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The Bible SUPERSTITION OR AUTHORITY?

 

by Herbert W. Armstrong
Why is the world's best selling book held in awe by some, in passive discredit by others, and understood by virtually none?

WHY the Book of mystery nobody seems to know? Why do the many churches of traditional Christianity disagree about what the Bible says?

Have you ever PROVED whether, as the book itself purports, it is the authoritative Word of the Creator God? Rather, have you not simply assumed, from what you have heard, read or been taught, that it is either authentic, or else the religious writing of a small ancient Jewish race, groping in the darkness of human ignorance and of superstition, trying to develop a concept of God?

If you are college or university educated, you have undoubtedly been taught that humanity originated through the theoretical process called evolution. But the educated of this world in nearly all cases have been taught only one side of the subject of origins -- the theory of evolution. On the contrary most of those lacking higher education in the United States "Bible Belt," for example, have been taught only, and accepted without PROOF, the teaching that the Bible is indeed the very Word of God.

A world famous evangelist has confessed publicly that he accepted the authority of the Bible without having seen it proved. Even though he had seen no real proof that the Bible is the authentic word of God, he had decided to accept it as such on sheer faith. But the Bible quotes God as saying: "Prove me now herewith ..." and again: "Prove all things." This evangelist apparently accepted the authority of the Bible because he had "accepted Christ" and at the same time blindly accepted what those humans who led him into the acceptance of Christ themselves accepted.

Isn't it about time -- and the point of rational wisdom, that you PROVE this important question once and for all? Because, IF the Bible is in fact the inspired authentic Word of a living, all knowing, all powerful God, then your eternity will be judged by it.

 

I Faced This Same Question

In the year of 1926, at age 34, I personally was faced with this question. I was challenged on both evolution and belief in God and the Bible. I was brought to realize that I had simply assumed, without proof, that a Creator God exists and that evolution was not the true explanation of origins. Both my marriage and my business life were at stake.

I realized I had made no in-depth study and research into either side of the question. The stakes were high. I delved into the most serious study and thorough research of my life. First I pursued thoroughly the works of Darwin, Haeckel, Huxley, Vogt and Chamberlin, and even of Lamarck before Darwin. Their works were learned, thought-provoking, although theoretical, and soon my head was swimming. I felt my mental underpinnings slipping away. I was confused. I realized that, though I had been reared in a family that had been of the Protestant faith for generations, I had simply ASSUMED, because of Sunday School upbringing, that God exists. Now it appeared evident, IF evolution be true, the existence of God was a myth. I had to be sure. I could no longer carelessly assume.

On the one hand studies in evolution shook my faith in God and the Bible. But in studying H.G. Wells' book, "The Outline of History", I noticed such statements in accepting the evolutionary theory as, "Scientific men have discussed the possibility of life ..." but they point merely to questionable possibilities. "They consider" thus and so. "Astronomers give us convincing reasons for supposing ..." "We do not know how life began upon the earth." "Probably the earliest forms of life were ..." "They must have appeared ..." "Speculations about geologic time vary enormously ..." "There seems to be ..." "The first jelly-like beginnings of life must have perished ..."

I was amazed! Here is an accepted book based on evolution. But expressions like "the possibility," "they consider," "convincing reasons for supposing," "we do not know," "probably," "they must have," "speculations about," abound. Mr. Wells and the scientists did not seem to be SURE!

Then I looked into the Bible, discredited as it is by those who believe what they may suppose, what they do not know, what may well have been, etc., And in the Bible I found definite, positive statements expressed as in AUTHORITY. For example, in Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." No "may have created." Or "we do not know how the earth came." No "we may well suppose." No theories. Just the authoritative positive statement, "God created ...." Then verse 3: "And God said, Let there be light, and there was light." Not "perhaps," not "we may well suppose," but " ... there was light." A definite, positive statement of AUTHORITY. All the way through the Bible I found it to be POSITIVE, definite, authoritative! The Bible claims to be the SURE Word of God. It is not unsure! It is not speculative.

Then in its chapter of origins, in Genesis, it explains definitely with authority how man originated, how the first man made a decision on which human civilization has been built -- and it gives the only possible explanation of WHY we live today in a world of awesome materialistic progress and accomplishment, paradoxically with appalling and escalating evils. Evolution has no explanation and no solution to offer. The Bible has both.

Evolution gives no explanation of why humans exist on earth -- of the present paradox of mounting evils accompanying awesome progress -- no hope for the future of a world falling apart, about to destroy itself with the nuclear weapons of mass destruction. No explanation of the cause of the appalling evils and the hopeless future staring so many youths in the face today. The Bible explains it all. It reveals the causes, the present effects, and the tremendous PURPOSE being worked out here below.

