"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" The Signs That Followed (16:17-20) INTRODUCTION 1. As the gospel of Mark closes, it does so with an amazing promise by Jesus... a. "And these signs will follow those who believe.." - Mk 16:17 b. That are then summarized as to their nature and fulfillment - Mk 16:18-20 2. This passage has often been used to justify various religious practices... a. By many who believe such signs exist today b. By some who practice snake-handling in their services [In determining whether "The Signs That Followed" still exist today, a good place to begin is to carefully notice what the Bible reveals about such things. So let’s first consider...] I. THE PROMISE OF SIGNS A. GIVEN TO THE APOSTLES... 1. Power to cast out demons - Mk 16:17 2. Speak with new tongues - ibid. 3. Take up serpents - Mk 16:18 4. Drink anything deadly without harm - ibid. 5. Lay hands and heal the sick - ibid. B. EXPERIENCED BY HIS DISCIPLES... 1. Power to expel demons - Ac 5:16; 8:7; 16:18; 19:12 a. Peter, Philip, and Paul cast out demons or unclean spirits b. With complete success, with no record of failures by these men of God 2. Speak with new tongues - Ac 2:4-11; 10:46; 19:6; 1Co 12:10,28, 30; 14:5-26 a. The apostles and some disciples spoke in tongues b. These were clearly foreign languages, designed to convince unbelievers - 1Co 14:22 3. Take up serpents - Ac 28:3-6 a. The only example we have is that of Paul b. In which it was done inadvertently, not as a religious exercise 4. Drink anything deadly without harm - no record a. We have no record in the New Testament of this being done b. Neither inadvertently nor as a religious exercise 5. Lay hands and heal the sick - Ac 3:6-8; 5:15-16; 9:17-18,34,40-42; 19:12; 28:8-9 a. The apostles and some disciples healed the sick b. Again with complete success, with no record of failures [Clearly the rest of the New Testament record confirms Mark’s account (cf. Mk 16:20). To help determine whether such signs continue today, let’s take a close look at...] II. THE PURPOSE OF SIGNS A. REVEALED IN MARK’S GOSPEL... 1. The purpose was to confirm the word being preached - Mk 16:20 2. Demonstrating that the Lord was working with them - ibid. B. STATED ELSEWHERE IN THE BIBLE... 1. The Lord Himself was bearing witness through such signs - Ac 14:3 2. God was bearing witness through such signs, wonders, miracles, gifts of the Spirit - He 2:4 C. OBSERVATIONS... 1. Regarding the purpose of the signs a. "These gifts were part of the credentials of the apostles as the authoritative agents of God in founding the Church..." - B. B. Warfield b. "These extra gifts were given in order to the founding and establishing of the church in the world." - Jonathan Edwards c. In other words, to confirm that the apostles were indeed from God and that their message was truly the Word of God 2. Regarding the duration of the signs a. Paul wrote that a time would come when such signs would cease - cf. 1Co 13:8-10 b. "...since the canon of Scripture has been completed, and the church fully founded and established, these extraordinary gifts have ceased." - Jonathan Edwards c. "That with the passing away of the apostolic age these gifts ceased is also the testimony of Chrysostom and Augustine... Matthew Henry, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, Robert L. Dabney, Abraham Kuyper, Sr., and W. G. T. Shedd." - William Hendriksen d. If such signs or spiritual gifts exist today, then we should expect... 1) New revelation from God for the benefit of all 2) Which should be added to the Bible! e. Who would be so bold as to say that their doctrine is from God? 1) Those who have, are eventually exposed as false prophets 2) When their prophecies are proven false, or their doctrine contrary to what has been revealed - cf. Deut 18:21-22; 13:1-4 CONCLUSION 1. "The Signs That Followed" were important, the means by which the Lord... a. Bore witness to His Word and to His apostles - Mk 16:19-20; He 2:3-4 b. Provided a full and final revelation of His Will - 2Pe 1:3; Jude 3; 2Ti 3:16-17 2. Yet such signs were simply a means to an end... a. To produce the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit - Ep 6:17 b. Which in turn produces the "fruit" of the Spirit - Ga 5:22-23; Ro 8:5-6 3. More important than signs (including tongues, prophecy, knowledge, or any other spiritual gift)... a. Are the qualities of love, joy, peace, hope, etc., in the life of the Christian - Ga 5:22-23 b. I.e., the "fruit" of the Spirit in our life is more important than the "gifts" of the Spirit! With the aid of the Word of God, including the wonderful Gospel of Mark, we can be sure that we will faithfully follow the Lord who died for us and will one day return...
"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" Five Views Of Salvation (16:15-16) INTRODUCTION 1. In Mark’s account of the Great Commission, Jesus’ words are clear and simple... a. He wanted the gospel proclaimed to everyone - Mk 16:15 b. Those who believe and are baptized will be saved - Mk 16:16 c. Those who do not believe will be condemned - ibid. 2. Even so, there are at least five diverse views regarding salvation... b. One view takes Jesus’ words at face value a. Four other views can be summarized by slightly altering the words of Jesus [One view is held by those who do not profess to be Christians. In essence, they would say...] I. HE WHO BELIEVES AND IS BAPTIZED WILL NOT BE SAVED A. THIS VIEW HELD BY TWO SEPARATE GROUPS... 1. Atheists who do not believe in God, heaven or hell, or salvation of any kind 2. All who do not believe in Jesus a. Most Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. - who believe in God (or gods) b. But who do not believe that salvation is to be found in Jesus B. THIS VIEW CONTRADICTS THE BIBLE... 1. There is a God who offers salvation (contrary to the views of atheists) - 1Ti 2:3-4 2. Salvation does come through Jesus, and through Him only - 1Ti 2:5-6; Jn 14:6 [I doubt any present actually hold to this view, but many people do, and this begins to illustrate how some are willing to deny the plain statement of Jesus. Consider a second view...] II. HE WHO DOES NOT BELIEVE AND IS NOT BAPTIZED WILL BE SAVED A. THIS VIEW HELD BY UNIVERSALISTS... 1. Who believe that God will save everyone eventually 2. To support their view, they will isolate some verses like 1Ti 2:6 B. THIS VIEW CONTRADICTS THE BIBLE... 1. Jesus Himself told that there would be few who would be saved - Mt 7:13-14 2. Paul warned of those who would not be saved, but face the wrath of God - Ep 5:5-6 [Most Bible-believing, professing Christians would not accept the two views covered thus far. But there are some who accept a third view that could be expressed as...] III. HE WHO DOES NOT BELIEVE AND IS BAPTIZED WILL BE SAVED A. THIS VIEW HELD BY MOST WHO PRACTICE INFANT BAPTISM... 1. By "baptizing" (actually sprinkling, not immersing) infants incapable of faith... a. They (esp. Catholics) indicate that faith is not essential to salvation b. Some (esp. Lutherans) try to get around this by saying that God imparts saving faith to the infant so baptism can still save 2. By sprinkling or pouring instead of immersion, they also indicate Jesus did not mean what He said (the reason "baptizing" above is in quotes) B. THIS VIEW CONTRADICTS THE BIBLE... 