"STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS" Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (9:1-11:17) INTRODUCTION 1. The last six chapters of the book of Zechariah contain two "burdens" (i.e., weighty words of judgment)... a. The "burden" against Israel's enemies - cf. Zech 9:1-2 b. The "burden" against Israel herself - Zech 12:1 2. There is a sharp contrast between these chapters and the first eight... a. Prompting some to suggest they may have been written by a different author b. While others (myself included) believe they were written much later in the life of Zechariah 3. Though the temple was completed by this time, and Zechariah's initial work a success... a. His work as a prophet was not over b. Through him the Lord has much to say about the future of Israel, with glimpses concerning the coming Messiah (Jesus) [In this lesson, we shall survey the first "burden", which contains words of judgment against Israel's longtime enemies, while offering words of hope to Israel herself...] I. JUDGMENT AGAINST ISRAEL'S ENEMIES A. AGAINST SYRIA... 1. Against its leading cities: Damascus, Tyre, Sidon - Zech 9:1-2 2. Despite her strength and wealth, the Lord will bring destruction - Zech 9:3-4 -- Many commentators point to the conquests of Alexander the Great as the fulfillment of this prophecy (ca. 333 B.C.) B. AGAINST PHILISTIA... 1. Her cities (Gaza, Ekron, Ashkelon) will be dismayed - Zech 9:5 2. Strangers will abide there; those that remain will be for God- Zech 9:6-7 3. In contrast, God will protect His house, or Israel - Zech 9:8 -- Alexander the Great did not destroy Jerusalem as he made his way through Palestine (cf. Josephus, Antiquities Of The Jews) [Verse 8 might actually belong to what follows. If so, then it begins what appears to be designed to provide comfort to Israel concerning her future...] II. ISRAEL'S HOPE FOR THE FUTURE A. HER KING IS COMING... 1. The promise of the King - Zech 9:9a 2. The character of the King - Zech 9:9b 3. The nature of His kingdom - Zech 9:10 a. A peaceful kingdom b. A universal reign -- That Jesus fulfilled this passage is taught in the New Testament! - Mt 21:1-7; 28:18; Ep 1:22; 2:14-17 B. GOD WILL SAVE HIS PEOPLE... 1. Her prisoners will be delivered, even from her enemies like Greece - Zech 9:11-13 2. The Lord lead them to victory and glory - Zech 9:14-17 -- The fulfillment of this passage may be figurative, alluding to the spiritual victory we have in Christ (cf. Lk 4:16-21); some, however, believe Zechariah is returning to the theme of Israel overcoming the Greeks in the time of Alexander C. ISRAEL WILL BE RESTORED... 1. The people are encouraged to seek blessings from the Lord, not idols - Zech 10:1-2 2. The Lord will provide proper shepherds - Zech 10:3-5 a. The old leaders removed b. New leaders raised up to lead them to victory 3. Both Judah and Joseph (Ephraim) will be redeemed and restored - Zech 10:6-8 4. Though sown among the nations, they shall remember and return - Zech 10:9-11 5. Strengthened in the Lord, they shall walk in His name - Zech 10:12 -- While speaking in terms that may have been meaningful to the Israelites of that day, this section may also have its fulfillment in the work of Christ through the gospel D. BUT NOT WITHOUT JUDGMENT... 1. With great imagery, coming judgment is described - Zech 11:1-3 a. Coming by way of the north (Lebanon) b. In which the shepherds in particular wail for their loss 2. Zechariah is told to feed a flock destined for slaughter - Zech 11:4-6 a. Whose owners and shepherds do not pity them b. For a time is coming when the Lord would not pity His flock 3. Zechariah does so, but not for long - Zech 11:7-14 a. He starts by making two staffs, one called "Beauty", the other "Bonds" b. He feeds the flock, but not without opposition from the other shepherds c. He gives up on the flock, breaking his staffs 1) The breaking of "Beauty" symbolizing the breaking of the covenant 2) He is paid 30 pieces of silver, and is told to throw it to the potter 3) Then he breaks "Bonds" which symbolizes the break of the brotherhood between Judah and Israel 4. Zechariah is then told to take the implements of a foolish shepherd - Zech 11:15-17 a. For the Lord will one day raise up a foolish shepherd b. One who will not care for the flock, upon whom judgment will come 5. What is this chapter about? a. Many see in it the destruction that befell Israel and Jerusalem by the hands of the Romans in A.D. 70 b. Because Israel's shepherds (leaders) rejected its Good Shepherd for which they paid a paltry 30 pieces of silver (cf. Mt 27:1-10), they were rejected by God CONCLUSION 1. The last six chapters of Zechariah have been described as some of the most difficult in the Bible... a. The difficulty lies in discerning the true fulfillment of these prophecies b. Not only their initial fulfillment, but whether a double fulfillment was intended as well -- Even the apostles were unable to