How an English King Changed the World by Publishing Israel’s Holy Book
For centuries, intellectual elites, including scientists, have worked feverishly to show the Bible to be a flawed book in order to shore up their own authority. But the Holy Bible is not a problem and does not have problems. Mankind, however, has serious problems—human-extinction-scale problems that the intellectuals and science cannot solve.
No other book preserved within Western civilization has been so minutely scrutinized and ripped apart by modern minds. The proud malign and dismiss this God-breathed book with the wave of a hand, claiming it is useless because of its ancientness. An honest look at our dangerous world, however, tells us we need some sagacious ancientness—and fast.
Within the pages of this one book is bound a unified collection of ancient Israel’s national history, civil constitution, religious doctrine, prophetic poetry, worship hymns and wisdom writings. It was written down by kings, princes, presidents, prime ministers, governors, lawyers, farmers, cattlemen, fishermen; even a medical doctor, a tax collector and a tent maker—all fiercely dedicated, educated, thinking men.
Like impudent children, we have come to believe that we know better than the fathers that came before us. We mock our own history. Yet that does not make that history into lies.
We must recapture, study and learn from our past—even the very ancient one. Ancient Israel’s Holy Book is the only window into the primal world of our beginnings.
Biblical history and prophecy proves that the colonizing, white, English-speaking people of northwestern Europe and North America are the descendants of the Assyrian-captured, enslaved 10 tribes of Israel. In fact, the Bible records that the people of Britain and the United States are the modern-day descendants of the patriarch Jacob and are nationally named Israel, which is the key to understanding and making biblical prophecy clear (Genesis 35:11). The Bible also shows that a descendent of King David sits on the throne in England. At His return, Jesus Christ is destined to sit on that throne at a pulsating world-government center in a soon-to-be rebuilt Jerusalem (Luke 1:33). Request your free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy for a full explanation of this astounding history and prophecy.
These facts offer the only reasonable explanation as to why an English king preserved Israel’s Holy Book. No one can deny that the world has been a far better place because of what the British and American people have done with this book. At this time of celebration of the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, it is fitting to reflect on what one book has done for our world now caught in chaotic crises.
King James VI and I
King James could not have had more troubled beginnings. His father, Lord Darnley, was a violent drunk. His mother, Mary Queen of Scots, carried the reputation of being a loose woman. Lord Darnley, covetous of his right to the throne of England and jealous of Mary’s closeness to David Rizzio, her secretary (and suspected father of the child), plotted to execute Rizzio in her sight believing the bloody violence would cause her to miscarry the unborn child. It did not—but clearly, James’s life was threatened before he even had a chance to breathe. Most likely the result of divine protection, James was orphaned when his father was murdered by an explosion that his mother may have planned. Mary was imprisoned and finally executed for plotting with Catholics to kill Queen Elizabeth i of England. It is interesting to note that Shakespeare wrote Macbeth based on James’s horrific family history.
Crowned King James vi at 13 months old, he was provided an incredible education. He could speak Latin and Greek by age 5. His Presbyterian mentors educated him in Israel’s Scriptures. Because of the rampant regicide in Scotland, he learned how to be politically cunning and control tough situations.
Yet the most important of all his education was his knowledge of the history of his royal lineage. King James knew and maintained the faith that he was a descendant of King David traceable back to Fergus i and from there through the kings of Ireland (King James vi and i Political Writings). He firmly believed that God put him on the throne of England. In a speech to Parliament on March 21, 1610, he said, “The state of the monarchy is the supremest thing upon the Earth, for kings are not only God’s lieutenants upon Earth, and sit upon God’s throne, but even by God Himself they are called gods …” (David Teems, Majestie). It is obvious James’s views on the “divine right of kings” was based on the Bible—specifically on passages such as 2 Samuel 7:4-16 and 1 Chronicles 29:23. When he was crowned king of England, thereby becoming King James i, he was sitting on the stone of Scone, knowing it was Jacob’s pillar stone (Genesis 28:10-22). James i considered himself to be the New Solomon.
James brought to England an exceptional genius grounded in Scripture. He knew the Bible well and used it often to illustrate his views on law and government. A prolific writer, James is known for his commentary on Matthew’s Gospel. The king was fully aware of the infighting among Protestants, Catholics and Puritans within the Church of England and their differing views on governmental authority. He seized upon the suggestion of John Reynolds (a Puritan) for a new Bible translation to heal the disunity within the church as the means to secure his own position as absolute ruler of both church and state. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The impact of the King James Version of the Bible on our world has been huge. Although James i did not live to see this phenomenon, the Bible translation carrying his name became a global book. Although many people can see this fact, few understand how or why that happened.
To fully grasp why the kjv went global, we need to know about a ceremony that took place anciently. The Apostle Paul shows its vital importance in Hebrews 11:21. The significance of this ceremony is fully explained in The United States and Britain in Prophecy.
Jacob’s son Joseph had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Just before his death, Jacob adopted these two boys as his own and gave them his name (Genesis 48:16). He also bestowed upon them inherited blessings that grew to become incredible national physical wealth. Jacob gave Joseph’s youngest son the greater blessing, making his descendants into a multitude, or commonwealth, of nations. The oldest son, Manasseh, was to become one single great nation (verse 19).
In Genesis 49, Jacob states that these two great nations—referred to as Joseph—“in the last days,” our time now, would be a colonizing people (verses 1, 22-26). This prophecy is an accurate description of the astounding history of Britain and the United States of America. As these two nations—the true modern Israel—grew to national greatness and moved into world prominence, they carried their holy book (renamed the King James Bible) with them and used it to establish an empire and a nation founded on biblical principles of government, law and justice as revealed to Moses by God.
Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “In a.d. 1800 the United Kingdom and the United States were small and insignificant among the Earth’s nations. … But beginning in 1800 these two little nations began to sprout and to grow into vast national riches and power such as no people ever possessed. Soon Britain’s empire spread around the world, until the sun never set upon her possessions” (The United States and Britain in Prophecy). The incredible blessings God bestowed on these two nations soon spilled out over the Earth.
Government, Law and Justice
As the British Empire covered the globe, it generated a culture based on the rule of law. The English Magna Carta was the earliest example of such a constitutional law within Anglo-Saxon culture. It established the rights and liberties of the individual and worked to ensure that kings and other rulers were subject to that same law. In addition to guaranteeing personal freedom, this code of law emphasized social responsibility—respect for the rights, privileges, possessions and peace of others. Such law is a gift bestowed on us by the Bible.
When English citizens colonized America, the first settlers came seeking freedom of religion. They faced incredible personal hardships. What got them through such a difficult undertaking was their faith and religious fervor. Of course, they had brought the Bible with them. It was that book which inspired them to sacrifice to build a great nation out of the weakness of disease and deprivation. Many considered the North American continent to be the land of the New Israel.
Eventually separating from England, the government that was established with the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights followed British example. The legal rights and freedoms guaranteed to Americans have been the envy of multitudes of oppressed people throughout the world. America’s population grew in large part because of the freedom-yearning masses teeming to its shores. Yet few today recognize that the British and American legal systems are based on Mosaic law found in the first five books of the Bible.
Even a century ago, people better understood the Bible’s impact in the development of our Western nations. On the 300th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, President Theodore Roosevelt called it “the Magna Carta of the poor and the oppressed … the most democratic book in the world.” One of our strongest and most important presidents, he understood that the Bible was the foundation of personal freedoms established by law. As Moses taught our forefathers, “One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you” (Numbers 15:16). The rule of law brought greatness to Britain and America. Yet we have forgotten that the concept came from the mind of our God, who even subjects Himself to His own law.
Bedrock for Education
One of the greater achievements of the British Empire was its commitment to educate the people it governed. The kjv was the bedrock of that educational system. Theodore Roosevelt said, “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is better than a college education.”
In a practical and elemental way, the kjv and its associated root translations helped standardize the English language. When William Tyndale set out to translate the Bible into the language of the common people of England, he created a firestorm for two reasons. First, it was a step to establish that the Bible—not the pope—was the only true religious authority on Earth. That required people be able to read the Book. The Latin Vulgate was the only Bible available to most Englishmen, and few could read Latin.
Second, the English language was considered to be a disgustingly gross language, far inferior to Latin. Latin was the language of scholars and the legal system. English was eclectic, difficult to understand because of its many dialects, and did not even have a standardized spelling or written form. Tyndale’s translation helped to change that. Derek Wilson states, “It was not enough for Tyndale simply to convey the words of Scripture from Greek into English; they had to be conveyed into living English, such as ‘a boy that driveth the plough’ could understand. In this he was completely successful; his New Testament had a colloquial vigor, which rendered it immediately comprehensible and popular. Later translators found it impossible to improve on many of his renderings, which appeared in version after version down to the time of the King James Bible” (The People’s Bible).
Many phrases that we use today come right out of the King James Bible—for example, give up the ghost, my brother’s keeper, the powers that be, the salt of the earth, and arise, shine. Though most of these expressions were coined by Tyndale, all come out of the kjv.
Art, Music, Culture
Many children around the world were taught to read English using the kjv. The dramatic histories of the Old and New Testaments have held captive countless imaginations from the very young to the very old. The kjv’s power to inspire has caused artists to be born and musicians made.
We have a culture filled with high-quality, precious art because of the Bible. Larry Stone, in his beautiful book The Story of the Bible, provides examples of the incredible handcrafted artistic decoration on handwritten copies of the Bible from the Dark and Middle Ages. Although these illustrations are technically not the kjv, it was the high respect for the Word of God that inspired such beauty. Two such works, The Lindisfarne Gospels and The Book of Kells, have such intricate artwork that experts today still cannot fully understand how it was done. Concerning The Book of Kells, Stone reports: “The decorations are highly complex and so intricate that they can be best seen with a magnifying glass, which was not available when the book was created.” Pages of The Lindisfarne Gospels can be seen today in the British Museum.
Consider the classic paintings inspired by Bible history. Caravaggio painted The Conversion of Paul; Rembrandt painted Belshazzar’s Feast; Nicolas Poussin painted The Adoration of the Golden Calf. Some even suggest that Guttenberg invented printing so he could print the Bible. The use of two-color printing was developed to imitate the page decoration of the former hand-painted, hand-written Bibles.
We must not fail to mention the Bible’s impact on some of the most incredible and unforgettable classical music. There is Handel’s Messiah, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah. There is the innumerable list of spiritual songs taken from the Psalms of King David and other biblical texts.
Honestly, we could fill an entire magazine speaking of the impact the kjv has made in our modern world. King James vi and i oversaw the production of a spiritual and cultural phenomenon. His effort inspired the establishment of effective and just government, education and a healthy society. Today at least one book of the Bible is translated into more than 2,400 of the world’s 6,900 living languages. More people can read at least a part of the Bible in their own native tongue than ever before in history.
Yet reading the Bible is not enough. We must learn to understand it, live by it, and be ruled by it. Being ruled by it is the difficult part. Even though our Western world has been built up by the Bible, it is unlikely we will turn to it to save our society.
But there is still great hope for us. The Bible that King James vi and i honored so much states without doubt that a new society—in fact, a new world—is going to be built by a descendant of David. This King of kings, Jesus Christ, will use His father David’s throne and Israel’s book to revolutionize and revitalize all humanity (Luke 1:32-33). How blessed we will be to see and experience that wonderful time just ahead of us.