1. Faith is a necessary prerequisite... a. For baptism - Ac 8:35-37 b. For salvation - Ro 10:9-10 2. Sprinkling or pouring is NOT Bible baptism... a. The Greek word used in the Bible is "baptizo", and it means "to immerse" b. This is why baptism is described in the Bible as a "burial" - cf. Ro 6:3-4; Col 2:12 c. Sprinkling or pouring was substituted in the place of baptism (immersion) hundreds of years after Christ and His apostles d. By keeping the "tradition of men" by sprinkling or pouring, we fail to keep the command of God" concerning baptism - cf. Jesus’ condemnation of displacing God’s commands with traditions of men, Mt 15:3-9 3. Baptizing infants is without scriptural precedent a. There are no commands or examples of infant baptism b. Since the prerequisites of faith (Mk 16:16; Ac 8:37) and repentance (Ac 2:38; 17:30) are beyond the infant’s capability, they are not suitable candidates for baptism [Most who hold to the view of sprinkling infants are honest and sincere. Even so, they are just as guilty of teaching a view of salvation different from Jesus as are atheists, many Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and universalists. But there is another view of salvation held by many, and that is...] IV. HE WHO BELIEVES AND IS NOT BAPTIZED WILL BE SAVED A. THIS VIEW HELD BY THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN FAITH ONLY... 1. That one is saved before baptism, that baptism is not essential to salvation 2. A view is held for all practical purposes by most evangelical denominations B. THIS VIEW CONTRADICTS THE BIBLE... 1. For faith "alone" cannot save a. As declared by Jesus - cf. Mt 7:21; Lk 6:46 b. As taught by His apostles - cf. Ro 6:17-18; He 5:9; Jm 2:14,17,20,24,26; 1Pe 1:22 2. For baptism is essential to salvation a. According to Jesus - Jn 3:5; Mk 16:16; Mt 28:18-20 b. According to His apostles - Ac 2:38; 22:16; Col 2:12-13; Tit 3:5; 1Pe 3:21 [Most who hold this view are sincere, and would not knowingly twisting the words of Jesus. I think of such people as Paul thought of his brethren in the flesh (cf. Ro 10:1-3). This leads us to the fifth and final view of salvation, one we are compelled to accept if we take Jesus at His word...] V. HE WHO BELIEVES AND IS BAPTIZED WILL BE SAVED A. THIS VIEW TAKES JESUS’ WORDS AT FACE VALUE... 1. No explanations are necessary 2. Jesus says what He means, and means what He says B. THIS VIEW IS CLEARLY WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES... 1. That one must "believe" - cf. Ac 8:36-37 2. That one must be "baptized" to enjoy the forgiveness of sins - cf. Ac 2:38; 22:16 CONCLUSION 1. Which one of the five views of salvation do you hold to...? a. He who believes and is baptized "will not" be saved? b. He who "does not believe" and "is not baptized" will be saved? c. He who "does not believe" and "is baptized" will be saved? d. He who believes and "is not baptized" will be saved? e. He who believes and is baptized will be saved? -- It should be clear there is only view which is in harmony with Jesus’ words 2. Just as important, with which of these views is your life consistent...? a. One may profess the fifth view... 1) But act as though they believed the second view 2) How? By never confessing faith in Christ and being baptized! b. One may profess the fifth view... 1) But act as though they believed the third view 2) How? For though they may have been "baptized", they are not living the life of faith required of one in Jesus! c. One may profess the fifth view... 1) But act as though they believed the fourth view 2) How? For while believing in Jesus, they have never submitted to being baptized! Only those who come to Jesus in faith and act in harmony with His teachings can have the assurance of salvation. The words of Jesus and His apostles Bible are clear... "And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." - Mk 16:15-16 "Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’" - Ac 2:38 "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." - Ac 22:16
"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" He Is Risen! (16:1-14) INTRODUCTION 1. After Jesus was buried, His body lay in the tomb until early Sunday morning... a. On Saturday evening, three women bought spices to anoint Him - Mk 16:1 b. On Sunday morning, they came to the tomb as the sun was rising - Mk 16:2 2. The woman were concerned about access to the tomb... a. It had been sealed with a large stone - Mk 15:46; 16:3 b. But the large stone had been rolled away! - Mk 16:4 3. Entering the tomb, they saw a young man... a. Clothed in a long white robe (an angel) - Mk 16:5; cf. Mt 28:2 b. They were alarmed, but he sought to calm their fears - Mk 16:5-6 4. His message to the women... a. "You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen!" b. "See the place where they laid Him." c. "But go, tell His disciples -- and Peter -- that He is going before you into Galilee." d. "There you will see Him, as He had said to you." - Mk 16:6-7 [The women left amazed and afraid (Mk 16:8). But soon their fear would turn into great joy! Not just for them, but for other disciples as well. To appreciate why, let’s survey the appearances of Jesus in all four gospel accounts, plus those listed by Paul...] I. THE APPEARANCES OF CHRIST TO HIS DISCPLES A. TO MARY MAGDALENE... 1. As described in our text - Mk 16:9-11 2. Expounded by John in his gospel - Jn 20:11-18 B. TO THE OTHER WOMEN... 1. As revealed in Matthew’s gospel - Mt 28:9-10 2. Where Jesus reiterated what the angel had said - ibid. C. TO TWO DISCIPLES WALKING IN THE COUNTRY... 1. As described in our text - Mk 16:12-13 2. Elaborated by Luke in his gospel - Lk 24:13-32 D. TO PETER... 1. Reported after the testimony of the two disciples - Lk 24:33-35 2. Mentioned by Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians - 1Co 15:5 E. TO THE APOSTLES WITH THOMAS ABSENT... 1. Possibly the occasion in our text - Mk 16:14 2. Described in detail by Luke and John - Lk 24:36-43; Jn 20:19-25 F. TO THE APOSTLES WITH THOMAS PRESENT... 1. A week later, as described by John - Jn 20:26-31 2. Mentioned by Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians - 1Co 15:5 G. TO SEVEN DISCIPLES BY THE SEA OF GALILEE... 1. Including Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John - Jn 21:1-2 2. While they were fishing, and then eating together - Jn 21:3-25 H. TO FIVE HUNDRED BRETHREN AT ONCE... 1. Recorded by Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians - 1Co 15:6 2. Possibly in Galilee as directed by the angel and Jesus - Mk 16:7; Mt 28:10,16-17 3. Possibly when the Great Commission was first given - Mt 28:18-20 I. TO JAMES THE LORD’S BROTHER... 1. Recorded by Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians - 1Co 15:7 2. Who previously did not believe, but then became a disciple - Jn 7:5; Ac 1:14 J. TO THE DISCIPLES WITH ANOTHER COMMISSION... 1. Recorded by Luke in his gospel - Lk 24:44-49 2. This time in Jerusalem, shortly before His ascension - Ac 1:3-8 K. TO THOSE PRESENT AT HIS ASCENSION... 1. Recorded in Mark’s gospel - Mk 16:19-20 2. Also by Luke in both of his books - Lk 24:50-53; Ac 1:9-12 [These many appearances were claimed by the disciples of Jesus. One might properly ask, "Why should we believe them?" That we might have the same joy in believing that "He is risen!", consider... II. THE STRENGTH OF THE DISCIPLES’ TESTIMONY A. DEMONSTRATED BY THE NATURE OF THEIR TESTIMONY... 1. Their testimony appealed to empirical evidence a. I.e., evidence derived from experiment and observation rather than theory b. They refused to accept second hand evidence - Mk 16:11,13; Jn 20:25 c. But for forty days they were given infallible proofs - Ac 1:3; 10:41 d. They saw, heard, and touched Him - Jn 20:24-28; 1Jn 1:1-2 2. There is no way they could have been deceived or deluded a. If all they had were individual dreams, visions, or hallucinations...perhaps b. But they testified that Jesus appeared to them in groups as well as to individuals B. DEMONSTRATED BY THEIR TRANSFORMATION... 