Men and women in the Bible were simply human...interacting with a God. We have many accounts of great exploits and heroic faith recorded, but most Bible believers had some major faults or problems recorded as well. I can't think of any who were perfect, except maybe Daniel. (And, surely his problems were merely unrecorded.) Even John the Baptist had poor social skills; eating grasshoppers, living in the desert, and calling people names. I don't imagine many bedouins have excellent table manners.
It seems the greater men, the ones held in higher regard, had more faults listed. Like Moses, we see that God was able to do a great work through him, despite his many weaknesses and flaws.
The twelve apostles were a ragged lot, not highly esteemed among their peers. Judas was greedy and disloyal. Peter was rash and often foolish. Doubting Thomas must have been slow-minded, if not mildly mentally handicapped, from some of the statements he made and the way he misunderstood simple figures of speech used in the common language that Jesus used.
Noah got drunk on unmixed "strong wine" not long after the flood and passed out naked. I'm sure he knew better. Lot got drunk twice after being delivered from the burning Sodom and Gomorrah, with incestous results. Genesis 19:33-36
Even the great Apostle Paul was frequently recorded as being stubborn, rash, and thick-headedly inflexible. To begin with, we see him supervising the stoning of Steven in the book of Acts, in the name of Heaven. He continued to violently harass the early church, stoned and arrested Christians, and vented his human rage on those whose doctrine differed with his. I wonder what made him such an angry man? I wonder what he encountered in his early years that made him express his passion for God so violently? Maybe his Father was abusive and violent. Or, perhaps there was an ex-wife in the picture. He mistakenly took this human rage to be the zeal of God. But, he quickly found himself up against Jesus Christ Himself.
He spoke harshly and brassly about having got in Peter's face about Peter's prejudices and inconsistencies against the gentiles. He argued with Barnabas about allowing John Mark to resume his junior missionary field work, after John Mark's desertion. This seems quite selfish and petty when you consider how kind Barnabas had been to Paul immediately after Paul's conversion; taking the murderous Saul/Paul under his wings, and urging the other disciples to accept him in the church. I like the kind Mr. Joseph Barnabas! His name means Son of Encouragement. Acts 4:36 He was often seen encouraging others.
We could argue that Paul's goal was not to "Win Friends and Influence People," but to spread the gospel message. Yet, when you compare Jesus' methods to Paul's, you see quite a bit more discord sown in Paul's path. As a side note, Ministers often have different preaching styles. Before you think that a man who is spitting and shouting has more anointing than the Preacher who speaks calmly and quietly, with his hands in his pockets, remember of which sort Jesus often was when preaching. Kerygma, the Greek noun for the Preaching (Kerusso is the act of Preaching/Verb form,) is worship, and like worship preaching comes in many forms, and is a unique expression of the individual giving the gift.
One event in Paul's ministry particularly stands out as totally irrational and bizarre. He was on his first missionary journey, covering Acts 13, 14. He and Barnabas had gone through Cyprus Island with some success, but had more trouble when they reached the mainland. The men of Antioch weren't all agreeable. (Incidentally, for those who like to point out the way women were even prone to arguing in the Bible like Euodias and Syntyche in Philippians 4:2, :) notice that men were prone to throwing big rocks at people.) By the time Paul got a few sermons in at Iconium, they were mad enough to plot together to stone him. Acts 14:5
Paul and Barnabas decided to skip town quickly, as they hadn't yet been beaten or stoned, and didn't seem to desire that outcome. Then they began preaching in Derbe and Lystria, where they healed a man born crippled, through the power of Jesus' name. The people were in awe of the disciples after witnessing that miracle, and decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Jupiter, and Paul was Mercury, since he was the main speaker of the preaching pair. Then the local priest of Jupiter brought in garlands and cows to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas.
This was just too much for Paul's and Barnabas's Jewish sentiments and their fierce devotion to the one true God. The Bible records that the two men tore their own clothes and ran among the people, putting a stop to the worship. Acts 14:15.
Tearing and shredding of clothes was not uncommon in those barbaric days, but was a way to show intense sorrow or anguish. The Jewish are often intensely outwardly emotional people, culturally. But, even then people could be shocked and put off at excesses of zeal. This fact can be illustrated by looking at the time the prophet Samuel chopped the hostage King Agag to bits with his sword, because God had commanded the Israelites to take no hostages in that particular battle. We know Samuel's passionate zeal was a shock to the people because we see that his own people shortly after that trembled at his presence when Samuel came to town to anoint David king. 1 Samuel 16:4
Back to the case of Paul shredding his clothes, we see intense expressions of anger. It can be inferred that Paul was not merely saddened, but deeply angered because of the use of the word "vanities." Paul was calling their deeds foolish. Coupled with the way they ran in among them, you quickly see that Paul found it easier to let his emotions show, than to control his temperament.
Now, Paul had already made the men in Iconium mad, and they followed him here and stirred up the people who Paul had just offended to stone Paul. The Bible doesn't say that Barnabas was stoned with him. Only Paul. This seems reasonable since we know that Paul did most of the talking. Also, as we see later when Paul and Barnabas argue over John Mark, Barnabas is a tender, sensitive man. He appeared to be gifted at making friends. Paul, conversely, appeared to be gifted at making enemies.
There is no way to explain away the fact that they participated in the act of shredding their own clothes in anger. This was not a reasonable response or reaction to the ignorance of those who don't know God. Even if you consider it as a cultural norm for that day and age, you know that Paul had to know better than shredding his own clothes in a fit of rage. Surely, he felt some shame and remorse for that afterwards, (or at least by the time they were finished stoning him.)
Here you had Paul, who considered worship of false gods a heathenistic practice, yet he was ripping his own clothes like the heathen. This behavior was inconsistent, to say the least.
But, we all have our inconsistencies, don't we? Many good Christian people struggle with feelings of anger and rage that can be uncontrollable. Many pastors like to use the term "goals" to describe the behavior we know we should be displaying as Christians. In other words, it is our goal as Christians to grow in the fruit of the Spirit and learn to control our anger, if that is what we struggle with. Sometimes you may fail in weak areas, but you have to allow God to pick you back up and you have to keep striving towards mastery of your weaknesses. If you haven't overcome any of your weaknesses, then you are still drowning or wallowing in sin. Otherwise, what has God saved you from?
The Genesis record continues to be credible in our day. The record provided by Genesis is verifiable on many counts. The New Testament contains over 200 references or allusions to Genesis, indicating that the Apostles and Disciples, as well as the Pharisees, Saducees, Jewish leaders, and Jesus Himself accepted the validity of the text.
Science lends credence to the creation account. Evolutionists contend that things of greater complexity derived from things of less complexity. This is purported in the development of intelligent Homo Sapiens from higher primates of the animal kingdom, which in turn developed from lower primates, reptiles, fish, down to a single-celled organism. This single cell developed from a “soupy Sargasso Sea” that formed from gases that appeared from nothing. This line of reasoning is in direct contradiction to the laws of Science. Science shows that intelligent life comes from intelligent life. All creatures reproduce “after their own kind,” as in the Genesis account.
Furthermore, the Big Bang theory supposes that a colossal explosion hurled the planets into their orbits. Of course, it wasn't supposed to be a fast explosion, just some unknown force moving things apart, as the Universe is thought to be ever expanding. Opponents of the theory first called it the "Big Bang" and the name just stuck. We know now that not all the planets or their moons orbit in the same direction, which would defeat the idea of the planets spinning as a result of an explosion. The idea of chance producing a complex universe is as absurd as the idea of a Mercedes Benz being created in the aftermath of a tornado going through a junkyard. Theoretically it could happen. But, would there be gas in the tank to make it go? I think not. In the same way, wildflowers can grow in a field, as fragile objects of beauty deriving apparently from nothing. But, in a hundred years the field of wildflowers will not remain, unless tended by human hands and caused to continue their growth. Living things decay. The earth changes continually, seemingly at the whims of nature. A garden continues to grow because it was planted. The universe continues to spin because it was constructed and hung in space by the Creator.
The universality of the Deluge in Genesis is a fact, based on Non-Biblical evidence (i.e. dating of oldest living things at post-Flood time, marine fossils found on crests of mountains, sudden extinction of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.)
Further, 87 important Biblical words were first mentioned in Genesis, providing strong internal evidence of the validity of this collection of ancient books. The words life, atonement, command, glory, just, impute, mercy, love, light, salvation, and righteousness all appear first in Genesis. This supports the idea that Genesis was the foundation work of the other 65 books of the Bible.
I think the most compelling reason to believe the Genesis record is the stark plainness and simple honesty of the recorded events. The polished omissions of a story weaver are not there. We read succinctly about Jacob’s lies, Sarah’s laughter, Eve’s deception, Noah’s drunkenness, Lot’s incest, Tamar’s adultery, Dinah’s seduction, Miriam’s outrage that her brother married a black woman, and Leah’s lewd accusation to Rachel concerning the mandrakes. These character deficits are not the usual list of accomplishments of a nation’s heroes or the founding fathers of a religion. You never read in the history books about what a drunk U. S. Grant was, but only about his military prowess. The detailed record of such foibles in Genesis, (as well as the accurate list of birth records) gives undeniable credence to the Genesis account.
