Monday, September 21, 2015

Logic of a Global Flood

There is some controversy on whether or not the flood was global and local. I have seen good cases for both, depending on how you interpret Genesis 6-8, but for me personally I believe that the flood was global rather than local. There are many reasons why I believe this, and I would like to point out a few of those reasons.

My question is simple, if God truly did only flood part of the earth, why did He not clearly say so? Why doesn’t the bible say, “and God wiped out all those in the land where Noah lived.”? Perhaps because it wasn’t local, it was global. My first thought is this; God said He would wipe out everything with the breath of life in it off the face of the whole earth. Here is an account from the flood as stated in Genesis 7.  

21Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind.

(Genesis 7:21 NIV). Right here it is talking about every creature perishing that is on the earth, not just those that were in the area. As you continue reading the flood account, you can see many other passages that indicate it was a global flood (Genesis 6:7-8, 6:17, 7:4, 7:19, etc…) Over and over again it talks about God wiping away “all” of the creatures, not just “some” of them, off the face of the earth. Now, it is not specifically mentioned whether or not man and creatures had spread all the way around the world, in order that it would take flooding the whole earth to wipe them all out.  However, man had been given more than 1,000 years to spread out, (and I truly believe that is what they did).  So, if they had spread out, then in order to kill them all, there needed to be water that spreads all the way around the whole earth.
My next question is based purely on math and logic. In Genesis 6 it is recorded that from the time God told Noah he was going to flood the earth, to when he flooded it, was 120 years. The earth is approximately 24,900 miles around. If we cut that in half we have 12, 450 miles. Dividing that by 120 (years) and then by 365 (days in a year) we come to 0.28 miles. If Noah had started walking that day, and walked 0.28 miles a day, he would have been all the way on the other side of the world within 120 years. So, why did he waste his time in building an ark (and not just any ark, but an ark that was made to withstand a great storm) if he could have walked about a quarter of a mile a day in order to completely avoid the flood? It just doesn’t add up. It doesn’t add up, because the flood was not contained in one area, God truly did send a global flood that covered even the whole earth, (including the highest mountains) by over 15 cubits (20 feet).
My final question is about birds. In Genesis 7:21 & 23 it talks specifically of the birds dying. Now, if the flood was local, could the birds not have just flown to a different part of the world? I mean, they migrate north and south every year, why could they not have flown away and found an uninhabited part of the earth to fly to and reside in for the duration of the flood?  And why would Noah send the dove out the window in Genesis 8, when it could have flown a ways, and then found a place to land? But in Genesis 8:9 it notes,

The dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark.

Not only does it say that the dove couldn’t find a place to rest, it also clearly states that the whole earth was covered in water. So, how could I interpret this to be anything but global? Answer? I can’t.
For me, I take the word of God at face value. If it says, “For God so loved the world…” I believe God loved the world. If it says, “Water was over all the surface of the earth…” I believe water was over ALL the surface of the earth. Now, if one part of the bible can be taken at face value, then it all should be taken at face value. And so, by believing that God sent a global flood (as I understand it to mean in Genesis 6-8), I should also, and will also, believe that the rest of the bible is true. As such, I am going to try and live my life accordingly.

Why I trust the Bible

First, let me open by saying I cannot “prove” to you that the bible can be trusted. However, I am going to show you some evidence of why I believe the bible to be the true, inspired word of God, and why I trust it. I am going to start off with going over a little bit of the history and the transmission of the bible and how closely it has been copied over the years; then I will discuss the inspiration of the Bible from God, and lastly touch on the fact that the bible is historically accurate as far as what is mentioned in it. I will wrap all of this up by saying just how this collection of writings should impact our lives, if we believe it to be truth.

