In my last blog article I talked about ‘hidden treasures’ in the Bible, interesting scriptures that have more to them than meets the eye and I gave an example of a lovely one in John 18. This time I want to share another type of Biblical ‘hidden treasure’, one that we might consider a ‘watermark’ set in the scriptures by God.
A watermark embedded in a document or bank note is difficult to fake and gives proof of its authenticity. Likewise, there are many things throughout the scriptures that would be impossible for man to fake and thus provide strong evidence of God’s authorship, proof that the Bible is not just the words of man but truly the Word of God!
This particular scripture is a real favourite of mine as it relates to cosmology, a subject that I have been fascinated with since childhood. If any of you remember the talks I did a few years ago about the Bible (‘The Unbelievable Truth’) you may recognise this one – we find it in Job 38:31 which says this in the ESV:
Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion?
This verse is part of a long monologue where God finally responds to Job’s understandable questions but God’s response is to describe numerous amazing features of his creation and to ask Job whether he could achieve any of them himself. The apparent purpose of this being simply to show Job that he has no right to question God’s actions! I am not going to discuss the challenges of the book of Job here but I do want to look at the particular aspect of God’s creation covered by this verse.
Although we don’t know for certain when Job was written or even who wrote it, a common view is that Job himself is responsible for much of it and Moses edited it later. Job appears to have lived around 2,000 BC near the time of Abraham and Moses lived around 1500 BC. That would make the book of Job around 3,500-4,000 years old and because of this it is generally accepted to be the most ancient book in the Bible.
Although the people of that time knew about the constellations of visible stars, they knew nothing about the force of gravity that directs their motion. In-fact, humanity understood very little about the stars until a mere 400 years ago when the telescope was invented and knew nothing about the effects of gravity on them until Isaac Newton published his book on it 80 or so years later.
Now with the aid of powerful telescopes and our understanding of gravity we know that the constellation of Orion is made up from separate stars in different parts of the galaxy. They are not connected to each other in any physical sense and only make the shape of Orion from the viewpoint of our solar system. We also know that the stars of the Pleiades (‘The Seven Sisters’) are part of a globular cluster and are thus bound together by their mutual gravity. Over many thousands of years Pleiades will look the same but Orion will change shape and become unrecognisable as the stars move in relation to each other.
Now let’s look back at that scripture where God asks Job if he could bind Pleiades together with chains or loose the cords that hold Orion. That seems a perfect description in language that Job could grasp of the effects of gravity which holds the stars of Pleiades together but allows those of Orion to move apart. When Job was written over 3,000 years ago only God himself could possibly have known these facts about the two constellations.
I think that is a pretty compelling bit of evidence for the divine authorship of the Bible!