The philosopher and the sceptic say “What is Truth?” The believer who has tasted that the Lord is gracious replies: “God’s Word is truth”. Even the sceptic may agree to this proposition but would ask “Has God spoken?” and if so, where is it to be found? When we deal with what is called “natural religion” we shall discover that “day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge” (Ps. 19:2); but our quest is for something higher – a revelation of God Himself to man concerning Himself, His purpose and man’s failure; His grace and man’s response. This the Christian has discovered in that collection of writings called “The Scriptures”, of “The Bible”, and it is with a view to establishing their inspiration and consequent truth and authority that we devote this series of studies.
As these studies are intended to help the believer, we will not spend time attempting to prove that which has already been accepted. We trust that those who read these articles are already resting for eternal peace on the finished work of Christ.
- “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master” (Matt. 10:24,25).
What therefore is viewed as “Scripture” by Christ, will be “Scripture” to His disciples. Here is His challenging statement:
- “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believe Me, for he wrote of Me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?” (John 5:46,47).
To adopt the attitude of the Higher Critic is to reject Christ. But there is something more.
- “He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath One that judgeth Him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of Myself: but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12:48,49).
It is evident therefore that to set aside the testimony of Christ, is to set aside the testimony of Him that sent Him, and to do so is to overthrow the faith, leaving all men without hope and without God in the world.
We now take our investigation a stage further. We consider in detail just how far the testimony of Christ extends.
- The Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:44). The O.T. as a whole. This is the ancient threefold division of the O.T. (Proofs and details come later under the heading: “The Canon of the O.T.”).
- Individual writers and prophets. The Saviour has definitely named and cited “Moses” (John 5:46,47); “Isaiah” (Luke 4:17-21); “Daniel” (Matt. 24:15,16); “Jonah” (Matt. 12:39-41); “David” (Luke 20:42). He has also cited as of God, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Samuel, Kings, Jonah, Daniel, Isaiah, Hosea, Jeremiah, and the Psalms.
- The Lord’s continual reference to the Scriptures. In the hour of temptation He relied upon it (Matt. 4 -“It is written”). At the opening of His public ministry He drew attention to its fulfillment (Luke 4:16-21). In the our of death, He was careful that the Scriptures should be fulfilled (John 19:28). His birth, His birthplace, His public ministry, His betrayal, the manner and accompaniments of His death, His resurrection, are all referred to Scripture as prophetic and as fulfilled.
While no man can be justified by his own works of law, the Lord made it clear that He honoured the Law and that it should be fulfilled (Matt. 5:17,18). The “jot” is the Hebrew “yod”, and equivalent to the Greek “iota”, and the English letter “i”. It is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Some Bibles print it over the section of Psalm 119 that commences with verse 173. The “title” is a small decoration added to certain letters, possibly as aids to memory.
- “As by faith we gaze at the Cross, as we see indissolubly linked together the finished work of Calvary and the finished word of God, there we take our stand, and with heart and life declare that our Saviour’s Bible is our Bible, and His deep reverence for the written Scriptures, shall be our example, and that we shall look upon all adverse criticism or denial in the light of the cross, and see behind the pen of the critic the hand of the wicked one’.
By Charles H. Welch (no. 1) / The Berean Expositor, London.
The Inspiration and Canon of the Scriptures
“All Scripture is given by Inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16). The testimony of Christ settles for every believer the question of the Truth and Authority of the O.T. Scriptures. We know ask two questions and discover the answer to them:
- How were the Scriptures given?
- How did the Scriptures come?
The answers to these two questions appear in the writings of two men of God who knew that they were about to die for the sake of Christ and His Truth (2 Tim. 4:6,7; 2 Pet. 1:14). Here, if ever, we shall have unbiassed and unflinching testimony.
Paul. How was Scripture given? “By inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16)
Peter. How did Scripture come? “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21).
- “From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
Two titles are given to the Scriptures:
- “Holy Scriptures” Hiera Grammata or “sacred letters”.
- “Scripture” Graphe or “writing”.
Grammata indicates a letter of the alphabet (Gal. 6:11); or a letter (Acts 28:21), and particularly the books known as the Holy Scriptures.
- “How knoweth this man letters (grammata), having never learned?” (John 7:15).
Grammata looks to the component parts of writing; Graphe to the Scripture as a whole. Graphe is familiar to the English ear. Photography, geography, refer to some form of writing. Gegraptai “It is written”, refers in the Scriptures, not to any writings, but to THE writings par excellence “The Scriptures”.
The O.T. abounds in references to writing and to books. The foundation of our faith is a written testimony.
Inspiration. The words “given by Inspiration of God” are expressed by the one Greek word theopneustos. Theos – God. Pneo – to breathe.
Pneuma – spirit. The association of the word translated “inspiration” with “breathing” will be seen in such English words as pneumatic or pneumonia, as also the words “inspire”, “respire” and “perspire”.
Paul’s testimony therefore is that “all scripture”, namely that which was written, “is given by inspiration of God” or God-breathed. If that which was “written” was “breathed” by God, there could be no interval for the writer to give a vision of his own heart.
While the personality of the writer is stamped upon every page of Scripture, Moses differing from Isaiah, Peter from Paul, Matthew from John, yet each and all were instruments in the hand of their God.
- “God at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1).
- “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed in your hearts, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise” (2 Pet. 1:19).
Peter had had a sublime and unique experience. He had stood upon the Mount of Transfiguration. He had heard the voice from heaven. Yet he declares that we have something “more sure” than the sublimest experience. We have the “Word of prophecy”. The human element and agency is subservient; all is of God.
- “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation, for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:20,21).
“Private Interpretation”, Private is idios “own”. “Interpretation” is epilusis and occurs nowhere else in Scripture. The word means “letting loose”, “breaking open”, “unfolding”. “Is” is here ginomai “to come into being”. Peter does not here speak of systems of interpretation, but of the trustworthiness of Scripture itself. “No prophecy of the Scriptures came into being of its own unfolding”. He then goes on to explain. “For prophecy was not brought (phero) at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake being borne along (phero) by the Holy Ghost”.
In Acts 27:15 and 17 we may see the force of this word phero. “We let her drive”, “strake sail and so were driven”. Just as the sailors were helpless in the grip of the storm, so the prophets had no control in the matter and moment of inspiration, although this did not blot out their personal style. The subject matter of the Scriptures demands revelation. The wisest are baffled in their attempt to solve the riddle of the universe, the nature and being of God the plan of the ages. The R.V. translated 2 Timothy 3:16 thus:
- “Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable”.
Did Paul intend Timothy to understand that “Some Scriptures are not inspired?” When translating 1 Timothy 4:4, another text by the same author, the R.V. keeps to the accepted rules of grammar, and so rule their peculiar translation of 2 Timothy 3:16 out of court.
- “Every creature of God IS good, and nothing IS to be rejected”, etc.
Here, as in 2 Timothy 3:16 there is no verb “IS” in the original, it has to be supplied to make good English. Why did they not render 1 Timothy 4:4:
- “Every creature of God, if it is good, is also nothing to be rejected”.
Why? Simply because it is foolish, false and a violation of Greek syntax. The Greek writers Chrysostom, Origen, Basil, Athanasius, who knew their own tongues, render 2 Timothy 3:16 as the A.V.