1. Prior to the resurrection, Jesus’ disciples were afraid and without hope a. They fled at his arrest - Mk 14:50 b. Peter cowardly denied Him three times - Mk 14:66-72 c. The women mourned His crucifixion - Lk 23:27 d. After His death, the disciples were sad - Lk 24:13-17 e. After His death, the disciples hid behind closed doors, for fear of the Jews - Jn 20:19 2. But after the resurrection, they fearlessly praised God and proclaimed Jesus! a. Praising God in the temple - Lk 24:52-53 b. Proclaiming Christ, despite persecution - Ac 5:28-32,41-42 3. This transformation in their lives is strong evidence for the resurrection, as admitted by one Orthodox Jewish scholar: a. "If the disciples were totally disappointed and on the verge of desperate flight because of the very real reason of the crucifixion, it took another very real reason in order to transform them from a band of disheartened and dejected Jews into the most self-confident missionary society in world history." - Pinchas Lapide, former Chairman of the Applied Linguistics Department at Israel’s Bar-Iland University (TIME, May 7, 1979) b. He concluded that a bodily resurrection could possibly have been that reason! C. DEMONSTRATED BY THEIR HIGH MORAL STANDARD... 1. They taught others to live holy lives - 1Th 4:1-7; Ep 4:25 2. They lived their own lives in unimpeachable way - 1Th 2:3-12 -- Does this sound like people who propagate lies when they know better? D. DEMONSTRATED BY THE PRICE THEY PAID... 1. The apostles endured much suffering because of their testimony - 1Co 4:9-13; 2Co 11:23-28 2. All but one died a martyr’s death because of their testimony 3. Even Jesus’ brother, James, was thrown off the temple and then clubbed to death for his testimony -- There was no motive for them to persistently lie about Jesus’ resurrection! CONCLUSION 1. As revealed in Mark’s gospel and those of Matthew, Luke, and John... a. Jesus Christ rose from the dead b. He appeared to many of His disciples c. Who later became witnesses of the resurrection 2. The nature of their witness does not allow for the option of being deceived or deluded... a. Again, they professed empirical evidence b. They claimed to eat and drink with Him, touch Him, see Him 3. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, there is only one alternative... a. These witnesses were liars, deceivers b. Even Paul freely admits this is the only alternative - 1Co 15:14-15 4. Is it reasonable to believe they successfully propagated a lie...? a. Too many people attested to the same fact b. They were not the kind of people to fabricate such a falsehood c. They lived noble lives, and were ALL willing to suffer and die for their testimony! When we carefully examine the lives and testimony of the witnesses of the resurrection, the only reasonable conclusion to draw is that they really saw what they claimed concerning Jesus... "He is risen!"
"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" The Death And Burial Of Jesus (15:33-47) INTRODUCTION 1. Following a night and morning of torture and ridicule, Jesus was crucified - Mk 14:53-15:25 2. For six hours as He hung on the cross, the mockery continued - Mk 15:26-32 [We come in our study of the gospel of Mark to the time of our Lord’s death and burial. Let us use this time to reflect upon the details of those events, beginning with...] I. THE DEATH OF JESUS A. THE DARKNESS... 1. Lasting from the sixth hour (noon) to the ninth hour (3pm) - Mk 15:33 2. The significance? Several possibilities: a. A sign of mourning b. A sign of judgment c. A veil covering the shame of the crucifixion B. THE CRY OF AGONY... 1. "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" - Mk 15:34 2. A proverbial expression of distress from Ps 22:1 - ZIBBC 3. It is possible that citing the first verse of the psalm refers to the entire psalm - ibid. 4. Psalms 22 begins with bitter despair, but ends with supreme confidence - ibid. 5. This interpretation does not deny the real anguish that Jesus experiences but understands his cry as an expression of trust that God will intervene and ultimately vindicate him - ibid. C. THE MOCKERY AND SYMPATHY... 1. The mockery seen earlier continues - Mk 15:35-36; cf. Mk 15:29-32 2. Yet one offers a gesture of sympathy (sponge full of sour wine) - Mk 15:36 D. THE DEATH... 1. Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last - Mk 15:37 2. "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit" - Lk 23:46 3. He "yielded up" His spirit (suggesting a voluntary death) - Mt 27:50 4. Some suggest He died from a ruptured heart, others that it was dehydration and loss of blood E. THE CURTAIN OF THE SANCTUARY... 1. The veil of the temple torn in two from top to bottom - Mk 15:38 2. Likely the veil separating the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place 3. Perhaps indicating the end of the Old Covenant, and beginning of the New - He 10:19-20 F. THE CENTURION... 1. Observing the manner in which Jesus died, confessed faith in Jesus 2. "Truly this Man was the Son of God!" - Mk 15:39 G. THE MINISTERING WOMEN... 1. Looking from afar - Mk 15:40-41 a. Mary Magdalene b. Mary (wife of Clopas) the mother of James the Less and Joses - Jn 19:25 c. Salome - the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John) - cf. Mt 27:56 d. Many other women - including Mary the mother of Jesus - Jn 19:25 2. Women who had followed Jesus a. Ministering to Him in Galilee - cf. Lk 8:1-3 b. Coming with Him to Jerusalem [Jesus is now dead, His body mangled as it hung on the cross. Mark now records for us in his gospel...] II. THE BURIAL OF JESUS A. THE TIME OF THE BURIAL... 1. "when evening had come", likely late afternoon - Mk 15:42 2. "the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath", i.e., Friday - Mk 15:42 B. THE REQUEST FOR THE BODY... 1. Made by Joseph - Mk 15:43 a. From Arimathea (the city of Ramah, city of Samuel) b. Prominent member of the council (Sanhedrin) c. Who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God d. A rich man - Mt 27:57 e. A disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews - Mt 27:57; Jn 19:38 2. Together with Nicodemus - Jn 19:38 a. A ruler of the Jews who came to Jesus by night - Jn 3:1-2 b. Also a member of the council - Jn 7:50 b. Who brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds C. THE CONFIRMATION AND RELEASE... 1. To convince Pilate that Jesus was dead - Mk 15:44 2. Confirmed by the centurion, the body was released - Mk 15:45 D. THE BURIAL... 1. The body was wrapped in fine linen - Mk 15:46 2. Laid in a new tomb hewn out of rock, located in a garden - Jn 19:40-42 3. A stone rolled against the door of the tomb E. THE WOMEN... 1. Mary Magdalene and Mary of Joses observed where He was laid - Mk 15:47 2. They left, prepared spices and fragrant oils, then rested on the Sabbath - Lk 23:55-56 CONCLUSION 1. Thus Jesus, the Son of God, gave His life for our sins and was buried; but the story is not over, in our next lesson we will read of His amazing resurrection from the dead... 2. Until then, remember what we should learn from this death of Jesus... - cf. He 12:2-3; 1Pe 2:21-25
Afterlife and the Quran
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
The Quran’s portrayal of afterlife and the spirit realm is a confused hodge-podge of borrowed ideas from a variety of sources, as well as the author’s own misconceptions. While the Bible does not clarify every aspect of life beyond the grave, nor answer every question that one might have about that realm, it nevertheless affords a consistent, cohesive, definitive treatment of the subject that contrasts sharply with the Quran. Consider, for example, the Quran’s handling of the concepts of heaven and paradise [NOTE: Quranic references are taken from the Muslim translations by Pickthall (n.d.) and Ali (1934).]
