Cunningly Devised Fables

Read 2 Peter 1:12-18 …

A question was recently raised about the Old Testament: “Is it absolutely necessary to believe that individuals such as Abraham, Ruth, or David were concrete historic individuals?” It almost sounds reasonable since those individuals are lost to the annals of time. Of the three mentioned, David may have gained ground – historically speaking – by the find of a 9th century B.C. stone that refers to the “king of Israel” and the “king of the House of David.” Many see in this inscription concrete proof that King David was a real person, but what if he wasn’t? What if it’s all myth and fable?

Ruth certainly plays an important part, for she becomes the great-grandmother of David, and therefore also has a place in the linage of Jesus (Matt. 1:5, 6). An interesting fact to be sure, but for the one that doubts if any of these people were historically real, the mention of a name among a list of names hardly constitutes proof that she was a real and historic person. But sadly, what would that say about Matthew as a writer if he purposefully reported a myth as a truth? Or about the real and historic linage of the Messiah?

As far as Abraham is concerned, think of the importance this single individual has in the theological import of the Scriptures. Initially it is Abraham that is given the great promise by God (Gen. 12:1-3). It is upon this promise that an entire ethnic group found its meaning in the world and its claim upon a piece of land. By the time one comes down to the period of Jesus, the Jews place their confidence as a chosen people of God in the singular fact that they were descendants of Abraham (Matt. 3:9; John 8:39). At the home of Zacchaeus, Jesus notes that Zacchaeus is a “son of Abraham” (Luke 19:9).

Abraham was not only important to the Jew, but also to the Christians. As presented by Paul, Abraham’s faith in God “was accounted to him for righteousness” (Gal. 3:6). But even more wonderful is the fact that Christians may also have a faith that accounts to them as righteousness, a faith that the sacrifice of Jesus brings the promise to us (3:14). “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (3:26, 27). Paul finalizes this by saying that if we are Christ’s then we are Abraham’s seed, and therefore heirs – part of a people that are partakers of the promise.

King David is no less important to the theology of those among whom Jesus the Christ appeared. Those Jews were expecting an heir from the Davidic line to restore the kingdom of Israel, as was promised (2 Sam. 7:12-16). The fact that Jesus was the Messiah means He had to come from the linage of King David, a fact that Matthew opens his Gospel with (1:1-17). Paul appeals to this same truth in Antioch of Pisidia, that God had fulfilled this promise by bringing Jesus into the world and testified to this truth by His resurrection (Acts 13:32-35). Everything that was promised to David was fulfilled in Christ: an everlasting ruler of an everlasting kingdom.

One man defines a myth, in “popular parlance,” as “a story with no foundation in fact, a sheer fiction, a falsehood.” If any of those people recorded for us in the OT are nothing but myths, then the entirety of the foundation upon which the Christian religion is built is a complete lie. Don’t miss that fact because there is no other conclusion. Even if one were to accept Jesus and Paul as real historic individuals but reject the characters (and places and events for that matter) of the OT as myths, then any truth taught by Jesus or Paul that appeals to an OT person, place, or event becomes founded in the mind of man, not from the mind of God.

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