By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
One of the greatest and most impressive qualities of the Bible is the fact that it is indestructible.
Since its’ beginning, the Word of God has been hated and despised by those who would love to see it burnt away from existence and deemed a bad memory.
Many are not aware of the various attacks of infidels and pagans through the long ages to destroy the testimonies of the Lord.
Even today, there are those who cannot stand the teachings and histories contained in Sacred Writ.
Undoubtedly, behind the human despising of the Holy Scriptures, there is a demonic loathing that is tormented by the power of the sword of the Spirit.
Despite it all, God’s promise to protect His Word has proven true against every effort to wipe it out:
Psalm 12:6-7-6 The words of the LORD are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times.
7 You shall keep them, O LORD, You shall preserve them from this generation forever.
Isaiah 40:8-The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.
Matthew 24:35-Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
Let’s notice some of the attacks that people have made against the Bible through the years, and see how God has worked to preserve His Word.
Antiochus was a wicked ruler who persecuted the Jewish people for years. Especially during the years 167-164 B.C., his relentless attacks were especially cruel.
For one thing, he forbad the Jewish religion to be practiced. This applied to the Jews dietary laws, Sabbath observance, and even circumcision. There is even an account of how one mother was strangled with her infant boys because she had them circumcised on the eighth day, like the Law of Moses dictated (Leviticus 12:3)!
It didn’t stop there.
Antiochus ordered a huge gymnasium to be set up in Jerusalem. In Ancient Greek culture, gymnasiums were places where young people could be indoctrinated in Greek religion, and where homosexuality and lesbianism were directly encouraged as the young men and women trained in the nude. This, of course, caused a huge uproar among the Jewish people.
Then, Antiochus ordered that significant changes be made to the Temple. He ordered his priests to bring in several meteorites which the Greeks idolized. He also instructed the Jewish temple to become a place of ritual prostitution, and even had one of his priests sacrifice a pig on the Jewish altar (which was a sacrilege and is referred to in First Maccabees as the “abomination of desolation”-1 Maccabees 1:57).
Going still further, Antiochus ordered that all copies of the Hebrew Scriptures be confiscated and destroyed. Anyone who was caught with a copy of the Word of God was to be executed.
1 Maccabees 1:59-60-59 And they cut in pieces, and burnt with fire the books of the law of God:
60 And every one with whom the books of the testament of the Lord were found, and whosoever observed the law of the Lord, they put to death, according to the edict of the king.
The Word of God was attacked, hundreds of God’s people were killed, the city of God was devastated-yet the Word of God survived.
The Roman Emperors
For long centuries during the dawn of the Christian Age, the leaders of the Roman Empire did everything in their power to destroy the church of God. George DeHoff provides a powerful testimony:
“Emperors. The kings and Emperors of the world brought their combined influence and power to bear upon the Bible that they might destroy it and banish Christianity from the earth. Heathen priest and philosopher had failed to kill Christianity but, ah, wait for the power of persecution. Claudius, A.D. 41-54, banished many Christians from Rome; Nero, in A.D. 64, sowed Christians in the skins of wild animals and had them torn to pieces by dogs, he crucified many, some he tied to high posts, their bodies covered with pitch, and set fire to them to light the streets while his friends drove merrily by; Domitian, 81-96, killed many Christians and even exiled his wife for becoming one. Under Trajan, 98-117, bishop Simeon was crucified at Jerusalem and Ignatius of Antioch was killed. Under Marcus Aurelius, Polycarp was burned to death for not denying the Lord whom he had served for eighty-six years. At Lyons, France, bishop Pothinus, more than ninety years old, died in a loathsome prison from the effects of abuse. Many others were tortured and killed there. Septimius Severus, 193-211, had Leonidas, father of Origen, beheaded at Alexandria. Ptaminea