Yes, but how do we KNOW, definitely, whether the Bible revelations are in fact TRUE? Personally I had to be SURE. I proved the existence of God to my satisfaction, and I PROVED the authenticity and authority of the Bible. That was satisfying to me beyond words. But YOU! You have a mind of your own. You will be held responsible for how you analyze it. That is YOUR problem and not mine. I can only share with you what I have learned and proved, and you must be responsible for YOUR decisions.

 

It Dares to Foretell the Future!

Here is a book -- the Holy Bible -- that dares to write out the future history of this world in advance -- that dares to prophesy what is actually going to happen within 15 or 20 years to specific nations, including Russia, the British Commonwealth, China, the United States, Italy, Turkey, Ethiopia, and many others -- most of the major nations of this world.

But would you believe it if I told you what this book predicts? If I told you what it predicts about your nation? Would you believe it?

You know, we have gotten away from believing that the Bible means what it says. We may not be ATHEISTS. We may not ridicule the Holy Bible. But we are living now in an age of SKEPTICISM. We are living in an age of doubt.

Most highly educated people, and men of science, assume that the Bible is not the infallible revelation of a supernatural God, and they assume this WITHOUT THE SCIENTIFIC PROOF that they demand on material questions.

Most fundamentalist believers assume, on sheer faith, never having seen proof, that the Holy Bible is the very Word of God. Very few people have stopped to prove whether or not the Bible is really the inspired Word of God. Very few people TREMBLE before what it says or regard it as having REAL AUTHORITY.

 

How Could You Prove It?

Some people seem to think that Jesus' miracles were recorded to prove his divine Messiahship. But the skeptics don't believe those miracles ever occurred.

Some people will say answered prayer is the proof of inspiration. But the skeptic has had no prayers answered. He doesn't believe that anybody ELSE has.

There is, however, one source of irrefutable PROOF!

The Bible itself purports to be the infallible, divine revelation of truth, revealed by the very Creator and Divine Ruler of the entire universe. In your Bible, One is quoted, claiming that HE is God, speaking in the first person, saying that he can make and unmake nations, that he can carry out his judgments over millenniums of time, claiming that he can foretell infallibly the future of cities and empires, but that no MAN can.

 

TAUNTING the Skeptics

WHO IS this, quoted as saying, "I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand"? One is quoted saying those very words in Isaiah 46:9-10.

Who is this claiming to foretell the future? Is it merely some ignorant, ancient human with no power to make good his boast, who wrote this blistering challenge to the skeptics, recorded in Isaiah 41:21-23? -- "Now, the Eternal cries, bring your case forward, now, Jacob's King cries, state your proofs."

Yes, state your PROOFS! "Let us hear what has happened in the past, that we may ponder it, or show me what is yet to be, that we may watch how it turn out; yes, let us hear what is COMING, that we may be sure that you are gods; come, do something or other that we may marvel at the sight! -- why, you are things of naught, you can do nothing at all!" (Moffatt translation).

There is the taunt of the One quoted as being God, and quoted in the first person, taunting skeptics, saying, "Why, you're nothing at all. Come on! Let's hear your arguments that we may watch whether it turns out. Predict what is going to happen in the future, and let us watch and see whether you can foretell. Have you the power to bring it about? Are you a God? Do you rule the universe? Can you make and unmake nations? Can you pronounce a sentence or a decree on a nation, and bring it to PASS?" That is the taunt of the God of the Bible to the doubter.

 

Prophecy is a PROOF of God

Prophecy is a proof of divine revelation! If One, in the Bible, speaking and claiming to be God, can make prophecies and tell what is going to happen in the future to nations, to cities, to empires, then if it actually happens in every case, and without a miss, you'll know that was a real God speaking.

But, if it were some person writing this, some human mortal writing in ignorance, groping in superstition, making great boasts, and claiming that he could foretell what was going to happen to proud cities, to nations, to great empires, and then it never happens, you know that that man was merely writing make-believe out of his own imagination.

Yes, prophecy is a proof of God, a proof of the divine revelation of the Bible. Prophecy is a taunting challenge that the skeptic dares not accept!

History shows human civilization started with the development of a few single cities -- Babylon, Nineveh and others. These city-states developed into the earliest nations -- Assyria, Egypt, Israel, Phoenicia, Chaldea, etc. Then, about the 7th century B.C., the first empire over nations was formed by the ancient king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon -- the Chaldean Empire. About 604-585 B.C. the Chaldean armies invaded and took captive the Jews in the land of Judea. Among these Jewish captives, removed from their land and deported to Babylon and Chaldea, was a very brilliant Jewish lad named Daniel.