fully discern Old Testament prophecy without the Lord's help - cf. Lk 24:44-47 2. As with all Old Testament prophecy, I recommend the following... a. Where the inspired writers of the NT have provided inspired interpretation, we should certainly hold to what they wrote b. But on those prophecies of the OT where NT writers have not commented, we should be very cautious: 1) We can offer our understanding as to what they pertain 2) But we should abstain from developing doctrines or practices based upon our uninspired interpretations of such prophecy 3. Indeed, if the Lord had wanted us to know... a. I am persuaded the New Testament would have made it known b. Just as it did the "mystery" of the gospel - cf. Ro 16:25-26; Ep 3:3-5 Part of that "mystery" that had been hidden so long was contained in these very words of Zechariah: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zech 9:9) And again... Then I said to them, "If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain." So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter"; that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter. (Zech 11:12-13) Yes, the mystery concerning One who was coming to be their King. He has come, but some rejected Him for 30 pieces of silver (cf. Mt 27:1-10)! Have you rejected Jesus from being your King, for what is a paltry sum in comparison to the blessings He provides? - cf. Ac 2:36-38
Do Natural Disasters Negate Divine Benevolence?
|by||Bert Thompson, Ph.D.|
Q.The Earth is plagued with all kinds of natural disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, etc.). How can these tragedies be reconciled with a supposedly good, benevolent God?
September 21, 1989—Hurricane Hugo strikes the southeastern coast of the United States. Over 25 people are killed, and over $10 billion worth of damage results. One month later—October 17, 1989—an earthquake registering 7.1 on the Richter scale strikes the San Francisco Bay area in California. At least 62 people are killed, and damage estimates are placed at well over $1 billion. August 24, 1992—Hurricane Andrew hits three counties in southern Florida. More than a dozen people lose their lives, and damage estimates are set at over $20 billion. A year later, on September 11, 1992, Hurricane Iniki devastates the Hawaiian islands. At least four people die, and damage is set at over $1 billion. In June 1993, huge portions of numerous states along the Mississippi River and its tributaries experienced the worst flooding in their history. Entire cities were covered with water measured not in inches, but in feet. At least 47 people died, and more than 25,000 were evacuated from their homes.
Do these types of natural disasters represent merely isolated, infrequent events? Hardly. Throughout history, man has recorded many such tragedies. In 526, an earthquake hit the country now known as Turkey and left 250,000 dead. A similar earthquake in China in 1556 killed over 830,000 people. Another quake in India in 1737 annihilated 300,000, and quakes in Central China in 1920, 1927, and 1932 killed 200,000, 200,000, and 70,000 people respectively. In 1889, the famous “Johnstown Flood” occurred in Pennsylvania. The dam of the South Fork Reservoir, twelve miles east of the city, burst during heavy rains. Over 2,000 people were killed, and property damage was estimated to be over $10 million. In 1969, Hurricane Camille killed more than 250 people in seven states from Louisiana to Virginia, leaving behind over $1.5 billion in damage. In 1983, Hurricane Alicia struck near Galveston, killing 21 and causing over $2 billion in damage.
It is rare indeed, it seems, for a single generation in a given locale to be spared at least some kind of natural disaster. Without warning, tornadoes sweep down from the afternoon sky and destroy in a moment’s fury what took decades or centuries to build. Floods cover “old home places,” and remove forever any vestige of what were once storehouses of hallowed memories. In a matter of seconds, earthquakes irreparably alter once-familiar landscapes. Hurricanes come from the sea, demolish practically everything in their paths, and then dissipate as if they never had existed. Each time humanity suffers. And each time there are those who ask “Why?”
THE “WHY?” QUESTION
Others view the destruction around them and ask “why?,” but their inquiry is brief and their response immediate. They correctly view the Earth as a once-perfect-but-now-flawed home for mankind. Rather than their faith in God being diminished by the ravages of ongoing natural phenomena, it is strengthened because they: (a) know that there are rational biblical and scientific explanations for such events; (b) understand that after all is said and done, “the Judge of all the Earth will do that which is right” (Genesis 18:25); and (c) put their faith into action as they work to help themselves, or those around them whose lives have been affected by a disaster.
