Miscellaneous Bible Related Questions & Answers

 

Contents:

Guidance from God

Can I Be Baptized Without Joining a Church

144,000

Ezekiel's Wheels

Pseudo "Jews" of Revelation

Cain and Abel

Adam and Eve―Did They Commit Incest?

God and Warfare

Prayer

The Will of God

Hunting

Does God Punish People on Earth?

Animal Sacrifices

Did Christ and Man Pre-exist Before They Were Born on Earth?

Binding on Earth and in Heaven

Christian President

Cloning

Communion Before Baptism

Female Inheritance

Was There Meaning Behind "Bread and Fish" Given by Jesus to 5000 & to 4000?

Did God Harden Pharaoh's Heart?

Did Jesus Drink Fermented Wine?

 

Guidance from God

Question: I'm at a crossroads in my life. I’m being torn two different directions in deciding on an occupation. Could you show me what the Bible says about God's guidance in our lives and the directions he gives us?

 

Answer: The experience you’re having is common to all those who have a relationship with God. We all want to “do what the Lord wants me to do.” And the Scriptures give us some guidance on this.

 

There are times that God personally selects an individual for a specific work.

 

I felt deeply about my call to ministry when still a boy of 15 or 16. I feared such work, feeling that I was unworthy of such a high calling, that I didn’t have the ability to do the work. So when I entered a Christian college, I enrolled as a music major. I did well in music and even made the dean’s list—a coveted position.

 

But after two years, I felt uneasy, that this wasn’t what God wanted me to do. But I definitely didn’t want to enter the ministry. However, during this time I was truly converted (I was raised in a Christian home and was baptized at age 9) and accepted Jesus as my Savior more than I had every done in my life. (I was raised in a Christian home and was baptized at age nine.) My fiancé also grew in her relationship with Christ. We were married soon after this.

 

Again I felt the call to ministry, but again I turned from it. I enrolled my Junior year as a Physic’s major, but crashed in the first semester—the only D I made in college. So I changed to history, and made strait As.

 

Still feeling the call to ministry, I fled to another Christian college, and continued with my history major. But at the end of the first semester of my Senior year, I could run no longer—the call became too great. I switched to the ministry curriculum and took an extra year to finish. I ran for 3 ½ years (reminds you of Jonah?), but God finally brought me around. And I’ve never been sorry.

 

So much for my experience. The Bible gives several examples of specific calls to ministry: John the Baptist, Elijah, Elisha, Moses, Paul, and many others.

 

But there are examples of specific calls to other professions as well.

 

Exodus 31:2-6:  "See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah,  3. and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—4.   to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze,  5. to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.  6. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. . . .

 

God usually doesn’t call people specifically like he did these people. He has given us the power to choose our life’s work, and most of the time he is pleased with our choices—unless we get into a line of work that is contrary to His law, the 10 commandments.

 

Paul gives instruction on how to know God’s will:

 

Rom 12:1, 2  Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.  2. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

Many people have asked me how to know God’s will. Paul tells us here:

[1] Verse 1-Offer your body as a living sacrifice as a spiritual act of worship;

[2] Verse 2-Do not conform to the pattern of this world;

[3] Verse 2-Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Result, Verse 2: Then you will know what God's will is.

 

Compare also: (2 Cor 10:5 NIV)  "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." So we can also add to the list:

[4] taking "captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

 

James also tells us what we can do:

 

James 1:5, 6  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  6. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, . . .

 

God promises wisdom to all who will believe that He gives it to them.

           

Glen Coon, a noble Christian and a gifted speaker of the mid-20th century, once said, "When you ask for wisdom, believe that you  have received it, and then open your mouth and start talking. God's wisdom will guide you through whatever circumstance you are in." (loosely quoted)

           

The same would be true if the wisdom involved an action, etc. Ask, believe, and then claim the promise by  moving ahead in whatever area the wisdom is needed— "and it will be given to him."

 

Solomon gave counsel on this too:

           

Proverbs 2:1-6  My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,  2. turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,  3. and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,  4. and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,  5. then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.  6. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

 

So, you’ve come to a “Y” in the road of your life and you must make a decision. Your decision now will affect the rest of your life. What should you do?

 

Spend time in Bible study, perhaps reading over these texts in whatever version you have (these are from NIV), and other passages the Lord may bring to your mind. Then pray earnestly that God will give you wisdom to make the right choice. Write down the aspects of each choice. List the pros and cons of each one, believing that God is giving you the wisdom to see them objectively. Continue in prayer as you scan the choices you have.

 

After you have done all this, choose the path that looks best to you, and, by faith, proceed with your decision. If, for some reason, God wants you to do something else, He’ll shut the door in some way to indicate that He desires you to go in a different direction. Then you’ll need to pray again for wisdom to know what is His will for you.

 

God doesn’t direct our lives to the extent that He takes away our freedom of choice. There are many ways that we can serve the Lord: In fact we can serve Him faithfully in whatever work we do. But He has promised to guide us and give us wisdom to go in the right direction.

 

Can I Be Baptized Without Joining a Church

Question: I was wondering if a person can be Baptized without joining a specific church. Can't you just be Baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.?

Answer: My question, when reading yours, is: Why would you want to go through the motions of baptism without joining yourself to Christ? It would be like going through a marriage ceremony without moving in and living with your husband.

Gal 3:26, 27 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

1 Cor 12:12, 13 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body―whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free―and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

When a person is baptized, he dies to self and rises to live a new life in Christ. But Christ is joined to all these other people who have also been baptized, too, and they make up His body, the church.

So when you are baptized, you want nothing more than to be with Christ. And, since Christ is with all these other people who have been baptized into Him too, we want to fellowship with them, and they with us. And this is so important as we live the Christian life, because we can encourage each other to be true to Christ.

Heb 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one anotherand all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Babies in Christ

I don't know if you have any children, but being born of God via the baptism of the water and of the Spirit leaves us as "babies" in Christ. Baptism is merely the beginning, the birth, of a new life in Christ.

