"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" Jesus And The Tax Collector (2:13-17) INTRODUCTION 1. As Jesus went about preaching and healing, He called people to follow Him... a. Such as Simon and Andrew - Mk 1:16-18 b. Also James and John - Mk 1:19-20 2. Today, Jesus wants us to call people to follow Him... a. To become His disciples - cf. Mt 28:19-20 b. To enjoy His salvation - cf. Mk 16:15-16 [Who are suitable prospect for discipleship and salvation? We might think those who are religiously inclined. But our text for this study (Mk 2:13-17) should caution us not to limit our prospects...] I. THE NARRATIVE A. JESUS CALLS THE TAX COLLECTOR... 1. Jesus was teaching by the shores of Galilee - Mk 2:13; cf. 4:1 2. He saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax office - Mk 2:14 a. Better known as Matthew, the apostle and gospel writer - cf. Mt 9:9; 10:3 b. His father was Alphaeus, not likely the father of James - cf. Mk 3:18 3. He was a tax collector (publican), a profession not well-liked - cf. Lk 5:27 a. Viewed as traitors - as Jews working for the Roman government b. Viewed as extortionists - for publicans often charged exorbitant fees c. Classed together with sinners and harlots - cf. Lk 15:1-2; Mt 21:31-32 4. Yet Jesus calls him to become a disciple - Mk 2:14 a. "Follow Me" - cf. Mk 1:17-18 b. He "left all" and followed Jesus - cf. Lk 5:28 -- Not someone you might consider having potential as a follower of Christ B. THE TAX COLLECTOR HOSTS JESUS... 1. Levi (Matthew) gave Jesus a great feast in his house - Mk 2:15; cf. Lk 5:29 2. There were many tax collectors and sinners present - Mk 2:15 3. The scribes and Pharisees are shocked - Mk 2:16 a. Luke says they "complained" - cf. Lk 5:30 b. They wondered how Jesus could eat with tax collectors and sinners 4. Jesus' response - Mk 2:17 a. "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick" b. "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" -- Jesus' words reveal why Levi (Matthew) was a prospect for discipleship [As we reflect on this narrative, what lessons might we glean from it? Starting at the end of our text and working backward, here are...] II. SOME LESSONS A. JESUS IS LOOKING FOR SINNERS... 1. "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" a. His purpose was to seek and save the lost - cf. Lk 19:10 b. This gives great hope to those burdened by the guilt of sin 2. "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick" a. In regards to the disease of sin, we are all sick - cf. Ro 3:23 b. But the Great Physician is ready to heal those willing to repent of sin -- If you are burdened and suffering because of sin, Jesus is looking for you! B. FRIENDS OFFER GREAT POTENTIAL... 1. Levi (Matthew) provides a wonderful method of personal evangelism a. He invited friends and co-workers to his home b. He provided opportunity for them to hear Jesus 2. Cornelius did the same thing, even before he became a Christian a. He invited family and friends - cf. Ac 10:24 b. He provided opportunity for them to hear Peter - cf. Ac 10:33 -- Inviting family and friends for a home Bible study is a great way to share the gospel! C. WE ARE TO BE SEPARATE, NOT ISOLATED... 1. The Bible teaches the principle of separation a. Evil company can corrupt good habits - cf. 1Co 15:33 b. We are to be separate, not unequally yoked with unbelievers - cf. 2Co 6:14-18 2. But separation does involve total isolation a. Otherwise we would have to leave this world - cf. 1Co 5: 9-10 b. Jesus and His disciples were willing to eat with sinners - Mk 2:15-16 -- To heal those sick with sin, we must be willing to spend time with them! D. JESUS OFTEN CALLS THE BUSY TO SERVE... 1. Consider those whom Jesus called to follow Him a. Fishermen like Simon and Andrew, James and John - cf. Mk 1: 16-20 b. A tax collector sitting at the tax office - cf. Mk 2:14 2. We should not think that God wants only those with youth or time on their hands a. E.g., only young men who go to school to become preachers b. E.g., only older people who are retired with nothing better to do -- Remember the adage: "If you want something done, ask a busy man to do it" CONCLUSION 1. Jesus' interaction with the tax collector should serve to remind us... a. We are never too sinful to be saved by Jesus b. We are never too busy to serve Jesus c. We must be willing to reach out to those who are lost d. Good prospects are family, friends, and co-workers 2. How about you...? a. Are you willing to let Jesus be your Great Physician? b. Are you willing to serve Jesus no matter how busy you may be? Are you willing to join Him in seeking and saving the lost...?
"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" Jesus Heals A Paralytic (2:1-12) INTRODUCTION 1. Among the miracles of Jesus, one of the better known is the healing of a paralytic... a. Found in all three synoptic gospels - Mt 9:1-8; Mk 2:1-12; Lk 5: 17-26 b. In which a man was let down through a roof by his friends to be healed by Jesus 2. The occasion produced a range of emotions... a. Jesus charged with blasphemy by some b. God glorified with amazement by others [The healing of the paralytic contains several valuable lessons for us today. Turning to Mark's account of the miracle (Mk 2:1-12), let's first read and examine...] I. THE NARRATIVE A. HELPFUL FRIENDS... 1. The place: the miracle occurs in Capernaum - Mk 2:1-2 a. Described as "His own city" - Mt 9:1; cf. Mt 4:13 b. Located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee c. Served as the base for His public ministry in Galilee d. Preaching in a house, which soon overflowed with listeners 2. The paralytic: His friends carry him to Jesus - Mk 2:3-4 a. Totally immobile, confined to a stretcher, unable to enter b. With great effort, his four friends let him down through the roof 3. The pardon: Jesus forgives him of his sins - Mk 2:5 a. Jesus observes the faith of the paralytic and his friends b. He replies, "Son, your sins are forgiven you." c. Matthew adds, "...be of good cheer..." - Mt 9:2 -- It seems strange Jesus forgave him first rather than healed him, but Jesus' purpose will be revealed as we proceed B. HOSTILE FOES... 1. The disdain of the scribes: blasphemy! - Mk 2:6-7 a. Luke mentions both scribes and Pharisees - Lk 5:21 b. They reasoned in their hearts, not speaking c. Silently accusing Jesus of blasphemy, for only God can forgive sin 2. The defense of the Savior: He has power to forgive sin - Mk 2: 8-10 a. Jesus knew their hearts, their reasoning - cf. Jn 2:24-25 b. Which is easier to say (and do): to forgive or to heal? c. Both require divine authority and power d. Jesus has power to do both! -- Here is Jesus' purpose in forgiving before healing is revealed: to make known His divine power to forgive sins C. HAPPY FINALE... 