Still others view natural disasters and ask “why?,” when what they really mean is: “If a benevolent God exists, why did He allow these things to happen?” The implication of their statement is clear. Since these things did happen, God must not exist.
THE BIBLICAL RESPONSE TO THE “WHY” QUESTION
Our Once-Perfect-But-Now-Flawed PlanetAt the end of His six days of creation (Genesis 1:31), God surveyed all that He had made, and proclaimed it “very good”—Hebrew terminology representing that which was both complete and perfect. Rivers were running, fish were swimming, and birds were flying. Pestilence, disease, and human death were unknown. Man existed in an idyllic paradise of happiness and beauty where he shared such an intimate and blissful covenant relationship with his Maker that God came to the garden “in the cool of the day” to commune with its human inhabitants (Genesis 3:8). Additionally, Genesis 3:22 records that man had continual access to the tree of life that stood in the garden, the fruit of which would allow him to live forever.
The peacefulness and tranquillity of the first days of humanity were not to prevail, however. In Genesis 3—in fewer words than an average sportswriter would use to discuss a Friday night high school football game—Moses, through inspiration, discussed the breaking of the covenant relationship between man and God, the entrance of sin into the world, and the curse(s) that resulted therefrom. When our original parents revolted against their Creator, evil entered the world. Moses informs us that as a direct consequence of human sin, the Earth was “cursed” (Genesis 3:17). Paul, in Romans 8:19-20, declared that the entire creation was subjected to “vanity” and the “bondage of corruption” as a result of the sinful events that took place in Eden on that occasion. Things apparently deteriorated rapidly. Just three chapters later, Moses wrote:
And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented Jehovah that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And Jehovah said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man and beast, and creeping things, and birds of the heavens (Genesis 6:5-7).Genesis 6-8 records the global destruction resulting from the Great Flood sent by God as His instrument of judgment. The text indicates that the waters which caused the Flood derived from two sources: (a) “the fountains of the great deep”; and (b) “the windows of heaven” (Genesis 7:11). Water fell for forty days and nights (Genesis 7:12,17), and eventually covered “all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven” (Genesis 7:19). We may only surmise the changes that the Flood wrought upon the Earth. Local floods can cause tremendous damage in very brief periods. Imagine, then, the damage that water covering every mountain fifteen cubits (Genesis 7:20; approximately 22½ feet) must have caused. As one writer has suggested:
The destructive power of flood-waters is evident from what flood waters in recent years have done. They moved blocks of granite weighing 350 tons more than a hundred yards. Boulders weighing 75 to 210 tons have been moved by flood waters only 15 to 20 feet deep.... What vast devastation must have been created when all those forces of the earth worked together; rain gushing down from the canopy above the firmament, earthquakes shaking the earth, many volcanoes erupting and exploding at one time, continents shifting, mountains lifting up, tornados, hurricanes and wild windstorms raging, gigantic tidal waves with crosscurrents and whirlpools raising havoc.... Truly, the Flood was the greatest and most violent catastrophe in the history of the world, with total destruction of all forms of life and of the entire surface of the earth (Sippert, 1989, pp. 78-79).What were conditions like on the Earth prior to the Great Flood? Numerous biblical scholars have suggested that conditions were radically different than those we see today, and that the Earth was devoid of the many natural disasters that it presently experiences (see Rehwinkel, 1951; Whitcomb and Morris, 1961; Dillow, 1981). Whitcomb and Morris have stated, for example:
This is inferred from the fact that the “breaking-up of the fountains of the great deep” (Genesis 7:11), which implies this sort of activity, was one of the immediate causes of the Deluge; therefore it must have been restrained previously.... Thus the Biblical record implies that the age between the fall of man and the resultant Deluge was one of comparative quiescence geologically. The waters both above and below the firmament were in large measure restrained, temperatures were equably warm, there were no heavy rains nor winds and probably no earthquakes nor volcanic emissions (1961, pp. 242,243).It is not unreasonable to suggest, knowing the changes caused by local floods, that the global Flood of Genesis 6-8 not only radically altered the face of the Earth, but simultaneously produced circumstances that are responsible for many natural disasters experienced since that time. New, higher mountains and lower valleys were produced by God after the Flood (Psalm 104:6-10). Approximately 71.9% of the Earth’s surface remained covered with water. Temperature changes occurred, producing seasonal variations unlike any before. No doubt other factors were involved as well.
