There are many other questions that arise. The ones we have just brought up have been easy to handle. If you have access to a modern version, none of them will be a problem. But a more serious question arises. Why do there seem to be so few theological statements in the Bible? You can go pages and pages without a statement about God. Why doesn’t the Bible read, “God is love. God never changes. God can be trusted.” If it did, many of us would be willing to believe it. But those are just claims, and the Bible itself warns against accepting mere claims. We need evidence. We need demonstration. Which leads to the next question that often arises.
Why is there so much historical detail in the Bible? So much of it seems of such little importance. But if God’s way of revealing Himself is demonstration, it is involving Himself in human affairs and saying, “Watch the way I handle situations. That’s the way to find out what I’m like.” If we did not have the historical details, we would not be in a position to recreate those original settings and understand why God would thunder one time and speak so softly another time.
Think of Sinai, for example. God comes down to speak to His people on that mountain, and He thunders. There is lightning, and there’s an earthquake. The people are terrified. God says to Moses, “Build a fence around the mountain. Don’t let those people come too close. If anyone comes near the fence he is to be stoned. If anyone breaks through the fence, I’ll burst forth upon him and consume him.” And the people stood there so terrified that they said to Moses, “Don’t let God speak to us, lest we die.” Now we sing, “Nearer, Still Nearer” and “Speak to Me LORD”, but we are not at the foot of Mount Sinai. Was that some other God? Or was that the Son of God, speaking to the people in that manner on Mount Sinai?
Well, we have to recreate the historical setting. How were they behaving at the foot of the mountain? They were grumbling, and complaining, and irreverent. And the only way God could get their attention, and hold it long enough to share some truth about Himself, was to run the risk of terrifying them. Even so forty days later, when the thunders had died away, they were dancing drunk and irreverent around the golden calf. Evidently God had to raise His voice that loud because of the circumstances prevailing at the time.
An illustration of God’s preferred way of persuading us—not with denials, not with claims, but with evidence—is provided by the story of John the Baptist. John risked his life to present his cousin Jesus to the people. And how gracious he had been: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Now John was in prison. Jesus taught that you really ought to visit people in prison; but Jesus never came to see His cousin. And eventually John sent emissaries to Christ. “Are you really the one or not? Should we be looking for another?” That is a sad inquiry. Jesus could have responded to him, “I am indeed the One and I expect you to believe it!” But John might have thought he was the devil masquerading as Christ. Instead, He invited John’s two disciples to spend the day with Him. When the day was over the two men went back to the prison to see John.
“Did He answer my question?”
“But what did you see? What did you hear?”
And in the text it’s recorded:
Jesus gave them this reply. “Go and tell John what you hear and what you see; that blind men are recovering their sight, cripples are walking, lepers being healed, the deaf hearing, the dead being raised to life and the good news is being given to those in need. And happy is the man who never loses his faith in me.” (Matt 11:4-6, Phillips)
And when the men arrived back at the prison and told this to John; John may have remembered passages like Isaiah 35:6 and Isaiah 61:1. And he knew, “He is the One.” Jesus did not answer with a claim, He offered evidence. This is God’s way of revealing Himself, and it is the only dependable way.