Confidence in the Bible, Part 2

How I developed confidence in the Bible, Part 2

In Part 1 we began to discuss how the Bible and ‘normal’ books differ.  The reasons were that 

  • The Bible is a very old book. 
  • The Bible has a supernatural Author.  
  • The Bible’s message has never been updated.
  • The Bible books form the Biblical Canon. 
  • Criticism against the Bible is rife.  

This blog has more reasons that the Bible is unique and different from other books.  

#  God uses the devil to teach us

God has an enemy, 

‘…that ancient serpent, called the devil or Satan.  Revelation 12:9  

He is invisible, but powerful and at work all the time.  

‘The whole world is under the control of the evil one.  1 John 5:19b 

  • We see his hand in the opposition to the Bible.  Scripture explains the devil’s origin and eternal fate and that is why he hates it and tries to keep people away from it.  It also explains why some people, nations or groups hate, scorn, ban, burn, or make fun of the Bible. 
  • God uses the devil to teach us that eternity is very, very important.  We are not to fall into the trap of the devil, but carefully to follow and serve the Lord, who will one day welcome us into His eternal Kingdom.  It is remarkable that God even uses the devil to send us an important message: choose right, not the devil’s way of rebellion and destruction because eternity is very, very long – especially in the wrong place, hell.   

#  Appreciate the unique Bible

  • A follower of Jesus cannot become properly acquainted with the Bible if one does not study it yourself.  Teachers help to shorten the learning curve, but it does not negate the fact that you need to seek the Lord in Scripture.  The Bible leads to a remarkable relationship between the invisible Holy King, His Son, God the Holy Spirit and the person who reads it.
  • The Bible is about reality, not religion.  In religion you can put up a facade that you are ‘good.’  God knows everything about all people.  He knows those who love Him.  They are the ones who are interested to build a relationship with Him because they listen to what He says in Scripture and respond in prayer and action.  God cannot be fooled.  
  • The Bible’s information is not systematized but scattered.  In some places the theme changes abruptly, it is not chronological and at places there are apparent contradictions, et cetera.  It is because God designed the Bible to be studied, pondered over, meditated on and questions can be asked and answered.  
  • The layers of revelation in the Bible are remarkable.  One reads a section today and the Holy Spirit speaks.  Later with the same passage, the Holy Spirit has another revelation.  It is a wonderful book with always something new and fresh,

‘He [Moses] was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us.’  Acts 7:38

The War against Marriage, Part 1 of 4

We live in a two kingdom world.  

  • Some people belong to the Kingdom of God, but the majority do not.  The Bible often talks about the ‘world.’  By that it means people who do not submit to God’s authority.  They are quite content to be part of Satan’s kingdom, although they often don’t realise it. 
  • The two kingdoms have different ‘constitutions.’   The people of God’s Kingdom have the Bible as their Law book.  The people of Satan’s kingdom, have no laws to guide them.  They do as they please. They do not regard the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. 
  • Because Satan is hostile towards God and His people, the world in general is hostile towards the followers of Jesus.   That hostility has been evident since the time Cain killed his brother.  1 John 3:12 says Cain belonged to the evil one [Satan].   
  • The world does not understand Christians.  ’They think it strange that [followers of Jesus] do not plunge with them in the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on [them].’ 1   
  • The ‘war’ against God and His people is increasing in intensity.  Revelation 12:12c explains, ‘He [the devil] is filled with fury, because he knows his time is short.’   The short time relates to the final judgment when he and his followers will be thrown into the lake of burning sulphur.  

Adam and Eve, the first married couple   

  • God ordained marriage between a man and a woman shortly after creation.  He created Adam and gave him the right to rule over creation.  Then God created a female out of Adam.  God brought her to him and Adam said, ’This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.’ 2 
  • As Scripture describes it, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.’ 3 
  • God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number;  fill the earth.…’ 4  Though there are couples who cannot reproduce, and God does not blame them, in general man and woman is able to reproduce and fill the earth.  
  • God needs people of many generations to fill heaven.  So obviously, while the world cries, ‘stop the bus, reproduce less,’ it does not worry God.  

Adam and Eve’s honeymoon in the Garden of Eden

  • God planted a garden east of Eden and there He put the couple.  Adam was to work the Garden and take care of it. 5 
  • God put two trees in the middle of the Garden: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.   
  • Adam was commanded not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  He had enough other fruit and probably nuts, to eat.  It was their test of obedience. 

God’s plan for man right from the beginning was an eternal nation of people.  We know that one of the biggest problems in most countries is disobedience.  If all citizens would obey the laws of a country, it would be almost heaven on earth.  Yet most countries need law enforcement departments, prisons, et cetera.  God does not envisage prisons or police officers in His eternal Kingdom.  Therefore He had the test for obedience.  

