The Bible is Contradictory
How does the Bible, written over a vast amount of time, produce one cohesive story?
That’s the question and to many people out there, the answer is that the story isn’t cohesive at all. Many people would say that the Bible is contradictory, that it is wrought with inconsistencies.
Now, most of these accusations come from people who haven’t explored the Bible as a whole and make accusations about the scripture that are actually pretty meaningless. But, there is one accusation that really is conflicting for a lot of people and I want to try to address that one today. The accusation is that the God of the Old Testament is a wrathful, vengeful God, but the God of the New Testament is a merciful and loving God. The Old Testament is about killing and wrath, but the New Testament is about grace.
To answer that accusation, I’m going to tell you the story of the Bible, beginning from the Genesis—which means the beginning—and ending with, well, the end. And as we go about this, I want you to notice the ways God loves the people he has created throughout all of the Bible. And I want you to notice God’s justice for those who rebel against him throughout the whole story. So, we will begin in the beginning with the Genesis.
In the Beginning God.
The story begins with God.
And who is God?
God is the only eternal being, having no beginning and no end. He is the pre-existent one, existing before all things.
God is entirely self-sufficient. He never has need of anything. He is never at a loss. There is nothing that people must contribute to God in any way to make him fuller or more meaningful. God is the most meaningful thing in existence, because all meaning comes from Him. There is nothing people can do to make God more satisfied or more pleased.
And yet, God created—He created much. God created everything that is and because he created everything, he knows everything about what he created.
This is a mind-blowing, perspective-altering, unimaginable knowledge. For God knows not just all that is, but he knows all that has been and he knows all that will be. But, God’s knowledge doesn’t end there. God knows all that could have been, all that could be, and all that there could be. And if that’s not enough, God knows all that can’t be, all that isn’t, and all that never can be. That is what it means to be all-knowing. That’s a knowledge that is so limitless, no super computer will ever be able to compete.
The God who created all things is that kind of God. And so he created, vast and amazing wonders. He created the heavens full of galaxies and stars and planets, all working together to carry out God’s good purposes.
And in the story of the Genesis, the beginning, God narrowed his focus and he looked down on one of the planets and on it he saw that the planet—the earth—was without form and it was completely empty.
At this point in the story that we see the first of not just a few amazing things about God.
You see, God is uncreated and so he chose to act within the creation in various ways. And so, you may have heard people talk to God and they sometimes call Him Father. And when they do, they are recognizing God for who He is apart from creation. The Father God is a term we use to refer to the mind of God. The Father is the one who wills all things. He’s the designer, the master-mind of the universe.
But, God looked upon the formless land and he sensed the presence of His own Spirit covering all the water. And this is important, because God’s Spirit is the heart of God and the Power of God. As God commanded the mountains to thrust themselves from the deep and he commanded the plants and the animals to come up out of the land and the seas, it was the Spirit that empowered all these amazing things.
So, God commanded all this, and in God’s command, we see the third persona of God. We see the Son of God or the begotten of God. The Son is what God looks like in the physical world.
[The Son] is the image of the invisible God [the Father God], the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through [the Son] and [all things were created] for [the Son]. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Col 1.15-17, ESV).
The Son, Jesus, is the image of the invisible Father. He is God within the created world. As God, the Son spoke and all things came into being. And God looked on everything he had made and God said, ‘This is good.’
Everything was good. Everything was righteous.
And then God formed the body of man and He breathed life into dry bones. God inspirited the man. And he created woman. And man and woman were declared good with the rest of creation.
And in this goodness God declared His purpose for all of creation when he spoke to the people he created and he said this: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over it.”
You see, God was creating a Kingdom full of people that could love him and enjoy him forever as a perfect and sovereign King. And, sure God is self-sufficient in his own. He needed not man to bring him glory, but remembering that God knows all in mysterious unfathomable ways, God knew that man needed God. And so God created man, that man might enjoy God forever.
And this is what God did. He sent the Son to be King in His Kingdom. And the Son created the universe and the earth—the land. And then he created the people and told them to build him a vast people over all the earth. You see, because those are the three things you need if you want a Kingdom. You need a land and a people and a King. Without all three, you don’t have a Kingdom.
But, there’s more to this thing, you know. There’s always more. You see, man is not the only sentient being that God made. Sometimes ancient writers spoke of these beings broadly as ‘angels,’ but at other times they are named.
There are the elders who rule in wisdom in the spiritual realm. There are the guardians and warriors of the spiritual realm called the Cherubim. And there are those who were created for worship in God’s throne room called the Seraphim.
And in the spiritual realm God has a courtroom, where God convenes a divine counsel to judge the created world of humans. And just like in human courts, there are lawyers who work for the courts.
