Category Archives: The bad book

Is anything hidden from God?

No.

God watches everything humans do, and there’s nowhere they can hide from him. Their sin and guilt aren’t hidden from him, either. Everything you do that you think is hidden, God will bring into judgment.

People are foolish to think they can hide what they’re doing from God, no matter how hard they try. You can’t get away from God. God is everywhere, so there’s no secret place you can go where he won’t see you. God has eyes everywhere, keeping watch on both the wicked and the good. No matter where you go, God will be there. If you think you’re hidden in the dark, God will still be able to see you like it’s light.

The elders of Israel thought God wouldn’t see what they were doing in the darkness, because God had abandoned the land. But God showed them to Ezekiel in a vision, so he clearly was aware of what they were doing. In fact, nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.

Yes.

Sometimes God intentionally lets things be hidden from him. God commanded his people to bury their poop, to make sure he would never have to see it. God also told his people to put their idols out of his sight, which would be an impossible demand if nothing could be hidden from God.

Habakkuk says God’s eyes are too pure to look at evil, so that means all evil things are hidden from God. Isaiah says God hides himself from sinful people and doesn’t hear them. God also told Isaiah that “the past troubles” would be hidden from his eyes.

When God decided to stop inspiring prophecies but the prophets didn’t get the memo and continued prophesying anyway, God said he would cast them out of his presence and forget about them. When Jonah was swallowed by a fish, he said he had been banished from God’s sight.

Things can also be hidden from God even if he would like to be able to see them. When God was looking for Adam and Eve, they hid behind trees, and God didn’t know where they were.

Apparently God can’t see inside houses, so he had to have the Israelites put a sign on the outside so he could tell who was in there. Otherwise he might have thought they were Egyptians and accidentally killed them.

Job said after he was dead and buried, God would search for him, but wouldn’t be able to find him. Eliphaz thought Job was wrong to think people could be hidden from God. But God confirmed that what Job said about him was true, and what Eliphaz said about him was not. The sons of Korah agree with Job that people in the grave are cut off from God, and he doesn’t even remember them.

Isaiah thinks hiding in your room is a good way to stay safe when God gets angry. And God has to use lamps to search for people, so apparently darkness can hide things from God.

Jesus, who the Bible says is God, couldn’t figure out who had touched him to heal herself, until she told him. Apparently you can hide from God just by being in a crowd.

Paul says some people’s sins come before God before those people themselves arrive to be judged, but other people’s sins “trail behind them“. So it sounds like it might take a while before God will be able to see what the person in front of him has done.

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The Story of the Rejection of Saul
Not Evil Enough to Please God

King Saul attacked his enemies, the Philistines, but the Israelite army was outnumbered and had almost no weapons, so they ran and hid. Saul tried making a burnt offering so God would help him. But then Samuel told him that was a foolish thing to do, and now God had rejected Saul and would have to find a new king for his people.

Later, Samuel told King Saul that God wanted him to break God’s law and kill all the people and animals in the city of Amalek for the sins of their ancestors. So Saul ambushed the city and killed all the people except the king of the Amalekites,1 and all the animals except the best ones, which his men were planning to sacrifice to God later. Then God realized that he had made a bad decision when he made Saul king. Because Saul had failed to kill everyone and everything immediately,2 God rejected Saul as king of his people. Again.

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Not Evil Enough to Please God
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Did everyone descend from Eve?

The Bible says Eve “would become the mother of all the living“. I take that to mean that everyone who has ever lived, or ever will live, is a descendant of Eve.

But the Bible also says there was a guy named Melchizedek who had no ancestors at all. He was “without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life”. If that’s true, he certainly didn’t descend from Eve. He didn’t descend from anybody!

Oh, and there’s also Adam. He didn’t descend from Eve either.

