I love the Bible.

I really do.

Probably my favorite thing about the Bible is the way it depicts God.  It shows Him to be a warrior for His people, coming with a sword, and an army: He does not take injustice lightly.  He will vanquish His people: and I am one of them!  Can you believe what an amazing feeling that is, knowing that I will be vanquished?  It’s enough to let me surrender my battles, to give Him all those little feelings, and the huge ones too, where I think someone has treated me poorly, or something went terribly wrong.  He can decide.  He is the warrior.  He can vanquish me.

He is a roaring lion.  That simple phrase is so incredibly packed.  Lions generally live in prides, with one male being the dominant leader.  He conquers the uprisings, and maintains order.  He is known to circle the periphery of his pride, keeping an eye out for predators, always on the ready to protect, and He NEVER shirks his duty.  Everyone else works together knowing that He will keep everything as it should be, and they need only do their part.  The sound of His voice clears the countryside for miles.  The image of a roaring lion is truly breathtaking.

But what about when the Bible contradicts itself?

Because it does, right?  I mean, everyone knows that.

Aside from the incredible depiction of God as Sovereign, Mighty, and Creative, the Bible is my favorite book for it’s unwavering reliability.  Not surpsisingly, the Book about a perfect God, a sovereign Being, and an all-knowing Creator, contains no organic contradictions.  Any seeming mistakes are purely man-made, and assumed by man, which is not surprising since men are good at making mistakes, and they are good at pretending like they never do; they are even better at thinking that they should be God.  It has to be the Bible’s problem, right?

I don’t know how many times I have heard people say something about the Bible because that is just what everyone else says about the Bible.  There is no interest in getting an actual answer, it just seems right since it is a popular viewpoint, and when someone doesn’t really want to believe something they will say whatever it takes to make them feel good about the decision they have made.

The Bible doesn’t waste time trying to convince people.  “Believe in me because…”  It lays out the facts, it sings God’s praises, it gives the examples, and the rest is up to us.  It is up to us to pursue the evidence; it is up to us to take the plunge.  More often than not people want to be ‘sold’ on something.  They must be begged, cajoled, convinced.  They need the small print, and a lawyer.  They are afraid of being had, so they try to ‘have’ the would-be ‘haver’.  “I don’t want to look like a fool, so I will say that the Bible is foolish.”  But they won’t do the work themselves.  They need it to be done for them, because if God really wanted them to believe in Him so bad, He would come knock on their door, open His briefcase, and say, “I can offer you these plans for this price, and won’t that be nice?”  God isn’t a traveling salesman.  He is a warrior.  He isn’t on trial; He is a roaring lion.  He doesn’t need you to grade His work, and He doesn’t have security problems.

Many people who call themselves Christians have a hard time accepting the Word of God as complete and concise.  They assume that it is merely a rough draft, a loose kind of guide.  However, a belief in the Bible is the foundation of the entire Christian system.  One cannot claim to believe in God but discredit His very words of instruction and encouragement.  Not everyone believes all of the components about the Bible are true, and a lot people choose to read them and interpret as they will.  Understandably, this method leaves the unbelievers to assume that the material of the Bible is inaccurate and absurd.  Not even it’s own supporters will support it entirely.

People develop contradictions when they fail to read the Bible as it was meant to be read.  An ancient text of Middle-Eastern descent cannot be read as a modern, Western piece of literature.  Sequence was not a priority for the writers of the Bible.  That simply isn’t how authors wrote in that time and location.  Most of the Old Testament was written as a song, because it was sung.  It was written as poetry, not as matter-of-fact, and for some reason that really bothers people.  The Hebrew language is complex and intricate and, lo and behold, the Bible was originally written in Hebrew.  Many people/places/things have different words to describe them in the Hebrew language.

A lot of times, especially in the Old Testament, a verse will represent one situation (God created the earth, and He was pleased with it.), and not too many verses later an opposing idea is depicted (God repented of what He had created, and He was saddened by it).  When the history of the Bible is studied, it is easy to see that fifteen hundred years passed between these two passages.  During that time was what Christians refer to as the fall of man.  God could no longer remain satisfied with His work after that, unless a similar change had taken place in Himself.  He would have had to become okay with imperfection.  And God doesn’t change.

The books of the Bible were written by different authors.   That fact that they say things differently is actually a credit to the Bible.  If everything was too clean it would look like a hoax.  When people get on the witness stand and tell the exact same story, the same way, it is a red flag that they have conspired and concocted.  The Bible is full of the words of God and of good men, as well as the words of Satan and of wicked men.  The phrase, “You shall surely die”, were words spoken by God, where “You shall not die” were words spoken by Satan.  They are contradictory statements, but they are spoken by opposite individuals.  It is important to ask: Who is speaking?  Are they recorded as inspired language, or are they matters of history?  Does the writer endorse, or simply narrate, what has been written?