So, there was one particularly crafty lawyer, who was also the most beautiful of all the divine beings. He was the accuser, the prosecuting attorney in God’s courtroom. His name was Lucifer which means ‘morning star.’ Today we would call him the prosecutor, but in the old world, they called him the Satan. You might have heard the word Satan and thought that was a name, but it wasn’t; it was an office, a title.
And like many human lawyers, he was a snake, a real crafty one. And he figured that as such a crafty lawyer, that maybe he should sit on the throne and maybe he should judge, rather than the Son. And so, he planned a coup.
You know what a coup is right?
A coup is when you organize a rebellion and rise up at once to steel power from an authority. And Lucifer, the Satan planned a coup where he convinced a third of the divine beings, even many of God’s divine counsel members, and they rose up against God.
You see, when people speak of spiritual warfare, they ought to know there is a very real war going on in the spiritual realm. The Satan is vying for power that is not his own.
So God, being more powerful than all the angels, took Lucifer, the Satan, the accuser, that ancient serpent and sent him to earth with all of the divine beings and angels who rebelled with him.
And there were rules, you see, for being on earth with the people. I don’t know what all the rules are because they aren’t written out for us, but there’s two rules that we know are rules because the divine beings break these rules repeatedly in the story God wrote. The first is that they are not allowed to touch humans and the second is that they are not allowed to force humans to do things they would not otherwise have wanted to do.
God protects vehemently the free will of man. He wants willful devotion, not a puppet show.
So, God sends the Satan to the earth. But the Satan doesn’t give up. He sneaks into the garden where the humans live. And he approaches the woman that God created. And he’s smart! He follows God’s rules. He doesn’t force her into anything, but he speaks eloquently to her and deceives her. He woos her and causes her to desire God’s power and God’s knowledge and God’s authority—the very thing he himself wanted so desperately.
And the woman who was created good and righteous to be the perfect image of God rebels against God. She joins the Satan’s coup. And then she goes to her husband and he too joins the coup. And then as they start a family and they begin the fill the earth, all the people are born, not into God’s family, but they are born into Satan’s coup. They are born into the family of rebellion.
You know, it’s not like they made a conscious decision when they were born that they were going to follow the Satan and not follow God. It’s just that they weren’t born into God’s family. They were born into a different family. All people are children of rebellion, not first by choice, but by descent.
All humanity is alienated from God, you see, by the decision of our greatest grandmother and greatest grandfather. Humans were created as God’s children, but were estranged, disowned, because the human race, joined Satan’s coup, joined a rebellion against God.
And we all know it.
Don’t we know that we are on the losing side?
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
God made it known to all humans that they are in darkness, that all are on the side with evil and as such [SLOW] God’s wrath is coming.
So, God curses the serpent, the Satan. He tells him that he might have made a small rift in God’s plan, but that out of humankind would come one who would crush him, who would utterly destroy him.
But, rather than accept this reality, rather than apologize to God, rather than give in to God’s purposes, the Satan rallies his forces to make a full frontal attack on God and on God’s love for humankind. His strategy is to make sure that humankind forgets about God and God’s love.
The next thing to happen is one of the most phenomenal clashes of the spiritual and physical worlds. The Satan got together his troops of divine beings. And he sent them to the daughters of men–the women on the earth–and they had children with them. The physical world in a very tangible way mixed with the spiritual world.
And the result of this union was demigods—divine and human half-breeds. They were first called the Nephilim. They’re giants and warriors. And in that day, giants were kings and commanders of armies because whoever could spill the most blood received the right to rule.
It’s no wonder that throughout history so many ancient kings considered themselves divine. They were just following the pattern of the ancient kings, these men of renown, many of whom were in fact divine in nature.
So, these Nephlim, these giants ruled tribes and commanded armies and caused chaos and immorality of unspeakable kind on the earth. And…
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
And that is what God did. As the earth was formless and void in the beginning and there was nothing but water upon the earth and the Spirit of God resting upon the water, God sent a great storm to swallow up the land and water came forth from springs and swallowed up the entire earth.
Everyone and everything drowned in the flood, even the great kings of old, the Nephilim. And God took the divine beings who were disobedient and he chained them up in Sheol, in the grave, until the end of time should come when they would be condemned eternally.
But, the Satan remained free upon the earth, because, he knew the rules. Although he commanded the divines to touch the daughters of men, the Satan did not disobey God by touching human women.
So everything was destroyed and everything was much more like it was in the beginning, and God preserved a human line through a man named Noah. And when the earth began to dry, Noah and his sons began again to fill the earth.
