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Bible Insights

Adam Was a Vegetarian

Discover When Our Ancestors Starting Eating Meat

Adam was a vegetarian—really, he was. So were Eve and their kids too. In fact, the next several generations likely avoided meat was well. They all had a vegetarian lifestyle.

How do I know this? After creation, God told Adam and Eve that they could eat any plant or fruit tree for food. Meat was not mentioned as an option (Genesis 1:29).

However, less we conclude that we are supposed to be vegetarian, consider God’s follow-up instructions after the great flood. At that time, God gave all animals to Noah, stating that they would also be used for food (Genesis 9:2-3).

One might argue that God’s original plan was for a vegetarian lifestyle. That is an acceptable conclusion, but it needs to be kept in balance with the also acceptable perspective that meat was given to us to be enjoyed. Both are biblically defensible conclusions.

So, be we herbivore or carnivore, we need to get along with each other. That is even more in line with God’s desire for us then what we eat.

Bon Appétit!

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Genesis 9-11 and today’s post is on Genesis 9:2-3.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

It’s Not My Fault: Playing the Blame Game

Blaming Others for Our Mistakes Comes from Our Sin Nature

Jeremiah prophesies judgment against the people in Jerusalem for their idolatry. God has had enough, and he will punish them for turning from him and pursuing other gods. Specifically, many women are burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out their drink offerings to her.

Interestingly, the Queen of Heaven only shows up five times in the Bible, all in the book of Jeremiah, with four occurrences in this chapter alone. From Scripture we know nothing about the Queen of Heaven, except that some people worship her instead of God.

When confronted over their spiritual adultery, the people aren’t convicted of their sin. Instead, they double down and pledge to continue worshipping the Queen of Heaven.

As far as the women taking an active part in this idolatrous worship, they refuse to take responsibility for their actions. It’s not their fault, they insist. They blame their spouses. Since their husbands knew what they were doing and didn’t stop them, it’s the guys’ fault.

Adam and Eve

Does this blaming of others sound familiar?

It first happened back in the Garden of Eden, with the very first sin in the world. Adam and Eve do precisely what God told them not to do. They eat fruit from the one forbidden tree.

When God points out their mistake, Adam blames his wife. “She gave me the fruit,” he says.

Eve follows his example. She blames the serpent. (See Genesis 3:1-19.)

Their example continues throughout history. When caught in wrongdoing, people seek to shift responsibility to someone—or something—else. Though we might attribute this to human nature, it’s more correct to call it sin nature. When our sin is uncovered, we add to it by sinning again when we try to deflect our fault elsewhere.

Even Moses did this.

Variations of the Blame Game

Adam blames his wife for his sin because she gave him the forbidden fruit.

The women in Jeremiah’s time blame their husbands because they knew what their wives were doing.

Today we see more ways to play this blame game.

One version is, “but everyone else is doing it.”

A second form is, “it’s my parent’s fault,” also known as “it’s the way I was raised.”

A final one is “I was born this way.”

We also point an accusatory finger at our environment, circumstances, or socioeconomic conditions.

But when we sin, the only true responsibility falls to us and us alone. We did it, and we are at fault.

When we sin, the only true responsibility falls to us and us alone. We did it, and we are at fault. Click To Tweet

Fortunately, we don’t need to let the weight of our sins break us. Jesus died as the permanent payment for our mistakes. When we follow him and become his disciple, he takes away the penalty of our sin and makes us right with Father God.

Thank you, Jesus, for taking away our sins.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Jeremiah 41-45 and today’s post is on Jeremiah 44:19.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

The Six Major Covenants in the Bible

God’s Promises to Us Reveal His Character

The Bible talks a lot about covenants. In a generic sense a covenant is an agreement or compact. But in the Bible, it takes on an elevated meaning. In Scripture a covenant is a promise from God to his people.

There are two types of covenants. One is conditional. This means that to receive God’s promised blessing, we need to do something first—or avoid doing something. If we don’t do our part, God has no obligation to do his part. If we break our portion of the covenant, the whole thing is void.

The other type of covenant is unconditional. In these covenants, God promises to do something for us and doesn’t require anything in return. For example, his love for us is unconditional. There’s nothing we can do to earn it, and there’s nothing we can do to lose it. It’s always there, unconditionally so.

The word covenant appears in over half of the books in the Bible, showing up over 330 times. Exodus and Deuteronomy lead the Bible with mentions of covenant. In the New Testament, Hebrews talks the most about covenants.

Though scholars differ on the details, there are six major covenants in the Bible. These align with some of the biblical eras we talked about last week.

Some of these six major covenants are conditional and others are unconditional.

1. Covenant with Adam and Eve

We start in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. They may eat anything they want except for fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden, known as the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

If they obey these two instructions, they can live in the Garden of Eden and hang out with God each evening. But when they eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they must leave. God’s covenant with them is conditional, and they fall short.