“And God spake all these words“
While Paul teaches us that all Scripture is “God-breathed” and Peter teaches us that “Holy men of God spake as they were borne along by the Holy Ghost”, there is no formal statement in Scripture as to the precise mode of inspiration. It does not follow moreover, that because all Scripture is “God-breathed”, that every writer was inspired in the same manner. Hebrews 1:1 assures us that “God spake” by the prophets, however “diverse” the “manner” of their inspiration may have been.
Leaving therefore the question of “how” unanswered, let us acquaint ourselves with the claims that the Scriptures themselves make to their Divine Authorship. “God spake” to Noah (Gen. 8:15) and to Moses (Exod. 33:9). A recurring phrase is “The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it”, or “Hear the Word of the Lord”. Again we read many times “The word of the Lord came” to one or another of the prophets. Further, there are specific statements to the effect that God put His words into the “mouths” of His prophets. Peter refers to this in Acts three times, once speaking of the “mouth” of “David”, and twice of “All His prophets”.
- “It is very evident from this testimony that, whoever the individual speaker may have been, the mighty Moses, or the lowly Amos, the Royal Seer, or the runaway Jonah, the ungodly Balaam, or the wicked Caiaphas, it was God Who spoke, and it is His word that we hear”.
The Prophets were channels not originators.
- “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken BY (hupo) the Lord THROUGH (dia) the prophets” (Matt. 1:22; 2:15).
- “For thus it hath been written THROUGH (dia) the prophet” (Matt. 2:5).
- “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken THROUGH (dia) the prophets” (Matt. 2:23; 13:35; 21:4).
In these references, the names of the prophets are not given, they are Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, A Psalm of Asaph, and Zechariah. These men lived at different times and were possessed of individual character, yet the same formula is used of them all.
In the following references the same preposition dia is used but the name of the prophets “Isaiah” and “Jeremiah” is given (Matt. 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 27:9).
The Apostle writing to the Corinthians said:
- “Which things we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth” (1 Cor. 2:13).
To the Thessalonians he wrote:
- “When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13).
To the Ephesians he said:
- “After that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (Eph. 1:13).
To the Romans he wrote:
- “The gospel of God, which He had promised afore by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures” (Rom. 1:1,2).
The Inspiration and Canon of the Scriptures
“Canon”. Both “canon” and “cannon” come from the same Greek word which primarily meant something “straight”, thus a “cane” or “reed” and so a “rule” (Gal. 6:16; Phil. 3:16). Three terms used in this connexion must be understood. They are genuine, authentic, and authoritative.
Genuine. A book is genuine if it was actually written by the person whose name it bears; or, if it be anonymous, it is genuine if it contains evidence that it was written at the time when it purports to have been written.
Authentic. A book is authentic if the matters of fact with which it deals actually occurred.
Authoritative. If any book of Scripture is either genuine or authentic or both, then it must necessarily be authoritative by its very nature.
Before the Christian era, the canon of the O.T. was fixed, “The Law, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44). To this we have many witnesses. One is Josephus, who lived during the time of Paul, and of whom Scalinger says he “deserves more credit then all the Greek and Roman writers put together”. Josephus says: “Nothing can be better attested than the writings authorised among us. In fact, they were never subject to any difference of opinion. It is therefore impossible to see among us, as among the Greeks, a vast multitude of books disagreeing with and combating one another.
We have only twenty-two, which comprehend all that has taken place among us and which we have just ground for believing. Although so many centuries have already passed away, no person has ever dared to add, or to take away, or transpose anything” (Critia Apion, Bk. 1 par. 8). Origen, Athanasius and Cyril give the same testimony.
Twenty-two books. In the English Bible there are 39 books. The difference is due to the fact that whereas we reckon the twelve Minor Prophets “twelve”; in the Hebrew they count as one. So also Ruth is reckoned with Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel reckon as one. We will set the O.T. books out according to the Hebrew canon.
The Law (Torah)
A Genesis. The Beginning. The nations and “the great nation”. B Exodus. Redemption. The nation formed and separated. C Leviticus. Worship. The nation trained “a kingdom of Priests”. B Numbers. Wandering. The nation’s failure – finally blessed. A Deuteronomy. The End. “The second time”. Ready to enter the land.
The Prophets (Nebi’im)
A Joshua. “The Lord of all the earth”. Joshua the leader. B Judges and Ruth. Forsaking and returning. Israel. C Samuel. Man’s king rejected. D Kings. Failure of kings of Israel and Judah. D Isaiah. Blessing only under God’s King, the Messiah. C Jeremiah and Lamentations. Human kings rejected. B Ezekiel. Forsaking and Returning. The Lord. A The minor Prophets. “The Lord of all the earth”. Joshua the High Priest.
The Psalms (Kethubim. The Writings).
A Psalms. Personal experience and future prophecy. B Proverbs. God’s moral government. C Job. “The end of the Lord”. Defeat of Satan. D Song of Solomon. A faithful woman. Read at Passover. E Ecclesiastes. Vanity under the sun. Read at Tabernacles. D Esther. A faithful woman. Read at Purim. C Daniel. The time of the end. Defeat of Antichrist. B Ezra and Nehemiah. Men who governed for God. A Chronicles. Past history and foreshadowed future.
Gaussen, in his book on the Canon, adduces sixteen facts. We give a summary here:
- Almost every crime is charged against Israel except one. They were never charged with the falsification of the sacred books. “To them were entrusted the oracles of God”.
- Christ said that they did not “believe” Moses, but that they “trusted” Moses who condemned them.
- The Apostles never accused Israel of unfaithfulness to their trust as custodians of the Holy Scriptures.
- Two witnesses of repute confirm this: Josephus and Philo. Both of them were learned men, both men of repute, both Pharisees, both of the line of Aaron.
- From the dawn of the Christian era, for nineteen centuries of rebellion, scattering and persecution, Israel has never relinquished the Scriptures.
- After thirty four centuries, the Jews from every quarter of the world receive only one canon. This identity of the copies of the Hebrew Scriptures is an astonishing phenomenon.
- In contrast stands the rapid deterioration of the many versions.
- While the Jews are divided into different and conflicting sects, all alike hold the canonical Scriptures.
- The law was placed in the Ark; death penalty was pronounced against the false prophet; the law was publicly read every seven years: the newly crowned king had to make a copy with his own hand.
- An unbroken chain of witnesses (the prophets) kept the canon alive.
- The calamities of the Jews: (1) Destruction of the Temple; this gave rise to “the synagogue in every city”. (2) Their signatures; this gives a check on the text. (3) Loss of their language; this led to the formation of the class called “Scribes”, the Targums (Chaldee paraphrases). (4) Oppression led to the Greek version known as the Septuagint. (5) The dispersion led to the Massorah, a collection of traditions, grammatical and other details relative to the sacred text, or called “The Fence of the Law”
- The miraculous preservation of the Jew is a pledge that his sacred Scriptures will be as faithfully preserved.
- No pressure or inducement could persuade the Jew to accept the Apocryphal books foisted upon the canon by Rome.
- “The Trent Catechism of the Orthodox Catholic Eastern Church” protests against including the Apocrypha.
- This was also the testimony of the whole Western Church until the Council of Trent.
- Neither the Septuagint nor the Latin versions could keep the Apocrypha out, but Israel did.
