In third episode of a three-part series, pastors Derek and Cliff discuss Jesus’ view of Genesis.
Derek: Welcome to With All Wisdom, where we are applying biblical truth to everyday life. My name is Derek Brown and I’m here today with Cliff McManis. We are both pastors and elders at Creekside Bible Church in Cupertino, California and professors of theology at the Cornerstone Bible College and Seminary in Vallejo, California. And today we are in part three of our discussion on the historicity of Genesis. So I’d encourage you to go back and listen to parts one and part two. We are making the argument, the straightforward argument, that the first chapters in the book of Genesis, as well as the remaining chapters of the book of Genesis, are all historical and that they describe accurate history of what actually happened in the creation of the world. And as you move throughout the text, what happened with the patriarchs. And so that’s the argument we are making.
We encourage you to go back and listen to parts one and parts two. And then also we want to encourage you to check out WithAllWisdom.org, where you’ll find a large and growing collection of resources that are all aimed to help you grow in your walk with the Lord. They’re all rooted in Scripture, and we trust you’ll find beneficial resources there. That’s WithAllWisdom.org. And now back to our topic. Cliff, I want to hand it over to you because you didn’t get a chance to finish last time. So let’s pick it back up on our discussion of the historicity of Genesis.
Cliff: Yeah, so this would be part three, and the theme is that Genesis is literal history. And just by way of a really quick, brief review of our first two parts—part one and part two—because we did delay the foundation for today. What I wanted to say in thirty minutes for part one—that was all about “know your history.” Know your history. And by that I mean, we just did an overview of the history from basically the time of John Calvin, or when liberal ideologies and liberal theology began to crop up, attacking the Book of Genesis. And then that culminated over the course of several centuries of history with naturalistic views of the Bible, liberal theology invading America, and then basically the Christian church. And as a result, today we find ourselves with many Christians, if not a majority of Christians, believing that some parts of Genesis aren’t literal history, sadly. So know your history. So knowing that historical background will be really helpful. Know your history. That was part one. And then part two is “know your hermeneutics.” And in that part, for thirty minutes or so, we just talked about hermeneutics, the proper way to interpret the Bible, and the science of Bible interpretation that’s properly applied to Genesis. Genesis is Hebrew narrative, it’s not poetry. And then we talked about other literary devices. Derek, we like literary devices. We’re not opposed to those, are we?
Derek: I do like literary devices.
Cliff: I love literary devices. We talked about a couple in Genesis, and that was one of them was the Toledoth. Moses used that to bring continuity to his very long book of Genesis and put it all together and used those as chapter titles—basically chapter headings—[giving] it a beautiful symmetry and continuity. He wrote in Hebrew narrative, and it was true. History was not fictitious poetry. So part one was know your history. Part two was know your Hermeneutics. And then today is part three: know your Jesus. What I mean by that is, well, when it comes to answering the question, is Genesis literal history?, I’d say we start with what did Jesus think about Genesis? Did Jesus have anything to say about Genesis? Did Jesus as the greatest Rabbi there ever was and the greatest Hebrew teacher ever say anything about Genesis? Refer to it, quote it, allude to it, teach on it, preach on it? Yeah, absolutely.
Derek: And it’s a fair question, because if you’re a Christian and you follow Jesus, it would make sense that you’d want to know what Jesus thought about the book of Genesis.
Cliff: Yes, exactly. Derek, as a matter of fact, that is my opening statement.
Derek: Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean that.
Cliff: No, it’s a beautiful compliment. Because I was going to start off with a really good question to ask a fellow Christian that you might know who does not believe that Genesis is literal history, or at least that all of Genesis is literal history. Here’s a great question to ask that fellow Christian. So this is a fellow brother or sister in the Lord, as opposed to somebody who doesn’t even believe in the Bible and is not a Christian, right? You’re not going to convince them that Genesis is history because they’re not even saved. But a fellow Christian who claims to believe the Bible is the authority of God’s Word. That’s a discussion worth having. And I think a great question to ask them upfront is, do you have the same view of Scripture as Jesus? Yeah. Do you have the same view of the Bible as Jesus?