2. Covenant through Noah

Next, we have Noah and his family. Team Noah builds an arc to escape a flood of destruction. Afterword, God promises to never again destroy people with a flood. This covenant is unconditional.

3. Covenant with Abraham

Moving forward several centuries we come to Abraham. God calls Abraham to go to a new place and into a new relationship. God promises that he will grow Abraham into a great nation. Through him, God will bless all nations.

This is another unconditional covenant. However, as Abraham demonstrates his faithfulness to God, God continues to expand the scope of his promises to Abraham.

4. Covenant through Moses

About 500 years later, Moses comes on the scene. God gives Moses rules of what to do and what not to do. We call this the Law. If people obey God’s Law, he will bless them. If they don’t follow God’s expectations, he will withhold blessings.

This is a conditional covenant, one that the people repeatedly fall short of over the centuries.

5. Covenant with David

Later, we have King David, a man after God’s own heart—despite David having a few major failures in his life. God’s covenant to David is that his descendants will always sit on the throne forever. And for twenty generations this is what happens.

However, the physical rule of David’s line ends. This doesn’t mean God failed in his covenant. It means we looked at it wrong. Jesus, a direct descendent of King David, arises as the ultimate King who will rule forever. This brings us to the sixth major covenant.

6. Covenant through Jesus

In the New Testament we have Jesus. He comes to fulfill the Old Testament, both the law and the covenants. Anyone who believes in Jesus, follows him, and trusts him will receive this ultimate of covenants to end all covenants. The outcome is living with him forever.

Though we might want to call this major covenant a conditional one because we first must receive it, it’s unconditional. This is because once we receive it it’s ours. Today we fall under the new covenant with Jesus.

To receive the promises of this covenant, all we need to do is receive him. It’s that simple.

Yet some people still act as though they fall under Moses’s covenant. They think there’s a bunch of rules they must follow and activities to avoid before they can receive God’s life-changing covenant. Not so. Jesus did away with that.

We claim God’s new covenant when we believe in Jesus and follow him. Click To Tweet

We don’t need to follow Moses’s Old Testament covenant of following a bunch of rules and regulations to earn our salvation. Instead we claim God’s new covenant when we believe in Jesus and follow him.

The Most Important of the Major Covenants

Of the six major covenants in the Bible, the one that comes to us through Jesus is the most important. All we do is receive what he promises to give to us.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What to Do When the Bible Doesn’t Make Sense

Discover How to Grapple with Difficult Passages in Scripture

When we read the Bible, it’s human nature to dwell on the parts we like and skim the parts that confuse us. We camp out at the many passages in the Bible that offer comfort. And we skip the parts that confound us, the passages when the Bible doesn’t make sense.

Though this is our tendency—both yours and mine—this isn’t what we should do when we come across a passage that doesn’t make sense. Our confusion should be a hint for us to slow down and try to understand these perplexing verses.

As an example, consider Mark 16:17-18. The passage lists five miraculous signs given to those who believe. Jesus says these traits will go with those who follow him. They will:

  • Cast out demons
  • Speak in new languages
  • Safely handle snakes
  • Be unharmed by drinking poison
  • Heal the sick

What do we do with this list?

Dismiss It

The theology of some is to dismiss it entirely. They think supernatural power died with the disciples. Because they don’t want to deal with any of the items Mark mentions, they formulate a theology—with little biblical support—to write off the entire list.

Yet the same folks will still pray for sick people. Isn’t that asking for healing?

Justify Ignoring It

This part of the book of Mark contains a note that this passage doesn’t appear in all manuscripts. Therefore, some people use this as a justification to ignore the last twelve verses of Mark, which also includes the great commission, to go into all the world and preach the good news.

But if we ignore the part of this passage that we don’t like because it isn’t in every manuscript, don’t we also have to ignore the part we like? If the Bible doesn’t make sense, we can’t have it both ways, keeping the parts we like and ignoring the rest.

Skip It

As I mentioned, it’s human nature to skim or skip Bible passages that confuse us or don’t nicely fit in to our understanding of God and faith. But when the Bible doesn’t make sense and a passage confronts our theology, we should do just the opposite.

We should slow down and strive to make sense of it.

Seek Holy Spirit Insight When the Bible Doesn’t Make Sense

The Bible often mentions three of these items on this list. It frequently talks about Jesus’s followers healing the sick and casting out demons. It also says we will speak in languages we don’t know.

Even if we don’t regularly see these three elements in our life, we would be foolish to let our experience trump what the Bible teaches.

When it comes to the drinking poison part, the Bible says when we drink poison, that is, if we drink poison. This suggests accidentally ingesting it, in which case we won’t face harm. I’m okay with this. Safety from poison seems reasonable, and I can accept that in faith.

