Voices are heard that the Old Testament is myth, or narratives from pagan sources. Was Jesus right in talking about the creation of man and woman (Matthew 19:4-6), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 11:23,24), the prophet Daniel (Matthew 24:15), Jonah (Matthew 12:39, 40), and many other Old Testament prophecies as if they were true?
There are critics who assume that God cannot perform miracles. That does not make sense, because the Bible is full of miracles. The first verse, Genesis 1:1 declares the greatest one: ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ The Bible is a revelation of this powerful Creator God. For a God who created the universe and the earth with its wide range of life, getting a fish to swallow a man is no big deal. For the same omniscient God to predict future events is no problem, because He is in control of history. If someone criticizes the Bible as an unbeliever, why should we believe his opinion? If someone criticizes the Bible as a believer, why does he doubt God’s abilities?
There are liberal theologians who question the Bible, as if they are qualified to do so. But the scholar, Dick Wilson, born in 1856, came to the conclusion that anyone who knows the original languages and history well enough, realizes that the Bible is trustworthy. He worked out a program for his life. For 15 years he would study the various languages of the Middle East, for 15 years he would study the Old Testament comparing it with documents of its various neighbors, and for 15 years he would write down his findings. It is said that he knew some 26 languages and dialects and he collected around 100,000 documents from these languages to illustrate basic facts to prove the accuracy of the Old Testament. In his book ‘Is the higher criticism Scholarly’ he concluded: ‘I have now come to the conviction that no man knows enough to assail the truthfulness of the Old Testament.’ He said, ‘I try to give my students such an intelligent faith in the Old Testament Scriptures, that they will never doubt them as long as they live.’ (B Edwards, Nothing but the Truth, Evangelical Press, 1993, p 133-135).
The book of Daniel has always been the favorite of the critics. Because the prophecies of that book are absolutely amazing, he concentrated on it. The critics said that it was written around 150 BC, after the events it talks about happened. Wilson gave many convincing proofs that we can trust the accepted date of writing around 550 to 500 BC, long before the prophesied events happened.
Some of his quotations that strengthen the reliability of the Old Testament are the following:
- ‘Examined in this way, I contend that our text of the Old Testament is presumptively correct, that its meaning is on the whole clear and trustworthy, and that we can as theists and Christians conscientiously and reasonably believe that the Old Testament as we have it is what it purports to be and what Christ and the apostles thought it to be, and what all churches have always declared it to be - the Word of God and the infallible rule of faith and practice’ (p 9).
- ‘In conclusion, let me reiterate my conviction that no one knows enough to show that the true text of the Old Testament in its true interpretation is not true. The evidence in our possession has convinced me that at ‘sundry times and in divers manners God spake unto our fathers through the prophets,’ and the Old Testament in Hebrew ‘being immediately inspired by God’ has ‘by His singular care and providence been kept pure in all ages’; and that, when the wisdom of men and the law of God alike failed to save humanity, in the fullness of time, when all the preparation was complete, God sent forth His Son to confound the wisdom of man and to redeem those who come under the Law. Thank God for the Holy Oracles. Thank Him yet more for the ‘unspeakable gift’ of His love, who brought life and immortality to light in His Gospel’ (p 13).
- He died in 1930, but his words are still true: ‘Wilson claimed that the Old Testament has a right to be accepted ‘until it shall have been proved false,’ and proof, the professor sternly demanded, is not the same as the ‘opinions of men of our generation’ (p 140, B Edwards).
- Edwards said: ‘for too long Christians have been afraid to trust the very words of Scripture in case they find themselves ridiculed by clever minds. Before he died in 1930, Professor Wilson had shown that these minds are not always clever, scholarly or even honest’ (Edwards, p 140).
The question: Was Jesus right in accepting the Old Testament as the truth, in other words history that can be relied on? He is God the Son, who created everything, who witnessed all the events, and He talked with authority. Yes, He was right about the truthfulness of the Old Testament record. For us, 2000 years later, if we have doubts, we can make use of people like Prof Wilson, and many other historians and archaeologists who have shown that secular history affirms the Bible’s record. An excellent work is that of K A Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, WB Eerdmans, 2003.