Take its teachings about God Himself. What does the Bible teach us about God? It declares that He is Eternal: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou are God” (Ps. 90:2). It reveals the fact that He is Infinite: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee” (I Kings 8:27). Vast as we know the universe to be, it has its bounds; but we must go beyond them to conceive of God - “Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea” (Job 11:7-9). It makes mention of His Sovereignty: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; 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, and I will do all My pleasure” (Is. 46: 9-10). It affirms that He is Omnipotent: “Behold I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jer. 32:27). It intimates that He is Omniscient: “Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite” (Ps. 147:5). It teaches that He is Omnipresent: “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord” (Jer. 23:24). It declares that He is Immutable: “The same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Yea, that with Him “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). It reveals that He is “The Judge of all the earth” (Gen. 18:25) and that every one shall yet have to “give an account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12). It announces that He is inflexibly just in all His dealings so that He can by “no means clear the guilty” (Num. 14:18); that all will be judged “according to their works” (Rev. 20:12), and that they shall reap whatsoever they have sown (Gal 6:7). It reveals the fact that He is absolutely holy, dwelling in light inaccessible. So holy that even the seraphim have to veil their faces in His presence (Is. 6:2). So holy that the heavens are not clean in His sight (Job 15:15). So holy that the best of men when face to face with their Maker, have to cry, “I abhor myself” (Job 42:6); “Woe is me! For I am undone” (Is. 6:5). Such a delineation of Deity is as far beyond man’s conception as the heavens are above the earth. No man, and no number of men, ever invented such a God as this. Ransack the libraries of the ancient, examine the musings of the mystics, study the religions of the heathen and nothing will be found which can for a moment be compared with the sublime and exalted description of God’s character which is furnished by the Bible.
The teachings of the Bible about man are unique. Unlike all other books in the world, the Bible condemns man and all his doings. It never eulogizes his wisdom, nor praises his achievements. On the contrary, it declares that “every man at his best state is altogether vanity” (Ps 39:5). Instead of teaching that man is a noble character, evolving heavenwards, it tells him that all his righteousnesses (his best works) are as “filthy rags,” that he is a lost sinner, incapable of bettering his condition; that he is deserving only of Hell.
The picture which the Scriptures give of man is deeply humiliating and entirely different from all which are drawn by human pencils. The Word of God describes the state of the natural man in the following language: - “There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable. There is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom. 3:10-18).
Instead of making Satan the source of all the black crimes of which we are guilty, the Bible declares, “For from within, out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23). Such a conception of man - so different from man’s own ideas, and so humilitating to his proud heart - never could have emanated from man himself. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9) is a concept that never originated in any human mind.
The teachings of the Bible about the world are unique. In nothing perhaps are the teachings of Scripture and the writings of man at such variance as they are at this point. Using the term as meaning the world-system in contradistinction to the earth, what is the direction of man’s thoughts concerning the same? Man thinks highly of the world, for he regards it as his world. It is that which his labors have produced and he looks upon it with satisfaction and pride. He boasts that “the world is growing better.” He declares that the world is becoming more civilized and more humanized. Man’s thoughts upon this subject have been well summarized by the poet in the familiar language - “God is in heaven: All’s well with the world.” But what saith the Scriptures? Upon this subject, too, we discover that God’s thoughts are very different from ours. The Bible uniformly condemns the world and speaks of it as a thing of evil. We shall not attempt to quote every passage which does this, but shall merely single out a few specimen Scriptures.
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19). This passage teaches that the world hates both Christ and His followers. “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (I Cor 3:19). Certainly no uninspired pen wrote these words. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). Here again we learn that the world is an evil thing, condemned by God, and to be shunned by His children. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I John 2:15-16). Here we have a definition of the world: it is all that is opposed to the Father - opposed in its principles and philosophy, its maxims and methods, its aims and ambitions, its trend and its end “And the whole world lieth in the Evil One” (I John 5:19, R.V.). Here we learn why it is that the world hates Christ and His followers; why its wisdom is foolishness with God; why it is condemned by God and must be shunned by His children - it is under the dominion of that old serpent, the devil, whom Scripture specifically denominates “The prince of this world.”
The teachings of the Bible about sin is unique. Man regards sin as a misfortune and ever seeks to minimize its enormity. In these days, sin is referred to as ignorance, as a necessary stage in man’s development. By others, sin is looked upon as a mere negation, the opposite of good; while Mrs. Eddy and her followers went so far as to deny its existence altogether. But the Bible, unlike every other book, strips man of all excuse and emphasizes his culpability. In the Bible sin is never palliated or extenuated, but from first to last the Holy Scriptures insist upon its enormity and heinousness. The Word of God declares that “sin is very grievous” (Gen 18:20) and that our sins provoke God to anger (I Kings 16:2). It speaks of the “deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13) and insists that sin is “exceedingly sinful” (Rom 7:13). It declares that all sin is sin against God (Ps. 51:4) and against His Christ (I Cor. 8:12). It regards our sins as being “as scarlet” and “red like crimson” (Is. 1:18). It declares that sin is more than an act, it is an attitude. It affirms that sin is more than a non-compliance with God’s law - it is rebellion against the One who gave the law . It teaches that “sin is lawlessness” (I John 3:4, R.V.), which means that sin is spiritual anarchy, open defiance against the Almighty. Moreover, it singles out no particular class; it condemns all alike. It announces that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” that “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3). Did man ever write such an indictment against himself? What human mind ever invented such a description of sin as that discovered in the Bible? Whoever would have imagined that sin was such a vile and dreadful thing in the sight of God that nothing but the precious blood of His own beloved Son could make an atonement for it!
The teaching of the Bible about the punishment of sin is unique. A defective view of sin necessarily leads to an inadequate conception of what is due sin. Minimize the gravity and enormity of sin and you must proportion- ately reduce the sentence which it deserves. Many are crying out today against the justice of the eternal punishment of sin. They complain that the penalty does not fit the crime. They argue that it is unrighteous for a sinner to suffer eternally in consequence of a short life span of wrong-doing. But even in this world it is not the length of time which it takes to commit the crime which determines the severity of the sentence. Many a man has suffered a life term of imprisonment for a crime which required only a few minutes for its perpetration. Apart, however, from this consideration, eternal punishment is just if sin be looked at from God’s viewpoint. But this is just what the majority of men refuse to do. They look at sin and its deserts solely from the human side. One reason why the Bible was written was to correct our ideas and views about sin, to teach us what an unspeakably awful and vile thing it is, to show us sin as God sees it. For one single sin Adam and Eve were banished from Eden. For one single sin Canaan and all his posterity were cursed. For a single sin Korah and his company went down alive into the pit. For one single sin Moses was debarred from entering the Promised Land. For a single sin Achan and his family were stoned to death. For a single sin Elisha’s servant was smitten with leprosy. For a single sin Ananias and Sapphira were cut off out of the land of the living. Why? To teach us what an infinite evil it is to revolt against the thrice holy God. We repeat, that did men but see the terribleness of sin - did they but see that it was sin that put to a shameful death the Lord of Glory - then they would realize that nothing short of eternal punishment would meet the demands which justice has upon sinners.
