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.
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”
As Christians, we daily struggle with sin and temptation. In order to fight this, we need a strong understanding of how sin tempts us to turn away from the God who saved us. We find this knowledge in the Bible, even at the very beginning. Genesis 2 and 3 show us that the reason that Eve was deceived by the serpent is the same reason that we fall into sin under temptation in our individual lives today. Parallels between Genesis 2 and 3 demonstrate the heinous evil of the sin of Adam and of all sins since.
Words matter. As a self-identified writer, I at least sometimes try to pick my words intentionally so that they create specific informational and emotional effects in the minds of my readers. The biblical authors of course did the same thing. Unlike me, they wrote in Hebrew and Greek, with at least the first of these two being a heavenly language. Their specific word choices in the original languages matter. Continue reading “When Heaven Helped Those who Helped Themselves”
In 2 Kings 18, Judah was in deep yogurt. The northern kingdom of Israel had already fallen to the Assyrians. While Hezekiah was the best king of Judah since David (vv. 3-6), and even though idolatry and contraband worship at high places had been purged from the land, and despite a past successful rebellion against Assyrian hegemony, Judah was invaded by King Sennacherib of Assyria, who successfully destroyed much of the country before besieging Jerualem (vv. 13, 17), putting his general Rabshakeh in command. Rabshakeh then commenced a propaganda campaign against the soldiers of Israel, mocking their king and their God. His speech made five points (vv. 19–35, with a reprise in 19:8–13): Continue reading “A Land Like Your Own Land”
Some of the easiest and most common humor in our world is based on bodily functions, particularly excretion. To a lesser and milder extent, these same jokes are common in the conversations of Christians, even educated evangelicals. A common justification for these is the seemingly graphic nature of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament in the Law and histories, when discussing these sorts of topics. However, these might not actually be connected to the issue of determining appropriate humor. Looking at a couple passages will show that this is not crudeness, but actually direct glorification of God. Continue reading “Toward a Theology of the Restroom”
One of the core struggles of the Christian life is the tension between living in the world and being profoundly different from it. According to the Bible, we are in the world, but not of the world. We were once proud of and defined by worldly things and accomplishments, but now we count them all as loss in exchange for Christ. We understand that we are citizens of heaven, merely pilgrims passing through this present world. We know we need to lay aside what lies behind and press on to the goal—Jesus Christ. But in practice Christians usually fall short. Continue reading “Is Worldliness Really Such a Big Deal?”