As time goes on and as the day of our Lord Jesus Christ comes ever nearer, the Bible as the infallibly inspired Word of God is increasingly attacked. It is attacked by means of asking a very simple question. Is the Bible as it is held in the hand of the individual child of God, God’s Word? Is it trustworthy? Is it accurate? Can it be believed? May the individual child of God take his Bible, read it, study it, and conclude that what it says is what it means? Or is it the case that the Bible is not God’s Word; that it is not trustworthy; that it is not accurate; that it can not be believed; and, therefore, that the individual child of God may not take his Bible and conclude after reading and studying it that what it says is what it means?
This question has been and it is still today being asked. And more often than not the answer that is given to that question is a most emphatic no! No, the Bible is not trustworthy. No, the Bible is not accurate. No, the Bible can not be believed. And, therefore, most emphatically no, the individual child of God may not conclude after reading and studying the Bible that what the Bible says is what it means and what it means infallibly!
This answer has often manifested itself through the means of the argument that what is found in the Bible is nothing more than a collection of myths. What is found in the Bible, so the individual child of God is told, is nothing more than a collection of stories or old wives’ tales that arose somehow, someway over the years. And that somehow, someway these myths, stories, or old wives’ tales have found themselves in what we call today the Bible! The Biblical account of the creation of the heavens and the earth as it is recorded in Genesis is a myth. It is a myth that Moses borrowed from some Babylonian creation narrative. The Biblical account of the fall of man is a myth. Whoever heard of a serpent talking, anyway? The Biblical account of the flood is a myth, at least in so far as its universal scope is concerned. Simply the thought of a universal flood is altogether preposterous. If there was a flood it had to be located in the region of the fertile crescent and the Mesopotamian river valley. The Biblical account of the sun standing still during the battle which Joshua fought is a myth. Everyone knows that if anything stood still that it was the earth, and that notion is so ridiculous that it is hardly worth talking about. And so we could go on and on. The Bible, so we have been and are told, is simply filled to overflowing with myths!
By the word myth is meant among other things the fact that the content of that myth can not be proved. It can not be verified. And, therefore, when the individual child of God is told that the Bible is filled to overflowing with myths, he is told that the stories found in the Bible can not be verified from the record of secular history.
But wonder of all wonders it is that, as the day of our Lord Jesus Christ comes ever nearer, what has been declared in the Bible as myths/stories that can not be verified, are now in fact being verified. That reality struck me very forcibly as I was reading the September 21 issue of Time magazine. In its department on religion you will find an article entitled, “New Grounding for the Bible?” This article deals with new archaeological findings of ancient tablets that have been discovered recently in northern Syria. It seems as though there existed in the third millennium B.C. an ancient city-state named Ebla. Today this city has been excavated, and among a vast number of other tablets, tablets that have bearing on the Bible have been discovered. Although there is a difference of opinion as far as the significance of these tablets is concerned, nevertheless, it is striking to note that names of people found in the Bible are also found on these tablets. Names such as Adam and Eve, David, and, most noteworthy of all, that of Abraham. And in that connection there is also found on these tablets references to the cities with which Abraham had to do—Sodom, Gomorrah, and Zoar. Reference to these cities is striking because of the fact that it was long believed by scholars that these cities never existed, but were merely mythological. Now it seems the so-called myth of Sodom and Gomorrah will be put to rest amongst those scholars. Now it appears that at least there is some historically verifiable material in the Bible to which those scholars must hold for fact. In fact, as a result of this archaeological discovery of the tablets of Ebla, one of those scholars who has much to do with these tablets stated exactly that. In his words:
After Ebla, we’ve got to take the Bible much more seriously as a historical document. The people who wrote those books had a long literary tradition behind them.
Ah, yes! Indeed they must take the Bible much more seriously as a historical document. It is a historical document. When the Bible speaks on historical matters it speaks with infallible accuracy. But the question is, do they? Do they, especially now after the discovery of the tablets of Ebla, take the Bible much more seriously as a historical document, as an infallibly accurate historical document? The answer to that is no! They do not! Yes, they now take Abraham seriously. Yes, they take the Bible’s reference to Sodom and Gomorrah seriously, and that on the basis of these same new-found tablets. But on the very basis of these new-found tablets whereby they confess a historical Abraham and a historical Sodom and Gomorrah they proceed to deny the Bible’s reference to the fact that Abraham lived in “Ur of the Chaldees”! You, as an individual child of God, can pick up a Bible and read in language that even a little child can understand that Abraham did come out of Ur of the Chaldees. And you, as an individual child of God who believes that the Bible is infallibly inspired, know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what the Bible says is correct and accurate. But the only problem is that these scholars, on the basis of these tablets, will tell you that maybe it is true that Abraham did come out of Ur. But it is most unlikely that he came out of Ur of the Chaldees. Rather, it is far more likely that Abraham came out of an Ur situated near the city of Haran. The Ebla tablets speak of such an Ur. Hence, Abraham came out of that Ur. The Bible on that particular score is wrong.
And not only that, but on the very basis of these same tablets, so those scholars will tell you, the Bible, at least as we have it in our present day English translations, is probably wrong in a host of instances. To use the words of the same scholar that we quoted above, “not a single one of the Old Testaments in English is up to date.” And they are not up to date, so we are told, because of the fact that many of the words in the Old Testament are used only once, and too, that these words often have a variety of meanings, and that it is difficult to grasp just exactly what meaning these words have in a given passage. The tablets of Ebla will help us clarify what the precise meaning of the words in the Old Testament is. Therefore, with the tablets of Ebla as our guide we ought to reexamine the Hebrew manuscripts and devise a new translation. And when we do we may discover a few surprises. We may well discover that what we thought the Bible said and what our parents and our grandparents thought the Bible said for many years is wrong. We and the whole of the Church of Jesus Christ in ages past are and were sadly mistaken!
But are we? Is it the case that we and the Church of Jesus Christ have for years been sadly mistaken? Obviously, the answer to that question is no! Perish the thought! Just imagine that! Think about that for a moment! Just imagine that we have been sadly mistaken for years and years with respect to various statements in the Bible, and that now, finally, after hundreds of years, and that on the basis of some newly discovered tablets, we have been given the means to correct our misconceptions! What would that mean? That would not only mean that we have been ignorant concerning certain matters found i-n the Bible, but that would also mean, most of all, that God, Whose Word the Bible is, has for years and years kept us ignorant. And not only has He kept us ignorant, but in the final analysis, He has even lied to us. Here we thought that Abraham was from Ur of the Chaldees, but now we discover that that is a lie. Abraham was not from Ur of the Chaldees, but from a different Ur! Just imagine that! God has lied to us on that point. And if it is true that God has lied to us for years and years on that point, maybe in a few years we will discover tablets that inform us that there never was a Jesus Who as the Son of God in our flesh died upon the cross and is coming again at the end of the ages! Maybe God lied to us on that point, too! Just imagine that!
Can you? No, we can not. We know better. God, Who can not lie and Who does not lie, has given to us the Bible, His Word, which is true. Yes, even on the point that Abraham came out of Ur of the Chaldees. How do we know that? On what basis is that our confession? Certainly not on the basis of some old tablets that some scholars have discovered. But most emphatically that is our, confession on the basis of God’s own Word and the testimony of the Spirit in our hearts. Let us hold to that confession. Let us be assured that the Bible which we hold in our hands is God’s Word. Let us do that until our Lord Jesus Christ returns to put to nought forever the unbelief and foolishness of man’s wisdom.