Waking up to true history
An encounter at a dinosaur park underscores the importance of letting the Bible’s history transform our lives
The opening verses of Psalm 1 state:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in his law he meditates day and night.
The ‘law’ or Torah in Hebrew here refers to the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).
Torah is history
The Torah is mostly history—with a timeframe, genealogies, and chronicled events. First comes the historical account of Creation, the Fall, judgment via the Flood, and the dispersion from Babel. Then we have the history of God’s chosen people, the Israelites, their liberation from slavery in Egypt, and the giving of the Law. Plus there are the covenants and regulations for the nation’s abiding under God, paving the way for the New Covenant brought by Christ—and the history of how the people of Israel tested God’s patience. He in turn tested their endurance and faithfulness.
By meditating on these five books as the Psalmist exhorts us (being soaked in Scripture, well beyond a rushed daily devotional), we are worshipping God and acknowledging what He has done through history. God created just how He said He did; He judged the earth just as He warned He would; His Word should be believed totally, and taken seriously and reverently; He is a just God requiring righteousness; and due to our sin, we are desperately in need of a Saviour.
The Words of the Creator in the Torah—specifically in Genesis 1–11, the seedbed of the Gospel1—are trustworthy. Christians who do not believe them, and do not allow them to penetrate into their inner being, will not be properly rooted and grounded in their faith. Like many church attenders today, I was in that position for years.
Unfortunately, many Christian institutions today actively teach that the events recorded in the first 11 chapters of the ‘Law’ are not real history. Many others just leave it ‘open’, despite the clarity of the biblical text, and its affirmation in the New Testament.2 As a result, Christian students wonder where the truth starts in the Bible—how many pages must be turned before truth begins?
I remember in seminary the theology professor saying, “The Hebrew text in Genesis clearly points to a recent creation and the creation days being ordinary days, but science points to an old earth—so you guys go figure it out.”
This left me with lingering questions. Why would God be so clear about the history in Genesis if ‘science’ disproves it so readily? How could the God who transmitted Scripture through inspired human authorship be a reliable, trustworthy God if the hundreds of people listed by name, along with their children’s names and birth years, lifespans, and years at death do not represent a reliable chain as the text indicates? What other key topics in the Bible can’t be taken at face value?
While I barely knew it at the time, this inner conflict hampered my faith, holding me back with subconscious doubt. It prevented God’s truths becoming deeply rooted in my heart and mind.
I was stuck in this place for most of my early parenting years, so my oldest two children received mixed messages from me about the reliability of God’s Word. When they looked to me for answers about evolution teaching in school, I ‘spoke out of both sides of my mouth’. Questions like, “Dad, what about the dinosaurs?” were answered with, “Well, Christians have differing perspectives on this topic …”, and I would give various views as possibilities.
This wasn’t what they were hearing at school. From 5th grade on, their textbooks and every museum they visited had one consistent line about dinosaurs: millions of years, evolution, and humans not in the picture until millions of years later. There was no room for a once-perfect world that fell. If dinosaurs were fighting and dying of cancer long before Adam, how could his Fall be responsible for the entry of death and disease?
Christian students who receive indecisive answers to such questions are left thinking that the Bible can’t be trusted for answering basic questions about life’s origin and Earth history—it’s just an ancient book only useful today for morality and spiritual guidance—if that.
This results in a weakened faith—sometimes without them even knowing it. They may believe Jesus is real, and have a faith walk of sorts, based on experience and feelings. But their minds never join that walk, and God’s Word is powerless in their lives—because they don’t yet believe that it is historically and factually accurate and reliable. I have been involved in the training of thousands of students, and one sees this all the time.
Complete life transformations can occur as students wake up to the truth and historicity of God’s Word—confirmed by the real-world evidence. Thankfully, my own ‘awakening’ left me with still enough remaining parenting time to set the record straight with all my family before any left home. The reality of Genesis creation became inscribed into their minds and hearts—the trustworthiness of every single word of the Bible.
To help in their grounding, I took them on research trips to places where they could see and touch the evidence of God’s judgment on Earth via Noah’s Flood.
An amazing encounter
On one such trip, my daughter Makaela and I were standing beside an outdoor dinosaur fossil exhibit in Canada. It featured a hadrosaur (‘duck-billed dinosaur’) in situ where it had been found, buried by the Flood waters.
A father and son stood behind us. The boy pressed the button to play the audio recording from the secular museum. It explained how ‘millions and millions of years ago’, this dinosaur tried to swim across a swollen river during a tropical storm and drowned.
After hearing the explanation, Makaela had her ‘wake-up’ moment. She turned to me—with the two strangers standing close by—and delivered an impromptu five-minute monologue about how the secular explanation made no sense whatsoever. We were surrounded by a catastrophic burial stretching at least 20 km (13 miles) where over 32,000 specimens (only 300 of them complete) from 35 species of dinosaurs were somehow buried in mud hundreds of feet thick, along with fish, turtles, marsupials, amphibians, and countless clams.
We walked back to the car, and the man who overheard my daughter’s brief ‘my-eyes-are-now-opened’ speech approached me in the parking lot. Expecting him to confront me about her ‘creationist rant’, I was stunned when the opposite happened. He explained that he grew up as a Christian, but lost his faith while attending college to become a licensed geologist (his current occupation).
His next words blew me away: “Your daughter’s five-minute explanation about the Flood and the dinosaur fossil record made more sense to me than the explanations I received over several years of studying to become a geologist. I am now returning to my faith.” He went on to say how the millions of years, evolution, and the standard explanations for dinosaur ‘graveyards’ like the one we were standing on never really made sense to him.
We live in a fallen world, full of struggles. But Psalm 1 indicates that those who dwell in trust upon the foundational history of God’s Word will be blessed thereby. Makaela and I certainly were that day.