But the great majority of men do not see the meetness or justice of eternal punishment; on the contrary, they cry out against it. In lands which were not illumined by the Old Testament Scriptures, where there existed any belief in a future life, it was held that at death the wicked either passed thro’ some temporary suffering for remedial and purifying purposes or else they were annihilated. Even in Christendom, where the Word of God has held a prominent and public place for centuries, the great bulk of the people do not believe in eternal punishment. They argue that God is too merciful and kind to ban one of His own creatures to endless misery. Yea, not a few of the Lord’s own people are afraid to take the solemn teachings of the Scriptures on this subject at their face value. It is therefore evident that had the Bible been written by uninspired men; had it been a mere human composition, it certainly would not have taught the eternal and conscious torment of all who die out of Christ. The fact that the Bible does so teach is conclusive proof that it was written by men who spake not of themselves, but as they were “moved by the Holy Spirit.”
The teachings of God’s Word upon eternal punishment are as clear and explicit as they are solemn and awful. They declare that the doom of the Christ rejector is a conscious, never-ending, indescribable torment. The Bible depicts the place of punishment as a realm where the “worm dieth not” and “the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). It speaks of it as a lake of fire and brimstone (Rev. 20:10), where even a drop of water is denied the agonized sufferer (Luke 16:24). It declares that “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night” (Rev. 14:11). It represents the world of the lost as a scene into which penetrates no light - “the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 1: 13) - a doom alleviated by no ray of hope. In short, the portion of the lost will be unbearable, yet it will have to be borne, and borne for ever. What mortal mind conceived of such a fate? Such a conception is too repugnant and repulsive to the human heart to have had its birth on the earth.
The teachings of the Bible about Salvation from Sin is unique. Man’s thoughts about salvation, like every other subject which engages his mind are defective and deficient. Hence the force of the admonition - “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts” (Is. 55:7). In the first place, left to himself, man fails to realize his need of salvation. In the pride of his heart he imagines that he is sufficient in himself, and thro’ the darkening of his understanding by sin he fails to comprehend his ruined and lost condition. Like the self-righteous Pharisee, he thanks God that he is not as other men, that he is morally the superior of the savage or the criminal, and refuses to believe that so far as his standing before God is concerned there is “no difference.” It is not until the Holy Spirit deals with him that man is constrained to cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
In the second place man is ignorant of the way of salvation. Even when man has been brought to the place where he recognizes that he is not prepared to meet God, and that if he died in his present state he would be eternally lost; even then he has no right conception of the remedy. Being ignorant of God’s righteousness he goes about to establish his own righteousness. He supposes that he must make some personal reparation for his past wrong-doings, that he must work for his salvation, do something to merit the esteem of God, and thus win heaven as a reward. The highest concept of man’s mind is that of merit. To him salvation is a wage to be earned, a crown to be coveted, a prize to be won. The proof of this is to be seen in the fact that even when pardon and life are presented as a free gift, the universal tendency, at first, is to regard it as being “too good to be true.” Yet, such is the plain teaching of God’s Word - “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works; lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). And again - “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5).
If it is true that man left to himself would never have fully realized his need of salvation, and would never have discovered that it was by grace thro’ faith and not of works, how much less would the human mind have been capable of rising to the level of what God’s Word teaches about the nature of salvation and the glorious and marvelous destiny of the saved! Who would have thought that the Maker and Ruler of the universe should lay hold of poor, fallen, depraved men and women and lifting them out of the miry clay should make them His own sons and daughters, and should seat them at His own table! Who would ever have suggested that those who deserve naught but everlasting shame and contempt, should be made “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ”! Who would have dreamed that beggars should be lifted from the dunghill of sin and made to sit together with Christ in heavenly places! Who would have imagined that the corrupted offspring of disobedient Adam should be exalted to a position higher than that occupied by the unfallen angels! Who would have dared to affirm that one day we shall be “made like Christ” and “be for ever with the Lord”! Such concepts were as far beyond the reach of the highest human intellect as they were of the rudest savage. “But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (I Cor. 2:9-10).
Again we ask, what human intellect could have devised a means whereby God could be just and yet merciful, merciful and yet just? What mortal mind would ever have dreamed of a free and full salvation, bestowed on hell-deserving sinners, “without money and without price”! And what flight of carnal imagination would ever have conceived of the Son of God Himself being “made sin” for us and dying the Just for the unjust?
The teaching of the Bible concerning the Saviour of sinners is unique. The description which the Scriptures furnish of the Person, the Character, and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ is without anything that approaches a parallel in the whole realm of literature. It is easier to suppose that man could create a world than to believe he invented the character of our adorable Redeemer. Given a piece of machinery that is delicate, complex, exact in all its movements, and we know it must be the product of a competent mechanic. Given a work of art that is beautiful, symmetrical, original, and we know it must be the product of a master artist. None but an Angelo could have designed Saint Peter’s; none but a Raphael could have painted the “transfiguration;” none but a Milton could have written a “Paradise Lost.” And, none but the Holy Spirit could have produced the peerless portrait of the Lord Jesus which we find in the Gospels. In Christ all excellencies combine. Here is one of the many respects in which He differs from all other Bible characters. In each of the great heroes of Scripture some trait stands out with peculiar distinctness - Noah, faithful testimony; Abraham, faith in God; Isaac, submission to his father; Joseph, love for his brethren; Moses, unselfishness and meekness; Joshua, courage and leadership; Job, fortitude and patience; Daniel, fidelity to God; Paul, zeal in service; John, spiritual discernment - but in the Lord Jesus every grace is found. Moreover, in Him all these perfections were properly poised and balanced. He was meek yet regal; He was gentle yet fearless; He was compassionate yet just; He was submissive yet authoritative; He was Divine yet human; add to these, the fact that He was absolutely “without sin” and His uniqueness becomes apparent. Nowhere in all the writings of antiquity is there to be found the presentation of such a peerless and wondrous character.
Not only is the portrayal of Christ’s character without any rival, but the teaching of the Bible concerning His Person and Work is also utterly incredible on any other basis save that they are part of a Divine revelation. Who would have dared to imagine the Creator and Upholder of the universe taking upon Himself the form of a servant and being made in the likeness of men? Who would have conceived the idea of the Lord of Glory being born in a manger? Who would have dreamed of the Object of angelic worship becoming so poor that he had not where to lay His head? Who would have declared that the One before whom the seraphim veil their faces should be led as a lamb to the slaughter, should have suffered His own blessed face to be defiled with the vile spittle of man, and should permit the creatures of His hand to scourge and buffet Him? Whoever would have conceived of Emmanuel becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross!
Here then is an argument which the simplest can grasp. The Scriptures contain their own evidence that they are Divinely inspired. Every page of Holy Writ is stamped with Jehovah’s autograph. The uniqueness of its teachings demonstrates the uniqueness of its Source. The teachings of the Scriptures about God Himself, about man, about the world, about sin, about eternal punishment, about salvation, about the Lord Jesus Christ, are proof that the Bible is not the product of any man or any number of men, but is in truth a revelation from God.