Babies are wonderful bundles of joy, but they can be messy too. We have to clean up after them on an almost hourly basis. Slowly, though, as they grow they learn to clean up after themselves until they are old enough . . . and then they start having babies of their own, and cleaning up after them.

Do you get the picture? This same sequence takes place in the Christian life. That's why Jesus and the Apostles used the term "birth" in referring to the beginning of our Christian experience. We are born into Christ. We begin a new life. As we walk with Christ, we are trying to learn how to live the Christian life. And we make mistakes—messes—and someone has to come along (and sometimes clean up after us) and help us learn how to follow the instructions in our "Owner's Manual"—the Bible.

The Church

And that's what the church is for. In 1 Cor. 12, Paul tells us that each member of the body of Christ is given a spiritual gift—a special ability that makes it possible for us to make a positive contribution for Christ, and add new life into the church. Notice some of the gifts:

1 Cor 12:27, 28 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.

When you add to these the gifts that he mentions in Rom. 12 and Eph. 4, there are more than 20 different gifts. And I'm sure Paul didn't list them all.

No one person has all these gifts. These gifts are distributed by the Spirit to various members of the church so that the church may grow and prosper. When I say "grow and prosper," I am not speaking merely of one congregation but of many. As each member of the church uses his/her spiritual gifts, the individual congregation will grow, and eventually start other congregations . . . and so on until every person on Earth has heard about the soon coming of Christ.

Mat 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

And that's the purpose of the church—the body of Christ. When fellow-believers, born into Christ, work together to spread the gospel to others, they are able (because of the presence of Christ's spiritual gifts) to accomplish so much more collectively than they could if they each, individually sought to tell others about Jesus.

Church organization is not bad. Yes, there are times when someone in the church organization does bad things . . . times when people give the church a bad name—give Christ a black eye, as it were. But church organization makes it possible to spread the gospel in ways that would be impossible otherwise.

Take Bibleinfo.com, for instance. Our ministry is run largely by volunteers, but there has to be a full-time staff at the hub of things to keep us all on course. You may not be aware of it, but Bibleinfo.com makes Bible materials available in dozens of different languages on a world basis. This requires organization—to prepare the materials, to "man" the hardware at the center, to answer telephones, to collect the questions of Bible students and pass them on to us volunteers, etc.—to keep it all running so that we can help people to know their Bibles . . . and Jesus . . . better.

And this organization is made up of a large group of people who realize that they are members of Christ's body. As members they want to use their spiritual gifts in a way to spread the gospel to world. And the work of Bibleinfo.com is only one of the ways the organization is doing this. There are dozens of other ministries that work along with us in this great endeavor, using the printed page, radio, TV, satellite links . . . covering the entire globe.

I'm excited to be a part of it all. I wouldn't think of backing out of the body, out of the church. There's so much more I can do for Christ in and through the church than I could ever do if I were disconnected from it.

Christ wants you to be baptized, but He wants you to be baptized into His body—the church. That's how the Apostles worked in the beginning, starting at Pentecost:

Acts 2:47 (KJV) Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

 

144,000

Question: I would like to understand more [about] the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation. a. Who are they? b. Are they living now on earth?

Answer: As are many of the things mentioned in Revelation, the number 144,000 is a symbolic number that refers to certain types of people who will be saved, but not all who are saved will be among that group. I believe that Revelation chapters 7 and 14:1-5 pretty well explain the makeup of this group.

Rev. 7 says that they come from the 12 tribes of Israel and names the tribes—12,000 from each group. But the list of the tribes that John uses is different from any other in the Bible. This is an indication that this is really symbolic and not literal. Verses 9-14 seem to explain the entire scenario.

Rev 7:9-14 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. . . . Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?" I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

It seems at first that John is looking at a different group here, but as we read on we discover that they are a special group. These people came out of "great tribulation." I know that all of us go through difficult times in our Christian experience, but not every person who will be saved will have come through times which could be described as "great tribulation." So these are a special group—the 144,000.

But what more can we learn about them?

Rev 14:1-5 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as first-fruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.

John give us a number of the traits of this group:

1. They have the Father's name written on their foreheads. A name in Bible times described the character of the person. Some people had a change of character and received new names. We see this in the change of name for Abram to Abraham and Jacob to Israel. They had grown in their character and needed new names to describe their new experience. Just so, the 144,000 have become like God in character, so they are represented as having the Father's name on their foreheads.

2. They were redeemed from the Earth. They aren't special in the fact that they aren't human. No. They are human in every way, and were saved by the blood of Jesus Christ—just like everyone else must do if they intend to make Heaven their home.

3. They "did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure." Does this mean that they never married; perhaps they were monks or nuns? Not necessarily. Remember, John wrote much of the book in symbols, so this defiling with women, etc., must also be a symbol too.

In Revelation John uses a woman as a symbol of a church. In Chapter 12 he describes a pure woman—God's church. In chapter 17 he describes an adulterous woman—a church that does not follow God. The adulteries that this women commits are the false, unbiblical doctrines she teaches people.

So the 144,000 didn't defile themselves with false doctrines, but followed instead the pure doctrines that are taught in the Bible.

4. They follow the Lamb—Jesus—wherever He goes—both here on Earth, and in Heaven. You cannot separate them from Jesus. He "purchased" them by giving His life on the cross for them. Who else would they rather follow? Christ is all in all for them.

5. They don't lie—they aren't like those who profess to be Christians but want to do things their own way. They surrender completely to Him and follow Him in everything they think and say and do.

So here are the 144,000. I surely want to be one of that group. Don't you?

 

Ezekiel's Wheels

Question: What is the correlation between the wheels and the cherubs in Ezekiel's dream?

Answer: Ezek 1:15-21 (NIV) As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not turn about as the creatures went. Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around. When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When the creatures moved, they also moved; when the creatures stood still, they also stood still; and when the creatures rose from the ground, the wheels rose along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

This passage belongs to what is known as "apocalyptic" prophecy—messages portrayed via the use of symbols. And although I cannot identify the various creatures that Ezekiel saw in his vision there are a few things I notice:

1. The wheel that belonged to each living creature appears to be on the ground. Since these creatures are obviously on a mission for God, I believe we can draw from this that God has a great interest in what takes place on this planet. In fact, it would appear that the creatures and their wheels are responsible for what takes place on Earth.

