Homer Sometimes Nodded
Text: Numbers 23:18-19
I. Horace (65 - 8 B.C.), a Latin poet, wrote “Sometimes even the noble Homer nods”
A. Homer was a blind Greek poet of the eight century B.C. Know for the Illiad and the Odyssey.
B. As accomplished as Homer was, he sometimes erred with reference to the facts of the incidents that he mentioned.
C. It is true of every human author.
1. Regardless of their genius and skills, they are still fallible.
2. In spite of great care, they will “nod” or “slip” on occasion.
D. But contrast this to the authors of the Bible.
1. They were not great scholars - Acts 4:13
2. Yet they wrote with great precision.
3. So amazing is their accuracy that we can only conclude that God oversaw the work.
II. A poet once said, “To err is human . . .”
A. People err. God does not.
B. This allows a careful student to distinguish between a mere human document and a divinely inspired writing.
C. Examples of fallible humans
1. Herodotus, a Greek historian of the fifth century B.C., wrote nine books dealing with the Greek and Persian wars together with a history of the customs and geography of those empires.
a. He claimed that the reason the oxen in Scythia did not grow horns was due to the extreme cold.
b. He obviously never heard of reindeer.
2. Aristotle, a famous Greek scholar of the fourth century B.C. was renowned for his knowledge, but he blundered at times.
a. In “Parts of Animals”, he argued that “a man’s soul is lodged in some substance of a fiery character.”
b. He claimed the brain is a compound of earth and water.
c. He suggest that sleep is caused by the blood flowing into the brain, thus making it heavy. This also explained why a drowsy person hangs his head.
3. Flavius Josephus was a Jewish historian. Though a respectable historian of his day, he frequently slipped.
a. He declared that during the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, a heifer, being led to be sacrificed in the temple, gave birth to a lamb.
b. He spoke of a place in Egypt where fierce serpents ascend out of the ground and fly through the air.
4. Samuel Johnson, the author of the first English dictionary, stated that the letter “H” seldom, perhaps never, begins any but the first syllable of a word. In his very statement, he did not notice that perhaps begins with “H” in the second syllable. Talk about embarrassing!
III. Religious books are not without error either
A. The Qur’an, which claims to be inspired by God, claims that a human fetus results from “sperm” (no mention of an egg) that changes into a clot of congealed blood, which then becomes bones, later to be covered by flesh (Sura 23:14).
1. This can hardly be called an accurate description of fetal development.
B. The Book of Mormon, revered by millions as an infallible revelation of God given to Joseph Smith.
1. Alma 7:10 says Jesus Christ was born in Jerusalem. But everyone knows the Savior was born in that “little town of Bethlehem” - Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1
2. I Nephi 16:10 and 2 Nephi 5:12 tells of Nephi using a compass to find his direction in the sixth century B.C. The problem is that the mariner’s compass was not developed until around 1000 A.D.
3. Joseph Smith, their prophet, once taught that there were people living on the moon — six feet tall, dressed like Quakers, and with a life-span of 1,000 years.
a. When Brigham Young, Smith’s successor, was asked about this matter, he concurred and suggested that such beings also lived on the Sun.
C. Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the “Christian Science” movement stated in “Science and Health with Key to the Scripture” which she claimed was co-authored by God, stated “Man is not matter — made up of brains, blood, bones, and other material elements . . . , Man is spiritual and perfect; and because of this, he must be so understood in Christian Science . . . Man is incapable of sin, sickness, and death.” Mrs. Eddy died December 3, 1910.
IV. In glaring contrast, the writers of the biblical records never nodded.
A. Their works are characterized by razor-sharp accuracy that defies explanation, save that God is the true author.
B. The first two chapters of the Bible record the beginning of the Universe, including the Earth and its inhabitants. Even though it was penned over 3,500 years ago, there is not one word in this account which is at variance with any demonstrable fact of science.
1. Yet any book on astronomy or Earth science penned fifty years ago is already obsolete.
2. An example, the Bible says the universe had a beginning. The second law of Thermodynamics says the universe is decaying. In order to decay, there must be some starting point in “recent” past to decay from.
a. In contrast the Babylonian creation accounts asserts that matter is eternal.
3. The Bible affirms that creation was completed at the end of the sixth day. The first law of Thermodynamics says that nothing is being created today.
4. Ten times the Bible states that biological organisms replicate after their own kind. It is perfectly in harmony with the known laws of genetics — unlike the theory of evolution.
C. Medical knowledge
1. The ancient world’s knowledge of medicine was based on myths and superstitions.
a. An Egyptian remedy for hair loss was to apply a mixture of six fats (horse, hippopotamus, crocodile, cat, and ibex) with the tooth of a donkey crushed in honey.
b. They even had a spell for transforming an old man into a youth of twenty.
2. Even though Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts 7:22), no magic mumbo-jumbo is found in his writings. Instead, Moses was far ahead of his time in terms of medicine and sanitation.
a. Leviticus 13 contains detailed information for the diagnosis, treatment (disinfectant with soap), and quarantine of the diseased all which would lessen the spread of the disease.
b. Consider the fact that a leper was required to cover his upper lip (Leviticus 13:45). Dr. J. S. Morton has noted, “Since the leprosy bacilli are transmitted from nasal drippings and saliva, this practice of having lepers cover the upper lips was good hygienic policy”
c. Dr. William Vis “To show how far Moses was ahead of modern society we need only to remind ourselves that the word quarantine originated in the fourteenth century when the Italian ports of Venice and Genoa first refused admission to immigrants who might be harboring plague and required them to stay on board forty days, hence the word quarantine. Even in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries leprosy spread over southern Europe until the principles of Moses were re-enacted successfully.
1. Then the Encyclopedia Britannica was first published it contained so many mistakes relative to American geography and topography, that a rival publisher issued a special pamphlet correcting the numerous blunders of its British rival.
2. In ancient Rome, Tacitus wrote a book on the geography, manners, customs, and tribes of Germany. It contained so many flaws, that it was noted that “geography was its weak point.”
3. The Bible contains literally hundreds of references to geography and topography.
a. Example, we often say we will travel from Atlanta up to Chicago, whereas Chicago is 500 feet lower than Atlanta. We do this because we refer to north as up and south as down.
b. The Bible does not use such terms. One travels from Jerusalem (in the south) down to Antioch, some 150 miles to the north (Acts 15:1-2). Not once is there a geographical or topographical blunder in the Scriptures in spite of the fact that the ancients did not posses modern sophisticated instruments.
4. Luke mentions 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 Mediterranean islands. There is not the slightest mistake in any of his references.
V. The Bible has been said to be inaccurate, but time after time, it has been proven true.
A. The Genesis record declares Pharaoh presented Abraham with some camels - Genesis 12:16
1. In 1899, T.K. Cheyne wrote, “the assertion that the ancient Egyptians knew of the camel is unfounded.”
2. In 1980, Professor Kenneth Kitchen has shown that “the extant evidence clearly indicates that the domesticated camel was known in Egypt by 3,000 B.C.” — long before Abraham’s time.
B. On several occasions, the book of Genesis mentioned Abraham and Isaac associated with Philistines (Genesis 21; Genesis 26).
1. In 1964, H. T. Frank characterized these allusions as an historical inaccuracy.
2. In 1983, R. K. Harrison notes some Philistines had begun to migrate to Canaan before the main body arrived in the early 12th century B.C. He “suggests that it is a mistake to regard the mention of the Philistines in the patriarchal narratives as an anachronism.”
VI. Even the noble Homer may nod, but those guided by the Spirit of God never did. You can trust the Bible. Will you trust it with your soul this day?