BreakPoint: Sealing Biblical History

Archaeology and the Old Testament

Once again, a little digging in the Holy Land has unearthed a major find, and another confirmation of biblical history.

Since the nineteenth century, history has been regarded as an enemy of the Bible. For nearly two centuries, biblical scholars, taking their cues from F.C. Baur, the founder of what came to be known as the “Tübingen School,” proceeded from the assumption that, while the biblical texts said a great deal about what their authors believed, there was very little history, as we understand the term, contained therein.

According to this “reasoning,” figures such as David and Solomon were, at best, minor chieftains, if they existed at all. Then, in 1994, an inscribed stone known as a “stele,” was found near Tel Dan in Northern Israel. Dating from the ninth century before Christ, it refers to the “House of David.” It was erected to celebrate the victory of the Aramean king (most likely Hazael) over the forces of Israel. In 1 Kings 19, by the way, God had Elijah anoint Hazael king of Aram.

So, now historians had to admit that David was real and that he had founded a dynasty. So, what else might be real? As it turns out, quite a lot. John Stonestreet and I have told you about many other examples, such as evidence of the extent of Solomon’s reign, seals belonging to King Hezekiah, a latrine built to desecrate a pagan shrine, and even possible evidence of Naboth’s vineyard.

The latest example also involves seals. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, archaeologists recently announced that they had found “A fantastically preserved seal impression made by the biblical Governor of Jerusalem. The seal dates from the 7th Century BC, which puts it during the reign of king Josiah.

As it so happens, the Old Testament contains two references to the Governor of Jerusalem during the reign of Josiah.

2 Kings 23 tells readers, “Josiah brought all the priests from the towns of Judah and desecrated the high places, from Geba to Beersheba, where the priests had burned incense. He broke down the gateway at the entrance of the Gate of Joshua, the city governor, which was on the left of the city gate.”

2 Chronicles 34 says that “. . . in the eighteenth year of [Josiah’s] reign, when he had purged the land, and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, and Maaseiah the governor of the city. . . . . to repair the house of the Lord his God.”

In both instances, the position of Governor was part of an effort to root out paganism and syncretism from Judah.

While we can’t be certain whether the recently discovered governor’s seal belonged to Joshua or Maaseiah, we can be certain that we are dealing with real history. We can be certain that texts are telling us what happened as well as why it happened.

So history, far from being the Bible’s enemy, is its friend.

Obviously, our faith isn’t in history or archaeology. It’s in a God who has acted in human history. These actions, in turn, have left behind artifacts. Some are monumental, such as the remains of the Temple or Solomon’s Gate at Gezer. Others, like the governor’s seal, are the size of your thumbnail. But they all speak to the historical nature of biblical faith.

Now before I leave you today, I wanted to remind you that every January hundreds of thousands of Christians mark the anniversary of Roe v Wade, which legalized abortion on demand in this country.  I’d like to invite you to join in what has become an annual event for BreakPoint and the Colson Center: the 21 Days of Prayer for Life. All you have to do is download our beautiful, free prayer guide at BreakPoint.org/21Days. That’s BreakPoint.org/21 Days.

Sealing Biblical History: Archaeology and the Old Testament

This latest archaeological artifact news, as Eric points out, merely underscores the historicity of biblical accounts. While these discoveries are interesting and often confirm the Bible’s information, it is in the God of all human history that we place our trust. Read more about the governor’s seal by clicking on the links below.

Resources

The Solomonic Gate at Gezer
  • Ellen White | Biblical Archeology Review | July 6, 2015
21 Days of Prayer for Life
  • Downloadable pdf | Colson Center

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  • Riverwatch

    I just do not understand why this article is linked to anti-abortion (pro-life) as though “pro-life” is what God wants for His children. I cannot help but notice that pro-life advocates also want to shove moms off social assistance and put the birthed children at risk for no medical insurance, poorer nutrition than is needed and educational aid blocks. I wonder, watching that, what does pro-life mean? It seems to mean somebody’s power over women rather that reaching out to save the birthed children from a mean existence. Anti-abortion is not really pro-life. I do not believe in abortion, but I believe in a woman’s right to decide to do that if she judges her circumstances warrant that. Society needs to focus on feeding the birthed children and providing education-feasibility. Surely that is what is “pro-life”.

    • Let me see if I can accurately rephrase your position:

      Some pro-life advocates seem to be motivated by a desire to have power over women and do not seem to actually care about children. Therefore the so-called “pro-life” position does not really support life. A woman should have the right to get an abortion if she thinks it’s warranted.

      It seems like your case against the pro-life position is all about the motivations of some pro-life advocates. But what do personal motivations have to do with whether abortion is wrong? It comes down to two questions:

      1. Is it wrong to kill an innocent human being?
      2. Does abortion kill an innocent human being?

      If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then abortion is wrong, no matter what someone’s personal motivations might be.

      You say that you don’t believe in abortion. What do you mean by that, and why don’t you believe in it?

      • Riverwatch

        Thank you for your gentle and intelligent response. I am an RN, retired but licensed, and I think my Christianity is about my decisions to follow Christ in love. I personally do not believe in abortion for myself because I have been so able to bare and care for children. I have never been faced with choices some women are faced with, so I will leave the judgment to God. If I have to decide who has the most legal right, the pregnant woman or the unborn child, I am rational enough to vote for the pregnant woman every time.

        I am old enough to have seen botched abortions before Roe Vs Wade where women, for whatever personal reason, sought their own solution to an untenable pregnancy. Were the caregivers of these women in distress kind? No. What I saw was judgmental unkindness, even cruelty. It was a great day when women could finally make their own decisions about their bodies and find competent medical help. Punishing a woman in distress is not my idea of following Christ in love. It is wrong to kill a human…..it is wrong to punish the afflicted…it is wrong to not take care of the poor. and according to the Bible it is wrong to dump your semen on the ground, but we don’t want to even tackle that “anti-life” activity because ….well, it is not controllable.
        Anti-abortion is about power and control over a woman’s body. I believe in honest education to try to change the world. Open minds. Questions about when does life begin. Dialogue. Prayer. Easy and paid for birth control.
        In the end, my brand of Christianity says Christ has us all (regardless) covered if we want covered.

    • EBurkeDisciple

      If the bible isn’t your book and rule for life what do you care? If it is then you need to dig deeper.

      Your question misses the important underlying issue. Christians understand life to be important because humans bear the image of God and there for it should be protected and honored and not terminated because it is inconvenient for someone.

      The second part of your statement about caring for life after birth misses the fact that Christians have always done more with hospitals, orphanages, adoption and personal giving to charity so give is a lot of credit. Also we understand it is our obligation, personally before or God. We refuse to hold a gun to your head or any of our neighbors to force them to care for the poor or the orphan. This is a new violence of its own, a terrible theft of others freedom and property.

      • Riverwatch

        I do not disagree with your premise, but I do take exception to your assessment of your reach.
        Christian outreach charity does not cover the problem well. But it is mighty helpful to the Christian who is donating money and time as a volunteer. And while you would never point a gun at others to force them to care for the poor, you do have a vote and I trust you are voting against materialism and in favor of the obligations of society to care for the poor. A vote is not a gun. A vote is in many ways educational and sets a standard for society to follow, whether it is pro or con. I will never vote against a pregnant woman or a birthed child in distress.
        If I have to chose who has the most legal right, a pregnant woman or an unborn fetus, I am going to vote for the pregnant woman every time. Because I am a Christian, or as my sister likes to remind me, a “self-proclaimed” Christian.