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The Passage Most Folks Get Wrong

Noah took seven pair of some animals on the ark.

Genesis 7:1-10 (ESV)

Then the LORD said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate, and seven pairs of the birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth. For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” And Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him.

Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah. And after seven days the waters of the flood came upon the earth.

Most folks think that Noah took two pairs of each animal on the ark. But for the clean animals, he actually took seven pairs. This is one of the most common misconceptions about the Bible.

We’d expect Noah to take more of the clean animals on the ark. If they’re to be used for food and sacrifice, he’s going to need extras.

We should care about how God and his word are so widely misrepresented and misunderstood. While we don’t always need to correct someone over an error this minor, errors like this can be significant. If someone is critical of the Bible based on a misconception, they should be told the truth.

It’s amazing how often unbelief is coupled with a misunderstanding of God’s word. Any time you hear someone reflecting a misconception about scripture, you have an opportunity to do some useful teaching. If that misconception affects their faith (or lack of it), then it’s important.

But be sensitive. When someone says something wrong about the Bible, that may be the perfect time to correct them – or it may not. You can defer the issue by saying something like, “I should look that up some time,” or, “I think I’ve seen that translated differently.” Avoid confrontation, but if they’re curious about it you have an open door.

Our job is not to win arguments, but to bring light into darkness.

This is one way that smart phones can be a real blessing. Whipping out a printed Bible to look up a verse looks more confrontational than fiddling with your phone (and it’s not easy to have a Bible to whip out anyway). Looking stuff up on a phone has become so common that people often don’t think anything of it. We all have imperfect memories, and nowadays things are easy to check.

In addition to thanking and praising God for modern technology, it’s good to ask Him for an opportunity to discuss His word with someone who needs it.

And be sure to have the app.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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