And I’d say, pause. Let it sink in. And they need to give an answer because if they say no, then there’s your problem right there. Because we need to have the same view of Scripture that Jesus did. If they say, yeah, I think I have the same view of Scripture that Jesus had, or at least I want to, then you could narrow the question and say, okay, well then do you have the same view of the Torah as Jesus did of the first five books of the Bible, which Jesus called the book of Moses? And if they say, well, yeah, I hope so, then you could narrow it even more and say, well, do you have the same view of Genesis that Jesus did? Because it’s clearly revealed in the New Testament. And then if they say, well, it depends, again, that just reveals the problem.
I want to have the same view of Genesis that Jesus had. That’s a great starting point. So that’s what I wanted to do. Let’s look at what Jesus had to say about Genesis. Okay, what was his view? Let’s start off real quick with his general view of the Old Testament of Scripture. And I mean, there’s a lot of places I go, but I just wanted to start with Matthew 22, and just walk through that passage. This is just one example of Jesus’ view of Scripture. It helps answer the question, do you have the same view of Scripture that Jesus did? Derek, as pastors, we interview people that want to join our church and we ask them four basic things like their testimony and how they became a Christian. We ask them if they know what the gospel is and what the gospel means.
And we also asked them, eventually, do they agree with our statement of faith? And one of the first statements or paragraphs in our statement of faith is our literal view of the Bible, which would mean we have a literal view of Genesis. Over the years, I’ve gotten into several conversations with people who wanted to join our church, who didn’t believe in a literal Genesis 1 through 11 or literal Genesis 1 through 3, but they were Christians. They gave a testimony; they said they believe in the Bible. So this would be the kind of person that I’d be having this discussion with. And actually, I’ve posed these questions to them. Do you believe what Jesus had to say about Scripture? Would you like to have his view of the Bible? Here’s a great place to start. Matthew 22, verse 23 and following. It’s the end of Jesus’ ministry. He’s about to go to the cross. He is having a discussion with the Sadducees, who are religious Jewish leaders in Jerusalem who claim to believe in the Bible. They were educated in the Bible. There were some things in the Bible they took literally. And there were other things in the Bible that they rejected. So they were selective. They would pick and choose what they thought was important in the Bible and what could be taken literally.
And so in Matthew 22 verse 23, it says, on that day when Jesus was doing some preaching publicly and teaching some Sadducees who say there is no resurrection, they came to Jesus and questioned him. So Matthew lets us know upfront that these religious people who claim to believe in the Bible—and this would be like us talking to other Christians in the church who say they believe in the Bible, but they’re selective in what they believe or some things they don’t take literally. Well, the Sadducees didn’t take resurrection literally. They didn’t believe in the miracle of resurrection. So they were being selective about what they believed in the Bible. Yet they claimed to believe in the Bible. I just think it’s interesting that Matthew lets us know upfront their presuppositions about Scripture and their worldview before he even introduces the topic. The Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, even though it’s in the Bible. It’s not literal. It can’t possibly be real. We categorically reject it. And that’s the frame or the paradigm by which they’re going to view Scripture through that lens. So in verse 24, with that worldview, they asked Jesus “Teacher”—so they recognized that Jesus was a Rabbi or Bible teacher. “Moses said”—so here, it is interesting. The Sadducees, who reject some things that Moses actually taught, agree that Moses wrote the Torah. “Teacher, Moses said, if a man dies having no children, his brother…” And anyway, they quote from Scripture. They quote the book of Deuteronomy. They agree that Moses wrote Deuteronomy, and yet they don’t believe in the resurrection. And so they make up a hypothetical situation. They ask Jesus, to try to trip him up, about the doctrine of the resurrection. And they go on and ask the question. Then in verse 29, Jesus doesn’t even answer their question, which is so typical of Jesus when he knew that somebody didn’t have a legitimate motive in asking him a question. He knew all they were trying to do was trick him, trip him up, and make him look like a public fool.
