Let there be truth on earth.
And let it begin with thee and me. But may we not underestimate the challenge of letting there be truth on earth. For the past few months a remarkable truth (I believe it's a truth) has been painfully impressed on me: we human beings seem to have an aversion to truth. I'm not talking so much about scientific truth - the nature and behavior of atoms and quarks and the like - but about real truth. You know, the big truths pertaining to origins, life and death, God, the Bible, human relationships, right and wrong and the like. Some strange quirk seems to make us zig when we should zag and zag when we should zig.
Have you noticed how so many people get taken in by snake oil peddlers? All it takes is a charismatic conman to make some dogmatic claims, and people take to it like chickens to hot mash. Now that's bad. But what is worse is that when you present bulletproof proof about the truth of the matter to these victims of error they will resist to the bitter end. So many well-meaning believers fall victim to TV evangelicals who are peddling patent claptrap. They spend endless amounts of money on videos which purport to describe the discovery of Noah's ark. And then when the claims are exposed as utter nonsense the victims, instead of learning to be far more cautious in the future, take the side of the perpetrators and resist the truth.
But you know something. This tendency to embrace fairytales and eschew truth doesn't just apply to the illiterate, uneducated, and simple-minded. It seems to be universal. Take, for instance, the Bible account of the deliverance of the Israelites of Moses' time by their passage through the Red Sea. Scholars - not just your average Bible student - almost to a man have swallowed a big fat bit of nonsense. In spite of the irrefutable evidence to the contrary, even most scholars believe that the body of water being spoken of was a shallow, reedy lake or marsh or the like on the border of Egypt. I mean, let's get real. As if the entire Egyptian army could be destroyed to a man in a swampy mire!? Proponents of this view make one ounce of truth outweigh pounds of the stuff. The tiny truth that they inflate out of all proportion is this: the Hebrew term generally translated as "Red Sea" in English translations is yam suf. Yam is the usual word for "sea" (and certainly not for "swamp"), while suf is a rather more interesting word. In just one passage in Scripture (Ex. 2:3-5) the word is used for reeds or papyrus growing at the edge of the Nile. Scholars make much of this fact:
But "Yam Suf" really means "Sea of Reeds," and that is the more customary English translation today. 1
So based on the truth that suf can mean "reeds, papyrus", scholars insist on a marsh crossing. Completely ignored is the fact that suf is used in Jonah 2:5 for floating seaweed in the middle of the Mediterranean. "Yam Suf" then may really have signified "Sea of [sea]Weeds", which you find in seas and oceans. Completely ignored (by the vast majority) is that suf in a slightly different form ( sof ) is used frequently in Scripture to refer to "coming to an end", as in Ecclesiastes 7:2:
Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end [sof] of all
men; and the living will take it to heart.
"Yam Suf", then, may really have signified something like "consuming sea".
Furthermore, and far more significant than largely irrelevant studies into the possible meaning of suf, is a huge truth: the Bible clearly identifies Yam Suf with what we know of today as the Red Sea. For example:
King Solomon also built a fleet of ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath on the shore of the Red Sea [yam suf], in the land of Edom (1 Kings 9:26).
Don't get me wrong. Most scholars give lip service to the existence of such passages which shoot their Sea of Reeds idea right through the heart, and then say something silly, like,
Although Yam Suf does sometimes refer to the Red Sea, that cannot be the case for the body of water that the Israelites supposedly crossed dry-shod. The Red Sea is a very large, wide body of water. Besides, there are no reeds there.2
Way to go! Can you believe it? First, the term "yam suf" does not sometimes refer to the Red Sea, it always refers to the Red Sea (in almost all cases, in fact, to the Gulf of Aqaba) in every case in which an identification can be made. No reeds there? Yes, exactly; so quit calling it "Sea of Reeds"! A handful of scholars are willing to acknowledge the Sea of Reeds folly:
If there is anything that sophisticated students of the Bible know, it is that yam sûp, although traditionally translated Red Sea, really means Reed Sea, and that it was in fact the Reed Sea that the Israelites crossed on their way out of Egypt. Well, it doesn't and it wasn't and they're wrong! 3
Why does hardly anybody want to embrace the truth? God led the Israelites through the Red Sea by carving a passageway through the water then causing it to collapse on the Egyptian army? Yes, that is the question: why do people resist truth and embrace fables? Why are people far more inclined to believe in the fairytale that life spontaneously popped into existence in a primordial chemical stew and then morphed endlessly into myriad forms over millions of years than in the far more logical notion that life was created by a Supreme Creator? Why does Richard Dawkins say such absurd things as "an eye can evolve at the drop of a hat"? Scripture suggests an answer to this puzzle of puzzles:
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light , because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God [and therefore truth]; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be (Rom. 8:7).
When Jesus returns, not even He will be able to convince the world to embrace truth based on logic. He will have to conquer man's stubborn resistance to truth:
Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One. And in Your majesty ride prosperously because of [in the cause of] truth, humility, and righteousness. Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the King's enemies; the peoples fall under You (Ps. 45:3-5).
The best we can hope for in this dark world is that some light may shine, that truth may prosper somewhere. Hasten the day when Jesus Christ returns and truth triumphs!