1. For the paralytic: healed! - Mk 2:11-12a a. Jesus tells him to arise, take up his bed, and go home b. Which he does immediately, in the presence of all! c. Luke adds that he went "glorifying God" - Lk 5:25 2. For the people: amazed! - Mk 2:12 a. The crowd has never seen anything like this! b. Matthew adds their amazement was that God had given such power to men - Mt 9:8 c. Luke adds their amazement was joined with fear - Lk 5:26 d. They also were "glorifying God" - Lk 5:25 -- A man healed, people amazed, Jesus' power made known, but most of all, God is glorified! [From helpful friends to hostile foes to a happy finale, the healing of the paralytic is a wonderful story. But it is more than just a story. There are lessons to be gleaned. Here, then, are...] II. SOME LESSONS A. THE POWER OF CHRIST TO FORGIVE SINS... 1. On earth, Jesus demonstrated His power to forgive sins a. Not only in the case of the paralytic - Mk 2:5,10-11 b. But also with the woman who washed and anointed His feet - Lk 7:44-48 c. And for the thief on the cross - Lk 23:39-43 2. From heaven, Jesus continues to have power to forgiven sins a. Made possible by the shedding of His blood - Mt 26:28; Ep 1:7 b. Offered to those who respond to His gospel - Mk 16:16; Ac 2: 38; 10:42-43; 22:16 c. Ever available to those who walk with God - 1Jn 1:7,9 -- Have we looked to Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins? B. THE PRECIOUSNESS OF FRIENDS WITH FAITH... 1. The paralytic was blessed with friends with faith a. Jesus saw "their faith" - Mk 2:5 b. Evidenced by their great effort to assist their paralyzed friend c. Without them, the paralytic would have been unable to come to Jesus 2. Do we have and appreciate friends with faith? a. In His church, Jesus provides us with many friends with faith b. Brethren ready to assist and serve us in time of need c. Does our involvement in the local church indicate that we appreciate such friends? - cf. He 10:24-25 d. If a brother is in need, can they rely on our faith? - e.g., Ga 6:1-2 -- Nurture your network of friends with faith, and share your faith with them! C. THE PRIVILEGES SO EASILY SQUANDERED... 1. The miracle occurred in the city of Capernaum a. Described as Jesus' "own city" - Mt 9:1 b. There He did many wonderful works 1) Healed the centurion's servant - Mt 8:5-13 2) Healed Peter's mother-in-law - Mt 8:14-15 3) Cast out many spirits in the demon-possessed - Mt 8:16 4) From Cana He healed the nobleman's son at Capernaum
- Jn 4:46-54 c. Yet those in the city brought judgment upon themselves - cf. Mt 11:23-24 2. Have we squandered our privileges? a. Living in a country where God's Word is freely accessible? b. Blessed to be near a congregation of fellow Christians? c. Having many opportunities to grow and serve in the work of the Lord? d. "...For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." - Lk 12:48 -- We have been given much by the Lord, let us give much in return! CONCLUSION 1. The healing of the paralytic reveals a man... a. Who was in need b. Who was blessed with good friends c. Who was forgiven of his sins by Jesus Christ 2. We all are like that paralyzed man... a. With needs only Jesus can fulfill b. Who needs forgiveness that only Jesus has power to bestow c. With friends of faith willing to help But are we like the paralyzed man in regards to faith? His faith led to Jesus fulfilling his needs. May we have the same faith today...!
Noah's Ark—Not A "Rough" Draught
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
When reading through the exciting story the Flood, it often is very easy to miss the importance of certain verses. For instances, Genesis 7:19-20 states: “And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.” At first glance, it might just look like these verses are telling us that water covered every high mountain. But to those who are familiar with shipbuilding, this verse means much more than that.
As workmen construct a ship, designers must take into account its draught, which is the measurement of how far into the water the ship will sink when it is fully loaded. Were you to confer with shipbuilding guides, you would discover that the draught for large barge-type vessels generally is approximately one-half of their height. Since the ark was 30 cubits high, it would sink 15 cubits into the water. It therefore would need 15 cubits of water above the highest mountains in order for its bottom not to scrape against those mountaintops. Interestingly, God not only designed the perfect vessel for the trip, but also sent the correct amount of water to prevent that vessel from smashing into the top of a submerged mountain peak.
When the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible, He did not include information “just to take up space.” Each verse in the Bible is important for one reason or another. Let us all work hard to discover those reasons.
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
All one has to do is walk through the halls of the nearest hospital or mental institution to see people of all ages suffering from various diseases and illnesses. Suffering is everywhere, and thus such questions as the following inevitably arise. “If there is a God, why am I afflicted with this illness?” “If there is a God, why was my son not allowed to see his sixteenth birthday?” “If there is a God, why are my parents afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease?” These and hundreds of similar questions have echoed from the human heart for millennia. They are as old as the first tear and as recent as the latest newscast.
For many people, the existence of pain and suffering serves as a great obstacle to belief in God. Skeptics and infidels, both past and present, have held that the existence of evil is an embarrassment for those who believe in God. One philosopher, J.L. Mackie, in an article titled “Evil and Omnipotence,” set out to show “not that religious beliefs lack rational support, but that they are positively irrational,” and “that the several parts of the essential theological doctrine are inconsistent with one another.”
How do theists reconcile the presence of suffering with the existence of an omnipotent and all-loving God? Some have argued that illness and other kinds of suffering are illusionary and spring from a false belief. Others have maintained that no explanation is necessary, because mere mortals should not have to justify the ways of God to men. But most Christians acknowledge that suffering is real and that it is a problem that deserves careful attention. Even though man cannot explain in specific detail all of the reasons for human suffering, the Bible gives enough answers to allow man to come to grips with the problem in general. Contrary to what many in this world believe, there are a number of logical reasons why people experience mental and physical pain. One of the main reasons is rooted in the fact that God is love (1 John 4:8), and that love allows freedom of choice.
Adam and Eve were presented with a choice in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:16-17). Israel was given the choice of serving the Lord or foreign gods (Joshua 24:15). Even today, man is a free moral agent with the ability to make his own choices (Revelation 22:17). God did not create man as a scientist creates a robot that automatically follows his master’s instructions without the choice of doing otherwise. Would God be loving if He created intelligent beings and then programmed them to slavishly serve Him? God granted mankind free will as an expression of His love. Sadly, man frequently brings suffering upon himself because of the wrong decisions he makes. The apostle Peter wrote: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters” (1 Peter 4:15, emp. added). When people suffer the consequences of their own wrong choices, they have no one to blame but themselves.