In Isaiah 41:21-23 we have what is probably the most remarkable challenge to be found in the Bible. “Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen; let them show the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods.” This Scripture has both a negative and a positive value: negatively it suggests an infallible criterion by which we may test the claims of religious impostors; positively, it calls attention to an unanswerable argument for the truthfulness of God’s Word. Jehovah bids the prophets of false faiths to successfully predict events lying in the far distant future and their success or failure will show whether or not they are gods or merely pretenders and deceivers. On the other hand, the demonstrated fact that God alone grasps the ages and in His Word declares the end from the beginning, shows that he is God and that Scriptures are His Inspired Revelation to mankind.
Again and again men have attempted to predict future events but always with the most disastrous failure, the anticipations of the most far-seeing and the precautions of the wisest are mocked repeatedly by the bitter irony of events. Man stands before an impenetrable wall of darkness, he is unable to foresee the events of even the next hour. None knows what a day may bring forth. To the finite mind the future is filled with unknown possibilities. How then can we explain the hundreds of detailed prophecies in the Scriptures which have been literally fulfilled to the letter, hundreds of years after they were uttered? How can we account for the fact that the Bible successfully foretold hundreds, and in some instances thousands of years beforehand, the History of the Jews, the Course of the Gentiles, and the Experiences of the Church? The most conservative of critics, and the most daring assailants of God’s Word are compelled to acknowledge that all the Books of the Old Testament were written hundreds of years before the incarnation of our Lord, hence, the actual and accurate fulfillment of these prophecies can only be explained on the hypothesis that “Prophecy came not at any time by the will of men: but holy men of God, spake, moved by the Holy Ghost.”
The Inspirer of the Scriptures has told us that “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; where unto ye do well that ye take heed as unto a light that shineth in a dark place” (II Peter 1:19). In the limited space at our command we shall appeal to but a few from among the many fulfilled prophecies of God’s Word, and shall limit ourselves to those which have reference to the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The cumulative force of these will be sufficient, we trust, to convince any impartial inquirer that none other but the mind of God could have disclosed the future and unveiled beforehand far distant events.
“The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.” The Lamb of God is the one great object and subject of the Prophetic Word. In Genesis 3:15 we have the first word about the Coming of Christ. Speaking to the serpent, Jehovah said, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise His heel.” Note that the Coming One was to be the “woman’s seed,” the Miraculous Character of our Lord’s Birth being thus foretold four thousand years before He was born at Bethlehem!
In Genesis 22:18 we have the second distinct Messianic prophecy. Unto Abraham, the angel of the Lord declared, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Not only was the Saviour of sinners to be human as well as Divine, not only was He to be the “woman’s” seed, but in the above Scripture it was declared that He should be a descendant of Abraham - an Israelite. How this was fulfilled we may see by a reference to the first verse in the New Testament, where we are told (Matt. 1: 1) that Jesus Christ was “The Son of David, the son of Abraham.”
But still further was the compass narrowed down, for we have intimated in the Old Testament Scriptures the very tribe from which the Messiah was to issue - our Lord was to come of the tribe of Judah (the “kingly” tribe). He was to be a descendant of David. Nathan the prophet was commanded by God to go and say to David, “I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will stablish His kingdom. He shall build an house for My name, and I will stablish the throne of His kingdom for ever” (II Sam. 7:12-13). And again, in Psalm 132:11 David declares concerning the promised Messiah, “The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; (He will not turn from it) Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.
Not only was our Lord’s nationality defined hundreds of years before His incarnation, but the very place of His birth was also given. In Micah 5:2 we are informed, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, but out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be Ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity.” Christ was to be born in Bethlehem, and not only in one of the several villages which bore that name in Palestine, but Bethlehem of Judea was to be the birth-place of the world’s Redeemer; and though Mary was a native of Nazareth (far distant from Bethlehem) yet through the providence of God, His Word was literally fulfilled by His Son being born in Bethlehem of Judea.
Further, the very time of Messiah’s appearing was given through both Jacob and Daniel (see Gen. 49:10 and Daniel 9:24-26). Now in order to appreciate the force of these marvelous, super-natural prophecies, let the reader seek to foretell the nationality, place and time of the birth of some one who shall be born in the twenty-fifth century A. D., and then he will realize that none but a man inspired and informed by God Himself could perform such an otherwise impossible feat.
So definite and distinct were the Old Testament prophecies respecting the Birth of Christ, that the hope of Israel became the Messianic Hope; all their expectations were centered in the coming of the Messiah. It is therefore the more remarkable that their sacred Scriptures should contain another set of prophecies which predicted that He should be despised by His own nation and rejected by His own kinsmen. We can only now call attention to one of the prophecies which declared that the Messiah of Israel should be slighted and scorned by His brethren according to the flesh.
In Isaiah 53:2-3 we read, “And when we (Israel) shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not!” We pause here for a moment to enlarge upon this strange and striking phenomenon.
For more than fifteen centuries the Coming of the Messiah had been the one great national Hope of Israel. From the cradle the sons of Abraham were taught to pray and long for His advent. The eagerness with which they awaited the appearing of the Star of Jacob is absolutely without parallel in the history of any other nation. How then can we account for the fact that when He did come He was despised and rejected? How can we explain the fact that side by side with the intense longing for the manifestation of their King, one of their own prophets foretold that when He did appear men would hide their faces from Him and esteem Him not? Finally, what explanation have we to offer for the fact that such things were predicted centuries before He came to this earth and that they were literally fulfilled to the very letter? As another has said, “No prediction could have seemed more improbable, and yet none ever received a sadder and more complete fulfillment.”
We pass on now to those predictions which have reference to the death of our Lord. If it was wonderful that an Israelitish prophet should foretell the rejection of the Messiah by His own nation, what shall we say to the fact that the Old Testament Scriptures prophesied in detail concerning the manner or form of His death? Yet again and again we find this to be the case! Let us examine a few typical instances.
First, it was intimated that our Lord should be betrayed and sold for the price of a common slave. In Zechariah 11:12 we read, “So they weighed for My price thirty pieces of silver.” Who was it that was able to declare, centuries before the event came to pass, the exact amount that Judas should receive for his dastardly deed? In Isaiah 53:7 we have another line in this marvelous picture which human wisdom could not possibly have supplied - “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.” Who could have foreseen this most unusual sight, of a prisoner standing before his judges with his life at stake, yet attempting and offering no defense? Yet this is precisely what did happen in connection with our Lord, for we are told in Mark 15:5, “But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marveled.” Again; who was it that knew seven hundred years before the greatest tragedy of human history was enacted that the Son of God, the King of the Jews, the gentlest and meekest Man who ever trod our earth, should be scourged and spat upon? Yet such an experience was foretold: “I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting” (Is. 50:6).
