Three of the gospels tell this story: Jesus crosses a lake and meets a violent man who is being controlled by a group of demons, who call themselves Legion. The demons assume Jesus is there to banish them and torture them. But they convince him to just send them into a herd of pigs instead. The man regains his sanity, and the pigs kill themselves. The locals make Jesus go away so he’ll stop pointlessly destroying their livestock. And everybody forgets about the demons, who are now homeless and on the loose.Continue reading How many men were possessed by the Legion of demons?
How God got Joseph into Egypt
Jacob made a fancy robe for his favorite son, Joseph. This made Joseph’s brothers jealous. Then Joseph started having dreams about his family bowing down to him. This made his brothers hate him. So Joseph’s brothers stole his robe and dipped it in goat blood, so their father would think Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. They sold Joseph to some merchants, who took him away to Egypt and sold him as a slave to Potiphar, the captain of the guard.
Inmate interprets increasingly insane imaginings
Potiphar’s wife kept trying to get Joseph to sleep with her, but he refused. Then she accused him of trying to rape her, so Potiphar put him in prison. Two other prisoners, who had been Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker, got Joseph to interpret their dreams for them. Pharaoh’s cupbearer had dreamed about bearing Pharaoh’s cup, which Joseph said meant he would become Pharaoh’s cupbearer again. And it was so. Pharaoh’s baker had dreamed about birds eating Pharaoh’s bread out of a basket on the baker’s head, which Joseph said meant the baker would be executed. And it was so.
Later, Pharaoh had a dream about seven skinny cows eating seven fat cows, and a dream about seven thin heads of grain eating seven full heads of grain. None of his magicians and wise men could tell him what his dreams meant, so his cupbearer suggested asking Joseph. Joseph said both dreams meant that there would be seven years of abundance, and then seven years of famine. Pharaoh was so impressed by this claim that he put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt, without even bothering to wait and see if Joseph’s prediction was accurate.
Do not worry about tomorrow
During the seven years of abundance, Joseph took away all the grain that was grown in Egypt and stored it up, so the people could starve sooner rather than later. Then during the seven years of famine, he sold grain to everyone who needed it in Egypt and Canaan. Joseph gave the Egyptians food (that he had stolen from them) in exchange for all their money, all their livestock, all their land, and their slave labor. He also made them give a fifth of the food they were able to grow to Pharaoh, so that they could have food.Continue reading The Story of Joseph and his Brothers—
The Interpreter of Dreams
The Bible says after the world ends, God will create a new heaven and a new earth. Things will be different then: There will be no more death, pain, sadness, etc. And there will no longer be any curse, such as the painful curses God inflicted on humanity when Adam and Eve sinned.Continue reading Will there be death and curses in the new heaven and earth?
The Bible describes and promotes a lot more evil behavior than you would expect from a “good book”. Not all of it is like that, of course. But even when the Bible talks about good behavior, the reasons it gives for behaving that way are usually all wrong.
There’s a Bible verse that addresses the issue of doing things for the wrong reasons. Paul thinks that as long as you’re doing the right thing, it doesn’t really matter why you’re doing it. Well, I disagree. Reasons are important. Your reasons for doing things influence which things you choose to do. If you’re not doing things for the right reasons, you’re probably not going to consistently do the right things.
What would be a good reason for, say, showing hospitality? Why should you provide people with lodging and food? In the past, one good reason was that it took a long time to travel, and there weren’t a lot of commercial hotels around. So the only way travelers could get shelter at night was to rely on strangers to offer them a place to stay.
The Bible’s justification for promoting hospitality, on the other hand, doesn’t even have anything to do with helping people! Instead, the Bible says you should let people stay in your home because your guests might actually be angels. That’s a dumb reason, isn’t it? How is it in any way better to provide for angels, who don’t need your help, than to provide for humans, who do?Continue reading Good deeds for bad reasons
According to the Bible, when God brought the people of Israel into what would become the land of Israel, there were other nations already living there, so God had to get them out of the way. He thought those nations were terribly wicked, so he drove them out and destroyed them. Except he didn’t get rid of them completely. He let some nations survive and continue to live in the land among the Israelites. Why did he decide to do that? The Bible gives four reasons, but they can’t all be true…Continue reading Why did God leave some nations among Israel?
Jacob’s son Judah had three sons: Er, Onan, and Shelah. God killed Er because he thought he was wicked, so Judah told Onan to have children with Er’s widow, Tamar. But if Onan had children with Tamar, they wouldn’t be considered Onan’s children for some reason. So he refused to do it. God thought it was wicked to not impregnate your brother’s wife, so he killed Onan too. Tamar wanted to have children, but Judah wouldn’t let her marry his last son, Shelah.Continue reading The Story of Judah and Tamar—
Somebody Get Me Pregnant Already
The Bible says we should follow God’s example. That makes sense, because God is perfect, and everything he does is right. God is love, and we should walk in the way of love. We should be holy as God is holy, and perfect as he is perfect. We should speak the way God would speak. We should think like Jesus and follow his ways.
Paul taught his followers to transform themselves and become like God, because God wants his people to become like him. Paul followed Jesus’s example, and we should follow Paul’s example, so that we end up following Jesus’s example too.
How can we follow God’s example, though? I mean, if we can’t see God, how can we know what kinds of things he does, so that we can do the same? We can find out what God does by reading stories about God in the Bible. That includes stories about Jesus, since according to the Bible, Jesus is God.
So, here are some things we should do in order to follow God’s example, according to the stories about God in the Bible:
- We should be perfect.
- We should tell people to obey God’s laws.
- We should tell people Jesus is the Messiah.
- We should observe the Sabbath.
- We should be wise.
- We should try to keep our lives.
- We should show everyone how good we are.
- We should keep our good deeds secret.
- We should perform supernatural signs and wonders.
- We should pray so others can hear us.
- We should only pray for those who are close to us.
- We should receive good things.
- We should refrain from stoning people if we are without sin.
- We should let foreigners enter holy places.
- We should take oaths.
- We should eat and drink excessively.
- We should celebrate.
- We should roar.
- We should be easily angered.
- We should be impatient.1
- We should be proud.
- We should be jealous.
- We should be hateful.
- We should cause chaos.
- We should argue.
- We should call people fools.
- We should judge and condemn people.
- We should judge those who are outside the church.
- We should disrespect our parents.
- We should refuse to listen to people.
- We should refuse to forgive people who curse us.
- We should curse people.
- We should lie.
- We should bring charges against people.
- We should accuse people when they have done us no harm.2
- We should be late.
- We should desert our flock.
- We should take retribution.
- We should punish people for the sins of their ancestors.
- We should refuse to help those in need.
- We should heavily burden people.
- We should unnecessarily delay doing good to others.
- We should make people stumble.
- We should steal our neighbors’ land.
- We should get married.
- We should be married to two sisters at the same time.
- We should impregnate other people’s fiancées.
- We should impregnate our mothers.
- We should marry our daughters.3
- We should hate our wives and treat them harshly.
- We should get divorced.
- We should be violent.
- We should destroy fruit trees.
- We should be quick to destroy fig trees that aren’t fruitful.
- We should sacrifice on the mountains.
- We should harm foreigners.
- We should harm Edomites.
- We should harm Moabites.
- We should harm our enemies.
- We should harm our neighbors.
- We should plot harm against those who trust us.
- We should murder people.
- We should shed blood on a bare rock.
- We should sacrifice our children.
- We should kill the Lord’s anointed king.
- We should destroy the earth.
- We should call men fathers.
- We should make images of things in heaven.
- We should work on the Sabbath.
- We should change God’s commands.
- We should reject Jesus.
- We should betray Jesus.
- We should call ourselves gods.
…Wait a minute. Those are all things the Bible says we shouldn’t do!Continue reading Should we follow God’s example?
Shechem, the son of a ruler in the nearby city of Shechem, raped Dinah. When Dinah’s brothers heard about that, they were furious, because Shechem had sex with Jacob’s daughter. Nobody should have sex with Jacob’s daughter!Continue reading The Story of Dinah and Shechem—
Somebody's in Canaan with Dinah
In Luke’s genealogy of Jesus, it says Shelah was the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad (who was Noah’s grandson).Continue reading Was Shelah the son or grandson of Arphaxad?
Righteous people give without sparing. God rewards those who give to the poor by making sure the givers lack nothing. If you invite guests over for a meal, never invite your friends and relatives; only invite poor and disabled people.1 One of the requirements to gain eternal life is to sell everything you have and give the money to the poor. If you do that, you will be perfect, and God will reward you in heaven. Even if you’re poor yourself, you must work your way out of poverty, just so you’ll have something to give to the poor.
But if you refuse to listen to the pleas of the poor, your own pleas will be ignored and you will be plagued with curses. If you ever keep anything to yourself when poor people want it, the love of God is not in you, and you deserve to lose an arm.Continue reading Should people give everything to the poor?