And it happened again. All of it happened again. The Giants happened again. The immorality happened again. The rebellion happened again. The coup continued. It all happened again, because the prince of this world, that ancient serpent, the devil, the accuser, the Satan continued to deceive and destroy. He continued to fight for the throne that the Father promised to the Son.
So, God took a tribe of people and he built out of them an immense nation. That nation was called Israel. And just like the rest of humanity, Israel repeatedly rebelled against God. But, God was faithful to Israel because He had chosen Israel to be His people.
God spoke to Israel through messengers, and although Israel was disobedient to God, He promised them that a great savior would come who would fix the whole world, undoing all the apostasy of humankind, undoing the destruction caused by Satan’s deceit, undoing all the evil caused by the wills of humans.
God promised that the Son of God would return to the earth as he had come in the beginning and he would heal the sins of the world.
And God promised through his messengers that He would send His own Spirit, not just into the world, but into the hearts of His people to make them into new creatures. And the most beautiful part of the promise; God promised Israel that they alone would not be saved, but that all people would have the right to become part of God’s Kingdom with Israel.
Through one messenger, God said this regarding the healing of humankind.
Hosea 14:4–7 ESV
I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;
they shall flourish like the grain;
they shall blossom like the vine;
their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
God knew that the people on the earth had chosen the side of rebellion and he wanted to make a way for them to return.
And make a way, he did. God made a way for life out of death, light out of destruction, He made a way to the Father that there would be adoption out of estrangement.
And that way was through the Son of God who came to earth as the man, Jesus.
But, you have to understand here. When humans were created, they were created in the image of God, to reflect the righteousness of God. But, when God came to earth, he came in the form of a human.
This isn’t just a divine being who makes himself look human. When the Son came to rescue humanity from God’s wrath, he did so not so much as God, but as a human. He emptied himself of his divine essence and took on human form, even being born into the world as a helpless baby. And finding himself in human form, he did not live in the arrogance of the Satan’s coup as humans lived, but he humbled himself, not considering himself in any way equal with God or the same as God.
And this must have infuriated the Satan.
I mean, do you see the irony?
The Satan was an angel who considered himself better than God. And here is God considering himself for a time lower than angels.
And so the Satan seized the opportunity to try to trick God out of his position of authority. He takes Jesus, the Son of God, the chosen savior of Israel and he leads him out to the wilderness and he offers him all of the riches and glory of the created world.
I mean, can you even imagine what that might have been like?
And when Jesus refused all the riches of the world, knowing that he is the heir to the far greater riches of the Father God, the Satan tried to get him to abandon his humanity. He tried to trick him into eating like gods eat, and being served by angels, like in God’s court.
But, Jesus didn’t not count equality with God to be in his grasp. He was human.
And so Jesus went about the country of Israel preaching about God’s Kingdom and teaching the mysteries of God. And he did other things. He healed people, and performed miracles. And there’s one particular thing he did in many towns that I want to make note of.
Jesus cast out demons everywhere he went.
And this is sort of a new thing. Demons weren’t really a thing before this time. Demons weren’t really a thing for very long after this time. Demons came on the scene just before Jesus and they left the scene shortly after Jesus. But, when Jesus was roaming the streets of Israel, there were lots of demons.
Many of the ancients believed them to be some of the divine beings that were cast to earth with the Satan. Others believed the demons to be the divine spirits of Nephilim, the demigod giants from the days of old. They believed that they returned to join forces with the Satan in the battle for the throne, against the Son of God.
And they thought that if they could just kill Jesus before he established his Kingdom on earth, then they could thwart God’s plans. They thought Jesus was there to make Israel great again, so Satan and the demons fought for that end. They tried to kill Jesus before he could accomplish that goal.
But, I guess the demons didn’t know their prophets. You see, God’s plan is not to have a great nation that he holds under his thumb by the power of the law. That was the old thing. When Jesus came on the scene, God was doing a new thing. And in these new days, God determined,
I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
You see, the Kingdom that God is building is not a place of rules, but of freedom. It’s not a place where people are oppressed by law; it is a place where the heart of man can express itself freely—and yet without sin, because their heart is God’s heart.
Jesus’ task was to take people who were estranged from God and make it possible for them to be adopted as sons and daughters of God—the way God began it in the beginning.
But there’s a problem. God can’t just forgive all these people who joined the Satan’s coup. The Satan had his day in court and God condemned him. The judgment has been made.
Men and women are going to have their day in court and their coup will be found out. It will come out that they have been a part of the Satan’s coup. And that will not go well for them. The punishment for joining the coup is eternal death, eternal separation from God and everything good. And by birth all people are a part of the coup.
