We are learning about the Assyrians in school. They were mean, horrible people. Or as Tapestry of Grace calls them “the Nazis of the ancient world”. So Benjamin and Samuel’s reading assignments have been very light. They are not ready to take in Assyria. (Samuel is so scared of Gollum on LOTR if he hears the words “my” and “precious” together he comes unglued) So I am reading with Samuel in a children’s Bible story book and come across this-
God had a job for Jonah to do. “I want you to go to your enemies in Nineveh and tell them how much I love them and I want them to love me and mend their ways,” God told Jonah.
Uhm…. okay, let’s take a look at what a Bible says, shall we?
Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”
Why is it that people who write Bible storybooks feel the need to change major themes? God is not some big purple dinosaur singing, “I love you,” to all the world all the time. God told the people of Nineveh he was going to destroy them because of their wickedness! (Granted they repented, he spared them, but you get what I am saying) God did not tell Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell the people He loved them. He sent Jonah to let the people know He was angry about things they were doing. Being told how sinful they were and that God was going to destroy their city got their attention.
The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
While I understand that small children are not ready to hear the details about what the Assyrians were doing that was so sinful, we do need to teach our children that evil exists. I would not want to see a child’s Bible illustrated with this, but it is important to let a child know that God is holy and does not tolerate sinfulness. We need to teach them that sin is against God.
Now on to another thing that irks me. It drives me batty that some people in the Bible get a bad reputation that is undeserved. Take the Hebrew midwives, for example. They were told to kill all Hebrew baby boys as they were being born. How did they respond to this order?
The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.”
I have heard this be taught, even by people I respected, that the midwives were justified in their lying because it was for the greater good. Hm…. nowhere does it say they were lying. Could it be possible that the hard, physical life associated with slavery truly conditioned their bodies to give birth quickly? Could it be that in a time before cell phones and and cars it just took people a longer time to find out they were needed somewhere and get there? Or could it possibly be that God providentially caused the Hebrews women to give birth faster? Read Exodus one if you do not believe me. The Bible never says they lied.
Another thing is this passage from John 21
2Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together.
3Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.
It usually gets taught that the disciples had lost all hope. They had given up on Jesus being the Messiah. So what did they do? They returned to their old way of life: fishing. But is that really why they returned to Galilee? Is it really that they had given up? Could they have gone to Galilee because they believed that He was the Messiah and he TOLD them to go to Galilee???? Why would they lose hope when they had already seen the risen Lord themselves????
31Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED.’
32“But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”
Yep, He told them that He would go to Galilee, ahead of them. Which means that they would go, if they really believed that He was who He said He was. Jesus and an angel both told the disciples to go to Galilee. So maybe they decided to go to the place where they had first seen Jesus. They went back to the place where they had been called. Going fishing was a sign of their belief, not their unbelief.
Why do people feel the need to read INTO the Bible what they THINK it means, instead of reading OUT of the Bible what it SAYS it means????