(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.
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,Â 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.
*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.
*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.Â 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.
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):
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.
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 dyingÂ 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.