Should we read ancient Bible stories?

Is there any value in reading the ancient Bible stories? The events recorded in the Bible happened thousands of years ago, in an area thousands of miles away, amongst people with a very different culture. Can there possibly be any benefit in reading that?

One of the better known Bible stories is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone. The Bible not only tells us what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, it also tells us why it happened and what we are supposed to learn from it. When we understand what we are supposed to learn from Sodom and Gomorrah, we also have an understanding of what we are supposed to learn from many of the other Bible stories.

Read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah below. Notice the words that tell us about Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed and why they were destroyed.

Gen. 18:20 And the LORD said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.

Gen. 18:21 “I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”

Gen. 19:12 ¶ Then the two men said to Lot, “Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place;

Gen. 19:13 for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it.”

Gen. 19:14 Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city.” But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.

Gen. 19:15 ¶ When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.”

Gen. 19:16 But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the LORD was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city.

Gen. 19:17 When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.”

Gen. 19:18 But Lot said to them, “Oh no, my lords!

Gen. 19:19 “Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die;

Gen. 19:20 now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved.”

Gen. 19:21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken.

Gen. 19:22 “Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar.

Gen. 19:23 ¶ The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar.

Gen. 19:24 Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven,

Gen. 19:25 and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

These verses tell us what happened and why. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because they were sinful. The books of 2 Peter and Jude tell us what we are supposed to learn from this. Notice the word “example” in the following verses. What does this tell us about the benefit of reading these ancient historical accounts?

2Pet. 2:6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;

Jude 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

Sodom and Gomorrah are examples for us to learn from. Anyone who is thinking about living an ungodly life and engaging in gross immorality should heed the example of Sodom and Gomorrah and realize that just as Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, so too we can be destroyed.

There is another verse that takes this specific concept and broadly applies it to many of the stories found in the Bible. Again, notice the word “example”.

1Cor. 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

The ancient Bible stories were written for our instruction. We should read the ancient Bible stories so that we can learn from the examples of the people who lived those stories.


Further Reading

What happens if we ignore God?

Is the Bible true?


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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”