THE authority of any religion depends
upon its origin. Who is pronouncing what is truth? If the origin
is purely human, why should we take any notice? The opinions of
any man, or group of men, are of no more authority than those of
any other men. Though they may appear more logical and be founded
upon more reasonable grounds, they are still the products of the
human mind. They carry no guarantee of absolute truth.
The major religions of the world
are founded upon the writings of men. Buddhism is founded upon the
teachings of Buddha, who lived in India in the 6th Century BC. It
was some centuries later that his adherents made him a god.
Hinduism, originating in ancient Vedism about 1500 BC, evolved
through Brahmanism into early Hinduism in the 2nd Century BC,
revering the gods Vishnu and Shiva. Confucianism arose from
Chinese moral philosophy, which was systematized by Confucius in
the 5th century BC. Confucius himself became an object of worship
in the 1st Century AD. In each of these religions the worship of
the god arose centuries after the promulgation of the original
principles. The Muslim religion is in a different category. It
arose from the writings of Muhammad in the 8th Century AD and has
obvious connections with the ideas of Christianity, which existed
centuries before Muhammad.
All these widespread religions
claiming millions of adherents, are based upon the original
pronouncements of men. Despite all their subsequent philosophical
refinements, they have originated in the human mind.
But is not the same true of Christianity? Are not its teachings
accepted because they are found originally in the writings of men,
which make up the Bible?
At first, this appears a reasonable
comment. But when we come to examine the writings found in the
Bible, we discover that they are in a totally different category
from the foundation documents of the religions referred to above.
In fact they are so different and manifest such remarkable
characteristics that the question arises, Who is really
responsible for them? Men did the actual writing, but whose was
the thinking that lies behind all of them? The more the writings
of the Bible are studied, the more convinced one becomes that
there must have been a Mind behind it all, different from and
greater than the mind of men. One 19th Century student, after such
an examination, came to the striking conclusion that the Bible is
not "such as men would have written if they could, nor could have
written if they would" (Henry Rogers, The Superhuman Origin of
the Bible, 1872).
Let us then take a careful look at
the Bible and note its special characteristics. We shall find them
so exceptional as to make the Bible unique in the world - a book
in fact that we cannot ignore.
There is one important principle to
observe in our quest: we must note what the Bible writers say
about themselves and their message, and be very wary of what has
subsequently been said about them. It is very common today for
people to say, "Well, we live in a more enlightened age and we
know better". This common error arises from relying alone on human
judgement. We shall find good reason seriously to question that
Books, yet One
The Bible exists among us as one book. Yet it is in fact composed
of more than 60 books, written by over 40 different authors, and
its compilation extended from the days of Moses (1400 BC) to the
days of the apostle John (end of 1st Century AD), a period of
1,500 years. Its narrative goes right back to the origin of man.
It presents the Lord God of heaven and earth as Creator of all,
who has a purpose with the human race, which extends through
history right up to the present day; and then goes further and
tells what will happen to that race in the future. There is no
other book in the world which has such a range and scope as this.
But its writings are not just
philosophical predictions. They are rooted in human history,
dealing with actual nations and real people. The Bible deals with
man's early career, passes a devastating judgement on him at the
Flood, and proceeds to detail God's purpose with a particular
people, the descendants of faithful Abraham, in their deliverance
from the oppression of Egypt and their inheritance of the land of
Canaan. It faithfully records the history of that people, the
lives of their men of faith, their constant failure to do God's
will, the judgements which came upon them through the Assyrians
and the Babylonians, and the eventual overthrow of their kingdom.
It takes up in the New Testament the record of the coming of Jesus
Christ, the preaching of the gospel by his apostles, and ends with
their writings to the early communities of believers in the 1st
century AD. But the word of prophecy they spoke extends in time
into the future.
Now the remarkable fact is that
over this long period of 1,500 years the Bible speaks of one God,
having one purpose. The earliest books of the Old Testament and
the latest of the New are bound together by one outlook and one
conviction, so that they become in fact one revelation. How this
could be in a world of human fallibility is something we must seek
There is one common affirmation, found in all the writers of the
books of the Bible: it is that they were not writing their own
words, but the words and thoughts of God.