The Inspiration and Canon of the Scriptures
There are twenty-seven books in the N.T. canon, and Michaelis says that, in the case of the N.T., the testimony is much stronger that in the case of any other ancient writings, for the books of the N.T. were addressed to large societies in many distant parts of the world, in whose presence they were often read, and who acknowledged them as autographs of the writers themselves. Unlike other writings that have come down to us from antiquity, those of the N.T. were read over three-quarters of the known world, and an unbroken succession of writers, from the very age of the apostles to our own time, both friend and foe, make continual reference to them and give quotations from them.
Before the close of the second century, translations of the N.T. had been made. This would effectively prevent alterations, additions, or subtractions, for such a fraud would immediately become knows and exposed.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica, third edition, says:
- “This argument is so strong, that, if we deny the authenticity of the N.T., we may with a thousand times greater propriety reject all the other writings in the world”.
A few facts
- It cannot be shown that any one doubted the authenticity of any book of the N.T. in the period when such books appeared.
- There is no record that would lead one to reject any such books as spurious.
- No great length of time elapsed after the dead of the writer before the N.T. was widely known.
- The books of the N.T. are actually mentioned by writers living at or near the same time as the Apostles.
- No facts are recorded of what actually happened after the deaths of the writers, apart, of course, from prophecy.
Some outstanding witnesses
Irenaeus, born A.D. 120, calls the books of the N.T. “The Rule of Truth”. Tertullian said of Marcion, the Gnostic, the he appeared to make use of “a complete document”. Clement of Alexandria exclaims against any other authority besides “the true evangelical canon”. Origen was zealous in maintaining the “Ecclesiastical Canon”, and recognized “Four Gospels only, which alone are received without controversy in the universal church spread over the whole earth”.
Athanasius speaks of three sort of books: (1) The canonical, those recognized at the present time. (2) The ecclesiastical, which were allowed to be read in assemblies. (3) The apocryphal, which had no place in the canon at all. Irenaeus (A.D. 120-202), educated under Polycarp who knew the Apostle John personally, Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150-215), Tertullian (A.D. 155-230), are three men representing great areas, Greek, Coptic and Latin, who are witnesses that cannot be decried.
Irenaeus speaks of the four Gospels as “the gospel with the four faces”. He quotes the Acts over sixty times and shows the harmony of the Acts with Paul’s epistles. He cites 1 Corinthians over a hundred times, Romans over eighty times, Ephesians over thirty times, Galatians nearly twenty times, Colossians twenty times, 2 Corinthians eighteen times, Philippians eleven times, 1 Peter eleven times, 2 Thessalonians ten times, 1 Timothy five times, 2 Timothy four times, Titus thrice, 1 John thrice and 1 Thessalonians twice.
As it is impossible to quote books that do not exist, it is evident that all these books of the N.T. were well known early in the second century.
The testimony of enemies
Irenaeus wrote a book against Heresies. As an example let us take the heretic Valentine and his disciples. In order to uphold their peculiar fables about “Aeons” they quote or make use of the following books of the N.T.:
The Gospels – Matthew 5:13,14,18; 8:9; 10:21,34; 13:33; 20:1-16; 26:38,39,46. Mark 5:31. Luke 2:28,36,42; 3:17,23; 6:13; 7:8,35; 8:41; 9:37,38,60-62; 14:27; 15:4-8; 19:5. John 1:1-5,14; 12:37.
The Epistles – Romans 11:16,36. 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2:6,14,15; 11:10; 15:8,48. Galatians 6:14. Ephesians 1:10; 3:21; 5:13,32. Colossians 1:16; 2:9; 3:11.
Twenty-one other heretics are named, and their mishandling of the N.T. exposed, but how could Irenaeus expose this mishandling if the N.T. books were not already in existence and of recognized authority?
Barnabas, A.D. 71; Clement of Rome, A.D. 69-100; Hermas, A.D. 100; Ignatius, A.D. 107; Polycarp, A.D. 71-166. Dr. Lardner in his Credibility of the Gospel History, found allusions or quotations in these five early writers to every book of the N.T.
There are three ancient catalogues, written before the Council of Nice. The first goes back to about the time of the death of John. The second, to the beginning of the third century, the last to the beginning of the fourth. The first is derived from the ancient Syriac version of the N.T. called the Peshitto, or “Simple”. The second is supplied by Origen. The third by Eusebus in the third book of Ecclesiastical History.
The Peshitto version contains the whole of the N.T. except the Apocalypse, and the later epistles of Jude, Peter and John. The arrangement of the sacred books is as found in the N.T. today. The omitted books were written too late and at too great a distance for inclusion.
In a commentary alluding to the sounding of the trumpets and the walls of Jericho, Origen makes an allegorical use of the books of the N.T. and enumerates without exception the twenty-seven books of the Canon.
This historian divides the N.T. into two parts. The homologomena, “The Scriptures universally, unrestrictedly and uniformly recognized from the first as Divine by all churches or ecclesiastical witness”, and the Antilogomena, denotes books which, though recognized by most churches or ecclesiastical witness, were not recognized by all such. These are five in number: 2 Peter, James, Jude, 2 John and 3 John. “These though publicly read experience some opposition or were less quoted by ancient witness”.
The transmission and preservation of the Hebrew text
“Some ancient authorities read“. These words meet the student of Scripture both in Commentaries and the margin of the R.V. What do they involve? To appreciate their meaning we must be acquainted with the history of the Manuscripts, their transmission, their preservation, their differences and their combined testimony.
The transmission of the Hebrew text
Every book was of necessity written by hand, and the scribe was hedged about by scruples and directions, which even though to modern minds are petti-fogging, nevertheless preserved the text in a marvelous manner.
A synagogue scroll must be written on the skins of clean animals. The fastenings must be sinews taken from clean animals. Every skin must contain a fixed number of columns throughout the entire scroll. Each column must not be less than forty-eight or more than sixty lines. The breadth must consist of thirty letters. The whole copy must be first lined. If three words be written outside a line it is worthless. Black ink, prepared according to a definite recipe, must be used. Only an authentic copy must be used, and no deviation is permissible. Not the smallest word or letter may be written from memory. Between every consonant must be a hairs breadth. Between every word the breadth of a narrow consonant. Between every new section the breadth of nine consonants. Between every book three lines. The fifth book of Moses must terminate exactly with a line. The copyist must sit in full Jewish dress, wash his whole body, and not begin to write the name of God with a pen not newly dipped in ink. Should even the King address him, he must take no notice of him. Rolls not prepared according to these rules, must not be used in the synagogue, but must be buried or burned, or used as reading books in schools.
The Inspiration and Canon of the Scriptures
The Evidence of the Targums
Owing to the scrupulous care put into these Scrolls, no Hebrew manuscript was allowed to become badly worn before it was discarded; consequently until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls we did not possess Hebrew MSS earlier than the eighth century. We can go back to the Targums of Chaldee paraphrases to the time between Nehemia and Christ and eleven such Targums are known.
The Targum of Onkelos is described as “A very simple and literal translation of the Pentateuch, and … for that reason the more useful as evidence for the Hebrew text from which it was taken”. (Kenyon). Onkelos was the discipel of Hillel and Hillel was the grandfather of Gamaliel, at whose feet sat Saul the Pharisee.
This word is the equivalent to our word “doctrine”. The Talmud embodies all that had previously been written, in a series of rules, laws and institutions governing the civil and religious life of Israel. The Talmud consist of two parts: (1) the Mishna, “the text”; (2) the Gemara, “the completion”. Taken together with the Scriptures their testimony is final.
