Is the Scripture Holy?
What is Scripture, and what does it mean when we call it Holy? The phrase is used only a single time in the Bibe.
Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
If it is the Scripture we are to read, that we might understand HIS mysteries, then we must decide for ourselves if these scriptures are indeed Holy. Is what we read in the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible) the same as that which Yeshua [Jesus] and His disciples read in their day? And was what they read trustworthy, or had it already been corrupted with errors?
Though Yeshua and His disciples believed Scripture to be trustworthy (MATTHEW 5:18), modern scholars aren't so sure. Most flat handedly reject the records of the Hebrew Bible and while a few accept much of the Christian Scriptures to be reasonably accurate (though not inspired, they say), most scholars believe little of the Hebrew Bible to be either accurate or inspired.
One reason for their skepticism is that the Hebrew Bible was written so long ago, we haven't any copies even close to when the originals were written, as we do with the Christian Scriptures. We do have fragments of the text of the Christian Scriptures within a hundred years or so of when they were first written, but no ancient texts of the Hebrew Bible have yet been found within more then a thousand years after when most of them were first written.
Another reason scholars doubt the accuracy and inspiration of the Hebrew Bible is that much of it seems to flow against what modern man considers morally acceptable. Many of the actions attributed to GOD in the Hebrew Bible at first glance seem out of step with the themes found in the Christian Scriptures (though we aim to show this is not the case).
So then, what about the Hebrew Bible that Yeshua read? Is what we read today the same as that which Yeshua read? The evidence suggests it was. From 1947-1956 a number of scrolls representing about 500 books, of which 100 are of the Hebrew Bible, were found hidden away in a network of caves around the Dead Sea, thus they are commonly referred to as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some have been dated to be written a century or two earlier then when Yeshua and His disciples lived, yet differ little from our Bibles today. As such, these texts provide us good evidence that what we now call the Old Testament is pretty much an accurate rendering of those texts which they read from two thousand years ago. In other words, the very texts which Yeshua and His disciples thought to be GOD's word, we have bound up for us today in what is called the Old Testament, which for the most part was the Hebrew Bible.
The apostle Paul wrote concerning this Hebrew Bible, that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 TIMOTHY 3:16) and the apostle Peter declared that this "prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 PETER 1:21). These apostles agreed that their Bible was inspired by GOD, not as many scholars put forth, that it was assembled by men of a later age from second or even third hand sources. In essence, both Peter and Paul believed that the scriptures they read from, which most call the Old Testament, were Holy.
But Peter and Paul, though quite good authorities, are not the ultimate authority. Let's scrutinize what Yeshua Himself thought about the Hebrew Bible. What was His opinion about the text? Did He doubt it to be GOD's inspired word? Was He unsure of its minute accuracy, as nearly every so-called scholar seems to be today?
Most everything Yeshua taught was based directly upon the Hebrew Bible. During His earthly ministry, as recorded in the four Gospels, He even gave specific reference to the Hebrew Bible on at least sixty different occasions (click here for the list of those references). To a great degree, He derived His credentials as well as His very purpose from what He found written therein. If Yeshua did not believe the text of the Hebrew Bible to be accurate and inspired, would He have relied upon it as heavily as He did? Of course not. This by itself is evidence enough for the accuracy and inspiration of the Hebrew Bible, yet there is much more.
Prior to the commencement of His ministry, Yeshua went into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. When temptation came, He repeatedly went to the Hebrew Bible as His source of truth (LUKE 4:4ff). Here we learn not only that Yeshua relied upon Scripture as His sure foundation and guiding light in times of temptation, but we also learn that the Devil himself recognized Scripture as truth and was forced to back off when confronted with it. If the Hebrew Bible was indeed just the whimsical uninspired writings of man, Satan would have scoffed at Yeshua when He made reference to it.
For Yeshua, the scriptures were not just a reference for History or a compilation of good ideas for moral living. To Him, the Hebrew Bible was as alive in His day as it was in the day in which it was written. Words penned in the Book of Isaiah many centuries earlier, Yeshua quoted as being written for His own day, saying, "This day is this scripture [ISAIAH 61:1,2] fulfilled in your ears" (LUKE 4:21). Yeshua's very ministry therefore is in doubt if we can't trust the accuracy of the text of the Hebrew Bible, for not only was His ministry mirrored by this passage from Isaiah, but after His resurrection when He was conversing with the two men on the road to Emmaus, Luke writes, "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he [Yeshua] expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (LUKE 24:27). "All the scriptures" referred to as "concerning himself", are for the most part the prophecies of Scripture which are today called the Old Testament, from GENESIS 3:15 to MALACHI 4:5.
In one of Yeshua's most intense indictments against the religious leaders of His day (JOHN 5:17-47) He closed with a most remarkable statement relative to our subject.
JOHN 5:46-47 For had you believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
How can some today pretend to believe Yeshua if they do not believe what Yeshua believed? He believed that what He read from the Hebrew Bible was accurate and inspired. He believed that Moses wrote GOD's word! He believed that David wrote GOD's word (MARK 12:36 LUKE 20:42)! Can we believe any less?
If we doubt the accuracy and inspiration of the Hebrew Bible, which was the same text Yeshua Himself relied on to establish His own ministry, how can we claim to believe that He is the Christ? And if the Hebrew Bible cannot be trusted to be GOD's word, then we lack the necessary evidence that Yeshua was the promised Seed (GENESIS 3:15). And if He was not the promised Seed, then much that is written in the Christian Scriptures are nothing more than just some fanciful writings of some "unlearned and ignorant men".
The fourth Gospel again records the same truth about the Hebrew Bible, when Yeshua said, "Search the scriptures [the Hebrew Bible] .... they are they which testify of me" (JOHN 5:39). When we doubt the accuracy and inspiration of the Hebrew Bible we are doubting the credentials of the Savior Himself. The testimony of Yeshua is only certain if the Hebrew Bible is accurate and inspired.
Not once does Yeshua ever question the accuracy of the scriptures of the Hebrew Bible. He recognized their trustworthiness so completely that He even declared "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (MATHEW 5:18). The jot was the tiny Hebrew letter `, while the tittle is a small line or projection, distinguishing the Hebrew letters from one another. Thus, with unwavering confidence in the minute accuracy and inspiration of the text, Yeshua quoted and relied upon the Hebrew Bible.
Instead of questioning the scriptures, Yeshua used them as a way to measure other men's words. When that which someone said agreed with the Hebrew Bible, Yeshua then acknowledged the truth of their words (MARK 12:34), but whenever they spoke contrary to what the Hebrew Bible said, He sharply rebuked them (MATHEW 16:23). Many today go the opposite way. They measure the scriptures by the wisdom of the world. If scholars agree it is true, then they may accept it, otherwise the Bible is always held suspect.
From even before His ministry commenced to His final hour upon the cross, Yeshua was devoted to the accuracy and inspiration of the scriptures of the Hebrew Bible. The fourth Gospel again reads, "After this, Jesus [Yeshua] knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst" (JOHN 19:28). From the beginning of His earthly ministry to the very end, He recognized and relied upon the scriptures of the Hebrew Bible for truth and direction. He elevated those writings above all others. If we doubt the accuracy of the text which was fulfilled by His life, death and resurrection, how can we be confident even of His very existence?
On another occasion, when confronted by the Sadducees concerning the resurrection, Yeshua again went to Scripture, asking, "have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God...?" (MATHEW 22:31,32). Yeshua believed that at times, GOD spoke and then men wrote what HE spoke. Much of that which was written in the Hebrew Bible Yeshua confidently believed to be GOD's word, though penned by man. GOD was the author while various men chosen by GOD wrote that which HE revealed to them.
According to Yeshua, not only His own mission but even His adversaries motives were revealed in the scriptures of the Hebrew Bible. As He explained, "But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, [PSALM 35:19] They hated me without a cause" (JOHN 15:25). To Yeshua, the Hebrew Bible was the true light that illuminated the secret motives of His enemies.
Yeshua revealed that His suffering and rejection as well was foretold in the Hebrew Bible (MARK 9:12). He declared that even the very details of His brutal beatings and subsequent death and resurrection were "written by the prophets" (LUKE 18:31). It is therefore no surprise that Yeshua relied upon the scriptures of the Hebrew Bible as well for truth concerning His resurrection (LUKE 20:35-36).