SEVEN HEAVENS?The Quran makes repeated reference to the existence of seven heavens. Consider the following allusions: “He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth. Then turned He to the heaven, and fashioned it as seven heavens. And He is Knower of all things” (Surah 2:29, emp. added); “Say: Who is Lord of the seven heavens, and Lord of the Tremendous Throne? They will say: Unto Allah (all that belongeth). Say: Will ye not then keep duty (unto Him)?” (Surah 23:86-87, emp. added); “The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein praise Him” (Surah 17:44, emp. added). Speaking of the creation of the Universe, the Quran states: “Then He ordained them seven heavens in two Days and inspired in each heaven its mandate; and we decked the nether heaven with lamps, and rendered it inviolable” (Surah 41:12, emp. added). Noah’s admonitions to his contemporaries included reminders of Allah’s creative activities: “See ye not how Allah hath created seven heavens in harmony, and hath made the moon a light therein, and made the sun a lamp? (Surah 71:15-16, emp. added; see also 23:17; 65:12; 67:3; 78:12).
In sharp contrast to the Quran’s “seven” heavens, the Bible speaks of only three. The “first heaven” is the Earth’s atmosphere—the “sky”—where the birds fly (Genesis 1:20; 8:2; Isaiah 55:10; Luke 13:19). The “second heaven” is “outer space”—where the Sun, Moon, and stars are situated (Genesis 15:5; 22:17; Deuteronomy 4:19; Nahum 3:16). These two heavens together are referred to in the first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens (plural—DM) and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, emp. added). The “third heaven” in biblical thought is the spirit realm beyond the physical realm where God and other celestial beings reside (Deuteronomy 10:14; 26:15; 1 Kings 8:27,30). It often is referred to as the “heaven of heavens”—a Semitism wherein the genitive is used for the superlative degree—meaning the highest or ultimate heaven (cf. “Song of songs,” “King of kings,” “Lord of lords”). While the Bible uses the number seven frequently, it never mentions anything about any so-called “seven heavens”—even in the apocalyptic book of Revelation where the number seven is used figuratively and prominently (54 times). The Quran’s allusions cannot be rationalized as poetic or figurative, since none of the Quranic citations gives any indication of a figurative use.
Where did the Quran get its notion of seven heavens? Uninspired sources clarify the circumstance. Jewish rabbis frequently spoke of seven heavens (Ginzberg, 1909, 1:9; 1910, 2:260,313; 1911, 3:96; 1925, 5:9-11,23,30). They also spoke of seven gates to hell (Ginzberg, 5:19,267; 1928, 6:438), another feature copied into the Quran that is in conflict with the Bible: “And lo! for all such, hell will be the promised place. It hath seven gates, and each gate hath an appointed portion” (Surah 15:43-44). Additionally, the Quran’s use of the phrase “the seven paths” (Surah 23:17) is a Talmudic expression (Rodwell, 1950, p. 145).
PARADISEThe term “paradise” is of Persian derivation, and referred to “a grand enclosure or preserve, hunting-ground, park, shady and well-watered” (Thayer, 1901, p. 480). The Jews used the term as “a garden, pleasure-ground, grove, park,” and came to apply it to that portion of hades that was thought “to be the abode of the souls of the pious until the resurrection” (p. 480). With this linguistic background, the word is used in three different senses in the Bible: (1) it is used in the Septuagint (Genesis 2:8,9,10,15,16; 3:2,3,4,9,11,24,25), the Greek translation of the Old Testament, to refer to the literal Garden of Eden on Earth where Adam and Eve lived (Septuagint, 1970, pp. 3-5). It normally is translated “garden” in English versions; (2) it is used one time, in a highly figurative New Testament book, to refer to the final abode of the saved, i.e., heaven (Revelation 2:7); and (3) it is used in connection with the hadean realm. The Hebrew Old Testament term for this waiting place is sheol, and the New Testament term is hades. The Quran shows no awareness of these biblical distinctions. Instead, it advocates the existence of seven heavens (as noted), paradise (which apparently is among the seven heavens), and hell (an evident reflection of the uninspired influence of both Jewish and Persian sources of the sixth and seventh centuries).
According to the Bible, hades is a broad term that designates the receptacle of disembodied spirits where all humans who die await the Lord’s return (Luke 23:43; Luke 16:19-31; 2 Corinthians 12:4) prior to the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:35-54), the Judgment, and the final disposition of all humans to one of two ultimate eternal realms, i.e., heaven or hell. This realm encompasses two “compartments”: one for the deceased righteous, and one for the deceased wicked. The area inhabited by the righteous is “paradise,” while the area for the wicked is “tartarus.” Very little information is actually given in the Bible in the way of description regarding hades. In fact, the only descriptive detail provided (Luke 16:19-31) indicates that within hades, (1) paradise is described as a place where one is “comforted” (vs. 25), and (2) it is separated from tartarus by “a great gulf ” (vs. 26). That’s it! Absolutely no additional elaboration is given regarding paradise—no couches, no maidens, no rivers of water, no gold goblets. Hades, within which are paradise and tartarus, is, in fact, a temporary realm that will be terminated at the Judgment (Revelation 20:13-14). From that point forward, only two eternal realms will exist: heaven and hell.