The work of the Sopherim dates from the days of Nehemia and Ezra. Ezra himself was called a “Scribe” (Neh. 8:4), or one of the Sopherim. The custom of having an interpreter in the synagogue at the reading of the law is referred by the Gemara to Nehemia 8:8.
The Sopherim in effect produced an Authorized Version of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Rabbinical work named Kiddush says “The ancients were called Sopherim “numberers” because they numbered all the letters of the law; for they said that in Gachon “belly” (Lev. 11:42) is the middle letter of the whole book of the law”.
It was the business of the Massorites to preserve this version for all time. With the labour of the Massorites the final stage in the history of the Hebrew text is reached. Masar means “to deliver something into the hand of another”. It was a sacred trust. The Massorites had a twofold object:
- To preserve a perfect orthoepic standard (i.e. correct pronunciations) of the Hebrew tongue.
- To the reading of a correct or inviolate text of the Hebrew Scriptures.
To accomplish this task the Massorites:
(1) Collected all that could be found in the Talmud concerning the traditional vowel points and punctuations, and produced a text with a series of points indicating vowel sounds.
(2) As the Hebrew Bible at that time had neither chapter nor verse, the Massorites divided the several books into: parashiotts “greater sections”, sedarim “orders”, perakim “chapters” and pesikim “verses”.
(3) When the division was completed, the number of verses to each book was notified by a technical word. The middle vers, or clause, or the middle letter were registered, and the number of letters in each book counted.
(4) Notes, were made a places where words or letters appeared to have been altered, omitted or added, and the results of this prodigious labour were placed in the margins of the Scrolls.
(5) The Massorites, moreover, introduced a series of accents which were intended to answer four purposes: (a) To certify the meaning of words. (b) To indicate true syllables. (c) To regulate the cantillation (or chanting) of synagogue reading. (d) To show the emphasis of an expression.
The Massorah does not contain comment, and that scrupulous care, even to counting of letters, means that “not one jot or tittle” could be lost without knowledge. Consequently we have in our hands today the standard or Canonical Scriptures as they left the hands of Ezra over 2,360 years ago.
The versions and Manuscripts
(1) The Samaritan Pentateuch. This strictly speaking is not a version. It is written in ancient Hebrew, being the oldest Hebrew MSS in existence. The characteristics of the Samaritan Pentateuch point to the circumstances of 2 Kings 17:24-41 for its origin. The adoption of the square Hebrew letters of the Jews was partly because of their antipathy to the Samaritans. This MSS is a most valuable check upon the veracity of the existing Hebrew Books of the Law.
(2) The Septuagint. This version was made in Egypt by Alexandrian Jews, and it was in common use a century before Christ. At the time of Christ, Greek was the literary language of Israel, Aramaic the spoken language, and Hebrew the tongue of the Rabbis and Students. A large proportion of the O.T. quotations that are given in the N.T. are from the Septuagint (generally abbreviated to LXX).
When the Jews realized what a powerful instrument this version was to the Christians, they repudiated it and another was prepared by a certain Aquila. This is an exceeding literal rendering of the Hebrew, so much so as to be sometimes unintelligible. It is valuable, however, as it indicates clearly the Hebrew text he had before him. This version is dated A.D 150. Another version by a Christian named Theodotion was produced to off-set that of Aquila, but this version is very free in its rendering. Theodotion’s version of Daniel was so much better than that in the original Septuagint that it took its place. About A.D. 200 a version was prepared by Symmachus.
- “The special feature of this translation is the literary skill and taste with which the Hebrew phrase of the original are rendered with good and idiomatic Greek” (Kenyon).
The Hexapla of Origen
(3) The great Alexandrian scholar Origen (A.D. 168-253), using these versions, produced his monumental work “The Hexapla” or the “Six-fold” version of O.T. Scripture.
As a result of the quickened interest in the LXX, three further editions appeared, one by Eusebius, one by Lucian and one by Hesychius.
Some Ancient Greek MSS
We have already seen that the oldest Hebrew MSS goes back no further than the eight century. The Greek Manuscripts fortunately go back much further, and of these the most important are:
Codex Sinaiticus (4th century). Indicated by the Hebrew letter Aleph.
Codex Alexandrinus (5th century). Indicated by the letter A.
Codex Vaticanus (4th century). Indicated by the letter B.
Codex Ephraemi (5th century). Indicated by the letter C.
The Cotton Genesis (5th century). Indicated by the letter D.
Some Ancient Versions in other languages
As the Gospel spread from Palestine, adjoining countries demanded the Scriptures in their own tongues. According we have:
The Syriac Version. Known as the Peshitto or “Simple” version. This was made about the second or third century after Christ. The copy in the British Museum was made in A.D. 464, and is the oldest copy of the Bible of which the exact date is known.
The Coptic Version. These were produced for use in Egypt. They are important as witnesses to the true text of the Greek N.T., and are of considerable help to the student of the LXX. The two most important are the one prepared for northern Egypt called the Memphitic, and the one prepared for southern Egypt, called the Thebaic, about the third century. Ethiopic, Armenian, Arabic, Georgian and Slavonic versions appeared.
The Latin Versions
These versions were demanded by the Roman provinces of Africa. They were defective and contained many pronunciations and defects of African translators. To remedy this a version called the Itala appeared in the second century.
Jerome. What Origen did for the Greek versions. Jerome did for the Latin. He prepared a translation of the O.T. in Latin direct from the original Hebrew, a work that occupied twenty years. This version became known as the Vulgate and was the Bible of the Roman Catholic church and of Europa until the Reformation. We shall devote a separate study to the Septuagint and to other ancient manuscript.
The Inspiration and Canon of the Scriptures
Further Notes of the MSS and the pedigree of the R.V.
The MSS of the Greek N.T. fall into two classes, uncials and cursives. Uncials (from a word meaning “inch”) are large capital letters with each letter formed separately; cursives (from a word meaning “running”) are smaller letters, written in a running hand and joined together.
Kenyon, Paterson-Smyth, Young’s Concordance, The Books and Parchments by F. Bruce, M.A., give plates that exhibit these two forms of writing.
The uncials are the more ancient of the two, the cursives not appearing until the ninth century. The chief uncials are three in number, the Sinaiticus, the Vaticanus, the Alexandrinus. The cursives MSS run into over 2,000.
Codex Vaticanus (fourth century). The reader should weigh very carefully any reading favoured by this most venerable MSS. Originally containing the complete Scriptures, it has suffered losses, and now commences at Genesis 46:28. Psalm 106-138 are missing also. The N.T. ends at Hebrew 9:4.
Codex Sinaiticus (fourth century). Discovered by Constantine Tischendorf in the Monastery of St. Catherine, Mt. Sinai. It passed into the Imperial Russian Library at St. Petersburg, and subsequently was purchased by the British Government. The MSS bears evidence of careful correction from some earlier MSS, and four different scribes were employed upon its original production. As the “corrections” so often agree with the text of the Codex Vaticanus, their united testimony must be considered of extreme weight. Much of the O.T. is missing owing to the ignorance of the monks who used some of the precious pages as fuel!
Codex Alexandrinus (fifth century). Like the Vaticanus this originally contained the complete Scriptures, but has suffered some losses in the course of time.