Each ancient writer chose to arrange their work in their own way.  Some of them were historians, so they elaborated extensively.  A different author could choose to omit or expand to suit his purpose and personality.  They haven’t ‘left anything out’, they merely chose not to use certain information.  If we have to study everything else to learn it, why don’t we also study the Bible?  It is rich with history, and when we start learning the history, the Bible begins to come alive.  Does anyone remember the uncomfortable story of when Jesus sent a legion of demons into a herd of pigs, who then threw themselves off of a cliff?  What an odd and unsavory bit.  How awkward and obnoxious it seems.  If you were to research the location and time period of the story, you would find that the people who lived in that town were pagan, and practiced pig worship.  It is appropriate then to see the demons wanting to go into the pigs, and even more appropriate that the pigs would be destroyed, as Jesus would not spare the demons from torturing a human being only to allow them to be worshiped.  I love learning these things!

It goes without saying that the passing of time was employed differently during the times of the Bible.  If two ancient writers seem to be in disagreement about the time period of a certain event it becomes our responsibility to investigate whether or not they are using the same chronological method.  We don’t get to assume somebody got it wrong somewhere.  Fahrenheit may read 212, and Centigrade reads 100, but we know that they are both saying the same thing.  The Jewish people referred to a year in it’s entirety.  For example,a child born in the last week of an ending year was considered a year old as soon as the new year began, even though only a few days had passed.  (This method is still practiced in certain areas of the East).  The last hour of the day would be seen as the whole day which is why, even though Jesus died on a Friday evening and rose again on a Sunday morning, it is referred to as Him being three days in the tomb (since Friday is considered an entire day, as are Saturday and Sunday).  No discrepancy, only a different method of computation.

I already mentioned that the Hebrew language is difficult and extensive.  Thus, in ancient Arabic, there are 100o different words for the word ‘sword’, 500 for ‘lion’, 200 for ‘serpent’, and so on.  The Hebrew language has at least 50 words to describe a body of water, 12 for ‘darkness’, 23 for ‘wealth’…  Many people had different names (Jacob was also Israel), and a lot of times someone’s name changed after a certain event, and this custom still takes place sometimes in certain cultures.  So when people begin to get excited about how the Bible says that the animals were created before man, but then it says that the animals were created after man, it would be crucial to evaluate the method of how that book was written, and then evaluate the original Hebrew words.  You would find that the contradictory phrase would be verified after the correct explanation of a word.

John Wesley developed a fabulous system for determining if something is ‘of God’.  It consists of four different sources, to be evaulated in order: Scripture, tradition, reason, experience.  It is a fascinating and reliable method.  First and foremost someone must study the Scriptures, and see what they have to say about it.  I once heard a minister preaching on John Wesley’s method, and then use the controversial Creation passage to say that Scripture didn’t say the same thing, so the important thing is not when or how something happened, but that it isn’t important!  Treating people well is what is important.  I agree, treating people well is crucial.  But she approached the Bible as a Western piece of literature, and was able to therefore convince her congregation that since the Scriptures are unstable we shouldn’t be focusing on them, but on how we make other people feel.  This was a sad situation that could have been avoided if she had done what she had been called to do: evaluate the Scriptures.  Instead of defending the handbook of our belief system, she encouraged it to be tossed aside.

There is no denying that the Biblical manuscripts sustained some discrepancies, but these were very much man-made.  Men make mistakes, even scribes.  One ancient figure meaning one thing can look almost identical to a different figure that means something else.   It would have taken an absolute miracle for no copy errors to be made.

Dogmatic prejudice seems to be the largest contributor to the Bible being accused as inaccurate.  Men go on about how the Bible needs to be treated like any other book, but then they treat it as they wouldn’t dare treat another book.  In all fairness, the criticisms are more inconsistent than what they claim to be criticizing.  I think people tend to be hostile towards something they don’t want to believe in, and we will always find a way to disprove something if we want to.

The Bible has awakened intellect inside of us like no other book, and I think that is why God chose, and allowed, to have the Bible recorded in such a way that would encourage us to really learn it.  Jesus Himself spoke in such a way that would test the character and motives of men.  He said, “Unless you eat my flesh, and drink my blood,” because it would be repugnant to someone that was insincere.  Many of His followers chose not to follow Him anymore after He said this, but this was to the benefit of the ministry, since they were choosing not to seek out the meaning of the words.  They were proud and superficial, and could not well serve the Lord.

I have often been skeptical of certain passages in the Bible.  I could go on and on about which ones, and where they are.  Each time that I dug into the troublesome passage and studied it, I grew even more passionate about my beliefs, and fell even more in love with the delicacy and richness it presented me.  I only needed to care about it as much as it claimed to care about me.

The antique Bible has been preserved in such a fashion that far out-weighs any other ancient manuscript.  And that’s saying something.

The Bible is a powerful tool.  Yes, it has been abused, and that is truly heart-breaking.  But when people have chosen to truly follow it and it’s principles we see, all across history, even to this day, revivals, servanthood, miracles, people going to the ends of the earth, feeding of the poor, educating the unreachable, ministering to the dead and dying, fresh water, clean food, life skills, healthy habits…  Compare a society that believes to one that does not.  The result will be staggering.  True following of the Bible cleans the spirit, strengthens the heart, and blesses the person.

 

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