And so they’re asking a question specifically about the resurrection. And initially he doesn’t even answer that question. Verse 29: “But Jesus answered and said to them,” and instead of answering their question about their hypothetical scenario—which he never actually does answer—he tells them, you are mistaken and not understanding the Scriptures. So instead of answering their question, he tells them, your hermeneutic is messed up. You don’t even approach the Bible the right way. So that’s what he meant by you are mistaken and not understanding the Scriptures. You need to have a proper hermeneutic when you go to the book of Moses or the law of Moses. And I think that’s really a critical issue here among Christians. They want to debate about whether Genesis one is literal and if it was a real six days or not, or how long it took for creation, or was Noah a real guy? Was Adam real? Well, let’s talk about your hermeneutic and how you approach Scripture, right? Like Jesus did.
So in verse 29, number one, you are mistaken and not understanding the Scriptures. Your hermeneutic is messed up. And then he says, “nor do you understand the power of God.” So that’s a profound statement. That could be that Jesus was saying, you don’t understand the power that God has to do resurrection, or it could also mean that you don’t understand the power of Scripture when you take it at face value. So when you dismiss the Scriptures at face value, you’re dismissing the power of God. And then Jesus goes on to give the truth about resurrection. At the end of the age, those who are resurrected, neither married nor are given in marriage, but they’re like the angels in heaven.
And then here’s the key, in verse 31. But regarding the resurrection of the dead, you guys are asking about the resurrection. And then he asks a poignant and profound question: “Have you not read?” So it’s a rhetorical question, and what he’s really asking is, surely you’ve read the Scriptures, because you’re the Sadducees, right? You’re supposed to be experts in the Bible. Of course you’ve read Moses, you know what the Bible says. But he asks rhetorically, have you not read? So it’s actually kind of a condescending, critical question, exposing their utter hypocrisy. You guys are supposed to be experts. Experts on the Bible. This answer is clearly given in the Bible right there, and you just refuse to believe it. So I wanted to highlight that phrase because that is one of Jesus’ favorite phrases he uses in the gospels, usually when he is going head-to-head with either the Pharisees, Sadducees, or somebody who’s undermining Scripture. You can’t just dismiss the authority of the Bible. And so we can use that in our discussions with fellow Christians. Have you not read? This is what the Bible says. Do you agree? This is what it says. So let’s take it at face value.
Derek: And Jesus was, even in that sentence that he gives them, he says, I’m the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. He’s not the God of the dead but of the living. He’s showing that he actually considers the actual words and that their tense is important, and they should be taken at face value and applied. And so that’s a powerful text because of how he questions them. Have you not read? And then the way he uses Scripture, showing how he values each word, including its tense and everything.
Cliff: Yeah, absolutely. Verse 31. So regarding the resurrection of the dead, “Have you not read what was spoken to you by God?” So I just want to highlight a couple things in that phrase. So he’s clearly referring to the Old Testament Scripture, and then he says, “what was spoken by God?” So Jesus is saying clearly that God speaks through Scripture. In verse 29, he’s referring to the Scriptures, and in verse 31, he says, God has spoken. So when I ask the question, do you have the same view of Scripture that Jesus does? Jesus is saying, when you read Scripture, you are hearing the voice of God. How does God speak today? Well, not in my dreams, not audibly, and not in visions. God speaks through Scripture today, and that’s clearly what Jesus is saying here. God speaks through Scripture.
Then he has this little phrase, “Have you not read what was spoken through the Scriptures by God to you?” This is amazing, because the verse of Scripture that they’re all referring to was written by Moses in 1400 BC, and it’s 1400 years old. And yet Jesus says, yeah, there was an original audience that God spoke to Moses, and then when Moses wrote it down, the original audience was his listeners of the day. But 1400 years later, because Scripture is the living Word of God through which God still speaks, whoever reads it, God is still speaking to them. That’s good. God speaks to you. So we could literally say that just as 1400 year old Scriptures was God speaking to the Sadducees that day, even 2000 years later, God is speaking to us today just as much.