What causes natural disasters on the Earth today? One cause is the vastly different geological and meteorological phenomena now present. Tall mountains and deep valleys may be conducive to localized extremes in weather. The drastically changed components of the Earth’s crust (e.g., fault lines, etc.) give rise to earthquakes. Vast bodies of water, and large global climatic variations, spawn hurricanes and tropical storms.
Taken at face value, then, the wickedness of mankind in Noah’s day (which precipitated the Flood) is responsible ultimately for the changes that now produce various natural disasters. As Brad Bromling has observed:
While we may never know with precision what conditions prevailed between the Edenic period and the Flood, it seems that the weather systems with which we are familiar were largely absent at that time. The fossil record bespeaks a period when the entire Earth enjoyed a temperate climate. This storm-free era most certainly predates the Flood. Since that event, man has been imperiled by tornadoes, blizzards, monsoons, and hurricanes.... Upon whom should we heap blame for the suffering resultant from such weather? Is it fair to accuse God, when He created man’s home free from such things (Genesis 1:31)? In all honesty, the answer is no. Sin robbed us of our original garden paradise, and sin was responsible for the global deluge (Genesis 3:24; 6:7) [1992, p. 17].One writer concluded: “[T]he cause of all that is wrong with the earth is not godliness but rather ungodliness” (Porter, 1974, p. 467, emp. in orig.). The matter of man’s personal volition has much to do with this. The Scriptures speak to the fact that since God is love, and since love allows freedom of choice, God allows freedom of choice (cf. Joshua 24:15; John 5:39-40). God did not create mankind as robots without any free moral agency. Mankind now reaps the consequences of the misuse of freedom of choice (i.e., the sin) of previous generations. Surely one of the lessons here is that it does not pay to disobey the Creator. In his second epistle, Peter made a clear reference to “the world that then was,” and its destruction by the Flood (3:6). That world no longer exists. Today we inhabit a once-perfect-but-now-flawed Earth. Man—not God—bears the blame.
Natural Disasters and a Benevolent GodThe Bible teaches that God is both all-powerful and loving; thus He is benevolent, as love demands. How, then, can He allow natural disasters to occur? Do not natural disasters negate the benevolence of God, and strike at His very existence? In addition to the reasons listed in the section above, I would like to suggest the following reasons why they do not.
First, God created a world ruled by natural laws established at the Creation. If a man steps off the roof of a five-story building, gravity will pull him to the pavement beneath. If a boy steps in front of a moving freight train, since two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time, the train will strike the child and likely kill him. The same laws that govern gravity, matter in motion, or similar phenomena also govern weather patterns, water movement, and other geological/meteorological conditions. All of nature is regulated by these laws, not just the parts that we find convenient.
Second, some disasters may be the by-product of something that itself is good. In addressing this point, Norman Geisler has noted:
In a physical world where there is water for boating and swimming, some will drown. If there are mountains to climb, there must also be valleys into which one may fall. If there are cars to drive, collisions can also occur. It may be said that tornadoes, lightning, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are likewise by-products of a good physical world. For instance, the purpose of rain is not to flood or drown, but the result of rain may include these disasters. Likewise, hot and cold air are an essential and purposeful part of the physical world, but under certain conditions they may combine to form tornadoes (1978, p. 72, emp. in orig.).The natural laws that God created allow man to produce fire. But the same laws that enable him to cook his food also allow him to destroy entire forests. Laws that make it possible to have things constructive to human life also introduce the possibility that things destructive to human life may occur. How can it be otherwise? A car is matter in motion, and takes us where we wish to go. But if someone steps in front of that car, the same natural laws that operate to our benefit will operate in a similar fashion to our detriment.
Third, natural laws are both inviolate and non-selective. Everyone must obey them or suffer the consequences. In Luke 13:2-5, Jesus told the story of eighteen men who perished when the tower of Siloam collapsed. Had these men perished because of their sin? No, they were no worse sinners than their peers. They died because a natural law was in force. Fortunately, natural laws work continually so that we can understand and benefit from them. We are not left to sort out some kind of haphazard system that works one day, but not the next.
