Belief in God and the Bible

 

The primary requirement for believing the Bible is true is to have faith that God exists.  Hebrews 11:6  “ It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.”  If you don’t believe God exists than there is no reason to consider the Bible to be any more special then the Quran or the Vedas or any other sacred writings. 

In 2 Peter 1:19-21, it says that one of the many things that testifies to God’s existence and to the Bible’s authenticity and inspiration is prophecy.  “ MSG Trans:    We [Peter, James and John] couldn't be more sure of what we saw and heard--God's glory, God's voice (Matthew 17:1-8). The prophetic Word was confirmed to us. You'll do well to keep focusing on it. It's the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rising of the Morning Star in your hearts.  (20)  The main thing to keep in mind here is that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private opinion.  (21)  And why? Because it's not something concocted in the human heart. Prophecy resulted when the Holy Spirit prompted men and women to speak God's Word.”

There are many Prophecies in the Bible that have been fulfilled both in the past and are yet to be fulfilled in the future.  So, what might be a convincing prophecy to verify that God must exist.  The modern State of Israel and the checkered history of the Jewish people is, in my opinion, an undeniably miraculous story that is beyond compare to any other people’s historical record and it was all prophesied in advance.

To start our study of the prophetic significance of the Modern State of Israel and the Jews, we have to go back about 3,700 years when an unconditional promise was made to Abraham about an area of land [the promised lane] that God would give to him and his descendants.  Genesis 22:16-18 NIV  "I swear by myself, [a unilateral promise] declares the LORD, that because you [Abraham] have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,  (17)  I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, (18)  and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."   This prophecy was based upon action Abraham had already completed and therefore could not be undone.  It was an everlasting covenant between God and Abraham’s descendants.

The facts show that Abraham’s descendants became the ancient Nation of Israel originally made up of twelve tribes.  These tribes were founded by Abraham’s grandson Jacob whose name was changed by God to Israel (Genesis 32:28).  All twelve of these tribes became slaves to the Kingdom of Egypt in fulfillment of prophecy made years earlier by God.  (Genesis 15:13-14 NIV: Then the LORD said to him [Abraham], "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own [Egypt], and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.  (14)  But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.)

We all know the story of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt.  This officially began the relationship between God and the Nation of Israel when they made a covenant to obey His Commandments called The Law [Torah] or the Mosaic Law.  Unlike the Abrahamic covenant, this covenant was conditional being based upon their future behavior.  However, over the years, the Nation did not follow the Law reliably.  Moses warned them that if they did not keep God’s commands, they would eventually be scattered among the nations with no land to call their own.  Deuteronomy 28:64-65 NIV  “Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods-- gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.  (65)  Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart.”

The Old Testament is a history of the Israelite’s constant struggle to follow God’s Law.  In the year 930 BC, on the succession of Solomon's son, Rehoboam, the biblical account reports that the original twelve tribes split their lands into two separate kingdoms: The ten tribes to the north were called the Kingdom of Israel and the two tribes to the south, including Jerusalem and the Temple, were called the Kingdom of Judah.  In time, the southern lands became known as Judea and its inhabitants came to be called Jews.

In about 721 BC, the inhabitants of the northern Kingdom of Israel were scattered among the surrounding nations by their Assyrian conqueror.  A similar thing happened to the Kingdom of Judah when Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar.  Interestingly, the Jews were not scattered like the 10 northerly tribes but were literally moved to Babylon and became a servant class of people.  Because they were not “scattered”, they remained as a nation down to the time of Christ.

In 539 BC, Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon and the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.  This fact was prophesied about 150 years earlier by Isaiah the prophet.  Isaiah prophesied that God would raise up a Conquering king named Cyrus who vanquish the city of Babylon because its river gates were mysteriously left open.   Isaiah 45:1 NIV  This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:

God did this for the sake of His chosen people who were still exiled there in Babylon.  This also was a fulfillment of another prophecy made by Jerimiah 70 years earlier.   Jeremiah 25:11 NIV  “This whole country [Judea]  will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations [Jews] will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” 

After the 70 years of servitude were completed at Babylon, God told them He would cause them to return to this place [Jerusalem].  (Jeremiah 29:10 - This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place [Jerusalem].)

