all creation when his glory is revealed to them. (Isaiah 40:5) All the events recorded in the Bible are related in some way to this eventual end. To this end we are taught to pray: “Your name be sanctified.” (Matthew 6:9) God himself will vindicate his own name. — Ezekiel 36:23.

(26) The Bible tells us, however, that “there are many gods.” (1 Corinthians 8:5) This is in accord with the facts, for no matter where you go on earth, you find people worshiping “gods” in some form or another. There are “gods” worshiped in the form of Buddha, Brahma, Allah, and many other names. The people who adhere to these “gods” use many writings believed to be divine revelations from their own “gods”. In professed “Christian” lands millions claim to know the true God, whom they refer as “the Lord”. But, if we believe the Bible, then very few of these “believers” in various gods have actually come to know the true God. (Matthew 7:13,14,21-23) Both in and out of popular Christianity, the true God is still to them an “unknown God”. (Acts 17:23) They have not understood the Creator’s purposes and have proclaimed counterfeit gospel messages.

(27) Instead of seeking to worship in “spirit and truth”, popular Christianity has adopted false teachings and practices from the Greeks and Romans and proclaim them as “Christian”. (John 4:24) True, thousands profess Jesus as their savior. But of these thousands, very few take the time to learn the real purposes of their Creator. The traditions taken from the Greeks and Romans are so embellished with scripture quotations, that the vast majority accept them without further investigation. As a result, their worship becomes “in vain.” They are like the religious people of Jesus’ day, to whom he said: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy concerning you, saying: ‘This people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:8,9) Such as these, despite all their protestations to contrary, have not yet come to fully understand the true gospel, nor the God who reveals this gospel to us.

(28) The first part of the Bible, often called “Old Testament,” was originally written in the Hebrew language. God’s personal name in the Hebrew is spelled with four letters (Yod – He – Waw -He) that correspond with the English letters YHWH or JHVH. Bible Scholars often refer to the four letters that make up God’s name as the tetragrammaton. This personal name of God appears thousands of times in the ancient Hebrew Scriptures. Additionally some fragments of ancient Greek manuscripts of earlier editions of the Greek Septuagint Bible show that they also contained God’s name.

(29) Many Bible scholars translate the Creator’s name into English as “Yahweh” or “Jahveh.” Others use the form “Jehovah”. Most Bible translations, however, substitute “the Lord” or “God” for God’s name, making it appear that His name is “the Lord” or “God.” But there is no scripture that tells us to change His Holy Name to “Lord” or “God”.

(30) “Jehovah” does not mean “the Lord” nor does it mean “God.” “Lord” and “God” are titles, not the proper name of God. Thus Isaiah 42:8 should be translated: “I am Jehovah, that is my name.” Likewise, everywhere that the King James Version (as well as many other translations) has “the Lord” or “God” in all capital letters, it should be rendered “Jehovah.” Thus anytime we see in this and many other translations “the Lord” or “God” in all capital letters, the only proper thing to do would be reinstate the divine name by reading these as “Jehovah.”

(31) While we may not know for sure the correct pronunciation as God Himself stated it in the Hebrew, the scriptures do declare that Jehovah was angry with the Israelites for taking away his name for that of Baal, which means “Lord” or “the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:13,14; 11:13,14; 23:13,27 – remember that “the Lord” in all capital letters should be read as “Jehovah” or “Yahweh”.* (See Note 1) The Hebrew word for “Jehovah” means “He is”, He will be”, “He causes to be,” or “He proves to be.” His name is considered important all through the Bible, especially as related to His being found to be true to His Word. — Ezekiel 12:25; Isaiah 14:24; 55:11; 2 Timothy 2:13.
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*See Psalm 83:18, Exodus 6:3, Isaiah 12:2 and Isaiah 26:4 in the King James Version where the tetragrammaton is translated as Jehovah. For more details, see our studies on the Holy Name.

(32) Earlier we mentioned that Jehovah will sanctify his own name. The sanctification or vindication of Jehovah’s name means more than that just the word used as his personal name will be made known. It means that his name (his character and authority) will be cleared of all the falsehoods and lies that have been spread about him since mankind’s fall as recorded in the first few chapters of the Bible. In fact, this is what all creation has been unknowingly waiting and longing for as they grope blindly, because not aware of Jehovah’s purposes. (Romans 8:19; Jeremiah 4:22; Isaiah 59:10) The entire Bible is intended for the revealing of this One to those who are truly seeking him. — Proverbs 8:17; 2 Corinthians 4:13-15.

(33) Besides Jehovah, another person is given great prominence in the Bible. This is the one commonly called Jesus* (His name has been rendered many ways into English: Yahowshuwa, Yahshua, Joshua, Jeshua, Iesous) of Nazareth,” whom the Bible declares to be the Son of God, the son of the Most High. (Luke 1:32,35; 3:21,22) From beginning to end his name, and office, and work, are made prominent in the Bible. Writers outside of the Bible confirm that a man called Jesus of Nazareth lived. The fact that Jesus walked this earth is thus corroborated by historical documents. Concerning this Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia 1986 Edition) states: “Scholars generally agree that his existence is authenticated, both by New Testament writers and by a number of Roman and Jewish historians.” The “New Testament” Bible writers (except Paul and Luke) were the personal acquaintances and disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, whose doctrines their writings set forth.
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*Some have argued that the name of the Son of God is sacred and should be written “Yahshua.” Others have argued that “Yeshua” or “Yahoshua” is the correct manner for writing the Saviors name. Still others have claimed even different ways of writing and expressing this name. We believe that it is more important to recognize the personage behind the word than to spend hours upon hours trying to prove this or that spelling or pronunciation in English as supposedly representing an original Hebrew pronunciation. The person is still the same whether we pronounce his name Jesus, Yahshua, or Yeshua. Linguists tell us that these are variations of the same name, rather than different names. For more information, see our study: The Name of Messiah.

