When I was growing up, my family liked to watch some of the old B Westerns. These movies–usually from the thirties and forties, starring John Wayne or Gene Autry or Roy Rodgers or others, were simple in both production and plot. Special effects were minimal. Good always trumped evil. Tropes abounded. Sometimes these movies even borrowed their plots from other B Westerns.
Once, we watched a Gene Autry movie in which a couple women from the east moved near Gene’s ranch and started herding sheep, which Gene was afraid were going to destroy the range. So he and his friends put goop on the sheep to convince the women that the sheep had hoof and mouth disease. Later, we watched a Roy Rogers movie in which a couple women from the east moved near Roy’s ranch and started herding sheep, which Roy was afraid were going to destroy their range. So what do you think they did? Roy and his friends put goop on the sheep to convince the women that the sheep had hoof and mouth disease!
Were you to ask “average” Christians to describe the storyline of Genesis, what would they come up with? Perhaps it would emphasize the “beginnings” aspect of the book. I took a very scientific survey of the standard evangelical understanding of Genesis by asking an unnamed one of my sisters who took all the Bible classes at The Master’s University to tell me about Genesis. She depicted it as something like this:
Bible skeptics or critics often point to alleged inconsistencies in the biblical accounts of history to try to discredit the Bible’s truthfulness and authority. An example of such an alleged inconsistency is the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. Here is the problem: Genesis 11:1 says “Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.” However, the earlier passage Genesis 10:5 states, “From these the coastland peoples spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans in their nations.” (Emphasis added.) How did the whole earth have one language after the different peoples scattered out with their own languages? Continue reading “How the Tower of Babel Builds the Storyline of Genesis”
Most likely the title has never crossed your mind as a thought before. But many Christians–myself included–have put up Bible verses on printouts and taped them to their mirrors, or written on index cards and posted them near their beds, or gotten verses artistically lettered and framed for their desks or living room wall pictures or castle hall tapestries. The Word of God plays such a central role in the Christian life it is appropriately honored when visibly depicted where we spend the majority of our time. Since the Bible plays such a transformative role in our thoughts, desires, words, and actions, it is only natural that people try to remind themselves of what God has told them by strategically placing God’s Words where they will be regularly, even unconsciously, read. This post is not a critique of that practice.
Continue reading “Help! I put a Bible verse on my wall but I still sin!”
A neglected aspect of the story of Noah is his birth. When Noah was born, his father “called his name Noah (rest), saying ‘this one will console us over our work and the pain of our hands from the ground which Yahweh cursed.’ ” (Gen 5:29) This clear allusion back to the curse of Genesis 3 expresses and exasperated hope for fulfillment to the promise of Genesis 3:15–that God would send the seed of the woman to finally crush the serpent’s head and reverse the curse. Lamech expressed hope that Noah, whose name means rest, would finally bring about rest from the curse God put on the ground. Now while in the story of Noah and the ark we do not see Noah become this savior, and in fact at the end of chapter 9 of Genesis we see him disqualified form being this savior, the idea of God’s rest must somehow be connected with Noah. This is for a couple reasons: his name, and his salvation by God. But then, why does the author of Hebrews ignore the story of Noah in writing his exhortation to enter God’s rest in Hebrews 4?
Continue reading “Noah and God’s Rest in Hebrews 4”
Noah’s Ark is told as a children’s flannel-graph story, with cartoon animals, a cheerful Noah, and a stylized rainbow decorating baby’s rooms and storybook Bibles. However, the story of the flood provides a devastating description of God’s hatred and wrath expressed against pervasive, rampant human sin. The Babylon Bee has capitalized on this irony multiple times. As you read Genesis 6:5–22, in which God describes the reasons for the flood and commissions Noah to build an ark for his own salvation, several instances of wordplay reveal the nature of sin and the nature of God’s judgment on sin. This occurs along the lines of two themes: God’s grief over sin and sin’s corruption of creation.
Continue reading “Wordplay, the Flood, and God’s Judgment of Sin”
The Sunday School story of Cain and Abel has historically been put to many uses. As children, some of us probably heard it presented as a moral tale to discourage us from fighting with our siblings. In the biblical counseling world, the falling of Cain’s countenance (Gen 4:5–7) is used as a proof that emotions and conditions within the inner man can affect the outer man. Cain’s declaration that his punishment is too much for him has been used to encourage people to be wise and endure the consequences of their sin. But these and similar usages of Genesis 4 miss the main point being presented in the chapter: that redemption cannot come from man. People are unable to save themselves from sin and the curse. Continue reading “Cain and Abel: Humanity Can’t Save Itself from Sin”