In Part 1 of this series, we looked at some of the unique aspects of the Bible, including some of the physical details and authorship. We find that dozens of authors contributed to the recorded word, yet the closer we scrutinize what has been written, it becomes quite apparent that there was really only one author, the Holy Spirit of God, who literally breathed God’s words to us. This is why there is no other book on earth like the Bible. It is divinely inspired, and, regardless of its critics, it is inerrant. In Part 2 of this series, I would like to show some things that are so stunning they are hard to ignore, once recognized.
In our generation, we are blessed to be able to draw from the years of study by many Bible scholars. Men like George Pember, Finis Dake, Dr. Michael Lake, Perry Stone, and last in this very abbreviated list, but certainly not least, Dr. Chuck Missler. The prophet Daniel prophesied hundreds of years before the life of Christ, that there would be an explosion of knowledge in the generation just prior to the return of the Messiah. The explosion of knowledge does not just include secular, scientific, and technological knowledge, but a great increase in the knowledge and understanding of the Word of God. We are that generation!
The Bible has proven to be so detailed and precise that we clearly cannot ignore the passages that tend to be less interesting. The reason is, God has hidden intricate, precise details in the narrative that could only have been put there by someone outside of our time domain. One such narrative is the entire fifth chapter of Genesis.
As most will probably already know, the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew. The ancient Hebrew text, however, differs from the newer version. It is not important to explain the differences between the two at this time, but some unique facts about Hebrew will be valuable at this point. In the original Hebrew, each symbol had more than just a sound, but also had a meaning. Each letter of the language had more than just a phonetic sound, it expressed something specific. This is the case with the names of the ten men that have been given to us in Genesis 5, in order to provide us the genealogy between Adam and Noah. Those names, and their meanings in Hebrew are:
Adam: Man (is)
Kenan: Sorrow (but)
Mahalalel: The blessed God
Jared: Shall come down
Methuselah: His death shall bring
Lamech: The Despairing
Noah: Comfort, Rest
So, if we read these names in order starting with the meaning for “Adam”, adding two connector words, it reads: “Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching, His death shall bring the despairing comfort, rest.” One cannot help but ask: Who could have managed to put something like this together, using the genealogy of these ten Biblical characters, and in this order? A group of rabbis would not, nor could they do so! The death spoken of with Methuselah’s name speaks not only of the death of Methuselah himself, but more importantly the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, more than 2,000 years later! What we find embedded in this genealogy is the summary of the New Testament gospel, and it is in the Torah! It goes to prove that God had the solution for man’s fall in the Garden of Eden planned long before creation itself. Let’s look at two Scriptures that speak to this:
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 1:3-5)
…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who rak\ised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21)
An interesting side-note concerning Methuselah is that he, as the oldest man who ever lived, died at 969 years old within the last seven days prior to the Great Flood. Mankind had been receiving prophetic warnings about this flood for four generations before it actually happened. Enoch, Methuselah’s father, the seventh from Adam, began warning the world that it was coming during his lifetime, and then it was continued by his descendants; the prophecy being fulfilled in the lifetime of his great grandson, the prophet Noah.
There is an Old Testament passage that has always been viewed as stranger than most. It is found in the 21st chapter of the Book of Numbers. The passage reads like this:
Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” so Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. (verses 4-9)
This is an account of one of the many times that the Hebrew people had rebelled against God and his prophet Moses. In this passage they expressed their distrust, not only of Moses, but also of God Himself. They were often guilty of murmuring against God as they wandered through the Arabian desert, but this incident was significant. Even though God had seen to it that this huge multitude of people and all of their animals were fed and watered, they accused God of abandoning them without provisions. They especially hated the manna which God supernaturally provided for them on a daily basis.
To get their attention, God sent “fiery” serpents (which along with scorpions were common in that desert, Deuteronomy 8:15) into the camp of the Israelites and they began biting the people, killing quite a number of them. This quickly brought about a turnaround in the attitudes of the people and they begged Moses to intercede for them so that the LORD would stop the plague of serpents. This is where the storyline becomes pretty strange. The LORD told Moses to have a brass serpent made up and mount it on a pole high enough that all can see it. Those that had been bitten should look up at the brass serpent, and they would not die of the snakebite.