Further; the form of capital punishment reserved for Jewish criminals was “stoning to death,” and in David’s time the experience of “crucifixion” was entirely unknown, yet we find in Psalm 22:16 that Israel’s king was inspired to write, “They pierced My hands and My feet!” Again; what human foresight could have seen that in His thirst-agonies upon the cross our Lord should be given gall and vinegar to drink? Yet it was declared a thousand years before the Lord of Glory was nailed to the tree that, “They gave Me also gall for My meat; and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink.” (Ps. 69:21). Finally; we ask, how could David foretell, unless he was inspired by the Holy Spirit, that our Lord should be taunted by His enemies and challenged to come down from the Cross? Yet in Psalm 22:7-8 we read, “All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him.” Such examples as the above might be multiplied indefinitely, but sufficient illustrations have already been given to warrant us in saying that the fulfilled prophecies of the Bible bespeak the omniscience of its Author.
Were it necessary, and had we the space at our command, scores of additional fulfilled prophecies relating to the History of Israel, the Course of the Gentiles, and the Experiences of the Church - prophecies just as definite, accurate, and remarkable as those relating to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ - could be given, but our present limits and purpose forbid us so doing.
Having examined a few of the startling prophecies which treat of the Birth and Death of our Saviour, it now only remains for us to apply in a word the significance of this argument. Many have read over these Scriptures before and perhaps have regarded them as being wonderfully descriptive of the Advent and Passion of Jesus Christ, but how many have carefully weighed the fact that each of these Scriptures were in indisputable existence more than five hundred years before our Lord came to this earth?
Man is unable to accurately predict events which are but twenty-four hours distant; only the Divine Mind could have foretold the future, centuries before it came to be. Hence, we affirm with the utmost confidence, that the hundreds of fulfilled prophecies in the Bible attest and demonstrate the truth that the Scriptures are the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God.
“In the volume of the Book it is written of Me” (Heb. 10:7). Christ is the Key to the Scriptures. Said He, “Search the Scriptures..they are they which testify of Me.” (John 5:39), and the “Scriptures” to which He had reference, were not the four Gospels for they were not then written, but the writings of Moses and the prophets. The Old Testament Scriptures then are something more than a compilation of historical records, something more than a system of social and religious legislation, something more than a code of ethics. The Old Testament Scriptures are fundamentally a stage on which is shown forth in vivid symbolism and ritualism the whole plan of redemption. The events recorded in the Old Testament were actual occurrences, yet they were also typical prefigurations. Throughout the Old Testament dispensations God caused to be shadowed forth in parabolic representation the whole work of redemption by means of a constant and vivid appeal to the senses. This was in full accord with a fundamental law in the economy of God. Nothing is brought to maturity at once. As it is in the natural world, so it is in the spiritual: there is first the blade, then the ear, and then the full corn in the ear. Concerning the Person and work of the Lord Jesus, God first gave a series of pictorial representations, later a large number of specific prophecies, and last of all, when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His own Son.
It is failure to discern the typical import of the Old Testament Scriptures which has caused so great a part of them to be slighted by so many readers of the Bible. To multitudes of people the Pentateuch is little more than a compilation of effete and meaningless ceremonial rites, and if there is nothing in them more excellent than their outward semblance, then, surely, it is passing strange that they should find a place in the Word of God. Take Christ out of Old Testament ritual and you are left with nothing but the dry and empty shell of a nut. It is therefore a matter of small surprise that those who see so little of Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures should undervalue the instruction and edification to be derived from every part of them, and that they entertain such degrading ideas of their inspiration. Deny that there is a spiritual meaning in all the laws and customs of the Israelites and what food for the soul can be gathered from a study of them? Deny that they are so many typical representations of Christ and His Sacrifice for sin and you cast reproach on the name and wisdom of God by suggesting that He instituted the carnal ordinances, the cumbrous ceremonies, the propitiations by sacrifice of animals, which are recorded in the opening Books of the Bible.
The typical import and the spiritual value of the Jewish economy, both as a whole and in its many parts, is expressly affirmed in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul, when referring to the narratives and events recorded in the Old Testament, declares that, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4). Later, when making mention of Israel’s exodus from Egypt and their journey through the wilderness, he affirms, “Now these things were our examples” and “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: (marg. “types”) and they are written for our admonition” (I Cor. 10:6-11). Again; when commenting upon, and while expounding the spiritual significance of the Tabernacle, he declares that it was “the example and shadow of heavenly things” (Heb. 8:5). In the next chapter he declares, “The Tabernacle...was a figure for the time then present” (Heb. 9:8-9) and in Hebrews 10 he states, “The law” had “a shadow of good things to come” (10:1). From these declarations it is evident that God Himself caused the Tabernacle to be erected exactly according to the pattern which He had showed Moses, for the express purpose that it should be a type for symbolizing heavenly things. Hence it becomes our privilege and bounden duty to seek by the help of the Holy Spirit to ascertain the meaning of the types of the Old Testament.
In addition to the express declarations of the New Testament quoted above, there are a number of additional passages which also teach the same thing. John the Baptist hailed our Saviour as “The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,” that is, as the great Antitype of the sacrificial lambs of Old Testament ritual. In His discourse with Nicodemus our Lord alluded to the lifting up of the Brazen Serpent in the wilderness as a type of His own lifting up on the Cross. Writing to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul said, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (I Cor. 5:7), thus signifying that Exodus 12 pointed forward to the Lord Jesus. Writing to the Galatians the same Apostle makes mention of the history of Abraham, his wives and his children, and then states “which things are an allegory” (Gal. 4:24). Now there are many brethren who will own the typical significance of these things, but who refuse to acknowledge that anything else in the Old Testament has a typical meaning save those which are expressly interpreted in the New. But this we conceive to be a mistake and to place a limit upon the scope and value of the Word of God. Rather let us regard those Old Testament types which are expounded in the New Testament as samples of others which are not explained. Are there no more prophecies in the Old Testament than those which, in the New Testament, are said to be “fulfilled”? Assuredly. Then let us admit the same concerning the types.
Several volumes would be filled were we to dwell upon everything in the Old Testament which has a typical meaning and spiritual application. All we can now attempt is to single out a few illustrations as samples, leaving our readers to pursue further this entrancing study for themselves.
The very first chapter of Genesis is rich in its spiritual contents. Not only does it give us the only reliable and authentic account of the creation of this world, but it also reveals God’s order in the work of the new creation. In Genesis 1:1 we have the original or primitive creation - “in the beginning”. From the next verse we infer that some dreadful calamity followed. The handiwork of God was marred, “the earth became (not “was”) without form and void” - a desolate waste and empty ruin. The earth was submerged. A scene of dreariness and death is introduced - “and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Not only was this the history of the earth, but it was also the history of man. In the beginning he was created by God - created in the image and likeness of his Maker. But a terrible calamity followed. An enemy appeared on the scene. The heart of the creature was seduced, unbelief and disobedience being the consequence. Man fell, and awful was his fall. God’s image was broken: human nature was ruined by sin: desolation and death took the place of God’s likeness and life. In consequence of his sin, man’s mind was blinded and darkness rested upon the face of his understanding.