The material of which these ancient manuscripts are composed is parchment. This was not unknown in the days of the Apostles (2 Tim. 4:13), but papyrus was much more common (2 Joh. 12). The frail and brittle character of papyrus accounts for the lack of manuscripts of the opening century of the Christian era. Later, the process of preparing the skins of calves was improved, and the use of parchment or vellum became practically universal. The earlier MSS are characterized by the exceeding delicacy of the texture of the vellum used and is one of the evidences of the age of the manuscript. So much was vellum in demand, that earlier writing was erased or “blotted out”, and the new writing written across. In many cases however, the older writing can be deciphered. These manuscripts are known as codices rescripti or palimpsest.
The style of writing varied considerably in different periods, and provide very useful criteria as to the age of the manuscript. We have already mentioned the uncials and the cursives. While it is impossible in this study to exhibit to the eye the many details that go to make up this evidence, the student should be aware of their existence. We give two of such forms of evidence here. They are (1) The variations that occur in the construction of the letters of the alphabet, of which alpha, delta, theta, xi, pi and omega provide the clearest evidence. Upright square uncials are more ancient than those which are narrow, oblong or leaning. (2) The formation of dipthongs, the iota ascript, the aspirates, punctuation and various devices for abbreviation, play a considerable part in providing evidence of age.
Ancient versions in various languages
As no extant Greek MSS is earlier than the fourth century, the versions made in foreign tongues from originals now lost are of extreme value in arriving at the true text. We have already referred to the Peshitto, Egyptian and Latin Versions.
The Syriac Versions. The Peshitto. This language is distinct from Hebrew (Gen. 31:47 margin), and was spoken in Babylon and subsequently throughout Palestine [Israel]. The Philoxenian Syriac Version, is greatly inferior to the Peshitto both in accuracy and in style; it is however of great value to the textual critic.
The Curetonian Syriac. Dean Alford says of this version “perhaps the earliest and most important of all the versions”.
The Latin Versions. A branch of the Church existed in Rome many years before Paul visited this city (Rom. 15:23), and it is reasonable to suppose that among the earlier versions to be made would be one in Latin. Jerome and Augustine, together with the variations found in the old Latin manuscripts now in our possession, testify to “an original diversity of versions”. Jerome, in his Latin version of the O.T., is not founded on the old Latin which in its turn was made from the Greek Septuagint, but, Psalter excepted, was translated directly from the Hebrew. At length Jerome’s translation of the O.T., his Psalter and the N.T. as revised from the Old Latin took shape as the Latin Vulgate. The history of the Latin Vulgate is practically the history of the Church during the Middle Ages.
The History of the English Version
- The Paraphrase of Caedmon, written in Anglo-Saxon, A.D. 670.
- The Psalter of Aldhelm, A.D. 700. The first true translation in English.
- Bede. A.D. 674-735.
- The Gospels of the Tenth Century. The oldest MSS was written by Aelfric of Bath about A.D. 1000.
- The Old Testament of Aelfric. A.D. 990.
- Wycliff’s Translation. A.D. 1324-1384.
- Tyndale’s Bible. A.D. 1525.
- Coverdale’s Bible. A.D. 1535.
- Matthew’s Bible. A.D. 1537.
- The Great Bible. Time of Thomas Cromwell. A.D. 1539.
- The Geneva Bible. A.D. 1557-1560.
- The Bishop’s Bible. A.D. 1568.
- The Authorized Version. A.D. 1611.
- The Revised Version. A.D. 1885.
Such is the simple outline of our inheritance, its marvelous preservation and its widespread translation. Also its unanimity in all matters of faith and practice.
The Inspiration and Canon of the Scriptures
The word Apocrypha is probably derived from apokrupto “to hide”, although another derivation is suggestive, apo tes kruptes “away from the crypt, chest or ark” in which were deposited the sacred books of Israel. All writers use the term “to denote some kind of inferiority to the canonical Scriptures” (Churton).
- With the exception of Esdras, Judith, Tobit and 1st Maccabees, the Apocryphal books were written by Alexandrian Jews in Greek: “It is an historical fact that the Greek language was not known to the Jews until long after inspiration had ceased, and the canon of the O.T. was closed” (Home). Malachi 4:4-6 intimates that no prophet would arise until the forerunner of the Messiah, and the Jews called Malachi, “The seal of the prophets” in consequence. In order that the Apocryphal book of “Wisdom” should gain acceptance, the author adopted the name of Solomon. He betrays himself by quoting Isaiah, by revealing that Israel was subject to their enemies, and by borrowing expressions from the Grecian games.
- In marked contrast with the canonical Scriptures, no writer of the Apocrypha claims inspiration. The Son of Sirach in his prologue to Ecclesiasticus asks pardon for any failure in interpretation. In 1 Maccabees 4:46, 9:27 and 14:41 is an express admission that there was no prophet among them. The Apocrypha contains many fabulous statements, some unscriptural statements, and some serious doctrinal inaccuracies. Josephus says: “It is true, our history has been written since Artaxerxes, very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been a succession of prophets since that time” (Against Apion 1:8).
- There are evidences that a great literary activity sprang into being during the Apostle’s lifetime. (See Luke 1:1 and 2 Thessalonians 2:2). Some of these writings have been collected under the title “The Apocryphal New Testament”, and the best refutation of them is found in comparing them with the writings of the N.T.
- Supposed quotations of Apocrypha in N.T. The Apostle Paul speaks of “James and Jambres” in 2 Timothy 3:8, and it has been suggested that he quoted from the Targum of Jonathan. There is however reason to believe that this Targum was not in existence in the Apostle’s day, and the fact that Numenius, Artapanus and Pliny mention these names, makes it evident that it was a matter of common knowledge. Jude is supposed to have quoted from the Apocryphal prophecy of Enoch (Jude 9 and 14), but once again the passages are to be found loosely expressed in Rabbinical writings (see Surenhusius, 699-702). However, should Jude have actually quoted from an Apocryphal book, it would no more place that book in the canon, than Paul’s quotation from a heathen poet (Acts 17:28) would put Aratus among the prophets or Apostles.
- The Value of the Apocrypha. The Value of the Apocrypha is twofold. It supplies a link that unites the days of Malachi with the dawn of the Christian era and it uses the Koine Greek of the common people in which the N.T. was written. Unless therefore the N.T. writers were going to invent a new language, it would be impossible for them to avoid the phraseology of such popular religious writings.
- The Book of Wisdom and the Apostle Paul. To appreciate the extent of the influence of this Apocryphal book upon the mind and language of the Apostle Paul, a personal comparison of the book and epistles is imperative, as in many instances the influence though seen and felt defies quotations. The book of Wisdom is about the same size as the Epistle to the Romans, and there are many parallels between these two writings. For sake of space we will quote only from the book of Wisdom, leaving the student to read the corresponding passages of the Epistle. In Romans 1:19-23 the Apostle speaks of the heathen world and the evidences of the being and nature of God, that are made clear from creation. The thirteenth chapter of Wisdom contains the following: “Surely vain are all men by nature, who are ignorant of God, and could not out of the good things that are seen know Him that is; neither by considering the works did they acknowledge the workmaster” (1,2). “For by the greatness and beauty of the creatures, proportionally (anologos ‘by anology’) the Maker of them is seen” (5). Notice the echo of the word “invention” in Romans 1:30. “For the devising of idols was the beginning of fornication and the invention of them the corruption of life” (Wisdom 14:12). Other echoes in Romans 1 can be heard as we read: “They held them for gods, which even among the beasts of their enemies were despised” (12:24). “Shall feel a judgment worthy of God” (12:26). “Being corruptible, it was called a god” (14:8). “They thought not well of God” (14:30).
