Sunday, August 16, 2009


As I discussed last week, one of the reasons I find the Bible trustworthy is because of fulfilled prophecy. Just examining the evidence regarding the various prophecies about the Messiah that were fulfilled in Jesus is convincing enough. But there are many, many more that were also fulfilled throughout Israel's history. However, fulfilled prophecy isn't the only reason we have to trust what the Bible says.

Another reason that is just as strong is the evidence from archaeology. Over the last 150+ years, there has been extensive archaeological research in the entire region for lots of reasons:

  • The "fertile crescent" (the arc of land stretching from Israel to Mesopotamia) has been identified as the locale where the earliest humans were located. Consequently, many scientists are interested in discoveries related to the origins of humanity and studying primitive human life. This happens to also be the place where 90% of the Bible stories take place.
  • This region is the birthplace of three of the world's five major religions--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (the other two are Buddhism, which originated in China, and Hinduism in India). Many religious archaeologists have sought to make discoveries that would help shed light on the stories and people described in the various religious writings.
  • The area has also attracted many archaeologists who are hostile to religion, who have attempted to make discoveries that contradict the claims of scripture, or who have wanted to show that archaeology demonstrates that some facts are not as the Bible presents them.

Here's the crux of the issue: The Bible claims to be God's word--authoritative, accurate, and trustworthy in all its claims. There are many things that cannot be proven directly (e.g., whether an angel appeared to Gideon, whether God actually spoke to the prophets, or what was said at Jesus' trial before the Sanhedrin), but there are some things that can be proven. For example, if the Bible says Jericho was located a short distance west of the Jordan river and that its walls fell down (Josh. 6), then if the Bible is true we should find it where it's supposed to be, and there should be evidence that its walls collapsed. And that is exactly what we find. Jericho is actually one of the most excavated sites in Israel.

Literally thousands of statements in the Bible have been confirmed through archaeology, and so far none have been proven to be false. Here are a few examples:

  • References to the Hittites (as in 2 Kings 7) were also once regarded as scriptural inaccuracies. Until a little more than a century ago nothing was known of the Hittites outside of the Bible. Some suggested there had been a scribal error and that Assyrians were actually intended. The Bible was vindicated when Hittite monuments were discovered in the 1870s at Carchemish on the Euphrates River in Syria. In 1906, excavations at Boghazkoy in Turkey uncovered thousands of Hittite documents.
  • It was once claimed there was no Assyrian king named Sargon as recorded in Isaiah 20:1, because this name was not known in any other record. Then, Sargon's palace was discovered in Khorsabad, Iraq. The very event mentioned in Isaiah 20, his capture of Ashdod, was recorded on the palace walls. What is more, fragments of a stela memorializing the victory were found at Ashdod itself.
  • Another king who was in doubt was Belshazzar, king of Babylon, named in Daniel 5. The last king of Babylon was Nabonidus according to recorded history. Tablets were found showing that Belshazzar was Nabonidus' son who served as coregent in Babylon. Thus, Belshazzar could offer to make Daniel “third highest ruler in the kingdom” (Dan. 5:16) for reading the handwriting on the wall, the highest available position.
  • Some scholars doubted that Biblical King David actually lived. But in 1993, Israeli archaeologist Avraham Biran discovered a ninth-century B.C. stone tablet among the rubble of a wall at Tel Dan in northern Israel. The 13 lines of script on the tablet commemorate the defeat of Baasha, king of Israel, by Asa of "the House of David." This provided not only the first corroboration of their warfare (described in 1 Kings 15), but also the first mention of the name David outside the Bible.

And I could go on and on. Obviously, the miracles described in the Bible, as well as its spiritual message, must be accepted on faith, which is the basis of our relationship with God. But archaeology does demonstrate that--at the very least--the people, places, and events of the Bible are real. And this is no small matter, since one of the claims of the Bible is that God has revealed himself through the history of the people of Israel. If the historical record isn't accurate, then the claims about God based on that record can't be trusted either.

And while any one piece of evidence can be dismissed as a coincidence or insufficient by itself, it is the weight of the myriad of discoveries that demonstrates so clearly that the Bible is indeed the word of God. Time and time again, when an argument is made against the Bible because of a lack of evidence for some claim or another, archaeology ends up proving the Bible accurate and trustworthy after all.

Over 25,000 sites have been discovered by archaeology pertaining to the Bible, as well as the records of tens of thousands of individuals and events. Nelson Glueck, the renowned Jewish archaeologist, said, "It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted its Biblical reference."

In fact, many archaeologists have been convinced by their own findings that the Bible is an astonishing book - some even to the point of becoming Christians. Sir William Ramsay, for, example, was a wealthy atheistic English archaeologist who was determined to disprove the Bible. He spent many decades over his diggings and published book after book, detailing his findings which all confirm the Word of God. Sir William finally declared that the Bible is accurate and is the Word of God as a result of his findings!

We can have every confidence that when the Bible says something happened, it happened. The biblical writers were not in the habit of falsifying evidence. Biblical kings, wars, cities, rivers, people-groups, palaces, springs, tools, events, shrines, religions, customs, and more have all been verified through archaeology. It's one more reason why I can confidently believe everything the Bible says.

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