Hard Questions About the Bible

Archive for July, 2011

The Disciples – A Bit Clueless But Real

The Twelve Disciples spent two to three years learning from Jesus.  The best known Disciple was Peter – Matthew and John wrote the Gospels.  They were hand picked by Jesus to teach and carry on His message.  But if you study about the Disciples, they were ordinary men who sometimes didn’t get what Jesus was teaching, and didn’t always have the strongest faith.

When Jesus taught about unclean things coming from a man’s mouth, Peter didn’t get it, so Jesus replied “Are you so dull?” (Matthew 15:15-16)

Jesus taught that He must die and be raised on the third day, to which Peter replied, “Never Lord, this shall never happen to you!”  Jesus answered, “Get behind me Satan, you are a stumbling block to me.” (Matthew 16:21-23)

Jesus told Peter that he will disown Him three times before the rooster crows, to which Peter replied, “I will never disown you”.  Of course, Jesus was right.  (Matthew 26:31-35)

When the other Disciples claimed Jesus arose, Thomas could not believe without proof. (John 20:24-29)

Some people doubt whether Jesus was the Son of God, and say He wasn’t really resurrected.  Some claim that He ‘swooned’ and just awoke later, and some think the Disciples hid Jesus’  body.

The Disciples were the leaders of the early Christian church.  Like any church leaders, I’m sure they were well respected and revered.  But the Gospels portray them as fallible, sometimes clueless and short of faith.  And two of the Gospel writers were Disciples themselves.

If Jesus’ death and resurrection were made up by the Disciples, I would think that they at least would have been portrayed better than they were.  But the fact is, they were very much like ordinary people.  To me that makes them more believable, people you can actually relate to.

Next: What About Creation?

Unlikely Members of Jesus’ Genealogy

The genealogies found in Matthew and Luke trace the line of ancestors to Jesus.  They were important in establishing Jesus as the Messiah.  You could almost say that they are like royal or holy lines to the revered Son of God.

One thing kind of struck me, though, when I read the genealogy found in Matthew 1. In Jesus’ line are a couple of unlikely members, both from enemy nations of Israel, and one a prostitute.  I’m talking about Rahab and Ruth.

Rahab was a prostitute who helped and hid the Israelite spies in Jericho before they conquered the city (Joshua 2).  She was the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth.  Ruth was from Moab, one of the hated idol-worshiping nations surrounding Israel, but she came to accept God.  She became the Great-Grandmother of King David.  (For more, read the Book of Ruth)

The Jews were God’s chosen people, so it’s interesting that people from enemy nations, one a prostitute, are included in David and Jesus’ line.  It certainly doesn’t sound ‘holy’.  Why would they be included unless it were true?

Christians believe that the Bible was all God’s perfect plan, why would He place enemies of His chosen people and a prostitute in such revered positions?  I think God is letting us know that salvation through Jesus is available to all.

Next:  The Disciples – A Bit Clueless But Real

The Line Between Adam and Jesus

Genealogies, or lists of ancestors, were big among the Jews in the Old Testament.  It started from Adam, listing all his descendants, and continued on throughout the  Old Testament.

The Israelites started with twelve tribes, and nearly every Bible figure is identified by ancestors or tribal affiliation.  Moses was from the tribe of Levi, David from the tribe of Judah, the apostle Paul from the tribe of Benjamin, etc.

There are two lists of genealogies of Jesus in the Gospels.  Matthew lists the ancestors between Abraham and Jesus, Luke lists them in reverse order, Jesus to Adam.  The lists are a little different, one theory is that Matthew traces the line to Jesus’ father Joseph, and Luke traces the line to Jesus’ mother Mary.

Why are the genealogies of Jesus important?  Matthew was trying to prove to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah, or Savior.  The Jews expected the Messiah to come from the line of David (See Jeremiah 23:5), so Matthew starts his Gospel calling Jesus ‘Son of David’, and lists the genealogy, which includes David.  Luke was probably reminding his readers about Jesus’ line to Adam.

It’s interesting that the Bible is full of such detail and record keeping, it seems to bolster the case for authenticity.

Next: Unlikely Members of Jesus’ Genealogy

The Nations Derived from Noah’s Sons

After the Great Flood, all the people living at the time were destroyed, except Noah and his family.  So, according to the Bible, all the subsequent generations of people are descended from Noah’s three sons, Japheth, Ham and Shem.

Genesis 10 lists the ‘Table of Nations’, the descendants of the three sons who form all the people of the earth.  When I first read this, it seemed a little preposterous, but the fact that the Bible even has this information made me curious.

The names in the table are unfamiliar, like Gomer, Magog, Cush, Uz, etc.  But if you search about this on the internet, you will find studies of how these descendants became the different nations.

Japheth’s descendants are the European people.  Ham’s descendants are the African,  Asian and Arab people.  Shem’s descendants are the Jews, Arab and Middle Eastern people.

Japhetic is a synonym for Caucasian, from the area of Caucasus, which actually is just north of Mt. Ararat, where Noah’s Ark landed.  So Japheth’s descendants went north.

Cush, Mizraim and other sons of Ham are associated with Egypt and African countries.  The Sinites may be the ancestors of the Chinese people, evidence of this may be in the root word ‘sin’, as in ‘Sino-American relations’.

Eber, descendant of Shem, is thought to be the father of the Jews, also called Hebrews, note the root word ‘eber’.

This is just a very brief listing of evidence, but enough to make me think.

Next:  The Line Between Adam and Jesus