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Heroes & Villains of the BibleReal Stories Actual Bible Text
By Tama Fortner
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2011 Tommy Nelson, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGOD, THE CREATOR
All good things begin with God, the greatest hero of all. And just as he created the world and every good thing in it, God created you and every good thing in you.
from GENESIS 1:1–2:2
In the beginning God created the sky and the earth. 2 The earth was empty and had no form. Darkness covered the ocean, and God's Spirit was moving over the water.
3 Then God said, "Let there be light!" And there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good. So he divided the light from the darkness. 5 God named the light "day" and the darkness "night." Evening passed, and morning came. This was the first day.
6 Then God said, "Let there be something to divide the water in two!" 7 So God made the air to divide the water in two. Some of the water was above the air, and some of the water was below it. 8 God named the air "sky." Evening passed, and morning came. This was the second day.
9 Then God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered together so the dry land will appear." And it happened. 10 God named the dry land "earth." He named the water that was gathered together "seas." God saw that this was good.
11 Then God said, "Let the earth produce plants. Some plants will make grain for seeds. Others will make fruit with seeds in it. Every seed will produce more of its own kind of plant." And it happened. 12 The earth produced plants. Some plants had grain for seeds. The trees made fruit with seeds in it. Each seed grew its own kind of plant. God saw that all this was good. 13 Evening passed, and morning came. This was the third day.
14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the sky to separate day from night. These lights will be used for signs, seasons, days and years. 15 They will be in the sky to give light to the earth." And it happened.
16 So God made the two large lights. He made the brighter light to rule the day. He made the smaller light to rule the night. He also made the stars. 17 God put all these in the sky to shine on the earth. 18 They are to rule over the day and over the night. He put them there to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that all these things were good. 19 Evening passed, and morning came. This was the fourth day.
20 Then God said, "Let the water be filled with living things. And let birds fly in the air above the earth."
21 So God created the large sea animals. He created every living thing that moves in the sea. The sea is filled with these living things. Each one produces more of its own kind. God also made every bird that flies. And each bird produces more of its own kind. God saw that this was good. 22 God blessed them and said, "Have many young ones and grow in number. Fill the water of the seas, and let the birds grow in number on the earth." 23 Evening passed, and morning came. This was the fifth day.
24 Then God said, "Let the earth be filled with animals. And let each produce more of its own kind. Let there be tame animals and small crawling animals and wild animals. And let each produce more of its kind." And it happened.
25 So God made the wild animals, the tame animals and all the small crawling animals to produce more of their own kind. God saw that this was good.
26 Then God said, "Let us make human beings in our image and likeness. And let them rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky. Let them rule over the tame animals, over all the earth and over all the small crawling animals on the earth."
27 So God created human beings in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female. 28 God blessed them and said, "Have many children and grow in number. Fill the earth and be its master. Rule over the fish in the sea and over the birds in the sky. Rule over every living thing that moves on the earth." ...
31 God looked at everything he had made, and it was very good. Evening passed, and morning came. This was the sixth day.
2 1 So the sky, the earth and all that filled them were finished. 2 By the seventh day God finished the work he had been doing. So on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
God created the sun, moon, and stars, and he created you. He created your heart and your spirit, and he filled you with special talents.
Just as God gave the sun, moon, and stars their own special jobs to do in his creation, he has a job for you to do in his kingdom. Each person's job is a little different, but they all have this one thing—the most important thing of all—in common: love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
LOVING GOD ... IT'S JUST WHAT HEROES DO.
SATAN, THE LIAR
There has never been a villain more villainous than Satan himself. From the very beginning of Creation, Satan has tempted God's people to do wrong.
from GENESIS 2:8–3:24
Then the Lord God planted a garden in the East, in a place called Eden. He put the man he had formed in that garden. 9 The Lord God caused every beautiful tree and every tree that was good for food to grow out of the ground. In the middle of the garden, God put the tree that gives life. And he put there the tree that gives the knowledge of good and evil....
15 The Lord God put the man in the garden of Eden to care for it and work it. 16 The Lord God commanded him, "You may eat the fruit from any tree in the garden. 17 But you must not eat the fruit from the tree which gives the knowledge of good and evil. If you ever eat fruit from that tree, you will die!" ...