 

Prophecy Concerning Judah

There is one prophecy concerning the Jewish people, that they were to be invaded and conquered, driven out of their own land and would be punished for a period of 2,520 years. (See Leviticus 26:14-39 and, for a full explanation, write for our free book "The United States and Britain in Prophecy".) Now, put that together with other prophecies such as Haggai 2:20-22. Exactly 2,520 years from the time that they were invaded and the land of Palestine was given over to King Nebuchadnezzar in 604 B.C. the very nation to whom that land was deeded by God Almighty took possession of it.

That nation was not the Jewish people, but birthright people who descended from Abraham. The birthright means right of birth, and includes the possession of the land, that is, it includes material resources and possessions. The possession of the land that God promised to Abraham was handed on to Isaac, Abraham's son, and then to Jacob. And then Jacob, just before he died, and when his eyes were so dim with age that he couldn't see, reached out and conferred that same birthright, including the possession of the land of Palestine, not upon Judah, the father of the Jews, but upon Ephraim, and together with him his brother Manasseh, both sons of Joseph.

Joseph was one of the 12 sons of the ancient patriarch Jacob, who was renamed Israel. Usually you don't hear of any tribe of Joseph because Joseph was given a double portion. And his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, each became a tribe. And so, rather, you usually read of the tribe of Ephraim and the tribe of Manasseh. When the name Joseph is occasionally used, it includes the two tribes.

 

How Prophecy Was Fulfilled

Ephraim was made the chief birthright holder. And so, 2,520 years from 604 B.C. Ephraim was to take Palestine again counting 2,520 years from 604 B.C. brings us to A.D. 1917.

When it comes to translating time and getting down to an exact day of the year 2,520 years after Nebuchadnezzar came down to Jerusalem and Palestine was surrendered to him, the Bible gives us the date in terms of the Hebrew calendar. That calendar is set up according to the new moons, with every month being 30 or 29 days. Today we're living under what we call the Roman calendar or, as it was slightly altered by Pope Gregory, the Gregorian calendar. Actually, it is a pagan Roman calendar. The Roman calendar is all that most of us know because we've been born in a world that uses that calendar and no other.

A certain date according to the Hebrew calendar, will coincide with a certain date on the Roman calendar one year, but the next year will be about 11 days earlier, or maybe about 18 days later in the year, because the Hebrew calendar -- sometimes called the sacred calendar, which came from God -- goes according to the moon and runs in 19-year cycles. The Roman calendar by contrast was concocted by men who tried to make it come out right every year, and they've never been able to make it do that!

So, when it comes to translating a certain prophesied date recorded in the Hebrew calendar (in this case the 24th day of the 9th month -- see Haggai 2:20-22) to a date in 1917 according to the Roman calendar, it takes some effort to figure. I found the Hebrew date corresponded to December 9, 1917, which was 2,520 years from the time Nebuchadnezzar accepted the formal surrender of the Jews in 604 B.C.

I looked and found that the Turks, who are gentiles even though they, in part, descend from Esau, Jacob's brother, possessed Palestine in 1917. Esau, remember, anciently possessed the birthright from Abraham through Isaac, but sold it for a bowl of red soup when he was hungry. The Turks surrendered Palestine to the British, on, what date? I had heard, and it had been published that the date was December 11, 1917. December 11, 1917, I found, on further investigation, was merely the date on which General Allenby and his army made their triumphal march into the city of Jerusalem. But it was two days before, on December 9, that the Turks made the surrender.

That prophecy was fulfilled down to the very day, December 9. And it was on the equivalent date, in 604 B.C., 2,520 years before, six centuries before the birth of Christ, that the Jews formally surrendered Jerusalem and Palestine to the gentiles from Babylon. God Almighty has been able to keep his prophecies.

(For the evidence of who the birthright people are in prophecy, see our free book
"The United States and Britain in Prophecy".)

At this point I want to give you a prophecy from the book of Daniel, which, in itself, is one of the strongest proofs of the inspiration of the Bible.

 

Revealed to Daniel

This prophecy was written some 500 years before the birth of Christ. Could any man have written this prophecy and made it come to pass? Could any man foresee in advance that the events in this prophecy were going to happen? This prophecy, the longest in all the Bible, begins 500 years before Christ and carries up to our time and into the immediate future. So let us continue with the prophecy.

Daniel was one of four extraordinary, intelligent and brilliant Jewish lads in the Judean captivity. These four men were stationed in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar of the Chaldean Empire, in training for special responsibilities in the Babylonian government. Daniel was a prophet who had been given special understanding in visions and dreams (Dan. 1:17).

Nebuchadnezzar was the first real world ruler. He had conquered a vast empire, including the nation Judah. This king had a dream so impressive it troubled him -- moved him to tremendous concern. He demanded that his magicians, astrologers and sorcerers tell him both what he had dreamed and what it meant. They could not. They were baffled. Then Daniel was brought before the king.

