The Reliability of the Old Testament – The 39 books of the Old Testament were completed around 400 BC. Since none of the original writings still exist, critics of the Old Testament have often claimed that today’s Old Testament is seriously flawed. Is the Old Testament a reliable source of information? After all, it’s been translated, retranslated, copied, and recopied multiple thousands of times by fallible people.
From 100-500 AD, people called the “Talmudists” produced copies of the Old Testament, a task so sacred that they worked in full Jewish dress and washed their entire body before copying a single word. Every scroll was made of particular materials, and penned in special ink. Not a single word could be written from memory, and, to prevent mistakes, every column had to contain exactly thirty letters. Unfortunately, none of their work remains today.
Following the Talmudists was a time known as the Masoretic Period. Copyists took great care to enumerate, count, and compare, tallying every time a letter of the alphabet occurred in each book. Then the Pentateuch, then the entire Old Testament. If anything didn’t match up perfectly, the entire manuscript was destroyed. Until 1947 these were the best copies in existence, but they still left a gap of 1200 to 1500 years between them and the originals. This situation left a lot of room for questions about their accuracy.
All that changed in 1947 with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls written about 150 BC. Suddenly, these manuscripts took us at least 1000 years closer to the originals. Critics claimed we would have to make serious revisions to correct scores of errors in our Old Testament, but the Dead Sea Scrolls actually revealed nothing less than the miraculous. On average, experts found only one variation per every 1580 words. 98% of them were simple spelling variations, and none of the variances affected the meaning of the text! Bottom line: The text is reliable.
Archaeology affirms once again that the Old Testament is reliable. For example, critics claimed for decades that the Hittites of the Old Testament didn’t really exist and that the writers had invented them to establish a literary enemy. All that changed when 1200 years of Hittite history were discovered! Bottom line: This history is reliable. While both literary discoveries and archaeology support the reliability of the Old Testament, the most amazing affirmation is its fulfilled prophecy.
For example, around 700 BC, the prophet Isaiah predicted that one day a king named Cyrus would issue a decree to rebuild the temple (Isaiah 44 v.28; 45 v.1), which at that time was still intact. His prediction (160 years before Cyrus or his kingdom existed) seemed ludicrous at the time, since Jerusalem was secure and the temple was intact. About a hundred years later (586 BC), a Babylonian king named Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. (2 Kings 25 v.8-10) Then in 539, a king named Cyrus came to power and issued the decree. (Ezra 1 v.1-2)
Bottom line: The prophecy is remarkable! When you read from the Old Testament, you may do so with the absolute assurance that it is the unchanged, uncorrupted, inspired, and authentic word of God.
Prophecy can prove prophecy. In some cases, in the same book or from prophecies from other books.
Prophecy Provides Foolproof Identification – There is another important significance of prophecy which is not as readily accepted. God wants us to know the signs of the times that reveal the nearness of Christ’s return. We have seen how neglect and ignorance of prophecy caused both the secular and religious authorities to crucify Christ at His first advent. In view of today’s neglect of prophecy, there is every reason to expect a comparable confusion when Christ comes again.
How amazingly accurate was Christ’s prophecy made more than 1900 years ago! Once again we have confirmation of Christ’s deity and of the fact that the Bible is God’s Word. Confirmation, too, that these are the last days of which He spoke. In our day, for the first time in history, the fulfillment of Christ’s frightening prophecy, a prophecy that seemed impossible for so many centuries, is simply a matter of using existing weapons. This terrifying development in destructive capabilities means that Christ’s prophecy could become reality at any time.
The Value of Studying Revelation – To many, the book of Revelation is a closed book. More than one Bible teacher has taken a class from Matthew through the book of Jude, only to return to the book of Matthew rather than face the unusual teachings of the book of Revelation. It cannot be denied that it has confused many people. Nor can we deny that this book has been of immeasurable blessings to others.
A special blessing is promised to those who read this book. (Rev 1 v.3) There is blessing in reading any portion of God’s word, but this is the only book that promises special blessing for those who read and hear its words. Keep in mind too that the book closes with a restatement of this blessing for those who, in addition to reading and hearing the Word, also “keep it”. (Rev. 22 v7)
It reveals God’s wonderful Plan for the future. A keen interest in future events is a universal desire of the human race, particularly in days like ours when world conditions are so uncertain.
This book gives clearer detail concerning Bible prophecy than any other book in the Bible. For example, John describes the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ (Rev. 19); the governmental operation of the man of sin, the terrible events of the Tribulation Period, the ultimate end of Satan, the future glorification of the Church, the future position of the Saints, and the city Christ is preparing for His Church. Without Revelation we would have only scant information regarding these future events.
