Categories of Bible Literature (II)

Introduction

Yesterday we defined history as an accurate record of significant past events. You’ll find Bible history mainly in Genesis through Esther and Matthew through Acts. Today we’ll take a look at why God chose to record these events in the Bible.

History Provides Good Examples

One important goal of Bible history is to provide good examples for us to follow:

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom 15:4)

You’ll find many good examples as you read Bible history. The faith of Job in the midst of suffering, the righteousness of Joseph in the face of temptation, David’s courage facing the giant, etc., are all inspiring examples for us to follow. Hebrews 11 is filled with examples of Bible characters who lived by faith.

History Offers Cautionary Tales

Not every story in the Bible is an inspiring example. Many Bible characters blew it in big ways. Their stories are recorded to keep you from making the same mistakes they did.

“Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1Co 10:7-12)

Obviously these are some good behaviors to avoid. Adam and Eve’s handling of temptation is another showcase of failure.

History Illustrates Doctrine.

A pastor with many years experience once told me that he believed there was a Bible illustration for every Bible doctrine. I think he was right. Here are a few examples:

Abraham’s Sons Illustrate Two Covenants

“Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” (Gal 4:21-26)

Rahab’s Story Shows the Relationship Between Faith and Works

“Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (Jam 2:25-26)

History Records Some Events Without Evaluation

Sometimes the Bible records events without giving us God’s evaluation of the events in the text. For example, Jacob had four wives. It certainly created problems for him, and it violated God’s original pattern for marriage established in Adam and Eve. But the Bible doesn’t condemn Jacob’s polygamy in his biography. The Bible records foolish and sinful choices, but that doesn’t mean God approves of them. You have to search the teaching passages of the Bible to know how God views each choice. Sometimes the evaluation comes later in the Bible. Other times, a plain teaching principle is presented the condemns the action. At other times, you have to look at the impact of the action on the life of the person who did it.

History Accurately Records Lies and Errors

It’s important to understand that the Bible is always accurate, but what it says is not always true. The Bible accurately records some things that are false. Here are some examples:

Satan’s Lie to Eve

“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:4-5)

This is what the serpent said, but it is a lie.

Solomon’s Humanistic Writings

“I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.” (Ecc 3:18-19)

God allowed Solomon to fully persue all that this world has to offer. He explored wealth, power and pleasure. He tried to make sense of the world apart from a relationship with God. He accurately recorded his humanistic observation that a man is no different than an animal. Other Scriptures make it clear that this is not true. This is an accurate recording of an error.

The Errors of Job’s Friends

“And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.” (Job 42:7-8)

I remember the first time I read the book of Job. I was agreeing with many of the statements Job’s friends made. Then I got to the last chapter and was shocked when God said that Job’s friend had lied about Him.

Read More About It

As you read the Bible’s history, do you check for:

  • Good examples to follow.
  • Bad examples to avoid.
  • Illustrations of Bible doctrines.
  • Questionable choices recorded without evaluation.
  • Accurately recorded errors.

Read More About It

Read Hebrews 11 and note how the historic accounts it mentions illustrate doctrine.

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