Those who rail against God because of natural disasters often are overheard to ask, “But why can’t God ‘selectively intervene’ to prevent disasters?” Bruce Reichenbach has addressed this question:
Thus, in a world which operates according to divine miraculous intervention, there would be no necessary relation between phenomena, and in particular between cause and effect. In some instances one event would follow from a certain set of conditions, another time a different event, and so on, such that ultimately an uncountable variety of events would follow a given set of conditions. There would be no regularity of consequence, no natural production of effects.... Hence, we could not know or even suppose what course of action to take to accomplish a certain rationally conceived goal. Thus, we could neither propose action nor act ourselves (1976, p. 187).If God suspended natural laws every time His creatures were in a dangerous situation, chaos would corrupt the cosmos, arguing more for a world of atheism than a world of theism! Further, as Geisler has remarked:
First, evil men do not really want God to intercept every evil act or thought. No one wants to get a headache every time he thinks against God. One does not want God to fill his mouth with cotton when he speaks evil of God, nor does he really desire God to explode his pen as he writes against God or destroy his books before they come off the press. At best, people really want God to intercept some evil actions.... Second, continual interference would disrupt the regularity of natural law and make life impossible. Everyday living depends on physical laws such as inertia or gravity. Regular interruption of these would make everyday life impossible and a human being extremely edgy! Third, it is probable that chaos would result from continued miraculous intervention. Imagine children throwing knives at parents because they know they will be turned to rubber, and parents driving through stop signs, knowing God will create crash-protection air shields to avert any ensuing collisions. The necessary intervention would finally grow in proportions that would effectively remove human freedom and responsibility (1978, p. 75, emp. in orig.).How, then, exactly, would the unbeliever suggest that an understandable, dependable world be created, and operated, other than the way ours presently is? How could natural disasters be prevented, while maintaining natural laws and human freedom?
Instead of blaming God when tragedies such as natural disasters strike, we need to turn to Him for strength, and let tragedies, of whatever nature, remind us that this world was never intended to be a final home (Hebrews 11:13-16). Our time here is temporary (James 4:14), and with God’s help we are able to overcome whatever comes our way (Romans 8:35-39; Psalm 46:1-3). In the end, the most important question is not, “Why did this happen to me?,” but instead, “How can I understand what has happened, and how am I going to react to it?” With Peter, the faithful Christian can echo the sentiment that God, “ who called you unto his eternal glory in Christ, after that ye have suffered a little while, shall himself perfect, establish, strengthen you. To him be the dominion for ever and ever” (1 Peter 5:10).
Dillow, Joseph C. (1982), The Waters Above (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Geisler, Norman L. (1978), The Roots of Evil (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan).
Porter, Walter L. (1974), “Why Do the Innocent Suffer?,” Firm Foundation, 91: 467,475, July 23.
Rehwinkel, A.M. (1951), The Flood (St. Louis, MO: Concordia).
Reichenbach, Bruce (1976), “Natural Evils and Natural Laws,” International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 16.
Sippert, Albert (1989), From Eternity to Eternity (North Mankato, MN: Sippert Publishing).
Whitcomb, John C. and Henry M. Morris (1961), The Genesis Flood (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Do Christians Need “Additional Scripture”?
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
For many people who claim to be Christians, the Bible is not enough. Supposedly, it is not sufficient revelation. It does not give us enough information. These individuals seek additional works of inspiration. Either they want direct revelation from the Holy Spirit, or they want some kind of additional inspired work from God. In a recent Bible study with two gentlemen who claimed to believe in the divine inspiration of both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, one of the men made the statement: “God wanted us to have…additional Scripture.” That is, allegedly God wanted us to have more than just the Bible. This gentleman then followed up this assertion by saying that it is “unfair to just choose one.”
Is it really “unfair” to believe only the Bible is inspired? Is it inappropriate to tell individuals who advocate additional Scripture that the Bible is the only inspired, written revelation for man? Does God really want us to have “additional Scripture”?
Almighty God has the power and authority to communicate with man in whatever way and however often He chooses. But these questions must be answered in light of what God said He did, and not what man might surmise God could do. A thorough study of the New Testament reveals that what God said He did (through His inspired writers—2 Peter 1:20-21) was give mankind (some 1,900 years ago) all the revelation he needed to live a faithful Christian life.