It is literally the living God of the universe speaking to you through Scripture. That was Jesus’ view of Scripture. God speaks through his Word, and like you said, we need to take it literally at face value because then he goes on to quote, in verse 32, a passage from Exodus 3 about establishing the doctrine of the truth of the resurrection. And it all hinges around that small verb. He referred to the verb “to be” and the tense of it, “I am”—present tense. I am the living God, not the God of the dead. So he took the words literally as important and even the tense of a little word matters.
Derek: That should make pastors take their preaching preparation seriously.
Cliff: Absolutely. We should take Word seriously. So that’s a passage that is a good summary of Jesus’ view of Scripture. First of all, Scripture has the answer. God speaks through Scripture. Scripture is the authority because it’s God speaking. God speaks to you personally when you read the Scripture. And it doesn’t matter how old Scripture is because it’s the living Word of God. And clearly from this, because he refers to Abraham as a real guy and that Scripture is true history, it’s literal history. Jesus believed and affirmed that Abraham was a real man and those events actually happen.
So with that, what I wanted to do, now that we have established Jesus’ view of Scripture—he takes it literally, it was true history, it’s reliable. It’s actually God speaking to us through Scripture today in the book of Genesis. I want to just take some events and people in the book of Genesis that not only do the critics of the Bible dismiss as fiction and myth and things that never happened—like Creation, Adam and Eve being real, Noah and the Ark—they think it’s an absurd story. So not only unbelievers and critics dismiss those things, but there’s a growing majority, or I don’t know if it is majority, but a growing majority of evangelicals that say that some of these things aren’t true history. And so I just wanted to go to these passages and just show that these stories that are so often dismissed as parable or myth, that actually Jesus, when you read it in context, took it literally. Jesus believed these things as true history, starting with going in chronological order.
I want to go to Mark 10:6-9. Just starting with creation. Did Jesus believe in the creation story, and did Jesus believe that Adam and Eve were real people? And did Jesus believe that Adam and Eve were created at the very beginning of creation? So there’s a lot of different issues there, because, Derek, you and I know that there are Christians—Christian scholars, Christian teachers—who have written books where they say they’re Christians, they say they believe in the Bible, and they have different views about the creation story. And even Adam and Eve, some would say, yeah, Adam was a real guy, but he wasn’t necessarily created at the very beginning of the creation. There was creation at some point, whether it was the Big Bang or whatever. Like a William Lane Craig, who says he believes in the Bible, and he even says he believes inerrancy, yet he holds to the Big Bang and that the universe is 13.5 billion years old, and that the Earth is 4 billion years old.
Everything came into existence through God’s creative activity. And it wasn’t until hundreds of thousands of years later—if not millions of years later—that, finally, human beings were created. So in other words, William Lane Craig and others who say they believe in a real Adam, but they say he wasn’t necessarily created at the very beginning of time, right? That’s actually a pretty common view among so-called conservative evangelicals. But in Mark 10:6-9, Jesus makes it clear that no, that’s not true. And he’s not even talking about the age of the earth, but what he’s clearly saying is that no, Adam was created at the very beginning of time. So here, this is Mark 10, starting at verse two. The Pharisees come up to test Jesus regarding something in Scripture, and they’re talking about divorce, and they think they’re going to expose him for being a fool.
So they say in Mark 10, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” So Moses allowed divorce. What do you think? Verse 5: “But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart, Moses wrote you this commandment.’” But verse six: “from the beginning of creation.” So that’s the key phrase right there—”from the beginning of creation.” Jesus clearly is alluding to, if not directly referring to, Genesis 1:1. The beginning, right? “The beginning,” Mark wrote in Greek. So when Jesus says, “from the beginning of creation,” Jesus means the first chapter of Genesis. That whole chapter is the beginning of creation—days one through six.
