For the week of October 13, 2007 / 1 Heshvan 5768
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 6:9 - 11:32 &
Bemidbar / Numbers 28:9-15
Haftarah: Isaiah 66:1-24
Does the Bible Embarrass You?
And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood. (Bereshit / Genesis 7:7; ESV)
Besides being the undisputed best selling book of all time, no writing has ever had the kind of impact the Bible has. All over the world people from almost every language and culture have been changed for the better by this book. No other book has brought the kind of comfort, consolation, correction, inspiration, and direction the Bible has.
Yet for many the Bible is viewed as a relic of medieval times, when people understood life in religious, rather than scientific terms. Today we think we know better. The scientific mind is a so-called enlightened mind that has rid itself of sentimental and superstitious concepts that have kept the masses under the thumb of religious leaders.
Of course those who believe that the Bible is actually the Word of God don't share this criticism. The believer accepts the Bible as a treasure of timeless principles. While expressed in an ancient context, the teachings of Scripture remain true for all people of all cultures in every generation.
But what about the details? It seems to be that believers and unbelievers alike often share the same reaction to the stories of the Bible. It is one thing to embrace concepts like God, love, and forgiveness. It is another thing to boldly assert the validity of stories such as Noah's Ark, Jonah and the Big Fish, and Daniel in the Lion's Den. We may say we believe in miracles, but do we really? I think one of the reasons why we tend not to expect God to act supernaturally today is that we don't fully accept the reality of miracles at all. This is also why we hesitate to confidently stand up for the Bible's view of creation. We have more respect for the assertions of scientific research than we do for biblical inspiration.
When it comes right down to it, the Bible embarrasses us. The Bible asserts certain things that sound very strange to most people. Many of its teachings appear out of step with most of today's societies. Adhering to the details of the Bible strikes a strange discord in the contemporary ear. That strangeness reverberates in our own hearts, causing us to be intimidated. So instead of confidently standing on the testimony of Scripture, we mold it according to the world's preferences.
I am aware that there have been and still are interpretations of certain Bible passages that need to be adjusted as we gain further insight into them. But what I am referring to here is how we allow the opinions of others to erode our confidence in the Bible when we should know better.
How excited would you be if we finally had tangible proof of the existence of Noah's Ark? I wonder if the degree of that excitement is equal to the degree of uncertainty we have over the validity of what the Bible asserts. While I would hope that such a discovery would impact nonbelievers, should not believers already be convinced of the validity of the story whether or not we ever find it?
If you don't yet believe that the Bible is the Word of God, nothing in this message will convince you. But for those who do believe, what do you really think of the Bible's details? Do they embarrass you? I mentioned earlier that there is a tendency to adhere to the Bible's concepts, while denying the details. But in reality it is the Bible's details that carry the substance of its concepts. Once we undermine the details, we will also lose touch with its concepts.
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