Furthermore, if we expect to believe that God is capable and willing to redeem us, then we must first believe that He created us. If we cannot accept the accuracy of Genesis miracles, such as creation, then we have no basis for belief in later miracles, such as Jonah and the whale, water into wine, Elijah in the chariot, etc. This is one of the primary reasons Atheists try to deny the credibility of Genesis. They seek to tear out the foundation for the cross.
The Genesis record is important as the foundation of our salvation plan. Genesis 3:15 is called the protoevangelium, which means “the first good news.” Now that man has sinned, God’s grace is evident in that He promised a Messiah who would come later and bruise Satan, destroying his power. There are many types of Christ in Genesis; including Isaac and Joseph. There is no purpose for the cross work of Jesus if Genesis is discredited. This would destroy all our Christology and Soteriology Doctrine. Without a Fall, we would not need a Savior-Hero.
There is evidence that God could have created a universe with “age-dating factors” already in place to support life? After all, it is stated that Adam and Eve were created as adults, not babies. It is reasonable the earth would have appeared aged at Creation. There are fossil records dating back billions of years, as well as human attempts at “carbon-dating” that indicate an aged terra, well beyond the age indicated by creation and the Genesis account. This, as well as the existence and extinction of the dinosaurs indicate an apparent conflict in dating. However, one theory is that God created the earth fully mature, as he did Adam and Eve and the animals. Therefore the mature earth was created with fossils intact, sufficient to support plant life. Another theory conflicts with this idea. This theory contends that the earth was perfect after creation, according to God, and could not have contained death within the earth. The fossils only appear to be so aged because of the devastating effects of the worldwide flood. Both are viable options. Why should they be less viable than current evolutionary thought?
When Enoch was 65 years old, his wife had a son. Enoch named this first son Methuselah, meaning literally, “man of the dart.” That can be interpreted as meaning “God’s Judgement comes next” or “When he dies, Judgement” for two reasons. First, Enoch was a prophet, according to Jude 14, 15. He prophesied of the Second Coming of Christ. Second, the Flood began the year Methuselah died; indicating God seemed to have a promise with Enoch concerning the life of his son. So, it seems Enoch was prophesying of the Flood when he named his son. We know that God relates longevity to adherence to his laws because of Exodus 20:12 and the fact that Enoch (and Elijah) was translated not to even see death because of his walk of faith. Methuselah lived 969 years, the oldest recorded. He must have had a good relationship with God. Its interesting to note that God stayed his hand of judgement for 969 years in loving compassion, just as He now tarries so long before the final judgement. As Peter said, God is “longsuffering,” not willing “that any should perish.”(II Peter 3:9) This lays a foundation of our escatological doctrine. Escatology, the study of things to come, is meaningless if there is no resurrection from the dead.
The Patriarchs were a part of the Genesis Record: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Abraham was born in Ur of the Chaldees, 19 generations after Adam. Terah, his father moved the family to Haran, possibly to separate his family from the prevailing idol worship. Abraham moved the whole family to the Promised Land, after Terah’s death. The word patriarch means “rule by the father,” so these men were the ruling fathers who formed the roots of the nation of Israel. Pulling Genesis out from under the Biblical Canon would quickly unravel the whole Gospel.
A dispensation is a period of time in which God deals with humans in a very distinct and unique way. It refers to the geographical concept of time and place. It includes the different groups of people who were treated in a different way from other people, or people of a different time. The seven dispensations can be broken down the following way:
1st Innocence Gen.1:28 One rule, close (perfect) communion with God
2nd Conscience Gen.3:10,23 Do your best, communion through sacrifice
3rd Human Government Gen.8:20 Man governs for God, communion through government
4th Promise Gen. 12:1 Blessings tied to the land, communion through bloodline
5th Law Exo. 19:4-8 10 Commands and many laws, communion through strict adherence
6th Grace John 1:17 Love brother as self, communion through blood of Jesus
7th Kingdom Ephesians. 1:10 Rule by Jesus Christ, perfect or Messianic communion restored
We live in the dispensation of Grace. Genesis establishes reason and evidence of God's plan through the ages for a redemption of mankind from the curse of death. Paradise was lost in Genesis. Paradise will be restored in Revelation. Unless, of course, Paradise never existed. Where would we be without Genesis? There is so much more to look at when considering the Genesis record, and I have not scratched the surface. But, there is more than enough evidence to convince a thinking person that the record of Creation has been retained through the generations intact. I believe in Creation by an omnipotent Creator God. I believe Genesis was inspired by Him, and outlines not only His work of the ages past, but His plans for the ages to come.