Man also suffers because of the personal wrong choices of others. If God allows one person freedom of choice, He must allow everyone that freedom to be consistent in His love for the world (God is no respecter of persons—Acts 10:34). Uriah the Hittite suffered because of David’s sins (2 Samuel 11), and ultimately was killed because of David’s attempt to hide the wrong decisions he had made. All of Egypt suffered because Pharaoh decided to keep the Israelites in Egypt when Moses told him to let them go (Exodus 7-12). Today, families may suffer because a father is thrown in jail for drunk driving. In such a case, he is the cause of the family’s suffering. If a man smokes all of his life and then eventually dies at an early age because of lung cancer, both he and his family suffer because of his decision to smoke. God is not to blame for man’s personal wrong choices, nor is He to blame for the wrong decisions that others have made.
We today also suffer on occasion because of the personal wrong choices of former generations. If man is able to reap benefits from the work of former generations (medical discoveries, technological advances, etc.), then it is only logical that he be able to suffer the consequences of the sins of former generations. [Although man does not inherit the sin of Adam, he does suffer because of the choice Adam made to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.] Who is partly to blame for millions starving in third-world countries today? Answer: Some of their ancestors. Years ago, because people accepted the false doctrine of reincarnation, they began teaching that it was wrong to eat cows because they might be eating a long-dead-but-now-reincarnated relative. The doctrine of reincarnation has deprived millions of people throughout the world of good health. Is God to blame when people will not eat the meat that could give them nourishment?
When one experiences suffering in his life, it often is because he has chosen to sin. He might be suffering the consequences of his own wrong decisions, the wrong decisions of others, or the wrong decisions of former generations. But regardless of the reason for the suffering he endures, God is not to blame.
God and Human Sexuality
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Does God exist? Sufficient evidence exists to warrant the conclusion: “Yes, I know that God exists.” Has He spoken to us? Again, sufficient evidence exists to prove that the book we call the Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant, authoritative Word of God. Since God exists, and since He has given to us His divine will in written form, moral choices and human behavior are to be governed by that revealed will.
What is God’s will concerning human sexuality? That will was demonstrated originally in the creation of the first human beings: “Male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27). God’s decision to create a female counterpart to the male was not coincidental. The female uniquely met three essential criteria: (1) “It’s not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18); (2) a helper suitable to him was needed (Genesis 2:18,20); and (3) the human race was to be perpetuated through sexual union (Genesis 1:28). Both Jesus and Paul reiterated this same understanding (Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Corinthians 7:2). So the woman was: (a) the divine antidote to Adam’s loneliness; (b) a helper fit for him; and (c) the means of the propagation of the human race. Here we see the divine arrangement for the human species.
Not long after God set into motion the created order—which He had pronounced as “very good” (Genesis 1:31)—man began to tamper with the divine will, and altered God’s original intentions concerning human sexuality. Polygamy was introduced into the world by Lamech (Genesis 4:19). God could have created two women for Adam. But He did not. Rather, He made one man for one woman for life. That is the divine will.
The next recorded departure from the divine will regarding human sexuality was Abraham’s foolish scheme to allow his wife Sarah to be taken by Pharoah (Genesis 12:10-12). That incident was followed by the determination by Sarah to offer Hagar as the means by which an heir might be secured (Genesis 16:1-16). Both of these actions obviously were contrary to God’s ideal of healthy, normal sexual behavior.
Genesis 19 now comes into view:
Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way,” And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.” But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.” So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.” And they said, “Stand back!” Then they said, “This one came in to sojourn, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door (Genesis 19:1-11, NKJV).Moses already had described the spiritual condition of Sodom’s inhabitants as being “wicked and sinners against Jehovah exceedingly” (Genesis 13:13). God Himself stated that their sin was “great” and “grievous” (Genesis 18:20). The specific activity described in Genesis 19 involved the desire on the part of the males of Sodom to “know” Lot’s two visitors. The Hebrew term yada is used euphemistically to denote sexual intercourse (cf. Genesis 4:1; 19:8; Numbers 31:17, 35; Judges 11:39; 21:11).
Notice that the crime that was condemned in this passage was not the fact that the Sodomites were being violent and forcing someone to do something against his will (see Miller, 2002). Jude made that clear when he identified their sin as “giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh” (vs. 7). Peter echoed the same thought:
[A]nd turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemning them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed with the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)—then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed; they are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries (2 Peter 2:6-10, NKJV; cf. Jeremiah 23:14).The term “sodomy” has come into the English language because of the sexual activity practiced in Sodom. A standard English dictionary defines “sodomy” as “[a]ny of various forms of sexual intercourse held to be unnatural or abnormal, especially anal intercourse or bestiality” (American Heritage Dictionary, 2000, p. 1651). It surely is reminiscent of our day to observe that when Lot urged the sodomites not to do “so wickedly,” the men accused Lot of being judgmental (Genesis 19:9; cf. Deuteronomy 23:17-18).
In addition to the pre-Mosaic period of history, God made clear His will on this matter when He handed down the Law of Moses. In a chapter dealing almost exclusively with sexual regulations, His words are explicit and unmistakable.
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Nor shall you mate with any beast, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before a beast to mate with it. It is perversion. Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who sojourns among you (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you. For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore you shall keep My ordinance, so that you do not commit any of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that you do not defile yourselves by them: I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 18:22-30, NKJV)…. If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them (Leviticus 20:13, NKJV).A person would need help to misunderstand these injunctions.
Another graphic account is given in Judges 19, during the period of the judges, which was a time of spiritual and moral depravity and decay—the “Dark Ages” of Jewish history. “Sons of Belial” (i.e., wicked scoundrels) surrounded a house where travelers had taken refuge for the night. As in Sodom, they desired to “know” the male guest (Judges 19:22). The host, like Lot, knew exactly what they meant, as is evident from the fact that, like Lot, he offered them a sexual alternative (which, of course, God did not approve). Their sexual desire was labeled as “wickedness,” “outrage,” “vileness,” “lewdness,” and “evil” (Judges 19:23,24; 20:3,6,10,12,13, NKJV).
During the period of the kings, Josiah instituted sweeping moral and religious reforms. These included tearing down the homes of the Sodomites (2 Kings 23:7).