The only detailed description given of heaven in the Bible is in the book of Revelation—a self-declared apocalypse (apocalupsis—“revelation”—1:1), i.e., a symbolic, figurative depiction that is not to be understood literally (see Swete, 1911, pp. xxii-xxxii; Gasque, 1975, 1:200-204; Thomson, 1939, 1:162-163). Hence, the “street of gold” (21:21), “pure river of water of life” (22:1), “tree of life” (22:2), and cube-shaped, walled city situated on twelve foundations of precious stones with pearl gates (21:19-21) are explicitly stated to be strictly figurative (“signified”—1:1). The Bible seems to go out of its way to avoid attempting to describe a nonphysical, spiritual, eternal realm to humans who live in a physical, finite realm. It says just enough to “whet the appetite” of an honest seeker of truth, without succumbing to the mistake of overwhelming the reader with a wholly carnal impression of heaven. The Quran commits precisely this blunder. Paradise is repeatedly represented in literal, materialistic terms:
Therefore Allah hath warded off from them the evil of that day, and hath made them find brightness and joy; And hath awarded them for all that they endured, a Garden and silk attire; Reclining therein upon couches, they will find there neither (heat of) a sun nor bitter cold. The shade thereof is close upon them and the clustered fruits thereof bow down. Goblets of silver are brought round for them, and beakers (as) of glass (bright as) glass but (made) of silver, which they (themselves) have measured to the measure (of their deeds). There are they watered with a cup whereof the mixture is of Zanjabil, the water of a spring therein, named Salsabil. There serve them youths of everlasting youth, whom, when thou seest, thou wouldst take for scattered pearls. When thou seest, thou wilt see there bliss and high estate. Their raiment will be fine green silk and gold embroidery. Bracelets of silver will they wear. Their Lord will slake their thirst with a pure drink. (And it will be said unto them): Lo! this is a reward for you. Your endeavour (upon earth) hath found acceptance (Surah 76:11-22, emp. added).In addition to the multiple gardens or paradises (55:46,62; cf. 83:18-19; Lings, pp. 95,202) with couches, green cushions, carpets, silk attire, silver bracelets, goblets and beakers of silver, shade, branches and foliage, fountains and springs, dates and pomegranates, youthful servants of everlasting youth and fair virgins, paradise also will include golden trays or dishes (43:71), flowering meadows (42:22), a pure wine (non-intoxicating—56:19) sealed with musk and mixed with water from the heavenly spring of Tasnim (83:25-28), multiple storied halls or mansions (29:58; 34:37; 39:20), fowl flesh (56:21), thornless lote-trees (56:28), and clustered plantains (56:29). The references to paradise in such materialistic terms go on and on in the Quran (cf. 15:45-47; 18:32; 22:23; 35:33; 37:41-49; 38:51-53; 44:51-55; 47:15; 52:17-28; 88:8-16; et al.). The contexts in which they occur discount the standard Muslim explanation that they are “figurative.” In fact, one verse even equates the fruit on Earth with the fruit in paradise: “And give glad tidings (O Muhammad) unto those who believe and do good works; that theirs are Gardens underneath which rivers flow; as often as they are regaled with food of the fruit thereof, they say: This is what was given us aforetime; and it is given to them in resemblance” (Surah 2:25, emp. added).
But for him who feareth the standing before his Lord there are two gardens. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Of spreading branches, Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Wherein are two fountains flowing. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Wherein is every kind of fruit in pairs. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Reclining upon couches lined with silk brocade, the fruit of both gardens near to hand. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Therein are those of modest gaze, whom neither man nor jinni will have touched before them, Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? (In beauty) like the jacynth and the coral—stone. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord that ye deny? Is the reward of goodness aught save goodness? Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? And beside them are two other gardens, Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Dark green with foliage. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Wherein are two abundant springs. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Wherein is fruit, the date—palm and pomegranate. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Wherein (are found) the good and beautiful—Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny?—Fair ones, close—guarded in pavilions—Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Whom neither man nor jinni will have touched before them—Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Reclining on green cushions and fair carpets. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Blessed be the name of thy Lord, Mighty and Glorious! (Surah 55:46-78, emp. added).
One would think that Muslim women would feel short-changed in the afterlife. Paradise for men will include access to maidens: “pure companions” (2:25; 3:15; 4:57), “fair ones with wide, lovely eyes” (44:54; 52:20—or “beautiful, big and lustrous eyes”—Ali; cf. 55:72) like “hidden eggs (of the ostrich)” and “hidden pearls” (37:49; 56:23), “those of modest gaze” (37:48; 38:53—or “chaste women restraining their glances, [companions] of equal age”—Ali; cf. 55:56; 78:33), who are “good and beautiful” (55:70), “virgins” (56:36), “whom neither man nor jinni will have touched before them” (55:56,74). Such lascivious, lustful appeals to sensual and sexual passions are transparent—and typical of male authors unguided by a higher power.
Additionally, the Quran and the Bible conflict with one another on the matter of marriage in the afterlife. The Quran unquestionably indicates that marriage will persist in paradise (Surah 13:23; 36:55; 40:8; 43:70). In fact, God Himself will perform the ceremonies: “Lo! those who kept their duty will be in a place secure amid gardens and water-springs, attired in silk and silk embroidery, facing one another. Even so (it will be). And We shall wed them unto fair ones with wide, lovely eyes” (44:54, emp. added; cf. 52:20). But Jesus soundly refuted this notion in His interchange with the Sadducees: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30).
The emphasis on food, drink, and physical pleasures in the Quranic depictions of afterlife reflect a perspective that one would anticipate from a desert-bound Arab Bedouin. This preoccupation with carnal things and material comforts exposes the description as uninspired, and stands in stark contrast with the Bible’s handling of the subject. So also with the redundancy of repetitious phrases: “gardens underneath which rivers flow” (used 32 times in Pickthall—see Al-nasir). The Quran’s treatment of the afterlife verifies its human origin.
REFERENCESAl-nasir, Jamal (2000-2003), Holy Quran Viewer (London: Divineislam.com), [On-line]: URL: http://www.divineislam.com.
Ali, Abdullah Yusuf (1934), The Qur’an (Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile Quran), ninth edition.
Gasque, W.W. (1975), “Apocalyptic Literature,” The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. Merrill Tenney (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Ginzberg, Louis (1909-1939), The Legends of the Jews, trans. Henrietta Szold (Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society of America), [On-line], URL: http://answering-islam.org/Books/Legends/v1_3.htm.
Lings, Martin (1983), Muhammad (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (n.d.), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
Rodwell, J.M., trans. (1950 reprint), The Koran (London: J.M. Dent and Sons).
Septuagint Version of the Old Testament (1970 reprint), (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Swete, Henry (1911), Commentary on Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1977 reprint).
Thayer, Joseph H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).
Thomson, J.E.H. (1939), “Apocalyptic Literature,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974 reprint).
The Conquest of Canaan: How and When?
|by||Garry K. Brantley, M.A., M.Div.|
The biblical description of the conquest of Canaan has been shrouded in a cloud of doubt for many years. How and when this monumental event occurred are questions that continue to seize scholastic attention and create controversy. If we accept as factual the biblical description of the conquest, these questions are not difficult to answer. In some instances, the conquest was not complete (Judges 1:27-36), which led to an uneasy cohabitation with the indigenous population. However, the Bible is clear that an impressive military campaign achieved forceful penetration into Canaan (Joshua 11:15-23).
