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.

Pray Away the Tornado

St. Peter’s Catholic Church of Quincy, IL after the tornado of April 12, 1945. From family archives

One problem with believing the entire Bible is literally true is that you can sometimes come to distasteful and contradictory conclusions. Here are Pat Robertson’s insights into God’s role in the recent deadly tornadoes:

  • God deserves credit for setting up the conditions that allow deadly tornadoes, but he doesn’t deserve blame for sending them.
  • Those killed by tornadoes deserve blame for living where tornadoes happen—i.e. in every state but Alaska—and for not praying enough.
  • A blameless, omnibenevolent God could have stopped the tornadoes, but chose not too because too few people prayed for him to do so.

When true believers face the question of why God allows great suffering (e.g. 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina) the most common explanations are

  1. We can’t understand the mind of God. (In other words, I have no good answer. Let’s talk about something else.)
  2. When someone dies, they’re in a better place. (But what if they would actually prefer to still be alive?)
  3. It is an opportunity to find strength in God. (As if there is no other way to learn this lesson.)
  4. God is punishing us for being sinful. (Let’s not blame God, let’s blame those people that don’t believe what we believe.)

This last explanation, that human suffering is caused by sin, is seen throughout the Bible:

The LORD saw how evil humans had become on the earth, so he said, “I will wipe off the face of the earth these humans that I created. Not only humans, but also domestic animals, crawling animals, and birds.” —Excerpts from Genesis 6:5,7

And a favorite of the fire and brimstone preachers:

For the wages of sin is death. —Romans 6:23

God punishes and kills off sinners in the Bible with incredible regularity—check out the book Drunk with Blood for all the gory details. Since Bible literalists see so many examples of this, it is easy understand why Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell famously fell into the trap of arguing that God allowed the 9/11 terrorist attacks because of the actions of the ACLU, federal courts, abortionists, pagans, feminists, gays, lesbians, People for the American Way, and those who want church/state separation. As unlikely as it sounds to non-evangelicals, God hated the exact same people that Robertson and Falwell hated.

It’s very difficult for a preacher to sermonize that innocent people sometimes suffer and die for no good reason, and it’s much more convenient for them to blame their own political enemies.

However, in a little reported decree from Jesus himself, we find a very different explanation of human tribulation:

What about those 18 people who died when the tower at Siloam fell on them? Do you think that they were more sinful than other people living in Jerusalem? No! I can guarantee that they weren’t. —Luke 13:4-5

So here we have Jesus clearly stating that sometimes bad things happen to good people, and it is not because they were sinners. This passage is underpreached because it offers little solace to people who are grieving. Plus preachers who ignore it can continue to blame the sinners of their choosing.

So the Bible tells us that disasters happen to sinners and that disasters also happen to innocent people, but there’s one more category that’s is rarely heard of in the Bible: those innocent people that God goes out of his way to strike dead. Gather the family around to hear the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished story of Uzzah who steadies the ark of the covenant when his oxen bump into it:

Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him there for his error. And there he died by the ark of God. —Excerpts from 2 Samuel 6:6-7

So instead of encouraging people to pray tornadoes away, how about something a little more practical: to lessen your chances of being hit by a tornado, your best bet is to not be a male resident of a hotel or mobile home, 10-35 years old, in Kansas, Oklahoma, or north Texas from 3-9pm from May to June. Or just move to Alaska.