Following the writings of Nehemiah and Ezra regarding the building of the Temple and Jerusalem’s walls, the Old Testament is silent for about 400 years until Jesus the Messiah makes his appearance.  He was a direct descendant of Abraham and fulfilled God’s Genesis 22:18 prophecy by becoming the means through whom “all the nations on earth will be blessed.”  Jesus did this by sacrificing himself bodily for the sins of all the nations of mankind.

Just two days before his death (Wednesday), Jesus gave a significant prophecy regarding the Last Days.    Matthew 23:37-39 NIV  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.  (38)  Look, your house is left to you desolate.  (39)  For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' " 

What did Jesus mean by this statement?  Only four days earlier (Sunday) the common people of Jerusalem had welcomed him in that fashion.  Matthew 21:9 NIV The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!".   But at the same time, Jerusalem’s rulers rejected him and were planning his assassination.  Jesus, knowing this, made the above statement saying that they [the common people] would not “see” him again until they say “Blessed is he [Jesus} who comes in the name of the Lord.”  Jesus was referring, prophetically, to his Second Coming when all the remaining Jews in the modern State of Israel would face total destruction by their enemies with no possible hope of deliverance.

This event will also fulfill the prophecy of Acts 1:10-11 NIV, which says: “They were looking intently up into the sky as he [Jesus] was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.  (11)  Men of Galilee, they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back [to Jerusalem] in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

According to Paul, after rejecting their Messiah, the Jew’s hearts and minds experienced a “hardening.”  But their hardening will end when the full number of Gentile Christians are gathered.   Romans 11:25-26 NIV  I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.  (26)  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion [heaven]; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob [Jews].”  This “deliverer” is the Messiah Jesus who will come in prophetic fulfillment of his previous words found at Matthew 23:39.

Two days after Jesus made this end-time prediction, (Friday) he was crucified and on the third day (Sunday), he raised himself from the dead. (John 10:18; John 2:19-21)   It is also to be noted that two days before his death (Wednesday), Jesus predicted that Jerusalem would be destroyed.  Matthew 24:1-2 NIV: (1) Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.  (2)  Do you see all these things? he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one [stone] will be thrown down." 

This prophecy made by Jesus was in fulfillment of an earlier prophecy made by Daniel in about the year 465 BC.   Daniel 9:26 NIV  After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One [Jesus the Messiah] will be cut off [crucified] and will have nothing. The people [the Romans] of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.”

Without going into a lot of detail, Daniel speaks of the time when Jesus, the Anointed One, will be cut off [be crucified].  Following this, those who crucified Jesus, will “destroy the city and the sanctuary.”  Rome fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy by totally destroying the City of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.  Most of its inhabitants were either killed or enslaved with a few managing to escape.   However, many of these escaped Jews apparently returned to the area and 62 years later they rebelled again.  This was called the Bar Kokhba revolt that took place from 132 to 136 AD.  This resulted in a second destruction of the city of Jerusalem.  The Romans even plowed the whole area and completely fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy of “not one stone here will be left on another.”  This was also a fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy we reviewed earlier when he said that the remaining disobedient Jews would be dispersed throughout the known world of that time.  (Deuteronomy 28:64)

Interestingly, after the last Jewish rebellion, it is a historical fact that the Jews as a nationality became the most persecuted group of people in all of human history.  ( Moses prophesied, “Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot.” (Deuteronomy 28:65)  They have had to flee persecution from one nation to another.  Numerous pogroms have been brought against them and there have been many attempts to destroy them completely such as the holocaust of the last century but without success.  They have maintained their national identity ever since the promise was made to Abraham by God. (Genesis 17:8 -  The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.")  We saw the beginning of this prophecy’s fulfillment on May 14, 1948, with the formation of the modern State of Israel.  

It can be said that the long awaited “last days” began with the formation of the State of Israel.  (Hosea 3:4-5 NIV: “ For the Israelites will live many days [years and years] without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, [no Temple] without ephod or idol. [no Idol Worship] (5)  Afterward the Israelites will return [come back to their land] and seek the LORD their God and David their king [Jesus son of David]. They will come trembling to the LORD and to His blessings in the last days.)”

