God’s Consistent Message of Hope
Many people find it very difficult to believe in a book which is between 2,000 and 4,000 years old. How can it be true, they say, when it’s so old? And even if it is true, it must be completely out of date by now. Besides being ‘untrue’ and ‘irrelevant’, another objection raised against the Bible is that it is ‘inconsistent’; the New Testament is often said to give a different message from that contained in the Old. Well, before you reject the Bible on the basis of these objections, please think carefully about what you’re doing. Have you actually read the Bible and considered the evidence for yourself?
In the previous page, we saw evidence of the remarkable accuracy with which God, in the Bible has foretold events. We looked particularly at Israel, because although the Bible does contain prophecies about other nations and places (for example, the one regarding Tyre in Ezekiel chapter 26), most of it is very much concerned with the Jews. This may well raise the question ‘how can the Bible be relevant to me?’ Perhaps this is something you have wondered about yourself.
The old city of Tyre is now just a beach where fishermen spread their nets – as foretold in Ezekiel.
The answer to this question gives emphasis to another attribute of the Bible which shows that it isn’t just a collection of fables, but a carefully thought out book, with a consistent message running throughout its pages.
The Bible isn’t the only book like that, of course, but how many others retain this quality in spite of having 66 sections written down by about 40 different people, ranging from shepherds to kings, fishermen to doctors and spread over about 16 centuries! The Bible says that this consistency is due to the fact that it has only one author; the many writers, it says, were inspired to write what they did by this one author, who is God. (2 Pet. 1 v.19-21, 2 Tim. 3 v.15-17).
The consistent theme which makes the Bible relevant to each of us is that God is selecting out of the nations people who appreciate His promises. He has promised to reward those who try to please Him. The Bible speaks, in the first book – Genesis – about Abraham, a man who was selected because God was especially pleased with him. Abraham is even called ‘the friend of God’! In selecting Abraham, God made promises to him about himself and his descendants (Genesis chapters 12 and 13), and it is because the Jews are Abraham’s descendants that so much of the Bible is about them.
This is relevant to us because the historical record about God’s dealings with Israel is given as an example of the way He cares for, helps, and, where necessary, corrects all those people who are trying to please Him – whether Jews or Gentiles.
God cares for his people as a shepherd does his flock.
Throughout the Bible there is the message that man, by nature, tends to disobey God, and that death is the result of this. But there is also a consistent message of hope, because it tells us that God has provided a saviour through whom we can be forgiven, and rather than die, be granted eternal life. This hope is the major theme of the Bible, it occurs again and again throughout the whole book and is not difficult to understand!
Well, that was just a glance at the evidence that the Bible really has only one author.
But we ought to think a bit about the other problem mentioned; the age of the Bible. Is it full of errors after being copied so many times through the centuries? and is its message out of date now?
Scribes copied the Bible and then counted each letter to make sure what they had written was correct!
If you think about it, the age of the Bible is quite remarkable. No other book has been around for so long, and this is in spite of the persecution suffered by those who kept and translated it in the past, and the various attempts to suppress its message.
In spite of all this, the Bible has survived, and with complete accuracy of text, as was shown when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947. These scrolls, which date from 100 B.C., contain texts from all the books of the Old Testament bar one, and when compared with present day Hebrew Old Testaments were found to agree almost to the letter with what’s written in them. Surely this is irrefutable evidence of the reliability of the Bible we have today, and, combined with the other evidence we have regarding its authorship, shows the hand of God in its preservation for our benefit.
The message of hope which we looked at earlier is the same now as when it was written and it is still as necessary. Men still sin and die, and so need the salvation that God offers. Please examine the Bible for yourself – to pass it by would be a great opportunity missed.