One of the things that truly lends credibility to the historic nature of the Old Testament is something that is often referred to as "the embarrassment factor". If something would be embarrassing to the main character, or "hero", then it is most likely true. Especially if those people are held in high esteem or leaders, since you would not expect that anyone recording the history of their founders or heroes would record these types of details if they were seeking to hold that person in any sort of reverence.
I like to refer to this as the "who would make this up?" factor. I listened to the first 25 chapters of Genesis today. And it is just crazy how numb the patriarchs were. Now, this isn't really a dig against them, because if someone were to record my history, it would be just as humbling. But it does help to demonstrate the point... if my kids write my biography, and include all the dumb stuff, the stuff you will most likely believe is the stuff that shows me to be truly human, and you would probably take with a grain of salt the stuff that compares me to Billy Graham and the apostle Paul. (sorry... I know, that's just waay over the top)
Anyway, here's just a few examples of what I'm talking about:
Noah gets drunk and lays around naked (Genesis 9:20-25). Think about it... You have just taken 120 YEARS to build a boat because of your tremendous faith in God. The Lord's promise stands, and He destroys the entire population of the earth with a flood that covers even the highest mountain by 20 feet. You, out of the entire human race, have been saved. Noah, what are you going to do? "I think I'll build a vineyard, make some wine, get drunk, and lay in my tent naked." Follow this up by one of his sons making fun of him, and getting cursed by Noah. Hero of the faith? PRECISELY!
The interaction between God, Abraham, and Sarah (Genesis 18:10-15). Sarah is overhearing a conversation between God and Abraham. She is around 90 years old, and Abraham is about 100 years old. God is telling Abraham that Sarah is going to have a child. Sarah's response? A big old barren belly laugh. Then God asks Abraham, "Hey man, why's your wife laughing when I said she's going to have a baby?" Sarah says, "I didn't laugh", and Abraham says "Yes you did, You think He can't hear you?" (my translation) Too funny.
Abraham negotiating with God for the number of righteous people in Sodom (Genesis 18:23-32). God tells Abraham He's going to check out Sodom and Gomorrah and see if it's as bad as everyone's telling Him. Abraham then promptly asks God if He'd save the city if He found 50 good people in it. God says, "sure, if there's 50, I'll save it." At this point, Abraham starts this whacky reverse auction, and whittles God down to 45, 40, 30, 20, and finally 10 people. Why not just ask for 10 in the first place? To repeat myself, "Who would make this up?"
Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:6-8 and 19:30-36). One word - whacked. Lot has angels visit him at his home in Sodom. In the first passage, he tries to ward a crowd off of his visitors by offering them his two virgin daughters. What? How about a servant or two first? How about a little bit of a fight? Nope, just take my daughters. In the second passage, these daughters, whose virginity was protected from the crowd and who were rescued from the destruction with which God pounded Sodom and Gomorrah, decide that the only way they can have kids is to get their dad drunk and sleep with him. Two nights in a row.
And I'm only halfway through Genesis.
Again, I ask... "who would make this up?"