This book completes the circle of Bible truths. As the Word of God, the Scriptures predictably reveal superb planning and organization. We see that clearly in the book of Revelation, for it completes the great truths begun in Genesis and in other passages of the Bible.
1. Special Suggestions for Studying this Book – Follow the golden rule of interpretation: When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate text, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, clearly indicate otherwise.
2. Locate the Scene of Activity – Hopeless confusion will be generated in the study of Revelation unless one keeps firmly in mind whether the scene under discussion takes place in heaven or on earth. The action should also be followed closely, for sometimes a scene in heaven results in activity on the earth. For example, chapters 4 and 5 are scenes in Heaven; chapter 6 is a scene on the earth.
True “Apostolic Succession” – Apostolic succession does not bestow (as the Roman Catholic Church falsely claims) privileges, responsibilities, and powers upon a select class of clergy, priests, bishops, and popes. No, these blessings accrue equally to every person who becomes a disciple of Christ. This chain of command from Christ through His disciples to their converts and on to their converts’ converts has come down to every Christian today. By God’s grace, we have been given the same obligation and privilege of preaching in all the world the same gospel of the kingdom which the original apostles preached, for we are the disciples of those who were made disciples by them. Every true Christian is a successor to the apostles!
Confusion concerning the kingdom has relegated many of Christ’s teachings, such as the Sermon on the Mount, to Israel and the millennium, causing Christians today to miss much of value for their own lives. Some evangelicals go so far as to say that the four Gospels are only for Israel and the millennium, while the epistles are for the Church. Yet it was in the Gospels that Christ founded His Church, and it is there that we find the foundational truths.
“About the time of the end, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the prophecies of the Bible, and insist on their literal interpretation in the midst of much clamor and opposition.” (Sir Isaac Newton – 1643-1727 AD)
Many people question why God used symbols in the Book of Revelation. Why didn’t He just put everything He had to say in plain words? The answer to this question is multi faceted. First of all, the style used in Revelation is an example of what is call “apocalyptic literature” which was quite popular from 200 BC to 200 AD. It was a style that was well known and understood by both Jews and Gentiles in the first century Church. A major feature of apocalyptic literature was the use of symbols. Our difficulty in understanding this book is due to our unfamiliarity with apocalyptic literature as a method of communicating a message.
The book is also far removed from the historical and cultural context of the times that would make the symbolism easier to understand. That is why to properly interpret it we must try to understand the historical context in which it was written and interpret it in a manner that would have been meaningful to those to whom it was first addressed.
Second, when Jesus was on earth He often taught by means of parables. The apostles questioned him once concerning this and Jesus explained: “He answered and said unto them: Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. (Mat. 13 v.11-15)
The mysteries of God are revealed through parables and symbols to His children, to those who hear with a spiritual ear. They are withheld from the so called “wise and prudent”. (Mat. 11 v.25) The rule for understanding symbols in Revelation is simple: Whenever a symbol is used, we look elsewhere in the Bible to learn what that symbol means. For example, in Revelation 1 the vision of Christ in the midst of seven candlesticks is interpreted in verse 20.
Hal Lindsey goes into some of the encoding deciphering some of the code words used such as beasts, woman, hills, etc. He states the interpretation was there all the time. It was encoded so that only a Christian guided by the Spirit of God would be able to interpret it. And, as Daniel predicted, the Scroll of Prophecy was sealed until the last days. This kind of encryption is frequently used in Revelation and certain other places in the Bible.
You may ask, why so much in Revelation. One good reason God inspired John to use these encrypted Biblical symbols is obvious. Had John clearly revealed some of the things he wrote in Revelation that were against the Roman Empire (even though he was referring to it in the revived form of the last days), the Roman government not understanding that this referred to a future revived form of the old Roman Empire, would have branded this a seditious book that plotted the overthrow of the Empire. As a result, all Christians in the empire would’ve been arrested and executed without mercy.
The 4 pivotal events of history.
1 – Creation
2 – The Flood
3 – The Cross
- 4 – The Second Coming
The 3rd pivotal event of history was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The cross as a symbol includes His virgin birth in fulfillment of prophecy, His sinless life, His sacrificial death, and His resurrection. When He gave Himself to die on that cross for “the sins of the whole world” He ended the age of law and introduced the age of grace. From that time on, individuals have been able to be eternally saved “through faith” by repenting of their sins and calling on Christ to save them. That is why it is call “the age of grace”. That age will end with the Second Coming of Christ.
Scripture says, “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thes 5 v.21), and when doing research it is sometimes helpful to examine the original words to clarify a meaning. To illustrate, imagine a future time, 2000 years from now, when some archeologist unearths a manuscript from our era and reads, “It is raining cats and dogs!” The statement, in vernacular, is accurate. It means it is raining very hard. But if our future archeologist failed to look into the common vernacular, he could well conclude that 2,000 years ago, cats and dogs fell from the sky!