The Bible indicates that all truth necessary for salvation was revealed during the lifetime of the apostles. The night before Jesus’ crucifixion, He promised His apostles that after His departure from them, the Spirit would come and guide them “into all truth” (John 16:13, emp. added), teaching them “all things,” and bringing to their remembrance “all things” that Jesus taught them (John 14:26, emp. added). After His crucifixion and resurrection (but before He ascended into heaven), Jesus then commanded these same disciples to “make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20, emp. added). The fact is, “the faith…was once for all delivered to the saints” in the first century (Jude 3, emp. added), so that since that time Christians have had “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3, emp. added). Since then, “the man of God” has been “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, emp. added).
Indeed, hearing God’s will in the 21st century is as easy as picking up the providentially preserved Bible and reading what Jesus’ apostles and prophets recorded for our benefit (cf. Ephesians 3:1-5). No modern-day messages, dreams, visions, or “additional Scripture” are needed. Christians should be content with the powerful “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12) and be warned to “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).
Do Children Inherit the Sin of Their Parents?
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
Understanding the nature of God’s interaction with man is no small task. The sincere Bible student often comes across things in the biblical text that are puzzling. Others, who are perhaps somewhat less sincere, twist these initially puzzling passages “to their own destruction” (as described in 2 Peter 3:16). One such idea that has been abused is the alleged contradiction between how Jehovah dealt (and still deals) with the children of sinful people. Steve Wells, author of the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, insists that there is a discrepancy in the Bible regarding this subject. He lists Exodus 20:5, which states: “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.” Wells then presents Ezekiel 18:20 as a contradictory verse: “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself ” (Wells, 2003).
Is there a legitimate contradiction between these verses? Or, to pose the question differently, “Is there any possible way that both these statements can be true?” The fact of the matter is that both statements can be true, without a contradiction occurring. What Mr. Wells and others who twist these verses into an alleged contradiction do not recognize is that there is a difference between bearing the guilt of a parent, and suffering negative physical and emotional consequences due to that parent’s bad decisions.
It often is the case that the children of wicked people suffer terribly. Sometimes these children suffer because the parent physically or emotionally abuses them (in direct violation of Scripture; cf. Matthew 7:12; Colossians 3:21). At other times, the child suffers as a result of the parent’s irresponsible behavior. For instance, suppose a man addicted to gambling wastes his salary on gambling, instead of using it to feed his family. As a result, his children suffer hunger, shame, and poverty.
Yet, even though the children of sinful people often suffer physical consequences, they do not inherit the sin of those parents. The book of Jeremiah provides an interesting commentary on this subject. In Jeremiah 16:1-6, God told Jeremiah that the prophet should not take a wife and/or have children in the land of Israel. God explained His reasoning to Jeremiah as follows: “For thus says the Lord concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place.... ‘They shall die gruesome deaths; they shall not be lamented, nor shall they be buried, but they shall be as refuse on the face of the earth’ ” (16:3-4). Why was this going to happen? Wells is quick to refer to this chapter, especially verses 10 and 11 where the children of Israel pose the question, “Why has the Lord pronounced all this great disaster against us” (vs. 10)? Wells then records Jeremiah’s answer: “ ‘Because your fathers have forsaken Me,’ says the Lord” (vs. 11). Wells, however, does not cite the very next verse (12), which states: “And you have done worse than your fathers....”
These Israelites were suffering due to the sins of their fathers—and due to their own sins. Their children were going to die gruesome deaths. The skeptic is quick to seize upon this fact, and demand that any time innocent children die, it is a travesty against justice that a loving God never would permit (a fallacious idea that I have refuted elsewhere; see Butt, 2004).
Do children sometimes die horrible deaths due to their parents’ wrong decisions? Absolutely. The Israelites had adopted the practice of sacrificing their own children to a false god named Baal (Jeremiah 19:5). The iniquity of the parents, then, can be visited upon the children in the form of physical suffering. But do those children bear the guilt of that sin? Absolutely not! Ezekiel wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son” (Ezekiel 18:20, emp. added).
Notice the words soul and guilt. Does the Bible ever insinuate, for example, that a child is guilty of idolatry because his parents were idolatrous? No (read Matthew 18:3-5; Luke 18:16-17). Bearing the guilt of sin is altogether different than bearing the physical consequences of the actions of others. As is often the case, the skeptic has confused the two, and has alleged a biblical contradiction where, in fact, none exists. This is yet another example in which the allegation against the Bible fails, but “the Word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25).
Wells, Steve (2001), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible [On-line], URL: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/1cor/index.html.