and her mother, Marcella, were slowly dipped in seething oil. The story is the same under Decius and Gallus, 251-253, and Valerianus, 253-260. The latter made a specialty of killing preachers. At Carthage, Cyprian and Laurentius were commanded to bring forth the treasures of the church. They brought the poor, the infirm, and the orphans and were roasted alive for this affront to their ruler. Diocletian, 284-305, had a Christian wife and daughter, yet he persecuted Christians. All churches were destroyed, meetings forbidden, and the Emperor made a hobby of burning Bibles and killing their owners. Christians were accused of starting a fire in the Empire’s palace and all over the Empire were tortured. Galerius continued this persecution in 305. Christianity grew! Finally, the emperor issued an edict in 311 tolerating Christianity and asking the Christians to pray for him. Maximus renewed the persecution of Christians. He burned their buildings and killed their leaders. He published the Acta Pilati, a book slandering the sufferings of Christ and introduced it as a textbook in the schools that he minds of the young might be positioned. When Licinius courted the favor of the pagans, his rival, Constantine, declared himself a Christian and took down the eagle to put up the cross. He declared himself in favor of Christianity because it had already conquered his people. It seems that with all this persecution, Christianity would have perished but it did not. God watched over it. Fifty days after the crucifixion of Christ, twelve unlettered men stood in the city of Jerusalem and with power from on high unfurled the bloodstained banner of Christ. Three thousand souls were added to the church that day. The number of the disciples “grew and multiplied.” When the disciples were scattered abroad “they went everywhere preaching the word.” Within five years, there were churches throughout Palestine. Within eight years, both Jews and Gentiles were Christians. Within forty years, the Gospel had been preached in every known nation. The world had been turned upside down. Throughout Asia Minor, Greece, Italy, the Isles of the Aegean, and the sea coast of Africa, there were thousands of Christians. No wonder, then, that Constantine declared himself in favor of Christianity! Julian the Apostate, Constantine’s nephew, renounced Christianity in 351 when he was twenty years old and ten years later openly championed heathenism. He ruled for a year and a half, and wrote a Refutation of the Christian Religion, in which he collected the arguments of the infidels who had lived before him. In attacking the New Testament, he bears valuable testimony for it. In a war with the Persians, he died June 25, 363. His dying words were, “O Galilean, Thou hast conquered!” (George DeHoff, Why We Believe The Bible, 112-114); Murfreesboro, TN; DeHoff Publications)
The Word of God prevailed!
Persecutions During The Middle Ages
While Imperial Rome fell to the wreck of the ages, papal Rome claimed to dominance. The Roman Catholic papacy (referred to in Scripture as “the man of sin,” and “the lawless one”) arose to power, just as the holy Prophets and Apostles declared would take place (Daniel 7:8, 24-25; Acts 20:28-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-14; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; 2 Timothy 4:2-4). Hating the Word of God with a passion, the papacy brought about what is known as the Dark Ages.
During this time, the Bible was kept from the common people in languages which were not known and spoken by the public; and those who were found with them Scriptures, or who were found translating the Bible into the common tongue, were severely chastised and punished by the Catholic Church, often ending in death.
The Catholic Synod of Toulouse forbad anyone to possess a personal copy of the Word of God.
When the Protestant Reformation began, and valiant men and women began to translate the Word of God into their respective languages, the Catholic Church responded with a vengeance. Men such as John Tyndale and John Huss, were condemned to die and were burned to death at the stake.
John Wycliffe was condemned to death, and then later his remains were unburied and set afire by those who claimed to be the true followers of Christ. Through it all, more and more copies of the Bible were confiscated and destroyed, or relegated to monasteries to be overseen only by the “faithful” of the Roman Catholic church.
In describing the religious awakening that took place within the hearts of the Reformers, Steve Wholberg has well written:
“In the 1500’s, as a result of the invention of the printing press, countless European and English Catholics read the Bible for the first time in their lives. As a result, they uncovered the good news of salvation through trusting in Christ. At the same time, to their shock and amazement, they also realized that many Romish doctrines—including praying to dead saints and confessing to priests—actually led away from a simple faith in the merits of the Lamb. Compelled by the Spirit, these sincere Catholics tried to reform the church they loved from within. They preached the gospel and even appealed to the Pope. The result was fury, intense opposition, threats of flames, and the ugly cry, “You’re now a candidate for the Inquisition!” As the conflict deepened, those who saw the Bible as their final authority began to have serious doubts about the basic authority of a church that utilized torture chambers. In other words, they began to question whether the Holy Apostolic Roman Catholic Church, as an institution centered in popes and the Vatican, was really the Bride of Jesus Christ in the first place. One by one the reformers turned to the prophecies. In amazement they discovered what Paul actually wrote about “the falling away,” “the son of perdition,” and a “mystery of lawlessness” that would proudly set itself up inside “the temple of God,” which is the church (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4,7; 1 Corinthians 3:16). They were stunned to read Daniel’s prophecy about a “little horn” with “eyes like the eyes of a man,” “a mouth speaking great things,” that would be centered in Western Europe and would make bloody “war against the saints” (Daniel 7:7-8,21). They shuddered as they realized this same power was called “the beast” in God’s last book, and that it would finally exert worldwide influence and control (see Revelation 13:2,7-8). They were especially jolted when they read about a harlot named “Mystery Babylon” who was “drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Revelation 17:6). As death sentence after death sentence was hurled against them for pointing sinners to the holy Lamb of God, and as the smoke of burning martyrs blackened Europe’s fair skies, these reformers eventually came to a frightening, unanimous, and terribly solemn conclusion. They had discovered Jesus Christ and antichrist.” (Steve Wohlberg, End Time-Delusions: The Rapture, The Antichrist, Israel, And The End Of The World, 89 (Kindle Edition); Shippensburg, PA; Treasure House)
The famous author, John Fox, described the relentless persecutions of the Catholic Church against Bible believers:
““Disregarding the maxims and the spirit of the Gospel, the papal Church, arming herself with the power of the sword, vexed the Church of God and wasted it for centuries, a period most appropriately termed in history, the ‘dark ages.’ The kings of the earth, gave their power to the Beast.” (John Fox, Fox’s Book of Martyrs, 43 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
Over the long ages, more and more courages men and women shed their blood to defend and preserve the inspired Word of God. This continued even until recent times. Until 1870, it was still illegal to own a copy of the Bible in Italy! Such hatred of the truth of God stands forever as a testament of the insidious nature of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church.
Let it be remembered, however, that it was sincere and Christ-like Catholics who had the courage to break away from Romanism and begin bringing the Word of God to the people. While we must stand against the corruption of the man of sin, how thankful we should be for those in the ranks of the Catholic Church who opposed the corruption and brought the Bible to us today.
To them, we owe a debt of gratitude.
Through it all, the Bible again proved to be indestructible.
In conclusion, it seems fitting to share with you the story of the famous skeptic of the Bible, Voltaire. Hating the Bible with a vengeance, the infidel boldly declared that within a generation the Bible would be outdated and the only copy would be found in museums.
Of course, he was mistaken. Ironically, after his death in 1778, his house was published by the Geneva Bible Society and used to publish thousands of Bibles to be distributed throughout Europe.
“Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
When looking in, I saw upon the floor,
Old hammers worn with beating years of time.
“‘How many anvils have you had,’ said I,
‘To wear and batter all these hammers so?’
‘Just one,’ said he; then said with twinkling eye,
‘The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.’
“And so, I thought, the anvil of God’s Word
For ages, skeptics’ blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed-the hammers gone!” (Anonymous)
The Word of God will stand forever, and this alone is one of the great indicators that it is the Word of God. And why not? The Word of God has a message that needs to be told to each and every person in the world.
God wants to save you so much from Hell that He sent His Son Jesus Christ into this world to make the way for sinners like you and I to be saved. Jesus Christ died for every person and paid the price for their sins on the cruel Cross of Calvary (1 Timothy 2:6). He was buried, and three days later, He arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8) with the promise that one Day He will return (John 14:1-3). His Second Coming will be for the salvation of HIs people and for judgment upon those who do not obey His Gospel and who do not know God (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
Why not today turn to Him and be saved (2 Corinthians 5:1-2)?
The Word of God teaches that we must hear His Word (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus Christ (John 8:24), repent of our sins (Luke 13:3), confess Him as the Son of God (Acts 8:37), and be baptized into Him (Mark 16:16) where we receive the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). Then we must live faithfully to Jesus (Revelation 2:10), turning away from sin and back to Him in prayer when we fall short (1 John 1:8-10).
Why not obey Him today?
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.