The difficult part for me is the part about safely handling snakes. Indeed a few groups include snake handling as part of their worship experience. That creeps me out. It seems unwise and wrongly putting God to a test (consider Luke 4:12).

Yet the Bible mentions snake handling as one of the five miraculous signs that will accompany those who believe in Jesus. Though I really want to cross out this phrase in my Bible and embrace the other four, I can’t.

The snakes reference seems misplaced.

But the Holy Spirit encourages me to seek other occurrences of snakes in the Bible and then meditate on them. The Bible mentions snakes eleven times, as well as the singular form of snake twenty-five times and the related word serpent twenty-two times (in the NIV).

When a Bible passage doesn’t make sense, we should slow down and seek God to understand it. Click To Tweet

I’m reminded that:

Could this protection from snakes be figurative and not literal?

I don’t know.

I’m still trying to figure out how to best understand this passage about handling snakes. The Holy Spirit is still giving me insight.

What I do know is that just because I don’t understand this verse—yet—that doesn’t mean I should write it off. Instead I’ll continue to consider this passage, under Holy Spirit guidance, until he reveals truth to me. That’s how I read and study Scripture, even when the Bible doesn’t make sense.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Moses Blames the People for His Mistake

Not Taking Responsibility for Our Actions Goes Way Back

We often shake our heads in dismay over people who refuse to admit when they have done something wrong. Instead they want to blame others. They refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes. This is not a new development. Even Moses, who spoke to God face-to-face, had this problem.

Moses blames the people for what he did wrong.

Here’s his story.

Moses’s Failure

After Moses leads God’s people out of Egypt into the desert, they’re thirsty. They clamor for water. God tells Moses to go to a rock and speak to it. Then water will pour out of it for the people to drink.

Moses does go to the rock, and he does speak to it, but he also whacks it with his staff—something God didn’t tell him to do. God sees this as a lack of trust on Moses’s part. Because of Moses’s failure to completely obey God, he won’t let Moses enter the promised land (Numbers 20:2-12).

This seems a bit harsh, but that’s what God determined.

Moses Blames the People

Fast forward about forty years. God’s people are ready to enter the land he promised to give them. Moses has them ready to take the territory. They’re poised to move forward, camping at its border.

Moses then recaps what’s happened over the past four decades. He reminds them about their journey and reiterates some of the laws God gave them.

Then he tells them he won’t be going with them. Instead Joshua will lead them. Joshua will realize what Moses had hoped for, what he worked hard to achieve for forty years.

Moses is bitter over this. But instead of admitting he disobeyed God, that he sinned, he shifts the blame. He blames the people for his failure. He says, “It’s because of you, that God is angry with me” (Deuteronomy 3:26).

Yup, that’s right. Moses blames the people for his mistake.

We can’t truly repent when we blame others for our mistakes. Click To Tweet

Blaming Others

Of course, playing the blame game didn’t start with Moses. It goes way back to the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve committed the first sin by disobeying God, their second sin was trying to shift blame.

Adam blamed Eve instead of admitting his own error, and Eve blamed the serpent instead of assuming responsibility for her role in committing the first sin.

Blaming other people for our actions is a moral shortcoming that is the result of sin. Failing to take responsibility for what we have done and pretend that someone else is at fault is another sin.

Repenting so that we may follow Jesus acknowledges our sin, our mistakes, our failures. To repent is to regret what we have done, to be sorry. But we can’t truly repent when we blame others for our mistakes.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 1-3, and today’s post is on Deuteronomy 3:26.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Women in the Bible: Eve

Eve (along with her husband, Adam), is a well-known biblical figure. I’m surprised she’s only mentioned by name four times in the Bible, twice in Genesis and twice in the New Testament.

I’ve never understood why Eve bears the heaviest criticism for disobeying God. Adam is likewise culpable, and he could have—and should have—put a stop to eating the forbidden fruit. More contemptible is the serpent, who resorted to lies to trip up Eve.

Because of their actions, all three—Adam, Eve, and the serpent—suffer consequences, which they will pass on to future generations.

Looking specifically at Eve, she receives three punishments: pain in childbirth, a desire for her husband, and him ruling over her. The middle phrase doesn’t make much sense, but the NLT renders it differently: “you will desire to control your husband.”

So before Adam and his wife messed up, things must have been the opposite: childbirth was easy, women did not seek to control their husbands, and men did not rule over their wives.

Going forward, women would desire to control their husbands, and husbands would rule their wives. However, in the beginning there was neither controlling nor ruling; there must have been equality, with God intending spouses to live as equals.

Get your copy of Women of the Bible, available in e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Were Adam and Eve Married?

The Bible Never Says that Adam and Eve Married

To consider Adam and Eve had children without the benefit of marriage is disconcerting to many; it assaults our traditional idea of matrimony and having kids.

