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Should We Bother with Archaeology? 

Should we just preach the Gospel?

First Peter 3.15

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • October 8, In the year of our Lord, 2017


  1. One week from today at this hour 
    1. we will conclude our seminar with Dale Manor
    2. on Archaeology and the Bible.
  2. It seemed good to me to show you the relevance of archaeology. 
    1. Hence the relevance of our seminar.
    2. Lord willing, I will not steal any of Dale Manor’s thunder.


  1. Preaching the Gospel 
    1. Announcing the Good News is the greatest message we can proclaim.
      1. First, it reveals a massive problem of humanity: sin.
      2. Second, it shows the consequence: the wrath of God.
      3. Third, it shows the remedy: belief and obedience in Jesus of Nazareth.
    2. Therefore, announcing the Gospel
      1. includes anything connected with Him.
      2. That would mean further talking about all of Scripture.
        1. Yet, not everyone believes the message of Scripture.
        2. What do we do when people challenge us on some point?
          1. Some people will argue that certain people or events or places
          2. did not even exist,
            1. as they do about the exodus of Israel out of Egypt or
            2. as they do about the existence of Jesus.
              1. If the people, events, and places of Scripture never existed,
              2. what does that say about what the Bible asks us to believe?
    3. Peter told us what we should do when challenged,

      15 [S]anctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed (1Pe 3.15–16).

      1. What if someone asks me whether archaeological evidence exists
      2. for the things that Scripture describes?
        1. I—and you—cannot ignore them and say
        2. that we only want to talk about the good things that Jesus brought.
          1. That will make people think
          2. that our message is not evidenced-based.
    4. Simply because you have concluded that the Bible is the word of God
      1. does not mean that others have come to the same conclusion or
      2. that they have even arrived at a conclusion.
        1. As every year passes by,
        2. a greater percentage of the American population
          1. either does not believe the Bible is the word of God or
          2. they just have not been exposed to it and
            1. have not made any conclusions.
            2. Others mock the message.
    5. Whatever the situation or a person’s background
      1. we do our best to equip ourselves and
      2. to train ourselves to give an answer or to make a defense,
        1. explaining the hope that lies within us
        2. that we got from the word of God.
  2. The Need for Archaeological Apologetics 
    1. Apologetics has to do with giving a defense of your position.
      1. In First Peter 3.15, when you read “defense,” or “answer,”
        1. Peter used the Greek word from which we get the word apologetics.
        2. Peter said, aÓpologi÷an from aÓpologi÷a,
          1. meaning defense or answer.
          2. It does not mean divert them from their question.
      2. Why should someone believe you?
        1. Who do we think we are that people should just believe us?
        2. When some people say just preach the Gospel,
          1. we show that we do not know how much our nation has changed.
          2. It is no longer biblical doctrine versus denominational doctrine.
            1. A couple of generations have arisen
            2. who know nothing of the Bible.
    2. It is our job to introduce people to the Bible.
      1. They need to realize that what we read in the Bible happened.
      2. Biblical events happened in the world in which we live.
        1. The world of the Bible is a snippet of the world in which we live.
        2. Please do not think
          1. of the world and of the Bible
          2. as different worlds and different histories.
    3. Biblical Archaeology has shed light on the biblical text.
      1. For example, one discovery was so huge
      2. that even unbelievers have heard of it, the Dead Sea Scrolls.
        1. How did they shed light on the Scriptures?
        2. The Book of Malachi was written in the mid-400s bc.
          1. Previous to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls,
          2. the oldest manuscripts that we had of the Old Testament
            1. dated to around 1000…ad!
            2. However, the Dead Sea Scrolls date from
              1. the first and second centuries, even some before Christ.
      3. Had the Jews faithfully translated the Hebrew Bible for roughly 1000 years?
        1. Yes, the Dead Sea Scrolls virtually duplicate or rather
        2. the manuscripts we already had virtually duplicated
          1. what had been written a thousand years before.
          2. This helps us to know and to teach about the accuracy of the Bible.
  3. God Keeps His Promises and Fulfills His Prophecies 
    1. When He threatens to destroy a nation, He does it.
      1. Archaeology helps to confirm that fact, for
      2. you see civilizations when wiped out
        1. leave behind traces of their once former glory.
        2. Imagine if a foreign power destroyed America right now.
          1. Just look at all our stuff.
          2. Do you think someone digging where the cities used to be,
            1. would find evidence that once great cities occupied soil
            2. in what was known as the United States of America?
    2. Archaeology has more influence than we might realize.
      1. How do we know most of anything in ancient history?
      2. We know of ancient history mostly through archaeology.
        1. Think of how much history we know.
        2. Archaeology is responsible for a great deal of it.
          1. If that be true,
          2. has archaeology provided more information on biblical history?
  1. Does the Bible Reference Archaeology? 
    1. The Pillar of Rachel’s Grave

      20 And Jacob set a pillar on her grave, which is the pillar of Rachel’s grave to this day (Gen 35.20).

      1. Moses verified that over 400 years later, this pillar still existed.
      2. First Samuel 10 shows it continued to exist in Samuel’s day,

        2 “When you have departed from me today, you will find two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah…” (1Sa 10.2).