And from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. So in verse six, Jesus is clearly affirming the true literal historicity of Genesis chapter one, all the way to verse 27. And Jesus is saying that Adam and Eve, who were created on day six—they weren’t created 250,000 years after the beginning of creation. They were created from the beginning, right from the very beginning. In other words, he’s affirming that it happened in six days. In one week, from the beginning of creation, God made Adam and Eve. So there it is. So you have to look at that passage in context and meditate on it a little bit to let it sink in. But it becomes clear that Jesus affirmed that Adam and Eve were real, and the story as given in Genesis one is true history. Adam and Eve were created from the very beginning of creation, and Jesus affirmed that. Jesus [also] believed that Abel was a real person. So that would be in Luke chapter 11.
Some of these guys that are Christians say that Adam was not a real person. [I would like to take them to] the genealogy of Genesis five and then the genealogy of Luke three. Because in Luke three, the genealogy in verse 23 starts with Jesus—how he came from and was adopted by Joseph, and then Joseph had a father and his name was whatever. And then it traces the genealogy from Jesus all the way back to King David, and then Abraham and then Noah. And then it goes all the way back to Adam, and it’s just this unbroken genealogy. Now, I like to go one name at a time and ask, was this guy real?
Was Joseph the adopted father of Jesus? And then I’ll just keep walking through it asking if all these guys are real. Well, that one, I don’t know because he’s some dude. But then we get to Abraham. Yeah, Abraham was probably real, they will say. And then, well, what about Abraham’s father? Was he real? Probably not. So Abraham was probably real, but his dad wasn’t? So I don’t know how that works. I don’t know, because Noah definitely wasn’t real, as we’re going through that genealogy. And then all the way back to Adam. Adam definitely was not real. And Adam’s sons, whether they were Seth or Abel, were not real. So this is an evangelical. He’s got a problem because he’s not being consistent with the Bible. But the point is, if you’re going to dismiss Adam as a real guy, you have to dismiss his children, including Cain, Abel, and Seth, and just say those were mythical or whatever. But in Luke 11, Jesus affirmed the reality of Abel as a real person because again, in Luke 11, Jesus is being confronted by some lawyers. These were Jewish leaders, and in verse 46, they were taking him to task. Jesus rebuked him and says, “Woe to you lawyers,” because they were hypocrites, religious hypocrites. As a matter of fact, these lawyers were trying to kill Jesus. And they were just like people in the Old Testament who came before them who wanted to kill the prophets and did kill the prophets. They claimed to be religious, yet they killed God’s prophets. And Jesus says, you’re just like those guys. Verse 49, Jesus says to them, “For this reason, also the wisdom of God said, I will send to them these prophet killers, the prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute.”
Verse 50, “so that the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world…” So that’s a key phrase. Prophets that were killed from the foundation of the world. “…may be charged against this generation from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah.” So in verse 50, Jesus refers to the foundation of the world. That phrase in the gospels in Hebrews chapter four and other places in the New Testament—foundation of the world—refers to the beginning of creation, right? The very beginning of creation. And what Jesus is saying is, you wicked people have been killing God’s prophets since the very beginning of creation, since the foundation, including the beginning or the foundation of the world with a guy named Abel. Verse 51: “So from the blood of Abel.” So Jesus affirms that Abel was a real guy who was the son of Adam, who was a real guy.
And when did Abel exist? Thousands of years after creation started through theistic evolution? No, Abel existed from the foundation of the world. Verse 50: foundation of the world. Actually, you can almost translate it as the beginning of the world, the beginning of creation, just like Genesis said. So there it is. Jesus believes Adam and Eve were real people. Mark 10. And Jesus believed Adam was a real guy. Luke 11. Let me read this one, too. Another person that people like to laugh at—because we Christians believe that this person was real. And that’s Noah, because that’s such a great story. Genesis six through nine. But Jesus believed that Noah was a real guy. You could either go to Matthew or Luke. So we’ll go to Luke 17, and I’ll just read. This is at the end of Jesus’ ministry. He’s about to die. He’s teaching publicly.
