And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. Matt. 11:6
Are you offended by the Word of God? Because it is an offensive book.
There are things that seem vicious or harsh. There are a lot of brutal stories and “hard sayings”.
We read of God’s passion in taking vengeance on the wicked. He was zealous to annihilate them. Sometimes we wonder at some of the rules God gave the Israelites. Because they are hard to understand.
Why is it that the Bible is such an offensive book?
There are many expressions of God’s anger.
Verses upon verses are devoted to detailed descriptions of what God says he’ll do to those who do not obey His laws. Sometimes His ways sound cruel and unrighteous.
“For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell….I will heap mischiefs upon them[the children of Israel]; I will spend mine arrows upon them. They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.”
Not even the tiniest child was safe from his wrath. Can this be a just and merciful God?
There are rules that don’t seem right.
Why was it that if a woman had a son, she was unclean seven days and had to purify herself thirty-three days, but if she had a daughter, she was unclean fourteen days and had to purify herself sixty-six days?
And why was it that a person could beat their slave, just as long as the slave lived a day or two before dying?
How about this verse:
“And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.”
Burnt with fire? Wow. Talk about drastic punishments. Burning people, stoning them. God commanded these things!
There are weird stories and outrageous verses.
A man is on a journey with his concubine. They are lodging in the house of a hospitable man when a bunch of wicked men surround the house and demand that the host deliver up his guest so they can commit abominable acts on him. Instead, the man’s concubine is given to these evil men, they abuse her all night, and in the morning she is fallen down dead on the doorstep. So the man cuts her up into twelve pieces and sends the pieces into all the coasts of Israel.
That story is in the Bible. You can read it in Judges chapter 19.
So why are these sorts of weird, awkward, embarrassing, offensive stories in the word of God?
There is strong language.
The Bible expresses strong ideas. And so it uses strong words. These words are absolutely necessary to the message of the book. Christians have become so lily-livered that they can’t abide certain words, even when used in the proper context. Yes, the Bible uses the word hell. And yes it says damn. And there are places it says ass. And even bastard.
In my opinion, the extreme language that is sometimes used gives the message a lot of power. Consider the well known verse from Philippians 3:
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,”
In the NIV, the word “dung” is changed to “garbage”. If you think about it, that depletes the significance of what Paul is saying. Calling something trash is not nearly the same as calling it feces.
People change the word of God time and again to lighten the message. This is evil and wicked. The Bible is an offensive book. But it has to be!!!
Jesus, God Manifest in the flesh, displayed righteous anger.
Jesus was not the weakling he is made out to be today. Jesus was a man of passion and zeal. He was bold, courageous, and he called people out. He made a lot of enemies. Enough that he ended up being killed.
Jesus told individuals right out that they were damned. That they were children of hell. That they were “like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27.) He called them serpents and vipers. He called Herod “that fox”. When a poor Samaritan woman came to him to ask him to heal her daughter, he called her a dog.
He publicly humiliated the religious leaders time and again, answering their questions with wisdom and craft. Jesus went into the temple with a whip and violently drove out the animals and those who sold them, and the money changers, and pushed over tables. One can imagine the chaos when this man, who in their eyes had no authority, forced them out of the temple where they thought they had a right to be. Admit it…that would not have gone over well in our churches today, either.
People try to ignore this side of Jesus because it makes them uncomfortable. Jesus was offensive. But He had to be!!!
Don’t be offended by a harsh book.
We have by now established that the word of God is an outrageously offensive book, full of “hate speech” and “graphic descriptions of violence”, etc. But now that I’ve convinced you that you could be offended, I want to show you why you shouldn’t be.
The reason is this: the Bible has to be harsh, and here is why. The Bible has to be harsh because sin is harsh. The Bible has to be offensive because sin is offensive. The Bible has to be ugly because sin is ugly.
God didn’t beat around the bush or fluff up the message. He simply told it as it is. How can we learn to hate evil if we are not shown how horrible it is? How can we see our need to be saved if we are not faced with our utter depravity?
The Bible represents perfectly the vile, disgusting nature of mankind; the consequent righteous anger and vehement wrath of Almighty God; and the contrasting mercy he shewed by not casting us away, but redeeming us by the suffering and life’s blood of His only begotten son. It compares how gross and ugly our sins are with a glimpse of the beauty and holiness of the LORD.
So Christian, do not be ashamed. Do not blush at the language and themes of the Bible. Confidently defend the word of God. Because though it may hold truth in the blackest form, it’s filled with hope of the highest beauty.