Written by Man… Inspired by God
There are many books in the world. You only need to step into your local library and see the rows upon rows of books to see that there are a lot of them. Think how long it would take to read them all. Then consider that is only a small library, there are larger central libraries, then there are academic libraries with many more books and journals, then realise that there are archives of information all over the world. Then there is a lot of information which is published only in electronic format, electronic Journals, the information on the internet. This is the collective wisdom of mankind, a vast archive of information too big to comprehend.
If we think only about books for the moment though, the internet giant, Google, undertook a study in 2010 to count the number of books that had been published. They put the figure in the region of 130 million titles, a huge number of books, but there is one book out of all those that stands out as unique. That book is the Bible.
Who wrote the Bible is a question that has been asked by anyone who is familiar with the impact that this book has made on people around the world and it’s one that we will be looking at in this talk.
The Bible gives guidance in our journey through life to eternity, as well as leading us to a relationship with the God of the universe. It is a historical book that is backed up by archaeology, and a prophetic book that has lived up to all of its claims so far… but who wrote the Bible?
The Bible was written by about 40 different authors representing some 19 different occupations (these include shepherd, farmer, fisherman, tax collector, doctor, king) who lived during a period of some 1,500 years. That is approximately 50 generations.
The first 39 books of the Bible were written in the Hebrew language over a period of about 1,000 years. There was then a 400-year gap when no Scriptures were written. After that, the last 27 books of the Bible were written in the Greek language during a period covering roughly 50 years.
There may have been 40 different authors but the Bible itself tells us that God is the author of the Bible. God hasn’t just left us with claims that it is His divine handiwork, but He also supports it with compelling evidence. The design of the Bible itself is a miracle.
The writers from vastly different backgrounds could not have collaborated, because they did not even live at the same time. The product is one book that remains consistent throughout and fits together perfectly and contains no contradictions or errors, even though it was written over 1,500 years.
These 66 books talk about history, prophecy, poetry, and theology. Despite their complexity, differences in writing styles and vast time periods, the books of the Bible agree miraculously well in theme, facts and cross-referencing. No human beings could have planned such an intricate combination of books over a 1,500-year time span.
Bible manuscripts (remember, there were no printing presses until 1455) have survived despite weather, persecution and time. Most ancient writings written on weak materials like papyrus have vanished all together. Yet many copies of the Old Testament scriptures survived. For instance, the Dead Sea Scrolls contain all books of the Old Testament, except Esther, and have been dated to before the time of Christ. Consider Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars. Only ten copies written about 1,000 years after the event are in existence. In comparison, there are over 24,000 New Testament manuscripts, the earliest one dating to within 24 years after Christ.
The Bible also supports its divine authorship through fulfilled prophecies. An astonishing 668 prophecies have been fulfilled and none have ever been proven false. An honest study of biblical prophecy will convincingly show the divine authorship of the Bible. Furthermore, archaeology confirms or supports many Biblical accounts. No other holy book comes close to the Bible in the amount of evidence supporting its divine authorship.
Let us start looking at what the Bible tells us about its authorship, and we’ll start at the beginning.
Gen 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
So in the beginning, we have three things, God, the heavens and the earth, and what does God do? He creates. How does he create, well, in verse 3.
Gen 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
God spoke, and what God spoke was done, and that’s a theme that we see throughout the creation account and throughout the Bible. This idea of God speaking is key.
In the writings to Timothy…
2Ti 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 2Ti 3:15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 2Ti 3:17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Here is the clear claim that the Bible is the Word of God, indicating that one mind was behind the compilation of the Bible and the key phrase is God breathed, or inspiration of God. It was through His power of the Holy Spirit, that he inspired men to write down His words.
Heb 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
God spoke to people through the prophets, in all sorts of ways and at all sorts of times. The inspiration of God is the basis for the whole Bible, it is God’s work, just like the creation was.
At the giving of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, we read “ And God spoke all these words, saying”, again God was giving the laws and the commandments, even though it was Moses recording them, with further evidence it was the work of God in Exodus 31:18.
Exo 31:18 And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.
The prophets were very much aware that God was speaking through them. Jeremiah was constantly preaching doom and gloom and the people were mocking him for it, but when he tried to stop the word of God continued to burn in his heart and he could not hold it in.
Jer 20:7 O LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me. Jer 20:8 For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. Jer 20:9 If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.
Everything recorded in the Bible is true and factual, and you will also see that men of the Bible recorded things that they had no way of knowing, unless they had been divinely inspired by God. The Book of Job was one of the earliest writings and contains facts that it’s impossible to believe that Job knew without the knowledge of God.
In his book “ The Remarkable Record of Job”, the late scientist, Henry Morris, writes,
“These references are modern in perspective, with never a hint of the mythical exaggerations and errors characteristic of other ancient writings … perhaps of even greater significance is the fact that in a 4000-year-old book filled with numerous references to natural phenomena, there are no scientific mistakes or fallacies”
Job tells us that the earth hangs on nothing.
Job 26:7 He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing.
This is of course obvious to us, but then there were many myths about the earth riding on all sorts of things, like Atlas, or a turtle, or and elephant.
Job also describes the process of cloud formation and rain,
Job 36:27 For he draws up the drops of water; they distill his mist in rain, Job 36:28 which the skies pour down and drop on mankind abundantly.
…and the balancing of the clouds which are full of water but held up by the air currents.
Job 37:16 Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge,
He knew about the springs of the sea.
Job 38:16 Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?
But man hasn’t known about these recently until being able to explore the depths of the ocean floors. There are many more examples in Job and in the rest of the Bible. Job talks about the rotation of the earth, the weight of the air and that light travels. The rest of the Bible speaks of the earth being a circle, the immeasurable heavens, the paths in the sea, and the life in the blood. These were all things that were not known by man when the Bible was written.
