Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Word of God P14 (03-09-21)
When we are talking about the validity of Old Testament events, which certainly adds to the validity of the Old Testament itself, it all gets back again to one simple question Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Because if Jesus is who He is, God, and He said there is a Sodom and a Gomorrah then there was a Sodom and a Gomorrah
As you read the account of Sodom and Gomorrah, something striking you will notice. Fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. That is why archaeologists have never found those two cities that were destroyed by God. That adds to the validity of the scriptures. Archaeologists have found almost everything else recorded in the scriptures but they never found Sodom and Gomorrah.
But as you read these different accounts, do not just simply believe that this event happened or not, for that has no relevance to how you live your life. But take note of the analogy Jesus used in referring to these events in regard to His judgment on mankind. Jesus is pointing to a future date, where just as it was in the days of Lot, who was rescued from God’s judgment, having been declared righteous by His faith, his heart being distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless, so too there is a longing in the heart of God that every man would escape this coming judgment Jesus spoke of, and do not have to be destroyed by fire as what happened to the people in Sodom and Gomorrah.
Another reason we trust the scriptures is the manner in which scripture have been preserved, meticulously by the old rabbis, through the numerous copies we have, being dated so close to the original manuscripts, originally written down on scrolls in Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament. There are virtually no errors and nothing that changes the meaning or message of the scriptures.
My mind says this is true but I do not agree with it. I agree the bible is true but I do not agree with that. Folks, this does not make any sense. So if Christ is alive living in you, how can you deny His testimony about these things such as creation, how we got here, how man got here, about everything? And how could we stand in front of Jesus and say, “Jesus, I have to tell you something. I know you are God, and all things created by you and for you but there are problems going on today that you did not know back then and, therefore, you got to realize something and that is that you say in your word it is not complete for me today. There is still more information out here I need. I really appreciate what you did for me in regard to saving my soul, but you do not have anything to do with my habit patterns. I got an eating disorder and you do not know anything about that. I got a drinking problem and you just do not understand it. I am sick.”
You can sit there and say that to me, and say that to maybe your pastor, but I would defy you, if you are truly born again, to just envision for a moment, and I am not into visualization, but to visualize for a moment, standing before Christ and looking at Him in the eyes and say this. “You are not adequate for my problem. I do not believe you created this earth. I do not believe there was a flood. I do not believe there was a Jonah. I do not believe there was a Noah. I do not believe that you have given me everything I need for life and godliness. I do not believe, Jesus, that you are adequate for my forgiveness. I do not believe that you are adequate for my problem.” I would defy you, my friends, to even envision doing that.
In front of me? Yes. In front of your pastor? Yes. But envision standing in front of the living Christ? Quite frankly, one of these days we are going to be there. It is those kinds of things that are quite frankly what faith is all about. God is saying, “Did you trust me and believe me when I said I am the solution to all your problems?” “Noah did when I told him there was going to be a flood. It was credited to him as righteousness. That is why his life was saved.” He could have gone out and tried to build an airplane and flew out of there. But he would have run out of gas. He could not float on what was going to flood the earth and that was water. Why is it so hard to believe what is told to us by God?
1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
From our human standpoint, it does not make sense always that Christ Jesus is going to renew our minds and something as simple as getting my mind renewed will change my attitude toward life, about me, about God, about my future, about my past, but it does. When my attitude is changed, my actions ultimately are going to be changed. So when you are talking about behavior, talking about the treatment of behavioral difficulties, it is not behavioral difficulties we are dealing with. It is thinking problems we are dealing with. Are you saying God is not adequate to change our minds and hearts?
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
It is by faith we understand all of these things. It is by faith we understand the universe was formed at God’s command. It did not get formed by evolution. God commanded it and it came into effect. So that the things that are seen were made out of what was invisible. So then we could not have seen, and that who is God, who is Spirit, is speaking things into existence and made things that we can see.
By definition, science is the field of observing and analyzing observable data. On the other hand and his apostles claimed to speak with authority on this subject of creation, which science cannot deal with. Science must deal not with origins but with things that are already there. Yet he spoke on things like creation? Why? Because they had the testimony of the Creator, Jesus Christ. So why should you and I choose to accept the bible and its testimony? Because of the Creator. To deny the Creator is to deny Christ.
We have to understand that I cannot say I believe in Jesus but I believe in evolution. I am sorry, folks, it is a contradiction of terms in regard to the word of God.
Now let us look at Jonah. Much skepticism has been concerning Jonah or the whale or a big fish. The bible says a big fish but if you do not mind, I will just say whale. This story is cited by many unbelievers to discount the truth of the bible. The skeptics get after that one, of the relevance of the story of Jonah. That can be found by reading the words of Jesus Christ, who spoke of that event very directly. In Luke, Jesus is making an analogy. Could Jesus the Son of man use this analogy of being a sign to the generation to whom he was speaking if Jonah was not real? Can you make an analogy of a relevant event with some thought made up on it?