There are many spiritual lessons to be gleaned from this passage of Scripture, but what we do not find, is why a brass fiery serpent mounted on a pole was used as a remedy for this plague. Not one Old Testament Scripture makes reference to this event. We could suggest that maybe brass was used because of its ability to withstand fire…or we might recognize the fact that brass is an expression of judgment, or any number of things, but we would be guessing at best.
Many commentators have suggested that this pole-mounted brass fiery snake was kept in the camp of the Israelites from that time on, but we do not have proof of this, other than a suggestion in 2 Kings 18:4 that the Israelites were burning incense to it. According to this passage, the brass snake became a nemesis during King Hezekiah’s reign:
He (Hezekiah) was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the LORD God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. (verses 2-5)
The Israelites had many kings that did evil in the sight of God, but Hezekiah was not one of them. In fact, Hezekiah had a distinction that few other kings had. The passage above tells us that he did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done. Hezekiah not only got rid of the idols of false worship within Jerusalem, but he also got rid of the places of pagan worship on the hillsides. While clearing out all of the different types of idols, etc., he found it necessary to take the brass fiery serpent that Moses had made centuries earlier, and completely destroy it! He did this because people were burning incense to it, and instead of worshipping God who sent intervention through the brass serpent, they were worshipping the brass serpent itself.
Why was this particular story emphasized in Scripture? There are many “types” or “shadows” imbedded within Scripture for a reason. 1 Corinthians 10:11 explains:
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
This is exactly what we have with the Old Testament brazen serpent. It is however not in the Old Testament that we find our explanation; it is in the New Testament. We find Jesus referring to this Old Testament brazen serpent in John 3:
No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (verses 13-17)
With the explanation Jesus gave in John 3, we now understand the significance of the brass serpent in Numbers 21. The Israelites were being judged for their rebellion. Their rebellion, which is a representation of sin, had a death penalty to it. The intervention God provided only required them to look up to the provision from heaven, and they would not die of the snakebites. It is easy to see the correlation for us in our day. We have been bitten by the snake as well, and without an intervention from God, the poisonous bite from the snake would condemn us for eternity. The Bible calls this the second death…a death from which there is no resurrection or remedy. Jesus took the form of the brass serpent by taking upon Himself the sin of the entire human race. But, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus, He, the Son of Man would be lifted upon the pole, or cross, and thereby would provide the intervention that only God Himself could supply.
As we examine the story from the Old Testament, and then put it alongside the explanation given in the New Testament to Nicodemus, one cannot help but recognize once again the absolute “Infallible Word of God.”
As we continue our discussion on the the preciseness of the Word of God, I would like to examine a debate Jesus had with the religious leaders of His day. I have always been intrigued by the conversations between Jesus and the religious hierarchy He was so often confronted by. Sometimes the conversations were based on genuine questions from the heart, as was the case with Nicodemus in John 3. Most of the time however, these men were trying to lay traps for Him in order to find something that they could accuse Him of. It didn’t really matter too much which town He was ministering in, He was bound to be challenged, but the closer He was to Jerusalem with its temple and priesthood, the more volatile the attacks became. The religious leaders were so jealous of Him, in fact, that even after they watched Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, they made plans as to how they could kill Him!
All of them, the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and Herodians, were part of the religious establishment who wanted to bring Jesus down. They questioned his miracles; they questioned the actions of His disciples; and they questioned his authority to do and say what He did. They had become so jealous because of the following Jesus had that they became completely blinded to the fact that this truly was the promised Messiah! As well as these men knew the Torah and the Old Testament prophets, they should have recognized Him. God had provided hundreds of intricate details to describe the coming of the Messiah, details and foreshadowings so exact, that there could be only one candidate who fit the Old Testament qualifications. Unfortunately, they were blinded by their own twisted religious envy.
Jesus became involved in quite a debate with these men, and it started in Matthew 21. By the time the confrontation in chapter 22 came about, the situation was already pretty tense. Jesus had just entered the city of Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey. The crowds did not miss the Messianic claim on the part of Jesus by this action. This is what caused them to greet Him with palm branches and their clothing laid out on the road before Him as He rode into the city, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest! (Matthew 21:9) As this caused the people to wonder at His identity, it also caused the jealousy and anger to be intensified in the chief priests and scribes. Then He went into the Temple courts and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, saying: “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’, but you have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:13) Finding themselves on the defense, they challenged Jesus, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” (Matthew 21:23). At this point, the great debate only intensified.
