What happened to copies of the Writings of Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David and Solomon during Israel’s darkest hours? It’s an important question to be answered. If the accurate copies disappeared during the chaos of centuries of upheaval, how can we trust that what we read in our Bible today is truly the Word of God? We know that Jesus confirmed the accuracy of the copies of the Old Testament when He taught from them in Israel, and that’s enough for me, but that’s not the only evidence. We also have the Prophets.
The united Kingdom of Israel split into two kingdoms soon after King Solomon died. 10 of the 12 tribes established what became known as Israel or Ephraim (the most influential of the 10 tribes) with Samaria as its capital city. The other two tribes established what became known as Judah with Jerusalem as its capital city. Jeroboam became king of Israel and led the 10 tribes into idolatry to keep them from returning to worship the True God in Jerusalem. Israel continued to be unfaithful to God until its destruction at the hands of the Assyrian invaders about 722 BC. Here’s how the writer of Kings recorded the sad end of Israel.
“So they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone … For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the LORD removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.” 2 Kings 17:16-18, 22-23
The children of Israel would never return to their land. The king of Assyria brought people from other nations and placed them in the former cities of Israel. The land became known as Samaria and was the habitation of Gentiles.
The Kingdom of Judah was not far behind Israel. The people continued to rebel against God even though they saw what had happened to Israel. God used the Babylonians to destroy the city of Jerusalem and the Temple about 586 BC and take many of the people captive. The difference between Judah and Israel is that God protected Judah and Jerusalem from permanent destruction and returned some of His people from captivity to rebuild the city and the Temple beginning in 538 BC.
The Hebrew word for “prophet” comes from a root word that means “speak.” Prophets were people called to “speak” for God. We get an insight to how God worked with prophets when Moses prophesied about God raising up a future Prophet (Jesus) like him from the people of Israel – “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18) That is one reason the Bible is called the “Word” of God because He Spoke through prophets. God placed His Words in their mouths and they spoke what He commanded them to speak. That is difficult for many people to understand today because they have not heard God Speak, but that’s one of the ways He communicated with the men and women He chose for prophetic ministries. It’s also one of the ways God protected the integrity of His Written Word during the chaotic years of Israel and Judah’s rebellion.
“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” Deuteronomy 18:20-22
God set the bar very high for how people would know whether a prophet was true or false. If what the prophet said did not happen or come to pass, “that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken.” We’ll see how important that was to the protection of the Written Word of God in the next part of our study.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Building Confidence Through Evidence
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”