The world’s population is growing steadily upwards, at present approaching 7.5 billion people. The entire Bible is available to more than 60 percent of the population in their own language. Scriptures can be read from the comfort of a person’s home, heard on television and radio programs, quickly glanced at in almost any location on the screen of a mobile phone, or shared publicly across the Internet to reach friends and families or even perfect strangers.
The words of God are meant to bring about positive change in an individual's life.
So many people can access the Bible in so many different ways, yet fewer are turning to its pages for answers to their questions and comfort when they are hurting. Fewer people feel like they can trust the Word of God.
“Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him” (Proverbs 30:5).
How do we know these words are true? How do we know we can trust God and the words He has preserved for us to read?
It is difficult to have faith in what we cannot see or do not fully understand. In order to prove to ourselves that something is true or trustworthy, we often look for evidence. What evidence do we have that we can trust the Bible?
1. Fulfilled prophecy—God does what He says He will do
The Bible contains around 2,000 prophecies. Some of these prophecies have already been fulfilled, at least in part. Many predict end-time events and are yet to be fulfilled. Each additional prophecy from the pages of the Bible that is fully carried out brings credibility to God Himself and demonstrates to us that we can trust Him and His written Word in the pages of our Bibles.
“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia . . . ” (Ezra 1:2).
The first chapter of the book of Ezra contains the fulfillment of two prophecies that demonstrate both God’s unending love for His people and the involvement He has in the events of the world around us. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God foretold the end of the Babylonian Empire, saying, “When seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation” (Jeremiah 25:12). At the same time, God would also “cause [Judah] to return” to Jerusalem and begin to rebuild from the desolation He had allowed upon them by the hand of the kings of Babylon (Jeremiah 29:10). All of this would happen through a king God had called by name more than 100 years before his birth.
Cyrus, king of the Persian empire, was called God’s “shepherd” and “His anointed” (Isaiah 44:28, Isaiah 45:1). He was led by God to bring punishment upon the Babylonian empire and to allow God’s people to safely return to Israel just as Isaiah had described. While the proclamation recorded in Ezra hasn’t been found outside the pages of the Bible, similar words of Cyrus have been found inscribed on a clay cylinder called the Cyrus Cylinder.
2. Archeological findings—tangible proof of the existence of biblical characters and events
We often look for evidence that we can see with our own eyes and feel with our own hands. That’s why it’s exciting when archeologists find pieces of papyrus or dig up bricks from the walls of great cities with inscriptions on them. Finding historical documentation of people and events from the Scriptures makes God’s Word come alive. In the minds of many, finding this tangible proof means that the Bible can be trusted.
“Let the house of Your servant David be established before You” (2 Samuel 7:26).
The existence of the well known biblical figure king David has often been debated among scholars and historians. In the summer of 1993, while sifting through ruins of Tel Dan in northern Israel, archeologists discovered a piece of a larger basalt monument inscribed with the names of several kings of ancient Israel as well as a king of the "House of David," referring to the nation of Judah, which was ruled by descendants of King David. Although not directly mentioning David himself, this inscription adds to the proof of the existence of several biblical characters (Steven L. McKenzie, King David: A Biography, 2000).
3. Proof in application—God’s way of life works to change lives
While fulfilled prophecies and archeological proof of the events in the Bible continue to stack up as evidence that the Bible is in fact truth, many people still deny the importance of the Word of God in our modern world. Even if there was well documented proof of every miraculous event in Scripture from the flood of Noah to the plagues of Egypt and even the dead raised back to life after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, many would still see the Bible as just another history book embellished with colorful stories that try to prove the existence of the God of the Hebrew people.
“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28).
The Bible is far from just another history book. In a 2008 interview on NOVA, American archeologist and professor emeritus at the University of Arizona William Dever stated: “We want to make the Bible history. Many people think it has to be history or nothing." Dever went on to explain that "the Bible is didactic literature" meant to "teach, not just describe."
The strongest evidence for trusting what the Bible says is in the application of the lessons taught in its pages. The words of God are meant to bring about positive change in an individual's life. In Malachi 3:10 God told His people to "try Me now in this," speaking of trusting His promises of blessing toward those who obey His words. If we really want to be able to trust the Bible we must be willing to follow the instructions contained in its pages, using it as God intended, as more than just a history book.