June 2, 2019 Has God Spoken? Part Two

 

 

Scripture reading: 2 Peter 1:16-21.

 

Last time we observed that, when Daniel was in captivity in Babylon, the king’s enchanters expressed the belief that “the gods” do not dwell with man nor do they reveal secret things. There are many people today that are like those enchanters. They do not believe, or at least are not certain that, God dwells with man and that he reveals things. But God does dwell with man. Isaiah tells us that he dwells with those who are humble and contrite respecting their sins. In these last days he has especially come to dwell with mankind in the Person of Jesus Christ.

 

God also reveals secret things. He has spoken them. That is the question before us. Has God spoken? Not only has he spoken, but we can know with certainty that he has! There are three reasons how we can know that God has spoken.

 

The first is fulfilled prophecy. Man does not know and cannot know the future of his own accord. Only God knows the future because he knows all things. If there were a book that both claimed to be from God and that accurately prophesied the future then this would be a powerful attestation that the book is of divine origin. The Bible is such a book. Not only is it such a book, but it is the only book that contains fulfilled prophecy.

 

Last week we looked at seven prophecies. Let us consider one more. This one is the most amazing of them all.

 

24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.

25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. (Daniel 9:24-25; NIV)

 

Daniel wrote chapter nine of his book in 539 BC. The verses we just read are the words of the angel Gabriel to Daniel. The version we read out of reads, “Seventy sevens are decreed…” This is the literal rendering. Many versions read “seventy weeks,” but the original language reads “sevens.”

 

The question before us is seventy sevens of what? Seven hours? Seven days? Or, seven years? It is clear from the scope of the prophecy that it must be referring to seventy sevens of years. The decree of a king to restore and rebuild Jerusalem would not go out for many years and then it would take time to rebuild it. At the end of sixty-nine “sevens” the Anointed One, or the Messiah, would come. Some versions make it easy and just translate it as “years.”[1]

 

Verse 25 says that, “From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem…” When did this happen? There was more than one decree. There were actually four.[2] However, only one matches the terms of the prophecy. The fulfillment of this prophecy happened with amazing precision from the decree of King Artaxerxes to Ezra found in Ezra chapter 7.

 

[Read Ezra 7:11-16]

 

We know the years when the Persian kings reigned because the Persians kept precise astronomical records, such as lunar and solar eclipses.[3] We, in turn, can calculate backwards from the known cycles of eclipses. Hence, we know the decree that we just read went out in 457 BC.

 

Observe that sixty-nine sevens of years will transpire until the Messiah would come. What is 69 times 7? Answer: 483. Four hundred eighty-three years would go by and the Messiah would come.

 

So, when did Jesus come? Jesus was born in 4 BC. When he was thirty years old he began his ministry.

 

23 Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,[4]

 

This was Jewish custom. One did not speak or teach publicly until 30 years of age. The same time that Jesus began his public ministry he was baptized by John the Baptist and a voice came out of heaven declaring that He was God’s beloved Son (vs 22). What year would that have been? It was 27 AD. Count 483 years from 457 BC and you come to exactly 27 AD!![5] This prophecy, among others in the book of Daniel, are so precise that those who do not believe in the supernatural are forced to say that the person who wrote the book very late – either in Alexander’s time (200’s BC) or later. But this excuse just falls down like a wet noodle. First, it can be proven that the book was written in the sixth century BC and, second, even if it were written in Alexander’s time, the prophecy that we just read cannot be adequately explained.

 

What else would happen according to Daniel 9:24? There would be

“an end to sin,” an atonement for wickedness, and the bringing in of “everlasting righteousness.” This happened at the cross. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, sins were taken away, atoned for! Praise God! Even the righteousness of Christ is applied to those who believe! What a prophecy!

 

So, eight prophecies (see the previous message for the other seven) prove that the Bible is divine.

 

The second reason we may know that the Holy Scriptures are from God is because Jesus Christ taught that they were. In order to grasp the import of this truth we must understand that all beliefs and claims of knowledge are based upon authority. Some people’s authority is their own reasoning coupled with their sensory abilities. This source of authority – a person being their own authority – has demonstrated itself to be quite unreliable. Time and time again, people learn that they were mistaken about many things. This being true, how can a person be certain that they are not mistaken about what they believe presently – if they have no authority beyond themselves? They cannot. Hence, self-authority is worthless as an ultimate foundation unless it is found outside of us in a more reliable source. Indeed, this is why few people view themselves as an authority. Most people look to others as an authority. It could be a parent. It could be a teacher. It could be the government. It could be society. It could be the church. But, I tell you, each one of those authorities have been mistaken in the past and the same question arises: How can one know whether one’s authority is not mistaken? You cannot know unless your authority is God.