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The Bible repeats itself too much—Part 4: Recounting what already happened

This is the fourth in a series of posts about unnecessary repetition in the Bible. Last time, I wrote about how often it redundantly describes events that are going to happen before describing them as they happen. As if that wasn’t enough, the Bible also has to redundantly describe the same things it already described happening, after they happen.

The Bible says Job was blameless and upright, and he feared God and shunned evil. Then it says God told Satan that Job was blameless and upright, and that he feared God and shunned evil. When God spoke to Job, he asked who was obscuring his plans without knowledge. He said he would question Job, and Job would answer him. Later, he said it again. Job never did answer any of God’s questions, but he did inform God that God had asked who was obscuring his plans without knowledge, and that he had said he would question Job, and that Job would answer him.

Abraham sent a servant to find a cousin for his son Isaac to marry. The Bible tells all about how the servant managed to find one, and then it tells what he said when he told the girl’s brother all about how he managed to find her. Later, it says Isaac told his son Jacob to marry one of his cousins from Paddan Aram, rather than marrying a Canaanite, and it says Jacob went to Paddan Aram. Then it says Isaac’s other son Esau learned that Isaac had told Jacob to marry one of his cousins from Paddan Aram, rather than marrying a Canaanite, and that Jacob had gone to Paddan Aram.

Jacob had a dream where he saw that all the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled, or spotted, and then an angel pointed out to him that all the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled, or spotted. Later on, when most of Jacob’s sons were grazing his flocks near Shechem, he told his son Joseph that his brothers were grazing the flocks near Shechem.

The Bible describes two similar weird dreams that a Pharaoh had, and then it has him describe those dreams to Joseph. It tells all about Joseph’s brothers’ dilemma when he made them think their father would have to give up his favorite remaining son, and then it has them tell Joseph about it. Then it says Joseph told his brothers that God had put him in charge of Egypt, and to tell their father that he said God had put him in charge of Egypt.

The story of the exodus is told in the book of Exodus, and then recounted in Nehemiah. In Exodus, God gives Moses the Ten Commandments, and the people tell him not to have God talk to them directly. Then in Deuteronomy, Moses’s retelling of those events is longer than when the story was told in the first place.

Same when Moses retells the golden calf story. And when he recounts the time they killed all the Amorites because God had made their king “stubborn”. And the time they killed all the men, women, and children in Bashan. He retells the story of the twelve explorers, too. The Bible tells what God told Moses about the men he chose to work on the tabernacle, and then it tells it again when Moses is reporting that to the people.

It says God refused to let Balaam go with Balak’s officials, and then Balaam told Balak’s officials that God had refused to let him go with them, and then Balak’s officials told Balak that Balaam had refused to go with them. Moses told the people that they had told him not to let God talk to them, and he said God had heard them when they talked to Moses, and he said God told him that he had heard what they had said to Moses. It says five kings hid in a cave at Makkedah, and then Joshua was told that the five kings were hiding in the cave at Makkedah.

Continue reading The Bible repeats itself too much—Part 4: Recounting what already happened
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Did all the water in Egypt turn into blood?

God told Moses to tell Aaron to bring a plague on the waters of Egypt, turning all the water into blood. God said blood would be everywhere in Egypt. All the natural bodies of water would be full of blood, and any containers people had been keeping water in would also be full of blood. The Bible says Moses and Aaron did just what God had said, and all the water was changed into blood, and blood was everywhere in Egypt.

After that happened, it says the Nile smelled so bad that the Egyptians couldn’t drink its water. What water? Why would it say that if there wasn’t any water anymore? It sounds like the river was just full of stinky water, not blood.

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Age discrimination in the Bible

Here’s what the Bible has to say about how people should be treated (or how they were treated) based on their age.

God told his people to consecrate every firstborn male to him, whether they were humans or animals, and they would belong to him. I can’t tell if that’s a good thing or a bad thing for the firstborn. It could mean they’re declared sacred, and therefore entitled to respect. It could also mean they have to be dedicated to the service of God, which sounds a lot like forced labor.

It could even mean that God wants his people to make sacrifices of their firstborn sons. God says to do the same thing with your firstborn sons that you would do with firstborn animals, which are to be killed when they’re given to God. But it also says some animals and sons can be redeemed, and don’t have to be killed.

Whatever it means, God apparently decided the Levites would replace the firstborn males in that role. So it doesn’t even really matter what would have happened to the firstborn. Or does it? A thousand years later, the Jews still thought they needed to bring the firstborn of their sons and livestock to the house of God…

There’s a passage where God tells exactly how much he thinks different kinds of people are worth. For instance, he thinks males are always worth more than females of the same age. As for age differences in value, God says 20-60-year-olds are worth the most. People between five and twenty are less valuable, and people over 60 are worth less than that. Children one month to five years old are valued even less. And babies under a month old aren’t even worth mentioning.

God assigned duties at the tent of meeting to male Levites who were 25 or older. But he didn’t allow them to work anymore after they reached 50.

The psalmist who wrote the longest chapter in the Bible claimed to have more understanding than the elders.

God mentioned that when Babylon attacked his people, they showed no mercy even to the aged. I can’t tell if he approves of that, though. That chapter is generally disapproving of Babylon, but punishing his people is exactly what God wanted Babylon to do…

Paul says you shouldn’t be harsh when you tell older men what to do.

Against younger people

The law of Moses demands that people show respect for the elderly and stand up in their presence. Paul also said younger people need to submit to their elders.

Elihu was afraid to speak up at first, thinking it was best to listen to older and wiser people. But after Job and his three friends had been arguing for 29 chapters and had gotten nowhere, Elihu decided he could be at least as wise as them. So he gave his own six-chapter-long speech, but everyone completely ignored him.

When God had Moses count the Levites, he specifically had him exclude anyone less than a month old.

God’s law says a man has to give his firstborn son twice the inheritance a younger son would get, whether he wants to or not.

The law says it’s okay to take young birds out of a nest, but it’s not okay to take the mother.

Saul didn’t think David would be able to fight Goliath, because David was “only a young man“.1 Goliath didn’t think much of him either.

Solomon thought beating your children with a rod was a loving thing to do, and would make them wiser. He thought not beating children was a disgrace, and the only possible reason anyone would refuse to do it was that they hated their children. Proverbs insists that if you beat children, they definitely won’t die.

King Rehoboam consulted both old and young people to help him decide whether he should give the people what they were asking for. The Bible says he ended up following the advice of the young people, and he lost most of his kingdom as a result.

Hezekiah had his people donate heaps of food “to the Lord”, which actually all went to the priests and Levites. Even though the priests and Levites had more than they needed, they didn’t distribute food among themselves to anyone below a certain minimum age.

Isaiah thought children weren’t good at counting. Paul said underage people are no different from slaves. When “Matthew” estimates how many people Jesus fed, he says how many men there were, and only mentions as an afterthought that there were also women and children. Jesus thought people didn’t have enough respect for children. But even he equated being the youngest with not being so great.

Paul told his followers not to care for any widows who were under 60.

Against older people

Joseph thought his firstborn son should be blessed the most. But his father Jacob insisted on giving the better blessing to Joseph’s younger son. Similarly, Hosah the Merarite treated one of his own younger sons as if he was the firstborn.

To convince Pharaoh to let his people go, God killed every firstborn in Egypt.

There’s an oddly specific biblical law that says you can’t cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. There’s no rule against cooking an older goat in its mother’s milk,2 but don’t do it to a young goat!

When Moses told the Israelites to attack nations that weren’t even anywhere near the land they were trying to take over, he said they should offer to enslave everyone in those nations. If a nation refused this “offer of peace”, then the Israelites would kill all the men, and only enslave all the women and children.

Boaz was surprised that Ruth showed interest in a man as old as him. He expected young women like her to run after the younger men.

