Scripture and History: Does the Bible Present Historical Events Accurately?

“For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” – 2 Peter 1:21

Recently someone reminded me that the Bible is itself valid history and should not be separated from what may be viewed as “secular history.”  In other words, although the Holy Bible is not a history book it does address historical events, and when it does it is accurate and valid and should be viewed as trustworthy just as the amazing works of David McCullough (1776, John Adams) are viewed as trustworthy.  In truth, as much as I admire the works of Mr. McCullough, the Holy Bible is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16) and infallible since it reflects the perfection of God.  These facts put Scripture on a plane of trustworthiness to which no mere human writing can attain.

Allow me to offer one example of the many that could be examined. Historian Will Durant states that the ancient Greeks esteemed Cyrus (580-529 BC) as the greatest hero before Alexander (The Story of Civilization, [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1945], I:352).  Cyrus succeeded in uniting the two factions of ancient Iran, the Medes and the Persians, and, like Alexander who would follow in history, conquered the known world of his day but did not live to organize the kingdom (Ibid, 353).

Lest we lose sight of the focus of our discussion let us turn to the fact that Cyrus was not ignored by the Holy Bible.  On the contrary, King Cyrus is mentioned several time in Scripture, but of particular interest are passages from the prophecy of Isaiah.  In Isaiah 44:28 God announced that Cyrus was His shepherd who would decree the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple.  Following on the heals of this description of Cyrus is God’s announcement that Cyrus would “subdue nations before him” (45:1).  And in the course of history, God’s word was proven true.  Cyrus came to power around 559 BC (depending upon your source) and went on to conquer Sardis and Babylon while he also “absorbed the former realms of Assyria, Babylonia, Lydia and Asia Minor into the Persian Empire” (Ibid, 352).  Around 548 BC, Cyrus decreed that the Jews could return to Jerusalem to begin the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 1:2) thereby doing just as God had said.  By the way, it should be emphasized that God’s words were uttered some sometime around 740 BC (Paul Benware, Survey of the Old Testament, [Chicago: Moody Press, 1993], 196) about 164 years before Cyrus’ birth (576 BC) and, if our dates are correct, some 202  years before Cyrus’ decree to rebuild the temple.  I’ve never seen a historian write history before it occurred.  What an amazing Book!

Truly the Holy Bible gives accurate account of history when history is described, which is much of the time.  That should not be surprising since the One Who wrote it is the One whose Divine plan is being carried out just as He decreed.  What is truly amazing is that man refuses to heed the message of it.  What is even more amazing is that those who the Great Author of Scripture has adopted as His own (Christians in particular) do not see this mighty work as sufficient for every area of life.  Instead so many seek further “wisdom” either through psychological ramblings and philosophies of men, or through further “messages” from the One who has already delivered His message to us.

I pray this helps.

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