"The LORD said unto Moses, write
these words ..." This becomes the keynote for all subsequent
writers. The prophets of Israel all proclaim, "Thus said the LORD
. . ." "The word of the LORD came unto me saying ..." The Lord
Jesus Christ (whose "Old Testament" was the same as ours, as we
know from details given by Josephus in the 1st Century AD)
acknowledged the authority of "the law and the prophets"; he used
them constantly in his preaching, as did his apostles after him.
So there has arisen the principle that the writings of the Bible
are the inspired word of God, not produced by the will of man but
by the will of God (2 Peter 1:21). The apostle Paul wrote that all
Scripture is "God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16). The breath of God in
them is His very thoughts and His mind.
to Bible Truth
For the first 300 years of the early Church the unanimous view was
that the Old and New Testaments were alike the word of God. John
Urquhart (The Inspiration and Accuracy of the Holy Scriptures,
1895) adopted a very striking method of demonstrating the point He
cited evidence from the writings of prominent men in the early
Church, commencing with the 3rd Century and working steadily
backwards till he arrived at the very days of the apostle John.
Thus he began with Origen (3rd Century); Cyprian, bishop of
Carthage (3rd Century); Clement of Alexandria (end of 2nd
Century); Tertullian (2nd and 3rd Centuries); lrenaeus, bishop of
Lyon, Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, Justin Martyr (all of the 2nd
Century); then Ignatius, bishop of Antioch and Folycarp, both
martyred in the 2nd Century; and finally Clement, bishop of Rome
in AD 91.
Urquhart concluded his survey with
"The meaning of all
this testimony is plain. There is no conflict in it. There is but
one view of the Scriptures - both of the Old and the New Testament
- they are alike the Word of God ... There is one thing more of
the utmost importance to our inquiry. This view has not grown. It
is not a product of Christian evolution. It has been handed down
right from the apostolic times. Were there no other evidence
extant as to what the Apostles taught about the Scriptures, I
cannot see how the conclusion could be escaped that they must have
regarded both the New Testament and the Old as the very Word of
God. These disciples of the Apostles would never have spoken so
emphatically and unanimously, unless their masters had been
equally emphatic and unanimous." (page 31)
But there is still one more comment
to be made. The actual writers of these scriptures - the Law, the
Psalms and the Prophets, the Gospels and the Epistles and the
Revelation - must also have been convinced that they were writing
not their own words but the words of God Himself. In fact they say
so themselves. And this was maintained in one set of writings for
1,500 years, from Moses to the apostle John, and it is found in no
other set of writings anywhere in the world.
But this view of their own words is
most unusual. Men do not willingly ascribe the authority of their
words, and especially of their ideas, to someone else. They are
only too eager to claim the credit for what they write. How then
could this unique attitude have been preserved without wavering in
the writers of the Bible? There is only one reasonable
explanation: there was a Mind behind it all, directing what was
written and taught. No men of themselves could have maintained
this most unnatural view of their own work over so many centuries.
The Bible maintains one view of human nature from beginning to
Man is not only mortal, a creature
destined to die after a period of years, but he is morally weak as
well. Endowed with the most remarkable powers of intelligence and
reason, conscience and will, he is also subject to the pressures
of his own desires to please himself. He is constantly under
pressure to be self-indulgent, covetous, and above all to defend
his own pride. Knowing what he ought to do, he so often fails to
do it. In the terms of the Bible, even when men know the will of
God, in general they prefer to do their own will instead.
The testimony of the Bible is
emphatic and unanimous. Passing judgement on the generation before
the Flood because of their "deceit and violence", God declares:
"The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Genesis
6:5). In other words he is born with that tendency. Writing 600
years before Christ, the prophet Jeremiah declared that "the heart
(of man) is deceitful and desperately sick" (17:9, RV). As a
result he declared: "I know, 0 LORD, that the way of man is not in
himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps"
(10:23). Man, in other words, does not know what is best for him.
