The Bible’s Long, Proud History of God’s Broken Promises

NoahsworldRadio preacher Bryan Fischer wants us all to relax about the impact of climate change because God promised not to wipe us out ever again!

Who can forget when this all-loving, though at times lethally capricious, God decide it was a great idea to wipe all but eight of us out:

And the Lord said, “I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth.”—Genesis 6:7

But God would never change his mind and destroy us all again, right? We have his word:

Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, then I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures of all kinds. Never again will the waters become a flood and destroy all living things. —Genesis 9:14-15

So Bryan Fischer tells us that rainbows prove that sea levels won’t disastrously rise.

The Bible is full of all sorts of promises. Before we take comfort in God’s rainbow reassurance, let’s see how reliable other Bible promises have proven to be.

In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.”
—Genesis 15:18

Yeah, about that…God now regrets overpromising the land of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq which he technically didn’t own at the time.

I will make Egypt the most desolate country in the world. For 40 years Egypt’s cities will lie in ruins. They will be ruined more than any other city. —Ezekiel 29:12

Never happened. And yes, there are more desolate countries.

God bringeth to nought the designs of the malignant.
—Job 5:12

The Lord will not allow a righteous person to starve.
—Proverbs 10:3

If women go on in faith and love and holy self-control, she will be kept safe at the time of childbirth. —1 Timothy 2:12,15

If there is poison in their drink, it will do them no evil. They will put their hands on those who are ill, and they will get well. —Mark 16:17-18

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
—Matthew 5:5

You may not have noticed, but the meek are still waiting. One day they may get the courage to hire a good lawyer and then we’ll finally hear their demands for this unfulfilled promise.

If two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
—Matthew 18:19

Will anybody out there on earth agree with me that I should have a dune buggy?

There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
—Matthew 16:28

Some olive trees are over 2,000 years old, so Jesus may still have some time. (Tick, tock, Jesus!)

I will not be angry forever. —Jeremiah 3:12

Mine anger, it shall burn forever. —Jeremiah 17:4

One of these promises is sure to come true!

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised.
—Hebrews 11:13

Ouch! Thanks, Bible, for calling us all suckers!

It’s one thing to point out the irresponsible preaching of Bryan Fischer (who by the way is the only Christian who’s Christian enough to call for the stoning of a killer whale).

(This is also the guy who “proved” America is a Christian nation because it sells bacon! You don’t have to be much smarter than a canned ham to comprehend that it only proves that we’re a salted-and-cured-pork-product-loving nation.)

But more importantly, understanding the false promises of the Bible could give people a healthier perspective on a wide range of issues, from childbearing and handling snakes to the power (or not) of prayer and land wars in the Middle East.

Maybe if we got two people together who would agree to ask for peace in the Middle East…it’s just so crazy it might not work!

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

The 500-Year-Old Ceiling That Still Brings Down the House!

Michelangelo’s fresco on the Sistine Chapel ceiling turns 500 years old today! (10/31/2012) The Renaissance artist realized long ago, that the best way to make sure your painting does not get taken off the wall is to make sure your painting IS the wall.

People have praised his upside-down artistic achievement for most of these five centuries—though I believe it was El Greco who saw the ceiling and basically said, “Yeah, I coulda done better.” So instead of addressing the artistic achievement of the ceiling, I thought I’d reveal a few of its most endearing oddities and the corresponding Bible quotes.

This first scene I’ve chosen shows an unflattering angle of God as he creates a fairly un-majestic bush, recalling this Bible verse:

And again the Lord said, “Behold there is a place near me, and thou shalt stand upon the rock. And when my glory shall pass by, I will set thee in a hole of the rock, and protect thee with my right hand, till I pass. And I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see my back parts, but my face thou canst not see.” —Exodus 33:20-23

The next image is one you don’t see often in religious paintings: Noah as an old naked, drunk. Not to say that Michelangelo was plagiarizing himself, but it’s basically the “Creation of Adam” composition but with the Adam/Noah figure too wasted to point back to the finger that’s pointing at him. But hey, it’s a big ceiling; all those little kids touring the Vatican would hardly even notice the passed out 600-year-old man exposing himself, right?

He drank some wine, got drunk, and lay naked inside his tent. —Genesis 9:21

We also have Moses’ cure for those who were dying from being bitten by the fiery serpents that God was sending down to them. All you had to do back in those days was look at the brass serpent Moses put on top of a pole, and you would not die. I don’t know if this cure still works. Next time you’re bitten by a snake, you may want to ask to your doctor if Brass Serpent Beholding is right for you.

And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he was made well. —Numbers 21:9

One of the many prophets that Michelangelo painted was Ezekiel. The Book of Ezekiel has this underpreached treasure:

Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and ye shall know that I am the Lord. —Ezekiel 13:21

as well as this one:

And he said to me, “This is the house of the kitchens wherein the ministers of the house of the Lord shall boil the victims of the people.” —Ezekiel 46:24

 

And finally, this lovely scene of Judith, who, after beheading Holofernes, needed to stash the head somewhere!

And she struck twice upon his neck, and cut off his head, and took off his canopy from the pillars, and rolled away his headless body. And after a while she went out, and delivered the head of Holofernes to her maid, and bade her put it into her wallet. —Judith 13:10-11

So congratulations Michelangelo for having created such a lasting work of art, that still amazes to this day. 500 years is a very long time indeed. How long, you ask? 500 years is exactly the amount of time it took until Noah was finally able to father his three sons.

After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth. —Genesis 5:32

I can only hope my paintings are still around in 500 years, but with medical advances and clean living, I’m quite confident that I will still be around fathering children to populate my space ark.

 Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

The Top 7 Bible-Themed Rides You Won’t Find at the Ark Encounter Amusement Park

Ark Encounter RideJesus expected his followers to have faith strong enough to command a tree to wither and die, and, for no particular reason, to send a mountain into the ocean. To date, no one has accomplished either of these destructive acts of faith.

But when it comes to showing Bunyanesque quantities of faith in the Bible though, it’s hard to beat the folks at Answers in Genesis who are now in the process of creating a life-size Noah’s ark and accompanying theme park.

Controversial to some, due to its proposed $43 million in tax breaks from the state of Kentucky, Ark Encounter may run into even more controversy as they create other Bible-themed rides for the non-ark portion of the park. Currently, their only other major ride in development—the way they plan to attract tourists away from Disneyworld and other parks—is The Ten Plagues of Egypt. You can almost hear the kids fighting in the back seats of cars across America:

“I want to see the plague of boils first!”

“No, I want to see the death of the firstborn first.”

Since this is the second best ride they could find from the Bible, they appear a little desperate for ideas. In order to help them avoid picking an even less appealing ride, I offer my Top 7 Bible-Themed Rides You Won’t Find at the Ark Encounter Amusement Park. If you’re a praying person, you may want to pray that these never get chosen.

1. Porkvalanche!

You loved how God killed off animals in the Great Flood, now see his son take a turn as Jesus makes 2,000 pigs commit mass suicide. Audiences will roar at the demons being hurled into the porcine herd, compelling them to jump off a cliff and drown in the sea. All the fun of a waterside, all the horror of a slaughterhouse!

The evil spirits came out of the man and went into the pigs. The herd of about two thousand pigs rushed down the cliff into the sea and drowned. —Mark 5:13

2. The Undead Jamboree

Even though Acts 26:23 insists that Jesus was the first person to rise from the dead, the Bible has over eight resurrections that predate Jesus’ return to the land of the living, and two that followed.

  • The widow of Zarephath’s son (resurrected by Elijah) —1 Kings 17:17–24
  • The Shunammite’s son (Elisha) —2 Kings 4:32–37
  • The corpse thrown into Elisha’s tomb (Elisha’s bones) —2 Kings 13:21
  • The widow of Nain’s son (Jesus) —Luke 7:11-15
  • Jairus’ daughter (Jesus) —Luke 8:49-56
  • Lazarus (Jesus) —John 11:39–44
  • The post-crucifixion saints of Jerusalem (Spontaneous and simultaneous revivals) —Matthew 27:51-53
  • Dorcas of Joppa (Peter) —Acts 9:36-43
  • Eutychus (Paul) —Acts 20:9–12

Kids would be thrilled to see recreations of their favorite dead Bible heroes being brought back to life, but parents may frown on their children quite likely getting the impression that Jesus was just one in a long line of back-from-the-grave Bible embellishments.

As a quick aside, though most Bible miracles such as talking bushes and snakes have tapered off in modern times, resuscitating people is more prevalent than ever. I saw it happen to my own father. The miracle worker that saved his life when he was down and out with a sudden heart attack is known by three initials: AED. If you are unfamiliar with how to recognize and operate a defibrillator, please watch this video. There are plenty of people walking around today who are eternally grateful to people who learned how to operate these simple and amazing machines.

3. Everybody Must Get Stoned

Imagine “It’s a Small World” but with better music and innumerable depictions of every capital offense described in the Bible. Here are but a few:

  • Cursing your parents —Exodus 21:17
  • Worshipping other gods —Exodus 22:20
  • Gathering sticks on the Sabbath —Numbers 15:32-36
  • Disobeying a priest —Deuteronomy 17:12

The ride could end in two different ways. Riders, now consumed by bloodlust, could exit through the “Stones for Every Occasion” gift shop and purchase rocks at prices way over wholesale, or you could have Jesus come on and spoil the mood by saying, “Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.”

4. Ye Old Testament Sideshow

“See God’s Back Parts (as shown only to Moses), watch the 99-year-old Abraham agree to get circumcised, marvel at Jacob, the Canaanite Casanova: two wives plus two handmaidens plus one septuagenarian = 13 kids and one exhausted Jacob!”

5. Tamar’s Wild Ride

Warning: Riders must keep there eyes in their sockets at all times.

There is never a dull moment as Tamar marries Er. God then kills Er because of an unspecified transgression. By law, Er’s brother Onan must then impregnate Tamar. Onan’s seed is spilled on the ground, so of course, God kills Onan. Onan’s brother is next in line to marry Tamar, but when that is delayed, Tamar is so desperate to get pregnant, she dresses as a prostitute and tricks her father-in-law into fathering her children. When he discovers she’s pregnant, he demands that she be burned to death, until he realizes he is the father.

So once we get off this ride and shake off our temporary PTSD, what is the moral lesson gained from this biblical soap opera? According to Genesis 38:26, between not giving your son to his widowed sister-in-law on the one hand and prostitution on the other, the thing that gets God murderously enraged is failing to impregnate a sister-in-law. So why is that legal but prostitution is illegal? God’s not going to be happy about that.

6. The All New Testament Sideshow

“Step right up and prove your faith in Jesus today by handling 100% poisonous snakes, drinking 100% poisonous poison, and treading on genuine serpents and scorpions.”

They will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them. —Mark 16:18

It’s not every religion that tells its followers that it’s absolutely fine to drink poison. You have to love the adaptability of Christians today who have decided to play down this test of faith, given how it has proven itself deadly to some of the most faithful believers who ever lived, and died.

A marginally safer route is snake handling, but sadly the County Health Department would shut down this carnival fare fairly quickly.

7. Noah’s Post-diluvian Carcass Roundup

You already had a chance to see all those cute animals that got saved on the ark. Now see what Noah found once the waters receded. You can’t just leave all those drowning victims, human and animal, lying all over the ground. Do you really want to go out for a nice, quiet stroll at night and have to worry about tripping over a waterlogged orangutan carcass? Faced with this massive cleanup effort and very few humans left to help him, Noah’s course of action when he finally hit dry land makes a bit more sense:

He drank some wine, got drunk, and lay naked inside his tent. —Genesis 9:21

The Bible is full of wild, evocative, and sometimes disturbing stories. Setting aside the Great Flood’s death and destruction that often gets swept under the rug, the story of Noah’s Ark has captured believers’ imaginations like no other. For someone like me, who sees biblical literalism as an intellectually untenable position, Noah’s story is a case study in the length believers will go to in order to preserve some highly implausible beliefs.

The list of questions that arise when challenging a literal interpretation of the ark account is long and intriguing. Biblical literalists are often willing to avoid these hard questions or to twist reality into knots in order to avoid admitting a possible mythic, non-literal component to certain elements of the Bible.

It is truly remarkable the absurd lengths that some people are willing to go to in order to defend the most absurd claims in the Bible. Jesus recommended casting a mountain into the sea, but he said nothing about throwing your common sense in as well.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.