Since Rob Bell, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and NT Wright have repeatedly ignored my requests to come to Arkansas and simply explain everything to me in clear language, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands and just read the damn book myself.Honestly, I’m a bit ashamed that I’ve never read the whole thing in the first place, but then again, as you know - I’ve only read 34 books in my entire life, the last of which ruined everything for me and hence, caused all this.
The main reason I’ve never read it all before is simply because there is way too much stuff in there and I wouldn’t know what to do with it all. But this time I am approaching it with a purpose: To get to the bottom of three things:
1. What does it say about heaven?
2. What does it say about hell?
3. What does it say about God’s heart toward people? Not just his people, but all people.
And so - it begins.
I’m starting in Genesis and taking notes regarding the three topics above. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
1:8 - 1st mention of Heaven. Refers to the Earth and the sky.
2:10 - God creates man and immediately puts a temptation in front of him. Why? The first thing God says to Adam is a rule: Don’t eat from this tree - if you do, you’re dead. Why?
3:1 - The serpent. Where did it come from? Why did God make it? It talked? Why was it so “crafty”? Why did God make it to be smarter than the people? Why did it exist at all?!
The story does not slow down until after “the fall of man” - before that it seems like nothing more than a quick backstory. After the fall is where the drama starts.
After they ate from the tree they weren’t supposed to eat from, they got the first punishment ever - which was one that happened in this lifetime - pain in childbirth and cursed ground. God made it harder for them to garden and give birth. That’s it. No mention of heaven or hell.
Other notes - God made two important trees: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. What knowledge was there of evil? Why did God make its knowledge so easily accessible? You’d think he would have put the evil tree at the top of Mount Everest or something, but he puts it right in front of them and points it out to them. And what was the Tree of Life all about? He made it but we never hear much more about it - he says something really weird about it and something about living forever, but he doesn’t finish his sentence. Then he banishes Adam and Eve and (get this:) GUARDS THE TREE OF LIFE WITH AN ANGEL HOLDING A FLAMING SWORD. What?!?
Why does God seem like he is always backing out of things and coming up with oddball solutions to problems he’s made? Why does he need an angel with a flaming sword? Seems like overkill to me.
2nd sin - Cain slew Abel. Punishment? God curses the ground even more. Now its way harder to garden. He also made Cain “a fugitive and wanderer on the Earth”. No mention of heaven or hell (or afterlife). God also strangely promises vengeance on anyone that kills Cain. He doesn’t say what the vengeance would be like, he just promises it. This was the first promise of God’s vengeance.
4:23 - Lamech kills a man in what he says was self-defense. No punishment mentioned.
Adam lived for 930 years. Holy crap.
Chapter 5 - lots of talk about long life and death, no mention of the afterlife.
Chapter 6 - God limits mans life to 120 years (oddly though, men apparently continue to live for hundreds and hundreds of years after this statement).
6:7 - God says he will “blot out” and “destroy” man from the Earth because they are evil. No mention of afterlife.
Noah and his family are spared, everyone else dies. No mention of afterlife.
8:21 - God promises to never again curse the land because of man because mans heart is bent toward evil from youth. God promises to never again kill everything like he did in the Noah story. He promises this several times. Seems like he feels bad about it. Like he is trying to reassure everyone.
Ok. That’s all I’ve got so far.
Nine chapters in. Lots of evil, lots of sin, lots of death, no talk of heaven, hell, or the afterlife.
I have no intention of posting about this everyday, so cool your jets.