The New Testament is equally definitive in its uncompromising and unquestioned condemnation of illicit sexual activity. Paul summarized the “unrighteous” and “ungodly” behavior of the Gentile nations and declared:
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:26-32, NKJV).This passage uses Greek terms that linguistic scholars define as “forbidden desire,” “impurity,” “unnatural vice,” “shameful passions,” “not in accordance with nature,” and “individuals of the same sex being inflamed with sensual, sexual desire for each other” (Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, pp. 28,118,119,240,583,877). Not only is God displeased with those who participate in such behavior, but verse 32 indicates that He is equally displeased with those who are merely supportive of such conduct—though they themselves do not engage in the activity. To the Corinthian church, Paul asked:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, NKJV).The Greek word translated “homosexual” is a metaphorical use of a term that literally means “soft” and, when referring to people, refers to males allowing themselves to be used sexually by other males. Again, lexicographers apply the term to the person who is a “catamite,” i.e., a male who submits his body to another male for unnatural lewdness, i.e., homosexually (Thayer, 1977, p. 387; Arndt and Gingrich, p. 489).
The term “sodomites,” (“abusers of themselves with mankind” in the KJV) is a translation of the term arsenokoitai. It comes from two words: arsein (a male) and koitei (a bed), and refers to one who engages in sex with a male as with a female (Thayer, p. 75). Paul used the same term when he wrote to Timothy, and identified some behaviors that are both “contrary to sound doctrine” and characteristic of the one who is not “a righteous man” (1 Timothy 1:9-10).
When Paul said, “such were some of you,” he proved not only that those involved may be forgiven, but that they can cease such activity. We are forced to conclude that sexual activity between persons of the same sex is not a matter of genetics; it is a behavioral phenomenon associated largely with environmental factors.
Illicit sex is just one more departure from God’s will that American civilization is facing. God identified all departures from His will pertaining to sexual intercourse as “fornication.” The underlying Greek term, porneia, is a broad term that covers every form of illicit sexual intercourse, including adultery, incest, bestiality, bigamy, polygamy, bisexuality, necrophilia, and more. Our sex-crazed society is so promiscuous, and so estranged from God’s view of human sexuality, that our public schools consider it appropriate to teach children to simply “take precautions” when they engage in sexual escapades outside of marriage. But God never encouraged people to practice “safe sex.” Rather, He instructed people to exercise self-control, self-discipline, and moral responsibility. The Bible teaches that we are not to be self-indulgent. We are to put restraints on ourselves, and control our sexual urges and desires according to God’s will.
Encouraging young people simply to “take precautions” only encourages additional illicit behavior. It encourages more promiscuity. It contributes to an increase—not a decrease—in the number of pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases. Despite several decades of inundating our schools with sex education, and the promotion of so-called “safe sex,” the statisticians inform us that in the next thirty days, 83,850 unwed girls will become pregnant in this country (“Teens in Crisis,” 2001, p. 1). The handling of the issue by the social liberal has not worked. In fact, the problem has greatly worsened.
The Bible definition of “safe sex” is sex that is confined to a divinely authorized, scriptural marriage. The depths to which our country has slumped morally is seen in the fact that it is legal for public school officials to distribute condoms to students, but it is illegal to distribute Bibles or to teach Bible principles. The time has come for our nation to wake up. The time has come to face the fact that freedom requires restraint. Rights require personal responsibility. People must take responsibility for their choices, and accept the consequences of their own actions. Paul declared, “flee fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:18). He did not say, “engage in ‘safe’ fornication!” There is no such thing as “safe” sin or “safe” immorality. God said a person must run away from it, resist it, and reject it. To a youth, Paul said, “Keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22). The writer of Hebrews insisted that the marriage bed is to be kept “undefiled.” “[F]ornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). Paul said there should not be so much as a hint of sexual immorality among Christians (Ephesians 5:3).
Please understand: God loves all sinners—regardless of the specific sins they have committed. The faithful Christian will do the same. But it is imperative that we be about the business of alerting those who are engaged in sexual sin regarding God’s will, in an effort to “snatch them out of the fire” (Jude 23), and to “save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).
CONCLUSIONSexual sin undoubtedly will go down in history as one of the major contributors to the moral and spiritual deterioration, decline, and downfall of American society. One wonders how much longer such widespread unchastity can go on in our land before God will “visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:25). Every society in human history that has followed this course toward moral and spiritual depravity has eventually been destroyed by God. Indeed, in light of such moral confusion, our society cannot continue to survive indefinitely into the future—unless, of course, God is prepared to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.
REFERENCESAmerican Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.
Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Miller, Dave (2002), “Sodom—Inhospitality or Homosexuality?,” Reason & Revelation, 22:41-42, November.
Thayer, J.H. (1962 reprint), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
“Teens in Crisis” (2001), Teen Help (Las Vegas, NV: World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools).
Darwin, Evolution, and Racism
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.
Kyle Butt, M.Div.
In the February 12, 2009 debate between Dan Barker and Kyle Butt, one minute and 30 seconds into his rebuttal speech, Kyle pointed out that Adolf Hitler was attempting to breed a superior Arian race of humans. He suggested that this plan fit perfectly with Darwin’s understanding of natural selection, especially in light of Darwin’s subtitle to his major work The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. In short, Kyle suggested that Darwin thought some races of humans were evolutionarily superior to others, and this idea led Hitler to attempt to eliminate those he deemed to be inferior (Butt and Barker, 2009).
In Barker’s five-minute closing arguments, he addressed this idea, and stated: “When Darwin talked about favored races, in those days the word race did not mean human race, like Hitler might have used it. In his day the word race was just a synonym for animal species. He wasn’t talking about favored races like whites over blacks or something.” According to Barker, Darwin did not make a distinction between various human races, but simply between the human race and animal races. Barker’s statement was not backed by any documented definition from Darwin or his contemporaries, and, in truth, is patently false.
Darwin did distinguish between various human races, or “species of men,” and he believed that some were superior to others (1871, p. 395). Although he steered clear of these ideas in The Origin of Species, his second major work on evolutionary theory, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, published in 1871, did address the issue.
Darwin began the first chapter of The Descent of Man with these words: “He who wishes to decide whether man is the modified descendant of some pre-existing form, would probably first enquire whether man varies, however slightly, in bodily structure and in mental faculties; and if so, whether the variations are transmitted to his offspring in accordance with the laws which prevail with the lower animals” (1871, p. 395). Later, in his chapter titled “On the Affinities and Genealogy of Man,” Darwin wrote:
At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla (p. 521, emp. added).Clearly, Darwin was convinced that the more “civilized races” (e.g., Caucasian) would one day exterminate the more “savage races,” which he considered to be less evolved (and thus more ape-like) than Caucasians. Darwin believed that “the Negro” and “Australian” are more of a sub-species, somewhere between Caucasians and apes. [NOTE: In addition to Darwin’s racist comments in The Descent of Man, he also included sexist statements. His evolutionary views led him to believe that “[t]he chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman—whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands.... [T]he average of mental power in man must be above that of woman.... [M]an has ultimately become superior to woman” (pp. 873-874).]
One of Darwin’s closest friends and defenders, the prominent, 19th-century English biologist Thomas Huxley, was even more direct in his evolutionary-based racist remarks. In his 1865 essay, “Emancipation—Black and White,” Huxley remarked:
It may be quite true that some negroes are better than some white men; but no rational man, cognisant of the facts, believes that the average Negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man. And, if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathus relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried on by thoughts and not by bites. The highest places in the hierarchy of civilisation will assuredly not be within the reach of our dusky cousins, though it is by no means necessary that they should be restricted to the lowest (emp. added).According to “Darwin’s Bulldog,” as Huxley was called, the “negro” is not equal to “the white man.” The alleged smaller-brained, big-jawed “Negro” supposedly cannot compete on the same playing field with the white man. Huxley espoused the false notion that “[t]he highest places in the hierarchy of civilisation will assuredly not be within the reach of our dusky cousins” (1865, emp. added). Little did Huxley know that less then 150 years later an African-American would sit in the highest office of the most wealthy and powerful nation on Earth.
The fact is, Darwinian evolution implies that some groups of humans are closer to our alleged ape-like ancestors in their mental faculties than others. Thus, some groups of humans supposedly are superior to others. The Bible teaches exactly the opposite. There are not different species or races of men; there is just one human race—an intelligent people (see Lyons, 2002)—that God created “in His image” in the beginning (Genesis 1-2; see Lyons and Thompson, 2002), both “male and female” (Genesis 1:27, emp. added). All of humanity descended from Adam and Eve, the first couple (1 Corinthians 15:45; Genesis 3:20), and later Noah, through whom the Earth was repopulated after the Flood (Genesis 6-10). Whether we are red, yellow, black, or white, we share equal value as human beings, God’s image-bearers (Genesis 1:26-28; cf. Romans 10:12). What’s more, all men stand on equal footing before God as sinners (Romans 3:10,23) in need of a Savior (John 8:24; Mark 16:15-16).
CONCLUSIONBarker’s attempt to vindicate Darwin of racist ideas was founded on groundless assertions and is easily disproven. Darwin used the term “race” to distinguish between Caucasians, Negros and Aborigines, exactly as was suggested in Kyle’s statement concerning the implications of Darwin’s evolution. As with many of Barker’s assertion in the debate, we encourage the discerning listener/reader to ask a simple question: Does Barker provide a valid argument or supply documentation for the assertion he is making? The majority of the time, the answer is a resounding, “No.”
REFERENCESButt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), The Butt/Barker Debate: Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Darwin, Charles (1859 reprint), The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (New York: The Modern Library).
Darwin, Charles (1871 reprint), The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (New York: The Modern Library).
Huxley, Thomas (1865), “Emancipation—Black and White,” [On-line], URL: http://aleph0.clarku.edu/huxley/CE3/B&W.html.
Lyons, Eric (2002), “Ancient Nitwits or Knowledgeable Ancestors?” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1798.
Lyons, Eric and Bert Thompson (2002), “In the ‘Image and Likeness of God [Parts I/II],’” Reason & Revelation, 22:17-23,25-31, March/April.
Homosexuality Comes Out of the Cartoon Closet
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
The idea that cartoons are for children is quickly coming to an end. One of TV’s most “adult” cartoons for the past several years has been The Simpsons. The disrespectful youngster known as Bart Simpson has influenced his younger viewers for years to talk back to their parents, misbehave in school, and generally disregard basic rules of propriety and reverence toward God and family. Homer Simpson, Bart’s father, is exactly the model of selfish, rude, irreverent behavior that one might expect to find as Bart’s dad.
In one of the most recent episodes of The Simpsons, the town of Springfield, where the family lives, decided to make homosexual marriages legal. “Homer sees the chance to make some quick cash by getting a permit to conduct ceremonies. He writes the services, starting each with the words: ‘Queerly beloved, we are gathered here today’ ” (Austin, 2005). Homer is shocked to discover that his sister-in-law, Patty, wants to marry her girlfriend. The producers of the show have hinted at Patty’s homosexuality in past episodes, but they obviously felt that it was time for Patty to “come out of the closet,” enticed by the incentive of a legal “marriage” to her partner.
As we at Apologetics Press have done so many times before, we would like to point the reader’s attention to several facts regarding the idea of homosexuality—primarily that it is a sinful condition and is in no way genetic (see Harrub and Miller, 2004). The biblical writers repeatedly renounced the practice as one that, if not repented of, will doom its practitioners to eternal misery. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 the apostle Paul wrote: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites...will inherit the kingdom of God.”
That homosexuality is against God’s will is a fact. That is why it is so troubling to see the animated cartoon, the medium that once was considered one of the most innocent (and suitable even for our youngest viewers), being hijacked by our permissive culture and used to infect the minds of its viewers with such sinful and destructive ideas.
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul wrote that the Christian has the responsibility to “test all things; hold fast what is good” (5:21). Let us make sure that shows like The Simpsons do not pass the test of what is good in our homes.
Harrub, Brad and Dave Miller (2004), “ ‘This is the Way God Made Me’—A Scientific Examination of Homosexuality and the ‘Gay Gene,’ ” and “An Investigation of the Biblical Evidence Against Homosexuality” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2553; http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2577.
How Long Was the Israelites’ Egyptian Bondage?by Kyle Butt, M.Div.
Bert Thompson, Ph.D.
 In Galatians 3:17, the apostle Paul stated that the Law of Moses (which was given shortly after the Israelites’ exit from Egypt) came 430 years after God had made His covenant with Abraham. However, Moses stated in Exodus 12:40-41 that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt 430 years. How can both passages be correct when it seems clear from a straightforward reading of biblical chronology that a minimum of 215 years passed between the time God made His covenant with Abraham and the time the Israelites (through Jacob) entered Egypt—thus making it appear that the Israelites had to have been in Egypt 645 years (215 + 430)?
 Additionally, information in 1 Chronicles 6:1, 1 Chronicles 23:6-13, and Exodus 6:16-20 allows for a maximum time period of 352 years. How, then, can it be stated that the Israelites were in Egypt 430 years?