2. The figure of a wheel intersecting a wheel shows intricate action on behalf of those who are true to God. (Kind of like gears intermeshing with each other—they seem like chaos to someone who knows nothing about the mechanics of car construction, but they actually work together in harmony to produce a unified effect in pushing the car forward.) Ezekiel seems to be awed by the specter.

3. The eyes pictured on the wheels seem to me to portray intelligence and the ability of the entity represented by the wheels to understand the circumstances in which God's people find themselves.

4. The living creatures were led by the Holy Spirit.

5. The wheels were led by the living creatures, "because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels."

Let me quote from the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, comments on these verses. Perhaps it will help to clarify it even more.

"The prophetic presentation aimed to give courage to the Jews at a moment when much of their country lay in ruins through successive invasions and many of the inhabitants were captives in a foreign land. To these oppressed ones it appeared that God was no longer in control. The plundering of the heathen nations at will was interpreted by many as though God no longer cared. The people failed to see the hand of God in the course of history. They were unaware of the fact that a divine, overruling purpose was at work in the recent developments, as indeed it had been in all ages. The vision was given to show that an overruling Power had to do with the affairs of earthly rulers and that God was still in control. This was the over-all objective of the vision. . . .

"The living creatures represent heavenly beings (see 5T 751). As already noted, it is not necessary to imagine that in the service of God are four-headed, four-winged beings. Inspiration nowhere requires such a conclusion. The forms chosen for this prophetic presentation were doubtless designed to symbolize heavenly messengers in their plentitude of offices, capabilities, and adaptabilities. . . .

"There is no independent action on the part of these creatures. Their movements are in harmony with the directions of the Spirit."

 

Pseudo "Jews" of Revelation

Question: Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 (KJV), speak of people "who say they are Jews" (but are not). Who are these people, and where do they come from?

Answer: The book of Revelation is an apocalyptic book which frequently uses symbols to describe future historical events and spiritual truths. Revelation itself often—in other chapters or verses—interprets the symbols. But sometimes we have to refer to other parts of Scripture for the meaning. In Rom. 2:28, 29; Rom. 9:6, 7; Gal. 3:28, 29; 1 Peter 2:9, we learn that the Christian church in God's eyes has inherited the "chosen people" status of the Jews, and that the church has become spiritual Israel. As it is used here, the term "Jews" no doubt refers to those who claimed to serve God but actually served Satan. So these people claimed to be Christians but in reality they were not. Like the Jews in Christ's day, they were hypocrites.

However, historically, the Jews in the first century often caused Christians trouble by making slanderous accusations about them (see Acts 13:45; Acts 14:2, 19; Acts 17:5, 13; Acts 18:5, 6, 12; Acts 21:27). This situation probably was true in the historical period to which Smyrna applies (approximately AD 100-350--that is another topic by itself). Literal Jews are said to have caused the martyrdom of Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna. During the time of the Roman emperor Tertullian the synagogues of the Jews were often the source of persecution for the Christians.

 

Cain and Abel

Question: Were Cain and Abel twins? If not, what was the age difference, and where
can I find this in the Bible? The story of Cain and Abel is found in Geneses 4.

Answer: No they were not twins:

Gen 4:1,2 Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man." Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.

The word "later" is the key to the answer to your question.

We do not know their difference in age.

We do, however know approximately their age at the time of Abel's death.

Gen 4:25 Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, "God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him."

Gen 5:3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.

It seems that Seth was conceived soon after the death of Abel. Since Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old, then we would be safe to say that Cain and Abel were in excess of 120 when Abel died. The historian Josephus who lived in the last half of the first century A.D. is adamant that they were 129. You can see where he got the idea, but I think he's "seeing" in the text more than is actually there.

 

Adam and Eve—Did They Commit Incest?

Question: Adam and Eve, who were the only people on the planet, had only two boys (Cain and Abel). Then Cain kills Abel with a rock, and that leaves Eve, Adam and Cain. Since we are all off-spring of Eve, this would mean that Eve and her son Cain would have had to committed incest. Is this correct?

Answer: No. There is more to it than that.

According to Genesis 5:1-5, the death of Abel to place about 129 years after the creation. Adam and Eve also had other sons and daughters. In fact, the Jewish historian Josephus—using historical sources that are no longer in existence-says that Adam and Eve had 33 sons and 23 daughters (Josephus, Antiquites of the Jews, 2:3 [footnote]).

When Cain was sent away from home he took his wife—one of his sisters—with him. (The laws that forbid marriage to close relatives were not put into effect until the days of Moses—about 1500 BC.)

As you can see, Adam and Eve had many children who had other children, etc.

 

God and Warfare

Question: Does God take sides in war between nation states?

Answer: A lot depends on who is fighting the war and for what reason. We have abundant evidence in the Old Testament Scriptures that God usually fought on the side of the Israelites—except at times when they had been unfaithful to Him.

Things today are quite different. There is no nation on earth that can be classified as "God's people" in every way. We like to think that the United States is fulfilling that purpose in the world. But even America is rotten to the core with every kind of depravity. It is plain that God has blessed our nation in many ways and has protected us from many kinds of intrinsically dangerous situations. But we cannot really say that we are "God's people" as a nation.

So back to your question: Does God take sides in war between nation states? Although there is no "thus saith the Lord" on this, we have Biblical evidence that can give us clues.

1) Acts 10:35 ". . . in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."

God has faithful people in every nation. If He were to take sides with one nation in a war, it would mean that He would be working against His own people in the other nation.

2) Acts 17:26 God ". . . hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;"

God made every person in every nation on Earth. How could He favor one nation in killing people of another—whom He loves with equal passion? God made everybody. He loves everyone on the planet. Each person is one of His children. He doesn't want anyone to die from warfare or any other crime. How can He favor one nation in a war He doesn't even want to happen?

3) John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Rom 5:6 "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Christ came from Heaven to Earth and died for everyone—even the ungodly. Why would He want any of us to kill people for whom He died?

So, though the Bible doesn't actually answer your question, I believe this Biblical evidence helps us to know how God feels about war. So I don't believe God favors any nation state over another in war.

 

Prayer

Question: What do we have to do in order for God to answer our prayers?

Answer: We do not have to do anything in order for God to love us and hear our prayers. We are His children. He made us. He loves us so much that He died for us on Calvary's cross. Be assured that, whether we feel it or not, God loves us and listens to our prayers.
God answers us in many different ways.

a. If we are trying to get Him to "rubber-stamp" what we already have decided to do, then we can expect for Him to answer us by ignoring our request and giving us instead what we need.

b. However, the apostle John tells us in 1 John 5:14 "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." So when we pray we should ask (and mean with all our hearts) "Thy will be done."

 

The Will of God

Question: How may we know the will of God?

Answer: We have no way to know this, humanly speaking. But the apostle Paul says:

Rom 12:2 "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

As we allow God to renew our minds—with our willingness to let Him have His way in everything we do—then we will know what He wants for us. This knowledge will probably not come all at once, but rather step by step as He leads us in the way He wants us to go.

 

Hunting

Question: My family comes from a long line of hunters of wild game. Hunting has never come before church attendance and all state and federal laws are observed. In fact, game meat has been shared with those who are in need of food to feed their families. At the present time, we are being counseled that hunting is not biblical and should not be engaged in. There are several places in the bible where hunting is mentioned. Since we have never before been approached about hunting being inappropriate and not biblical, I am at a loss as to how to respond. What is the biblical meaning of hunting, and how does it relate to the present day?

Answer: Although I've never been into hunting―I was a city boy―yet I know that millions of people in the US hunt for pleasure and/or for meat, as you say you do. I'm sure this question has arisen in many a hunter's mind and how one deals with it is, of course, a personal decision between him and God.

The Bible gives many examples of hunting―in all cases, to my understanding, involving the need of, or the desire for, food. Here are a few examples:

Esau―at the request of Isaac, one of the Patriarchs--went hunting to bring back "venison" (KJV), Isaac's favorite food.

Gen 25:27, 28 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

When God gave directions to His followers as to which animals were "clean" (fit for food), He mentioned many wild animals which could only be gotten by hunting.

Deu 14:3-5 Do not eat any detestable thing. These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope and the mountain sheep. You may eat any animal that has a split hoof divided in two and that chews the cud.

God gave directions as to what to do with an animal as soon as it was killed in order for its meat to be acceptable as food. In the instructions he mentions the "gazelle" and the "deer," both game animals.

Deu 15:21-23 If an animal has a defect, is lame or blind, or has any serious flaw, you must not sacrifice it to the LORD your God. You are to eat it in your own towns. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean [person] may eat it, as if it were gazelle or deer. But you must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water.

We need to remember that God gave life to the animals just like He gave it to us. The lives of all created beings―including ours―belongs to God.

1 Cor 6:19, Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

We cannot say that animals receive salvation from God like we do, because that's unknown to us. But since their life belongs to God, even though God permits us to kill and eat, we need to take careful thought before we do. (That's why I chose to become a vegetarian. I love animals, so I don't want to eat them.)

As far as I can remember there is no mention in Scripture of hunting as a sport among God's people. That is not to say that it wasn't done, of course.

There are many references in ancient inscriptions about hunting among what Jews would call "Gentiles" (that included all non-Jewish nations). The Assyrian kings were famous for their lion hunting. One king claims to have killed 900 in one day. He undoubtedly was exaggerating or else he had a lot of help.

David spoke of killing a lion and a bear, but this was in self-defense. The same was true of Samson's encounter with a lion.

There is a lot more, I suppose, could be said one way or another. But I think you can get an understanding of the situation here. In the final analysis, you will have to make a decision between yourself and God. When you arrive at such a conclusion and your conscience doesn't condemn you, then move ahead with it.

 

Does God Punish People on Earth

Question: Does God punish people on Earth? How does he handle people who do wrong, or right? Does he reward or punish people now for their behavior?

Answer: There are a number of times in the Old Testament and in the New Testament where it is evident that God condemned and destroyed or caused illness to come to people who either directly disobeyed Him or fought against His prophets or His people. Examples of these: The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:17-19:28); The ten plagues on Egypt and the destruction of their army (Exodus 7:9-14:28); the deaths of Nadab and Abihu for desecrating the tabernacle by bringing unconsecrated fire into it [fire not taken from the altar of burnt offering] (Numbers 3:2-4); and many more.

However, there are far more cases of evil that was just as bad that seemingly went unpunished. It seems that God must have had some specific purpose for the condemnation/executions. Direct judgments from God—when you take into consideration the hundreds of years over which these events occurred—were quite rare in the overall history of the Old Testament.

The only case of condemnation/execution that we have in the New Testament is found in Acts 5:1-11 where Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit for the purpose of monetary gain.

Jesus laid out the issue of condemnation/execution in the broad scheme of things:

John 3:16-18 (NIV) "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."

John 12:44-48 (NIV) "Then Jesus cried out, 'When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day."

From these illustrations and statements of Jesus we can come to some conclusions:

1. God does not condemn/execute or cause disease, etc. unless there is a direct reason for doing so. As we see from the examples in the Old Testament we cannot expect this to happen very often. So I don't think that the injury, sickness, death, etc. in our experience and in those around us are direct judgments of God. All these things are as a consequence of living in a sinful world and suffering that which has been the part of all Gods creatures
throughout history. Jesus spoke directly to this issue:

Luke 13:2-5 (NIV) "Jesus answered, 'Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." [The word perish used here is used in the same way as used in John 3:16. It is the opposite of everlasting life—death in the judgment at the last
day.]

2. Many of the troubles we suffer are the result of acts which we have done. Examples: Smoking may lead to lung cancer, emphysema, or a heart attack; alcoholism may lead to sclerosis of the liver; drinking while driving may lead to a disastrous accident. You could probably add a few more.

3. Many tragedies are the result of accident, war, and/or the actions of others over which we have no control.

We are too quick to blame all of the troubles of life on God. Insurance companies, the media and other entities are too quick to classify disasters as "acts of God." Don't buy into it. God loves us.

2 Pet 3:9 (NIV) "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

God rewards bad people in the judgment that takes place after the millennium.

Rev 20:11-15 (NIV) " Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

But remember: John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." No one need die in the judgment. You can believe in Jesus and let Him keep His commandments through you. Then when the judgment time comes, Jesus will stand in your place—for He has already taken your punishment for you: He died the eternal death that would have fallen upon all of us if we had been left without Him.

 

Animal Sacrifices

Question: Why did God desire animal sacrifices? It seems strange that God would require animals sacrificed to Him.

Answer: It does seem strange to us, doesn't it. And God would never have required it—except that it was absolutely necessary to teach people who lived in ancient times two vital lessons, among others:

1. That sin causes death. The New Testament teaches that too, in Romans 6:23: "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

There was no more vivid way to teach this lesson than for a person who was sorry for sinning to have to take the life of an innocent animal so that he himself could be forgiven for his sin.

2. The death of the innocent animal—that made it possible for the person to be forgiven for his sin—pointed forward to the coming of the Son of God who died as "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) So as the sinner slew the lamb as his substitute for the sin that should have caused his own death, he looked forward to the coming of the Lamb of God who would die so that he, the repentant sinner, could have eternal life.

I suggest you read Isa 52:13-53:12. It explains in detail the relationship between the lamb and the One who would die for our sins. Also Genesis 22—the story of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac—points out in a moving way how the animal (a ram in this case) takes the place of the condemned sinner.

 

Did Christ and Man Pre-exist Before They Were Born on Earth?

Question: Mormons and Scientologists believe that both Christ and man pre-existed before birth on earth. What do you believe?

Answer: It matters little what I believe. The more important question is this: What does the Bible teach?

♦ Christ

There is no doubt the Bible teaches that Christ existed before He was born in Bethlehem, even before the creation of Earth.

Col 1:12-17 (NIV) Giving thanks to the Father, who . . . has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

The Bible says clearly that Christ was the Creator:

John 1:1-14 (NIV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. . . . He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Heb 1:1, 2 (NIV) In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.

♦ Man

There is no Biblical record of the existence of man before Creation. In fact, the Bible is very clear that God created man for the first time on the sixth day of Creation week:

Gen 1:26-2:3 (NIV) Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground―everything that has the breath of life in it―I give every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning―the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

In Gen 2 the Bible explains how God made Man:

Gen 2:7 (NIV) the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Gen 2:21-24 (NIV) So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, ' for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

When God spoke from Mt. Sinai He reiterated the fact that He created the Earth:

Exo 20:8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

God explained that the weekly Sabbath was to remind us that He created the Earth in SIX days and then rested the SEVENTH day. This indicates that if all men had kept the seventh-day Sabbath there would have never been any question about Creation or the beginning of the human race.

Jesus taught that God created the world and pointed out that He was the Lord―ruler, master, owner―of the Sabbath:

Mark 2:27 (NIV) Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

Man came first (Gen 1:26) and the Sabbath came afterward (Gen 2:1-3).

Jesus also quoted from Gen. 2:24 when He discussed with the Pharisees the subject of marriage.

Mat 19:4-6 (NIV) "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

If we are to believe the Bible at all we must take it in its entirety―including the first eleven chapters. All through the Bible the writers placed their faith in Yahweh―I AM―because He is the Creator. Repeatedly the prophets pointed to the God of Heaven and Earth as greater than all the gods of the heathen because He made all things―even the material from which men made their idols!

Do not let what people say pull you away from what the Bible says. We must remember that the theory of evolution, though having roots in the pagan philosophy of Greece, was not fully promoted until Darwin's Origin of the Species―written after his voyage to Galapagos in 1844. We cannot let this modern theory―or any other teaching―which has its beginning in our times put aside our faith in the Creator of all things. It makes no difference how convincing the teachings of scientists and scholars, if it does not agree in principle with what the Bible teaches, it does not come from God and cannot be the basis for the beliefs of Christians.

Yes, there are questions about the relation of the age of the rocks, etc., with the belief that Creation took place within the past 6-8000 years. There will always be questions about God's truth that can be used as hooks upon which to hang our doubts. But if we want to be saved by Jesus and enter into His heavenly kingdom―and I believe that's your goal too―we must insist that "The Bible and the Bible only" is to be the foundation upon which our faith is built. If we do that, then the doubts that surface from time to time won't turn us aside from following our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ . . . forever.

 

Binding on Earth and in Heaven

Question: What does it mean when Jesus said that what is bound or loosed on Earth will be bound or loosed in Heaven?

Answer: Your question refers to the following saying of Jesus:

Mat 16:15-19 . . . "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

This has been interpreted a number of ways through the centuries since Jesus spoke these words. The most common interpretation has been that when we make a binding decision regarding spiritual things, Heaven ratifies it. There are examples of this concept in Scripture, particularly when it involves a direct promise of God, such as in the case of our confessing our sins to Him and asking Him for forgiveness. God has promised to forgive them without reservation. And when we ask, He forgives.

However, this concept has been greatly expanded by some. For example, the Catholic Church claims that the priest has the authority, based on this text, to tell a confessor "I forgive you." When these words are spoken by the priest, it is claimed, God is required to back up the forgiveness granted by the human priest―regardless of what the person has done, or the genuineness of the request, or what the Bible precludes. "I forgive you," spoken by a human priest, is absolute.

Certain Protestant denominations interpret these verses to mean that once a person accepts Jesus as his/her Savior, Jesus is required to save them forever―regardless of what they may do in the future.

We of course want to know what the Bible says. Here are some points about which the Bible is specific:

The Bible says that only God can forgive sins:

Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, "Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

So, for a human being to claim to forgive sins―even a priest or minister―is blasphemy. Of course, Jesus had the authority to forgive the man since Jesus was, and is, God in human flesh. (John 1:1-3, 10, 14)

When we come to Jesus and accept Him as our Savior, He forgives our sins and gives us His grace to keep us from sinning. But after Jesus accepts us as His children we must obey whatever He commands. That would include all that He commanded us in the Bible, including all ten of God's commandments. (God doesn't give a 10% discount!)

