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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Amazing Historical Accuracy of the Bible

Don Stewart :: Is It Important That the Bible Is Historically Accurate?

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Is It Important That the Bible Is Historically Accurate?

The Amazing Historical Accuracy of the Bible – Question 2

As we explore the subject of the historical accuracy of Scripture, we will discover it is of vital importance. The Christian faith is an historical faith–it records what God has done in history. This being the case, the historical accuracy of recorded events is of utmost importance. This is true for both the Old and New Testaments.

A number of observations need to be made:

1. The Old Testament Reveals God’s Mighty Works

The Lord often reminded the nation of Israel of His mighty power; the deeds which He performed in their history. Thus, the historical accuracy of the Old Testament is of the utmost importance because the revelation of God to humanity was accomplished through His mighty words and deeds in history.

For example, we read in the Book of Exodus how God emphasized His bringing Israel out of Egypt:

And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Exodus 20:1-2 ESV)

The Lord is the One who brought Israel out of the slavery of Egypt. He did this through His miraculous power. The nation was continually urged to remember these mighty deeds of God.

In Second Kings, we again read of God reminding the people of how He delivered their nation from slavery. The Bible says:

The Lord made a covenant with them and commanded them, “You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them, but you shall fear the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm. You shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice.” (2 Kings 17:35-36 ESV)

The people were again reminded of this great event God performed in the past; the miraculous exodus from Egypt.

The people were also expected to remember other Old Testament events. The prophet Micah records the Lord saying the following things to the people:

Don’t you remember, my people, how King Balak of Moab tried to have you cursed and how Balaam son of Beor blessed you instead? And remember your journey from Acacia to Gilgal, when I, the LORD, did everything I could to teach you about my faithfulness. (Micah 6:5 NLT)

Again, God urges His people to remember His faithfulness in the past. These passages, along with many others, call attention to the fact that God intervened in history. This is the claim of the Old Testament; the Living God has worked His plan in our world.

2. The New Testament: God Came to Our World at a Time in History

We find that the historical accuracy of certain events is also important in the New Testament. The Bible says that Jesus Christ, God the Son, came into our world. John wrote:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 ESV)

The New Living Translation reads as follows:

So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. (John 1:14 NLT)

For a limited period of time, God became a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ. He did this for a number of reasons. One of the reasons was to show humanity what God is like. The Bible says:

No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known. (John 1:18 NET)

The New Testament records the highlights of the life and ministry of Jesus. It assumes that Jesus said the things attributed to Him as well as doing the things the Scripture records. Jesus made God known when He came to earth some two thousand years ago.

Thus, we find the writers of Scripture appealing time and time again to God working in actual historical events to testify to both His existence and power. The entire biblical revelation centers on what God has done in history. However, the truths taught in the Scriptures are only meaningful if the events actually happened. Therefore, the historical accuracy is of utmost importance.

Important Observations on the Historical Accuracy of Scripture

There are a number of important points that need to be made about the Bible and the subject of historical accuracy.

1. Historical Accuracy Is Unique to Judaism and Christianity

It must be stressed that historical reliability is unique to Judaism and Christianity. No other religion has any sort of historical basis on which their belief system rests—none of them! Contrary to all other religions, the events recorded in the Bible happened in real time history. The truth of the Christian faith is based upon the actual occurrence of these events that are recorded.

Therefore, the Scripture is unique in the sense that it is a reliable revelation of God in history.

2. Many of the Doctrines of Scripture Are Based upon Historical Events

There is something else. Many of the key doctrines of the Bible are based upon certain historical events. These include the virgin conception and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. These events must have literally occurred for the doctrines to be true. If the events did not happen as the Bible says they did then the teachings that come from these events cannot be true.

3. It Is Important to Understand What the Historical Events Mean

While it is important that the events recorded in the Bible actually occurred as the Scripture says they did, the correct reporting of these events is not enough in and of itself. We need more than the mere accurate recording of an event that took place in history—we need its meaning explained. Not only do we need to know what took place, we also need to know what it means. Scripture records the events plus the authoritative interpretation of these events. Events do not always carry their own interpretation with them. Why, for example, was the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth different from the crucifixion of anyone else? Scripture gives us both the event and the meaning.

The Scripture contains historical facts plus theological meaning—the facts must be accurate and the meaning must be true. It is the facts that are revealed, as well as the meaning of these facts, which give us a coherent understanding of God’s plan.

The Bible Must Be Able to Withstand Historical Investigation

We again emphasize that if the Bible is the Word of God, then it must be able to withstand the most thorough historical investigation. The Bible claims to be the record of God acting in history. The Bible, therefore, must be an accurate historical record of the past.

Thus, historical accuracy of Scripture is of vital importance, for it is the appeal made by the Bible itself to argue for its truthfulness.

Summary – Question 2
Is It Important That the Bible Is Historically Accurate?

The idea of the Bible being historically accurate is important for the following reason: The Scripture itself makes the claim that God has intervened in history. Many of these events have been recorded for us in Scripture.

The people were urged to remember what God had done for them in the past. They were to call to mind actual historical events that took place to remember God’s power and faithfulness. Also the central truth of the Christian faiththat God became a human—happened in history.

The historical accuracy of these claims demonstrates the truth of the Christian faith and its superiority over other religions that have no such verifiable evidence. This makes the historical accuracy of Scripture something that is of vital importance.

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