An Intelligent Faith
Joel and Mark were two friends with very different beliefs. Joel believed in God as the all-powerful king who created everything in the world. Mark, a devout atheist, scoffed at religion. He believed that the whole world—including himself—began by accident, a biological mischance. “How do you know that God exists and the Bible isn’t just a book of fairy tales?” Mark challenged. “God exists because the Bible says He does, and you can trust the Bible because it’s God’s Word,” Joel replied. Mark then chuckled at this logic and said, “That’s like saying, ‘I am a good worker because Frank says so. How can we trust Frank? Simple: I will vouch for him.’”
The faulty, circular logic exhibited by Joel will not convince anyone of God’s existence or the Bible’s trustworthiness. But many today have no better reasoning for their belief in the Bible. Does credible evidence exist in favor of the Bible’s validity? Do intelligence and reasoning go out the window when people become Christians?
One way to test the validity of the Bible is to examine its prophecies. God claims that He, through the Bible, can tell the future (Isaiah 46:9, 10). Investigating the historical account of ancient Babylon in the book of Daniel will help answer the question of the Bible’s validity.
One night Nebuchadnezzar, a ruler referenced not only in the Bible but in other ancient records,1 had a troubling dream. When he awoke, he could not remember the dream—but it haunted him. He summoned his wise men and commanded that they tell him his dream and its interpretation. His wise men were baffled at this request. “There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter” (Daniel 2:10), they said. Infuriated, the king commanded his officers to kill all the wise men in Babylon (Daniel 2:12).
Daniel, a devout Hebrew whom the Babylonians had taken captive when a teenager, heard about the king’s hasty decree when the king’s soldiers came to kill him with all the other wise men. He appealed to the king and requested time, saying that he would tell the king both the dream and its interpretation. The king agreed. Daniel went home and earnestly asked God for wisdom. God answered his prayer, and “the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision” (Daniel 2:19).
A Huge Statue
The next morning Daniel arrived at Nebuchadnezzar’s throne room and revealed to him his dream. The king, explained Daniel, had seen a huge statue composed of five different sections: a gold head, silver chest and arms, bronze abdomen and thighs, iron legs, and clay-iron feet. An enormous rock then struck the image and smashed it to pieces (Daniel 2:31-35).
What did this dream mean? Daniel continued: the gold head represented Babylon, the silver symbolized Medo-Persia, the bronze referred to Greece, and the iron legs signified Rome. The feet and toes made of iron mixed with clay represented the groups that would succeed Rome in and around Europe. These nations would be partly weak and partly strong; just as iron does not mix with clay, these nations would not adhere together. The large rock that smashed the image represents the kingdom of God. “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; . . . it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:38-44).
The Dream’s Fulfillment
Each of these predictions came true with unfailing accuracy. The first section of the metal image, the Babylonian kingdom, ruled from 605 to 539 B.C. The nation of the Medes and Persians succeeded it and held power from 539 to 331 B.C. The next empire, Greece, dominated from 331 to 168 B.C. The iron power of Rome ruled from 168 B.C. until A.D 476. The last section of the image—the clay-iron mix—represents the groups that eventually became the modern nations of Europe, which remain separate even today. Amazingly, the Bible correctly foretold major world empires and the time they would arise and fall!
More Specific Evidence
Skeptics have suggested that Daniel’s writings are not predictions at all, claiming that he wrote his book at a much later time. However, even if this claim were true, note this: the Dead Sea Scrolls contain eight manuscripts from Daniel, the oldest dating to 125 BC (which itself is a copy of an earlier edition).2 Clearly, Daniel wrote this prophecy hundreds of years before Rome broke apart into what became the nations of modern Europe.
The dream of Nebuchadnezzar recorded in Daniel chapter two provides only one instance out of hundreds that show the reliability of these ancient writings. For example, a prophecy in Daniel chapter nine identifies the dates of Jesus’ baptism and death hundreds of years in advance. Dozens of Messianic prophecies point to the nature of Jesus’ birth, childhood, ministry, betrayal, sacrifice, etc.
Examining evidence such as the Biblical prophecies leads us to conclude that we can have full confidence in the Bible. Furthermore, if we can trust these sacred writings, we can also trust the One who inspired them.
Our friend Joel need not retain his circular logic. The dream of the image and other similar prophecies demonstrate the trustworthiness of the Bible and provide a basis for a well-informed, intelligent faith.
1For example, see “Nebuchadnezzar II” at wikipedia.org.
2See “Book of Daniel” at wikipedia.org.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Cover design: ©www.typofire.com.
An Intelligent Faith?
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