¼ John 14:15 If you love me, you will obey what I command.

¼ John 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

¼ Eph 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith―and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God―not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

¼ James 2:17-20 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless (KJV = "dead")?

After we are saved by grace through faith, we are to "do good works," because faith isn't real faith it is not accompanied by works. There are many Bible verses that attest to this important teaching.

Now lets get back to our original text. If the Bible doesn't teach that we have authority to handcuff Heaven by our decisions, then what did Jesus mean?

The original Greek helps us understand this a little better. I researched this some years ago and wrote a brief statement:

"Bind" and "Loose" in Matthew 16:19

The statement in verse 19 "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven," does not render the proper meaning of the Greek. Both bound and loosed in the Greek are perfect passive participles. Commenting on this form in the Greek, Summers says, in Essentials of New Testament Greek, p.103:

"This is the Greek tense of completed action, i.e., it indicates a completed action with a resulting state of being. Involved in the Greek are three ideas: an action in progress, its coming into a point of culmination, its existing as a completed result. Thus it implies a process but looks upon the process as having reached consummation and existing as a completed state. The real nature of the Greek perfect is seen in the passive voice better than in the active. Hence graphta may be translated ‘It has been Written,* but it is better translated 'it is Written,' in which sense it pictures an act in progress, the point of culmination and the existing completed result— 'it is Written and stands Written.*"

Thus verse 19 should be translated, "Whatever thou shalt bind on the earth has been bound and remains bound in the heavens; and whatever thou shalt loose on the earth has been loosed and remains loosed in the heavens." The binding and loosing in heaven took place in the past (perhaps just seconds before) and stands in the present as completed results. Thus in binding and loosing, man does not initiate the action, but only concurs with action that God has already taken in heaven.



Christian President

Question: Could a conscientious Christian be president of the US?

Answer: President George W. Bush claims to be a born-again Christian. I have no way of knowing his spiritual condition of course. But I would hope that a conscientious Christian could carry the responsibility of President without becoming involved in sin.

In Bible times, even though most of the kings of Israel and Judah were poor specimens of God's plan for His children, yet there were several that stand out as God-fearing men who lead their country into a closer relationship with God. Men like: David, who, though committing terrible crimes, repented and lead God's people to greatness; Hezekiah, who brought Judah back from idolatry, opened the Temple which had been closed by his predecessors, and re-established the Passover and other important feasts; Josiah, who lived a couple of generations later, followed Hezekiah's lead and brought Judah back to God.

So I would think that it would be possible to lead a great nation and remain a sincere Christian.

 

Cloning

Question: What does the Bible say about cloning?

Answer: The concept or practice of cloning does not appear in the Bible. And if it did the prophets would have spoken against it.

Here’s why: God created both man and woman and He designed that the world should be populated by them and their descendants.

Gen 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Any attempt to produce a human being that shortcuts this procedure goes against God’s plan.

 

Communion Before Baptism

Question:. Does a person have to be baptized in order to eligible to take communion?

Answer: This question deals with what is known as "open communion"―permitting everyone who wants to participate. but it is especially important in regard to whether or not children can take part.

No, you don't have to be baptized to be eligible to take communion. Let me give you a brief look at the Bible basis for my statement.

Jesus said that "whoever believes in him" would have eternal life.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The communion service teaches us about the meaning of Jesus' life and death so that we can believe more intelligently.

1 Cor 11:23-26 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Jesus wants children (including those who are new in the faith) to have a part in the blessings of worshiping our Savior.

Mat 19:13-15 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

However, it is important that all who take part in the communion service know what they are doing. They must be able to understand that Jesus died to save them and to know what sin is and be willing to repent of their sins. Otherwise the communion has little meaning―in fact, it could be harmful to them.

1 Cor 11: 27, 28 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.

With these concepts in mind, children and others who come to take part in this sacred service should only take communion if:

♦ they know what it means that Jesus died to save them

♦ they know what sin is

♦ they are able to realize that they must repent of their sins and accept Jesus as their Savior

 

Female Inheritance

Question: What does the Bible say about female inheritance?

Answer: There are a few verses that put this subject into perspective, and several stories that helps cement it together.

There is no question that God made male and female with differences in body and mind. Each sex thinks differently and has a different role to play. The mother is queen of the home; the children are her subjects; and the husband is the house-band: He protects and supports the family physically, emotionally and spiritually―and has as his sole purpose: To keep the family together.

But when it comes to salvation, God treats them both alike. Both men and women stand before God in the name of Jesus, and all receive a place in His kingdom.

In the Bible the word "man" is often used like we use the word "mankind," meaning the human race. For example:

Gen 5:2 (NIV) He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man."

In spite of the fact that the human race divided itself into a society where males looked upon females as possessions―having less value than males, this was not God's plan. He permitted it, but it was because of the hardness of their hearts.

Mark 10:4-9 (NIV) They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away." "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

The discussion centered around the practice of divorce. Men had the "power" to write a bill of divorce and send his wife away from her home, family, and children―even if she did no more than "burn his toast." (Quoted from the play "Fidler on the Roof," and confirmed by a rabbi friend.) This was a cruel action, because in those days divorced women were considered of an even lower status than others. Jesus replied that it was because of the hardness of their hearts that God permitted it.

But Jesus made a more important point that we must not overlook: God created both "male and female" and united them into "one flesh." God made no legal distinction between the sexes―Jesus said so!

The Apostle Paul supported Jesus' doctrine by announcing:

Gal 3:28 (NIV) There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

"God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34 KJV)―whether race, color, sex, age . . . whatever distinctions we've made in our disintegrating world―all these make no difference to God because He created them all, and "you are all one in Christ Jesus."

So every promise, every command, every salvational benefit and inheritance in the heavenly kingdom―all these are for the human race, both women and men. Remember this when you read passages that mention men only.

1 Tim 2:3-6 (NIV) This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men―the testimony given in its proper time.

There is an interesting story in the book of Numbers―and repeated in Deuteronomy and Joshua―that shows how God treated five orphaned women in a male-dominated society.