Perhaps the most convincing evidence for the inspiration of the Bible comes from prophecy. The Bible contains a huge amount of prophecy, much of which has been fulfilled. The predictions are detailed, not vague, and the fulfilment is exact.
The whole of Jesus’ life was prophesied well before he was born. Isaiah tells us much of what would happen in his life, like the virgin birth, his sinless life, that he would perform miracles, that he would be rejected by the Jews, crucified, buried in a rich man’s tomb and resurrected. Micah adds that he was to be born in Bethlehem. Jesus knew all this would happen to him because he knew his scriptures.
The prophecies concerning Israel are some of the most remarkable and the continued existence is prophesied about in great detail. By all accounts, the nation of Israel shouldn’t exist, but by divine providence it survives.
Israel’s history was prophesied by Moses and recorded in the book of Deuteronomy about 3,500 years ago. God warned that is Israel broke His law she would be “plucked off the land” and “scattered among all people”, and they would “find no respite”,
Deu 28:63 And as the LORD took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Deu 28:64 “And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. Deu 28:65 And among these nations you shall find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot, but the LORD will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul. Deu 28:66 Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life.
This is an accurate description of Israel’s history from the first century until now. Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70 by the Roman armies, then in 135 AD Jerusalem was ploughed on the order of Emperor Hadrian and the Jewish people were scattered to the ends of the earth and found no rest. They were hated by the Muslims, persecuted by the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church for a thousand years, Hitler tried to destroy them. They are a hated nation even to this day.
But Bible prophecy predicted that Israel would be brought back into the land and that she would remain a nation even after all of this uprising, and that is just what happened in 1948. Never before in history has a nation been persecuted, scattered throughout the world, only to come back together 2,000 years later as a nation, with their language still intact.
The prophecies of the Bible describe the return of Israel to the land in two parts. Firstly she would return to the land in a position of unbelief, and then she would be converted. This is described for us in the prophecy of Ezekiel, 37:1-14 and described as a valley of bones that are resurrected.
Eze 37:4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Eze 37:5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
In v11 – 14, Ezekiel speaks of the restoration of Israel to the land and of her repentance towards God.
Eze 37:11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Eze 37:12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. Eze 37:13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. Eze 37:14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”
So far the first part of the prophecy, that is the return to the land, has been fulfilled, having been back in the land since 1948. However, Israel still lives there in unbelief, spiritually dead as she continues to reject Jesus as her Messiah and King.
But Israel is back in the land as the Bible prophesied. In 1800, there were only some 6,000 Jews living in the Palestine region, but by 2000, there were over 5 millions Jews back in the land. Israel will in time recognise and acknowledge the power of God, but nonetheless, they are back in the land and the continued existence of Israel is overwhelming evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible.
Bible prophecy is still being fulfilled, and some of the most recent is the farming industry in Israel.
Amo 9:11 “In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, Amo 9:13 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it.
Isa 27:6 In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit.
Isa 41:18 I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. Isa 41:19 I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, Isa 41:20 that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.
Since the return to the land, they have been rebuilding many of Israel’s ancient cities. Amos also said there would be continuous planting and harvesting. During the past 100 years, the Jews have been using advanced farming techniques and constructed vast irrigation systems to turn barren land into productive farmland. The lack of available water, including rain, is one reason why Israel had been a desolate, unproductive land during much of the past 2000 years but during the past century, more than 200 million trees have been planted in Israel. Today, the land of Israel, is a world-leader in agricultural technologies and is a leading producer of agricultural products, exporting food to many countries and at the same time supplying 95% of its own food requirements.
Another source of compelling evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible is archaeology. One of the most important finds was the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Qumran area on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea in 1947. The scrolls predated 100 AD and included a complete copy of the Book of Isaiah. The significance of this find was to show how accurately the Bible had been preserved throughout the ages meaning we can have assurance that they were reading the same Bible 2,000 years ago as we are now. No other secular manuscripts can make the same claim to accuracy.
Another important discovery was the Pilate Inscription. This stone tablet was found in Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast. It was found in the theatre of Caesarea and bears an inscription mentioning the name of Pontius Pilate the procurator of Judea, and the Tiberium, which was a building built in honour of the Emperor Tiberius by Pilate. There has been much written to discredit the biblical narrative in regard to the existence of Pilate as he doesn’t appear any where in the Roman records; but this tablet clearly says that it was from “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea” and verifies that he was a person that lived during the time of Jesus, exactly as written in the biblical narrative.
There was also the discovery of a crucified man. This was the remains of a full skeleton of a man crucified in the first century. The foot bone contained a bent crucifixion nail. There have been those that argued that the crucifixion of Christ was a hoax because that was not a form of capital punishment in Christ’s time. These remains show that crucifixion was being carried out at the time and that the crucifixion of Jesus was done exactly as outlined in the biblical narrative.
The Bible needs no validating evidence to verify its truth, but it is interesting to note that no scientific or archaeological find or prophecy has ever disproved a single word of Scripture, and many, many findings and fulfilments have attested to its historical and scientific accuracy.
Let us go back to our opening reading, which was Ecclesiastes 12. Here we have some sound advice from the wise King Solomon.
Ecc 12:9 Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. Ecc 12:10 The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. Ecc 12:11 The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. Ecc 12:12 My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Ecc 12:13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. Ecc 12:14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Those who have done exams recently, or had to study hard for something will find great truth in v12. There are many books besides this one we can read, roughly 130 million, but the Bible is the only authority, given by one Shepherd, for our lives, and for our future. If we want to share in the hope and promise of the glorious future that has been prophesied, then we need to fear God and keep his commandments, following its teaching faithfully, for after all, it is the Word of God.