 Furthermore, in Genesis 15:13 Moses explained that the Israelites would be “sojourners in a land that is not theirs” for “400 years,” and Stephen used the same figure in his speech in Acts 7:6 when he said that the Israelites would be brought “into bondage” and treated evil “for 400 years.” What is the truth of the matter? How, exactly, do all these passages fit together? How many years were the children of Israel in Egypt?
The Exodus of the Hebrews from the hands of their cruel Egyptian taskmasters is one of the most triumphant stories in Old Testament history. This event was the beginning of Israel’s rise to power, and proved to the then-known world that the living God had chosen the descendants of Abraham as the people through whom He would bring the Messiah. The Exodus and its aftermath were so monumental, in fact, that it virtually overshadowed the history of the previous centuries.
But the exact length of the Israelites’ “sojourn” has been in the past, and remains today, a matter of some controversy. Certain biblical passages (e.g., Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6) seem to indicate a length of 400 years for the time period under consideration. Elsewhere (e.g., Exodus 12:40-41) the length of time appears to be 430 years. Still other information (e.g., 1 Chronicles 6:1, 1 Chronicles 23:6-13, and Exodus 6:16-20) places an upper limit of approximately 350 years on the time frame involved. In an article written more than thirty years ago (“The Duration of the Egyptian Bondage”), chronologist Harold W. Hoehner observed: “When one looks at the various passages of Scripture concerning the length of Israel’s bondage in Egypt, one immediately discovers that there are apparent disagreements in the biblical record” (1969, 126:306). In his discussion on Exodus 12:40-41, renowned commentator Adam Clarke noted: “The statement in this verse is allowed on all hands to be extremely difficult, and therefore the passage stands in especial need of illustration” (n.d., p. 358). Albert Barnes took the same position in regard to Acts 7:6 when he wrote in his commentary on that book: “Great perplexity has been experienced in explaining this passage, or reconciling it with other statements” (1949a, p. 121). Those “other statements” to which Barnes referred are the passages mentioned in the above questions. Can the “apparent disagreements” between these passages be resolved?
Yes, they can. However, some background information on each of these passages is required in order to understand the problems posed by the three questions above—and the solutions that we plan to propose.
First, we need to address the suggestion that there was a minimum of 215 years between God’s promise to Abraham and the entrance of the Israelites (through Jacob) into Egypt. Such a suggestion is correct. Various writers (e.g.: Barnes, 1949b, p. 343; Duncan, n.d., p. 4; Hoehner, 1969, 126:308-309; Mauro, n.d., pp. 26-27) have explained how the 215-year figure can be obtained quite readily from Scripture. By way of summary, the information appears as follows:
Later in this discussion, we will return to the problem of the alleged 430 years of Egyptian bondage supposedly having to be added to that 215-year period. But for the present, we would like to examine the problem of the limitation placed on the Egyptian sojourn by information found in such passages as 1 Chronicles 6:1, 1 Chronicles 23:6-13, and Exodus 6:16-20. Again, by way of summary, the information gleaned from these texts is as follows:
- The text in Genesis 46:11 indicates that Kohath, the son of Levi and grandfather of Moses, apparently was born prior to Jacob moving to Egypt with his sons (Genesis 46:11). If he had just been born at the time, and if he sired his son Amram the last day of his life, then Amram could have been born no later than 134 years after the entrance into Egypt (rounding a 9-month pregnancy upward to a full year) because Kohath lived only 133 years (Exodus 6:18).
Amram (the father of Moses) lived 137 years (Exodus 6:20). If he had sired Moses the last day
of his life, then Moses would have been born no more than 272 years
after Jacob and his sons entered Egypt (133 +1 + 137 + 1 = 272).
Moses was 80 years old when Israel came out of Egypt (Exodus 7:7).
Add that 80 to the 272, and the total is a maximum of 352 years. As
Barnes noted: “From the account which Moses has given of the lives of
certain persons, it would seem clear that...the whole time thus mentioned, including the time in which the father lived after
his son, was only three hundred and fifty years” (1949a, p. 121, emp.
in orig.). Thus the suggestion that these passages “allow for a maximum
time period of 352 years” also is correct.
- Additional information that delimits the number of years of the sojourn can be derived from a source completely independent of Kohath—Moses’ mother, Jochebed. The Bible mentions her twice, the first instance being Exodus 6:20: “And Amram took him Jochebed his father’s sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were a hundred and thirty and seven years.” Jochebed is named a second time in Numbers 26:59: “And the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt: and she bare unto Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister.”
Where, then, do the figures of 430 years and 400 years fit into all of this? Were the Israelites in Egypt 645 years? Or 430 years? Or 400 years? Or 215 years?
As we attempt to provide the answers to such questions, let us point out that no one has stepped forward to suggest that the Israelites were in Egypt for 645 years. Such a view is indefensible in light of the biblical evidence, including (but not necessarily limited to) the scripturally imposed time limit mentioned above of 352 years. There are, however, two major viewpoints regarding the specific length of Israel’s sojourn. The first suggests that the Israelites actually lived in Egypt for 430 years. This view has been adopted by Archer (1994, pp. 205-212), Keil and Delitzsch (1974, 2:29), Kitchen (1966, pp. 53-56), and Unger (1954, pp. 106,150), among others. Yet, as David Rohl observed in his book, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest:
In most commentaries or popular books on the Old Testament you will read that the Israelite Sojourn in the land of Egypt lasted four hundred and thirty years. However, this figure is by no means certain. In fact, there is clear evidence that the period of the Sojourn was no more than two hundred fifteen years (1995, p. 329).Dr. Rohl is correct on both counts. The idea which suggests that the Israelites spent 430 years in Egypt is presented in “most commentaries or popular books on the Old Testament.” Nevertheless, there is “clear evidence” that the Israelites were in Egypt for only 215 years, not 430. [We will deal with the matter of the “400 years” of Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6 at a later point in this article, since it turns out to be a separate issue altogether.] This, then, is the second major view regarding the length of the sojourn, and has been adopted by such scholars as Barnes (n.d., p. 121), Clarke (n.d., 1:358), Henry (n.d., 1:322), Mauro (n.d., pp. 31-32), Rohl (1995, pp. 329-332), and Thiele (1963, pp. 166-167), among others. But why—in light of what appear to be clear statements of Scripture that assign a period of 430 years to the sojourn—do such writers suggest that the sojourn actually was half of that? An explanation is in order.
There is only one passage in the Old Testament that suggests a sojourn of 430 years—Exodus 12:40-41:
Now the time that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of Jehovah went out from the land of Egypt.Those who suggest that the sojourn lasted only 215 years believe—because numerous facts seem to demand it—that the time period of “the sojourning of the children of Israel” begins with the call of Abraham and God’s promise to him (Genesis 12:1-3), and ends with the Exodus. In other words, the fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) sojourned in Canaan for 215 years, and their descendants lived in Egyptian bondage for an additional 215 years. The total, then, is the 430-year figure of Exodus 12:40-41 (and Galatians 3:17). In his commentary on Acts, Albert Barnes put it this way: “The question then is, how can these accounts be reconciled? The only satisfactory way is by supposing that the four hundred and thirty years includes the whole time from the calling of Abraham to the departure from Egypt”(1949a, p. 121, emp. added). In addressing the text of Acts 7:6 in his commentary on that inspired book, H. Leo Boles remarked: “Paul says that the law came four hundred thirty years after the promise (Gal. 3:17); so that the four hundred years of Ex. 12:40 probably included the patriarchs’ residence in Canaan (Genesis 15:13,14; Exodus 3:12)” [1941, p. 104, emp. added]. In his commentary on Galatians, Barnes wrote: “The exact time here referred to was probably when Abraham was called, and when the promise was first made to him. Assuming that as the time referred to, it is not difficult to make out the period of four hundred and thirty years” (1949b, p. 343).
But why is it “not difficult”? And what do we mean by our statement that some scholars believe the sojourn lasted only 215 years because “numerous facts” seem to demand it? What are those “numerous facts”? How can the 215-year figure be defended?
First, it must be admitted forthrightly, in light of the information given above, that there is a maximum of 352 years available for the sojourn in Egypt, whatever that sojourn might encompass. There simply is no way around that fact.
Second, Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, reviewed the time element associated with the covenant between God and Abraham (given in Genesis 15) when he wrote:
Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, “And to seeds,” as of many; but as of one, “And to thy seed,” which is Christ. Now this I say: A covenant confirmed beforehand by God, the law—which came four hundred and thirty years after—doth not disannul, so as to make the promise of none effect (3:16-17).In discussing Paul’s observation, Philip Mauro wrote: “Here we see that the 430 years began with God’s promise to Abram, made at the time he entered into Canaan at the age of 75 (Gen. 12:1-4) and ended with the giving of the law, which was the same year as the Exodus” (n.d., p. 27). As we have shown above, it can be documented quite easily from Scripture that the time from Abraham’s call to Jacob’s entrance into Egypt was 215 years. Rohl therefore concluded:
Various passages in the book of Genesis have led scholars to determine that the period from Abraham’s descent to Jacob’s arrival in the Land of Goshen was two hundred and fifteen years and so the Sojourn in Egypt (from Jacob’s arrival to the Exodus) lasted around the same length of time—in other words, circa two hundred and fifteen years (1995, p. 331, parenthetical item in orig.).If the time period between Abraham’s call and the giving of the law (which occurred roughly three months after the Exodus) was 430 years (and Paul specifically remarked that it was), and if 215 of those years had passed before the Israelites went into Egypt (the time period from Abraham’s call to Jacob’s entrance into the land of the Nile), then that would leave only 215 years remaining for the Israelites’ sojourn in Egypt—which is exactly the time frame we believe the evidence supports.
Third, in Genesis 15:16 it was prophesied that the Israelites would return to Palestine during the lifetime of the “fourth generation”—which they did, according to Exodus 6:16-20, Numbers 3:17-19, Numbers 26:57-59, 1 Chronicles 6:1-3, and 1 Chronicles 23:6,12-13 (Jacob-Levi-Kohath-Amram-Moses). As Hoehner (who does not even agree with the 215-year view) admitted: “To fit four generations into a 215-year period is much more reasonable than a 430- year span” (1969, 126:309; see also Duncan, n.d.).
Fourth, secular research likewise has concluded that the Israelites remained in the land of the pharaohs for 215 years. David Rohl, a respected Egyptologist, is convinced that this is the proper interpretation of the facts. In his book, Pharaohs and Kings, he undertook the challenge of reassessing the century-old Egyptian chronology so that it could accommodate more accurately several new archaeological discoveries. According to his research, Israel went down into Egypt c. 1662 B.C., and was delivered by God through Moses c. 1447 B.C.—a span of 215 years (1995, pp. 329-332).
Fifth, there are other important historical and/or textual considerations that need to be investigated in this matter. For example, in Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus wrote that the Israelites “left Egypt in the month of Xanthicus, on the fifteenth day of the lunar month; four hundred and thirty years after our forefather Abraham came into Canaan, but two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob removed into Egypt” (II. 15.2). Rohl observed in this regard:
Now, according to the statements of Josephus himself, he had access to very old documents formerly housed in the Temple of Jerusalem from which to draw his account of early Israelite history. Josephus lived in the first century A.D. and so his writings are dated hundreds of years before the Masoretic text of the Tanakh (Hebrew Old Testament) was completed in the fourth century A.D. If his source documents were genuine, then the information he gives for the duration of the Sojourn derives from a much earlier period than that employed by the Masoretes when they made their version of the history of Israel and a further several centuries before the earliest extant copy of the Masoretic text (1995, p. 331).In the Masoretic text of the Old Testament (to which Rohl referred, and on which the biblical quotations given above have been based), Exodus 12:40 reads as follows: “The time that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.” Two other highly reliable biblical texts, however, strongly suggest that this translation is incorrect due to a critical omission. In both the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), Exodus 12:40 reads as follows: “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel and of their fathers, which they sojourned in the land of Canaan AND in the land of Egypt was 430 years” (see Clarke, n.d., pp. 358-359, emp. in orig.). William Whiston, who translated the works of Flavius Josephus into English, included a footnote at the bottom of the page accompanying Josephus’ comment (quoted above in regard to the Israelites’ 215-year stay in Egypt). Whiston wrote:
Why our Masorete copy so groundlessly abridges this account in Exod. xii,40 as to ascribe 430 years to the sole peregrination [travel by foot—AB/BT/KB] of the Israelites in Egypt when it is clear even by that Masorete chronology elsewhere, as well as from the express text itself, in the Samaritan, Septuagint, and Josephus, that they sojourned in Egypt but half that time—and that by consequence the other half of their peregrination was in the land of Canaan, before they came into Egypt—is hard to say (1974, 2:171).Rohl suggested, however, that it really is not hard to say. In fact, he said:
It is fairly easy to see what happened in the interval between Josephus’ day and that of the Masoretes. During the process of copying down the original scrolls over the intervening centuries, a section of text something on the lines of “and in the land of Canaan” had fallen out (or had been edited out). This is confirmed by the Greek rendition of the Old Testament (the Septuagint or LXX) which retains the original, full version of the passage (1995, p. 331).In his commentary on the Pentateuch, Adam Clarke discussed this at length:
...the Samaritan Pentateuch, by preserving the two passages, they and their fathers and in the land of Canaan, which are lost out of the present copies of the Hebrew text, has rescued this passage from all obscurity and contradiction. It may be necessary to observe that the Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint has the same reading as that in the Samaritan. The Samaritan Pentateuch is allowed by many learned men to exhibit the most correct copy of the five books of Moses; and the Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint must also be allowed to be one of the most authentic as well as most ancient copies of this version which we possess (n.d., pp. 358-359, emp. in orig.).Rohl wrote in agreement:
The Septuagint was first written down in the time of Ptolemy I during the third century B.C. and the earliest surviving manuscript is again much older than the earliest surviving Masoretic copy. The Samaritan version of the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch) is also considerably more ancient than the Masoretic scriptures and it too retains the longer rendition of the passage on the length of the Sojourn. Thus, three out of four sources for the book of Exodus state that the four-hundred-and-thirty-year interval represents the whole period from Abraham’s descent into Canaan all the way down to the Exodus of Moses and the Israelites from Egypt (1995, p. 331).If Josephus, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Septuagint are correct (and there is good evidence to indicate that they are) in stating that “the sojourning of the children of Israel and of their fathers, which they sojourned in the land of Canaan AND in the land of Egypt was 430 years,” then the alleged contradiction between Exodus 12:40-41 and Galatians 3:17 evaporates into thin air, and the 215-year figure for the Israelites’ sojourn in Egypt can be accepted quite easily as both credible and scriptural.
