In my last piece) I alluded to the: mindboggling value and timing of circumcision and fulfilled prophecy as suggesting transhuman elements in the Bible.
• Circumcision’s value “…under the foreskin is an excellent incubation spot for many bacteria and certain ones in particular. For instance, Mycobacterium smegmatis…grows there prolifically. This organism, as well as others, produces carcinogenic by-products. The region under the foreskin is one that can easily be missed in washing and bathing. Scrupulous personal hygiene is necessary to insure that the area stays clean. WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE OF THE POTENTIAL PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH NOT WASHING UNDER THE FORESKIN, THERE WOULD BE LITTLE INCENTIVE FOR SUCH HYGIENE. During intercourse [without a condom], these multiplied organisms would be deposited on the cervix where they would easily grow, produce their by-products and cause cancer, especially in women who had any sort of genital irritation from infection, disease, or recent childbirth.” (William Cairneyin In John Warwick Montgomer,(ed.. Evidence For Faith: Deciding The God Question, 2004)
• Timing of circumcision – 8th day after birth
Infants have an especially great tendency to bleed between days 2 and 5 after birth. Researchers note the cruciality of vitamin K and Prothrombin in the blood clotting process. (Prothrombin, converted to thrombin which converts fibrinogen to fibrin which forms the actual clot mesh).
Vitamin K, an important blood-clotting element, is not present in the infant until between days 5 and 7, THUS THE FIRST SAFE DAY FOR CIRCUMCISION IS DAY 8.
But Prothrombin is also necessary for blood-clotting. Holt Pediatrics advises that on the 3rd day, the infant’s available Prothrombin is only 30% of normal. By the 8th day Prothrombin skyrockets to 110% of normal then levels to 100% thereafter. THUS THE FIRST SAFE DAY FOR CIRCUMCISION IS DAY 8.
The evidence points toward a Divine Source behind this timed-practice of circumcision in the Mosaic documents.
I’ll illustrate the Bible’s more than human reliability through our Lord’s devastating prophecy about the Temple’s destruction in Mt. 24.
A. Matthew 24. 1-14
1. We need to clarify the context and text of our Lord’s dramatic prophecy in Mt. 24.2; Mk. 13.2; Lk 21.6.
• Context – Admiration of the buildings of the Temple by the disciples “…and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.” (Mt. 24.1b; Mk. 13.1; Lk. 21.5)
• Text – “I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (Mt. 24.2; Mk. 13. 2; Lk. 21. 6)
• Meaning of prophecy – the buildings of the Temple would be destroyed.
We need to clarify as well the questions put to Jesus by his disciples.
“When will these things be?” = When will the buildings of the Temple be destroyed? (Mt. 24.3; Mk. 13.4; Lk. 21.7)
“What will be the sign that these things are about to be fulfilled (Mk. 13.4; Lk. 21.7)
What will be the sign of your coming, and/even of the end of the age? (Uniquely Mt. 24.3)
Matthew’s unique question is understandable from a Jew. The thinking would be ‘if God’s Temple is to be destroyed then at the same time the world must be coming to an end in the return of Jesus Christ’.
Summary of Critical Issues in Text
• Primary concern – destruction of the Temple
• Secondary concern – sign re destruction of the Temple
• Tertiary concern – sign re 2nd Coming or end of the age
Jesus was on the Mount of Olives when he made this prophecy about AD 30; the Temple was destroyed in the summer of AD 70 and the uncanny details of fulfillment are provided by the non-Christian Jewish historian Josephus who was an eyewitness of the war between the Jews and the Romans from AD 66-73.
2. THE REQUESTED SIGN CONCERNING THE TEMPLE’S END (Mt. 24. 14: Mk. 13.10)
“…The gospel of the kingdom must first be preached in all the world…”
The ‘end’ is generally taken as having reference to the end of the present age and thus there is a popular but mistaken belief that Jesus prophesied that the gospel must be preached in all of the modern world as a sign of the 2nd Coming.
In context ‘end’ has reference to the destruction of the Temple and the end of religious life as the Jews knew it. It is instructive that in Mt. 24.3, the Greek word for ‘end’ is sunteleias and the full phrase is sunteleias tou aiōnos,‘end/consummation of the age’, whereas in verses 6, 13 and 14, dealing with the Temple and events pertaining to its destruction, the Greek word used is telos.
There is possibly a tinge of hyperbole (exaggeration for effect) in the text “…in all the world…” The gospel was in fact preached to all of the 1st century world. In Acts 2.5, at the day of Pentecost, there were present “…devout men out of every nation under heaven…” In Rom. 1.8, Paul says, “Your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”
See also Col. 1.6, 23, where the gospel “…has come to you as it has also in all the world…which was preached to every creature under heaven…”
Notice the critical ‘therefore’ link between this sign and the ‘seeing and fleeing’ associated with the ‘abomination of desolation’ (Mt. 24.15).
B. Matthew 24.15-28
1.3 The Nature of the tribulation in Mt. 24
• Unparalleled in history and future (Mt. 24.21)
Historical tidbits: Procurator Gessius Florus and his molestation of the Jews led to a revolt in AD 66. Cestius Gallus was called in and he raced in with troops from Syria, “deliberately burning and pillaging as he went” , and speedily set siege to Jerusalem late in October, AD 66. Jesus’ cue to his disciples was ‘when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies then flee’. They could see but could not flee. Then a strange thing happened—Josephus says “without any reason in the world” —Cestius Gallus recalled his troops and withdrew from Jerusalem thus allowing the Christians an opportunity to flee to Pella in the mountains of Perea (cf. Mt. 24.21-22). Shortly after Gallus left, Vespasian (appointed Governor of Judaea in February 67) followed by his son Titus took over the siege.
• The Siege of Jerusalem (approx. 3 ½ yrs.)
Temple set on fire by Roman soldiers (contrary to Titus’ orders) and eventually demolished. Josephus says, “Caesar gave orders (after the siege) that they should now demolish the whole city and temple…(and) it was laid so completely even with the ground, by those who dug it up to the foundation that there was nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited.” (Wars, Book 7, chapter 1)
“Before he left Judaea, Titus ordered the complete demolition of Jerusalem. All that remained of the holy city thereafter was a stretch of wall on the western side , to protect the local Roman garrison, and the three towers of Herod’s palace.” (So William Klingaman, The First Century: Emperors, God and Everyman, 1990) This wall was not a part of the Temple but of the city!
Circumcision in the Old Testament and Jesus’ uncannily accurate prophecy in the New Testament prove the transhuman (divine) nature of the Bible.