The Old Testament was written by 30 different men over a period of about 1,700 years (2100 BC – 400 BC). Now, we no longer have any of the original autographs from these men, but through looking at the old manuscript copies of these books, we can see the consistencies, and piece together what the originals most likely said.
Now, for many years the complete Old Testaments we had were based off of copies of manuscripts known as the Masoretic Texts, which were copied around A.D. 900. That means that the closest copies we had were separated by approximately 1,300 years, if not closer to 3,000 years! These manuscripts were the best witness we had of the OT until 1947 when a shepherd boy stumbled upon what we now call the Dead Sea Scrolls. Over the next 9 years the Dead Sea Scrolls were slowly discovered in 11 different caves near the Dead Sea. 200 manuscripts (in part and whole) of the Old Testament were discovered, and in those were parts of every book from the OT with the exception of Esther. The manuscripts from this discovery pushed the date of the earliest discovered manuscripts back by 1,000 years (A.D. 900-125 B.C.)! When someone compared a scroll of Isaiah for the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Masoretic Isaiah scroll (separated by a gap of 1,000 years), there was only found a 5% difference (which mostly consisted of spelling differences and clear slips of the pen). So, if manuscripts could be copied so perfectly over a 1,000 year period between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Masoretic texts, then it is probably fairly safe to assume that the Dead sea scrolls where fairly accurate copies of the originals.
So far I have only touched on the Old Testament, but now we will shift our attention to the New Testament. The New Testament was written by 10 men over about a 50 year time span (A.D. 40’s-90’s). The closest copies we have today of these 27 books have been dated to about 100-125 years after the originals were written. So, the opportunity for the copies to be messed up through years of copying is reduced tremendously by having such a small gap. In fact, some of the New Testament manuscripts copies we have may, in fact, be copies of copies of the originals! We have many more copies of the NT than we do of the OT. We currently have discovered about 5,746 manuscripts (fragments, portions, complete books and a few almost entire copies of the New Testament.  Whereas the Iliad, by Homer, only has about 643 copies, with a time gap of about 400 years.
I feel as though I have covered my first point fairly well, but what good does having accurate copies do, if the originals are not inspired by God? This then brings me to point number two: The inspiration of the Bible.
           Inspiration of the Bible means that God was responsible for overseeing the communication His Word to us, to make sure it wasn’t touched by man’s imperfections.  The Orthodox view of this is – The Bible IS the Word of God. Now, this does not apply to the copies, but rather ONLY to the originals. As for the copies, they are inspired only in as much as they perfectly mimic the originals. Many of the writers of the Bible claim the inspiration from God (2 Sam 23:2, Rev 22:18-19). “Thus says the Lord” is quoted by the Prophets over 400 times in the Old Testament alone! Not only do these men claim inspiration for themselves, but they also refer to each other’s words as “of God” (2 Peter 3:15, 1 Kings 2:3, Zech 7:12, John 10:34-35). Jesus even quotes the Old Testament as though it is from God (Matt 4:4 & 7, Acts 1:16, Matt 19:4-5, Acts 3:18 & 21, Matt 5:17-18). In 2 Peter 1:20 (NIV) it says, 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation.” Peter understood that the words of the prophets were not merely their own interpretation of what God had said, but rather it was the actual Word of God.  Even Josephus, who was from Bible times and who was not inspired, saw that those who wrote the Bible was esteemed with authority,

It is true, our history has been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but
            Has not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers,
            because there has not been an exact succession of prophets since that time;

I don’t know about you, but personally if someone who lived shortly after the prophets saw that they had something different about them, then I am going to have to say that I agree.

           If I left us there, with the bible manuscripts we have today being fairly accurate to the original inspired Word of God, then what? What about physical evidence? Well, there is some of that. Historically the Bible has so much backing it up.
In Genesis 6, the Bible talks about God sending a flood on the earth, but the Bible is not the only thing that records a story of a flood. In almost every culture and country the world people have some version of a flood story. To name a few places, West Asia and Europe, Sumerian, Babylonian, Irish, Finnish, Africa, India, Central Asia/Turkestan, China, Korea, Malaysia, Australia, Polynesia, Hawaii, North America, Canari, Inca, Mapuche, and many more.
For many years people believed that the Hittites mentioned in the Bible (Gen 15:20, Exodus 3:8 & 17, Numbers 13:29…) were merely a made up people group. Yet, towards the end of the 19th century, many Hittite monuments were uncovered in Syria on the Euphrates river, proving the Bible right. 

             While working on a sewage-pipe break, some workers uncovered the Pool of  Siloam in Old Jerusalem. This is central to the account of Jesus healing a blind man from birth (John 9:1-7). And many more Archaeological finds like this have happened that    perfectly align with the Bible, making it one of the most historically accurate ancient collection of writings.

            All of these facts and evidence are merely just a portion of why I think the Bible is truth. None of these would completely convince me if it were not for the fact that God is a personal God who has given me the faith to believe that the Bible is truth. In believing the Bible is true, there are some things that I must apply to my life, and some things I must strive for.