Next, we read in Genesis 1, of the work reconstruction. The order followed is profoundly significant - “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (vs. 3-4). The parallel holds good in regeneration. In the work of the new birth which is performed within the darkened and spiritually dead sinner, the Spirit of God is the prime mover, convicting the soul of its lost and ruined condition and revealing the need of the appointed Saviour. The instrument that He employs is the written Word, the Word of God, and in every genuine conversion God says, “Let there be light,” and there is light. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Cor. 4:6). The parallel might be followed much further, but sufficient has been said to show that beneath the actual history of Genesis 1 may be discerned by the anointed eye the spiritual history of the believer’s new creation, and as such it bears the stamp of its Divine Author and evidences the fact that the opening chapter of the Bible is no mere human compilation.
In the coats of skin with which the Lord God clothed our first parents we have an incident that is full of spiritual instruction and which could never have been invented by man. To obtain these skins life had to be taken, blood had to be shed, the innocent (animals) must die in the place of Adam and Eve who were guilty, so as to provide a covering for them. Thus, the Gospel truths of redemption by blood-shedding and salvation thro’ a substitutionary sacrifice, were preached in Eden. Be it noted that man did not have to provide a covering for himself any more than the “prodigal son” did, nor were they asked to clothe themselves any more than was he: in the one case we read, “The Lord God made coats of skins and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21), and in the other the command was, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him” (Luke 15:22), and both speak of “the robe of righteousness” (Is. 61:10) which is furnished in Christ.
In the offerings which Cain and Abel presented to the Lord, and in the response which they met with, we discover a foreshadowing of New testament truths. Abel brought of the firstlings of the flock with their fat. He recognized that he was alienated from God and could not draw nigh to Him without a suitable offering. He saw that his own life was forfeited thro’ sin, that justice clamored for his death, and that his only hope lay in another (a lamb) dying in his stead. By faith Abel presented his bloody offering to God and it was accepted. On the other hand, Cain refused to take the place of a lost sinner before God. He refused to acknowledge that death was his due. He refused to place his confidence in a sacrificial substitute. He brought as an offering to God the fruits of the ground - the product of his own labors and in consequence, his offering was rejected. Thus, at the commencement of human history we have shown forth the fact that salvation is by grace thro’ faith and altogether apart from works (Eph. 2: 8-9).
In the great Deluge and the ark in which Noah and his house found shelter, we have a typification of great spiritual verities. From them we learn that God takes cognizance of the doings of His creatures; that He is holy and sin is abhorrent to Him; that His righteousness requires Him to punish sin and destroy sinners. Yet, here also we learn that in judgment God remembers mercy, that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked; that His grace provides a refuge if only His sinful creatures will avail themselves of His provision. Yet only in one place can deliverance from the Divine wrath be found. In the ark alone is safety and security. And, in like manner, today, there is only one Saviour for sinners, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Act 4:12).
In the deliverance of Israel from Egypt and their wilderness journey we see portrayed the history of God’s people in the present dispensation. We, too, were living in a world “without God and without hope.” We, too, were in bondage to the cruel taskmasters of sin and Satan. We, too, were in imminent danger of falling beneath the sword of the avenging Angel of Justice. But, for us, too, a way of escape was provided. For us, too, a Lamb was slain. Unto us, too, was given the precious promise, “When I see the blood I will pass over you” (Exod. 12:13). And we, too, were redeemed by Almighty power and were “delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son” (Col. 1:13)
After our exodus from Egypt there lies before us a pilgrim journey thro’ a barren and hostile wilderness as we journey toward the Promised Land. We have to pass thro’ a strange country and meet with enemy forces, that we are unable to overcome in our own strength. For these tasks our own resources - the things we brought with us out of Egypt - are altogether inadequate, and thus we, too, are cast upon the sufficiency of Israel’s God. And blessed be His name, ample provision is made for us and grace is furnished for every need. For us there is heavenly manna in the exceeding great and precious promises of God. For us there comes water out of the Smitten Rock in the person of the Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39) who refreshes our souls by taking of the things of Christ and showing them unto us and who strengthens us with might in the inner man. For us too, there is a pillar of cloud and fire to guide us by day and by night in the Holy Scriptures which are a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. For us, too, there is One to counsel and direct us, to intercede for us and help us overcome our Amalekites in the Captain of our salvation who has said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end.” And, at the close of our pilgrimage we shall enter a fairer land than that which flowed with milk and honey for we have been begotten “to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that faded not away, reserved in heaven” for us.
Let the careful and impartial reader weigh thoroughly what has been said above, and surely it is evident that the numerous resemblances between the story of Israel and the spiritual history of God’s children in this dispensation cannot be so many coincidences, and can only be accounted for on the ground that the writings of Moses were inspired by the Living God.
The history of Israel in Canaan as the professed people of God corresponds with the history of the professing church in the New Testament dispensation. After Moses, the one who led Israel out from their Egyptian bondage, came Joshua who led Israel in their conquest of Canaan. So after our Lord left this earth, He sent the Holy Spirit who through the Apostles caused the Jericho’s and Ai’s of Paganism to be overthrown and the greater part of the world to be evangelized. But after their occupancy of Canaan Israel’s history was a sad one, being characterized by spiritual declination and departure from God. So it was with the professing church. Very quickly after the death of the Apostles heresy corrupted the Christian profession, and just as Israel of old grew tired of a theocracy and demanded a human head and king, like the nations which surrounded them, so the professing church became dissatisfied with the New Testament form of church government and submitted to the domination of a pope. And just as Israel’s kings became more and more corrupt until God would bear with them no longer and sold His people into captivity, so after the setting up of the Papal See there followed the long period of the Dark Ages when Europe was subjected to a spiritual bondage and when the Word of God was bound in chains. Then, just as God raised up Ezra and Nehemiah to recover the living oracle and to lead out of their captivity a remnant of His people, so in the sixteenth century, A. D., God raised up Luther and honored contemporaries to bring about the great Reformation of Protestantism. Finally: just as after the days of Ezra and Hehemiah the Jews in Palestine witnessed a marked spiritual declination, ultimately lapsing into the ritualism of the Pharisees and the rationalism of the Sadducees from which God’s elect were delivered only by the appearing of His own Son, so has history repeated itself. Since Reformation and the last of the Puritans, Christendom has moved swiftly in the direction of the predicted apostasy, and today we have reproduced the ancient Phariseeism in the rapid spread of Roman Catholicism, and the ancient Sadduceeism in the far-reaching effects of the infidelistic Higher Criticism: and as it was before, so it will be again - God’s elect will be delivered only by the reappearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Thus we see how wonderfully and accurately the Old testament history runs parallel with and anticipated the history of the professing church in the New Testament dispensation. It has been truly said that “Coming events cast their shadows before them,” and who but He who knows the end from the beginning and who upholds all things by the word of His power, could have caused the shadow of the Old Testament to have taken the shape they did, and thus give a true and comprehensive parabolic setting forth of that which has taken place thousands of years later!
But not only do the broad outlines of Old Testament history possess a typical meaning, everything in the Old Testament Scriptures has a spiritual value.
Every battle fought by the Israelites, every change in the administration of their government, every detail in their elaborate ceremonialism, and every personal biography narrated in the Bible, is designed for our instruction and edification. The Bible contains nothing that is superfluous. From beginning to end the Scriptures testify of Christ. Inanimate objects like the ark, which tells of security in Christ from the storms of Divine wrath; like the manna, which speaks of Him as the Bread of Life; like the brazen Serpent uplifted on the pole, of the Tabernacle, which presents Him as the meeting place of God and men - all foreshadowed the Redeemer. Living creatures like the Passover Lamb, the sacrificial bullocks, goats and rams, all pointed forward in general and in detail to the great Sacrifice for sins. Institutions like the Passover which prefigured His death; like the waving of the first-fruits, which forecast His resurrection; like the fast of Pentecost with its two loaves baken with leaven, telling of the uniting into one Body of the Jew and the Gentile; like the Burnt, the Meal and the Peace “sweet savor” offerings, which proclaimed the excellency of Christ’s person in the esteem of God - all emblemized our blessed Saviour. And, many of the leading personages of Old Testament biography gave a remarkable delineation of our Lord’s character and earthly ministry.
Abel was a type of Christ. His name signifies vanity and emptiness which foreshadowed the Lord Jesus who “made Himself of no reputation,” literally “emptied Himself” (Phil. 2:7), when He assumed the nature of man who is “like unto vanity” (Ps. 72:9). By calling, Abel, was a shepherd, and it was in his shepherd character he brought an offering to God, namely, the firstlings of his flock - speaking of the Good Shepherd who offered Himself to God. The offering which Abel brought to God is termed an “excellent” one (Heb. 11:4) and as such it pointed forward to the precious blood of Christ, the value of which cannot be estimated in silver and gold. Abel’s offering was accepted by God, God “testifying” His approval of it; and, in like manner, God publicly witnessed to His acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice when He raised Him from the Dead (Acts 2:32). Abel’s offering still speaks to God - “by it he being dead, yet speaketh;” so, too, Christ’s offering “speaks” to God (Heb. 12:24). Though guilty of no offense, Abel was hated by his brother and cruelly slain at his hand, foreshadowing the treatment which the Lord Jesus received at the hands of the Jews - His brethren according to the flesh.
Isaac was a type of Christ. he was the child of promise. His nativity was announced by an angel. He was supernaturally begotten. He was born at an appointed time. He was named by God (Gen. 1: 18-19). He was the “seed” to whom the promises were made and thro’ whom they were secured. He became obedient unto death. He carried on his own shoulder the wood on which he was to be offered. He was securely fastened to the alter. He was presented as a sacrifice to God. He was offered on Mount Moriah - the same on which,two thousand years later, Jesus Christ was offered. And, it was on the “third day” that Abraham received him back “in a figure” from the dead (Heb. 11:19).
Joseph is a type of Christ. He was Jacob’s well-beloved son. He readily responded to his father’s will when asked to go on a mission to his brethren. While seeking his brethren he became a “wanderer in the field” (Gen. 37:15) - the “field” figuring the world (see Matt. 13:38). He found his brethren in Dothan which signifies the law - so the Lord Jesus found His brethren under the bondage of the law. His brethren mocked and refused to receive him. His brethren took counsel together against him that they might put him to death. Judah (Judas is the Greek form of the same word) advised his brethren to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites. After he had been rejected by his brethren, Joseph was taken down into Egypt in order that he might become a Saviour to the world. While in Egypt, Joseph was tempted, not without any compromise he put from him the evil solicitation. He was falsely accused and thro’ no fault of his own was cast into prison. There he was the interpreter of dreams - the one who threw light on what was mysterious. In prison he became the savor of life to the butler, and the savor of death to the baker. After a period of humiliation and shame, he was exalted to the throne of Egypt. From that throne he administered bread to a hungering and perishing humanity. Subsequently Joseph became known to his brethren, and in fulfillment of what he had previously announced to them, they bowed down before him and owned his sovereignty.
Moses was a type of Christ. Moses became the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter - so that legally he had a mother but no father, thus typifying our Lord’s miraculous birth of a virgin. During infancy his life was endangered by the evil designs of the ... ruler. Like Christ’s, his early life was spent in Egypt. Later, he renounced the position of royalty, refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; and he who was rich, for the sake of his people, became poor. Before he commenced His life’s work, a long period was spent in Midian in obscurity. Here he received a call and commission from God to go to deliver his brethren out of their terrible bondage. The credentials of his mission were seen in the miracles which he performed. Though despised and rejected by the rulers in Egypt, he, nevertheless, succeeded in delivering his own people. Subsequently, he became the leader and head of all Israel. In character he was the meekest man in all the earth. In all God’s house he was faithful as a servant. In the wilderness he sent twelve men to spy out Canaan as our Lord sent out the twelve Apostles to preach the Gospel. He fasted for forty days. On the mount he was transfigured so that the skin of his face shone. He acted as God’s prophet to the people, as as the people’s intercessor before God. He was the only man mentioned in the Old Testament that was prophet, priest and king. He was the giver of a Law, the builder of a Tabernacle, and the organizer of a Priesthood. His last act was to “bless the people (Deut. 33:29), as our Lord’s last act was to “bless” His disciples (Luke 24:50).
Samson was a type of Christ - see the Book on Judges. An angel announced his birth (13:3). From birth he was a Nazarite (13:5) - separated to God. Before he was born it was promised that he should be a saviour to Israel (13:5). He was treated unkindly by his own nation (15:11-13). He was delivered up to the Gentiles by his own countrymen (15:12). He was mocked and cruelly treated by the Gentiles (16:19-21, 25) yet he was a mighty deliverer of Israel. His miracles were performed under the power of the Holy Spirit (14:19). He accomplished more in his death than he did in his life (16:30). He was imprisoned in the enemy’s stronghold; the gates were barred, and a watch was set; yet, rising up at midnight, in the early hours of the morning - “a great while before day” - he burst the bars, broke open the gate, and issued forth triumphant - a remarkable type of our Lord’s resurrection. He occupied the position of “judge,” as our Lord will in the last great day.
David was a type of Christ. He was born in Bethlehem. He is described as “of a beautiful countenance and goodly to look upon.” His name means “the beloved.” By occupation he was a shepherd. During his shepherd life he entered into conflict with wild beasts. He slew Goliath - the opposer of God’s people and a type of Satan. From the obscurity of shepherdhood he was exalted to Israel’s throne. He was anointed as king before he was coronated. He was preeminently a man of prayer (see the Psalms) and is the only one in Scripture termed “The man after God’s own heart.” He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, suffering chiefly from those of his own household. Repeated attempts were made upon his life by Israel’s ruler. When his enemy (Saul) was in his power he refused to slay him, instead, he dealt with him in mercy and grace. He delivered Israel from all their enemies and vanquished all their foes.