He needs the guidance of God.
Jesus' pronouncement, recorded in
Mark's Gospel, is the most forthright in the whole Bible.
Confronted by Jewish leaders who were rebuking his disciples for
not ritually washing their hands before eating, and for eating
from 'unwashed pots" (not ritually cleansed), Jesus tells them
that real defilement is "what enters into the heart" (or mind);
then he delivers this devastating judgement:
proceedeth out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within,
out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries,
fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit,
lasciviousness, an evil eye (envy), blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
all these evil things come from within, and defile the man." (Mark
This exposure of the natural
tendencies of man has for all of us the disconcerting ring of
truth. It is found nowhere else in the world, neither in writings
of any substance nor in sustained teaching. It is unique. As a
judgement upon ourselves it is unwelcome and unacceptable. Yet it
is consistently maintained in the Bible for 1,500 years, from
Moses to the Apostle John. How could this have happened? Left to
themselves the human authors would never have produced it. There
must have been a Mind behind it all - the mind of God Himself.
Phenomenon of Israel
The career of the nation of Israel presents extraordinary
features, not found in that of any other nation. They are the only
people who can trace their origin to one man, Abraham the Hebrew,
living about 1800 BC, and that can produce written records
recounting in great detail, involving persons and places, the
triumphs and the disasters of their existence as a nation in the
Middle East until 400 BC, a period of 1,400 years. Let us examine
a few details in this remarkable history.
There is first the mystery of their
sudden emergence as a nation in the land of Canaan (now Israel)
about 1400 BC. They have left Egypt as a multitude of considerable
power; are soon found, all twelve tribes of them, united in their
acknowledgement of one God and submitting themselves unanimously
to one Law, called now the Law of Moses. It was a rigorous regime
which governed every aspect of their lives. It decreed their life
of religious worship: the weekly sabbath (still observed), the
three main festivals, including the Passover (still observed), the
tabernacle with its priests and obligatory offerings, and detailed
laws governing their relations with one another in all aspects of
their daily lives. The Ten Commandments have become famous as the
brief summary of their individual obligations, but there were many
other regulations concerning cleanness and uncleanness, foods to
be eaten and others prohibited, reparations to be made and
judgements - including death - to be carried out in certain
circumstances. And all males had to submit to the rite of
circumcision (and still do).
Now this was no "easy law". It was
very burdensome. It imposed obligations, demanded sacrifices both
of wealth and personal convenience, and required the preservation
of an attitude of reverent worship towards their God. It is
emphatically not a Law which any people would have chosen for
themselves of their own free will: it is too intrusive and too
demanding. It is most difficult to get a large group of people to
come to one mind on important religious, personal and political
issues at the same time. How then did the whole twelve tribes of
Israel come unanimously to accept this Law for themselves?
The answer is to be found in a
series of dramatic events which occurred at this special
turning-point in the nation's history. The Bible tells us how
Israel were brought out from slavery in the land of Egypt by
miraculous demonstrations of divine power on their behalf. Pharaoh
king of Egypt did not want to let them go and persisted in his
obstinate resistance through ten plagues that came upon his
nation; ending in the destruction of his army in the Red Sea. In
these events the God of Israel carried out judgements on Egypt's
elaborate pagan system, demonstrated that He alone was God -
"there is no other" - and confirmed Israel in the promise that
they were His people.
Now if these great events actually
occurred as the book of Exodus says they did, then we can better
understand how it was that Israel came unanimously to accept this
Law, first in the wilderness and then in the land of Canaan, and
why devout ones among them still do to this day. But without this
demonstration of divine power, their existence as a nation,
unanimously accepting the Law of Moses, is well-nigh impossible to
The nation of Israel is unique in preserving comprehensive records
of the first 1,400 years of its existence. The detailed and
precise records in the historical books of the Old Testament give
names, dates of events, and significant political developments,
involving other nations of the Middle East. They agree well with
what is known from other sources of the circumstances of the
period 1800-400 BC. No other nation on earth has a record remotely
The remarkable thing is, however,
that these historical records - the books of Judges, Samuel,
Kings, Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah for example - all go beyond
the normal functions of historians, for unanimously they pass
moral judgements on the characters involved and on the whole
nation itself. They record not only that a certain king reigned
for so many years, but that "he did evil in the sight of the LORD"
or, less often, "he did that which was right . . ."
The portrait of the nation which
emerges is that of a people constantly abandoning the true worship
of their God and adopting the corrupt idolatrous practices of
their pagan neighbours, with the inevitable immorality. The
writings of the prophets without exception contain substantial
passages exposing Israel's failure to obey their God, and
prophesying the judgements which would come upon them, if they did
not mend their ways. Those judgements were fulfilled in successive
invasions by surrounding nations.
By this time, the nation that had
been ruled by Saul, David and Solomon became divided into a
Northern kingdom, retaining the name Israel; and a Southern
kingdom, called Judah. Each in turn lapsed from the true worship
of God who, through His prophets. first appealed for them to turn
from their evil ways, and then. when they took no notice, warned
of the inevitable judgements that would come upon them. The
following are typical of the doom-laden words of the prophets;
To Israel, about 740 BC:
"Notwithstanding they would not hear ... They forsook all the
commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images,
even two calves, and made an Asherah (idol), and worshipped the
host of heaven (sun, moon, stars), and served Baal (god of the
Canaanites). They caused their sons and daughters to pass through
the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold
themselves to do evil, in the sight of the LORD to provoke him to
anger. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed
them out of his sight . . ." (2 Kings 17:13-18, RV)
So the Assyrians invaded the land,
captured Samaria, and overthrew the Northern Kingdom about 720 BC.
To Judah, 130 years later:
"Moreover all the chief of the priests and the people trespassed
very greatly after all the abominations of the heathen ... and the
LORD, the God of their fathers, sent to them by his messengers
(the prophets) because he had compassion on his people ... But
they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and
scoffed at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against
his people, till there was no remedy . . ." (2 Chronicles
So the Babylonians came and
finally, about 590 BC, captured the city of Jerusalem, burnt down
its temple, and carried away captive the most influential of the
people. Israel's existence as a state came to an end.
Now the question requiring an
answer is this: How did Israel come to preserve records which
expose in such forthright terms their faithlessness, depravity and
corruption? There is no other nation which has such extensive
records in the first place, but even if such existed, they would
have consigned such uncomplimentary writings to the rubbish heap
and would never nave preserved them as national treasures. It has
been well observed that if Israel's historical records are not
true, then they constitute one long libel on the Jewish people.
Why then have they preserved them to this day?
such Writings arise?
The related question is equally searching: how did a people
manifesting in general the characteristics of all the other
nations - national pride, corrupt kings, self-indulgent desire for
power and possessions, readiness to adopt other nations'
idolatries, allied with a persistent rejection of the enlightened
commandments of their God - how did such a persistently wayward
people ever produce the elevated moral teaching found in the
Psalms and in the Prophets, with its emphasis on personal conduct
in truth, mercy, consideration for one's neighbour, and above all
reverence for the God of heaven and earth? No other nation did
this. How did a morally trail nation like Israel come to produce
On human grounds it cannot be
explained. But if the record is true, if it really is expressing
the will of God and not just of men, then all becomes
understandable. There must have been a Mind behind the writings of
the Bible greater than the mind of man. On no other principle
could the tenor of its teaching have been maintained over so many
centuries. And that is why Israel have preserved this book and
dared not cast it aside. They know its message came from God.
In the experience of all mankind there is little certain knowledge
of the future. We literally do not know what will happen tomorrow,
to say nothing of next year, or in a hundred years. The writings
of the Bible, however, are unique, for they make bold predictions
of international events covering long periods of time.
The nation of Israel provides an
excellent illustration. We have seen how first the Northern and
then the Southern kingdom were taken into captivity by Assyrians
and Babylonians. Though many returned later, it was not long
before the Jews were once again under threat, and driven from
their land, this time by the Romans in the 1st Century AD. Jesus
was the last in the line of the prophets, and he said: "They shall
fall by the edge of the sword and shall be led away captive into
all the nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the
Gentiles . . ." (Luke 21:24).
So it came to pass in AD 70, and
that ought to have been the end of the story. Humanly speaking,
such a scattered, persecuted and reviled nation should have
disappeared from the earth and been long ago forgotten. But the
prophets said that they would not disappear and would eventually
be restored again to their own land:
"For, lo, the days
come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my
people Israel and Judah . . . and I will cause them to return to
the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it .
. . Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather
them from the uttermost parts of the earth . . . Hear the word of
the LORD, all ye nations . . . He that scattered Israel will
gather him (Jeremiah 30:3; 31:8,10)
And so it has come to pass. In our
20th Century the Jews have returned to Palestine and have set up
once more an Israeli state with its capital at Jerusalem.
Now who could have foreseen this?
Who could have known that Israel would be scattered all over the
earth, and yet after nearly 2,000 years some of them would return
and re-establish the ancient kingdom? No man or group of men could
possibly have known that this would happen. But somebody must have
known. It can only be God. It is He who inspired the writings of
the prophets to foretell a destiny totally unexpected by the
nations of the world.
Daniel was a prominent figure in the court of the King of Babylon
about 600 BC. Yet the prophecies in his book show a knowledge of
the rise and fall of empires centuries after his time.
The foundation prophecy is Daniel's
interpretation of a dream which the King had, in which he saw a
great image composed of various metals, and then saw it destroyed
by a large stone which brought it crashing to the ground. This
image, said Daniel (who ascribed his understanding to God),
represented four great empires and their aftermath. He identities
the first as Babylon itself; the next two are explicitly named in
other parts of his prophetic book as Persia and Greece. The
fourth, strong and terrifying, can only be the Roman Empire, which
eventually broke up into separate kingdoms.
And so it came to pass. The Bible
is primarily concerned with the Middle East and the lands
surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. In Daniel's day, 600 BC, the
greatest empire was that of Babylon. It was succeeded by the
empire of the Medes and Persians about 530 BC, and that in turn
was overthrown by Alexander the Great of Greece about 330 BC. The
fourth and greatest dominion of them all was the Roman, which from
the 2nd Century BC to the 5th Century AD, a period of six to seven
hundred years, grew so as to dominate all the territories of the
Middle East (including Israel), the lands surrounding the
Mediterranean Sea, as well as much of Europe. But this mighty
Roman Empire was not to be followed by a fifth, but was to be
broken up into separate nations with no cohesion. The nations of
Europe today are the heirs of this disintegration.
Now it is undeniable that the
history of the territories of the Middle East, of the
Mediterranean area and of Europe has followed, over 2,500 years,
from Daniel's day in 600 BC to the present day, precisely the
course foretold by Daniel. How could he possibly have known the
course of history for centuries into the future? Yet somebody must
have known. Daniel said the God of heaven had revealed it to him.
It is the only explanation which makes sense.
But in that case we had better take
note of the conclusion of the interpretation of the King's dream.
It foresaw the destruction of the image, and the setting up
finally of a new empire:
"In the days of these
kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never
be destroyed; it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms, and it
shall stand forever" (Daniel 2:44)
In view of the truth of Danielís
forecast of the previous empires of the world, we had better take
this last development seriously, for the next great empire will be
the Kingdom of God. But more of that shortly.
For the last 300 years the philosophers have confidently expected
the quality of human life in the world to improve. The theory of
biological evolution was accompanied by theories of social and
religious evolution as well. "The March of Progress" was the great
expectation. The 19th Century was an age of great optimism.
Technical advances in industry, resulting from the growth of
scientific knowledge, led to vastly increased production of goods
and greater wealth for some sections of society. Acts of
Parliament controlling health and housing aimed to improve social
standards. Education was extended gradually to all and was
confidently expected to result in an improved moral tone in
society. As men became better off, crime would diminish. As they
became better educated, they would appreciate literature, music
and art. Progress was the watchword. The human race was on the
march towards a new age.
What a disconcerting shock the 20th
Century has proved! Two world wars have produced millions of
people destroyed or injured, incalculable human suffering and
damage to property. Efforts to prevent such catastrophes occurring
again have failed. The League of Nations collapsed with the rise
of Mussolini in the 1920s, and Hitler in the 1930s, and the United
Nations manifests its powerlessness to stop grave conflicts in the
world. The growth of nuclear weapons poses an ominous threat to
the existence of the whole human race, and to cap it all the
economies of the nations are plunged into crisis, with numerous
unemployed in all the major nations.
But the moral collapse is even more
significant. The sophisticated nations have turned their backs on
religion, but have found nothing effective to put in its place.
The divorce rate rises and so does the crime rate. New diseases
appear, especially AIDS, which has already made serious inroads in
Africa and threatens to spread in the West. Famines threatening
millions of lives, though partly caused by drought or
mismanagement of land, are also the result of civil wars. Small
nationalities are asserting their rights, and are ready to take up
arms to defend them. In short, the nations are shaken to their
moral, political and economic foundations to an extent undreamed
of in past ages.
All this is occurring in our
supposedly advanced 20th Century, and it is world-wide. The dream
of progress has evaporated, and nothing has been found to take its
Bible's View of Mankind
Now the remarkable fact is that the Bible never shared this
optimistic view of human progress. It has been well said that the
Bible's view of the development of human civilisation is not
evolutionary, but catastrophic; that is, mankind's career will end
in a great crisis and a dramatic change (H. J. Cadbury, in The
Peril of Modernising Jesus, 1934).
The evidence for this is quite
clear throughout the Old and New Testaments. Daniel, speaking of
"the time of the end", foresaw "a time of trouble such as never
was" when "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall
awake", some to everlasting life (12:1,2). The apostle Paul
foresaw that "in the last days perilous times shall come". He
proceeds to describe the rise of a violent and self-indulgent
generation, "lovers of money, boastful . . . disobedient to
parents . . . without natural affection . . . without self-control
. . . lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, holding a
form of religion (RSV), but having denied the power thereof" (2
Timothy 3:1-5, RV). The resemblance to the materialistic,
atheistical and undisciplined spirit of our age is striking. Jesus
himself was equally explicit. At a time when Jerusalem would be no
longer under the domination of the nations, there would be "upon
the earth distress of nations in perplexity . . . men fainting for
fear and for expectation of the things which are coming on the
world" (Luke 21:25,26).
But the writings in which these
forecasts are found are 2,000 years old and more. How did the
writers know that the climax of mankind's career would not be a
state of peace and prosperity, as the wise men of only 100 years
ago were predicting? Again, of themselves as men, they could not
have known. But it is clear that somebody must have known. There
must have been a Mind far greater than the human to inspire what
they wrote. It was surely that of God Himself. No other
explanation meets the facts.
It is only in the last half-century that the need for one world
government for all nations has become apparent. Shortly after the
Second World War, Bertrand Russell in a series of radio talks
asserted that the nations of the world would need to develop
within 50 years one world authority having the power to enforce
its decisions. If this was not achieved, he said, civilisation
would perish. Earnest efforts have been made to bring this about
through the setting up of the United Nations Organisation. It has
succeeded in resolving a few minor disputes, but the conflicting
interests of the major nations have rendered it impotent. It is
worth stressing again that this perception of the need for one
government for the whole earth is a very modern development,
brought about by the existence of competing powers, armed with
deadly weapons, yet unable to control violent minorities
determined to gain their own ends.
The remarkable fact is, however,
that the writers of the Bible have prophesied from the beginning
the establishment of one government for the whole earth as the
climax of human history and the essential basis for world peace.
We have seen clear evidence of that already. In his prophecy of
the course of world empires, Daniel saw their final destruction
and the setting up of a new world order under a new authority:
"In the days of these
kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom that shall never be
destroyed ... it shall last for ever." (Daniel 2:44)
That was 600 years before Christ. Only a century or so before
that, Isaiah had prophesied the setting up of a world authority in
Jerusalem, where all nations would go to receive the Divine law.
The result would be peace among the nations of the world; "nation
shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn
war any more" (Isaiah 2:2-4). One of the great themes of the New
Testament is that Jesus Christ will return to the earth at a lime
of trouble and distress and will establish the authority of God
over the whole earth.
This establishment of one
government for the whole earth under the rule of Christ is exactly
what the disunited nations of the modern world desperately need.
For it will not be a government of pious promises, but one with
the power to control the conflicting interests of the nations; and
it will not only have the power, but the right policy for the good
of all. The ruler himself has been specially trained and selected.
If we were able to choose someone to govern the whole earth, who
better than the most outstanding personality in human history,
Jesus Christ the Son of God? His moral courage, his devotion to
truth, his compassionate consideration of others, his denunciation
of hypocrisy, and above all his complete consecration to the
worship of God - all these outstanding qualities, unique in the
world of men, make him the ideal ruler of the new world order so
much desired by the more enlightened of men and so constantly
beyond their reach.
A King for
But there is one further significant point. Human rulers may at
times be good and achieve some benefits for their peoples. But
eventually they die, and what is to guarantee that their
successors will be desirable? This serious difficulty will not
arise in the case of Christ, for he has eternal life and his
government will last for all time.
How can it be that a plan for the
government of the world, ensuring peace and blessings for all
nations of the earth, outlined so many centuries ago in the Bible,
proves to be exactly what the nations of the 20th Century need?
Why, too, is the Bible unique in this, for there is nothing like
it in the pronouncements of any other religion or human
literature? Again, someone must have known the world needs which
would arise. An all-seeing Mind is needed to explain it. It must
be God. No other explanation makes sense.
In the pagan centuries before Christ men worshipped natural
phenomena like the sun, moon, and stars, and sometimes even
animals. In cruder rites it was thought the god required the
sacrifice of children in the fire. The Old Testament allusions to
the worship of Molech, and Micah's question, "Shall I sacrifice
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" (6:7) are examples.
The legendary gods of Greece and Rome appear like glorified men
and frequently exhibited the vices of men. In the Roman world
oriental cults of a mystical nature, often associated with
licentious rites involving sacred prostitution, grew in influence
as belief in the legendary gods waned. The gods of modern Eastern
religion appear remote, inhabiting a sphere of philosophical
perfection which is far removed from the daily experience of
But the portrait of God in the
Bible offers a totally different view and is unique in the world.
God has supreme power and authority, for He is Creator of heaven
and earth and also of the human race; but He is above all a God
possessing definite moral qualities and maintaining them in His
dealings with mankind. We cannot do better than reproduce God's
own description of Himself, given to Israel through Moses.
"The LORD . . . a God
full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in
mercy and truth forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin: and
that will by no means clear the guilty . . ." (Exodus 34:6-7, RV)
This portrait of a God of holiness
and truth, who yet remembers the weakness of those who seek to
serve Him and extends forgiveness to those who humble themselves
before Him, is unswervingly maintained throughout the writings of
the Old Testament for 1,000 years and then reappears in the New
Testament in the 1st Century AD and nowhere else in the world's
It is profoundly reinforced in the
New Testament by the appearance of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
who manifests all the moral attributes of His Father, while
consistently recognising the Father's supremacy. His devotion to
truth, his fearless unmasking of evil, his compassion for human
weakness, and his devotion to the service of God, putting aside
his own will-all these and more are unique in human experience.
Such a portrait is not found anywhere else in the world, but only
in the Bible.
The question is, where did it come
from? Judging by the evidence of the past, no man nor any human
authority would have thought out this view, nor would they have
been able to maintain it over a period of many centuries. The
strong impression remains that we need God to explain the portrait
of God found in the Bible.
God in the
But there is still one thing more. The God of the Bible is not
remote from mankind, inhabiting a sphere of spiritual perfection
far removed from the experience of men and women, for He is
vitally involved in human history. Having created the human race,
He was confronted by almost universal rejection of His will, and
proceeded to create His own people, by making promises to Abraham
and his descendants, by bringing them into a land of their own and
there subjecting them to a special discipline in religious and
social life designed to form a "people for His name". For over
1,000 years He cared for them, sending prophets constantly to warn
them of the consequences of their evil ways and to make promises
to the faithful few. When eventually they were driven out of their
land because of their stubborn rebellion, He manifested Himself in
a Son, born of woman. Through him God established the means of
redemption from sin and death of individual men and women, and
caused the good news of it to be spread over the world. Then, as a
climax. having governed the rise and fall of nations, He has
promised to establish His own government for the whole earth to
ensure the welfare of mankind. In short, this is a portrait of a
God thoroughly involved in human life, influencing actual
historical events, and bringing mankind's career to a designed
end, when the whole earth will honour His name.
Now there is no such God as this in
any religion in the world, nor is any conception like it found in
any human writings of any age or of any country. It is unique to
the Bible. The divine activities described are unparalleled
anywhere else. But who conceived this view in the first place? And
how was it consistently maintained for 1,500 years - the same God,
the same moral qualities, the same practical purpose - from Moses,
1400 BC, to the apostle John, 1st century AD? No human mind or
group of minds could have achieved this. A superior Mind must have
supervised it all. The existence of the God of heaven as the Bible
portrays Him is positively demanded by the facts. The Bible is the
expression of His will and purpose.
man . . ."
We have seen how the Bible reveals God's plan for all nations of
the world and for the future welfare of all mankind. We now
contemplate the remarkable fact that the Bible has a message for
every individual man or woman who is willing to take notice.
All through the turbulent centuries
of Israel's history, the Word of God was constantly assuring them
of His special care for the men and women who "feared him", that
is reverenced Him. A most striking illustration is found in
Isaiah, where God reminds Israel that He is the great Creator of
the heavens and the earth. He then goes on:
"But to this man will
I look, even to him that is poor (humble), and of a contrite
spirit, and that trembleth at my word" (Isaiah 66:1-2)
Now this message was delivered at a
time when the nation of Israel were in deep trouble. Their
Northern kingdom had been destroyed by the Assyrians, who had also
invaded the land of Judah. Their society was corrupt, with
oppression of the weak by the wealthy and the powerful, increasing
idolatry and growing immorality due to the nation's abandonment of
the laws of God. Yet at this time of national crisis God delivered
a message for every individual man who could find it in his heart
to humble himself, to confess his sins, and to give reverent heed
to the Word of God.
Now Jesus does just the same.
Concerned as he is with God's purpose for man, involving
resurrection and judgement and the government of all nations as a
climax, he is yet conscious of the needs of the individual:
"Come unto me, all ye
that labour and are heavy laden (i.e. with a sense of sin), and I
will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I
am meek and lowy in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your
souls." (Matthew 11:28-30)
This message of hope and
encouragement for every individual man and woman is reinforced on
every page of the New Testament.
What a marvelous concept is this:
the God of heaven, the Ruler of nations and kingdoms, can also
look with favour on the individual who honours His name and seeks
to do His will. As a conception of God it is unique in the world.
The Bible alone reveals it.
Our conclusions can be brief. The Bible is a book unique in the
world. It could not have been written solely by man. It must be a
Word from God.
As such it is of vital
significance. It should be read with reverent attention and eager
interest. It answers all our problems, warning us of the dangers
that beset us, giving us hope of help now and of a new life in the
Kingdom of God. No other book in the world can do this. To neglect
it, to treat it with indifference, would be an act of folly. Let
us rather be wise and give heed to this Word of truth and life in
a world of darkness and doubt.