Num 27:1-8 (NIV) The daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, belonged to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. They approached the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly, and said, "Our father died in the desert. He was not among Korah's followers, who banded together against the LORD, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. Why should our father's name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father's relatives." So Moses brought their case before the LORD and the LORD said to him, "What Zelophehad's daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father's relatives and turn their father's inheritance over to them. "Say to the Israelites, 'If a man dies and leaves no son, turn his inheritance over to his daughter.

The story of Deborah the prophetess and Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite makes good reading. But at the same time it makes the point that, just because a person was female, made no difference in the respect she received when she was called of God. As a prophetess, males recognized God's hand upon her and sought her counsel, obeyed her commands and, as in the case of Barak, leaned upon her emotionally for security! And since Barak proved so hesitant, God led the enemy general into the hands of Jael who killed him with a tent stake driven through his temples. A woman commanded the campaign, and a woman sealed the victory! (Read the story in Judges 4 and 5)

There were other prophetesses in Bible times, but few are named. But, when Josiah had the book of the law (probably Deuteronomy) read in his presence, he realized how far Judah had drifted from God's will. He sent several of his chief officers to Huldah the prophetess for counsel. (Read the story in 2 Kings 22)

And through Joel, God promises that He will bless both men and women in the last days:

Joel 2:28, 29 (NIV) 'And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

In the New Testament, we find that Phillip the deacon had four daughters who were prophetesses.

Acts 21:8, 9 (NIV) Leaving the next day, we [Paul, Luke, and others] reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.


So, as we found in the beginning, God makes no difference between the sexes as far as salvation is concerned. Both are saved through Jesus Christ our Lord. And both receive the same inheritance: A place in God's eternal kingdom.

 

Was There Meaning Behind Bread and Fish Given by Jesus to 5000 & 4000?

Question: Jesus, when feeding the multitudes always used "Bread and Fishes." What does the "Bread and Fishes" represent, if anything.

Answer: I believe that the most obvious answer to your question is that Jesus used that which was at hand. In both cases (5000, John 1:1-13; 4000, Matt. 15:32-38) someone in the crowd had a lunch basket with these items in them. That was probably a common lunch for working people in the area around the sea of Galilee, (I'm guessing) because fish were so readily available, and we know that bread was a staple in the diet of peoples of the Middle East.

There's a lesson here, though. Jesus took what He had at hand and put it to use for His Father. And when we want to do a work for God, we too need to begin with what we have at hand and go from there. God will lead us as to how to use these things.

There's a principle in Scripture that deals with our relationship with God: God created everything, so He owns everything; everything that we have has been placed into our hands by our Creator to use for His glory.

Psa 24:1 The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;

Psa 50:9-12 I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.

Eccl 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

I think you get the picture. We are managers—stewards—of all these things. This is called "holistic stewardship." Holistic stewardship includes our managing of money, but this is only one part of our lives. We are managers of our body & health, our family, our talents and spiritual gifts, our time, and everything else that God has put within our hands. (You may read more about this by clicking on "Inscriptions," on the opening page; then click on "A Book and Lessons on Holistic Stewardship")

So start with what you have and use it to the glory of God. And don't forget the last part of the story where Jesus asked His disciples to pick up the pieces. God doesn't want us to waste any of His things. When you're finished with the work you have to do, gather up whatever is useable so that it may be used in future work for God.

Another lesson we can learn here comes from the bread Jesus gave them to eat. Shortly after Jesus fed the 5000 [John 6:1-13] Jesus told them that He was the Bread of Life.

John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

John 6:46-58 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."

Only a few days later, Jesus gathered with His disciples in the upper room.

Mat 26:26-29 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."

So you see, the bread has a great deal of meaning in the plan of Salvation. And we affirm the importance of the Living Bread which came down from Heaven every time we take part in the Lord's Supper service.

As for the fishes, I cannot find a relationship that fits them except the principle (mentioned above) that we should use what we have at hand to bring Glory to God.

Interestingly enough, Jesus ate fish on one of His post-resurrection appearances in the upper room in order to assure them that He was a real, living person, and not a ghost. (Luke 24:36-43) Later He prepared fish for His disciples when they came in from a night of unprofitable fishing on the Sea of Galilee. (John 21:1-13)

 

Did God Harden Pharaoh's Heart?

Question:  In the book of Exodus it mentions that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. What does this mean? Also, it mentions an issue with the Jewish people in Romans 11:7-9 about them not having a chance since God has made them unresponsive. Could you please clarify this with the fact that Scripture says God wants no one to perish.

Answer:  The Bible makes it abundantly clear that each person has a choice to make, and every person who has ever lived has had the freedom to make that choice.

John 3:16-18 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

If we're lost it's because we have "not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."

John 3:35-36 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

Everyone who makes it to God's kingdom has done so because he/she has accepted the invitation:

Rev. 22:17 . . . whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

So how does this relate to Pharaoh?

The account, as it appears in Exodus, tells us two apparently contradictory stories. On the one hand, God said that He would harden Pharaoh's heart; and yet on the other hand it is clear that Pharaoh hardened his own heart.

God hardened Pharaoh's heart:

Exo 7:3-4 But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. . . .

Exo 10:20 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.

Exo 10:27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he was not willing to let them go.

Exo 11:10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.

Exo 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD." So the Israelites did this.

Pharaoh hardened his own heart:

Exo 7:13-14 Yet Pharaoh's heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go.

Exo 7:22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh's heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said.

Exo 8:19 The magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the LORD had said.

I suppose that it could be said that the last three texts are merely describing the condition of Pharaoh's heart after the LORD had hardened it. But we must remember that the Holy Spirit which inspired John to write the verses in John 3 and Rev. 22 is the same Holy Spirit who inspired Moses to write Exodus. A loving God offers a freedom of choice to all His children. So we must accept the fact that, after all, Pharaoh had the freedom to choose to follow God and to deal kindly with Israel.

Now what about Romans 11?

Rom 11:5-11 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day." And David says: "May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever." Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.

Here again we seem to see the idea that God is the One who is at fault for the loss of eternity by these people.