He’s warning his disciples that he’s going to leave, and he’s going to die. But he’s going to come back again someday as the Son of Man, fulfilling the prophecies of Daniel at the end of the age. So he is letting them know you can count on it. Yes, I’m leaving because I’m going to die and I’m going to go back to heaven, but I am coming back again as the Son of Man. I’m coming back. You can count on it. And the reason you can count on it and believe that I’m going to come again someday is because you can count on things that have already happened in history. And some of those things that have happened in history are Noah and the ark and the flood, and just as certain as Noah’s flood happened, so also you can count on the fact that I’m going to return again in the future.
So that’s the context. So he is talking about when he is going to come—be encouraged. Luke 17, verse 24, Jesus says, “For just as certain as the lightning flashes across the sky, so also the Son of Nan will come in the sky someday.” Verse 25. But first, Jesus must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. He’s to die on the cross first, then be buried, ascend into heaven, and then he’ll come back again. Verse 26. “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so will be also in the days of the Son of Man when he comes again.” It is certain that I’m going to return in the future because of the certainty of Noah’s existence in the past. Just as it happened in the days of Noah, right? So also what will be in the days of the Son of Man when he comes. So here, clearly, Jesus believes that Noah was a real person. He truly existed. Jesus is getting this from Genesis six through nine—that story. And Jesus, of course, takes that story as literal history, and it’s the basis and the guarantee and the promise that he’s going to come again.
Derek: I mean, he doubles down. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage until the day Noah entered the ark and the flood came and destroyed them all.
Cliff: Yes. That’s a great point. Not only do people dismiss Noah as a real person, Jesus doubled down in verse 27. Jesus goes, no, I believe Noah was real. And he mentions the ark, which people think is a joke. And the flood. And more and more, evangelicals today are saying, well, if there was a flood, it was only local, right? And Jesus is saying, no, the flood came and destroyed them all. Every person on planet Earth, because that’s what the story in Genesis says—that all people died save eight people. So there it is. Jesus believed that Noah clearly existed. That’s often questioned. Many evangelicals today say that Genesis one through eleven is not true history, but that’s where Lot is introduced as a nephew of Abraham. And Abraham is mentioned in chapter 11, “So Lot came from the loins of Abram.” So in verse 28 of Luke 17, Jesus affirms the existence of Lot. He says, “It was the same as happened in the days of Lot.” They were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building. This is in the days of Abraham, when Lot’s nephew lived with Abraham at that same time. And then Lot took his portion of land over by Sodom and Gomorrah, and then Sodom and Gomorrah were so evil and wicked according to Genesis 19, that God told Abraham he was going to destroy it because of their sexual immorality and sin.
And the story of Sodom and Gomorrah that we read in Genesis, people say, oh, that didn’t happen, because it says that God basically breathed fire out of heaven and consumed two massive cities all at once. And you read that today and say, oh, that can’t happen, right? That’s fictitious. That’s a myth. And yet Jesus is affirming the reality that Lot was a real person. And this amazing miracle that God did when he destroyed two entire cities by fire, Jesus affirms it right here in verse 29. “But on that day that Lot went out from Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.” So Jesus just says it matter-of-factly, right? It’s history. It happened. It was miraculous. You can take Genesis at face value.
Derek: Right? Yeah. It’s funny you say that—he just says it straightforwardly. There’s no qualification. No, you may not really believe this guys. But no, the history of Genesis is actual history and really happened.
Cliff: Well, in our last episode, Derek, you asked that question—were there signals in the text? Can you explain a little bit more what you mean by that? The signal? Because there are no signals here, right?