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3 1 Now the snake was the most clever of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day the snake spoke to the woman. He said, "Did God really say that you must not eat fruit from any tree in the garden?"
2 The woman answered the snake, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But God told us, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden. You must not even touch it, or you will die.'"
4 But the snake said to the woman, "You will not die.
5 God knows that if you eat the fruit from that tree, you will learn about good and evil. Then you will be like God!"
6 The woman saw that the tree was beautiful. She saw that its fruit was good to eat and that it would make her wise. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of the fruit to her husband, and he ate it.
7 Then, it was as if the man's and the woman's eyes were opened. They realized they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made something to cover themselves.
8 Then they heard the Lord God walking in the garden. This was during the cool part of the day. And the man and his wife hid from the Lord God among the trees in the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man. The Lord said, "Where are you?"
10 The man answered, "I heard you walking in the garden. I was afraid because I was naked. So I hid."
11 God said to the man, "Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat fruit from that tree? I commanded you not to eat from that tree."
12 The man said, "You gave this woman to me. She gave me fruit from the tree. So I ate it."
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What have you done?"
She answered, "The snake tricked me. So I ate the fruit."
14 The Lord God said to the snake, "Because you did this, a curse will be put on you. You will be cursed more than any tame animal or wild animal. You will crawl on your stomach, and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 I will make you and the woman enemies to each other. Your descendants and her descendants will be enemies. Her child will crush your head. And you will bite his heel."
16 Then God said to the woman, "I will cause you to have much trouble when you are pregnant. And when you give birth to children, you will have great pain. You will greatly desire your husband, but he will rule over you."
17 Then God said to the man, "You listened to what your wife said. And you ate fruit from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from.
"So I will put a curse on the ground. You will have to work very hard for food. In pain you will eat its food all the days of your life. 18 The ground will produce thorns and weeds for you. And you will eat the plants of the field. 19 You will sweat and work hard for your food. Later you will return to the ground. This is because you were taken from the ground. You are dust. And when you die, you will return to the dust."
20 The man named his wife Eve. This is because she is the mother of everyone who ever lived.
21 The Lord God made clothes from animal skins for the man and his wife. And so the Lord dressed them. 22 Then the Lord God said, "Look, the man has become like one of us. He knows good and evil. And now we must keep him from eating some of the fruit from the tree of life. If he does, he will live forever." 23 So the Lord God forced the man out of the garden of Eden. He had to work the ground he was taken from. 24 God forced the man out of the garden. Then God put angels on the east side of the garden. He also put a sword of fire there. It flashed around in every direction. This kept people from getting to the tree of life.
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Satan lies. In the book of John, he is even called the "father of lies" (8:44). One of his favorite lies is to trick people into believing that God doesn't really mean what he says. Satan didn't tell Adam and Eve to sin by disobeying God, but he made them wonder if God really meant what he said—and that led to sin.
You probably won't see a serpent drop out of a tree, telling you to ignore God's rules. Satan uses other tools now. Maybe it's a TV show that makes disobeying your parents look fun, or a song that makes bad words seem okay. Remember, Satan lies. So check with God and his Word first. He'll never steer you wrong, because he is the "God of truth" (Psalm 31:5).
HEROES KNOW THAT GOD NEVER LIES.
CAIN IS CURSED
Cain was the first son of Adam and Eve. As the oldest, Cain should have been a good example to his younger brother Abel. But instead, Cain chose to be the worst possible kind of example.
from GENESIS 4:1–15
Eve ... became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. Eve said, "With the Lord's help, I have given birth to a man." 2 After that, Eve gave birth to Cain's brother Abel. Abel took care of sheep. Cain became a farmer.
3 Later, Cain brought a gift to God. He brought some food from the ground. 4 Abel brought the best parts of his best sheep. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift. 5 But God did not accept Cain and his gift. Cain became very angry and looked unhappy.
6 The Lord asked Cain, "Why are you angry? Why do you look so unhappy? 7 If you do good, I will accept you. But if you do not do good, sin is ready to attack you. Sin wants you. But you must rule over it."