Additionally, the Bible offers some chronological insights into when the conquest occurred. According to 1 Kings 6:1, 480 years transpired between the Exodus and the fourth year of Solomon’s reign—the year in which he began to build the temple. We can date Solomon’s reign with reasonable confidence at 971-931 B.C., which places his fourth regnal year at 967 B.C. These figures, therefore, suggest that the Exodus occurred about 1447 B.C. Allowing for the 40-year wandering prior to the Israelites’ invasion of Canaan, the initial stages of the conquest occurred around 1407 B.C. Also, Judges 11:26 provides another chronological marker. This text indicates that the Israelites had occupied Canaan for 300 years before the time of Jephthah, who is commonly dated at 1100 B.C. Once again, using these figures, the conquest would have occurred around 1400 B.C. (see Bimson and Livingston, 1987, 13:42).
CHALLENGES TO THE BIBLICAL RECORD
Time of the ConquestAt the turn of the century, the biblically consistent date of 1400 B.C. was the generally accepted date for the conquest. As a rule, scholars considered the Bible as the standard for historical truth, though the historical-critical school, which questioned the integrity of the Scriptures, was making its scholastic mark (see Brantley, 1994). This began to change in the 1930s when John Garstang and William F. Albright excavated at Jericho and Beitin, respectively.
Initially, both Garstang and Albright held to the earlier date of the conquest (1400 B.C.). However, during excavations at Beitin, which he assumed was biblical Bethel, Albright faltered and finally moved to a later date for the conquest (c. 1250 B.C.; Albright, 1957, p. 13). He made this reversal because he attributed a thick destruction level at Beitin, which he dated at about 1250 B.C., to the invading Israelites (though the Bible does not mention Bethel among the cities Israel destroyed; see Livingston, 1988, 1:14). Due to this evidence and similar finds at other sites, coupled with Albright’s pervasive influence, the date of 1220-1230 B.C. for the conquest has prevailed since the 1950s (cf. Hester, 1962, p. 139; Stiebing, 1985, 11:58-69).
Kathleen Kenyon’s meticulous and prolonged excavations at Jericho (1952-1958) further blurred these once-clear chronological lines. John Garstang found biblically consistent evidence in the ruins of Jericho that there was a violent conflagration at that location around 1400 B.C., which he attributed to the Israelites. Kenyon’s conclusions, however, sharply contradicted Garstang’s interpretations. She dated this destruction level at 1550 B.C., and contended that there was no city with protective walls for the Israelites to destroy in 1400 B.C. (Kenyon, 1957, p. 259). Additionally, and in agreement with Garstang, she found no evidence of occupational activity on that site in the 13th centuryB.C.—the period in which most current scholars believe the conquest actually occurred. Hence, Kenyon’s conclusions supported neither the early (1400 B.C.) nor the late date of a military conquest (1230-1220 B.C.).
The Method of the ConquestThese chronological disagreements about the conquest spawned methodological disputes concerning this event. Exactly how did Israel emerge in Canaan? As noted, the Bible indicates that there was a large-scale military incursion into Palestine. This biblical scenario, however, has been discarded by a growing number of archaeologists who contend that such an Israelite invasion of Canaan is inconsistent with the archaeological record (see Silberman, 1992). In fact, some scholars argue that there is no factuality at all to the biblically described conquest. To them, the stories of conquered cities (like Jericho) were embellishments of pre-Israelite traditions, which provided a mythological explanation of Israel’s origin in, and right to, the land (Cross, 1992, 8:24).
Consistent with this view, William Dever, addressing a prestigious academic gathering, argued that the central events in Israel’s history—the Exodus, wilderness wandering, military conquest, God’s miraculous deliverance of fortified Canaanite cities, and the gift of the land—did not happen that way at all. Dever concluded that the Bible’s account in this regard is simply groundless and wrong (Shanks, 1987, 13:54-55).
Among such scholars who hold a low view of the historical reliability of the Bible, there are two popular theories explaining the emergence of Israel in Canaan. The first is the “peaceful infiltration” model, which is associated with the German scholars Albrecht Alt and Martin Noth. Appealing to ancient Egyptian records (e.g., the Tell el-Amarna letters), they concluded that the Israelite settlement of Canaan was due to a gradual immigration into the land, not a military offensive. Alt and Noth further theorized that the Israelites must have been pastoral nomads who slowly filtered into the settled land from the desert, seeking pastures for their sheep. After a long period of uneasy coexistence with the indigenous population, the Israelites eventually overran, and destroyed, the Canaanite city states (Silberman, 1992, 2:25; see Zertal, 1991). This “peaceful infiltration” theory has gained in popularity and influence through the years, but clearly is at odds with the Joshua record.
Second, the combined efforts of George Mendenhall and Norman Gottwald introduced and popularized the “peasant revolt” theory that actually redefines the ethnic origin of the Israelite nation. This model suggests that there was no external conquest of Canaan; it was an indigenous liberation movement among depressed Canaanite peasants living in the countryside. These peasants, who formed the lowest level of their culture’s highly stratified social order, engaged in an egalitarian rebellion, overthrew their urban overlords, and became “Israelites.” This theory, which repudiates the biblical scenario, has its outspoken defenders who argue that it is most compatible with archaeological data (see Shanks, 1987, 13:55).
Problems With TheoriesThough these anti-biblical theories have gained popularity in certain circles, and their advocates speak with an authoritarian voice, they have some significant difficulties. First, these theories must explain the biblical tradition to the contrary. Adherents to these views argue that the archaeological data—not textual information—must be primary. Accordingly, archaeological interpretations take precedence over, and stand in judgment of, the biblical text. However, the fact remains that, even if one rejects its divine inspiration, the Bible is an ancient historical witness. By virtue of that fact, it should be taken as seriously as any other document of antiquity. To brush aside the biblical account as a “pious fraud” simply will not do.
Second, there are reputable archaeologists who feel that these theories are inconsistent with the evidence. Abraham Malamat, for example, argued that the archaeological evidence demonstrates that a number of Canaanite cities were destroyed, and subsequently settled, by the Israelites (1982, 8:24-35). Additionally, Yigael Yadin, the late distinguished archaeologist, suggested that the picture painted by archaeological finds is consistent with the biblical portrait: fortified Canaanite cities were destroyed and replaced by a new culture (1982, 8:19). Though these archaeologists were/are committed to a late date of the conquest, and allowed for some errors in biblical details, their interpretations of the physical evidence support the general outline of the biblical presentation of the conquest. Thus, the archaeological evidence in support of the “peaceful infiltration” or “peasant revolt” theories is not as conclusive as some would suggest. In fact, Max Miller of Emory University opined that the wide variety of views regarding Israelite origins in Palestine, with each view appealing to archaeological support, illustrates that “...the archaeological evidence is ambiguous, or essentially neutral, on the subject” (1987, 50:60). In short, the limited nature of archaeological inquiry forbids a dogmatic rejection of the biblical record of the conquest.