Motives of the Bible Writers

(34) The existence of any book implies motive on the part of the writer. We therefore ask: “What could have been the motives of these men that they would feel inspired to give all their support to the cause of Jesus?” He was condemned to death and hung on a tree as a criminal at the instigation of the Jews. Even the most religious among his people approved of and demanded his death. They considered him as one unfit to live. But his followers took up his cause, and spread his teachings. In doing so, these men braved contempt, deprivation and bitter persecution. They even risked life itself, and in some cases suffered martyrdom. Many admit that Jesus was a remarkable person while he lived, in both his life and his teaching. Yet what motive could there have been for any to defend his cause after he was dead, especially when his death was considered so shameful?

(35) And what if we suppose that these writers invented their narratives, and that Jesus was their imaginary or ideal hero? Let us consider this. These writers declared that Jesus was the Son of God and that he had been begotten in a supernatural way. (Luke 1:30-35) They asserted that he had supernatural powers by which he had healed lepers, restored sight to the blind, caused the deaf to hear, and even raised the dead. (Matthew 9:27-34; 12:22; 11:2-5; Luke 5:17-25; 6:6-10; 7:11-16; 8:43,44; 13:11-13; 17:12-14; John 5:5-9) How absurd to suppose that they would wind up the story of such a person by stating that a little band of his enemies executed him as a criminal! Wouldn’t it be senseless for them to have all his friends and disciples, among them the writers themselves, forsake their hero and flee in the trying moment? — Matthew 26:47-27:61; Mark 14:43-15:47; Luke 22:47-23:56; John 18:2-19:42.

(36) The fact that certain historians do not agree in some respects with these writers should not lead us to regard their records as untrue. Those who dismiss these scriptures as untrue should assign and prove some motive on the part of these writers for making false statements. What motives could have prompted them? Could they reasonably have hoped thereby for fortune, or fame, or power, or any earthly advantage? The poverty of Jesus friends, and the unpopularity of their hero himself with the great religionists of Judea, contradict such a thought. Indeed, the fact that he died as a common criminal, a seditious disturber of the peace, and that he was made of no reputation, held forth no hope of enviable fame or earthly advantage to those who should attempt to re-establish his doctrine. On the contrary, if such had been the object of those who preached Jesus, would they not have quickly given it up when they found that it brought disgrace, persecution, imprisonment, stripes and even death? What prompted these men to sacrifice home, reputation, honor and life? What caused them to live for something other than present gratification? Why did they risk all to tell others about their God, and to aid their fellowman to worship Him, thus inculcating a high standard for doing what is right?

(37) Reason would have us conclude that these men were not only possessed of a motive, but further that their motive must have been pure and their object grandly sublime. Reason further declares that the testimony of such men, actuated by only pure and good motives, is worthy of ten times the weight and consideration of ordinary writers. Nor were these men irrational religious fanatics. They were men of sound and reasonable mind. They furnished in every case a reason for their faith and hope. They were perseveringly faithful to those reasonable convictions.

(38) And what we have here noticed is likewise applicable to the various writers of the Hebrew Scriptures (commonly called “The Old Testament”). They were, in the main, men notable for their fidelity to Jehovah. Their writings as impartially records and reproves their weaknesses and shortcomings as it commends their virtues and faithfulness. This must astonish those who presume the Bible to be a manufactured history, designed to awe men into reverence of a religious system. There is a straightforwardness about the Bible that stamps it as truth. Evil-minded men would desire to represent a man as great. If desirous of presenting some of his writings as inspired of God, he would undoubtedly paint such an individual’s personality blameless and noble to the last degree. Such a course has not been pursued in the Bible. This is reasonable evidence that it was not fraudulently gotten up to deceive.

Tithing Under the Law – Was It Fair?

(39) Someone might ask: “Doesn’t the law concerning the tithe prove that the priesthood was a selfish institution?” It is true that the tribe of Levi was supported by the annual tenth, or tithe, of the individual produce of their brothers of the other tribes. This fact, stated thus, is an unfair presentation too common to skeptics. These, possibly ignorantly, thereby misrepresent one of the most remarkable evidences of God’s part in the organization of that system, and that it was not the work of a selfish and scheming priesthood. Indeed, it is often misrepresented by modern clerical priesthoods. Many religious leaders claim a similar system today, using the Israelite priesthood as a precedent, without mentioning the condition of things upon which it was founded, or its method of payment.

