Sodom and Gomorrah: A Story about Sin and Judgment
Sodom and Gomorrah are two of the Old Testament’s most infamously sinful cities. Genesis 19 tells the story of how God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness, but spared Lot and his family (mostly).
The New Testament uses these cities as examples of behavior that God’s people need to avoid. But what exactly was the nature of Sodom’s sin? Why did God single them out? And why was Lot spared?
In his online course on the book of Genesis, Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman III answers these questions and more, starting where the story actually begins in Genesis 18, when Abraham finds himself hosting three unknown visitors.
The following post is based on his online course.
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Cain and Abel: A Story of Rebellion, Judgment, and Grace
The story of Cain and Abel is one of sibling rivalry and murder. It’s shocking to realize that there is only one generation between the Bible’s story of creation and the first homicide. Mankind’s descent into sinfulness was fast and severe.
Cain and Abel each bring God a sacrifice. When God shows disappointment in Cain’s sacrifice and pleasure in Abel’s, Cain kills Abel with a stone.
God confronts Cain about murdering his brother. Cain lies about it. And God exiles him to the land of Nod, east of Eden.
This brief account in the Bible is just 16 verses long, but it paints a powerful picture of sin, judgment, and surprisingly, grace. Renowned Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman III explores this famous passage in his online course on Genesis.
The following post is adapted from…
Psalm 100 Commentary: Seven Commands and Two Motivations of Our Praise
Shout. Worship. Come. Know.
Enter. Give thanks. Praise him.
These seven commands form the backbone of one of the most instructive psalms on giving grateful praise to the Lord: Psalm 100. W. Dennis Tucker and Jamie A. Grant provide insight into this psalm’s meaning and composition in their new commentary Psalms, Volume 2 (NIV Application Commentary).
This Psalms commentary, which is part of the NIV Application Commentary Series, helps readers learn how the message of the Psalms can have the same powerful impact today that it did when they were first written. This commentary helps you achieve both halves of the interpretive task—understanding the Bible’s original message and applying it powerfully today.
A good place to start is Tucker and Grant’s observation that Psalm…
Psalm 139 Commentary: God’s Pervasive Presence, Intimate Knowledge, and Faithful Comfort
Psalm 139 is one of the more well-known and well-beloved psalms—and for good reason. This psalm speaks of the pervasive presence of God, and his intimate knowledge of us, which offer us an outsized measure of hope and comfort in the face of adversity and trial. But what does the psalm mean and how are its four poetic movements connected?
W. Dennis Tucker and Jamie A. Grant provide insight into the meaning and composition of this magisterial psalm in their new commentary Psalms, Volume 2 (NIV Application Commentary). This Psalms commentary, which is part of the NIV Application Commentary Series, helps readers learn how the message of the Psalms can have the same powerful impact today that it…
Abraham and Isaac: A Test of Faith
In Genesis 22, God tests Abraham’s obedience by asking him to sacrifice Isaac, his only son.
To modern readers, this passage and this test feels like a nightmare. Why would God ask Abraham to do that? And why would Abraham be willing to go through with it?
Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman III explores this challenging passage in his online course on the book of Genesis. The following analysis is adapted from his course.
But first, let’s look at the passage itself.
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Who Wrote the Book of Genesis?
Moses is traditionally considered the author of Genesis. But for over two centuries, one of the most contested questions in biblical scholarship has been “Who wrote the Book of Genesis—and when?”
Genesis is the first book of the Bible, and one of the five books of the Pentateuch. Several other books of the Pentateuch include passages that mention Moses recording events and writing down what God says. The authors of the New Testament—and even Jesus himself—appear to credit Moses as the author of Genesis.
So why don’t scholars agree?
There are passages in Genesis that Moses could not have written, because they describe events that happened after his death, known as postmosaica passages. And there are others that would simply be awkward for Moses to write, which are referred to as amosaica (such as Numbers 12:4).…
What the Bible Says about the Current Immigration Crisis
How does the Bible speak to the current immigration crisis? Earlier this week we sat down with Scott Rae, Professor of Ethics at Talbot School of Theology, to discuss how the Bible might shape our discussion of immigration, along with some practical things Christians can do in response.
In this video, Scott discusses:
What Romans 13 says—and doesn’t say—about the current immigration debate How to respond when immigration law calls for forcible separation of children from their parents The difference between immigrants and refugees Israel’s identity as a nation of people on the move Why it’s difficult to use the Bible as a foundation for shaping immigration policy How the modern concept of national and ethnic identity conflicts with the Bible The meaning of the Hebrew words translated into English as “immigrant” Does supporting the left’s policy on immigration also…
How Did We Get the Old Testament?
The Old Testament is thousands of years old, and contains accounts stretching back to the beginning of time. This ancient collection of books provides the foundation of both Judaism and Christianity.
So where did it come from? How did these age-old traditions, stories, and commandments make their way to modern times? These are important questions.
John Walton and Andrew Hill answer these questions in their Old Testament Survey online course. The following post is adapted from their unit on the background, history, archaeology, and formation of the Old Testament.
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What the Bible Tells Us About the 10 Plagues of Egypt
One of the Bible’s most dramatic scenes plays out in a showdown between God and an Egyptian Pharaoh, resulting in 10 nightmarish plagues. The Hebrew nation that God formed to worship and represent him was enslaved in Egypt, and he was demanding their release through his servant, Moses.
As Pharaoh continues to resist Moses, God inflicts upon Egypt a series of plagues. As the standoff drags on, the plagues become more severe, eventually escalating to the death of all of Egypt’s firstborn sons.
Why did God choose the plagues he did? And why did he harden Pharaoh’s heart, ensuring that Egypt would experience the entire series of plagues? These are some of the questions that Dr. Gary E. Schnittjer, professor of the Old Testament at Cairn University, tackles in his online course, The Torah Story. The following post is…
7 Places We Find Jesus in the Old Testament
While we know Jesus is the fulfillment of the Jewish story and we want to better understand how the two Testaments relate, we’re often unsure how the Bible’s many stories, characters, and events relate to each other—especially to Jesus. Some are tempted to force the Bible’s many pieces together, making superficial jumps from the Hebrew Scriptures to Jesus’ story. But most are left wondering:
Does Jesus and his story connect to the Old Testament? If so, where is Jesus in the Old Testament? How does the Old Testament inform our understanding of Jesus—his life and teachings, death and resurrection?
Christ from Beginning to End answers these questions, helping Christians better understand how to…
Understanding the Creation Story from Genesis
How did the world begin? Was the world a cosmological mistake or an intentional creation? What existed before the universe as we know it? Questions like these have generated tons of discussion (and arguments) in the historical, scientific, and religious communities.
While most people are familiar with the creation story found in Genesis, there’s a richness that’s often lost. In The Torah Story online course, Gary E. Schnittjer, Cairn University’s professor of Old Testament, plumbs the depth of the creation story while answering important questions like:
How did the author of Genesis receive the creation story? How does the narrative style of the creation story provide the backdrop for the rest of the biblical story? What does the creation story reveal about God? How are humans different than the rest of creation? What is mankind’s responsibility to creation?
How to Read the Bible in Context
So how do we read such a book?
This question is important when picking up any document, from paperback to newspaper. You wouldn’t read a historical novel on WWII the same way you would a nonfiction historical account of the same time. And we read the newspaper’s front page differently than the opinion-editorials (or at least, we ought to read them differently).
How, then, should we read the Bible? It starts with context.
In Christ from Beginning to End, authors Trent Hunter and Stephen Wellum outline six different contexts—three specific, three general—to…