The Lord spoke elsewhere of days that were still to come, the "days of vengeance" that were written of in the scriptures of the Hebrew Bible (LUKE 21:22). These Old Testament scriptures foretold many things which came to pass after His ascension into heaven (ACTS 2:16), as well as many things fulfilled within that generation.
LUKE 24:44-45 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled [pleroo, expounded upon], which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.
Yeshua didn't open their understanding that they might understand the mystery of the Sphinx, or the theory of evolution, or the movement of the stars through the night sky. Nor did He desire that they might understand philosophy, archeology or the study of language. He desired for them to understand the only thing which they would need to sustain them in their journey through life, and that was the scriptures.
But they weren't going to understand the scriptures by going off to some distant Seminary or religious institution. This is where so many critics and theologians went wrong when setting out in search of truth. Most of these places of higher learning plant and foster seeds of doubt and turn sincere men from the truth, not into the truth.
An understanding of the Bible isn't derived from just listening to the lectures of some man of renown. Our understanding is opened and our eyes are enlightened only by GOD Himself. We must be "taught by GOD" (JOHN 6:45). Sure, men may assist us in our quest to understand by pointing us in the right direction, as Philip did with the eunuch of Ethiopia (ACTS 8), but we are taught the depths of truth only by the "anointing" of GOD (1 JOHN 2:27).
Rarely today does a religious College or University teach the inspiration and accuracy of the scriptures. Too many theologians and scholars are blinded to the truth and can't see the forest for the trees. They have been dumbed down by their education. Contrary to what some profess, a University education doesn't teach you how to think, but really only teaches you how to think their way.
Some young Ministers may have, with noble ideas entered the doors of higher learning, but by the time they come out on the other side, they have become blinded by the status quo. Too often the opinions of their professors and the acceptance of their piers have crowded the truth from their quest.
For many of them, every apparent discrepancy in the scriptures becomes another stumbling block. Rather than accept the scriptures for truth and then begin a search for the answer to some particular difficulty, they take for granted that the Scripture is riddled with errors and too often delight in finding the errors even more than discovering the answers.
We are not surprised to find them with such a mental illness, because Scripture assures us this is what we should expect too often from the elite, the educated, the learned. As Yeshua questioned when He confronted Nicodemus, "Art thou a master [teacher] of Israel, and knowest not these things?" (JOHN 3;10). Nicodemus should have known the things Yeshua was speaking of, for he was a "master teacher" in Israel, but he hadn't a clue. He may have been sincere, but he was blind as a bat when it came to the mysteries of the kingdom of GOD.
Paul also recognized this reality and repeatedly referred to it. He wrote, "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called" (1 CORINTHIANS 1:26). And again he wrote of them, that they are "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 TIMOTHY 3:7). One can learn, and speak, and write the original languages of the Scripture and still not see the truth contained therein. This is because truth is only realized as GOD makes us to understand it (1 CORINTHIANS 2:12). We can't force truth from the page into the mind. It must be implanted there, sown in a meek soil.
In his letter to the believers at Rome, Paul delivered quite a resounding criticism of those trained and educated to understand the things of GOD.
ROMANS 2:17-21 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?
They were so convinced that they knew the truth, that they didn't even think to consider why they believed what they did. This isn't to say that we should reject all that the scholars write. Some of them can contribute greatly to our understanding of the Book. No doubt GOD has worked in some of them as effervescently as we hope that HE has in us. But, don't accept what is written by some man just because of his academics.
According to the Bible, the religious elite are invariably blinded to truth (MATTHEW 5:20). Time after time we read how GOD rejected the established religious order and had to raise up new blood to realize and declare HIS truth. New wine must be put into new wine skins (MATHEW 9:17). Perhaps this is one reason many scholars have endeavored to discredit the Holy Scriptures. If the scriptures are true, then these charlatans are exposed; but if on the other hand the scriptures can't be trusted, these higher critics are then enthroned as our lone voice of authority.