Solomon was a type of Christ. He was Israel’s king. His name signifies “Peaceable,” and he foreshadows the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus when He shall rule as Prince of Peace. He was chosen and ordained of God before he was crowned. He rode upon another’s mule, not as a warrior, but as the king of peace in lowly guise (I Kings 1:33). Gentiles took part in the coronation of Solomon (I Kings 1:38) typifying the universal homage which Christ shall receive during the millennium. The Cherethites and Pelethites were soldiers, so that Solomon was followed by an army at the time of his coronation (I Kings 1:33; cp. Rev. 19:11). Solomon began his reign by showing mercy to and yet demanding righteousness from Adonijah (I Kings 1:51) - such will be the leading characteristics of Christ’s millennial government. Solomon was the builder of Israel’s Temple (cp. Acts 15:16). At the dedication of the Temple, Solomon was the one who offered sacrifices unto the Lord: thus the king fulfilled the office of priest (I Kings 8:63), which typifies the Lord Jesus who “shall be a Priest upon His throne” (Zech. 6:13). Solomon’s “fame” went abroad far and wide and “all the earth sought to Solomon” (I Kings 10:24). The queen of Sheba, representing the Gentiles, came up to Jerusalem to pay him homage (I Kings 10) as all the nations will to Christ during the millennium (see Zech. 14:16). All Israel’s land enjoyed rest and peace. The glory and magnificence of Solomon’s reign has never been equaled before or since - “And the Lord magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel” (I Chron. 29:25).
In the above types we have not sought to be exhaustive but suggestive by singling out only the leading lines in each typical picture. There are many other Old Testament characters who were types of Christ which we cannot now consider at length: - Adam typified His Headship; Enoch His Ascension; Noah as the provider of a Refuge; Jacob as the one who served for a Wife; Aaron as the great High Priest; Joshua as the Captain of our salvation; Samuel as the Faithful Prophet; Elijah as the Miracle worker; Jeremiah as the despised and rejected Servant of God; Daniel as the Faithful Witness for God; Jonah as the One raised from the dead on the third day.
In closing this chapter let us apply the argument. Of the many typical persons in the Old Testament who prefigure the Lord Jesus Christ, the striking, the accurate, and the manifold lights, in which each exhibits Him is truly remarkable. No two of them represent Him from exactly the same viewpoint. Each one contributes a line or two to the picture, but all are needed to give a complete delineation. That an authentic history should supply a series of personages in different ages, whose characters, offices, and histories, should exactly correspond with those of Another who did not appear upon earth until centuries later, can only be accounted for on the supposition of Divine appointment. When we consider the utter dissimilarity of these typical persons to one another; when we note that they had little or nothing in common with each other; when we remember that each of them represents some peculiar feature in a composite Anti type; we discover that we have a literary phenomenon which is truly remarkable. Abel, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Samson, David, Solomon (and all the others) are each deficient when viewed separately; but when looked at in conjunction they form an harmonious whole, and give us a complete representation of our Lord’s miraculous birth, His peerless character, His life’s mission, His sacrificial death, His triumphant resurrection, His ascension to heaven, and His millennial reign. Who could have invented such character? How remarkable that the earliest history in the world, extending from the creation and reaching to the last of the prophets - written by various hands thro’ a period of fifteen centuries - should from start to finish concentrate in a single point, and that point the person and work of the blessed Redeemer! Verily, such a Book must have been written by God - no other conclusion is possible. Beneath the historical we discern the spiritual: behind the incidental we behold the typical: underneath the human biographies we see the form of Christ, and in these things we discover on every page of the Old Testament the “watermark” of heaven.
The manner in which the Bible has been produced argues against its unity. The Bible was penned on two continents, written in three languages, and its composition and compilation extended through the slow progress of sixteen centuries. The various parts of the Bible were written at different times and under the most varying circumstances. Parts of it were written in tents, deserts, cities, palaces and dungeons; in times of imminent danger and in seasons of ecstatic joy. Among its writers were judges, kings, priests, prophets, patriarchs, prime ministers, herdsmen, scribes, soldiers, physicians and fishermen. Yet despite these varying circumstances, conditions and workmen, the Bible is one Book, behind its many parts there is an unmistakable organic unity. It contains one system of doctrine, one code of ethics, one plan of salvation and one rule of faith.
Now if forty different men were selected today from such varying stations and callings of life as to include clerks, rulers, politicians, judges, clergy, doctors, farm laborers and fishermen, and each was asked to contribute a chapter for some book on theology or church government, when their several contributions were collected and bound together, would there be any unity about them, could that book truly be said to be one book; or would not their different productions vary so much in literary value, diction and matter as to be merely a heterogeneous mass, a miscellaneous collection? Yet we do not find this to be the case in connection with God’s Book. Although the Bible is a volume of sixty-six Books, written by forty different men, treating of such a large variety of themes as to cover nearly the whole range of human inquiry, we find it is one Book, the Book (not the books), the Bible.
Further; if we were to select specimens of literature from the third, fifth, tenth, fifteenth and twentieth centuries of the Christian era and were to bind them together, what unity and harmony should we find in such a collection? Human writers reflect the spirit of their own day and generation and the compositions of men living amid widely differing influences and separated by centuries of time have little or nothing in common with each other. Yet although the earliest portions of the Sacred Canon date back to at least the fifteenth century, B. C., while the writings of John were not completed till the close of the first century, A. D., nevertheless, we find a perfect harmony throughout the Scriptures from the first verse in Genesis to the last verse in Revelation. The great ethical and spiritual lessons presented in the Bible, by whoever taught, agree.
The more one really studies the Bible the more one is convinced that behind the many human mouths there is One overruling, controlling Mind. Imagine forty persons of different nationalities, possessing various degrees of musical culture visiting the organ of some cathedral and at long intervals of time, and without any collusion whatever, striking sixty-six different notes, which when combined yielded the theme of the grandest oratorio ever heard: would it not show that behind these forty different men there was one presiding mind, one great Tone master? As we listen to some great orchestra, with an immense variety of instruments playing their different parts, but producing melody and harmony, we realize that at the back of these many musicians there is the personality and genius of the composer. And when we enter the halls of the Divine Academy and listen to the heavenly choirs singing the Song of Redemption, all in perfect accord and unison, we know that it is God Himself who has written the music and put this song into their mouths.
We now submit two illustrations which demonstrate the unity of the Holy Scriptures. Certain grand conceptions run through the entire Bible like a cord on which are strung so many precious pearls. First and foremost among them is the Divine Plan of Redemption. Just as the scarlet thread runs through all the cordage of the British Navy, so a crimson aura surrounds every page of God’s Word.
In the Scriptures the Plan of Redemption is central and fundamental. In Genesis we have recorded the Creation and Fall of man to show that he has the capacity for and is in need of redemption. Next we find the Promise of the Redeemer, for man requires to have before him the hope and expectation of a Saviour. Then follows an elaborate system of sacrifices and offerings and these represent pictorially the nature of redemption and the condition under which salvation is realized. At the commencement of the New Testament we have the four Gospels and they set forth the Basis of Redemption, namely, the Incarnation, Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of the Redeemer. Next comes the Book of the Acts which illustrates again and again the Power of Redemption, showing that it is adequate to work its great results in the salvation of both Jew and Gentile. Finally, in the Revelation, we are shown the ultimate triumphs of redemption, the Goal of Salvation - the redeemed dwelling with God in perfect union and communion. Thus we see that though a large number of human media were employed in the writing of the Bible, yet their productions are not independent of each other, but are complementary and supplementary parts of one great whole; that one sublime truth is common to them all, namely, man’s need of redemption and God’s provision of a Redeemer. And the only explanation of this fact is, that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”
Secondly; among all the many personalities presented in the Bible, we find that one stands out above all others, not merely prominent but preeminent. Just as in the scene unveiled in the fifth chapter of the Revelation we find the Lamb in the center of the heavenly throngs, so we find that in the Scriptures also, the Lord Jesus Christ is accorded the place which alone befits His unique Person. Considered from one standpoint the Scriptures are really the biography of the Son of God.