29 As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign,
And people are still doing that today.
but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.
Why would you want a sign? I need a sign. I need a sign. It is a repudiation of faith. Jesus is saying the same thing. Why do you need a sign over and above the resurrection of Jesus Christ? What better sign do you need than that? Just how much more spectacular of a side show do you need than when I have been raised from the dead? So he tells them they are a wicked generation, always asking for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. This also alleviates the need for signs today, told us of his own words. As the crowds increased, this is a wicked generation because they asked for a miraculous sign. Let me see you heal somebody. So it became a magic show. The attraction was there is something spectacular that is going on. Not miraculous but spectacular. Forget the miraculous. Give me the spectacular. But no sign will be given except one and that is the sign of Jonah.
30 For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.
In other words, He is saying, “I am going to be a sign just as Jonah was a sign”.
31 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it
In other words, even the people from Nineveh are going to judge this unbelieving generation.
for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here.
The implication is that you are not going to repent even when you hear the truth. So I am going to give you a sign that is going to be my word. When you look at what Jonah’s preaching caused the people of Nineveh to do, it is obvious. They changed their mind. There is someone greater than Jonah that was there. Again, would it have any meaning to claim to be greater than someone who did not exist. It would be like saying when Santa Claus did this then there is someone greater than Santa Claus that is here. That just does not make any sense. Jonah was a real person and a real character. Jesus certainly believed that. He should have. He was there and saw it, as God, who is omnipresent. So we are talking about a sign.
39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Always looking for a sign. But He said none will be given except the sign of the prophet Jonah. He called him a prophet.
40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.
So once again, Jesus equated His own life and His resurrection to Jonah being in a belly of a whale. Was the resurrection an actual event? Absolutely. How can you equate His resurrection to an actual event to a fairy tale? Again, we are forced to conclude something about Jonah and the big fish. That is, if Jesus is indeed who He claims to be, and that is God, and He says Jonah was in a fish, then Jonah was in a fish. Had Jesus said Jonah ate the whale, we would be forced to believe that if Jesus said it. And I am glad He didn’t because that would be a tough one. But from the fact of logic, if Jesus is God Himself and He said Jonah ate the whale, I would have been forced to either deny Jesus or to believe that He ate the whale. Again, I say thank God he did not say that. But He did say that Jonah was swallowed by the whale.
Therefore, I am forced to either believe that or to deny Jesus Christ is who He is. When people come up and say, “Do you really believe that there was a Jonah and he was swallowed by a fish?” “Yes. Let me ask you. What do you believe about Jesus Christ?” “What does that have to do with anything?” “Everything. Because it is what you believe about Jesus that will determine your eternal life.”
What you believe about someone being in a whale will have no effect on your life at all. Whether Jonah was in a whale or not will nor do one thing with how I get along with my wife tonight. And so if Jesus is not God who cares whether he was in the fish or ate the fish. It is totally irrelevant. But if Jesus Christ is God, who is the only one who freed us from being in our sins and dead as a hammer as a human being, and He claimed and stated that there was a Jonah and a whale and Jonah was in it, then guess what? He was in it. If Jesus is God and He claimed the universe was formed by God. Then guess what? The universe was formed by God. If Jesus is God and He created all things, including man, and we were not evolved but created, then guess what? We were created.
Now, on the other hand, you do not need this, but it is kind of fun information. In the library, in the Encyclopedia Britannica, research was consulted in regard to whether there ever has been a record of where this occurred. Their reply stated that first, from the standpoint of biologists and as well of the professional whaler, there is no question whatsoever that the sperm whale is physiologically capable of swallowing the largest of men. The mouth, throat and stomach handle much larger food than the least bit of inconvenience. Then it goes on to cite two incidences of men in modern times of being swallowed alive and then living to tell the story.
One of these cases was subjected to careful scientific investigation by one British and one French scientist. A whaler disappeared as a sail upset by a harpoon whale. Two days later he was found in the dissected whale’s stomach. Except for a two week period of shock, an understatement, a permanent bleaching of his skin from the gastric juices, this man lived a normal life thereafter.
So when people are casting dispersion upon that story, it not only happened to Jonah but it has happened to people in our modern times. I have to laugh every time I read that, thinking of a two week period of shock. I would say that would be a short period of time in the belly of a whale for two weeks or two days. I would imagine, as popular as that story is, being alive in that belly, I imagine if that person did not become a Christian, he is truly beyond hope.
Another story people get after is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. People will ask how could there be a Sodom and Gomorrah because there is just no sign of it at all?
In Luke 17:28-30, there is a description of the lifestyle of people in that day. Jesus is saying in that story that it was the same as in the days of Lot.