 

This is why Jesus Christ is a true and certain authority. Because He is God manifest in the flesh. Do you know what? Even if a person were uncertain about that truth it would not change the fact that Jesus speaks with authority and his authority must be heeded. Think of it this way. What if a person did something wrong and they were apprehended by a policeman? He or she is a plainclothes policeman. The criminal does not believe that the person who apprehended them is a policeman. Does it make any difference? No! It doesn’t matter whether the criminal believes the person is a policeman or not. The policeman has authority to both apprehend and arrest the violator. Similarly, Jesus Christ is the Son of God and speaks with the authority of God. Every person must heed his authority whether they sufficiently recognize it or not.

 

Most people, though, even though they may not be completely convinced of Jesus’ authority, hold him to be very different and special. One of a kind. They respect him and his teachings even if they themselves have, by and large, have not paid much attention to them. Even those who know very little about him perceive that he was unique and they have heard that he worked miracles. Be that as it may, Jesus speaks and teaches with authority.

 

Let us see what he taught about the Scriptures.

 

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. [6]

 

The phrase, “the Law and the Prophets,” is just a Hebrew idiom for what we call the Old Testament. It was the Bible of Jesus’ day. An “iota” is a tiny stroke of a Hebrew letter and a dot is just a dot (some Hebrew letters have dots). Jesus is saying that even the form of the Hebrew letters, even in their small details, were inspired by God and must be true (be fulfilled).

 

[Read Matthew 4:1-11.]

 

Notice first that Jesus, living as a man, quoted the Scriptures as His authority. We all should emulate him in this regard.

 

The first time he responds to the devil he quotes Deuteronomy 8:3: “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus knew that what Moses wrote was the word of God!

 

4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” [7]

 

Note in verse 7 Jesus said that, in marriage, it is God who is joining the two together. In other words, because Moses wrote, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh, ’ Jesus knew that God had spoken it.

 

If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— [8]

 

Jesus is answering an objection that his listeners had to Jesus alluding to himself as God. Without taking the time to fully understand his answer, just take note that he says the Scripture cannot be broken, meaning it is always true and cannot be found to be false.

 

25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. [9]

 

In this passage Jesus appeared to two disciples after his resurrection from the dead. They were uncertain as to what had happened. They did not know, at first, that Jesus had arisen. In verse 27 he showed them, from the Scriptures, that he is the Promised One. See in verse 26 that he says it was necessary that he should suffer and then enter glory. It was necessary because it was written in Scripture. Jesus believed that the Scriptures were of God and, therefore, what they foretold must happen!

 

He also said, in verse 25, that those who do not believe in the Scriptures are foolish.

 

The first reason we know that God has spoken is because of fulfilled prophecy.

The second reason we know that God has spoken is because Jesus taught that He has spoken through the Bible of his day.

 

I would like you to notice something about these reasons. They are not found outside the Bible, as if there is some other source of authority that can validate the Bible. They are found within the Bible because the Scriptures are self-authenticating and self-validating. It must be so because there is no higher authority than God. God’s words must authenticate themselves. And they do.

 

This brings us to the third reason we can know that God has spoken. It is this: Unless a person presupposes the truth of God’s revelation, he or she cannot make any sense of the world morally, logically, or scientifically. Even knowledge itself is impossible without revelation from God. There is not adequate time to demonstrate this. I will only say that absolute morals are not possible without God. And not just any god, but the true God as revealed in the Bible. Logic cannot be universal and unchanging without God. And science would not be possible without God. In other words, it must be true that God has spoken; otherwise, there would be no absolute morals, no logic that requires our thinking to be so ordered, and science would not be possible. But there are absolute morals. There is logic. And, there is science. Therefore, God must have spoken.[10] I addressed this third reason in a previous message entitled Our Certain Foundation. (See http://nsbcwinfield.com/november_25_2018_our_certain_foundation)

 

Now we can better understand the apostle Peter’s great confidence in the Scriptures. “No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21)

 

God has spoken to you in the Bible. Have you read this wonderful book? All of it? If you have not read what God has spoken, does this tell you something about yourself? This is a question I hope you will ponder.

 

It is not too late. If you have never read the Bible, I would encourage you to do so. God desires for you to know his will. It reveals His will for you.

 

 

 

[1] E.g., Good News Bible, Living Bible,

[2] One from Cyrus in 537 BC (Ezra 1:1-4), one from Darius in 520 BC (Ezra 5:3-7), and two from Artaxerxes in 457 BC and 444 BC (Ezra 7:11-16 and Nehemiah 2:1-8 respectively).

[3] Jay Rogers, In the Days of These Kings (Media House International, Clermont, FL 34713; 2017), 160.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 3:23). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] There is no year “0” in the calendar. Thus, it is not counted.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 5:17–18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 19:3–6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 10:35). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 24:25–27). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[10] In logic, this is the argument form known as Modus Tollens. Specifically: If no God then no intelligibility (morals, logic, science, knowledge). Shortened: If not G, then not I. “Not G” is the antecedent. “Not I” is the consequent. But, we do have “I” (we can legitimately deny the antecedent: Not not-I = I. Therefore, Not not-G. (It is not true that there is not God.) There must be God. This is a valid argument, meaning that it must be true if the conditional statement is true.