Jesus proceeded to question them about where John the Baptist’s baptism came. The leaders of course didn’t want to answer this because they did not receive John as a prophet of God, but the crowds of people did, and they did not want to lose the support of the people. In the latter portion of Matthew 21 Jesus told two parables that the Scribes and Pharisees also did not take as complimentary of their position; parables intended to reveal the fact that His rejection by the Scribes and Pharisees was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. As far as they were concerned, He had really gone too far now! They must now attempt to discredit Him in before the people. This then was the tense setting in Matthew 22 where Jesus quoted the first verse of Psalm 110 and then asked them a very loaded question:
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies your footstool”’? “If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.
The passage Jesus was referring to was the first verse of Psalm 110, but I have included all seven verses of the psalm for the sake of context.
The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies your footstool.” The LORD shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! Your people shall be volunteers in the day of your power; in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of your youth. The LORD has sworn and will not relent, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” The Lord is at Your right hand; He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath. He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill the places with dead bodies, He shall execute the heads of many countries. He shall drink of the brook by the wayside; therefore He shall lift up the head.
Let’s take a look at what is really being said in the first verse of Psalm 110. “The LORD” is referring to “YHVH” (the Almighty). “The Lord” on the other hand was referring to “Adonai”, the word for Lord. What made this a real difficulty for the religious leaders was a little mark in the original Hebrew called a “yot”. Most looking at the Hebrew text would dismiss it as a blemish or even an apostrophe on the paper, but it was in reality one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. That little “yot” is what makes King David’s claim in verse 1, possessive…”The Almighty said to my Adonai…Sit at my right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
The religious leaders and elders of the people well knew that Adonai was referring to the Messiah. They had that entire psalm memorized and knew exactly what it said. They knew several things for sure:
- David is the author of the psalm
- What David wrote was divinely inspired by the Almighty
- David was not writing, just about any king, but about the Messiah, who was to be his son and Lord.
Jesus was not teaching anything new with these three points. They already knew this. What was obvious to those of that day, but not so obvious to us, is a word that is used in the original. The Hebrew word, ne’um, is a reference to a divine oracle. The word was used in almost every instance of the immediate utterance of God Himself. In other words, “The oracle of Yahweh to my Lord.” This validates the next words as God’s direct message to His King.
What Jesus said about this psalm was not a surprise to anyone in His audience. They, too, believed David was the psalm’s author, that he wrote by inspiration, and that he spoke of Messiah. What the religious leaders were unwilling to admit was that David’s Lord was both divine and human, that Messiah was both David’s Sovereign as well as his son, or descendant. In spite of what they did not want to admit, they knew that the 110th psalm of David was a psalm of the coming Messiah. They also knew that from verse 4-7, the Almighty had made an oath to his Messiah.
Micah 5:2 also spoke to the coming Messiah with these words:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”
If the Scribes, Pharisees, and the others were to admit that Jesus was in fact the Messiah, they would have to admit that He was also GOD. This is exactly what this passage in Micah was saying. Another very powerful Scripture is one commonly known by many Christians. It is found in Isaiah 9:6-7:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
You notice that this Child was, among other things, to be called Mighty God and Everlasting Father. You also notice that the Messiah’s throne would be set upon the throne of David. The passage also makes a point of saying that a Child is born, which is human, and then a Son is given, which can only be divine! Again, in order to truly accept what Jesus was saying as He directed the religious leaders to Psalm 110, they would have to admit that He was in fact GOD, creator of their beloved King David! They weren’t about to do so, and ended up screaming for His crucifixion that very week!
In conclusion for Part 2 of our subject, I would like to make reference to one more Scripture. It is found in Matthew 5:17-18, which will remind us again about the reality of the preciseness of the Bible.
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
In Western vernacular, instead of saying “one jot or one tittle”, we would say “one dot of an ‘i’ or one crossing of a “t”. God’s Word is absolutely precise in what it says. It is infallible, and there is no other Book like it anywhere!
To be continued in Part 3