June 5, 2020by Reverend Dan on June 5, 2020
“You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.” Genesis 6:19
“Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. “ Genesis 7:2-3
My issue with Noah prompted a reader to share a dilemma he said has driven him crazy for a while. That dilemma is the two seemingly contradictory scriptures above. God gives Noah one order, then just a chapter later changes His mind.
Uh oh. There’s a discrepancy in the Bible. All the nay-sayers have a field day with this one. God, who is perfect, changed His mind, which means He isn’t perfect. Or worse yet, the Bible just isn’t true because the author can’t even keep the story straight.
Pump the breaks, folks. The reality is there is no discrepancy at all. You just have to take a few minutes to put it into context, and you realize right away there’s no discrepancy.
For many years, children have been taught that the animals were loaded two-by-two. Then, when we get older, we find out that only the unclean animals were loaded two-by-two. The clean animals were loaded seven-by-seven. What’s the deal?
It’s easy. The unclean animals were loaded two-by-two to keep the species alive. The clean animals, however, served a purpose beyond the unclean ones. First, we all know that Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. That means Noah worshipped God daily. And part of the worship of that time included blood (animal) sacrifice. So, Noah needed animals to sacrifice as part of his worship.
But that wasn’t the only reason for the increased number. If you read the books immediately following Genesis (Leviticus in particular) you will see that it was forbidden to eat of unclean animals. Therefore, there were only two of each unclean animal taken on the ark, the purpose being procreation to keep the species alive. But the clean animals, in addition to procreating and sacrifice, were also taken on the ark as food for the family to survive on while they were on the ark.
It is so easy to give the Bible a cursory reading and miss the meaning because we take it out of the context of the time and culture in which it was written and see it through the lens of the 21st century. And it is equally easy, if it is your intent, to read the Bible looking for discrepancies to try to invalidate its authority. The question there becomes, “Why”? If you don’t believe in the Bible in the first place, why is it so important to try and convince others you are right? Why even take the energy to bother with something if you think it untrue?
As Christians, we believe that all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Simply realize the context – time and geography and culture and purpose of its writing –and it will help speak to the deeper meaning and as Paul Harvey used to say, give us “the rest of the story”.
“Father, Give us wisdom and discernment to not only read Your Word, but to sit with it and let it become part of us. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.”