Sometime back in a snatch from the Oprah Winfrey show I heard Oprah ask a gentleman (essentially), “So what do you think happens to us when we die?” and his answer was, “I don’t give it any thought.”
Oprah’s question was not, “What do you think happens to the starved, plundered and butchered millions when they die?” but what happens to us when “we” die.
It’s astonishing how the complexion of the question changes when we ask, “What happens to the enslaved, raped and murdered nations?” instead of what happens to those of us who are well-fed, housed healthy and befriended.
In this man’s religion everything’s about himself. (Hmmm…)
I gathered from the brief remarks in the dialogue that his view of God was that “God is an ‘experience’ and not Someone who is, independent of our experience. For him, God is not Someone to believe in, Someone who has an agenda, a purpose toward which He is moving; a purpose that involves a new creation where righteousness, joy, peace and adventure is the order of life. To him God is not Someone we’re accountable to for the life given to us. GOD is an experience. In short, his God is not the GOD of Jesus Christ. But what does that matter? Let’s follow Oprah’s guest.
“So, let’s all sit in silence and feel ourselves breathing!”
There now, doesn’t that feel good? Don’t you feel better, nice n cozy n relaxed?
Who cares if there is no Final Judgment?
Who cares if the multiplied millions never see justice and restitution?
Who cares if they aren’t allowed to feel themselves breathe while others wallow in sheer self-indulgence of a religion that feeds their hunger (greed?) for emotional experience?
Who cares if there is no resurrection to life for the beaten, starved and defenseless children, butchered by unrepentant machete-wielding brutes?
“Let’s all sit here in silence and feel our divinity.”
When the atheist Dennett was asked, “Would you not like there to be a God like the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ?” he immediately said, “No. I have no need of him.”—Godless and content that it should be so.
Had he been asked, “Would you not like someone to rise up and bring justice and blessing to the world’s abused and starving?” He would have said, “Of course I would.” He would not have said, “No, I have no need of him.”
Here lies one of the suppurating ulcers that flourish at the corrupt heart of all these synergistic religious movements—they’re designed to feed us who are already so well-fed (in every sense). More! More!
This much is clear: Say “God” is nothing but our experience or that “God” is wishful thinking and we’ve proclaimed the doom of the countless plundered poor. What was and is the “God” of their experience? Maybe we can think about that when we sit down to worship our inner divinity, fix our minds on our breathing or pray, asking the Lord God Almighty to get us a hairdresser that pleases us.
Two things said Kant fill me with awe
The starry heavens and the moral law.
But I know something more mysterious and obscure
The long long patience of the plundered poor.
Did Jesus Say Anything About Homosexuality?
GEORGE L. FAULL
Mr. Faull, you’re all wet about homosexuality. The sin of sodomy in the Old Testament has nothing to do with those of us who simply want to be faithful in a loving married homosexual relationship.
The Commandments against homosexuality in the Old Testament has to do with male prostitution. God calls such men, “dogs.” When the God of the Old Testament teaches against it, He refers to those involved in this abominable practice. (Leviticus 18:22) Jesus never said a word about gay marriages and He is the one we listen to today.
I will have to disagree with you and if you care to read my answer about homosexuals in the Old Testament, you may consult my prior writings in the Gospel Unashamed.
You speak as if the God of the Old Testament is a different God than in the New Testament. They are one and the same and homosexuality is condemned in both Testaments as a great sin against a Holy God.
I wish to answer your argument about Jesus not teaching about gay marriages. I think a simple reading of what Jesus said about marriage in general will show you what a careless reader you are.
When the Pharisees questioned Him about divorce, notice what Matthew 19:4-6 says, “4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause (that they are male and female) shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together (a man and a wife), let not man put asunder.”
On divorce He said, “from the beginning it was not so.” Jesus went back to the Creators’ design for marriage and it’s:
1. Participants (male and female)
2. Practicality (leave father and mother)
3. Purpose (the two shall be one flesh)
4. Prohibition (do not put asunder what God joined together)
5. Principle (as His Will was for it to be as in the beginning)
Jesus believed the book of Genesis. He speaks of creation of the world (Mark 13:19), of man (Matthew 19:4), and of the marriage of Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:5-6). He speaks of Abel’s martyrdom (Matthew 23:35), Noah’s flood (Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-30), Abraham’s faith (John 8:40, 56), Isaac (Luke 13:28), Jacob’s dream (John 1:47-51), and Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32). But He also spoke of the destruction of the Sodomites’ cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:28-32; Matthew 10:15; 11:24; Mark 6:11). If there had been 5 couples in a “loving married relationship” by your perverted view, hundreds of thousands of souls would not have been destroyed. Ten righteous souls is all that were needed to spare the city.
Your attempt to separate the Old Testament and the New Testament and the Old Testament God and the Lord Jesus; is futile and ludicrous. Jesus is the Creator of all and the very one who instituted marriage. Marriage is the picture of Christ and His Bride (the Church) using the same compassion. “31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery (or revelation of God): but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Ephesians 5:31-33
You, sir, by your gay marriage would make Christ a spiritual homosexual. Such blasphemy will not go unnoticed or unpunished by our Ominscient God who in the beginning established His directive Will and made them male and female. Adam said, “this is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man. Therefore, (what’s that “therefore” there for?) shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife (woman) and they shall be one flesh.” Genesis 2:23-24
I suggest you repent and do likewise.
Incidentally, the “Jesus never said anything about it” argument is absurd on its face value. He never mentioned pedophilia, bestiality, cannibalism, rape, wife beating or any number of other sins. The only one who would use such rationale is someone trying to defend some kind of a practice that he is involved in. It’s kind of like a witch defending seances. God in the New Testament addressed it, but Jesus never referred to it, so He permits it.
Sin blinds people to their own foolish rationale.
Is there no hope?
Solomon, who was rich, powerful and wise, understood that there is no hope in things of this world: “For we are aliens and pilgrims before You, as were all our fathers; our days on earth are as a shadow, and without hope” (1 Chronicles 29:15).
After experiencing all worldly advantages, he concludes: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
There are beautiful aspects of life, but life is so fleeting. As Job says: “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope” (Job 7:6).
When Job said this, he had lost everything.
Job had been the richest man in the East (Job 1:3). He had more than ten thousand animals: sheep, camels, oxen and donkeys. On one day he lost them all by fire and raiders, and most of his servants were murdered (Job 1:13-17).
What can be more devastating than the loss of a child? That same day, Job’s seven sons and three daughters were killed by a powerful wind that caused the house where they were to collapse (Job 1:19).
Then, after a while, Job’s whole body was covered with painful boils from the soles of his feet to the top of his head (Job 2:7).
The one person who, come what may, should have comforted him, his wife, said to him: “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9).
He was visited by three friends who claimed that these calamities were punishment from God because of hidden sin.
What prospects did Job have? Little wonder that he said: “My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished, the grave is ready for me. ... Where then is my hope? As for my hope, who can see it?” (Job 17:1, 15).
What kind of man was Job? Were his so-called friends right when they claimed that he was being punished by God?
No, Job was an upright man. God Himself had testified, “there is none like him on the earth, a blameless man, one who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). The suffering of Job was not a punishment from God but an attack by Satan.
God allowed Job to be purified by suffering, as silver is purged in the fire (compare with Proverbs 17:3 and Isaiah 48:10).
Desiring to know why God allowed him to suffer, Job felt the need for a mediator: “For He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both” (Job 9:32, 33).
Even though his situation was hopeless, Job entrusted his soul to God who was his only hope.
The light of revelation breaks through dimly at first in the form of a question, and finally shines forth as a mighty declaration of faith.
First the question: “If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes. You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands” (Job 14:14, 15).
Then the declaration of faith: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27).
Through this ordeal Job gained insight and a better understanding of God: “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” ... “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You” (Job 42:2, 5).
Right before Job proclaimed his faith in his Redeemer, he said: “Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever” (Job 19:23, 24).
They were written, they were inscribed in a book, countless copies have been reproduced by printing presses, and now his words can be read by millions in the whole world via the Internet.
The faith and perseverance of Job have encouraged countless people through the ages.
Job knew that his Redeemer lives. We also know that man’s Redeemer lives because some 2000 years later, and some 2000 years before our time, the Savior and Mediator for whom Job longed, came from the loving Father to give hope to the hopeless.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).
Yes, in Christ there is hope.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:1-5).
Because our Redeemer lives forevermore, we have hope even in suffering. He suffered for us, so we are willing to suffer for Him.
Job was a type of the suffering servant of God, the Christ, of whom we read: “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: "Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth"; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness -- by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:21-24).
Paul wrote: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:24-27).
Getting-old does not cause us to lose our hope. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Even death does not extinguish our hope. “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14).
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). Amen.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive