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God has stated that His Word endures forever. Of course, we know that the Word as far as the copy “settled in Heaven” (Ps. 119:89), is enduring forever. But what about the copy we hold? How do we know this Book is the same one that God wrote by way of inspiration?
First, let’s survey the History of the Transmission of the Bible. As far as the history of this transmission of God’s Word goes, we find there are four key periods:
Pre-Moses: Oral traditions that are incorporated by inspired writers so that what God wants to be a part, is written down.
Moses to Ezra (1500-500 BC): Prophets and Priests are the writers and guardians of the Word of God that is always in their custody at the Tabernacle and later, at the Temple. Then carried into Captivity, returned with the Exiles, and kept safe, copied, and distributed. Moses placed them in the Tabernacle verse.
1500 BC: Egyptian Hieroglyphics influenced writing from Moses and Exodus era. The scrolls of God’s Word were kept in the Tabernacle.
1000 BC: Phoenecian influenced writing from the time of David and the prophets. They found the lost book of the Law in the Temple because that is where it was kept.
500BC: When the captives returned from Babylon nearly all were unable to read the old written Hebrew scrolls. So, Ezra invented modern, block style written Hebrew, copied all of the manuscripts into Modern Hebrew and started a reading plan in the synagogues. Ezra is the father of Modern Hebrew, the synagogues, the Scribes, and most likely: the author of the Psalm 119 poem about the wonders of the Word. The scrolls were kept in the Temple.
200 BC: the scrolls Ezra copied and established into the 22 Book Old Testament canon, was taken by the LXX team in Alexandria, translated into Greek, and spread across the ancient world. The LXX became the Bible of Christ and His Apostles.
Ezra to the Apostle John (500 BC – 100 AD): Christ and His Apostles affirmed the Old Testament Scriptures, so we know that the 22 book Old Testament (our 39 Old Testament books) is the exact Word from God. Then Jesus instituted His apostles as the guardians of His Word, and they, or a close associate under their care wrote the 27 books of the New Testament. The net result: we have the Scriptures inspired and preserved by God in our hands today.
The Bible Jesus Used
The grouping and ordering of the books in the Old Testament Hebrew Bible is different from what Christians have in their Bibles because the Christian Bible adopted the order in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.
The Septuagint [i], or the first translation of the Hebrew Bible, was made in the third century B.C. by Jewish scribes, who were descendants of those trained in Ezra’s Great Synagogue of Jerusalem. These men were very well versed in Hebrew and Greek.
Jesus and the Apostles studied, memorized, used, quoted, and read most often from the Bible of their day, which was called the LXX (Septuagint). When Jesus quotes the Old Testament in Matthew He uses the Hebrew text 10% and the Greek LXX 90% of the time.
Quite naturally, the early Christians also used the Septuagint in their meetings and for personal reading; and many of the New Testament apostles quoted it when they wrote the Gospels and Epistles in Greek. The order of the books in the Septuagint is the same order in our Bibles today.
After the Apostle John to Today: manuscripts and scrolls preserved every letter and word: none are lost, only some are spelled differently or repeated, but in the 25,000 manuscripts and fragments we have EVERY Word of God. Our faith is built on the foundation of the Apostles (New Testament) and Prophets (Old Testament).
I want you to do something with me. We’ll be a little unusual. Take your Bible and hold it, and I want you all to hold it like this, okay? I want to talk to you about what you’re holding.
You all are holding something that is unlike anything else that in 5,000 recorded years of human history has ever been produced on this planet.
This Book is not from this planet. This is the very breath of God breathed out.
This is the very voice of the infinite, endless of days, eternal, all-powerful creator of the universe who has communicated to us and has intercepted, intersected, and invaded time and space and spoken to us.
This book is unlike any book. It’s unlike any other piece of any part of this civilization of humanity that ever existed.
I hope you realize when you hold this book it’s different.
It’s special.
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