(40) It was, in fact, founded upon the strictest equity. When Israel came into the possession of the land of Canaan, the Levites certainly had as much right to a share of the land as the other tribes. But, by God’s express command, they got none of it, except certain cities or villages for residence, scattered among the various tribes, whom they were to serve in religious things. (Numbers 35:2-8) Nine times this prohibition is given before the division of the land. Instead of a share in the land, some equivalent should surely be provided them, and the tithe was therefore this reasonable and just provision. Nor is this all: the tithe, though, as we have seen, a just debt, was not enforced as a tax, but was to be paid as a voluntary contribution. And no threat bound them to make those contributions; all depended upon their conscientiousness. The only exhortations to the people on the subject are as follows: “Take heed to yourself that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live upon the earth.” (Deuteronomy 12:19) “And the Levite who is within your gates, you must not forsake him, for he does not have any part nor inheritance with you [in the land].” — Deuteronomy 14:27.

 

Israel’s Laws Came From Jehovah

(41) Is it, we ask, reasonable to suppose that this order of things would have been thus arranged by selfish and ambitious priests? — an arrangement to disinherit themselves and to make them dependent for support upon their brothers? Does not reason teach us contrary?

(42) In harmony with this, and equally inexplicable on any other grounds than those claimed — that God is the author of those laws — is the fact that no special provision was made for honoring the priesthood. In nothing would impostors be more careful than to provide reverence and respect for themselves, and the severest penalties and curses upon those who misused them. But nothing of the kind appears: no special honor, or reverence, or immunity from violence or insult is provided. The common law, which made no distinction between classes, and was no respecter of persons, was their only protection. This is even more remarkable because the treatment of servants, and foreigners, and the aged, was the subject of special legislation. For instance: “You must not mistreat nor oppress a foreigner, or widow, or fatherless child; for if they should cry at all to me [to Jehovah] I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children fatherless.” (Exodus 22:21-24; 23:9; Leviticus 19:33,34) “You must not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers, or one of the foreigners that are in your land, within you gates. For his day you must give him his wages, neither should you allow the sun to go down upon it, for he is poor, and sets his heart upon it; lest he cry against you unto Jehovah and it becomes a sin to you.” (Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14,15; Exodus 21:26,27) “You should rise up before the greyheaded and honor the face of the elderly.” (Leviticus 19:32; see also Leviticus 29:14) All this, yet nothing special for the priests, or Levites, or their tithes.

 

Jehovah’s Law
Compared to Hammurabi’s Code

(43) Some, however, point to the law code of King Hammurabi of Babylon as the supposed actual source of the laws given by Moses. Hammurabi is believed to have lived about 150 years before Moses wrote the laws of Israel. There are several authors that point to Genesis 26:5, in which Jehovah states: “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” It is argued that this scripture indicates that God had given a set of laws to someone long before Hammurabi or Mosaic Law Covenant. If so, then the suggestion is given that Hammurabi, or Hammurabi’s ancestors, actually copied from God’s earlier given law. Far from being merely copied from Hammurabi’s code, the Mosaic law stands far superior to those of Hammurabi. Concerning this the noted Frend Orientalist Joseph Plessis wrote: “It does not appear that the Hebrew legislator made any use of the various codes of Babylonia and Assyria. Nothing in his work can be proved to have been borrowed. Although there are interesting similarities, they are not such that they cannot be easily explained by the codifying of customs shared by people with a common origin.” (Supple’ment au Dictionnaire de la Bible) Also W. J. Martin tells us: “Despite many resemblances, there is no ground for assuming any direct borrowing by the Hebrew from the Babylonian. Even where the two sets of laws differ little in the letter, they differ much in the spirit. For example, in the Hammurabi Code, theft and receiving stolen goods were punished by the death penalty (Laws 6 and 22), but in Israel’s laws the punishment was compensation. (Exodus 22:1; Leviticus 6:1-5) Whereas the Mosaic law forbade handing over an escaped slave to his master (Deuteronomy 23:15,16), the Babylonian laws punished by death anyone taking in a fugitive slave. — Laws 15,16,19.” — Documents from Old Testament Times

(44) Further, the Code of Hammurabi would have one display a spirit of retaliation, whereas the Hebrew law tells us: “You must not hate your brother in your heart…. You must not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am Jehovah.” — Leviticus 19:17,18

Some thoughts presented by others related to this (we do not necessarily agree with all conclusions given by the authors):

Did Moses steal the Ten Commandments?
The Giving of the Law
Comparing the Codex Hammurabi with the Mosaic Law

 

Jehovah’s Law A Marvelous
Arrangement of Wisdom and Justice

(45) The sanitary arrangements of the law, so needful to a poor and long-oppressed people, together with the arrangements and limitations respecting clean and unclean animals which might or might not be eaten, are remarkable, and would, with other features, be of interest if space permitted their examination, as showing that law to have been up-to-date with, if not in advance of, the latest conclusions of medical science on the subject. The law of Moses had also a typical nature, which we must leave for future consideration; but even our hasty glance has furnished overwhelming evidence that this law, which constitutes the very framework of the entire system of revealed religion, which the remainder of the Bible elaborates, is truly a marvelous display of wisdom and justice, especially when its date is taken into consideration.

