I was wrong, and I can admit it. I hate to admit to being wrong, but I can when it is necessary. While working yesterday on my next book (my first book, Unwitting Crusaders, is now available for purchase at Amazon, should you be so inclined) I was editing and checking some aspects of my Old Testament timeline, when I noticed this verse for the first time:
“And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty” (Genesis 45:11).
It is a familiar story how Joseph’s brothers appeared to him in Egypt in order to procure food and supplies during a famine. Once he had revealed to them who he was, he extended kindness to them that they certainly did not deserve, promising to care for them. Furthermore, he instructed them to return with their father, Jacob, to stay in Egypt (Genesis 45:9-10). Now, the part that was significant to me yesterday was the phrase, “for yet there are five years of famine.”
Up until yesterday I had assumed that Joseph’s brothers had arrived in Egypt very shortly after the famine began. But knowing that Joseph had foretold a seven year famine, this verse indicates that it was about two years in to the famine before they decided to travel to Egypt. Now, you may be wondering what the point is of all of this. After all, it’s just a minor issue.
The point is, I was wrong. The timeline that I put together to organize my survey of the Old Testament was off in some places (thankfully this didn’t affect all the dates!) by two years. It was a small error, but an error nonetheless.
But the bigger point is this: The Bible is—and ought to be—our standard of faith and practice. We get entrenched in our views, in big areas and small, and we too often see ourselves as the final word. If any conflicting evidence is presented, we discount it or try to explain it away. This is especially true of people like me who teach, but, really, we all do it.
My first thought on running across this verse was: ‘I don’t want to go back and change the dates and recalculate my whole timeline. I could just leave it.’ But ultimately, the Bible pointed out where I was in error, and I was obligated to change course. (That is a good course of action for life in general.)
If Evangelical Christians really believe what we profess about the authority of God’s Word, then we must concede that our loyalty is not to our cherished viewpoints and traditions, but to God and His Word. If I believe my actions are okay but the Bible says otherwise, then my actions need to change. If I sincerely think that I’m right in my beliefs and teachings but the Bible says otherwise, then my thinking needs to change. This timeline may sound insignificant, but I have been assembling materials for this book for many years—and these have become deeply held beliefs.
I pray that I (and we) never settle on the authority and finality of my (or our) own thinking, and that I (and we) always remain open to correction from God’s Word when it presents itself.
“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalm 119:18).