Luke 17:28-30 28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
How again did it say the city was destroyed? Fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Now, Peter also had an account of Sodom and Gomorrah.
2 Peter 2:6-8
6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)
Once again, as Peter is making this analogy, he was talking about the fact there was condemnation from God that came upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. How then were they made an example? Do Jesus and Peter refer to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as an actual historical record or some kind of a fictional story? I think it is obvious. It is an actual record of an event.
If that is true, then what is our conclusion about the existence and the destruction of two cities called Sodom and Gomorrah? Now it is interesting that from an archaeological standpoint that the remains of these cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have never been found, from an archaeological standpoint. Many believe they are located somewhere around the foot of the dead sea. Whether they are located there or not is not the issue. The issue is that even though archeologically because the validity of whether a city was there or not has the validity of that rests upon the testimony of who? God Himself. And when Jesus said that they were here and there was destruction upon them, which was a testimony about what was recorded in the Old Testament scriptures that those people had in their hands and in their possession, written and memorized by the Old Testament saints in regard to the validity of the word of God.
So, folks, when we are talking about the validity, therefore, of these Old Testament events, which certainly adds to the validity of the Old Testament itself, which we will take up next week, it all gets back again to one simple question. Who do you say that I am? Because if Jesus is who He is, God, and He said there is a Sodom and a Gomorrah then there was a Sodom and a Gomorrah.
There has been attack after attack on the word of God by the so-called pseudo-intellectual community. People try to find contradictions in the word of God, but a contradiction has to come in understanding of the meaning, not just what something says but what something means. In order to determine what it means, context is involved. But in the final analysis, what really delineates your understanding is what it says in the scripture that the word of the Spirit of God has to reveal to you what it means. Natural man cannot understand spiritual things. It sounds foolish to him.
1 Corinthians 2:14
14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
But we, who are in Christ, with the Spirit of God living in us, having in us the Spirit of truth, we have the ability to understand the meaning of the word of God if we allow the Spirit of God to reveal it to us instead of trying to go on with our own intellect.
If they come up some day and come up with a pot from down there saying it is from Sodom and Gomorrah, I guess you have to examine the pot more carefully. We were not partially born again. The world was not partially created. That is a difference. As an example, in Jerusalem it was talking about how Jerusalem there would be no stone on top of another. But man did that. But everything man did you can go back and find. But when God did something and He said He destroyed something, all burnt up to ashes, there is no wonder it cannot be found. I think it is an insight into the validity of the word of God. That is the reason they have not found. They found almost everything else archaeologically but they never found Sodom and Gomorrah.
Our concluding this particular lesson on the Old Testament, whether myth and truth, a reason for the lesson such as this is to help you as listeners to come to some firm decisions in regard to this book that you hold in your hands today. Once again, it might just be helpful as we conclude this lesson to be able to state that the Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language. The New Testament was written in he Greek language. Then you had a book called the Septuagint, which was a translation of the Hebrew bible over into Greek so that the entirety of the bible was translated into Greek through the Septuagint. That is the original manuscripts.
Although we do not have the originals in our hands, we have copies that date back very close to the originals with no reason to doubt error. That is because of the unbelievable pains that the old rabbis took and the people who were preserving those writings took to preserve those writings. The word of God was not perceived the way we do it today. We have a bible and we throw it down and we write in it. But in those days they had scrolls and it would have been their only copy so it was cherished and protected.
In my early days I had not been a Christian too long. My wife and I were at a radio appreciation dinner. We had a five minute broadcast real early in my Christian life. This was on a radio station with owners in. One of the questions asked was if there was a fire in your house what would be the first thing your husband would grab to get out of the house? My wife said at that time was the bible, which would have been a true statement. Now we have so many of them you take them for granted. But at the time, it was the only one I had and it was my prized possession and it was the absolute source of truth to me in every aspect of my life.
In the Old Testament days, it was certainly true where scrolls were protected as an absolute prized possession from God. As they would interpret and copy these, if a little error was made, they would be forced to start all over again. They would tear up the page and start all over again. That is how meticulous they protected the validity of those early manuscripts. As some of the scrolls are discovered today, that is the amazement of it, because it dates back to closer and closer to the originals. When the dead sea scrolls were discovered, that was the amazement for them because of the age of them, taking them back closer to the originals and finding the same accuracy as the copies we hold in our hands today.
When we look at that and we have different interpretations we hold in our hands. An interpretation is different from the original manuscripts. Those original manuscripts were totally inerrant. As they were written down by men of God guided by the Holy Spirit of God, they were totally the voice of God. They are inerrant in the copying because of the meticulous way they went about copying, even though the possibility could have been a mistake here and there. If that would be true, it would be so minimal it would have no bearing on the basic understanding of the scriptures at all. Same is true of the Old Testament as it is with the New Testament. It was meticulously cared for and copied.