Genesis Day 16: How do you read your Bible?
Why do I ask how you read your Bible?
Because how you read/interpret your Bible will have a lot to do with how you process the Bible’s first chapters (which we just read), and how you are going to deal with the chapters we are about to read.
Many people will say the Bible is the Word of God. Okay, sure. What do you mean by that phrase? And then, how do you read the Bible?
Let me tell you what I mean by saying the Bible is the Word of God. I believe it has three characteristics; it is: Inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17); Infallible, in that it does not teach error; and Inerrant, in that it presents factual truth. You can read more about these ideas here.
People have spilled a lot of ink over unpacking and explaining these three words, but let’s not make this too hard. How do you read God’s Word? Let me offer you three possibilities. (We could make it five or six, but let’s keep it simple.)
Read it literally—every exact word is literally true.
Read it factually—meaning the facts are true, yet you take into account the literary style.
Read it as containing truth—like a fable or myth, but the details may or may not have happened.
Consider those three possible approaches in the context of us reading about God, Noah, and the Flood.
Some people want to point out that many early cultures have a “flood myth”. When they say “myth” they are seeking to esteem the story as having some universal value, but they believe it falls short of factual reality.
Yet assigning any story in the Bible to the category of “myth” begins a process: the process of each human deciding what is fact versus what is myth.
Most of us can determine what type of literature we are reading. For example, when we read the Bible, we know whether we are reading poetry (Psalms), history (1 Samuel), wisdom (Proverbs), legal argument (Romans), etc.
As I said, most of us can determine literary style. Not so with facts. Was there a real flood (fact), or is it myth/fable?
Do you believe that this flood, and even more-so this character Noah and his Ark, are real? Why do I ask? Because it effects how you will wrestle with God – and with yourself. Do you believe this God of love flooded the earth?
Well, I believe it is a factual event. Do I understand scientifically the exact length of the Ark? Can I explain how parts of the text don’t fully line up? No, I cannot. But that doesn’t make it any less true to me.
Just as in Genesis 1, where I noted that I believed that God indeed created our world, and the entire universe—I believe God used an obedient man named Noah – a real man, who actually lived – to re-start his work on earth.
There are all sorts of lessons here for us. The lesson of Noah’s obedience and how God used him. The lesson of God’s determination for His creation to serve its rightful purpose…yet when we remove the “factual event” from the story…for me at least… the lessons turn into nice suggestions for life… versus timeless, unbending truths.
For it is true that God does amazing work through the faith and obedience of one faithful human… and it is true that God is serious, deadly serious, that His creation serve its rightful purpose.