Often, those who report on international events and politics are called spin doctors because they measure their message according to what they think people want to hear.
But a true prophet speaks a message of truth, truth that does not bow to the pressure of politics or what people want to hear.
This is the kind of message that Isaiah spoke.
Is the Bible True?
- Still, is the Bible relevant, considering how old it is and how different our cultures are today, worldwide, as compared with the cultures in which the Bible was originally written?
- Is truth itself absolute, as the prophets of old claimed, or is truth relative, as our culture claims?
- And there are so many interpretations, and translations!
- How can a person know that they are really reading God’s word anymore, especially when one is not able to read the original Greek, or Hebrew, or Aramaic?
- How many errors have crept into the texts, after several thousand years?
These are legitimate questions.
More than anything else, the Bible is God’s revelation of God to human beings with one consistent message, the story of redemption, the God Who is holy, but also Who saves.
The core canon of the Christian Bible contains sixty-six books that were written by forty different people, but were inspired by only one Person, God, through the agency of God’s Holy Spirit. God is the same God, therefore we find that God wrote the same story throughout the entire Bible, from Hebrew through to the Christian Testament.
God guided all those whose work was recognized and received as scripture, down through the millennia. As the apostle Peter explained,
First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.2 Peter 1:20-21 (NRSV)
The Apostle Paul put it another way.
From childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:15-17 (NRSV)
The imagery both Peter and Paul leave us with is someone swept up by the Spirit, so in tune with the Lord in those moments, they were able to write from that divine perspective, in however limited a way in their own style, language, personality and culture. It is what makes the sacred writings different from other literature, for we accept they were written through that inspiration.
We must also accept this divine inspiration in a now long-forgotten group of exiled scholars who realized that, bereft of Zion, of Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, the looting and destruction of the temple, and exiled even from the land, their inheritance from God, the people literally had nothing left.
Except for the chronicles, prayers, songs, and ancient stories that had been rescued from Israel and Judah.
Swept up in the Spirit, guided and inspired by God, this group of scribes and Levitical families carefully pieced together the whole of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah (also called the Pentateuch, or the Books of Moses), the Chronicles of the Kings, the Psalms and wisdom literature, and the prophets. Everything that had been gathered and preserved by the people throughout their history as special, as from the Lord.
Character of the Bible
Because the scriptures are considered the written record of revelation about and from God, we rest on the assurance that it is true.
As the writer of the Proverb says,
Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in the hollow of the hand?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is the person’s name?
And what is the name of the person’s child?
Surely you know!
Every word of God proves true;Proverbs 30:4-6 (NRSV)
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
or else he will rebuke you, and you will be found a liar.
If we accept that statement at face value, then we read the scriptures, the Bible, as being consistent, that scripture will not contradict itself. We make an effort to understand passages that seem to conflict with each other, since we presume the consistency will be there to discover.
Now some of you might be saying to yourselves “But that is internal proof. What about external proof, does that exist?”
The events described in Isaiah all happened in the context of history. This account is not legend or mythology, it is a documentary of events that really happened in fulfillment of prophecies that Isaiah made before those events occurred.
What is more, the Lord Jesus Christ also held to the trustworthiness of the scriptures, as seen throughout the Gospels.
Each of the gospels are also eyewitness accounts to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The resurrection alone, another proven fact of history, gives the Bible its credentials as a divine document.
Purpose of Scripture
God has a purpose in giving us the scriptures. Throughout the Bible God promises to work through the written record of God’s revelation to accomplish God’s purposes. That purpose is to draw you and me to the person of Jesus Christ, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “the sacred writings… are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Here is what Isaiah said
The grass withers, the flower fades;Isaiah 40:8 (NRSV)
but the word of our God will stand forever.
The word of God is both reliable and eternal with a message of hope for today.
Dead Sea Scrolls
One day about seventy years ago, when a young shepherd boy was out with his goats in the hills of Palestine, he idly began to chuck rocks down the hole of a cave. But instead of a thud, he heard a a musical tinkling sound instead. Determined to find out what was making that intriguing noise, he made the find of the century: The Dead Sea Scrolls.
And the greatest find among those ancient leather, papyrus, and copper manuscripts was the Scroll of Isaiah. Measuring seventeen sheets of parchment, twenty-four feet long, and over ten inches high, it dated to the second century BC.
It is the oldest known complete manuscript of a Hebrew Testament book!
This ancient scroll agrees in almost every respect with the texts used to translate what you and I hold in our hands today. Two thousand and two hundred years old. How could they not have crumbled? God saved it to speak answers, warnings, comfort and hope into your life and mine as we study it together.
God preserved this so that we would know the Lord, and know what is coming.
These ancient words are not spin! We may cringe, cry, or crumple. Alternatively, we may leap for joy, and be transported in spiritual fervor. But I doubt Isaiah will leave you and me unchanged.