(46) In the light of reason, all must admit that the Hebrew law bears no evidence of being the work of wicked, designing men, but that it corresponds exactly with what nature teaches to be the personal qualities of God. It gives evidence of his wisdom, justice and love. And further, the godly and noble lawgiver, Moses, denies that the laws were his own, and attributes them to Jehovah. (Exodus 24:12; Deuteronomy 9:9-11; Exodus 26:30; Leviticus 1:1) In view of his general personality, and his commands to the people not to bear false witness, and to avoid hypocrisy and lying, is it reasonable to suppose that such a man bore false witness and palmed off his own views and laws for those of Jehovah? It should be remembered also that we are examining present Hebrew “copies” of the Bible. Therefore the integrity for which it is so marked applies equally to the successors of Moses. Though bad men were among those successors, who did seek their own and not the people’s good, it is evident that they did not tamper with the Hebrew Sacred Writings, which remain pure to this day, as demonstrated by a system of Biblical Numerics.

The Prophets of the Bible

(47) Glance now at the general personality of the prophets and their testimonies. A rather remarkable fact is that the prophets, with few exceptions, were not of the priestly class. In their day their prophecies were generally repugnant to the degenerating and time-serving priesthood, as well as to the people who were inclined to indulge in the gaiety of idol worship. The burden of the prophets’ messages from God to the people was generally reproof for sin, coupled with warnings of coming punishments. Along with this, however, we find occasional promises of future blessings, if the people would repent from sin and should return to the favor of Jehovah. The experiences of the prophets, for the most part, were far from enviable. They were generally reviled. Many of them were imprisoned and put to violent deaths. (See 1 Kings 18:4,10,17,18; 19:10; Jeremiah 38:6; Hebrews 11:32-38.) In some instances it was years after their death before their true integrity as God’s prophets was recognized. But we speak thus of the prophetic writers whose utterances claim to be the direct inspiration of Jehovah.
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The prophets were not primarily foretellers of events or historical soothsayers but rather foretellers of God’s will, teachers of His Word, statesmen for leading His people. They boldly proclaimed divine judgment and faithfully reminded the people of God’s promises. A prophet in his primary role was one who passed a message from God to man (Exodus 7:1; Ezekiel 3:4; Amos 3:8). He did not attain his position by heredity, as did a king or priest, or by human appointment, as did an official, but only by receiving a message from God with instructions to deliver that divine message. In other words, the designation “prophet” is one of function instead of position. Thus, a king or priest or government official could perform prophetically (Exodus 3:10; Judges 6:14). The primary Hebrew word for prophet is nabi. Though its etymology is unknown, the meaning of the word is abundantly clear in its usage. The word is usually masculine in gender; however, its feminine form (nebiah) usually indicates a woman who receives and delivers a divine message (cf. Judges 4:4-6; 2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Chronicles 34:22-28). — from The Criswell Bible (KJV), comments on Numbers 11:29 (We have expanded names of the Bible books in scriptural citations to aid in searches).

(48) It is well in this connection that we should remember that in the giving of the law to Israel there was no priestly intervention. It was given by God to the people by the hand of Moses. (Exodus 19:17-25; Deuteronomy 5:1-5) And, furthermore, it was made the duty of every man seeing a violation of the law to reprove the sinner. (Leviticus 19:17) Thus all had the authority to teach and reprove. But, since, as in our own day, the majority were absorbed in the cares of business, and became indifferent and irreligious, only a few fulfilled this requirement by reproving sin and exhorting to godliness. These preachers are termed “prophets” in both the Law and the Prophets (commonly called the “Old Testament”) as well as the Apostolic Scriptures (commonly called the “New Testament”). The term prophet, as generally used, signifies public expounder, and the public teachers of idolatry were also so called — for instance, “the prophets of Baal,” etc. — See 1 Corinthians 14:1-6; 2 Peter 2:1; Matthew 7:15; 14:5; Nehemiah 6:7; 1 Kings 18:40; Titus 1:12.

(49) Prophesying, in the ordinary sense of teaching, afterward became popular with a certain class, and degenerated into Phariseeism. This order taught, instead of or as in extension of God’s commandments, the traditions of the ancients. In doing so they opposed the truth and became false prophets, or false teachers. (Matthew 15:2-9) Out of the large class called prophets, Jehovah at various times made choice of some whom he specially commissioned to deliver messages, relating sometimes to things then at hand, at other times to future events. It is to the writings of this class who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the holy spirit, that we are now giving attention.

 

Divinely Commissioned Prophets or Seers

(50) We should note that most of these prophets were not Levites. They did not receive support from the tithes of the priestly tribe. Additionally, they were frequently not only the reprovers of kings and judges, but also of priests (though they reproved not the office, but the personal sins of the men who filled it). Therefore it becomes evident that we could not reasonably decide that these prophets were parties to any league of priests, or others, to fabricate falsehood in the name of God. Reason in the light of facts contradicts such a suspicion.

(51) We find no reason to challenge the motives of the various writers of the Bible. We find that the spirit of its various parts is righteousness and truth. Consequently let us next proceed to inquire whether there exists any link, or bond of union, between the records of Moses, those of the other prophets, and those of the disciples of Jesus. Can we find one common line of thought as a connecting theme throughout the Law and the Prophets and the Apostolic Scriptures which cover a period of more than 2,000 years? If so, this, taken in connection with the honesty of the writers, will be good reason for admitting their claim — that they are divinely inspired. Particularly should this be true if the theme common to all of them is a grand and noble one, conforming well with what sanctified common sense teaches regarding the personal qualities and attributes of God.

 

One Plan, Spirit and Purpose

(52) 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 the accomplishment of this purpose. The harmony, yet contrast, of the first three and the last three chapters of the Bible is striking. The one describes the first creation, the other the renewed or restored creation, with sin and its penal-curse removed. The one shows Satan and evil entering the world to profane God’s name, deceive and destroy, the other shows his work undone, the destroyed ones restored, God vindicated, evil extinguished and Satan destroyed. The one shows the dominion lost by Adam, the other shows it restored and forever established by Christ, and God’s will done in earth as in heaven. The 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.

(53) Though written by many pens, at various times, under different circumstances, the Bible is not merely a collection of moral precepts, wise maxims and words of comfort. It is more — it is a reasonable, logical and harmonious statement of the causes of present evil in the world. It shows the only remedy for this evil and the final results as seen by divine wisdom and love, which saw the end of the plan from before its beginning, marking as well the pathway of God’s people, and upholding and strengthening them with exceeding great and precious promises to be realized in due time.

(54) The teaching of Genesis, that man was tried in a state of original perfection in one representative, that he failed, and that the present imperfection, sickness and death are the results, but that God has not forsaken him, and will ultimately recover him through a redeemer, born of a woman (Genesis 3:15), is kept up and elaborated all the way through. The necessity of the death of a redeemer as a sacrifice for sins, and of his righteous blood as a covering for our sin, is pointed out in the clothing of skins for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21); in the acceptance of Abel’s offerings (Genesis 4:3,4); in Isaac on the altar (Genesis 22:1-18); in the death of the various sacrifices by which the patriarchs had access to God, and of those instituted under the Law and perpetuated throughout the Jewish age (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:14; Numbers 19:2; Hebrews 9:7-14). The prophets, though credited with understanding but slightly the significance of some their utterances (1 Peter 1:12), mention the laying of the sins upon a person instead of a dumb animal, and in prophetic vision they see him who is to redeem and deliver the race led “as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7), that “the chastisement of our peace was upon him,” and the “by his stripes we are healed.” They pictured him as “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” and declared that “Jehovah has laid upon him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6) They told where this deliverer would be born (Micah 5:2), and when he would die, assuring us that it would be “not for himself.” (Daniel 9:26) They mention various peculiarities concerning him — that he would be “righteous,” and “free from deceit,” “violence,” or any just cause of death (Isaiah 53:8,9,11); that he would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12); that he would be numbered among the transgressors in his death (Isaiah 53:12); that not one of his bones would be broken (Psalm 34:20; John 19:36); and that though he should die and be buried, his flesh would not corrupt, neither would he remain in the grave. — Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:31.

(55) The writers of the Christian Scriptures clearly and forcibly, yet simply, record the fulfillment of these predictions in Jesus of Nazareth, and by logical reasonings show that such a ransom price as he gave was needful, as already predicted in the Law and the Prophets, before the sins of the world could be blotted out. (Isaiah 1:18) They trace the entire plan in a more logical and forcible manner, appealing neither to the prejudices nor to the passions of their hearers, but their enlightened reason alone, furnishing some of the most remarkably close and cogent reasoning to be found anywhere on the subject. — See Romans 5:17-19, and onward to the 12th chapter.

(56) Moses, in the Law, pointed not alone to a sacrifice, but also to a blotting out of sins and a blessing of the people under this great deliverer, whose power and authority he declares shall vastly exceed his own, though it should be “like unto” it. (Deuteronomy 18:15,19) The promised deliverer is to bless not only Israel, but through Israel “all the families of the earth.” (Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4) And notwithstanding the prejudices of the Jewish people to the contrary, the prophets continue the same strain, declaring that Messiah will be also “for a light to lighten the nations” (Isaiah 49:6; Luke 2:32); that the nations would come to him “from the ends of the earth” (Jeremiah 16:19); that his name “will be great among the nations” (Malachi 1:11); and that he “will be a light to the nations” and he “will set justice in the earth.” —- Isaiah 42:1-7.

(57) The writers of the Christian Scriptures claim a divine anointing which enabled them to realize the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the sacrifice of Christ. They, though prejudiced as Jews to think of every blessing as limited to their own people (Acts 11:1-18), were enabled to see that while their nation would be blessed, all the families of the earth would be blessed also, with and through them. They saw also that, before the blessing of either Israel or the world, a selection would be made of a small number from both Jews and Gentiles, who, being tried, would be found worthy to be made heirs of the glory, and sharers with him of the honor of blessing Israel and all the nations. —- Galatians 3:29; Acts 3:20-26; Romans 8:17-23.

(58) These writers point out the harmony of this view with what is written in the Law and the Prophets. The grandeur and breadth of the plan they present more than meets the most exalted conception of what it purports to be —- “Good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people.” —- Luke 2:10.

(59) The thought of Messiah as ruler not only of Israel, but also of the world, suggested in the books of Moses, is the theme of all the prophets. The thought of the kingdom was uppermost also in the teaching of the apostles; and Jesus taught that we should pray: “Your kingdom come,” (Matthew 6:10) and promised those a share in it who would faithfully carry out his words — Galatians 4:29; 1 John 2:3-6.