But over and over again we find that God doesn't want any of His children to be lost—and that would include Pharaoh and the rebellious Israelites.

Ezek 33:11 Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'

2 Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

So any interpretation of what happened to the hearts of Pharaoh and the rebellious Israelites has to agree with the truth that, God wants everyone to be saved.

I think the whole matter hinges upon two principles: 1) The freedom of choice of God's children (and the risk of having them make wrong choices); and 2) God knows ahead of time what will happen, and sometimes warns His servants of the outcome so as to prepare them for the work He wants them to do. And, when the prediction comes to pass, it builds their faith in God.

1) God gives us freedom of choice.

Josh 24:15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

Pharaoh―and the rebellious Israelites that Paul mentioned―had the ability to choose to follow God, but they chose not to do so. And in so doing their hearts hardened and they were no long able to accept any sign that would show them His will.

2) God knows ahead of time what will happen, and sometimes warns His servants of the outcome so as to prepare them for the work He wants them to do. And, when the prediction comes to pass, it builds their faith in God.

John 13:19 "I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He.

God was sending Moses into a "lions den" and the poor man was jittery of the idea. God sought to encourage him, but at the same time He tested Moses by telling him what would happen—Pharaoh wouldn't listen to him and would not let Israel go. And when it was all over and Israel was marching out of Egypt, the fact that the LORD had triumphed over the greatest nation in the world—in spite of the opposition of its tyrannical leader—greatly strengthened Moses' faith and enabled him to trust that the LORD knew what He was doing.

 

Did Jesus drink fermented wine?

Question: Does the Bible say whether or not Jesus drank fermented wine?

Answer: This intriguing subject has puzzled many Christians. As you can imagine, it is vital for us to know the truth about this, since so many young Christians are tempted by alcoholic beverages.

One passage that causes Christians difficulty is the miracle of turning water into wine at a wedding feast:

John 2:1-11 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

You'll notice that the actual purpose of this miracle was to reveal His glory, and to cement His disciples' faith in Himself as their Messiah.

Another passage that brings questions is the story of the Last Supper:

Mark 14:23-26 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them. "I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God." When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

(Before we continue, I believe that it's important for us to understand that the Holy Scriptures are a unit and include everything from Genesis to Revelation. What we call the Old Testament was the Bible that Jesus and His apostles used. There are things in the Old Testament that we no longer observe—such as the sacrifices—because they pointed God's people forward to the coming of Messiah, and Lo, Messiah has come.)

Now we look back to His first coming and forward to His second coming. So in place of the Passover lamb—Jesus was our Passover—we now celebrate his death by way of the communion service. The bread represents His body, the "fruit of the vine" represents His blood shed for us. Paul tells us:

1 Cor 11:26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

 

The "Fruit of the Vine"

Was the wine that Jesus supplied at the wedding at Cana, and the "fruit of the vine" that He drank at the last supper, alcoholic or was it pure grape juice?

There is no question, I believe, that people who lived in Bible times made alcoholic wines and other intoxicating beverages, and many of God's people used these as well. But did Jesus use alcoholic wine?

The context of the wedding at Cana shows that Jesus gave them pure grape juice. The master of the feast was able to tell right away that the juice that Jesus provided (though he didn't know where it had come from) was superior to that which had been used up until that time. If the wine used at the feast had been alcoholic, by the time the master of the feast tasted Jesus' wine, his taste-buds would already have been anaesthetized to a certain extent and he wouldn't have been able to tell all that much difference.

Moving ahead about 3 ½ years, we come to the Last Supper. Jesus Himself tells what kind of fluid they drank: He called it "the fruit of the vine." The contents of the cup was pure grape juice, untainted by the process of fermentation.

We need to remember that the Passover meal was the first ceremony that marked the beginning of the feast of Unleavened Bread. During this time, all yeast (a symbol of sin) was put out of their houses, and nothing made with yeast was eaten during this time. Good wine needs yeast to help it to ferment properly. So, regardless of what Jews do today, Passover wine really needed to be either juice that was fresh squeezed, or that had been processed by a method that yielded non-alcoholic wine—sort of like our Pasteurization process.

But we don't need to guess or strain to derive from the contexts of these two occasions what they were drinking, because we can go to Scripture and let it show us the principle that underwrites the statement that Jesus did not drink wine or strong drink.

Prov 20:1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

God repeatedly warned His people to stay away from alcoholic beverages because He knew that these would be a stumbling-block to them. He kept them free from these intoxicants during their wandering in the wilderness.

After the tragic deaths of Nadab and Abihu in bringing "strange" fire into the tabernacle, God gave explicit instructions to be carried out by the priests:

Lev 10:9-11 "You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, and you must teach the Israelites all the decrees the LORD has given them through Moses."

(It may well have been, that Nadab and Abihu were intoxicated when they committed their sin. This would explain how they could make such a significant mistake in a part of the service that had been so painstakingly explained to them.)

That these rules were kept by, not only the priests but also by the entire community, is evident when we read God's commendation of His people at the end of their 40-year wilderness wanderings.

Deut, 29:5, 6  During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the LORD your God.

Notice how the Lord points out the blessings He gave them during their wilderness wanderings. They ate no bread, because, instead of wheat and barley, they ate the manna He gave them. But you'll also notice that they did not drink any wine or other fermented drink. What was the reason God gave for their abstinence?

Vs. 6 "I did this so that you might know that I am the LORD your God."

Moving over to the New Testament I want to point out one aspect of Jesus we often overlook:

1 Cor 1:30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

You'll notice that Jesus is the Source of our wisdom. (In fact Proverbs 8 can be said to be as much a description of Jesus as it is of wisdom.)

Now, if Jesus is the Source of all wisdom, and drinking wine or beer is not wise (Prov 20:1), then I believe we can say without a doubt that Jesus did not serve alcoholic wine either at Cana, or at the Last Supper.

And I believe we can say with just as much validity, those who accept Christ as their Savior and the Source of their wisdom will also refrain from drinking any kind of alcoholic beverage. And doing this, they will be always be able follow the admonition:

1 Pet 5:8 (KJV) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: