But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.
(Matthew 2:22 ESV)
Yesterday we read that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus returned to Israel after Herod had died. Matthew tells us that Archelaus was reigning in place of his father Herod.
Archelaus succeeded his father amid much controversy. Like his father, Archelaus was extremely evil. He killed hundreds of Jews during the Passover celebration in 4 BC, among other atrocities. So it makes sense that Joseph was afraid to go to Judea.
Today’s passage is a great example of why the Bible has credibility. It is very bold in its citation of historical references. Having the exact names of people and places allows for the events in the Bible to be verified by other historical documents.
Its also important to note that the events written of in the Bible (with the exception of the early part of Genesis) were written at the same time as the events took place. This is critical because if these events did not happen as described there would be people alive who could refute them causing the documents to be rejected and lost to history forever.
Other allegedly divinely-inspired writings do not have such exactitude. For example, while the Book of Mormon does refer to historical events, none were contemporary at the time it was written by Joseph Smith in the early 19th century. Instead it refers to peoples (e.g. Nephites and Lamanites) who allegedly existed 1,800 years earlier. But no evidence of these people has ever been found.
In fact, many reputable archaeological research organizations including Yale University (in 1973), The Smithsonian (in 1982), and National Geographic (in 1998) have publicly stated that there is no historical or archaeological confirmation of any of the people, places, or events mentioned in the Book of Mormon. In some cases the historical references in the Book of Mormon have been proven false. A similar conclusion also exists regarding the Quran and other religious writings.
This is all very important because a faith-system whose writings are unproven at best and proven-false at worst is not worth following. Only the Bible has proven itself to be an accurate record of history. And while we don’t have external corroboration for everything in the Bible, we are able to corroborate much of it. Its also worth noting that we have yet to discover any historical record that contradicts an event described in the Bible.
As a pastor in McLean Virginia likes to say “the more we dig out of the ground, the more we prove the Bible is true”.
Since the Bible can be relied upon with regard to secular history we can, and should, take it seriously with regard to the historical accuracy of Jesus. This would include not only the fact that He lived but also His miracles, His resurrection, and His instructions on how to get to heaven [Matthew 7:13-14; John 14:6 et. al].
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.