(60) This hope of the coming glorious kingdom gave all the faithful ones courage to endure persecution and to suffer reproach, deprivation and loss, even unto death. And in the grand allegorical prophecy which closes the Christian Scriptures, the worthy “Lamb that was slain” (Revelation 5:12), the worthy “overcomers” whom he will make kings and priests with him in his kingdom, and the trials and obstacles which they must overcome to be worthy to share in that kingdom, are faithfully portrayed. Then are introduced symbolic representations of the blessings to accrue to the world under that Millennial reign, when Satan will be bound and Adamic death and sorrow wiped out, and when all the nations of the earth will walk in the light of the heavenly kingdom —- the new Jerusalem. —- Revelation 21, 22.

(61) The Bible, from first to last, holds out a doctrine found nowhere else, and in opposition to the theories of all the world’s religions — that a future life for the dead will come through a resurrection of the dead as a result of having been purchased through one ransom sacrifice that covers all who are dying due to the sin of one man. (John 5:27,28; Acts 24:15; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; Revelation 20) All the inspired writers expressed their confidence in a redeemer, and one declares that “in the morning,” when God will call them from the tomb, and they come forth, the wicked will no longer hold the rulership of the earth; for “The upright will have dominion over them, in the morning.” (Psalm 49:14) The resurrection of the dead is taught by the prophets; and the writers of the Christian Scriptures base all their hopes of future life and blessing upon it. Paul expresses it thus: “If there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen; and if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is also in vain; … then they 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 will all be made alive.” —- 1 Corinthians 15:13-22

(62) Like a watch, whose many wheels might at first seem superfluous, but whose slowest moving wheels are essential, so the Bible, composed of many parts, and prepared by many pens, is one complete and harmonious whole. Not a single part is superfluous. Though some parts take a more active and prominent place than others, all are useful and necessary. It is becoming popular among the so-called “advanced thinkers” and “great theologians” of the present day to treat lightly, or to ignore if they do not deny, many of the “miracles” of the Hebrew Scriptures, calling them “old wives’ tales.” Of these are the accounts of Jonah and the great fish, Noah and the ark, Eve and the serpent, the standing still of the sun at the command of Joshua, and Balaam’s speaking donkey. Seemingly these wise men overlook the fact that the Bible is interwoven and united in its various parts that to tear from it these miracles, or to discredit them, is to destroy or discredit the whole. For if the original accounts are false, those who repeated them were either falsifiers or dupes, and in either case it would be impossible for us to accept their testimony as divinely inspired. To eliminate from the Bible the miracles mentioned would invalidate the testimony of its principal writers, besides that of our Lord Jesus. The story of the fall is attested by Paul (Romans 5:17); also Eve’s deception by the serpent (2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:14). (See also our Lord’s reference to the latter in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2.) The standing still of the sun at the overthrow of the Amorites, as an evidence of Jehovah’s power, was evidently typical of the power to be displayed in the end of the age, in “the day of Jehovah,” at the hand of him whom Joshua typified. This is attested by three prophets. (Isaiah 28:21; Habakkuk 2:1-3,13,14 and 3:2-11; Zechariah 14:1,6,7) The account of the speaking donkey is confirmed by Jude (verse 11), and by Peter (2 Peter 2:16). And the great teacher, Jesus, confirms the narratives of Jonah and the great fish and of Noah and the flood. (Matthew 12:40; 24:38,39; Luke 17:26; See also 1 Peter 3:20.) Really these are no greater miracles than those performed by Jesus and the apostles, such as the turning of water into wine, the healing of diseases, etc.; and as a miracle, the awakening of the dead is the most wonderful of all.

(63) These miracles, not common to our everyday experience, do find parallels about us every day, which being more common, are passed by unnoticed. The reproduction of living organisms, either animal or vegetable, is beyond our comprehension, as well as beyond our power —- hence miraculous. We can see the exercise of life principle, but can neither fully understand it nor produce it. We plant two seeds side by side; the conditions, air, water and soil are alike; they grow, we cannot tell exactly how, nor can the wisest philosopher or scientist truly explain this miracle. These seeds develop organisms of opposite tendencies; one creeps, the other stands erect; though the conditions are the same. Such miracles grow common to us, and we cease to remember them as such as we leave the wonderment of childhood. Yet they manifest a power as much beyond our own, and beyond our limited intelligence, as the few miracles recorded in the Bible for special purposes, and as intended illustrations of omnipotence, and of the ability of the great Creator to overcome every obstacle and to accomplish all his will, even to our promised resurrection from the dead, the extermination of evil, and the ultimate reign of everlasting righteousness.

(64) Here we rest the case. Every step has been tested by reason. We have found that there is a God, a supreme, intelligent Creator, in whom wisdom, justice, love and power exist in perfect harmony. We have found it reasonable to expect a revelation of his plans to his creatures capable of appreciating and having an interest in them. We have found the Bible, claiming to be that revelation, worthy of consideration. We have examined its writers, and their possible objects, in the light of what they taught. Our reason has told us that such wisdom, combined with such purity of motive, was not the cunning device of crafty men for selfish ends. Reason has urged that it is far more probable that such righteous and benevolent sentiments and laws must be of God and not of men, and has insisted that they could not be the work of knavish priests. 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; and reason has told us that a scheme so grand and comprehensive, beyond all we could otherwise have reason to expect, yet built upon such reasonable deductions, must be the plan of God for which we seek. It cannot be the mere device of men, for even when revealed, it is almost too grand to be believed by men.

