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People are always asking trivial questions about things in the Bible. "Where did Cain get his wife?" "What was the population of the world at the time of the Flood?" And so on... Often, we can come up with plausible answers to such questions; at other times, we are left clueless. Nevertheless, in either case, Scripture gives no direct answer to these questions.
There are good reasons for this. First of all, if Scripture did answer all the questions people ask of it, the Bible would be so huge and bulky, that nobody could use it - much less find anything in it! Second, it would distract us from its main purpose of giving us what we need.
Ultimately, we must trust God. We must take the view that what God wants us to know, he will tell us - and this will include everything that is necessary for life and godliness. The rest is not important... or he would have told us.
To illustrate, we could say that probably "zillions" of things occurred during the time between Creation and the Flood. Yet God has summarized everything that we need to know about that period of time in just a few short chapters.
Someone might ask, "If we accept the view that God gives us what we need to know, then what about all those passages which seem almost meaningless to us?"
There are two parts to the answer for this question. First, it is true that some of the things mentioned in the Word seem to have minimal value to us today. Some of the Old Testament genealogies are an example of this. However, we would simply respond that, at the time they were written, they were needed. Today, we live under a different covenant (see Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8:6-13), and we have a different focus.
A second part of this answer has to do with our values. We have a tendency to want what we don't need and need what we don't want. Because of this, some of the things we consider unnecessary (or even offensive) may be desperately needed by us. This is part of the reason that Scripture tells us that we need renewed minds (Romans 12:2). It is because we need to gain a new perspective on what is and what isn't important. We need to learn to focus on what is important to God, rather than consuming all our attention on what is unimportant and ultimately of no value - not to us nor to the people who live around us. When we focus on what God has given us (which is what we need), it will be of benefit for all. What God has given us has value both now and in eternity.
In eternity, if we still want answers to those trivial questions that preoccupy so many people's minds, we will have plenty of opportunities - the length of "forever" - to ask God!
Dennis Hinks © 2004