Wild and Impossible Bible Stories

Wild and Impossible Bible Stories - Jonah

I recently received an email from a preacher struggling with his faith. One of his main stumbling blocks is believing what he calls “the wild and impossible Bible stories.” Here are some questions which challenged his faith:
“Can you really believe a guy could live inside a whale for three days?”
“Do you believe that a guy could build a boat, put in two of every species of life on the planet, and sail around for a long time?”
“I can’t believe God stopped the Earth from rotating to allow a battle to continue.”

These are the same challenges that atheists have made against the Bible, but it is unusual to have a preacher raising these questions. So we need to make three points about these Bible stories.

#1) Many times, people make invalid assumptions about Bible stories. An example of that is the flood of Genesis 6-8. The point of the story is clear. Humans rebelled against God, and God caused/allowed a catastrophe to wipe out those who rejected Him. The Bible does not say the waters were level over the Earth and flooded uninhabited places. Questions about where the waters came from or where they went after the flood are a problem only if you assume the waters were level over the entire globe. The flood had natural causes and not miraculous ones.

#2) The occurrence of unusual phenomena does not discredit the Biblical account. For example, one of the “wild and impossible Bible stories” is found in Joshua 10:10-14, which says the Sun and Moon provided light for Joshua and his army to defeat the Amorites. If you assume that the Earth stopped rotating, that would have disastrous consequences for the whole planet. The passage’s context shows that various unusual astronomical things were going on. Verse 11 tells of great stones falling and killing people, perhaps hailstones. This is rare, but it can happen.

God could act to provide sunlight and moonlight to continue for the length of the battle.
The Bible speaks in everyday, non-technical language describing this incident from the viewpoint of Joshua. Perhaps God provided a way to refract or reflect sunlight and moonlight to the battle scene. If only the Sun were involved, there would have been no need to mention the Moon in verse 12. (We have suggested some other possible explanations before.) Verse 14 tells us the event was a most unusual one and identifies it as God using a process.

#3) Is God capable of performing miracles? If you don’t believe He can, then you have to reject the resurrection of Christ. A few stories from the Bible are identified as miracles. The story of Jonah is a miracle of God equivalent to raising Lazarus from the dead. The Bible does not say that a whale swallowed Jonah. Jonah 1:17 tells us, “Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah.” That was a miracle, not a whale, shark, or plesiosaur.

Even if you reject all Biblical miracles, not all Bible stories are miracles. A man killing another man with a stone and a sling is entirely possible and does not require a miracle. Rising from the dead after three days is not possible and has to be a miracle. You can reject it if you choose, but if God is God, He can perform miracles. That makes the resurrection of Christ a matter of faith. God acted miraculously in some biblical accounts, but in other cases, He used natural processes–even unusual ones. The so-called “wild and impossible Bible stories” are not a valid reason to discard the Bible as a collection of fairy tales.