The Bible, however, does refer to Eve as Adam’s wife and Adam as Eve’s husband. Well isn’t that marriage? Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. Consider Abraham and Sarah. Sarah gave her slave Hagar to Abraham to sleep with him and make a baby.

The Bible then refers to Hagar as Abraham’s wife, even though no marriage took place.

Based on these two stories, it seems the biblical idea of becoming husband and wife is connected to sex, not marriage. After all, as soon as Eve is created, the Bible says man will leave his parents, be united to his wife and they will become one.

I think the idea of becoming one implies permanence, a lifelong sexual commitment. Getting married isn’t mentioned. After this, in the next verse, Eve is called Adam’s wife.

Biblical Marriage

Marriage, by the way, isn’t cited in the biblical timeline for several centuries, some eight generations later (remember people lived for hundreds of years back then). The first occurrence of marriage is with Lamech, the father of Noah.

Some Bible scholars place extra emphasis on the first mention of a word in the Bible, using it to frame our understanding of the word.

This gives us another pause, for the first mention of marriage is in reference to polygamy, as in “Lamech married two women.” This is certainly a perversion of the idea of two people becoming one.

In all this, I’m not suggesting we disregard marriage, and I’m certainly not advocating polygamy.

My suggestions are that our idea of traditional marriage may not be as biblical as we think, that we need to be careful before judging people with differing practices, and that sex does indeed make us one, as in husband and wife.

May we view this oneness as sacred and lifelong.

[Read more in Genesis 2:25, Genesis 3:6, Genesis 16:3, Genesis 2:24, Genesis 4:19.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Three People Who Played the Blame Game

Once, when the Israelites were in the desert and thirsty, God told Moses to speak to a rock and water would pour forth. Instead, out of anger towards the people, Moses hit the rock with his walking stick. Water still gushed out, but God was displeased over Moses’ lack of following directions.

Moses’ punishment was that God would not let him go into the territory he promised to give the nation. After forty years of faithful service, one mistake cost Moses dearly.

Deflecting our faults onto others doesn’t remove the consequences.

Deflecting our faults onto others doesn’t remove the consequences Click To Tweet

When it came time for Israel to take the land—without Moses—Moses blamed the people for God’s anger with him and punishment.

Moses, however, wasn’t the first to play the blame game. Back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve ate fruit from the one tree God told them not to. Adam blamed Eve; Eve blamed the serpent. Even so, they still received punishment for their disobedience: God kicked them out of the garden.

It may be human nature for us to blame others for our mistakes. While doing so may deflect our faults onto others, it doesn’t remove the consequences. Just ask Moses, Adam, and Eve.

[Check out Numbers 20:7-12, Deuteronomy 4:21-22, Deuteronomy 32:48-52, Genesis 3:12-13, Genesis 3:23-24.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Gender Equality in the Bible

Many people criticize the Bible—and those who follow it—for making women subservient to men. This is not a conclusion I reach when I read the Bible  I see the Bible—and those who truly follow it—as elevating the plight of women to the place they were created to be: equal to men.

Consider in Genesis where God says to Eve that Adam will rule over her.

This is not God’s created order or a command; this is an outcome.

Adam and Eve disregard God’s way and decide to do things their way. As a result, they can no longer stay in the idyllic paradise he made for them; they have to leave. Because of their actions, life would be different.

One of the changes is that men would attempt to elevate themselves over women.

This was not God’s intent, but rather the result of human action.

In the beginning—in the first two chapters of the Bible—man and women are implicitly equal. That is how God creates them to be. Then man and women get greedy and want more; they mess up the order God intended.

Their actions change God’s balance and one of the outcomes is gender inequality and strife. It isn’t what God wanted, but it is what human beings got when they did things their way.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Genesis 3-5 and today’s post is on Genesis 3:16.]

Learn more about the amazing women in the Bible.

Get your copy of Women of the Bible, available in e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Where Are You?

In the Song of Songs, the girl reveals something personal. She is self-conscious about the dark tones of her skin (from spending too much time in the sun, she says). She doesn’t want others to stare.

Yet the friends in this story want to do just that. They admire her uniqueness and ask to gaze upon her. This is ironic; the exact thing that makes her uncomfortable, others admire.

More significantly, is that her lover desires to do the same. He says, “Show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” His love for her is revealed through his desire.

While this human love story between a man and a woman is wonderful and inviting, the underlying analogy is of the love story between God and us. By extension, God wants to look at us; he wants to hear our voice!

If this seems strange, know that there is precedent.

You may recall that after Adam and Eve hid from God, that God sought them out, calling “Where are you?”*

I hear the same call to us today.

*Their location was not a mystery to God; he merely wanted them to come to him on their own accord—as he does of us.

Read the passages referenced above.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.