Note that it was a fairly easy test: don’t eat from one tree, but eat from all the others.  However, the test or command had a ‘clause.’  If you eat of it, ‘you will surely die.’ 6  God did not elaborate on what kind of death because He did not want to instil fear in them to obey.  God always wants free, voluntary obedience out of pure love for the Lord. 

An abrupt end to the honeymoon

All of a sudden, a serpent addressed Eve (not Adam).  That should have alerted Eve.  Yet before we judge her, remember that she was not present when Adam named the animals.  He knew animals cannot talk.  Yet it is strange that he was with her but did not warn his wife when the serpent spoke.  From what we understand, he watched the whole encounter that cut their honeymoon short.  

The crafty serpent asked Eve, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” (Who was the serpent?  Scripture reveals that he is the ‘Dragon, that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan.’ 8  Satan was an angel who rebelled against God and deceived many angels to follow him.  They oppose God in all possible ways.)  

Eve’s response was, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” 9   Satan replied: 

  • ‘You will not surely die.’  That was the direct opposite of God’s command.
  • ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ 10

Why did the serpent focus on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?  God, as Creator, has the right to decide what is good for man.  After all, He created man.  If they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would become like God and decide for themselves what is good or evil.  

Eve fell into the trap.

‘When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.’ 11

The bubble burst.  Their harmony and peace evaporated.  When Adam ate from the fruit,  Satan took over Adam’s authority to rule over creation.  The rebellious angel had status.  He was now the ruler, the prince of the world.  He wasted no time.  He got Adam and Eve’s firstborn, Cain, as his first human citizen.  Cain murdered his brother because he belonged to the evil one. 12  

The ruined honeymoon opened the way to the two kingdom world we live in.  If we understand it, we are well on our way to grasp what happens in the world.  The kingdom of darkness never stops its war against the Kingdom of Light.  

Conclusion

Genesis 3 explains how the world was divided into two groups that oppose each other.  It is God Almighty with His people and Satan, a created angel, with his people.  That was the beginning of our two kingdom world: the Kingdom of Light and the kingdom of darkness. 

To be continued…

References

  1. 1 Peter 4:3-4  
  2. Genesis 2:23  
  3. Genesis 2:24  
  4. Genesis 1:28  
  5. Genesis 2:15  
  6. Genesis 2:17  
  7. Genesis 3:1  
  8. Revelation 12:9; 20:2  
  9. Genesis 3:2-3  
  10. Genesis 3:4-5  
  11. Genesis 3:6  
  12. 1 John 3:12

Why all the violence in the Old Testament?

People often complain that the Old Testament is a book of violence and terror.  They give the wars king David fought, the Israelites’ battles with the Philistines and many other incidents, as examples.  They cannot understand why the Old Testament is so violent, while God is supposed to be a a God of love, peace and happiness.  So let’s consider some aspects of the Old Testament’s violence. 

#  Has the world ever known peace?  

There was a short period of peace for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in God’s presence.  Yet that peace was shattered when the evil one arrived.  By deceit he became the ruler of the world (Genesis 3).  Genesis 4 begins Satan’s violent reign when Cain murdered his brother, Abel.  That became the characteristic of this age: violence, murder, hatred and wars. 

#  Violence in history and the ‘modern’ world 

The Assyrians, Babylonians and the cruelty of tyrants through the ages are examples.  At present it is the violence in Iran, Iraq, Syria and other places, the destruction by ISIS and Boko Haram in Africa, the Rohingya persecution and others.  There is civil unrest in many countries, and that through the ages.  Why?  The answer is the character of the ruler of this world, Satan. 

#  What is Satan like?  

  • In the New Testament, Jesus gave a clear answer, ‘He was a murderer from the beginning….’ 1  Why is the devil so hateful and always tries to mess things up?  
  • Remember he forfeited his eternal life in God’s presence when he rebelled against God’s authority. 2  For that result he hates the God of peace.  He is a vengeful, warring influence, always bent of destruction, whether of families, individuals or nations.

#  The Bible is a book about reality, not a religious book. 

  • The Bible is not a fairy tale, it tells history as it happened.  Scripture explains the mess the world is in under the devil’s reign.  It contrasts it to the magnificent Redeemer, the Son of God who came to earth to crush the head of the devil. 3  
  • Jesus came to change it all (whoever wants to, can call on God to translate them out of the devil’s kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light, through Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross 4).  When Jesus comes the second time He will inaugurate a new heaven and earth, the home of righteousness.  There will be no violence ever again on the new earth.  What a great future awaits those who make Jesus their Lord. 

Conclusion

God calls people in the midst of a fallen violent world, to become part of a nation under the headship of Jesus.  Then the new nation will get a new dwelling, a home of righteousness where Jesus will rule eternally. 5

References

  1. John 8:44  
  2. Mathew 25:41  
  3. Genesis 3:15; 1 John 3:8  
  4. Colossians 1:13  
  5. 2 Peter 3:13
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