Another somewhat mysterious prophecy was also fulfilled with the establishment of the State of Israel.  It is the Ezekiel 37 prophecy of the Valley of Dry Bones.  On January 27, 2010, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke at a ceremony marking 65 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.  A world-wide audience heard him state that the Israeli State fulfilled Ezekiel’s “Dry Bones” prophecy:  

Benjamin Netanyahu said:  “[After the Holocaust,]” the Jewish people rose from ashes and destruction, from a terrible pain that can never be healed. Armed with the Jewish spirit, the justice of man, and the vision of the prophets, we sprouted new branches and grew deep roots. Dry bones became covered with flesh, a spirit filled them, and they lived and stood on their own feet. As Ezekiel prophesied:

‘Then He said unto me: These bones are the whole House of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone; we are doomed.’ Prophecy, therefore, and say to them: Thus said the Lord God: I am going to open your graves and lift you out of your graves, O My people, and bring you to the land of Israel.’

It should be noted that, without the holocaust [valley of dry bones], the Modern State of Israel could not have been formed.  The Hollywood Movie of “Exodus” illustrates to us how the world was forced to allow the Jews to return to their land and establish the State of Israel.  Because world opinion sympathized with the Jewish Holocaust, the Jews were able to return to their land.   

The prophet Isaiah described the very day on which Modern Israel was born, saying at Isaiah 68:7-8: NIV:  Before she [Zion] goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son.  (8)  Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children [Israel].

The woman giving birth before going into labor represents a rapid process that would produce the Nation State of Israel. This accurately describes what happened on May 14, 1948 - when "the world" briefly felt sorry for the Jews and returned the promised Land of Israel to them and they were able to declare independence as a united and sovereign nation for the first time in 2,528 years since Jerusalem was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar.  During that same day, President Truman of the United States issued a formal statement recognizing Israel's sovereignty. And, only hours before this event, a United Nations’ mandate expired, ending British control of the land.  During a 24-hour span of time, foreign control of the land of Israel had formally ceased, and Israel had declared its independence, and its independence was acknowledged by other nations. Modern Israel was literally was born in a single day.

This discussion in which we followed the prophetic development of the descendants of Abraham over a period of about 3,700 years should, in my opinion, be convincing evidence for the existence of God and the reliability of His written word the Bible.  After Jesus was crucified, there was no longer a need for a genealogical record that would be necessary to prove that a professed Messiah was a legitimate descendant of King David.  Think about that.  The period during Jesus’ lifetime was the last opportunity for a Messiah figure to offer credible evidence to substantiate his claim as we see in Luke 3:23-38.

If you want to know where we are in the stream of history leading up to Jesus’ second coming, just keep your eyes on the Jews.   In chapter 37 of Ezekiel, we learned of the events leading up to the establishment of the Modern State of Israel.  In Chapters 38 & 39, which are beyond the scope of this essay, there are prophecies concerning the movements of the modern governments as they seek to destroy the Nation of Israel and all Jews in it.  The Devil is the motivating factor behind Israel’s enemies in seeking to prevent the Jewish people, particularly the inhabitants of Jerusalem, from fulfilling Jesus prediction discussed previously.  Remember, Jesus said that the inhabitants Jerusalem would not see again until they say:  “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”  (Matthew 23z;37-39).  We can anticipate that the Devil will do everything within his power to prevent this from happening.

By contrast, note what Jehovah’s Witnesses,  JW.org, has to say about the Modern Jewish State:  . . .  No, they [Jehovah’s Witnesses] are not Zionists. Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians who base their beliefs on the Scriptures. While some religions teach that the gathering of Jews in Palestine is related to Scriptural prophecy, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not hold this view. They do not believe that this political development was specifically foretold in the Scriptures. In fact, the Scriptures do not promote any one human government or exalt one ethnic group or people over another. The Watchtower, the official magazine of Jehovah’s Witnesses, has unequivocally stated: “There [is] no Scriptural support for political Zionism.”