Genesis 10:32-11:9, Tower of Babel (9/4/2009)
Let's think about this. If God created everything, and everything God created is Good, how come I look around and see a lot of Bad? Where did all the Bad come from? That is the fundamental question that Genesis 3-11 addresses. Some devout Christians believe that Genesis 3-11 is literally, factually true. Other equally devout Christians believe that Genesis 3-11 is True, but not necessarily factual. (Examples of True but not necessarily factual statements are "All brides are beautiful" and "Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears.") A probably-small minority of devout Christians believe that Genesis 3-11 is a lot of old stories, neither factual nor particularly useful, let alone true.
Aside: Wherever you fall along this spectrum, it is not worth breaking communion over!
You are allowed to state your position. You are not allowed to be abusive or to impugn the sincerity or validity of another Christian's faith over this issue. You are certainly not in a position to say that a fellow Christian is in trouble with God because he or she disagrees with you.
Given that the vast majority of us accept Genesis 3-11 as either true or True, what does it say? It says the following:
- The Bad that you see arises not from God, but rather from Mankind's knowledgeable rebellion against God (Adam, Eve, and the Apple).
- First we disobeyed, then we denied our own guilt (Adam and Eve blame each other).
- We fell out of harmony with God, with our own selves, with each other, and with God's creation (Adam and Eve get thrown out of the garden).
- We introduced all-new ideas like murder (Cain murders Abel).
- Not many people remained faithful to God, and even they committed sins (Noah and his family).
- Finally things deteriorated to the point that we couldn't even talk to each other, let alone to God (The Tower of Babel).
Genesis 3-11 lays the foundation for God's historical action in making a covenant with Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 12, through which God plans to bring about the salvation of the world (Genesis 13 – Revelation).
Joshua 3:1-17, Joshua Parts the Jordan (9/16/2009)
Have you ever read about the river crossings on the Oregon Trail? It was a very dangerous business. A wagon train that made it across the river with no loss of life, animals, goods, or equipment was lucky indeed. An appropriate leader could make the crossing safer.
How do you know that Pastors Craig, Todd, Todd, Clyde, David, Jim, Leonard, Norman, and Buren were appropriate leaders for St. John's? You are probably thinking, "because the bishop appointed them," or maybe, "because they attended seminary and were ordained." The sign that we look for is a letter from the bishop, or a diploma from a seminary. The early Hebrews did not have seminaries. They didn't have an ordination process. What they had was unmistakable signs that leaders had been appointed directly by God.
The story of Joshua crossing the Jordan is reminiscent of Moses parting the Red Sea. The people knew that God had appointed Moses, and that Moses had led them for 40 years. How were they to know that Joshua was an appropriate leader? The parting of the Jordan had two purposes: it got the children of Israel across the river and into the Promised Land in one piece, and it showed unmistakably that Joshua, like Moses, was God's choice for their leader.
Joshua 4:1-24, Joshua Parts the Jordan (9/17/2009)
Have you ever been to Mount Vernon or Monticello? Seeing these historic homes helps us remember the leaders who began to mold us into the people we are. Have you ever been to the battlefield at Gettysburg? There's not much to see – it's a big grassy field, and way over on one side there's an old two-story house. We go there, and we listen to the Park Ranger tell the story of the battle. Seeing that field, and others, helps us remember the terrible price we paid to stay one nation. Have you been to St. Louis? Seeing the Gateway Arch helps us remember all the pioneers who settled the wilderness beyond the boundaries of the United States, and by their actions brought the wilderness into the nation.
God gave the Israelites a monument to commemorate the crossing of the Jordan under the leadership of Joshua. Seeing the altar built with rocks taken from the river bed helped them remember a pivotal moment in their history – the moment at which God brought them out of the wilderness and into the land promised to their ancestors Abraham and Sarah so long before.
More Bible Stories for Grownups
Copyright 2009, 2013 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
An artist's conception of the Tower of Babel is from the Thomas family Bible, now in a private collection of a family member.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
St. John’s United Methodist Church,
2626 Arizona NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110
St. John's Music Ministries now has a YouTube channel, bringing you free concerts and choral music. Check it out!
Traditional worship services are held Sundays at 8:15 and
11:00 a.m. in the sanctuary. Casual worship services are held Sundays at
9:30 a.m. in the Family Life Center.
are held monthly on the second Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in the sanctuary. St. John’s feels especially called to the worship of God and to the service of our neighbors through our music program
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