Derek: So you are talking about Toledoth and how that is a literary device throughout the book of Genesis, and you even called it kind of chapter titles that links the whole book together. And some of the common arguments today are we start believing that it’s literal history starting from Genesis 12. And there’s a bit of arbitrariness to ask, okay, when does the actual history start? And my point was, what signals are there in the text that indicate that you should now understand this part of the text as differently than the other? And I thought the Toledoth argument was excellent because it’s linking everything together so that any attempt to say, no, we’ll start in chapter five; no, we’ll start in chapter eleven; no, we’ll start in chapter twenty or whatever is completely arbitrary. And so that was my point. There are no signals in the text anywhere to indicate that this is now when you can start taking things literally.
Cliff: And I just thought that was a good tool or device to introduce to people if they haven’t thought of that before. Because we do look for signals in the text when we’re reading. So a signal can be a literary device. A signal can be a comment that Jesus makes in the text. It might be when Jesus says, now, learn from the following parable. I mean, he literally says that. So when Jesus says, I’m about to tell you a parable, the word “parable” is a signal to the reader and the listener that this is a parabolic, metaphorical analogy of a story that might not be historically literal. There’s a truth there. So that’s a signal for the reader. So I think it’s a clear and obvious indicator that you need to be aware of other signals or similes and metaphor.
Derek: The kingdom of heaven is like…and then he tells a parable.
Cliff: That’s a signal. It’s a making an obvious comparison. Well, there aren’t signals in this passage telling us that these things are fictitious. There are actually signals in the passage telling us these are literally true. Some of the signals are verse 24—just like the lightning. Verse 26—just as it happened, as in the days of Noah. So also that’s a signal. In the days of Jesus coming at the end of the age, just as it happened. Verse 21. Or, in the same way as it happened in the days of Lot, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man. So those signals, those literary indicators, can help you understand what you’re reading. And clearly by Jesus’ words, the indicators tell us, oh, he believed this is true history. Noah was real, the ark was real, the flood was real. The flood was universal, Lot was real. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah getting consumed by a fire instantly by God was real. And then the other one, as he goes on in this story about Lot, and he’s warning about what it’s going to be like at the end of the age, when that will be a time of judgment upon earth. And then he says, with this warning in verse 32, all he says is, “Remember Lot’s wife.” That is loaded, the implications there. Because he is talking to a Jewish audience, and they all were raised in the synagogue. They were all familiar with Genesis. They all knew it like the back of their hand. They all knew the story of Lot’s wife, when God warned Lot, when you leave the city, whatever you do, don’t look back. And Lot’s wife turned around. God judged her, and she turned into a pillar of salt. That’s miraculous. And Jesus is warning them, God’s wrath is real, his chastisement is real, his judgment is real. Remember Lot. So Jesus is affirming that Lot’s wife was real, and she really did turn into a pillar of salt.
Derek: And I just read this up against modern day arguments about the Bible. And Jesus would get laughed out of the room because he believes in a flood and a woman turning into salt. Really?
Cliff: No, that’s a good point. I mean, if he was invited to the evangelical theological society to present a paper on the literal historicity of Genesis, and he used these examples, not only would he be laughed out of the room, they probably wouldn’t let him read the paper. Because they would review it and say, this is absurd.
Derek: And they wouldn’t invite him back.
Cliff: He probably wouldn’t be invited to Duke Divinity School to present a paper as a guest preacher. He would not be academically prestigious enough. Because he just believed it at face value.
One more person. So Jesus believed in literal Adam and Eve, a literal creation at the very beginning, a literal Abel at the beginning of the foundation of the world, a literal guy named Noah, a literal ark, a literal universal flood, a literal Lot, a literal Sodom and Gomorrah, a literal Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt. And then finally he believed in a literal Abraham. That’s all over the place. But John in 8:56, Jesus just said, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day. And he was glad.” He’s referring to Genesis 18 when Jesus probably, in a pre-incarnate form, appeared to Abraham and had fellowship with him. And so Jesus is just affirming that Abraham was a real person in the story—that you read about him in Genesis 18 as literal history. It can be taken at face value. So that’s his view of Genesis. He believed it as literal history, even the most absurd, fantastic stories. Some lady being turned instantly into a pillar of salt, two cities being consumed by the fire of God out of heaven, and Noah living in an ark with his seven family members for over a year.
