Exodus

Why is the Bible so violent?

During the time of Noah, God wiped out humanity with a flood (Gen. 6-9).
During the time of Moses, God killed all the Egyptian firstborns and then drowned their army in the Red Sea (Exo. 12, 14).
During the time of Saul, God told Saul to completely slaughter the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15).
During the time of David, God smote Uzzah for merely trying to stabilize the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam. 6).
During the time of Hezekiah, God destroyed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (2 Kgs 19:35).

Why is the Bible so violent?

To hear my 38 minute response to this question, click on the video.

Christ Community Church (a multi-campus church in the Chicago suburbs) invited me to speak on violence in the Bible as a part of their summer of 2017 sermon series entitled, “Elephants, the questions we can’t ignore.”

The video begins with an moving 2-minute story that answers the question, “Do elephants really never forget?”  I appear at the 2:05 mark.

To listen to the audio, click here.

I don’t cover all the incidents of violence in the Bible, but focus on what I believe to be the most troubling one, the Canaanite conquest recorded in the book of Joshua.  Some of this material appears in God Behaving Badly, or in my Relevant article on the Canaanite Genocide.

Enjoy.

 

Sinai and the Saints

IVP has just come out with a new book which could be very helpful to people trying to figure out how to understand the laws of the Old Testament, Sinai and the Saints: Reading Old Covenant Laws for the New Covenant Community by James M. Todd III.

IVP asked me to give an endorsement, and the first half of it ended up on the back cover.  So, I thought I’d include my full endorsement here, for any one who’s interested.

“Many readers of the Old Testament struggle to understand all those random, bizarre, strict, and oppressive laws.  What’s a Christian to do?  Start by reading James Todd’s Sinai and the Saints.  Todd offers his readers engaging stories, provocative insights, and a compelling interpretation that offers a way forward, one that makes sense of the Law, and helps people understand it in light of Jesus and the rest of Scripture.”

Here are the other endorsements that appeared on the back cover:

“The failure to understand the relationships of the old covenant to the new is probably one of the most important areas where Christians need good help–and they will receive good help here.”  – Peter Gentry, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“Anyone grappling with how to approach the laws of Exodus to Deuteronomy from a Christian perspective will find this book an invaluable introduction.” – T. Desmond Alexander, Union Theological College.

I hope you can check it out.

 

I’m my own grandpa: Incest in the Bible and in the Church

Today the topic of my Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy course was Incest, so of course I began class by showing the youtube clip of “I’m my own Grandpa” by Ray Stevens (below).  If you haven’t seen it, it’s hilarious (2 min, 40 sec).

There’s a lot of incest in Scripture.  Shockingly most of the main characters in the book of Genesis and Exodus were either involved in what the Law later condemned as incest or were the products of incestuous relationships–perhaps Cain, definitely Abraham, Sarah, Lot, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Tamar, Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.  If you’re not convinced, check out my table in chapter 6 of Prostitutes and Polygamists.

Incest seems funny when it involves grandpas or British royalty. However, in reality most incest today is tragic, not consensual (as it often was in Genesis and Exodus), but involving sexual abuse in families.  Tragically, incest is rampant in our culture and even in our churches.  But we don’t like to talk about it in church.

The Bible talks about incest a lot, so perhaps we should too?  It’s confusing because all of these examples of incest make it seem like it was OK.  However, in the Law (see Lev. 18, 20) God clearly condemns all forms of incest. And in many instances God declares death to fathers who exploit female members of their family. God takes incest seriously, so should the church.

Today, I asked my class, “What would you do if an elder in your church was accused of sexual abuse by his daughter?  Who would you believe?” Shockingly, these types of circumstances are not unusual.  The first thing to do would be to consult with a trained professional counselor.  I know it’s complicated, but personally, I’d be more likely to believe the daughter than the father.

What would you do if this type of situation happened in your church?

Exodus: Gods and Kings, A Review

Here’s my one sentence review — Exodus: Gods and Kings was better than expected, and less weird than Noah.

In the full review, I address two questions, 1) How’d the film deal with the gaps in the story?  2) How’d the film deal with the biblical text? To read the full review, go to BTS’s faculty blog, here.

To learn more about Exodus the book and Moses the person, check out these other posts:

Exodus: Gods and Kings: What to do when Hollywood gets the story “wrong”? (This post includes the short trailer, the longer trailer is included below.)

Is Moses a Myth? Part 1

Is Moses a Myth? Part 2

The Fourteen Commandments (there are more than ten)

The Ten Commandments Smashed a Second Time