             The first, and most obvious, is realizing that I am a sinner, and that God sent His perfect Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay for my sins, thus making him Lord of my life; which means dying to my selfish desires, the wants of this world that do not align with the desires of God. The two main principles that come to mind are found in Matthew 22:37-40, loving God first and foremost with all you are, and loving others as yourself. Now, to keep these two, easily summed up, commands can be way harder than one might   expect. Why? Because we are naturally selfish people. James 2:10 (NIV) says, “For whoever keeps the whole law yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” So, we see that if we put anything in our lives above God, we are breaking what God has told us to do. But that does not mean we should not try and keep that which we have been told to do. In Ephesians 4 we are told to “put off” our old self, and old way of doing things and to “put on” the new self, which is created to be like God in holiness and    righteousness. We are told all throughout scripture to love, for “Love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV). We are told to in Philippians 4:8 to think on “whatever is pure, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…”. Over and over we are told things we should practice in our lives, and if I believe that the Bible is true and is from God, I am going to try and live these principles out in my life. But, I know I cannot do any of this on my own, it is only through God that I can do anything right, and I constantly mess, up, but “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV).   

            So, in short, I believe the Bible to be true because it is historically accurate, it is the inspired Word of God, and we have more historical manuscripts of it than any other book. But ultimately, it is because God has given me the faith to believe it, and so I have chosen to accept what it says and apply it to my life.

The Habit of Prayer

             In 1 Thessalonians 5;16-18 we are told, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all
circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I am going to touch on the importance of that very small thought “pray continually”. When played out in our lives, it can be very powerful, but if we do not put it into practice we are setting ourselves up to crash and burn.
Being posed with the thought of how our habit becomes the daily battleground of our character, I began to wonder how this affected me in my life. I thought of many habits I had, some good and some bad, and just how those things defined me. Some of my habits, such as: Addressing those in authority over me with respect, holding doors for people who may be walking behind me, or reading my bible every night before bed seemed to very clearly define some of the good in my character. However, in opposition to those I have habits that I would say make up the bad in my character, such as: Interrupting people, coming up with excuses as to why I didn't do something, or grumbling about my mom when I don’t like something she told me to do.
Now I must ask, what do we do with those in between habits? The ones that are not inherently “bad”, but yet wouldn't be considered “good”.  The ones like checking Facebook on our phones in the mornings when we first wake up, not saying, “thank you” to your cashier at Wal-Mart, or neglecting to pray as much as you could/should . Although they may not be wrong, they may be hurting you more than you know.
The thing I wish to bring up is the need for constant prayer. I know I way too often catch myself telling people that I will pray for them, and then not giving their problems a second thought until I see them next, or they bring the topic up again; reading my bible, yet forgetting to pray; or forgetting to thank God for my food before every meal. Now, and seemingly insignificant as these things may seem, ultimately they are taking away an opportunity I have to talk to my Father. I miss out on fellowship, relationship, worship, and connection.
Now, let’s look at some numbers. There are approximately 650 prayers recorded in the bible, and approximately 450 recorded answers to prayers (about 2/3 of the recorded prayers). Prayer it’s self is mentioned 245 time in the KJV Old Testament, and 68 times in the KJV New Testament. It is mentioned in 5 different styles:
·         Sitting – 2 Samuel 7:18
·         Standing – Mark 11:25
·         Kneeling – Acts 9:40
·         With your face on the ground – Matthew 26:39
·         With hands lifted up – 1 Timothy 2:8
So, if prayer is mentioned so many times, answered so many times, and done in so many different ways, surely it must be very important. It is answered, so we know that God hears and cares about what we have to say, or what we need. It is mentioned, so we know it is not something that should be over looked. And it is mentioned in every position we may be in every day, so it can be done at any time. But how do we make prayer a habit?
            But how do we make prayer a habit? Well, like any habit, it won’t just happen overnight.  It takes a gradual change in what we do. It also can mean setting some sort of routine. In Daniel 6:10 it talks about how Daniel got on his knees 3 times a day to thank God. So, perhaps that means setting aside time every day for prayer. And if your schedule is “too full” to schedule time for prayer, perhaps you need to reevaluate what is important to you. However, I do understand that life can become distracting, and we can forget to set aside those times. So, maybe you should leave notes for yourself around your house to pray. But whatever it takes, remember to pray; to talk to your Father. Communication is important for any relationship, especially one with God, so don’t neglect it. And if we make prayer a habit our Character becomes one of unity with God.
           I will close with this one thought. C.S. Lewis once said, “I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping.” If our need flows out waking and sleeping, we should be taking that need to God, waking and sleeping.