The ESV Archaeology Study Bible (Crossway, 2017) is a great addition to any Christian’s library and especially to those who want to help non-Christians understand the mountain of evidence for the truth of Christianity.
Three questions I hear often are:
- What martial arts style do you teach?
- What church do you attend?
- What apologetics method do you use?
I know that when people ask those questions they are usually prepared to make a decision about me and what I do based on a judgment grounded in a presupposition. They already believe a particular martial art is the best martial art. They already believe one church denomination is the best denomination. They already believe one apologetic method is the best method. Their interest is often less about learning from me than discovering whether I can learn from them.
The question I don’t hear, but wish I did, is “does it work?” Does the martial art style I teach work in real life? Does the denominational church I attend work in real life? Does the apologetics method I use work in real life?
If a martial art is fun to learn but doesn’t work in a real-life physical situation, you might want to question whether it’s the right self defense to study since your physical life may depend on it some day.
If a denominational church is fun to attend but doesn’t work in a real-life spiritual situation, you might want to question whether it’s the right denomination to attend since your spiritual life may depend on it some day.
If an apologetic method is fun to study but doesn’t work in a real-life worldview situation, you might want to question whether it’s the right apologetic method to use since the spiritual lives of other people may very well depend on it some day.
If you’re interested in martial art styles that work, please visit our Grace Martial Arts Blog. If you’re interested in denominational churches that work, I would point you to a four-part series titled A Prophet’s Perspective About Preachers. If you’re interested in developing an apologetics method that works for you, please continue reading.
In the last part of our series about archaeology we began looking at archaeological evidence for the Old Testament writings of Hebrew prophets Haggai and Zechariah. Prior to that we looked at evidence for the writings of the Hebrew leader and scribe Ezra. All three contain specific information about the relationship of Jews to the Persian government. The historical data of the Old Testament can be compared to historical information from extra-biblical sources, meaning the Bible can be tested.
I “tested” the Bible as an atheist in 1971 to see if the writings were credible. Was the Bible, as I believed at the time, only legends and fables? Or was it history? If it was just legends and fables, then it didn’t matter what it claimed was true .. but if it was historically accurate, then what about its truth claims? Would that make a difference to me as an atheist? Should it?
In the last part of our series we saw that according to the Bible (Old Testament) King Solomon built the first Temple and the Babylonian Army destroyed it. We also know from the Old Testament that Zerubbabel built the second Temple. We learn from Jewish and other historical writings that the Hasmoneans refurbished the second Temple, King Herod expanded it, and the Roman Army destroyed it.
As I researched the Old Testament as an atheist to see if it was a credible historical document, I came across the writings of Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. They all refer to a time following the forced exile of Jews to Babylon. According to the Bible that forced exile began under Babylonian King Nebuchaddnezar in 605 BC (Daniel 1) and ended when Persian King Cyrus the Great allowed Jews to return to Judah in about 538 BC.
We have previously looked at evidence for Ezra, so let’s look next at archaeological evidence for Haggai and Zechariah.
We come now to the Post-Exile and Second Temple periods in the Old Testament history of Israel. Cyrus the Great of Persia decreed in about 538 BC that Jews could return to their homeland from Babylonian exile. That is the beginning of what is called the Post-Exilic period where Jews lived under the rule of the Persians. Cyrus ordered that the Jews rebuild the Jerusalem Temple. After delays because of opposition, the temple was completed about 516 BC during the reign of Darius I of Persia.
That’s a lot of history, so there should be at least “some” archaeological evidence for it. Right?
[I say “some” archaeological evidence because only a small number of archaeological sites have been discovered and excavated in the Middle East. Even the small number of sites that have been discovered and excavated have not been examined thoroughly and published.]
Let’s see what evidence was available when I was investigating the Old Testament texts in 1971.
Before we move to the next phase of Israel’s history, let’s review what was available from archaeology about Israel’s kings and other Iron Age II (1000 – 539 BC) notables mentioned in the Bible during the time I was investigating the historical reliability of the Old Testament 45 years ago (except where listed with asterisk **).
In the last part of our series, we looked at historical evidence that supports some of the prophecies of Ezekiel. In this article we will look at some of the archaeological evidence supporting the details of those prophecies.
Ezekiel spent several years prophesying about God’s judgment on Jerusalem and other nations in the region (Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, Egypt). Those years are important to know when comparing prophecy “proclaimed” to prophecy “fulfilled.”