Again “Seeking God, and desirous to find Him” (Wisdom 13:6), is reminiscent of Acts 17:27 while “And winkest at the sins of men, because they should amend” (or with a view to repentance) (Wisdom 11:23) cannot be read without calling Acts 17:30 to mind.
Further where no actual word is similar, there is often a most evident parallelism of thought. Keep in mind 1 Corinthians 13 and read this on “Wisdom”: “For in her is an understanding spirit, Holy, one only, manifold, subtil, Lively, clear, undefiled, Plain, not subject to hurt, loving the thing that is good, quick, Which cannot be letted, ready to do good, kind to man, Steadfast, sure, free from care, Having all power, overseeing all things, And going through all understanding, pure, and most subtil of spirits” (Wisdom 7:22,23).
Again think of Hebrews 1:3 as you read: “For she is the brightness of the everlasting light, The unspotted mirror of the power of God” (Wisdom 7:26). “Wisdom” speaks of “A glorious Kingdom” and a “crown of beauty” which shall be the reward of the overcoming righteous (Wisdom 5:16). Without naming Enoch, “Wisdom” says: “He pleased God, and was beloved of Him; So that living among sinners he was translated” (Wisdom 4:10).
These are superficial gleanings. The deeper and richer correspondences wait upon the diligent reader of the originals.
No one with a love for freedom and a hatred of tyranny can read the books of the Maccabees unmoved. Coleridge said of the story of Judas Maccabeus that it was “inspiring enough to be inspired”. The Prayer Book of the Church of England orders the Apocrypha to be read in public, “For example of life and instruction of manners, but yet it doth not apply them to teach any doctrine”.
John Bunyan sought for more than a year “a text” which had helped him: “Look at the generations of old, and see; did ever any trust in the Lord, and was confounded?”
He found it at last in Ecclesiasticus 2:10. “The Song of the Three Children”, “Bel and the Dragon”, and “The History of Susannah” are additions to the book of Daniel. In the History of Delection, Dorothy Sayers included the two last books in her earliest examples. Shakespeare makes Shylock refer to “Susannah” when he said “A Daniel came to judgment”. Old Bibles often have the Apocrypha bound up with them.
The Inspiration and Canon of the Scriptures
The Witness of Archaeology
The Bible is its own witness. Proof of its truth comes with its study. Nevertheless it is a valuable asset to know and to be able to refer to the findings of the archaeologist as he brings to light records of the past.
We content ourselves in this chapter with a reference to some of the most outstanding evidences of Scripture accuracy which the spade of the archaeologist has brought to light, but nothing less than a personal and painstaking acquaintance both with material and with method can give a true sense of the conviction which these evidences convey.
(1) The Flood. A fact (Gen. 6-9).
One of “the most important historical documents of its kind” is the description given by Dr. Stephen Langdon to the prism catalogued W.B.444, a cuneiform tablet purchased by Mr. H. Weld-Blundell in Baghdad. It contains 379 lines of which we give the following: Line 1 – Rulership which from heaven descended. Line 2 – At Eriden rulership began. *** Line 39 – The Deluge came up. Line 40 – After the Deluge had come. Line 41 – The Rulership which descended from heaven. Line 42 – At Kish was the Rulership.
Dr. C.L. Woolley excavating at Ur of the Chaldees said that after going through strata of pottery and rubbish the diggers came to a bed of clean clay: “Uniform throughout, the texture of which showed that it had been laid there by water … the clean clay continued without change until it had attained a thickness of a little over eight feet, then as suddenly as it had begun, it stopped … the flood which deposited it must have been of a magnitude unparalleled in local history”.
Amraphel. A Fact (Gen. 14).
Chedorlaomer, and Arioch had been proved as historic persons, and the great Hammurabi has been proved to be the Amraphel of Genesis 14. In the British Museum stood the famous Code of Laws written for this King, many of which can be discovered in operation in the book of Genesis. Nearly ninety documents of Amraphel have been brought to light.
Abraham’s City. A Fact (Gen. 11:28).
Dr. C.L. Woolley has brought to light that Ur of the Chaldees was a city of great importance, inhabited by a highly civilized population, having schools, libraries, temples and well-built houses.
The Tower of Babel. A Fact (Gen. 11).
Nebuchadnezzar restored the tower of Borsippa, of which he has left a record. He says of this tower: “As it was ages before I built it anew; as it was in remote days I erected its pinnacle”.
The name given to these towers is Zikkurat (Zakor – to remember as in Zechariah) so in Genesis 11, “To make us a name”. The mound of ruins covers over 49,000 sq. ft. and is nearly 300 ft. high. It is made of “brick” burned throughly” united together by “slime” or “bitumen”.
Belshazzar. A Fact (Dan. 5).
His father’s prayer naming “Belshazzar, my first born son” is in the British Museum.
The Fall of Jericho. A Fact (Joshua 6).
Professor J. Garstang’s discoveries.
Moses in Egypt. A. Fact (Gen. and Exod).
The testimony of Dr. A.S. Yahuda, gives abundant proof that whoever wrote Genesis and Exodus knew Egypt throughly and personally. Then there are the Tell-el-Amarna tablets, mentioning cities named in Joshua and showing that the names El an Jehovah were in use.
The Moabite Stone confirms 2 Kings 1-3. Sennacherib’s Cylinder speaks of “Hezekiah” shut up “like a caged bird” in Jerusalem. The black Obelisk mentions “Jehu, the Son of Omri”. So far as N.T. Archaeology is concerned the following are important: (1) The taxation of Luke 2:1-3 is proved to be a fact. (2) Officials and events named by Luke are Facts: (a) Sergius Paulus. (b) The Town Clerk of Ephesus. (c) Politarchs and Asiarchs (Acts 17:6,8; 19:31). (d) The Famine in the days of Claudius. (e) Herod. His reign and death, and its bearing upon the date of the Acts.
Then there is the testimony of the Papyrus. Bishop Lightfoot wrote in 1863:
“If we could only recover letters that ordinary people wrote to each other without any thought of being literary, we should have the greatest possible help for the understanding of the language of the N.T. generally”.
This desire has been answered by the recovery from the sand of Egypt of heaps of papyrus, using the language of the people and of the N.T. and dating from round about the time of the Apostles.
In the ordinary course, questions can be set, knowing that the student has his Bible into which he may search to provide the answers. With archaeology the case is different. Most Bible students have some references, but the ground covered by the subject is vast. We accordingly give a list of some valuable books that should be consulted where possible.
- The New Biblical Guide. Urquhart.
- Ur of the Chaldees. Woolley.
- The Bible and the Monuments. Boscawven.
- Fresh Light from the Ancient Monuments. Sayce.
- Syria and Egypt, the Tell-el-Amarna Tablets. Petrie.
- Light from the Ancient East. Deissmann.
- New Light on the New Testament. Deissmann.
- The Bible and Ancient Manuscripts. Kenyon.
- The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the N.T. Ramsay.
- The New Archaeological Discoveries. Cobern.
By Charles H. Welch / Berean Expositor / London /
The Completeness of Christ in the Old Testament Prophets, in Type and Shadow …
THE BOOK EZEKIEL
The purpose of this study is to get the background to this prophecy and point out one or two peculiarities and of course to see Christ in this prophecy. The name Ezekiel means ‘God is strong’. At the time that this prophecy was written, Israel were in captivity in Babylon and their situation was desperate for these people.
