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Entries in Biblical Intro (2)


Supernatural pre-suppositions

My seminary class is a survey of the entire bible. Part of the content is examining presence of contradictory views on Scripture. Competing views exist, and it is the prof's responsibility to discuss them with us. One of the matters we discussed as we studied the Pentateuch was the numbers in Numbers, specifically, the census numbers.

There is an objection raised from some areas that if we take the census numbers literally, the number of people is much too large for the ancient world. One critique pointed out that if we took the numbers literally, the population then was bigger than the Gaza Strip today. There were also objections regarding the logistical matters of moving such a large group of people, and matters such as sanitation and livestock. Some critics of a literal reading of the numbers believe that the numbers are an example of hypberbole.

One could spend a lot of time wrangling through such arguments. My prof's motive for discussing them is not to question the integrity of God's word, but to ask us to think about why we believe what we believe. As I thought about these issues, my reaction was, "God is God. Of course he could manage such things."

Our pre-suppositions are important. Do I believe that God is a God of the miraculous? Of the supernatural? The same word that discusses these numbers in Numbers is the same word that a few books earlier said that God created the world, that God opened the way for the Israelites to pass through the Red Sea, that Noah was preserved in the flood. These things are supernatural. If God can open up the Red Sea, he can deal with large numbers in the desert. If God can raise Christ from the dead, he can take care of livestock and waste matters. If we cannot accept a supernatural God, then yes, we will struggle with biblical matters.

A few years ago, I had a young person ask me for a book about the bible that was written from a completely objective viewpoint. I told this young person that I did not believe for one minute that there was such a thing. Everyone comes to the Bible with pre-suppositions. When I read the Bible, I read it with the pre-supposition that it is not just a handful of paper, leather, and ink. It's an inspired word; it is a revelatory word. It is God's word. Belief in that alone demands a belief in the supernatural.

If we want to persuade someone that the bible is God's word and we try to persuade them using the bible itself, we will be in for a struggle. There must come a moment of faith when we approach the bible for what it is. And God must give us that faith. As for our witness to others, all we can do is continue to live according to its truth, to continue to believe. No, we do not suspend our intellect, but neither do we exalt it above God. 

I have to read the entire bible by December 5. I am almost finished the Old Testament. In reading it in such large chunks, and at such a pace, I have seen the miracle that is the bible. It really is far too amazing for someone to have thought up on his own.


Warrior God

This week at school, we looked at the song of Moses in Exodus 15. It follows the spectacular deliverance of the Israelites in Exodus 14. After being successfully delivered from the hand of the Egyptians, the people are thankful for their salvation. In His lovingkindness, God led his people whom he had redeemed (15:13). Yet, God is more than a loving redeemer; he is a warrior.

“The LORD is a warrior,” the narrator says (v.3), and goes on to use warrior-like language. God “shatters” the enemy (v.6); he “overthrows” those who rise up against him (v.7); he sends forth “burning anger (v.7). God is a loving redeemer, but he is also a warrior.

This is often not a popular picture of God. War and violence stir up feelings of discomfort in many. Opponents of Christianity (and even some Christians) are uncomfortable with this picture of God. It seems in such contradiction to a loving God.

Yet God is holy. And holiness is about more than warm fuzzies. Whether we feel comfotable or not, we have to confront these difficult passages. If we believe in the veracity of the passages which speak of our salvation, should we not look at the hard parts in the same way?

The beauty of this song, however, is that God is our warrior. We can be confident in his deliverance, in his presence in our lives. We live in a world of wars and rumours of wars. God is our warrior, and we need not be afraid.