One of the most commonly neglected Bible subjects among Christians today is the priesthood of all believers – that is, that we today are priests of God. As His priest, we should be faithful in exercising our privileges and responsibilities. What are our responsibilities? Basically they are twofold: intercession and sacrifice. Intercessory prayer should occupy much of the life of the believer (1 Tim. 2 v.1)
If we really understood that unbelievers cannot pray and that Christians out of fellowship with God cannot pray, then we would be burdened to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and for the unsaved. The course of history could well have been changed had we Christians been more faithful in the regard. Another work of the priest in the Old Testament was to sacrifice. The New Testament tells us of four sacrifices that Christians can make:
Romans 12 v.1-2 – your body – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Hebrews 13 v.15 – the sacrifice of praise (worship) – By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
Hebrews 13 v.16 – good works – But to do good and
- Hebrews 13 v.16 giving – to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
This Present Church Age – Jesus not only promised His followers that He “will come again” and take them to His Fathers house (John 14 v.3) He promised to “build His church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Mat. 16 v.18) He built that church through the ministry of the Holy Spirit working in His apostles and in those who became believers through them.
His church has been persecuted by religions, kings, and dictators, yet today it is stronger than ever. That is a testimony to His promise, for although the church has been the most consistently hated group on earth, it is still growing and will continue to do so until He takes it out of this world.
The church age started with the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 through the present day. The word Pentecost means fifty and was the Greek name for the Jewish Feasts of Weeks or Harvest. While the Church began on this day in the Jewish calendar, the Old Testament significance of this feast does not relate to the founding of the Church.
The bible says very little about the ages past or the ages to come. God seems most interested in man’s understanding of his own past. So 50% of the Bible’s 66 books cover human history. From man’s existence in the period we call “time from Adam” through the coming kingdom age of Jesus Christ.
25% of the Bible contains instructions on how to live in the present and treat others.
Failure to understand God’s plan, from the coming of the “first Adam” to the second coming of Christ to establish His kingdom, will keep you from answering the big philosophical questions of life: Why am I here? Where am I going? How do I get there? Only a study of the Bible and Prophecy adequately answers all those questions.
A day is coming when the world’s leaders will become so atheistic that they will pit their wills against God. This event evidently will take place in the middle of the Tribulation, when human pride is so filled with people’s own importance that they think they can actually defy God. In so doing, they will incur the wrath of God. “Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” (Ps. 2 v.5-6)
All Humankind Has a Choice to Make – Every person in every generation has a choice: to obey God or to do his own thing. In Old Testament days obedient faith require men and women to sacrifice an innocent lamb in obedience to the instruction of God. Since the finished work of Christ on the cross, that act of faith is the bending of one’s knees before the cross and calling on the name of the Lord. In this sense, each individual determines where he will spend eternity – with God or without Him. Those are the only two choices.
The Modern Prophecy Movement Begins – In this generation there is another reality developing. With the appearance of many books, Bible prophecy is more understandable to the common man. An unprecedented interest by the average Christian in Bible Prophecy in general and the Apocalypse in particular is driving ministers of all persuasions back to their studies. It is being studied by both friend and foe with a renewed interest. By the former to explain it better, by the latter to explain it away. At least it is being studied.
The most amazing research in connection with the Apocalypse was done by a line of Biblical scholars. Through centuries they took the Apocalypse seriously and sought to understand its message in the most literal futuristic sense possible. They came from many different denominations, and see its primary message as prophetic to the events that occur just before, during and after the Second Coming of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. While seeking to understand other views, Hal Lindsey has studied continuously to understand this unique book, with all of its challenges, for over 45 years.
There are those who believe the Church must stay on earth to lead the unbelievers to Jesus Christ. This is NOT SO! There are many scriptures absolutely stating that believer’s will be spared that time of wrath. We’ll cover those later. The reason so many will believe and be saved after the Rapture is:
All of those who were left behind will realize that they were told many, many times by those who tried to tell them to come to Christ and they didn’t listen for one reason or another.
- Angels preaching the everlasting gospel.
The church has produced many powerful soul winners and influential Christian leaders. Evangelists like George Whitefield, John Wesley, D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday and others. Billy Graham has preached the gospel to more people than any man in history. Because of his access to modern means of communication, he has probably preached the gospel to more people than all evangelists of proceeding centuries combined.
One of Graham’s last messages was carried by video to more countries simultaneously than ever before; one reporter estimated that the evangelist preached the gospel that day to 281 million people. Add that to the millions who have attended his crusades during the past 50 years, seen the TV programs of his crusades, watched his movies, read his book, or been influenced by his other efforts to get the gospel out, it is possible that he alone has presented the gospel to one billion or more souls.