The meaning of this great prophets name, is a reminder to us all that no matter what life throws at us, we have a God who is able to bring us through all our difficulties.
Ezekiel 1:3 tells us that he was a priest. Like Jeremiah he was both priest and prophet. It als records his father’s name, Buzi.
Dr. F. Gardiner points out some very interesting facts regarding Ezekiel.
- The name of Ezekiel’s father, Buzi, is not mentioned again and nothing whatsoever is known of him.
- Although the prophet was in his youth when Jeremiah was prophesying and exercising considerable influence, neither prophet mentions each other in their writings.
- He is never mentioned in any other book of the Old Testament and his writings are never directly quoted in the New Testament.
Daniel and Ezekiel were living and working at the same time, Daniel never mentions him. On the other hand, Dr. Gardiner tells us, Ezekiel speaks of Daniel three times:-
- ‘Though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job … ‘ (Ezek. 14:14).
- ‘Though Noah, Daniel and Job … ‘ (Ezek. 14:20).
- ‘Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee’ (Ezek. 28:3).
During their period of captivity in Babylon, the Jews in part refrained from their evil practices, but not entirely as Ezekiel 33:31-33 clearly shows.
The writings of Ezekiel are a mixture of simple terms easily understood, and very complex visions (Ezek. 1:10,13,16). These are just a random sample of the difficulties in understanding this prophecy. However, our purpose in this study is to see our Lord within these writings.
- ‘And above the firmament that was above their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above it’. (Ezek. 1:26).
Surely the man mentioned upon ‘the throne’ is Christ.
In this book we see many similarities with the book of Revelation. A.M. Hodgkin says that there are over eighty points of reference between the two books. In Ezekiel 1, we see a reference to ‘the bow’.
- ‘As the appearance of the bow that was in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake’. (Ezek. 1:28).
The rainbow contains an unconditional promise not only to His people, but to mankind; a promise which is still evident to this day and will remain so until the end of this age. This unconditional promise was given in the book of Genesis.
- ‘And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth’ (Gen. 9:16).
We see here that the rainbow is first mentioned in Genesis and is mentioned again in the book of the Revelation. A wonderful testimony of the balance and truth in God’s Word, as the rainbow is seen at the beginning of creation in Genesis and still to be seen in Revelation, at the end of this age. (Greek aioon).
- ‘And he that sat was to look upon like jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne … ‘ (Rev. 4:3).
- ‘And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head … ‘ (Rev. 10:1).
In Ezekiel 2:1 we read ‘And said unto me, Son of man … ‘; this usually means just man; ‘He’ must be God who spoke to the prophet. The term ‘Son of man’ according to Dr.F. Gardiner, is never used in an address to a prophet except to Ezekiel and Daniel.
- ‘So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision’ (Dan. 8:17).
In Ezekiel 2:3, Ezekiel, like his coming Messiah, was ‘ … sent to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation … ‘.
Our Lord remained silent to the plea of the woman of Canaan, in Matthew 15:22 and 23, the following verse gives the reason why:
- ‘But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ (Matt. 15:24).
Reading our Lord’s reply to the woman, it seems at odds which the preaching of the church (ecclesia) today.
Again we read:
- ‘These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’. (Matt. 10:5,6).
The reference to John 4:35 seems at variance with the above two references, but there is no contradiction here: a quote from the Companion Bible reads: ‘This does not refer to the present mission field, but to the then expectation of national repentance (on which the glorious harvest was conditional) by the proclamation of the kingdom.
Unfortunately much of the present day theology teaches Israel’s demise and that the church today has spiritualised the position of Israel. This is called ‘replacement theology’ and contradicts the promises given by God, which were unconditional, in the Old Testament. Like the One who was to follow, The Lord Himself, Ezekiel was sent to his own people:
- ‘For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of a hard language, but to the house of Israel’ (Ezek. 3:5)
Coming to Ezekiel 24:24, we come across the phrase ‘Thus Ezekiel is unto you a sign … ‘. The word sign or signs figures greatly in the history of this nation of Israel, for example, the eight signs of John’s gospel. Luke also speaks to Israel of a sign:
- ‘And when the people were gathered thick together, He began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall the Son of man be to this generation’ (Luke 11:29,30).
The history of Israel is a true reflection of the human nature, we find the Old Nature is always alert to come to the surface and must be controlled by the New Nature.
This nation of Israel had blessings and promises beyond our imagination and yet from time to time disobeyed God. Many of us can say that about our own lives. It is a blessing in itself, as one reads, that the ultimate victory and blessings will be ours in Christ Jesus.
As Dr.F. Gardiner points out, Ezekiel 34 begins with the corrupt practices of the leaders of Israel:
- ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat and ye clothe you with wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock’ … (Ezek. 34:2,3).
So the chapter begins with a warning and ends with a blessing:
- ‘And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. Thus shall they know that I their GOD am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the LORD GOD. Any ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the LORD GOD’ (Ezek. 34:29-31).
If we compare these words with those that we find in John’s gospel we can see that the words in Ezekiel are fulfilled in Christ:
- ‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep’ (John. 10:11).
Also, in verse 14 we read:
- ‘I am the good shepherd and know my sheep, and am known of mine’ (John 10:14).
Once again the Old Testament, in this book of Ezekiel points to Christ. (Messiah)!
THE BOOK DANIEL
Here we have a remarkable prophecy, by a remarkable prophet.
No words of criticism are written in Scripture about Daniel, he lived a faithful life in his service for God. Like Noah and Joseph before him, Daniel appears to have been faithful in all things. What a wonderful testimony.
In chapter three we have the first sight of Christ in this prophecy:
- ‘Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God’ (Dan. 3:24:25).
Dr. Bullinger points out, there is no article in the last sentence, and therefore it should be read, ‘a son of God’.
Some early writers say it was Christs, certainly the following references show the angel of God with His people in the wilderness:
- ‘And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel … ‘ (Exod. 14:19).
- ‘Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee … ‘ (Exod. 32:34).
- ‘And I will send an angel before thee … ‘ (Exod. 33:2).
However, the book of Isaiah clearly prophecies His presence to His people:
- ‘When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee’ (Isa. 43:2).
Coming to Daniel chapter 5, we read of Belshazzar and his way of life. What a lesson to all who pursue their own ways and ignore God, not realizing their very existence lies in His infinite mercy to all:
- ‘ … and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified’ (Dan. 5:23).
The sustainer of life is of course Christ. A wonderful type of Christ is seen here in the midst of all the debauchery that was going on.
In this chapter we have the death of Belshazzar, the manner of his death is unknown, apart from that we read in verse thirty:
- ‘In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain’ (Dan. 5:30).
Chapter six is remarkable, it demonstrates to us all the faithfulness of Daniel and the way in which God supervisies and overrules those things regarding His Will and Purposes.
We see here the high position Daniel held in Babylon:
- ‘It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first … then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm’ (Dan. 6:1-3).
Like Joseph before him, Daniel found favour with the king, and the king purposed to make Daniel the principal ruler over the land. Only Darius would be superior to him. The position of Daniel caused much jealousy and others sought their opportunity to disgrace him before the king. Their opportunity came when they got the king to agree that anyone who would, ‘ … ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions … ‘ (Dan. 6:7).