Derek: While the whole earth filled with rain. Yes. It’s pretty fantastical to the world.
Cliff: It is.
Derek: It’s fantastic to a lot of people who have absorbed uncritically, I think, a view that the world puts forth about the Bible without considering their presuppositions and recognizing that they are judging the Bible apart from a supernatural and God-centered worldview. And so I think what has been concerning for me is how often Christians do absorb uncritically the arguments that are made by those who have a totally different worldview—an anti-supernatural worldview—and then think that their conclusions about these things are going to be correct. And so what we’re trying to do is just get people to see in the Scripture why they can be confident in exactly what Genesis one and two straightforwardly teach.
Cliff: And just by way of reminder, Christians are getting duped by this idea that taking a literal view of Genesis one in the creation conflicts with modern day science. And I’m thinking, so I would ask you, Derek, do you believe that Lot’s wife instantly got turned into a pillar of salt?
Derek: I believe that.
Cliff: And would you agree that that doesn’t seem very scientific?
Derek: Well, no, because you look around, and that doesn’t happen very often.
Cliff: Yeah. I would say that that conflicts with acceptable modern science—that somebody instantly getting turned into a pillar of salt is scientifically impossible.
Cliff: But I still believe it happened. So things in the Bible can be true, and yet conflict with what we understand as true science. Because you mentioned the word earlier, you said supernatural. God does miracles. So of course it can’t happen scientifically from a human point of view. That’s the point. Because the God of the Bible is supernatural. And I want to believe in a God like that. I don’t want a God who can’t do miracles because then he couldn’t rise from the dead. He couldn’t die for the sins of the world. He couldn’t have saved my soul. But that’s the testimony of who God is. He’s a supernatural, infinite, all powerful creator of the universe.
Derek: And I think you taking us to what Jesus thought about the Old Testament is just very powerful. I remember one of the most powerful essays I ever read was an article called “Jesus’ View of the Old Testament.” And it was just about, what did Jesus believe about the Old Testament? Was it true? Was the Old Testament inerrant? Did it have errors? Were the things historically accurate? And the author just takes you through, text after text, kind of like what we did, but he exhausted Jesus’ teaching. It was Gordon Wenham who wrote that. Or, John Wenham. Yeah, John Wenham. And it was the first chapter in his own book, and then they took it out of there and put it in as one of the chapters.
Cliff: Well, I remember the first time I ever read that. I was a young Christian. I was in college and somebody gave me that inerrancy book. Edited by Geisler. And that was the chapter that stood out of the whole book to me.
Derek: Yeah, exactly.
Cliff: Jesus’ view of the Scriptures and of the Old Testament. It’s kind of all you need, really. If you think about it. Once I read that, I was like, oh, well, this is a closing, shut case. I don’t agree with the consensus of the scientists, but I do agree with Jesus.
Derek: There you go. Well, we hope this has been helpful for you, these last three episodes on the historicity of Genesis. What you have in Scripture is reliable, accurate, inherent history given to us by the God of the universe, the creator himself. The beauty of it is that he has made it simple. You have a book that he has inspired and you can take it in your hand and you can read it, and you can understand what has happened in the past, what is presently happening, and what is going to happen in the future. You can understand who you are, and you can understand how to be saved. And so we just want to encourage our listeners to have great confidence in the Bible. It is a gift from God. And he doesn’t want it to be complicated. He has not made it complicated. We have our Bibles that we can open and read.
And so we hope you’ve been encouraged by this study, and we encourage you to check out WithAllWisdom.org, where we have articles and resources like this on all kinds of topics that we trust will encourage you to not only get into the Word, but to trust it in an unqualified sense. Just to trust the Word of God, to love it, to read the Bible, to know that it speaks to you from God, to know that its words are true and reliable. And we ask that you would tune in next time. And until next time, we encourage you to keep seeking the Lord and his Word.