Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
This month’s article gives you a quick overview of all Old Testament history, and problems associated with secular history. Dr. Martin’s presentation, “The Basics of Old Testament History,” presents principles of historical interpretation for the Old Testament that many of you have not considered before, or forgot that you knew. You will be surprised when you read and realize “I knew that but never realized I knew it!” or “That’s obvious now that it’s explained.” Finally, Dr. Martin breaks down Old Testament history into easy-to-remember periods to help you keep the chronology and sequence of the biblical narrative firmly in mind.
There are different ways to look at the books of the Old Testament. The first way is to consider the arrangement and pattern of the Old Testament books in proper sequence, placed with a purpose so that they “tell the story” the way God wants it to be told — in a particular order. 1 Other ways to look at the Old Testament are to consider when each book was composed, or when the events described occurred, who the authors were, and who made authorized edits and updates of earlier works.
Also in this article you will learn how much of ancient history became hidden to the world as the result of the axial crisis in the time of Jeremiah and Daniel. This hiding of secular ancient history was intentional (God allowed it). Pray that the “hidden history of the world” may soon be revealed. “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2). Always remember that we have the honor of possessing God’s Holy Spirit which makes us more than kings. We are to remember the past, especially the past as told by God (Deuteronomy 32:7). For us the source is the Bible.
In the article Dr. Martin states that secular history and archaeology cannot put together a consistent historical sequence of events for the nations of the ancient Middle East. This is because the Bible is ignored as a consistent and true historical document that can be the basis for all history. There are few artifacts from archaeology that relate to biblical events — but there are some, and they are almost all written in stone.
One stone monument is the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser which has an image called a “relief” of King Jehu, son of Omri, of Israel carved on one of its limestone sides. It is a picture of what he looked like! Text accompanies the relief describing the scene of Jehu bowing on his knees in fealty and submission before the Assyrian King Shalmaneser. 2 This shows that Jehu existed just as the Bible says and that he had a subservient relationship to the great Assyrian King Shalmaneser.
Later in Assyrian history, a stone monument called the Sennacharib Prism tells the story of the Assyrian King Sennacharib (701–681 BC) besieging Jerusalem during the reign of King Hezekiah of “Juday” (2 Kings 18:13–19:37 and Isaiah 36:1–37:38). In the Prism, column 3 Sennacharib boasts that he shut up “Hezekiah the Judahite in Jerusalem like a bird in a cage.” 3 Sennacharib’s army was destroyed in the end.
These are two examples of a connection between artifacts and people in the Bible “surfacing” in secular history. These two bits of information were written on stone monuments that were buried for centuries and the writing survived. All Egypt has its history written in stone but the chronology of secular history does not match biblical chronology due to problems with the Egyptian dynastic lists and identifying particular pharaohs on the monuments with those mentioned (not by name) in Scripture.
“Remember the former things of old [from the age past]: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”
Remembering the former things, Dr. Martin demonstrates how later biblical writers actually updated and edited the original biblical texts so they would be understandable to later audiences. Understanding this process will eliminate much of the confusion over the Documentary Hypothesis of the Pentateuch. Understanding how documents are compiled, processed, updated, and edited is vitally important.
This is what I do when I edit Dr. Martin’s material from the 1970s, or the 1980s or 1990s. I edited the material in this month’s article to bring this material up to date and making it relevant to a new audience, and to old readers by presenting the material in a slightly different way. What makes Dr. Martin’s research and teachings so valuable is that the biblical information he presents is timeless. My purpose as Director of ASK is to present his research (and occasionally my research) with clarity and relevance to current circumstances and historical findings. My goal is to make the information more valuable to a widening audience.
The current financial crisis embracing the world has many people worried about the future. The events in the world are a readjustment of the Babylonian system. It is not dying. The system is shifting to a “higher” gear, becoming more efficient for it to accomplish what God desires that evil system to do. It will not collapse internally, nor will it end. The Babylonian system will not end until Christ returns and smashes the image (Daniel 2:34–35, 44–45). Always remember, an image is not reality. An image can only represent reality, and sometimes the image represents a fantasy. So it is with the image with the “head of gold” (Daniel 2:38) and so it is with the “image of the beast” (Revelation 13:14–15, 14:9, 11). True wealth comes from neither. Those who work hard gain wealth only if God allows it. If you have wealth, understand that it is a gift from God (Ecclesiastes 5:19).
It is at times like these that Jesus’ words of Matthew 6:24–34 have a powerful reality. In this passage within the Sermon on the Mount twice Jesus states that the people were to “take no thought” about food, drink, or clothing — the basics of life. He concludes by saying:
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
On the one hand Jesus is saying that evil in life is to be expected. It is an everyday occurrence. He is also saying do not add to the evil in your life by worrying. Evil is normative. Worrying is optional. Faith is exceptional. Ask God for more faith so you can learn to worry less, or better yet “take no thought” about things God knows you need. After all, faith is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8) that He greatly desires to give more to you now! 4
We greatly appreciate that your contributions to ASK are acts of faith that we will respond to by presenting useful and insightful biblical teaching. We do not take your contributions for granted. We labor “in the word and doctrine” so that we, like the ox, might be counted worthy of our reward (1 Timothy 5:17–18). We sincerely thank you for your continuing contributions at this time.
David W. Sielaff
3 See the full translation of the Sennacharib Prism at http://www.utexas.edu/courses/classicalarch/readings/sennprism.html.
4 Remember the scene when Oliver Twist asks the hard headmaster “More please”? God is not a hard taskmaster. He desires greatly to give us more faith. Ask Him to fill you full with faith. In Acts 6:5, 8, Stephen is described as a man “full of faith.” So too is Barnabas described in Acts 11:24.
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