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Should fruit trees be destroyed?

No.

Moses told his people that when they attacked a city, they shouldn’t cut down the city’s trees. Or at least not the fruit trees. That would be silly; the trees aren’t your enemies. Trees are useful, and fruit trees in particular are most useful when they haven’t been cut down.

God punished Jeremiah’s enemies when they called him a fruit tree and plotted to cut him off and destroy him.

Jesus told a parable where he seemed to approve of a man deciding not to cut down a fig tree even though it hadn’t produced any fruit for three years. (That man Jesus approved of was open to cutting the tree down if it was still unproductive after another year of special care, though…)

Yes.

The prophet Elisha encouraged the king of Israel and his allies, telling them that with God’s help, they would successfully overthrow their Moabite enemies. He said they would stop up all the Moabites’ springs, ruin all their good fields, and cut down all their good trees. Apparently God thinks spitefully cutting down the enemy’s trees is a good thing now.

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The Story of Jonathan and the Cursed Honey
Saul Tries to Starve His Own Army

During a war with the Philistines, King Saul’s son Jonathan ate some honey that he found on the ground. But then someone informed him that his father had said anyone who ate anything that day would be cursed. Jonathan thought that was dumb. By depriving them of food, Saul was making his army too weak to fight the Philistines. So Jonathan sneaked away and started killing Philistines himself. Then God made the Philistines panic and attack each other so the Israelites wouldn’t have to.

Continue reading The Story of Jonathan and the Cursed Honey
Saul Tries to Starve His Own Army
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Was Hezekiah successful in everything?

The Bible says Hezekiah king of Judah was successful in everything he undertook, because God was with him. The next thing it mentions is that he rebelled against the king of Assyria. How do you suppose that went for him? The kingdom of Israel had been completely conquered by Assyria at that time. But Hezekiah of Judah must have had nothing but success, right?

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God punishes the wrong people

Way too often, the God of the Bible punishes people not for what they’ve done, but for what other people have done.

God accuses Nazirites of “sinning” just because they happened to be nearby when someone else died. Unless all Nazirites are like Samson, that probably wasn’t the Nazirite’s fault.

God told Aaron that if other people got too close to God’s stuff, God would kill Aaron along with them. Likewise, Moses said repeatedly that God got angry at him because of what the people did.

God’s law says if you find a person who has been killed, and you don’t know who did it, you can just blame it on a cow. Break the cow’s neck, and God’s bizarre sense of justice will be satisfied.

One time, God thought the Israelites deserved to die… but since he was biased in their favor, he decided to punish a bunch of other nations instead. God makes people drink from the cup of his wrath whether they deserve it or not.

God said because the king of Judah had broken a promise, the troops of Judah would be killed.

The book of Obadiah is all about what God’s planning to do to Edom. He says he’s going to turn everyone against that country and completely devastate them, and there will be no survivors. Why? It’s because of violence against Israel, but apparently the Edomites aren’t the ones who actually committed that violence. They just stood aloof while other nations invaded Israel. But God thought Edom was “like one of them”, and that was enough to make him want to kill all the Edomites.

Jesus (who the Bible says is God) found a man possessed by a legion of demons, which were tormenting the man. When Jesus confronted the demons, they expected to be tortured, or at least banished from the area. But Jesus didn’t end up punishing the demons at all. Instead, he let them do just what they wanted, which was to possess someone’s herd of 2000 pigs and make them drown themselves. So the innocent pigs died, and the innocent owner of the pigs lost his livestock. The demons, meanwhile, remained on the loose, let off the hook and free to continue causing trouble.

The Bible says God made an innocent man suffer and die for everyone else’s sins.

God had an angel kill Herod Agrippa because his subjects thought he was a god. Herod himself never said he was a god. God just killed him immediately after some other people said he sounded like a god. He didn’t even give Herod a chance to say what he thought about it.

Continue reading God punishes the wrong people
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