In the Old Testament we have the Promise of our Lord’s Incarnation and Mediatorial work. In the Gospels we have the Proclamation of His Mission and the Proofs of His Messianic claims and authority. In the Acts we have a demonstration of His saving Power and the execution of His missionary Program. In the Epistles we find an exposition and amplification of His Precepts for the education of His People. While in the Apocalypse we behold the unveiling or Presentation of His Person and the Preparation of the earth for His Presence. The Bible is therefore seen to be peculiarly the Book of Jesus Christ. Christ not only testified to the Scriptures but each section of the Scriptures testify of Him. Every page of the Holy Book has stamped upon it His photograph and every chapter bears His autograph. He is its one great theme, and the only explanation of this fact is that, the Holy Spirit superintended the work of each and every writer of the Scriptures.
The unity of the Scriptures is further to be seen on the fact that they are entirely free from any real contradictions. Though different writers often described the same incidents - as for example the four evangelists recording the facts relating to our Lord’s ministry and redemptive work - and though there is considerable variety in the narrations of these, yet there are no real discrepancies. The harmony existing between them does not appear on the surface, but, often, is only discovered by protracted study, though it is there nevertheless. Moreover, there is perfect agreement of doctrine between all the writers in the Bible. The teaching of the prophets and the teaching of the Apostles on the great truths of God’s righteousness, the demands of His holiness, the utter ruin of man, the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the way of salvation, is entirely harmonious. This might appear a thing easily effected. But those who are acquainted with human nature, and have read widely the writings of men, will acknowledge that nothing but the inspiration of the writers can explain this fact. Nowhere can we find two uninspired writers, however similar they may have been in their religious sentiments, who agree in all points of doctrine. Nay, entire consistency of sentiment is not to be found even in the writings of the same author at different periods. In his later years Spurgeon’s statement of some doctrines was much more modified than the utterances of his earlier days. Increasing knowledge causes men to change their views upon many subjects. But among the writers of Scripture there is the most perfect harmony, because they obtained their knowledge of truth and duty not by the efforts of study, but from inspiration by the Holy Spirit of God.
When therefore we find that in the productions of forty different men there is perfect accord and concord, unison and unity, harmony in all their teachings, and the same conceptions pervading all their writings, the conclusion is irresistible that behind their minds, and guiding their hands, there was the master-mind of God Himself. Does not the unity of the Bible illustrate the Divine Inspiration of the Bible and demonstrate the truth of its own assertion that “God (who) at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1)?
The influence of the Bible is world-wide. Its mighty power has affected every department of human activity. The contents of the Scriptures have supplied themes for the greatest poets, artists and musicians which the world has yet produced, and have been the mightiest factor of all in shaping the moral progress of the race. Let us consider a few examples of the Bible’s influence as displayed in the various realms of human enterprise.
Take away such sublime oratorios as “Elijah” and “The Messiah,” and you have taken out of the realm of music something which can never be duplicated; destroy the countless hymns which have drawn their inspiration from the Scriptures and you have left us little else worth singing. Eliminate from the compositions of Tennyson, Wordsworth and Carlisle every reference to the moral and spiritual truths taught in God’s Word and you have stripped them of their beauty and robbed them of their fragrance. Take down from off the walls of our best Art Galleries those pictures which portray scenes and incidents in the history of Israel and the life of our Lord and you have removed the richest gems from the crown of human genius. Remove from our statute books every law which is founded upon the ethical conceptions of the Bible and you have annihilated the greatest factor in modern civilization. Rob our libraries of every book which is devoted to the work of elaborating and disseminating the precepts and concepts of Holy Writ and you have taken from us that which cannot be valued in dollars and cents.
The Bible has done more for the emancipation and civilization of the heathen than all the forces which the human arm can wield, put together. Someone has said, “Draw a line around the nations which have the Bible and you will then have divided between barbarism and civilization, between thrift and poverty, between selfishness and charity, between oppression and freedom, between life and the shadow of death.” Even Darwin had to concede the miraculous element in the triumphs of the missionaries of the cross.
Here are two or three men who land on a savage island. Its inhabitants posses no literature and have no written language. They regard the white man as their enemy and have no desire to be shown “the error of their ways.” They are cannibals by instinct and little better than the brute beasts in their habits of life. The missionaries who have entered their midst have no money with which to buy their friendship, no army to compel their obedience and no merchandise to stir their avarice. Their only weapon is “the Sword of the Spirit,” their only capital “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” their only offer the invitation of the Gospel. Yet somehow they succeed, and without the shedding of any blood gain the victory. In a few short years naked savagery is changed to the garb of civilization, lust is transformed into purity, cruelty is now kindness, avarice has become unselfishness, and where before vindictiveness existed there is now to be seen meekness and the spirit of loving self-sacrifice. And this has been accomplished by the Bible! This miracle is still being repeated in every part of the earth! What other book, or library of books, could work such a result? Is it not evident to all that the Book which does exert such a unique and unrivaled influence must be vitalized by the life of God Himself?
This wonderful characteristic, namely the unique influence of the Bible, is rendered the more remarkable when we take into account the antiquity of the Scriptures! The last Books which were added to the Sacred Canon are now more than eighteen hundred years old, yet the workings of the Bible are as mighty in their effects today as they were in the first century of the Christian era.
The power of man’s books soon wane and disappear. With but few exceptions the productions of the human intellect enjoy a brief existence. As a general rule the writings of man within fifty years of their first public appearance lie untouched on the top shelves of our libraries. Man’s writings are like himself - dying creatures. Man comes onto the age of this world, plays his part in the drama of life, influences the audience while he is acting, but is forgotten as soon as the curtain falls upon his brief career; so it is with his writings. While they are fresh and new they amuse, interest or instruct as the wise may be, and then die a natural death. Even the few exceptions to this rule only exert a very limited influence, their power is circumscribed; they are unread by the great majority, yea, are unknown to the biggest portion of our race. But how different with God’s Book! The written Word, like the Living Word, is “The same yesterday, and today, and for ever,” and unlike any other book it has made its way into all countries and speaks with equal clearness, directness and force to all men in their mother tongue. The Bible never becomes antiquated, its vitality never diminishes and its influence is more irresistible and universal today than it was two thousands years ago. Such facts as these declare with no uncertain voice that the Bible is endued with the same Divine life and energy as its Author, for in no other way can we account for its marvelous influence through the centuries and its mighty power upon the world.