So, something had to happen. If Jesus wanted to get people out of the punishment, he was going to have to do something.
And he did.
And The Satan didn’t even see it coming.
You see, the Satan was trying to kill Jesus and he was throwing everything at him that he had.
And Jesus decided he would die to take the punishment for humankind. He decided he would die so that people don’t have to die.
And die he did. And the Satan played his part in God’s plan.
The Satan tempted the followers of Jesus and got one of them named Judas on his side. And the Satan deceived the people in the land and stirred them to send Jesus to His death. And Judas handed Jesus over to the people. And the people killed Jesus.
And Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, by the will of the Father came back to life…but that was after three days later.
Do you know what Jesus did for three days?
Jesus went to the divine beings—remember the beginning of the story—he went to the divine beings of the ancient days who had children with the daughters of men. God had chained them in the grave, in Sheol. He went to these first beings to follow the Satan’s coup. And he was there paying the penalty on behalf of all of the humans who also were following Satan’s coup—which is all of them.
And he proclaimed to them a message. He proclaimed that he, the righteous one, had suffered for the unrighteous ones. He told them that he did so, so that people could freely come back to God, that although they would die in the flesh, they would live eternally with God by the Spirit. They were waiting in chains hoping that the Satan would win and show up to free them from God’s wrath.
But, it was done. When Jesus died, it was finished. Satan’s coup was over. Never again could Satan win, because the gate to the way for man to come to God had been opened wide. By Jesus’ payment of man’s penalty men and women were returning to God, being adopted by God, being made new by the Spirit of God.
Satan’s power move, Satan’s deceit was exactly what God used to bring people back to himself. So, Jesus payed the penalty, but there was still something to be done. Jesus said through the prophets that people would need God’s Spirit if they want to be a part of His Kingdom.
So Jesus, after being resurrected from the dead, didn’t stay on earth. He ascended to the Father.
Do you remember, when Jesus came into the picture at creation what his role was as the physical embodiment of God?
From the beginning Jesus was to be King in God’s Kingdom. God sent Jesus into the world to be King. Satan was fighting for Jesus’ throne. And at Jesus’ ascension it was finished. Jesus was seated on the throne and he recieved the name that is above all names and that name is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. And as King, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to earth to enliven the hearts of all of Jesus’ followers.
And Jesus’ followers from that day were gifted with supernatural ability to live as children of God’s Kingdom and no longer as children of the Satan’s coup. And the Holy Spirit was a seal upon the hearts of every follower of Jesus that identified them with the Kingdom of God.
And from that day, because of Jesus’ death and the penalty that he payed, anyone who wanted to be a part of God’s Kingdom, if they believed, they received the Holy Spirit and they were marked for the Kingdom until the day that the gates of the Kingdom would be opened.
And that day has not come, but that day is coming. The day is coming when all of this earth and all of the heavens, the stars in the skies and the galaxies and all the planets in the universe, all of it will die. All of it will be destroyed.
And a godless place will be opened up, called the pit. And the Satan and all of the divine beings who joined his coup will be cast into the pit. And then all of the humans who remained a part of the Satan’s coup, who refused to be rescued by Jesus will be cast into the pit. And they will eternally be separated from God.
And then Jesus will usher in a new heaven and a new earth, a perfect heaven and earth like the first one. And all of those who are filled with the Holy Spirit of God will live forever with Jesus.
This is the eternal Kingdom. Jesus is King. Those who have the Spirit are the people. And the new earth is the land. This is the perfect creation, where all of God’s people will enjoy Jesus and his righteousness, forever, free from the Satan and free from his coup.
That’s the story.
The sovereign, all-knowing God wrote it. Not a word of it will change.
But, I want you to notice the way the story unfolds. You see, when you read the Bible, you will notice your name is not in the story. No one forces you to be a part of God’s Kingdom. And no one forces you to remain a part of the Satan’s coup.
You were born into Satan’s coup, but Jesus offers you escape. He offers you adoption into God’s family so that you are no longer left to wander the earth as a spiritual orphan.
The story is written. It’s done. It’s going to finish exactly as the Bible says it will be written.
But, that doesn’t mean your story is written.
You see, faith is like a train. It is well on its way to it’s destination. There is nothing you or anyone can do to change the trains destination.
But, throughout your life, the train periodically makes a stop on your way. Today, the train has stopped along your way. And you have a choice. If you want to be a part of God’s story, the greatest story ever told, you need to get on the train. You need to believe.
There are spiritual forces that want to deceive and distract you. They tell you lies like, ‘You’re good enough,’ or, ‘There is no God.’ But, the train is in the station and the time is right.
Will you join God in his story? Will you choose today to be a follower of Christ?
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