(65) When Columbus discovered the Orinoco river, some one said he had found an island. He replied: “No such river as that flows from an island. That mighty torrent must drain the waters of a continent.” So the depth and power and wisdom and scope of the Bible’s testimony convince us that not man, but the Almighty God, is the author of its plans and revelations. We have taken but a hasty glance at the surface claims of the Scriptures to be of divine origin, and have found them reasonable. Succeeding chapters in this series, will unfold various parts of the plan of God, and will, we trust, give ample evidence to every candid mind that the Bible is a divinely inspired revelation, and that the length and breadth and height and depth of the plan it unfolds, gloriously reflect the personal attributes of the divine being, which has been most often but dimly comprehended, but which can now be more clearly seen by means of the revealment through the holy spirit. — 1 Corinthians 2:10.

 

Blessed Bible, shining light!

Glowing through the depths of night;
Glory to our God be giv’n
For this loving gift from heav’n.
 

‘Tis a beam of purest light,

Gleaming through the depths of night;
Brighter than ten thousand gems
Of the costliest diadems
 

‘Tis a fountain pouring forth

Streams of life to gladden earth
Whence eternal blessing flow,
Remedy for human woe.
 

‘Tis a mine, yes, deeper, too,

Than can mortal ever go;
Search we may for many years,
Still some new, rich gem appears.
 

There we learn Jehovah’s love,

Through his message from above.
How he’ll bring to earth true peace,
And will make all wars to cease!

 

With this lamp of purest light

We can see in earth’s dark night.
Learn the way that we should go,
And Jah’s glories we will know.

Integrity Of The Bible Canon (Johnson C. Philip)

While radicals and atheists attacked the accuracy (purity) with which the Canon was transmitted, another group was busy in attacking the integrity of it. They claimed that not all books in the Canon are canonical, while many books that are canonical have been excluded from it. Ahmadiya Muslims are one group that would want some books of their interest (such as the Apocrypha book falsely labeled The Gospel Of Barnabas). These claims have resurfaced at the dawn of the twenty-first century, and many are innocently swept by such baseless argument. Part of the reason is the ignorance of the layman concerning the Canon and how it was formed.

THE NEED TO FIX THE CANON: There was no need to fix the Canon in the period before 400 BC because people generally knew which books came from divine source. However, after the last book of the Old Testament was written, many Jewish people felt the need to clearly spell out the books that were part of the Canon.

The first reason was distance from the original events. People who lived during the times of Prophets and great High Priests recognized the way God communicated with them. However, as new generations came up there was a great time-gap between them and the original revelation. This gap would automatically make them less familiar with the Scriptures, specially if these books were not introduced properly to the posterity.

Further, this distance would also enable forgers and cheats to advance their writings as Scriptures. Thus it was necessary for the posterity to know the boundary. Thus the Jewish fathers were alert to recognize and organize the Canonical books. Of course the correct order of their actions should be realized: these books did not become Canonical by the recognition of the fathers. Rather, when non Canonical books started to claim divine authorship, the Jewish fathers felt it necessary to recognize the books that demonstrated Canonicity. Thus it is not the recognition that brought Canonicity, but it is their Canonical nature that brought recognition to them. The fact that Lord Jesus and the Apostles honoured this Canon demonstrates that the Jewish Fathers were spiritually competent to recognize the Canonical books.

Recognizing Canonical books was necessary also for protecting them from being lost accidentally or through deliberate destruction. People attacked divine revelation both in the Old as well as in the New Testament period. The rationalist Porphyry wrote more than 12 volumes to attack the Bible. In 320 AD the Roman Emperor Diocletian ordered that all religious books be destroyed. In all such cases it became necessary for the children of God to know which books to hide and protect from destruction.

Many other practical considerations also contributed to the demand to spell out the Canon. Thus when the Jews who adopted Greek as their mother-tongue wanted the Scriptures in this language, it was necessary to know which books to translate. With the easy availability of writing materials and the wider dissemination of the Scriptures, the demand to spell out the Canon became all the more important.

As mentioned above, the recognition of the Canonical books was not done randomly or arbitrarily. Rather, the people of God used very strict criteria for recognizing which books were divine. Further, many of these books were given to the children of God under such circumstances that they were recognized as inspired Scriptures soon after these books were written. The divinity of these books helped them to be included in the Bible.

OLD TESTAMENT CANON: The earliest books of the Old Testament were written almost 1400 years before the Christ, while the last book Malachi was written about 400 years before Christ. Since these books came from authoritative sources, people were quick to recognize their divine origin. The sacred books of divine origin were given special honour and protection by the Jews. The priest as well as the people of God always stood up when a public reading of the Scriptures was done.

Many spurious books began to claim divine authorship for them about a hundred years after the completion of Malachi. The Jewish leaders were quick to realize that these writings are not from God, and thus they guarded the books of Bible against all kind of infiltration.

The Apocrypha

The Apocrypha books are not part of the Canon. Thus none of the things said in this chapter are applicable to them. These books are neither inspired by God, nor are they in any sense a part of the Bible.

There is a mistaken belief among some that the Apocrypha books were part of the Bible, and that these were rejected by the Protestant Reformers. On the contrary, the Apocrypha books were never a part of the Old Testament Canon. Thus there is no question of the Reformers dropping out some books from the Canon. Rather, it is the Roman Catholic Church which ADDED these books to the Canon by a proclamation made at the Council of Trent. The story is something like the following.