        1. From the death of Rachel to the time of Samuel is about 900 years!
        2. This confirmed their history.
    2. Joshua 4 refers to stones his readers could identify, for
      1. any Israelite or any foreigner could go to the spot and
      2. see these stones, and know the veracity of the history behind them,

        9 Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day (Jos 4.9).
    3. Joshua 7 is a similar passage,

      26 Then they raised over him a great heap of stones, still there to this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Achor to this day (Jos 7.26).

      1. Why was that valley named Achor and
      2. what was the meaning of a large pile of stones there?
        1. Joshua fills in the history of these archaeological sites,
        2. just as we might do today, whether we go
          1. from the Bible to archaeology or
          2. from archaeology to the Bible!
      3. The next chapter shows still something else similar
        1. that was associated with Ai,
        2. the place where Israel initially lost a battle because of Achan’s sin.

          28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day. 29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening. And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his corpse down from the tree, cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raise over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day (Jos 8.28, 29).

          1. Why was the place that formerly supported Ai, desolate?
          2. Why was there a large, very large, pile of stones there?
            1. Joshua 8 shows what happened there, and
            2. the archaeological site confirms the truth of Joshua 8.
    4. Judges 6 has the same kind of information,

      24 So Gideon built an altar there to the LORD, and called it The–LORD–Is–Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites (Jdg 6.24).
    5. First Samuel 6 presents historical/archaeological information.
      1. The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Testimony, but
      2. it did not belong to them, so
        1. God cursed them, and
        2. they concluded that they needed to send it back to Israel,

          18 …even as far as the large stone of Abel on which they set the ark of the LORD, which stone remains to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh (1Sa 6.18).
    6. Second Samuel 18 says that Absalom had set up a pillar,

      18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up a pillar for himself, which is in the King’s Valley. For he said, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance.” He called the pillar after his own name. And to this day it is called Absalom’s Monument (2Sa 18.18).
    7. Second Kings 2 presents something the author could substantiate,

      19 Then the men of the city said to Elisha, “Please notice, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the ground barren.” 20 And he said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 21 Then he went out to the source of the water, and cast in the salt there, and said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘I have healed this water; from it there shall be no more death or barrenness.’” 22 So the water remains healed to this day, according to the word of Elisha which he spoke (2Ki 2.19–22).
    8. Matthew 27 says of the field that was bought with the betrayal money,

      8 “Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day” (Matt 27.8).
    9. John 4 speaks of Jacob’s well,

      5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph… 12 “Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” (John 4.5, 12).
    10. Acts 2 is the first sermon in the Gospel age and
      1. it has a reference to archaeology,

        29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day” (Acts 2.29).
      2. Whereas, they could go to the tomb of Jesus and find it empty.
    11. Some things can not be confirmed by archaeology:

      6 And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day (Deu 34.6).
  1. Archaeology Confirms Prophecy 
    1. I do not want to steal brother Dale Manor’s thunder, so
      1. my comments will be minimal.
      2. Archaeology shows that this prophecy of Babylon is true,

        17 “Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them…

        19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms,
        The beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride,
        Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
        20 It will never be inhabited,
        Nor will it be settled from generation to generation…”
        (Isa 13.17–22)

      3. We can say the same about Egypt, but in a different way,

        13 “Yet, thus says the Lord GOD: ‘At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the peoples among whom they were scattered. 14 I will bring back the captives of Egypt and cause them to return to the land of Pathros, to the land of their origin, and there they shall be a lowly kingdom. 15 It shall be the lowliest of kingdoms; it shall never again exalt itself above the nations, for I will diminish them so that they will not rule over the nations anymore (Eze 29.13–15).
  2. Archaeology Destroy Man’s Theories 
    1. Some said writing was not in existence in Moses’ time.
      1. Discoveries show writing 100’s years before.
    2. Some say Hittites did not exist.
      1. Archaeology shows they did.
    3. Some say Ur of Chaldees, where Abraham was from, did not exist.
      1. Archaeology shows it did.
  3. Archaeology Can Be Misinterpreted 
    1. Shroud of Turin
      1. A simply reading of the Gospels shows
      2. the Shroud of Turin cannot be the burial cloth of Jesus.
    2. Popular Mechanics articles
      1. This magazines took a couple of swipes at the Bible,
      2. which I covered earlier this year.


  1. Here is the line of reasoning that we all need to see. 
    1. The Bible is a historical document.
    2. Archaeology substantiates that claim.
    3. Therefore, whatever the Bible says is true.
      1. What it says about the past is accurate.
      2. What it says about us now is on target.
      3. What it says shall happen, will happen.
  2. Have the dead, the things of the past, spoken to you today? 
    1. Do you see that the events of Scripture are not inventions of the writers?

      26 “For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner” (Acts 26.26).

      1. The world has never been the same since Jesus Christ lived here.
      2. How has He affected you?
    2. Archaeology shows that the things of Scripture happened.
      1. If these things be true,
      2. what shall we do?
        1. We cannot ignore them.
        2. It all means
          1. there is a God in heaven,
          2. who sent His Son Jesus Christ
            1. to live and to die
            2. that we might be saved from something that is coming.
              1. It means further that what is coming
              2. is the final Judgment,
                1. which begins after God sends His Son Jesus again.
                2. Yes, we all shall see Him this time.
                  1. Are you ready for that moment?