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Historical finds prove Bible's accuracy
July 27, 2009
by Pastor Tom Starkjohn, Harvest Community Church, Winsted

Recently, a National Geographic article on “The Real King Herod” (the one mentioned in the Bible) made a comment that the Biblical account which says that King Herod killed all the babies in Bethlehem was almost certainly not true.  Although they admitted that King Herod was cruel (even to the point of murdering his own wife, his mother-in-law, and three of his sons), National Geographic didn’t believe the Bible account because “there is no report apart from Matthew’s account” (December 2008, page 40).  In other words, unless some other source outside the Bible confirms some fact, the Bible is not to be trusted.

You may hear other people make similar claims.  Some will talk about the “unhistorical accounts” in the Bible, or claim the Bible is just a bunch of made up stories.  Such statements apparently have very little knowledge of the vast amount of archeological evidence that substantiates the truth of the Bible.  There have been literally hundreds and hundreds of historical finds that prove how accurate the Bible is.  I want to share with you just one little find I recently learned about from my study of the Old Testament book of Jeremiah.

Have you ever heard of Nebo-Sarsekim the chief eunuch?  No?  That’s not surprising since he is only mentioned in Jeremiah 39:3.  Jeremiah 39 is about the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonian invaders.  The date is July 18, 587bc.  Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army had come against Jerusalem and besieged it, and the city had been captured.  On this day, all the officials of Nebuchadnezzar sat down in a city gate of Jerusalem in a show of victory – and among the four specific officials mentioned, Nebo-Sarsekim the chief eunuch is named. 

Fast forward almost 2,600 years.  Michael Jersa, who is an associate professor at the University of Vienna, had spent the prior 15 years sorting through approximately 130,000 available inscribed tablets at the British Museum to gather information about Babylonian officials.  On July 5, 2007 he made the discovery of a lifetime when he translated a small clay receipt (only 2.13 inches wide) that was so well preserved it only took him a few minutes to decipher.  The tablet acknowledged the payment of 1.7 pounds of gold to a temple in Babylon in the tenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, which would have been eight years before the fall of Jerusalem recorded in Jeremiah 39.  Who paid the gold?  “Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, the chief eunuch”. 

The Hebrew spelling of his name is a bit different than the Babylonian spelling, but there is no question that it is the same person.  The facts of the date on the tablet and his title, “the chief eunuch,” are clear confirmation.  In fact, Irving Finkel, Assistant Keeper in the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum, stated, “This is a fantastic discovery, a world-class find. If Nebo-Sarsekim existed, which other lesser figures in the Old Testament existed? A throwaway detail in the Old Testament turns out to be accurate and true. I think that it means that the whole of the narrative [of Jeremiah] takes on a new kind of power” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1557124/Tiny-tablet-provides-proof-for-Old-Testament.html  Accessed July 7, 2009).

I do get excited to hear about discoveries like this.  In one sense, it does bolster my faith.  However, such discoveries aren’t surprising to me.  Rather, they are merely another witness to the clear teaching of Scripture.  Jesus talks about historical Old Testament figures and clearly believes them to be real, historical people.  He mentions people like Abraham (John 8:56), Moses (Mark 10:5), and Jonah (Matthew 12:40).    The Apostle Paul mentions Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45) and Elijah (Romans 12:2).  The Apostle Peter mentions Noah (1 Peter 3:20) and James mentions Job (James 5:11).  Furthermore, Jesus and also the Apostle Paul even built theological arguments out of a particular form of a word as recorded in the Old Testament which had been written millennia beforehand  (see Luke 12:37 and Galatians 3:16).  An incredible amount of examples could be given; however, all of this really boils down to a single point: The God who created heaven and earth is the same God who cannot lie and is trustworthy in all he does (Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 6:18; John 14:6).  If we assume there are errors in God’s Word, we are either questioning the existence of God, the ability of God to clearly communicate, the power of God to preserve his Word for us, or the truthfulness of God.  Not only does the Bible clearly teach God is powerful, clear, and truthful, we also have an immense amount of historical and archeological evidence that substantiates this claim. 

So what difference should this make for us?  If the Biblical records are true (and the evidence truly is overwhelmingly in favor of this verdict), then the main message of the Bible must be soberly considered.  Jesus is the central figure of the Bible – all the Old Testament prepares for him, and all the New Testament proclaims him.  Jesus, who is fully God, became fully man.  He lived a sinless life, which no one had (or has) ever lived.  He died a brutal death at the hands of skilled Roman executioners.  Why?  Was God the Father powerless to save him, his beloved Son?  No.  Scripture clearly teaches that every human has sinned against the only holy, righteous God, and that we all deserve eternal punishment in eternal separation from God in hell.  Jesus suffered and died in our place.  But in a glorious twist of events, God raised Jesus physically from the dead, proving that he had not died for his own sins.  The gift of God to us is that if we trust in what Jesus did on our behalf, turning away from trying to please God on our own, God counts our faith (our trust) as all that is needed to restore a right relationship with him.  When we do this, we have, in effect, died to our own self-righteous ways.  We live now in constant faith and trust towards the One who saved us from sure destruction.  Have you wrestled with this message?  Have you come to see Jesus as completely worthy of your full trust, and have you turned from all other deceptive offers of freedom?  Jesus is all that you need.