The king agreed to this petition and signed it. Once the edict was signed there was nothing anyone could do to alter it, including Darius himself. This unalterable will, which had been signed, reminds one of the Galatian will:
- ‘Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or added thereto’ (Gal. 3:15).
The decree that had been signed by Darius forbad worship for thirty days, unless that worship was to the king. Daniel refused to worship the king.
As Christians we are all subjects to the laws of the land, but like Daniel, if these laws violate the laws of God, we are free to disobey them.
Looking at the principle that; when a law or a will is signed, it is valid for the period to which it refers, and is irreversible. What a comfort this is for the believer. Once we are saved, that salvation is for all time, not as some teach, that our salvation can be lost. At least one verse of Scripture comes to mind which will confirm this fact:
- ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me: And I will give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand’ (John. 10:27,28).
This is a vital doctrine; and ensures one’s salvation.
Dr. Bullinger points out that Darius was also called Astyages, and more importantly, Ahasuerus, who was the husband of Esther, the Jewess. (Esther 1:1 and Esther 2:15-17).
This is another study in itself (see app. 57 in the Companion Bible). http://www.levendwater.org
When Daniel was put into the lions’ den, for not worshipping king Darius, we see a wonderful type of Christ. Daniel 6 records what happened next to Daniel.
- ‘Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel’ (Dan. 6:16,17).
Was Darius convinced that God would deliver Daniel? See verse 16.
We see a wonderful parallel with our Lord. The Jewish authorities were convinced that the disciples would steal the body of Christ after His death, as Christ had predicted that He would rise again after three days. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone and setting a watch’ (Matt. 27:66).
No matter what man does, the purpose of God will be carried out. As we have already seen, Daniel was a remarkable man, with a remarkable prophecy. Reading the many complex chapters in this book, referring to the end times and the timing of these prophecies, is a matter of further study, but in the midst of the writings we get a glimpse of our Lord. In Daniel 9:23 we read ‘ … for thou art greatly beloved … ‘ this is referring to Daniel.
- ‘Ant it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized of John in Jordan … And there came a voice from heaven saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’ (Mark 1:9-11).
This shows the character and faithfulness of Daniel, he too was recognised as a man greatly beloved.
The Rev. H.Deane B.D. says of the above quotation from Daniel 9:23, ‘It implies that Daniel was worthy of this proof of God’s love.
THE BOOK HOSEA
Hosea was the son of Beeri and from every indication he prophesied in the Northern Kingdom.
His personal life reflected the relationship between God and His people Israel. This was a time of disobedience, heartbreak and forgiveness.
His wife was Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, apparently her past full of infidelities.
The long prophecy of Hosea was one of sadness. The instructions God gave to Hosea are recorded at the beginning of the book.
- ‘ … Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD’ (Hosea 1:2).
Gomer must not have been married beforehand, or she would have been put to death according to the law. She was obviously one who was living a life of licentiousness.
It is noteworthy that three children were born to Hosea and Gomer, there two sons and a daughter. The names were as follows:
‘Jezreel’ – The coming judgement, or God will sow. ‘Lo-ru-ha-mah’ Unloved or perhaps unpitied, can also mean not compassionated. ‘Lo-Ammi’ – Not my people (Prof. Whitehead).
Dr. Bullinger interprets this word Gomer as an idolatress. Dr. Campbell Morgan says: ‘Hosea was looking back at the end of his ministry. On reflection Hosea was commanded by God to marry Gomer and that God knew the possibilities in the heart of Gomer and of her future conduct, which was unfaithful, like Israel’s conduct with God‘.
This word whoredom or whore is used at least sixteen times in this book. Israel was likened to a wife to God. In Jeremiah 3:1,2 and Ezekiel 16:17-32 we get the words ’eminent place’, vv. 24 and 31. Eminent places – Brothels – Companion Bible.
The nation of Israel is likened to an unfaithful wife. Unfaithful – to deal treacherously, to deceive. In Hosea chapter 1 we read:
- ‘So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son’ (Hosea 1:3).
‘Gomer’ – complete or perfect, but whether in extreme beauty or in wickedness of character is not easy to determine (Dr. W. H. Reynolds and Prof. Whitehouse).
‘Diblaim’ – a double cake of figs, symbolic of sensual pleasure (Companion Bible).
Without labouring the point, we can see the background of Gomer and her extreme behaviour. Hosea 1:3,4 promises the coming judgment of the house of Israel.
Hosea 1:10,11. This particular prophecy is quoted and referred to in the following. Romans 9:25,26 and 1 Peter 2:10. Reading these verses we see a time when Israel were rejected by God for their repeated disobedience, but this will only be for a time:
- ‘Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy’ (1 Peter 2:10).
Hosea 3:4. This verse refers to Israel, ‘ … shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince … ‘. Although this is representative of the state of Israel at this time, it is also prophetic of our Lord.
In John 1 we read the following:
‘Nathaniel saith unto him, Whence knoweth thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathaniel answered and said unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel’ (John 1:48,49). ‘And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS’ (Rev. 19:16).
Isaiah gives us many titles of our Lord:
- ‘ … and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, the mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6).
Just like Isaiah, Hosea gives our Lord these many titles which the Lord fulfills in the New Testament:
- ‘Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins’ (Acts 5:31).
Hosea speaks of the resurrection, not only of themselves, but a reference to the coming Messiah. This is disputed by some scholars, saying it has no connection with the resurrection of Christ, but purely to the resurrection of the nation:
- ‘After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight’ (Hosea 6:2).
Surely this wording must also refer to the resurrection of Christ, see 1 Corinthians 15:20.
To quote Dr. Bullinger – ‘Referring to the yet future resurrection of the new Israel, which will thus resemble the resurrection of Christ’.
The country of Egypt plays a very significant part in the purposes of God and we see from various references in the Scriptures the truth of that statement. Not only Joseph took refuge in Egypt, but our Lord Himself:
- ‘When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night and departed into Egypt: … that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son’ (Matt. 2:14,15).
There are similarities how Egypt, especially through Joseph, was used to preserve the people of Israel. Joseph was the great type of Christ, ‘and Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt … ‘ (Gen. 41:46).
The high office Joseph rose to in Egypt enabled him to protect his people. It is interesting to read that Joseph was thirty years old at this time. Our Lord began his ministry about the same age:
- ‘And Jesus himself began to about thirty years of age … ‘ (Luke 3:23).
Exodus bears record how God used Egypt to preserve His people:
- ‘Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt’ (Exodus 12:40,41).
At the close of his book, Hosea records two very important truths:
- ‘Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me’ (Hosea 13:4).
- ‘And behold, thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS’ (Saviour) (Luke 1:31).
The book of Acts records it in the following way:
- ‘Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12).
The second great truth that Hosea records, is the final victory we have in Christ:
- ‘I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction … ‘ (Hosea 13:14).
Hosea points us directly to the victory we have in Christ,
- ‘ … Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’ (1 Corinthians 15:54,55).
From all the heartache which Hosea experienced, with an unfaithful wife and the unfaithfulness of his nation to God, he could write these eternal truths in Christ.
How accurate and reliable is this precious word of God!
Vereniging Messias Belijdende Joden:
Na de nacht komt ook de dag
Lectuur voor Bijbelstudie:
The God of Israel will not allow an Arab State in Judea and Samaria
Eye to Eye – facing the consequences of Dividing Israel
Gerard J.C. Plas