Orignally posted on www.plimtuna.com on 13 January 2010
One of the issues that could come up when you speak to your coworkers, neighbors or friends about your ambition to read through the Bible in a year is timeliness. What can a book that was written over 2000 years ago have for us today? This could be an even more appropriate question when you tell them you are starting in Genesis, possibly the second oldest book in the Bible (assuming Job is the oldest). We believe the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) were written by Moses over 3200 years ago with some of the stories being over 4000 years old. So how can you apply such an old text to living in 2010?
First of all, what stories have I read so far in my first 12 days of reading. I made a quick list:
|Adam and Eve / Cain and Abel||Genesis 2 – 5|
|Noah and the Ark and the Flood||Genesis 6 – 10|
|Tower of Babel||Genesis 11|
|Life of Abraham and Sarah||Genesis 11 – 25|
|Ishmael and Isaac||Genesis 16, 21|
|Sodom and Gomorrah||Genesis 18 – 19|
|Isaac and Rebecca||Genesis 24|
|Jacob and Esau||Genesis 25 – 33|
|Dinah and revenge against Shechem||Genesis 34|
|Jacob becomes Israel||Genesis 35|
To some this list is just a somewhat meaningless list of names and places. Sure, everyone has heard of the creation story and Noah’s Ark. However, is everyone aware of Gomorrah or even better who is Shechem and what he did? Granted, these are old stories from an old book. Even though we accept them as part of the inspired, inerrant Word of God, how do they tie into our world today?
I took a few minutes to make some connections between modern events and these Bible stories.
In this news story scientist are surprised to find fossils that show that they were wrong in their earlier predictions of when fish supposedly formed legs to walk on land. They now believe they were off on their projections by 18 million years.
This was not so hard to find, there are always stories about family members killing each other. It is a sad commentary on our world and the depravity of man.
Noah and the Ark: http://www.arkvannoach.com/
Did you know that someone has built a 1/2 sized replica of Noah’s Ark? Did you know it is right here in the Netherlands? Well, guess who is going on a field trip soon to visit the exhibit? The man who built it is currently building a full sized version.
Tower of Babel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limburgese
To me the idea that languages came about as God confused the people who were working too well together to build a tower is fascinating. I have found a great love for languages. I am very proud that I speak two languages fluently (English and Spanish) and that I am slowly adding a third (Dutch). I am even more impressed by my coworkers, many of whom speak at least four or five languages fluently (Dutch, English, German, Limburgese and sometimes French).
Ishmael and Isaac: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_2003%E2%80%93current
If you did not know, three man religions of the world count Abraham as a spiritual father – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Thinking about that fact makes the reading of Abraham and his descendants lives in Genesis much more interesting. Many scholars and theologians consider that Arabs and Islam descend directly from Ishmael and that Jews and Judaism descend from Isaac. In the story they both receive blessing from God, but Isaac receives the special blessing. One of the prophecies from God to Hagar about Ishmael is found in Genesis 16:11 – 13, it states that the descendants of Ishmael will be in conflict with his brothers forever. Interesting!
11 The angel of the LORD also said to her:
“You are now with child
and you will have a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the LORD has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.”
13 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
Sodom and Gomorrah:
The issue of the acceptance of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle choice is ever present in our day and age. The first mention of this topic in the Bible has shown up in our first days of reading (Genesis 18 – 19). Do you recognize that the word sodomy comes from the name of this unfortunate town in our story? I am not even going to post a story or link on this topic. Open any news list for the day on any web site and you will see stories on the topic. It is a topic of today.
The story of Dinah and Shechem is one of the rape of Dinah by Shechem and the revenge that her brothers exert on Shechem and the men of his town. This form of justice is abhorrent to us in western civilization. But it still happens today. In rural areas of third world countries, vigilantism and revenge/honor killings still happen. Even recently in Germany a man was convicted of murdering his own daughter because she was no longer a virgin. These “old” biblical stories still resonate with the stories of our world today.
So, is the Bible timely for today? Sure it is. If we open our eyes we can see how the Bible has something to say about the world we live in, the people we live with and the perspective we take on the events of the world around us. Why not spend some time in the Bible today to gain ancient truth that is living and active today?
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.