EVIDENCES FOR BIBLICAL HISTORICITY
Ancient Egyptian MapsThe Bible provides specific information regarding the locations at which the Israelites camped along the final stage of the exodus route just prior to their entering Canaan. Numbers 33 describes in detail the northward, Transjordanian route the Israelites took as they traveled to the location at which they miraculously forded the Jordan river. Several places are mentioned on their journey from the desolate region south of the Dead Sea to the plains of Moab: (1) Iyyim; (2) Dibon Gad; (3) Almon Diblathaim; (4) region of Mt. Nebo; (5) Abel Acacia Grove; and (6) the Jordan River. The extraordinary specificity and precision of this text has made it vulnerable to criticism.
Some critical historians suggest that this list demonstrates the historical inaccuracy of biblical writers, since there is no archaeological indication that these cities existed at that period. For example, excavation efforts at Tell Dhiban (the Dibon Gad mentioned in Numbers 33:45b-46a), indicate that there was no city at that site in the Late Bronze Age II (c. 1400-1200 B.C.). Though some remains dating to around 1200-1100 B.C. were discovered on the summit of the mound, there is no evidence that a city existed there before the ninth century B.C. This has led some to conclude that the “...Biblical writers knew nothing about events in Palestine before the tenth century B.C.E.” [Before Common Era (B.C.E.) is a religiously neutral way of referring to history before Christ (B.C.), currently employed by many scholars—GKB] (Gosta Ahlstrom, as quoted in Krahmalkov, 1993, 20:55-62,79).
Though no physical evidence has yet been found to verify this location, there is an impressive literary witness of its presence in this period. During the Late Bronze Age (c. 1560-1200 B.C.), Egypt ruled Palestine. In the course of its 300-year jurisdiction over this region, Egypt exhaustively mapped the area, including the main roads of Palestine. Among the ancient maps is an important, continuously used route through Transjordan, linking the Arabah and the Plains of Moab. Three partial maps describing this road have been preserved. Though no individual map is complete, each provides supplementary information, which provides a reasonably complete description of this road. Interestingly, these maps mention four stations from south to north: Iyyim-Dibon-Abel-Jordan—the exact order in which these names appear in the Bible (Krahmalkov, 1994, 20:57). These ancient Egyptian documents corroborate the biblical description.
Merneptah StelaThe famed Egyptologist, William F. Petrie, discovered the “Israel” Stela of King Merneptah at Thebes in 1896. This stela (an inscribed stone monument), which dates from c. 1210 B.C., contains the only extant extrabiblical reference to Israel in the pre-Monarchic period. The stela contains a poetic eulogy that praises Merneptah’s military exploits (see Pritchard, 1958, p. 231). Of special interest is the context in which “Israel” is mentioned. The inscription bears two major groupings of locations whose destruction is attributed to Merneptah. The first is a group of four city-states: The Canaan (Egyptian name for Gaza), Ashkelon, Gezer, and Yeno’am. The second group, which appears before and after these isolated city-states, lists the names of national entities such as Tehenu (Libya), Hatti (Hittites), and Kharu (a general designation for Syria-Palestine; Wood, 1989).
It is in this second group that the name Israel appears, suggesting that it was considered a national entity on par with the powerful Hittites. Accordingly, by about 1210 B.C. this Egyptian monument gave Israel a measure of international standing. The importance of this implication cannot be overstated. The generally accepted date for the conquest is about 1230-1220 B.C. Yet, the Merneptah Stela implies that in 1210 B.C. Israel was well established in Canaan and a formidable force with which to reckon. Some objectors point out that the Merneptah Stela’s sole purpose was to aggrandize the military campaign of this king and should not be considered as historically accurate. While this was the purpose of the inscription, it is still the case that Israel was perceived to be a formidable force in Canaan. Surely, Merneptah would have gained little in prestige by boasting about conquering an insignificant, disunited band of pastoral nomads! The Merneptah Stela is a powerful witness that the conquest occurred when the Bible said it did (cf. Archer, 1974, p. 181; Wood, 1991, 4:110).
Tell el-Amarna LettersIn 1887, an Egyptian peasant fortuitously discovered a large cache of clay tablets at Tell el-Amarna. Dating from 1400-1370 B.C., these tablets were written in Akkadian cuneiform (wedge-shaped writing)—the then-accepted language for international correspondence. The tablets were urgent letters sent from Canaanite kings to the Egyptian king, requesting immediate military assistance in dealing with fierce invaders. These letters also reflect an anxious disunity among the various Canaanite kings, and an eager tendency for them to forsake their Egyptian alliance and become politically affiliated with the invading Habiru or ‘Apiru (see Pritchard, 1958, p. 276). Many scholars associate the Habiru with the biblical Hebrews (cf. Archer, 1974, pp. 271-279; Harrison, 1969, 318-322).
Thus, an analysis of these documents suggests that they reflected a Canaanite perspective of the Israelite conquest. There are some significant parallels between the general information in these letters and the biblical narrative. A communication from Megiddo mentioned that several towns located in the region of Arad in the south had already fallen to the invaders. According to Numbers 21:1-3, the Israelites destroyed many cities in this southern region. Also, there were no letters found from the first cities destroyed during the Israelite incursion (e.g., Jericho, Gibeon, et al.).
If the Habiru mentioned in the Tell el-Amarna letters actually were the invading Hebrews (and there are good reasons to believe they were), then these documents provide secular confirmation of the biblical description of conquest, both chronologically and methodologically. Since these letters date from 1400 B.C., they suggest that the initial stages of the conquest occurred in the 15th, not the 13th, century B.C. Additionally, they corroborate the view of a concentrated military penetration into Canaan. In both instances, they support the biblical record of the conquest.
Yet, we must always keep in mind the limitations of archaeological inquiry and the oftentimes inconclusive nature of its evidence. Such data can be ambiguous, and subject to a variety of interpretations. Therefore, we should listen with cautious skepticism when archaeologists’ interpretations disagree with biblical information (see Brantley, 1993). Also, though in many instances the Bible’s historical reliability has been confirmed by the archaeologist’s spade, the lack of such evidence does not prove the Bible wrong. More importantly, we must recognize that, though the Bible offers valuable and historically accurate information, its primary purpose is to proclaim the sovereignty of God, Who is Lord of history. It is a volume affirming divine activity in human history, the truth of which archaeology is inadequate to judge. By faith, we acknowledge that the same God Who brought the Israelites out of Egypt, and gave them the promised land, is still the sovereign Lord of our own history—even in these anxious times.
Archer, Gleason (1974), A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Bimson, John and David Livingston (1987), “Redating the Exodus,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 13:40-68, September/October.
Brantley, Garry (1993), “Dating in Archaeology: Challenges to Biblical Credibility,” Reason and Revelation, 13:81-85, November.