8 Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out into the field." So Cain and Abel went into the field. Then Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
9 Later, the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"
Cain answered, "I don't know. Is it my job to take care of my brother?"
10 Then the Lord said, "What have you done? Your brother's blood is on the ground. That blood is like a voice that tells me what happened. 11 And now you will be cursed in your work with the ground. It is the same ground where your brother's blood fell. Your hands killed him. 12 You will work the ground. But it will not grow good crops for you anymore. You will wander around on the earth."
13 Then Cain said to the Lord, "This punishment is more than I can stand! 14 Look! You have forced me to stop working the ground. And now I must hide from you. I will wander around on the earth. And anyone who meets me can kill me."
15 Then the Lord said to Cain, "No! If anyone kills you, I will punish that person seven times more." Then the Lord put a mark on Cain. It was a warning to anyone who met him not to kill him.
Cain was the first son ever born. But instead of being a good example, he was the worst example. Cain let anger take over his heart. And then he chose to do something that could never be undone.
If you let anger take over your heart, you could end up doing something that can never be undone too. A hurtful word can never be taken back, and some broken things can never be fixed. It's true that everyone gets angry at times, but when you do, follow God's advice in Ephesians 4:31–32: "Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others.... Be kind and loving."
HEROES KNOW THEY CAN BE GOOD EXAMPLES ... EVEN WHEN THEY ARE ANGRY.
Noah Walks with God
The earth was now filled with people, but the hearts of those people were filled with evil. Except one man—Noah—whose heart was filled with God.
from GENESIS 6:9–9:13
Noah was a good man. He was the most innocent man of his time. He walked with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
11 People on earth did what God said was evil. Violence was everywhere. 12 And God saw this evil. All people on the earth did only evil. 13 So God said to Noah, "People have made the earth full of violence. So I will destroy all people from the earth. 14 Build a boat of cypress wood for yourself. Make rooms in it and cover it inside and outside with tar. 15 This is how big I want you to build the boat: 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. 16 Make an opening around the top of the boat. Make it 18 inches high from the edge of the roof down. Put a door in the side of the boat. Make an upper, middle and lower deck in it. 17I will bring a flood of water on the earth. I will destroy all living things that live under the sky. This includes everything that has the breath of life. Everything on the earth will die. 18 But I will make an agreement with you. You, your sons, your wife and your sons' wives will all go into the boat. 19 Also, you must bring into the boat two of every living thing, male and female. Keep them alive with you. 20 There will be two of every kind of bird, animal and crawling thing. They will come to you to be kept alive. 21 Also gather some of every kind of food. Store it on the boat as food for you and the animals."
22 Noah did everything that God commanded him....
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7 6 Noah was 600 years old when the flood came. 7 He and his wife and his sons and their wives went into the boat. They went in to escape the waters of the flood. 8 The clean animals, the unclean animals, the birds and everything that crawls on the ground 9 came to Noah. They went into the boat in groups of two, male and female. This was just as God had commanded Noah. 10 Seven days later the flood started....
11 The flood started on the seventeenth day of the second month of that year. That day the underground springs split open. And the clouds in the sky poured out rain. 12 The rain fell on the earth for 40 days and 40 nights....
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17 As the water rose, it lifted the boat off the ground. 18 The water continued to rise, and the boat floated on the water above the earth. 19 The water rose so much that even the highest mountains under the sky were covered by it. 20 The water continued to rise until it was more than 20 feet above the mountains....
23 So God destroyed from the earth every living thing that was on the land. This was every man, animal, crawling thing and bird of the sky. All that was left was Noah and what was with him in the boat. 24 And the waters continued to cover the earth for 150 days.
8 1 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and tame animals with him in the boat. God made a wind blow over the earth. And the water went down. 2 The underground springs stopped flowing. And the clouds in the sky stopped pouring down rain. 3–4 The water that covered the earth began to go down. After 150 days the water had gone down so much that the boat touched land again. It came to rest on one of the mountains of Ararat. This was on the seventeenth day of the seventh month. 5 The water continued to go down. By the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains could be seen.
Excerpted from Heroes & Villains of the Bible by Tama Fortner Copyright © 2011 by Tommy Nelson, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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