|HIGHLIGHTS OF DAWN||September 2013|
The New Testament Corroborates the Old
“All Scripture, divinely inspired, is indeed profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for that discipline which is in righteousness; so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly fitted for every good work.”
THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE Bible as the inspired Word of God has been almost endlessly debated for centuries, with many varying opinions expressed. At one extremity are those who believe that every passage found in the Bible is not only true, but must also be taken literally. At the other extremity are those who dismiss the Bible completely as containing nothing more than myths and stories, most of which contradict each other. Indeed, a recent Internet search of the phrase “Bible contradictions” produced over 3 million results.
One particular web site which, ironically, states that it promotes “the truth,” specifically identifies, using Scripture citations, nearly 150 of what it claims are Bible contradictions. Sadly, it draws the following conclusions, among many others: 1) There is no corroborative written evidence for the Old Testament; 2) Mankind does not have free will; 3) God breaks his promises; 4) Jesus does not love you; 5) God does not have a plan; and, not surprisingly, 6) There is no God.
Space here does not permit an examination of supposed contradictions in the Bible, nor a rebuttal of the conclusions some have drawn as a result. However, many of the books and booklets offered in the pages of The Dawn deal with these, and provide reasonable answers to questions about many Bible subjects. We encourage our readers to take time to look over these offerings, and phone or send in for literature on whatever topic you find listed which is of interest to you.
AMERICANS: BIBLE STILL IMPORTANT
Thankfully, despite the fact that there are those who blatantly dismiss the Bible, and who make every attempt possible to discredit it, most Americans still believe the Bible not only matters, but that it is also an important part of their life.
Research commissioned in 2012 by the American Bible Society, conducted by an independent research group, found that 69% of Americans believe the Bible provides answers on how to live a meaningful life, and 79% believe they are knowledgeable about the Bible. Nearly half of Americans, 47%, believe the Bible should have a greater influence in society than it currently has. Additionally, in the United States, 85% of households own a Bible, and most families own more than one, with a household average of 4.3 Bibles.
While these statistics are encouraging, at least with regard to America, other results from the same research are less so. Of those surveyed, 54% were unable to correctly identify the first five books of the Bible, and approximately half—46%—said they read from the Bible no more than once or twice a year. Such findings raise the question: If a clear majority of Americans (nearly 70%) believe in the value of reading and applying the Bible, why do fewer than half read it no more than once or twice a year?
Interestingly, when survey participants were asked what frustrated them most about reading the Bible, the most oft-cited response was that they “never had enough time to read it.” How true it is, particularly in our western society today, that the fast, busy pace of our lives often makes it difficult to follow through on even what we say we value highly. To combat this tendency, if we truly desire to be sincere students of the Bible, we must make it a priority in our life, and set aside meaningful, regular time for its consideration and study. As the Scriptures themselves state: “Walk in wisdom … redeeming [buying back] the time.” (Col. 4:5) The Apostle Paul commended those of Berea because they “searched the scriptures daily.”—Acts 17:11
The Bible as a whole is much too large a subject to consider in the limited pages of this article. Our immediate purpose here is to merely examine and point out some of the many examples of corroboration between the Old and New Testament. We do this with the twofold hope that it will strengthen the faith of our readers in the Scriptures as the Word of God, and that it will also stimulate each to a further consideration and study of the Bible, for in it we believe is revealed the real truth that God indeed DOES have a plan for all the families of the earth.
There are many who, while they feel that the historical records of the Old Testament are largely myths, nevertheless express themselves as having considerable confidence in the narratives of the New Testament. For example, these people like to think of Jesus as having spoken the truth on the various subjects which he discussed. We are glad of this, for we believe we can present evidence that Jesus and the apostles of the New Testament themselves had faith in and confirmed all the most disputed records of the Old Testament.
In Luke 3:23-38, the genealogy of Jesus is traced through a long line of ancients, including a number of the well-known personalities of the Old Testament, along with Seth, who was “the son of Adam, which was the son of God.” Thus clearly does Luke confirm that Adam not only was the first man, but that he was the direct creation of God—the son of God.
In Romans 5:14, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.” Here Paul confirms his belief in Adam and of the manner in which death came into the world through Adam. Adam willfully disobeyed divine law and was condemned. This condemnation, and death itself, were inherited by his progeny. Even though they may not have sinned with the same degree of willfulness as did Adam, they were born into a dying condition.
This continued unabated until Moses, and then God gave the one little nation of Israel an opportunity to live through obedience to his Law. Referring to the Law, the Scriptures state that “the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” (Lev. 18:5; Rom. 10:5) Paul explained that while the Law was designed to give life, it failed to do so because of the imperfection of the people.—Rom. 7:10
The Apostle Paul again referred to Adam in I Corinthians 15:22, when he said that as “all” in Adam die, “all” will have an opportunity for life in Christ. This also confirms the Genesis record that death came into the world through the transgression of Adam. Here, however, the additional thought is given that the opportunity for all to enjoy everlasting life through Christ is in due time to be just as far-reaching as has been the penalty of death which was imposed as a result of Adam’s sin.
We quote again from Paul: “The first man Adam was made a living soul.” (I Cor. 15:45) This is directly from Genesis 2:7, where we are told that God formed man of the dust of the ground, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and “man became a living soul.” Then Paul spoke of the last Adam: “The last Adam was made a quickening [or life-giving] spirit.” Here we have set forth God’s great plan of redemption and restoration through Christ. We also read, “Adam was first formed, then Eve.” (I Tim. 2:13; Gen. 1:27; 2:18; 3:20) Here again we note the full confidence Paul had in the details of the Genesis account of Creation.
Paul also informed us that “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (I Tim. 2:14) The great deception which the Adversary perpetrated upon mother Eve was that she would not die if she partook of the forbidden fruit. (Gen. 3:4) Satan’s lie that death would not result from disobeying God’s law has deceived essentially the whole world ever since it was first told to Eve. It is the basis of all the “no-death” theories that have existed throughout the ages, including the unscriptural teaching that man possesses an immortal soul.
In Jude 14, we are informed that Enoch was the seventh from Adam. Surely Jude had confidence in the genealogical record of Genesis. We find that Adam’s name appears eight times in the New Testament. These references confirm the Old Testament record that he was the first man, that he came under sentence of death because he transgressed God’s law, and that all his progeny share this condemnation.
Jesus also confirmed the Genesis record of Creation, without mentioning Adam by name. In Matthew 19:4,5, Revised Version, Jesus referred to the creation of man, saying, “Have ye not read, that he which made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the twain shall become one flesh?”—see Gen. 2:24
In his references to Genesis, Jesus mentioned Abel, one of the sons of Adam. In a reminder of the trouble which would come upon the Israelites of his generation, Jesus said, “The blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.”—Luke 11:50,51
Abel and the sacrifice which he offered to God is mentioned in Hebrews 11:4. It reads, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” Is the story of Cain and Abel a myth? The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews did not think so!
DAYS OF NOAH, ABRAHAM, AND JOSEPH CONFIRMED
Jesus believed in the Genesis account of the Flood. When describing conditions in the earth at the time of his return or Second Presence, he said, “As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:26,27) If Jesus was mistaken concerning the Flood, then we could have no confidence in any of his teachings. However, Jesus was not mistaken, as archeologists have since confirmed.
The Genesis record of Abraham, and the promises God made to him, are likewise discounted by many today. Jesus, however, believed in Abraham, and referred to him several times. On one occasion he observed, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (John 8:56) Abraham’s vision of Christ’s day was the result of the promise God made to him—the promise that through his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. (Gen. 12:3) Evidently, Abraham understood that the seed of promise would be the great Messiah, so he looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, which was Christ.
Paul confirmed this viewpoint, also mentioning Abraham. We quote, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” (Gal. 3:16) Additionally, Hebrews 11:8-10 reads, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
Paul wrote that God preached beforehand the Gospel unto Abraham—the good news contained in the promise that through the Messiah all the families of the earth would be blessed. (Gal. 3:8) This same Gospel was proclaimed by the angel who announced the birth of Jesus: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”—Luke 2:10,11
If Abraham was merely a legendary character, then no real promise was ever actually made to him. This would mean that the first promise of the Gospel is a fraud. In that case, Jesus was deceived if he supposed that Abraham actually did live and looked forward to the coming of his kingdom. Also, the Apostle Peter would have no foundation at all for saying that it was recorded in the Bible that the Gospel of Christ is “the power of God through faith unto salvation.”—I Pet. 1:5
However, the overwhelming evidence is that Abraham indeed did exist. Jesus and his apostles confirm it by their many references to this friend of God, who is the “father of all them that believe.” (Rom. 4:11) Abraham’s name appears in the New Testament more than fifty times. Two important references to this are in Hebrews 2:16, and Galatians 3:16, where we are informed that Jesus took on, or became, the seed of Abraham.
Genesis records the experience of Abraham offering his son, Isaac in sacrifice. Hebrews 11:17-19 confirms this. We quote: “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”
In the seventh chapter of Acts, we find Stephen, the first Christian martyr, confirming the story of Joseph and the jealousy of his brethren which caused them to sell him into slavery. Stephen said that God was with Joseph, and “delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Acts 7:10) We can say that every prominent person and incident in Genesis is confirmed in the New Testament.
ACCOUNT OF JONAH
One of the Old Testament accounts which has been classified by critics as a fantasy of the first order is the one which pertains to Jonah and the account that he was swallowed by a “great fish.” Jesus, however, believed this report to be true. We quote Jesus concerning Jonah: “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”—Matt. 12:38-40
Jesus then added, “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” (vs. 41) From this it is clear that Jesus had the complete story of Jonah in mind, and believed it. The sign of Jonah is the fact that as Jonah was saved from the belly of the great fish, so Jesus would be raised from the dead. Few of the Israelites of Jesus’ day believed this sign. They denied that Jesus had been raised from the dead, even as critics deny that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish, and that after his deliverance he preached to the Ninevites and led them to repentance.
Jesus, in confirming the fact that he would give his life that the dying race might be restored to life, referred to his flesh, his humanity, as bread which cometh down from heaven, and used the manna which fell in the wilderness to sustain the Israelites as an illustration. We quote: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:47-51) Thus does the Master confirm another of the great miracles recorded in the Old Testament.
Moses is another of the outstanding personalities of the Old Testament, and over and over again Jesus either quoted from him or referred to him. He was the great lawgiver of Israel, having written what the Bible refers to as “the Book of the Law.” Critics tend to discount the writings of Moses, claiming that in his day the art of writing was unknown. However, now it is realized that writing was known and practiced hundreds of years before the days of Moses. Jesus knew this, and added his testimony to the authenticity of Moses’ writings.
Jesus, in fact, believed in the writings of all the Old Testament prophets. Speaking to two of his disciples after his resurrection, and comforting them with the fact that his death had been foretold, and therefore was not a miscarriage of God’s plan, he quoted from the prophetic Word. He said to them, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”—Luke 24:25-27
After Jesus left the two disciples, and they realized that it had been the resurrected Jesus who had been speaking to them, they said to each other, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (vs. 32) We can well imagine the feelings of these two disciples when they became convinced of Jesus’ resurrection, and that his suffering and death were part of God’s plan, and had been foretold by “all the prophets”! May our hearts also burn within us more and more as the evidence accumulates that the Word of God is truly a firm foundation for our faith.
DANIEL—AND MANY OTHERS
One of the favorite prophets for attack by critics of the Bible is Daniel. It is charged that he did not even write the Book of Daniel. Here again, however, Jesus disagrees. He said, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place.” Here we have Jesus not only referring to Daniel, but calling him a prophet.—Matt. 24:15
Daniel 12:1 speaks of a “time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.” Although he does not mention Daniel by name, Jesus refers to this prophecy, speaking of the time of trouble as “tribulation.” We quote, “Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”—Matt. 24:21,22
The Book of Hebrews also confirms incidents recorded in the Book of Daniel. The account of the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace is well known to Bible readers, as is also the experience of Daniel in the lions’ den. Critics would like us to believe that these are merely fanciful stories with no foundation in fact, but the writer of Hebrews knew that they were real. In this book, the apostle presents a number of the experiences of the faithful ones of the Old Testament, referring to them as those who, through faith, “subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire.” It was Daniel who “stopped the mouths of lions,” and it was the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace who “quenched the violence of fire.”—Heb. 11:33,34
In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, we also find confirmation of many other incidents recorded in the Old Testament. It gives brief statements as to how the heroes of faith demonstrated their faith in God and in his ability to care for them. Paul mentioned Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Joseph, Moses. Of Moses, the apostle says that he forsook Egypt, “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”—vs. 25
By faith, Paul told us, the Israelites “passed through the Red sea as by dry land.” Also, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.” (vss. 29,30) Then Paul spoke of Gideon, who defeated the hordes of the Midianites with his little band of three hundred. He spoke of “Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets.”—vs. 32
RESURRECTION HOPE CORROBORATED
Paul refers to the hope of the resurrection shared by many faithful ones of the Old Testament with the simple statement, “Women received their dead raised to life again.” (Heb. 11:35) There were many faithful women of the Old Testament who were the wives and mothers of men who had sacrificed much in their devotion to God—some even losing their husband or children in death due to their great faithfulness. These women, Paul says, looked forward, in faith, to the time when their loved ones, and they themselves, would experience resurrection from death.
Paul knew that these hopes of the Old Testament heroes of faith would be fulfilled during the Messianic kingdom and be accompanied by even greater miracles—the resurrection of all the dead. In Acts 24:15, Paul spoke of this, asserting that the faithful of the past who had hope toward God, believed that there would in due time be a resurrection, “both of the just and unjust.”
Jesus spoke of this as a time when all in their graves shall come forth, some to a resurrection “of life,” and others to a resurrection “of judgment.” (John 5:28,29, Emphatic Diaglott) Paul further testified to the resurrection “of judgment,” stating that God “hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness.” (Acts 17:31) What a great miracle that will be—the resurrection of all mankind for the purpose of righteous judgment. This will not be accomplished in a literal 24-hour day, but will be the work of the entire thousand-year kingdom of the Messiah. (II Pet. 3:8; Rev. 20:6) The just, faithful ones of the Old Testament will be the first to be restored to life, and these will cooperate in the glorious work of that kingdom—the work of blessing, educating, and teaching all the families of the earth in keeping with the promise God made to Abraham. Only then, when mankind has been given a full opportunity to learn of God’s ways and character, will he be in a position to be judged “in righteousness.”
There are many other quotations and references in the New Testament concerning the people and events of the Old Testament. However, we believe we have referred to a sufficient number of these to establish the fact that Jesus and the apostles of the New Testament did believe that the Old Testament was the inspired Word of God. On its promises they built their message of the Gospel—the Gospel of Christ which holds out such a glorious hope for all mankind, and which is especially comforting in this day of increasing chaos and trouble.