Brantley, Garry (1994), “Biblical Miracles: Fact or Fiction?,” Reason and Revelation, 14:33-38, May.
Cross, Frank Moore (1992), “The Development of Israelite Religion,” Bible Review, 8:18-50, October.
Davis, Thomas (1993), “Faith and Archaeology, A Brief History to the Present,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 19:54-59, March/April.
Harrison, R.K. (1969), Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Hester, H.I. (1962), The Heart of Hebrew History: A Study of the Old Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press).
Kenyon, Kathleen (1957), Digging Up Jericho (New York: Praeger).
Krahmalkov, Charles (1994), “Exodus Itinerary Confirmed by Egyptian Evidence,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 20:55-62,79, September/October.
Livingston, David (1988), “Exodus and Conquest,” Archaeology and Biblical Research, 1:12-17, Summer.
Malamat, Abraham (1982), “How Inferior Israelite Forces Conquered Fortified Canaanite Cities,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 8:24-35, March/April.
Miller, Max (1987), “Old Testament History and Archaeology,” Biblical Archaeologist, 50:55-63.
Pritchard, James (1958), The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures (London: Oxford University Press).
Shanks, Hershel (1987), “Dever’s Sermon on the Mound,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 13:54-57, March/April.
Shanks, Hershel (1994), “ ‘David’ Found at Dan,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 20:26-39, March/April.
Silberman, Neil (1992), “Who Were the Israelites?,” Archaeology, 45:22-30, March/April.
Stiebing, William H., Jr. (1985), “Should the Exodus and the Israelite Settlement be Redated?,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 11:58-69, July/August.
Wood, Bryant G. (1989), “Merneptah and the Israelites,” Archaeology and Biblical Research, 2:82, Summer.
Wood, Bryant G. (1991), “Recent Discoveries and Research on the Conquest,” Archaeology and Biblical Research, 4:104-110, Autumn.
Wood, Bryant G. (1993), “New Inscription Mentions House of David,” Bible and Spade, 6:119-121, Autumn.
Yadin, Yigael (1982), “Is the Biblical Account of the Israelite Conquest of Canaan Historically Reliable?,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 8:16-23, March/April.
Zertal, Adam (1991), “Israel Enters Canaan,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 17:28-47, September/October.
Science: Instituted by God
|by||Jeff Miller, Ph.D.|
Some contend that science is at odds with religion. They suggest that the scientific method requires empirical testing, but God’s existence cannot be empirically verified. Science supposedly proves the Big Bang, evolutionary theory, a very old Universe, and dinosaurs that never co-existed with humans, while the Bible mistakenly contends that the Universe was created in six literal, 24-hour days only a few thousand years ago, with humans and dinosaurs being created together on day six. Supposedly, science is based on verifiable evidence, whereas religion is based on “blind faith” and ambiguous “tinglies” attributed to the Holy Spirit. For such reasons, it is claimed that science and Scripture cannot be harmonized—that they are diametrically opposed to each another.
In reality, however, true science agrees perfectly with Scripture. Though God’s existence cannot be empirically verified, it can be easily verified through deductive reasoning from the scientific evidence available to us—in the same way forensic scientists use science to investigate events that they did not personally witness. While atheists have successfully created the mirage that science supports their theories, abundant scientific evidence exists which disproves the Big Bang Theory, evolutionary theory, an old Universe, and proves that dinosaurs and humans co-existed (see www.apologeticspress.org for more information on these matters). And yet, no scientific evidence exists that contradicts the true creation model. Rather, the evidence always supports it. The concept of “blind faith,” though championed by many who call themselves Christians, is at odds with Scripture, which defines faith as choosing to believe in something, based on the evidence that has been presented for it, and responding accordingly (see Miller, 2003). Atheistic scientists are simply wrong in their sweeping accusation that science and religion are at odds.
Though some theistic beliefs contradict science, when handled accurately (2 Timothy 2:15), Scripture and science compliment each other perfectly. For instance, science has shown us that matter is not eternal, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and could not have spontaneously generated—popping into existence from nothing—according to the First Law of Thermodynamics. This fact indicates that matter must have been placed here by an Entity outside the physical Universe (see Miller, 2007). This truth, arrived at through science and deductive reasoning, is not in harmony with atheism and much of today’s pseudo-science. But this truth is in keeping with the Bible, which says in its very first verse that God—a Being not subject to the laws of nature (i.e., a supernatural Being)—created the heavens and the Earth. Science supports Scripture.
Science has shown us that in nature, life comes only from life and that of its kind, according to the Law of Biogenesis. Again, this fact indicates that a Being outside of nature must exist Who initiated life (see Miller, 2012). This truth, arrived at through science and deductive reasoning, is not in harmony with atheism and much of today’s pseudoscientific world which must contend, without scientific support, that life popped into existence from non-life. Rather, this truth is in keeping with the Bible, which says in Genesis 1:11,24 and 2:7 that God created life.
Science—the Law of Biogenesis and the Laws of Genetics—has shown us that living beings produce other living beings of their own kind (see Thompson, 2002). There may be small changes along the way (e.g., beak size, color, size, etc.), but the offspring of a bird is still a bird. The offspring of a fish is still a fish. Therefore, since there is no common ancestor for all living beings from which all species evolved, there must be a supernatural Being Who initially created various kinds of life on Earth. This truth, arrived at through science and deductive reasoning, is not in harmony with the teachings of atheism and much of today’s pseudo-scientific world, which argues against the evidence, that various kinds of living beings can give rise to completely different kinds of living beings. But this truth is in keeping with the Bible, which says in Genesis 1:21 and 1:24-25 that God directed living beings to reproduce after their kind.
True science is in harmony with true religion. Why would science lie? It does not have a mind of its own. It has no bias or agenda. It can certainly be misrepresented or its findings misinterpreted, but science is not the enemy of true religion. In fact, according to the Bible, God, Himself, instituted the field of science. When God created human beings on day six and told them to “have dominion” over the Earth and “subdue” it (Genesis 1:28), He was commanding mankind to do something that would require extensive scientific investigation and experimentation. If God founded science, why would science be at odds with religion? When God, through His servant Paul, said in Romans 1:20 that His existence and some of His attributes could be learned from His creation, He was putting His stamp of approval on the scientific study of creation. When He said in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to “[t]est all things; hold fast what is good,” He was essentially summarizing the scientific method. Bottom line: God founded science. When legitimate scientific findings are interpreted properly and fairly, science supports the Bible and Christianity. It certainly is not at odds with the Bible.
REFERENCESMiller, Dave (2003), “Blind Faith,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/article/444.
Miller, Jeff (2007), “God and the Laws of Thermodynamics: A Mechanical Engineer’s Perspective,” Reason & Revelation, 27:25-31, April (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3293.
Miller, Jeff (2012), “The Law of Biogenesis,” Reason & Revelation, 32:2-11, January (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1018&article=1722.
Thompson, Bert (2002), The Scientific Case for Creation (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).