Daniel disclaimed any more human ability to interpret dreams than the Chaldean magicians, "BUT," he said, "there is a GOD in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days" (Dan. 2:28).

First, God's purpose was to reveal to this world-ruling human king that there is a GOD in heaven -- that GOD IS SUPREME RULER over all nations, governments and kings -- that God RULES THE UNIVERSE! It was God who placed the cherub Lucifer on the throne of the earth and Lucifer, who has become Satan the Devil, remains on earth's throne only because God allows it, and only until God sends Jesus Christ to sit on that throne when he removes Satan. This Chaldean king knew only about the many pagan demon gods. He knew nothing of the true living ALMIGHTY God. Like people and rulers, even today, he did not know that God is the living, REAL, active, RULING and GOVERNING PERSONAGE who actually and literally governs not only what is on earth, but the UNIVERSE ENTIRELY!

The whole purpose of this DREAM was to reveal GOD'S GOVERNMENT -- the fact that God RULES -- the truth of THE KINGDOM OF GOD -- the very thing that is the one and only true GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST! And, secondly, to reveal -- preserved in writing for us TODAY -- what is to happen in the latter days -- actually within the next two decades -- THIS LAST HALF OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.

 

For US, Today!

This is no dry, dull, dead writing for a people of 2,500 years ago. This is LIVING, TREMENDOUS, BIG NEWS for OUR DAY! It is advance news for us, NOW. News before it happens -- of the most colossal event of all earth's history certain to occur in your lifetime -- during the very next few years!

This is THE TRUE GOSPEL! It is the very gospel Christ preached! It is intended for you and me TODAY! It is vital that you UNDERSTAND!

Read, in your own Bible, Daniel 2, verses 28 through 35. In his dream, this king had seen a vast statue -- larger than any image or statue ever built by man -- so colossal it was terrifying, even in a dream. Its head was of fine gold, its breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, legs of solid iron, feet a mixture of iron and clay.

There was a time element. Nebuchadnezzar had viewed it until a supernatural STONE came from heaven, smashing the statue on its feet. Then the whole of the statue broke into small pieces, and was actually blown away by the wind -- it disappeared! Then this STONE expanded miraculously and quickly became a great MOUNTAIN -- so great it filled the whole earth!

What did it mean? Did it have meaning? Yes, because this was God's doing. Unlike ordinary dreams, this one was caused by God to convey the message of God's sovereignty to Nebuchadnezzar -- and, because it is part of the written Word of God, to us today -- to reveal important facts of the TRUE GOSPEL!

"This is the dream," said Daniel (verse 36), "and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king."

This, then, is GOD'S interpretation. It is decidedly not Herbert W. Armstrong's interpretation. Men ought never to interpret the Bible. The Bible gives us GOD'S OWN INTERPRETATION! Here it is:

"Thou, O king, art a king of kings" -- he was the first real WORLD RULER over a world empire! " ....for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory." God was revealing himself to this human world-dictator as the MOST HIGH Ruler over all.

People today, like this Chaldean king, seem not to think of God as a RULER -- as the Supreme One who GOVERNS -- as the Head of GOVERNMENT. The Eternal was revealing himself through Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar -- and through the Bible to you and to me TODAY -- as a SOVEREIGN, ALL POWERFUL, GOVERNING GOD who is to be obeyed!

"Thou," continued Daniel to this human emperor, "art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another KINGDOM inferior to thee, and another third KINGDOM of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth" (verses 37-39).

 

What IS a Kingdom?

Notice! This is speaking of KINGDOMS. It is referring to kingdoms that bear rule over the people on earth. It is speaking of GOVERNMENTS! It is not speaking of ethereal sentiments "set up in the hearts of men." It is not speaking of churches. It is speaking of the kind of GOVERNMENTS that bear RULE and AUTHORITY over nations of PEOPLE here on earth. It is literal. It is specific. There is no misunderstanding, here, as to what is meant by the word kingdom.

There is no misunderstanding the interpretation. GOD gives his own interpretation through the prophet Daniel. The great metallic image represented national and international GOVERNMENTS -- real, literal KINGDOMS.

It represented a succession of world-ruling governments. First was the head of gold. That represented Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom -- the Chaldean Empire. After him -- later, in time sequence -- was to come a second, then a third KINGDOM "which shall bear RULE over all the earth" -- world empire!

Then, verse 40, the legs of iron represent a fourth world empire. It was to be strong, even as iron is strong -- stronger militarily than its predecessors. Yet, as silver is less valuable than gold, brass than silver, iron than brass, though each metal was harder and stronger, the succession would deteriorate morally and spiritually. The two legs meant the fourth empire would be divided.




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