When the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Hebrew, a number of other books were also translated. These were translated as a help to the Jews who did not know Hebrew or Aramaic. Many of the translators felt that the additional books would benefit the readers by providing them historical and background information about the Jews and their culture. Some of these books were appended to the Septuagint by them. The addition was not as part of the Canon, but as study helps. This is similar to the large number of articles often added at the end of study Bibles like the Scofield, Thompson Chain Reference, Dake’s Bible, or The Ryrie Study Bible. Though these articles are placed within the same Cover, and though the outer cover contains the word “Bible”, none of the modern readers confuses them with the Scripture.

All the contemporary readers know that the study-helps and articles are not part of the Canon. In the same way the readers of Septuagint also knew that these books in the appendix are not part of the Canon. These books found a place in the translation known as Vulgate, which was commonly used by Roman Catholics. In spite of its presence in the Vulgate, the Catholics did not accept the Apocrypha as part of the Canon.

With the Protestant Reformation, many of the Reformers challenged the Catholic church to prove their doctrine by supporting these from the Canon. To their dismay the Roman Catholics discovered that many of their doctrines are not derived from the Canon. At the same time they realized that at least some of these erroneous doctrines are supported by the Apocrypha. Thus for their survival it became necessary to add the Apocrypha to the Canon.

In 1545 the Roman Catholic Church convened what is called the Council Of Trent. Here they passed numerous resolutions, including many curses against the Protestant Believers. In April 1545 the Council declared that the Apocrypha are also part of the Bible. Thus for the first time in history the Apocrypha books were ADDED by the Roman Catholic church to the Bible. This was done in order to justify their doctrinal errors (for which support was available only in the Apocrypha), and also to oppose the Protestant believers. The first Vatican Council held 1869-70 reaffirmed the decision of the Roman Catholic Church to add the Apocrypha to the Canon.

Historically and theologically the Apocrypha was never part of the Canon. Protestant Reformers were very zealous about the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Everything is to be tested in the light of Bible, and Bible alone). Thus they did not allow any kind of leaven to be mixed with the Bible.

The Apocrypha books contain numerous historical, chronological, and doctrinal errors. Some of these are:

1-Prayers And Offerings For The Dead: The Apocrypha encourages prayer for the dead and also the offering of money for the souls of the dead people. It should not be forgotten that the Roman Catholic Church collects millions in money every year on the pretext of praying for the dead that they might be transferred to heaven.

The Catholic Church needed the non-canonical Apocrypha in their Bibles to support such practices that are actually not found in the Canon. 2 Maccabees 12:41-46 is the passage that supports this. Verse 46 says, “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sin”. This is a blasphemous idea.

2-Atonement And Salvation By Almsgiving: Salvation is by grace alone and through faith alone (Eph. 2:8,9; Titus 3:5; 1 John 1:9). However, the Roman Catholic Church adds “good works” as a condition, and collects billions in money worldwide from gullible people seeking salvation. Apocrypha books support this (Ecclesiasticus 3:33. Ecclesiasticus of the Apocrypha is different from Ecclesiastes in the Bible). According Tobit 4:11 of the Apocrypha, “For alms deliver from all sin, and from death and will not suffer the soul to go into darkness”.

3-Preexistence Of Souls: The doctrines that souls have always existed and that the human body receives a preexisting soul is taught in Apocrypha (Wisdom of Solomon 8:19, 20). This is contrary to what is taught by the Canonical books.

4-The Doctrine Of Emanations: Emanation is the theory that just as the web used by the spider comes out of the spider’s own being, the Universe and everything in it is an emanation from God. This idea is contrary to what the Bible teaches, but the Apocrypha teaches it (Wisdom Of Solomon 7:25).

5-Suicide Justified: Bible is totally opposed to suicide, and warns believers against contemplating such activities. The Apocrypha justifies it (2 Maccabees 14:41-46).

6-Cruelty To Slaves Justified: While the Canon asks believers to be merciful to slaves (Deu. 23:15,16), the Apocrypha says that the best way to treat a slave is to pile work upon him. It also justifies cruelty to them when needed (Ecclesiasticus 33:25-29).

7-Other Fallacies And Blasphemies: There are numerous historical errors, doctrinal errors, and even blasphemies. Hatred for Samaritan people, sanction for lying, encouragement for magical incantations, assassination, the power of angels to intercede for man, and many other s are found there.

Worse of all, the doctrine of Purgatory has also come from Apocryphal sources. This is a doctrine totally opposed to all what the Bible says.

Summary

Though many people claim that books of the Bible have been altered and manipulated, the historical data opposes this idea. Right from the beginning the Canonical books received special preservation and protection from the Jews as well as the Christians.

They Apocrypha are not part of the Canon. These books were never considered by the Jews or by Christians as part of the Canon. It is the Roman Catholic Church which ADDED these non-canonical books to the Canon in 1545 as a reaction against the Protestant Movement. They needed to do this to justify their doctrinal errors.

The Canon of God is pure, free from error, and preserved for our instruction and edification.

Dr. Johnson C. Philip is a scientist and an acknowledged blogging guru having a worldwide following.

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