Not only is it needful for us to consider whether the Hebrew Bible is an accurate rendering of GOD's word but we must think no less of the Christian Scriptures. Those disciples which Yeshua sent forth also spoke the words of GOD (JOHN 3:34). Indeed, Paul wrote that some of the very words which he had himself spoken and written, were equally inspired words of GOD (1 THESSALONIANS 2:13). We are each saddled with the same responsibility. Do we believe what Yeshua believed? Do we believe what Paul believed? Do we believe what they taught to be inspired by GOD? Is the Bible therefore inspired by GOD, or is it not? Each one of us must decide for himself.
Let's look at a few of the important things the Bible declares Scripture is profitable for. Paul wrote to Timothy that the holy scriptures makes one wise.
2 TIMOTHY 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Scripture does not necessarily make one wise in the ways of the world, but he is made wise in the ways of GOD. Not the wisdom of this world, but the true wisdom of GOD. Spiritual wisdom, not earthly wisdom. The Scripture is also profitable for instruction, that one can learn how to become righteous.
2 TIMOTHY 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
If Scripture is not true, not accurate, nor inspired we are left with no concrete guidance whatsoever. The best we then have are the changing and evolving hypothesis of men wherein we are tossed about as a drifting ship upon the sea. Without Scripture, the man of GOD lacks doctrine, he lacks the necessary reproof and the vital correction that comes with learning obedience to the truth. Therefore, knowing the Scripture also keeps one from erring.
MATTHEW 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
Many stumble when reading the Hebrew Bible because of the signs miracles and wonders attributed to GOD there, but as Paul questioned the elite of his day, "Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?" (ACTS 26:8). Indeed, cannot the Creator part the Red Sea? Cannot HE who hung the stars in the vacuum of Space cause the walls of Jericho to come crashing down? What is too hard for GOD? Why are some men forever looking for natural causes for the supernatural acts of GOD? Maybe the reason some don't believe in the power of GOD, is because they don't see HIM at work in their own lives?
Learning the truth causes an awakening, an enlightening within the believer. Indeed, one's very transformation is only realized as he hears and continues in the scriptures of truth.
LUKE 24:32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
There is no greater high then when our eyes are opened to the mysteries of the kingdom of GOD. Occasionally this happens as we hear the scriptures expounded, but usually our eyes are opened as we set in the solitary study of our Bible. As our mind absorbs and reflects upon the words of the Book, all of the sudden a light comes on and we understand what was before veiled. We begin to realize things we hadn't previously dreamed of.
ROMANS 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Learning the scriptures creates within us patience and comfort, that we might have hope. Hence, the Hebrew Bible gives us a multitude of examples for our exhortation. It is the Scripture that reveals to us the true way. We learn the true way of men, the true way of GOD, the true way of Satan, and the true purpose of the ages. Without the scriptures, the dark lie would dominate our thinking. Without the light of HIS word, we would easily be led into the broad way of destruction, "for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth" (JOHN 12:35).
1 CORINTHIANS 10:11 Now all these things [recorded in the Hebrew Bible] happened unto them [the Israelites] for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world [era] are come.
When reading the Hebrew Bible, we are given a panoramic view of events happening over the course of thousands of years. We learn from a multitude of examples how GOD interchanges with men, how man responds to GOD, how the Adversary attempted to thwart the purposes of GOD and how GOD over-rules all. The scriptures give us the unique perspective of understanding the true way of GOD. Indeed, we are able to glimpse the hidden kingdom of GOD itself.
Reading the scripture also helps us to learn how to obey GOD.
1 JOHN 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.
If we deny the accuracy and inspiration of the scriptures, we are as sheep going astray, wholly unprotected from the ravages of the devourer. We can't help but lack confidence in the GOD of salvation, and HIS Son who was sent to procure that salvation.
1 JOHN 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Without an accurate knowledge of the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, how could we as believers even function? We wouldn't be able to. Maybe this explains why many so-called Christians live as ruined creatures. They exude no confidence, no faith, no peace. Their lives are fraught with despair and disappointment. They are, as scripture foretells, destroyed for a lack of knowledge (HOSEA 4:6).
Only by setting down and personally studying the scriptures can we come to know Yahweh, the true GOD and HIS only begotten Son, Yeshua. Let us attain to the heart of the believers at Berea, of whom Paul wrote, "that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (ACTS 17:11).