Bible in a Year: Genesis 1-11 Amazing, “Unbelievable” Stories

January 6th.  Who’s still keeping up with their daily reading plan?  I know that most of you are still going strong, at least I hope so.  The Leviticus slump is coming and the summer sleepies.  Let’s hang tough in January, especially during Genesis.  (I know that everyone is not doing the same plan, but just about everyone is reading Genesis right now)

As I finished Genesis 1-11 this week, I was captured again by how fantastic these stories, and if I could use the word “unbelievable” at least momentarily.  For some, we read those stories, we believe them but brush them off as kid’s Sunday School stories.  For others, we dismiss them like fables–cute stories, but no serious person would truly believe them.

Well, I don’t know if I am a serious person, but I believe them.  I believe that God created the world through his words and there are limits as to what science can tell us about what a supernatural God that cannot be observed did or does.  I believe Satan spoke through a snake in a literal Garden of Eden.  Jesus references these stories, Paul references these stories, and both of them as true stories.  They don’t simply reference the lesson, but the history.  It doesn’t bother me that I sound naive.  I’m also just naive enough to believe that a literally dead person literally came back to life after having literally been dead.  He walked around and then was taken to heaven.  If I’m naive enough to believe that, then believing animals walked onto a giant boat to avoid a worldwide flood seems like no big deal.

(I could go on and on.  My belief in these Bible stories is not shallow and pretty well thought out.  However, an apologetic article would be more like a blog series, and these Bible in a Year posts are designed to be more devotional.  If you have some interest in apologetic stuff, let me know.  I could write some stuff and I know some other folks who would love to do it as well.)

However, I don’t want to spend a lot of time on that, because I think by spending a lot of energy trying to decide what fits with science and answering “is it true” questions that we miss some major themes of the Bible that God is wanting to introduce as we start through the Bible.  Here are just a few.

1) The main “character” of the Bible is God.  “In the beginning God…”  That’s where it starts.  We get to people later.  Too often we read the Bible the way we used to read our high school yearbooks.  Hundreds of pages in that book, we don’t notice most of them.  However the 4 or 5 pages (or more if you were some kind of superstar) where your picture is found are dog-eared. The Bible is not an instruction book, and it is not about us.  It was written for us, but it is about God.

2) God loves people and God hates sin.  Seems simple right.  I wonder though.  Do we believe both of those things?  I’m not sure.  Do we believe that God hates sin so much that it must be punished?  Kicked out of the garden, cursing the earth, banishment, a worldwide flood, confusing languages.  In a few chapters we will see the destruction of cities.  Does God hate sin that much?  Still?  We see God’s compassion, through the making of the clothes, sparing Cain, the remnant on the ark.  We see that even more in Jesus Christ.  However, compassion and forgiveness are only truly powerful if God hates sin and sin requires punishment.

3) God loves the whole world and loves diversity.  God wanted people to “fill the earth and multiply.”  He wanted the whole earth to be full.  He knew the result of that would be diversity.  People in different areas would adapt to different customs and languages.  However, people didn’t want that.  They stayed together and wanted to build a giant monument to keep them together.  God did to them what they refused to do themselves.  He made them diverse and spread them out.  Which leads to…

4) God is control.  He is working his plan.  If you are still reading your Bible every day in November and December (and why wouldn’t you be?) you will see God’s plan slowly unfolding over hundreds of years.  We should be both humbled and relieved.  God’s got this.  Whatever “this-es” you are going through, he’s got it.

There is so much more–redemption, forgiveness, the frailty of people, the devastating effects of sin.  The prologue (as some have called it) to the Bible is incredibly deep and powerful and sets the course for the big picture story of the Bible.  The God of the Universe creates a people who rebel.  He loves them and wants relationship with them, but they must be redeemed.

Glad you’re hanging in there.  Let’s keep doing this.