Sunday, January 20

Figuring out the moral of the story

For those of use who have been reading the Bible all the way through with Quest this year, we have been reading in Genesis over the last couple of weeks. One of the interesting things about Genesis is that many of the stories are presented without any kind of commentary.

A bunch of these stories are troubling. For example, we see the daughters of Lot getting their father drunk, sleeping with him, and having children by him. (Genesis 19:30-38). We see both Abraham and Isaac lying about their relationships with their wives and seeming to proper from it. (Genesis 12:10-20, 20:1-18, 26:1-11). We see Jacob continuing to sleep with and have children by a woman that he doesn't love. (Genesis 29:31-30:24). And we see Judah sleeping with his daughter-in-law thinking that she is a prostitute. (Genesis 38:1-30).

Each of these stories is troubling, and they seem to contain behavior that is sinful. Yet nothing in the stories condemns these actions. And in at least some of the stories, we see people prospering in spite of these actions. In some instances, it isn't even clear from the text why these stories are even included in the Bible.

In these stories, as well as some others, the Bible doesn't give us the moral of the story. We are left to figure it out on our own. A lot of people don't like this. They want to know what the purpose is. It is enough to make some people steer clear of these sections of the Old Testament.

I have to disagree. I like the fact that not all of the conclusions are drawn for us. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is "living and active." When the point of a story isn't spelled out for us in detail it makes it easier for God to use his word to speak to us individually. God can highlight one point of the story to you and a different point to me. Or he can highlight one point to me today, and another point when I come back to the story a year from now. That's how the Bible can be "living and active" even though it is just word on paper.

If a particular moral or point is spelled out, then it becomes extremely easy to simply read the story for that one proposition and then move it. It would strip much of the life and activity out of the Bible.

When you come to these kinds of stories, don't just ignore them or quickly move over them. Spend some time thinking about them and asking why God included them in the Bible and what he wants you to learn from them. Let them become opportunities for God to speak to you. Let them become an opportunity for the Word of God to become living and active.

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