The true missionary and evangelistic outreach of the church is one of the best kept secrets of our times. The prince of the power of the air, the god of this age, would have us believe that the whole world is following him. That is probably the biggest lie of our day. In reality, millions from all over the world are coming to Christ.
Even in China, the Holy Spirit is bringing millions to faith in Christ through the ministry of faithful “house churches”. Still others are hearing good news via short-wave radio. In all, millions of souls all over the world are coming to the Savior. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, God is opening whole countries to gospel preaching, countries that have been closed for over 70 years.
Universal Gospel Preaching Yet to Come – Mat. 24.v.14 is not now being fulfilled, and it won’t be until the Tribulation says Tim LaHaye. If present trends were allowed to continue, the task of worldwide evangelism could be accomplished in 1 or 2 decades (written in 1999). Technology is helping to spread the gospel.
Thirty years ago it took a translator most of his lifetime to break down a tribal language into writing and then translate the New Testament into a tongue the people could understand. Now, with the aid of computers, one translator has been known to translate the New Testament into five languages! The task is getting smaller, not greater, even with the increasing world population.
Dr. Bill Bright, a long time visionary for Christ, is one of the most effective teachers of soul winning in the world today. He and the 16,000 workers under Campus Crusade for Christ have long had the goal of “helping to win the world for Christ.” They have accelerated their plans. The Jesus film, a dramatized version of the life of Christ narrated from the Gospel of Luke, has yielded incredible results.
First produced in English, it had such remarkable effects that the script was translated into many other languages. Bill Bright, the film’s originator, was presented a golden copy of the four hundredth language translation of the film. Bill told Tim LaHaye that Campus Crusade has recorded 500 million professions of faith in Christ from showing the film around the world.
Even now we are seeing a new trend as hundreds of leaders in the body of Christ from all over the world are doing what Jesus commanded us to do: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations”. (Mat. 28 v.19) Using available technology, these leaders and mission heads are multiplying their efforts in getting the gospel out as a prelude to “the time of the end”.
Even the Internet is providing a much needed service. There are many sites that contain up to the minute news information. Some news reports which our local news outlets may fail to report, or the news is bias towards someone’s agenda, not what we would call unbiased reporting. To watch some of the top news services report the news coming out of Israel is downright shameful in their one sided reporting.
Many sites such as Irv Baxter’s www.endtime.com have recordings of their daily broadcasts that can be downloaded and saved or just listened to through the computer. He analyzes how current News events and Bible Prophecy elates. For his web site go to: www.endtime.com
Much information can be obtained from Christian sites such as books, VCR’s and tapes. The Internet allows us to search for information concerning many events of the past such as the Reformation period, things about Constantine, or just research words to find their Biblical meanings. There are many very bad things that can be found on the Internet including bomb making, illegal drugs, all types of cult activities, pornography, people luring young people into making bad or fatal mistakes, but on the other hand, you find just the opposite. The Internet is like anything else as it contains good and bad. It is up to the individual to choose which they want. It’s call Free Will! It can be a real blessing to many as well as a way for people to set up businesses.
According to Hal Lindsey in Planet Earth: The Final Chapter, the Tribulation Period is divided into a series of 21 Judgments, all of which take place in chronological order. Each of the Judgments is subdivided into one of seven types: the 7 Seal Judgments, the 7 Trumpet Judgments, and the 7 Bowl Judgments. Each succeeding Judgment upon the earth is more terrible than the one before. It is a gradual process that starts somewhat slowly, as Jesus promised in Mat. 24 v.22, if He didn’t return to put an end to them, not a single human would survive.
Only a Bible illiterate is unable to see that these are the last days. No book in the Bible has been more discredited than Revelation except for its counterpart in the Old Testament, the book of Daniel. Tim LaHaye states that he has found that proper understanding of Revelation motivates Christians to consistent dedication and service. It lifts their spirits and gives them a hope in the future that no other book in the world provides.
What is interesting is that the only religious group not tolerated today is Bible believing Christians. They are seen as intolerant because they insist that “Jesus is the only way.” Once we are removed by the Rapture, nothing on the religious horizon would impede the idolatrous worshipers of the world from uniting and becoming the Babylonian harlot that has for centuries been “drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus”. (Rev 17 v.6) It is clear from Revelation that these idolatrous religionists will continue to hate Jesus Christ and His followers right into the Tribulation.
Here are 2 trivia questions for you:
1. Who are the only two characters in the Bible named “the son of perdition”?
- 2. Who are the only two persons in the Bible whom Satan himself is thought to possess?
If you answered Judas Iscariot and the Antichrist, you’re correct. Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. (Luke 22 v.3-4) Scriptures go on to say: After Judas hanged himself, he went “to his own place” (Acts 1 v.25)