For quite some time I have desired to write the backstory to the call of Abraham. As challenging as it was to discover the rich, foundational meaning of Abram’s life, the backstory is different. By backstory, I mean the events described through creation, the garden, the great flood as well as the Tower of Babel. Telling this story feels different. I am experiencing a sense of spiritual resistance, but why am I surprised? This story exposes the eternal plot of the adversary, thereby setting up the story of redemption introduced through the great patriarch, Abram.
After completing “The Promise of Abraham,” I sensed that the story was not complete. We need to understand what led up to the call of Abram, why his life is significant and what the condition of the world was during that time period. We should not be afraid to ask questions and seek their answers. For example, what set the stage for the call of Abraham? What events had occurred? And why were Abram and Sarai chosen; what did God see in them that he could work with? Does the Bible have anything to say regarding the origins of the evil, pain and suffering we experience in this life? I believe the Bible provides solid answers to these and other questions which provide the basis for the reconciliation of all things under Messiah Jesus.
The big question for me was how to reconcile the God I came to know in the New Testament with the God I read about in the Old. As someone with an insatiable quest to understand, I have come to truly believe that
“I am the Lord, and I do not change”
My premise is that the Bible does provide answers and solutions to these questions facing us in the opening chapters of Genesis. If you are a “bottom line” kind of person, consider the verse below.
…that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.
What are the “all things” that are to be restored at his coming? It is my goal in the pages which follow to unpack the events of the garden, the great flood of Noah as well as the Tower of Babel. When we understand those events, we will have deep appreciation for the call of Abram and how it begins the process of “restoring all things” through the promised Messiah.
Before we begin, I want to comment on the idea of theological filtering. Most of us belong to a denomination of some sort and that denomination will hold to a credal statement or set of beliefs. The leadership will teach the scriptures in the context of those belief systems. When Biblical passages do not fit nicely into those beliefs, they are handled either by ignoring them, downplaying their importance, re-interpreting them, or relegating them as “problem passages”. As we move forward, it will be difficult to set aside our theological filters and interpret the scripture as the original audience would have understood, but that will be our goal. We wish to look at the Biblical text without the “benefit” of denominational accouterments.
Let me give an example of a filter which many of us apply to our understanding of the Bible. We look at the New Testament as one book written to the church and the Old Testament as a separate book written to the Jews. This understanding hinders us from having a coherent view of scripture and the nature of God while relegating three quarters of the Bible to irrelevant ancient history.
I would like to invite you to join me on a “thought experiment” throughout this study. The experiment goes like this. Instead of dividing the Bible into old and new testaments, let us separate the scriptures differently. Section one would be defined as Genesis chapters 1-11. Section two will begin with the call of Abram toward the end of chapter eleven continuing on through the rest of the Bible. As we begin this experiment, we will look at the first section as God’s original design followed by the cause of evil, pain and suffering in the world. Section two will begin the long and often complex path of reconciling all things back to himself.
I hope you are intrigued, please stay with me. You might be surprised at what we discover.