Why is the Bible so important? Why must a person consider the claims of the Bible carefully? In other words, what's the point of the Bible?
We've previously talked about letting the Bible speak for itself and considering what it says about itself. These include the claims that:
However, numerous lies and distortions concerning the Bible's teachings are still bandied about. One often repeated fallacy is that the God of the Old Testament is not the God of the New Testament. Richard Dawkins, in his book The God Delusion, states,
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully." [https://www.rethinknow.org/why-is-god-so-angry-in-the-old-testament/].
I disagree with Mr. Dawkins. I think Mr. Dawkins misses the entire point of the Old Testament—and the Bible. Yes, certain parts of the Bible are gruesome. For example, the sacking of cities in Biblical times was a brutal business [as it is today]. In addition, a superficial reading of the Old Testament reveals a primarily wrathful God intent on punishing every wrong. Consider these vivid descriptions of God's wrath that seem to jump out at the reader:
Jeremiah 46:10—For that day belongs to the Lord God of hosts, A day of vengeance, so as to avenge Himself on His foes; And the sword will devour and be satiated And drink its fill of their blood; For there will be a slaughter for the Lord God of hosts, In the land of the north by the river Euphrates
Deuteronomy 32:41-42—41 If I sharpen My flashing sword, And My hand takes hold on justice, I will render vengeance on My adversaries, And I will repay those who hate Me. 42 ‘I will make My arrows drunk with blood, And My sword will devour flesh, With the blood of the slain and the captives, From the long-haired leaders of the enemy.
Those are scary words to read.
However, if one carefully studies the Old Testament and the book of Revelation [which. is also sometimes called fearsome], one will be surprised. After carefully reading the entire Old Testament, one discovers a love for humanity permeates the pages of the Bible. That love may not be expressed as vividly in the Old Testament as His wrath, but God’s love shines from Genesis One through the end of Malachi.
God loves humanity and wants to bless them. Yet humankind rebelled against God in the Garden [Genesis 3]; man’s rebellion broke His intimate relationship with God. However, God had a plan to restore man to His original position [Genesis 3:15]. God chose Israel to demonstrate His love to humanity [Exodus 19:3-6]. Still, Israel did not wish to obey God [although they had promised to do so (Exodus 19:8; 24:3)]. Since God is just and pure, God had to punish Israel for breaking His Law. However, because He also loved them, He made a way to redeem them—and all the world through them. Over and over, God called to Israel, "I love you and want to bless you, but if you act selfishly and cruelly, I will have to punish you" [Deuteronomy 28 and 29].
Yes, Israel’s willfulness and refusal to repent led the nation into great suffering.
Hosea 8:7-8— They sow the wind, And reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no bud; It shall never produce meal. If it should produce, Aliens would swallow it up. 8 Israel is swallowed up; Now they are among the Gentiles Like a vessel in which is no pleasure [NKJV].
Lamentations 2:2—The Lord has swallowed up; He has not spared All the habitations of Jacob. In His wrath He has thrown down The strongholds of the daughter of Judah; He has brought them down to the ground; He has profaned the kingdom and its princes [NKJV].
Yet throughout the Old Testament, a redemptive thread runs through the narrative as different people grapple with serving a righteous God in a harsh world. This thread includes
We could, of course, go on. Included within this thread of redemption lies the concept of a chosen one. God first spoke of this chosen Redeemer in Genesis 3:15. Then, in a world where every single person deserved death because of their self-centeredness and innate rebelliousness, God calls Abraham to leave his country and family so that all the world might be blessed through him [Genesis 12:2]. We previously mentioned Joseph, who saved his family while serving as Vizier in Egypt, and Moses, who delivered Israel out of Egypt. We have also mentioned David, the King, who saved his people from their enemies and refocused worship on Yahweh.
The Old Testament is sprinkled with other examples. We must not forget about
Besides these redemptive “types’ [a likeness or example of someone or something] found in the Bible are the writings of the prophets. Although the prophets chastised Israel for breaking God's law, the various prophets that arose spoke of an anointed One that would restore the nation of Israel to her former glory and bring light to the Gentiles.
Isaiah 9:2, 6--The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who have dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined. . . .For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a son is given; . . .[NKJV]
Through the Old Testament, the light of Hope begins to shine brighter and brighter.
Then, after an "overture" of some four thousand years, Jesus Christ ["the anointed One"] was born. Jesus is not the rich, powerful military man that the Jews expected. Still, by his deeds, Jesus fulfills over 300 prophecies concerning the Messiah during His short, earthly life. Through signs, miracles, and wonders, Jesus reveals how much God yearns to restore man to the glory for which man was created in the Garden. Jesus also demonstrates that God desires an intimate, living relationship with humanity.
Luke 2:14--“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” [NKJV]
The Gospels reveal that through His suffering, death, and resurrection, Jesus pays the price for man's sin and reopens the door for people to have an intimate relationship with God.
Matthew 1:22-23--22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” [NKJV]
The letters that follow the Gospels explain in detail what having Jesus as our Emmanuel meant. They taught
Yes, the. Old Testament is filled with pain, tragedy, and cruelty. Thus, the Old Testament demonstrates man's need for a Savior and the necessity of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. The Torah, the prophetic books, and the wisdom books all point to what Jesus will accomplish and Who He will be. In the New Testament, the Gospels proclaim Jesus is the anointed one sent by God and the importance of His death and resurrection. The Acts of the Apostles and the various letters reflect on what Jesus did and how Jesus' life should impact ours. The Revelation of John speaks of the impact of Jesus' life and sacrifice in wiping all traces of suffering and sin from the universe.
The Apostle John wrote,
16 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Whoever believes and has decided to trust in Him [as personal Savior and Lord] is not judged [for this one, there is no judgment, no rejection, no condemnation]; but the one who does not believe [and has decided to reject Him as personal Savior and Lord] is judged already [that one has been convicted and sentenced], because he has not believed and trusted in the name of the [One and] only begotten Son of God [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, the One who alone can save him] [John 3:16-18, Amp].
4 “Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him,[have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me. . . . “I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me [John 14: 1,6, Amp].
Thus, the point of the Bible is this: Jesus [Yeshua], begotten of the Father [Yahweh], Son of Man [the Second Adam], and the Son of David will return soon to establish His kingdom here on Earth. Those who accept Him as Lord and Savior will be blessed; those who reject Him will be punished.
Are you ready to meet the King?
Want to test my statement that God’s love shines forth in the Old Testament? One of the easiest ways to discover this truth is to quickly read through the entire Old Testament within 30-45 days. Do not get bogged down in studying a particular passage. If undertaking this challenge, do the following. Obtain a copy of the Old Testament that is in simple language. I suggest reading The Living Bible translation, the Contemporary English Bible, or the New Life version for American readers. Read as much Bible as possible, as fast as possible, for at least an hour a day. Do not allow yourself to be sidetracked into word studies or the notes found in a study Bible. After a month of reading, you will be struck by the central theme of the Old Testament: That God loves His people and yearns to fellowship with them. When the people turn from Him, He must punish them because He is righteous and just. Yet, He desires to bring healing and restoration, even to those who repeatedly rebel against Him.