But where do the “400 years” of Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6 fit into this scheme? As God spoke to Abraham in Genesis 15 while the patriarch was dwelling among the terebinth trees at Hebron, the Lord said: “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.” Here, God was permitting His faithful servant—through words spoken approximately two centuries prior to Israel’s entrance into Egypt—to peek into the future of his descendants. Add to that the words of Stephen (in Acts 7:6) when he said, looking back on Israel’s history: “And God spake on this wise, that his seed should sojourn in a strange land, and that they should bring them into bondage, and treat them ill, four hundred years.” What is the meaning of these particular passages?
Some writers (e.g., Barnes, 1949a, p. 121; Boles, 1941, p. 104) have suggested that the 400- year figure represents merely a “rounding off” of the 430-year figure given in Genesis 15:13. But we think there is a much better explanation, and suggest that there is a fundamental distinction between the 430-year figure and the 400-year figure.
Notice that in Stephen’s speech he specifically stated that Abraham’s “seed should sojourn in a strange land.” In his book, The Wonders of Bible Chronology, Philip Mauro wrote:
But, in addition to this period of 430 years, there is another of 400 years, which also ended at the Exodus.... The period of 430 years includes the sojourn of Abram and Sarah. That of 400, however, begins with the experience of Abraham’s “seed.” This refers, of course, to Isaac in the first place; for in Isaac the promised “seed” was to be “ called”; but the era is not that of the birth of Isaac, but that when he was acknowledged the “seed” and the “heir” by the casting out of Hagar and Ishmael. That took place at the time of the “great feast” which Abraham made the day Isaac was weaned (Gen. 21:8-10). This is an important event in the annals of God’s people, because of its deep spiritual significance, as appears by the reference to it in Galatians 4:29,30. From the foregoing Scriptures we are able to arrive at the date when Isaac was weaned and Ishmael was cast out (whereby Isaac became the acknowledged “seed” and “heir”). For there is a difference of thirty years between the two periods. But we have already found that there were twenty-five years from the call of Abraham (and God’s “ covenant” with him) to the birth of Isaac. Hence, deducting 25 from 30 gives us 5 years as the age of Isaac when Ishmael was cast out. There is no need to give at greater length the proofs concerning the 400-year period (n.d., pp. 27, 28, emp. in orig.).As Hoehner wrote: “In conclusion, the 430 years went from Abraham’s call to the Exodus. The first 215 years was their sojourn in Palestine and the last 215 years in Egypt. The 400 years was from the weaning of Isaac to the time of the Exodus” (1969, 126:309). Our point exactly!
Some may ask, though, how the 215-year figure for the Israelites’ time in Egypt can be squared with statements such as those in Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6, which seem to indicate that the Hebrews would be “sojourners in a strange land that is not theirs” where their enemies would “bring them into bondage” and “treat them ill”? In his commentary on Galatians, David Lipscomb addressed this point.
The law was given by Moses four hundred and thirty years after this promise was made to Abraham (Ex. 12:40). Many interpret this to mean that they sojourned in Egypt four hundred and thirty years. But they dwelt in tents and had no permanent habitation during their sojourn in Canaan and Egypt and in the wilderness from the call in Ur until the entrance into Canaan after the Egyptian bondage (n.d., p. 231, emp. added).Or, as Mauro stated: “This period of ‘sojourning’ of the people of God is reckoned from Abraham’s entrance into Canaan, for then they (Abram and Sarah, the beginnings of the family) became strangers and pilgrims (Heb. 11:8-13)” [n.d., p. 27, parenthetical item in orig.]. In Exodus 6:4, Canaan is referred to as “the land in which they dwelt as sojourners.” While it certainly is true that they were slaves in Egypt for a considerable period of time (215 years), their oppression actually began much earlier, and lasted much longer, than just those 215 years. In fact, it would be accurate to say that the oppression began as early as Ishmael, who was half Egyptian and who mocked Isaac, the son of promise (Genesis 21:9). In Galatians 4:29, Paul discussed Ishmael’s ill treatment of Isaac when he penned these words: “He that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit.” That “persecution” obviously continued, as is evident from the fact that Egyptians felt it was a great abomination to eat with Hebrews (Genesis 43:32)—even until the time that Joseph came to power in their country. Later, of course, the persecution culminated in the attempted destruction by Pharaoh of the Hebrew male babies during Moses’ infancy (Exodus 1:15-22). Thus, the “sojourning” and “ill treatment” did not occur only during Egyptian captivity, but actually had commenced much earlier.
Critics of the 215-year view, however, have suggested that the second 215-year period (i.e., the time spent in Egypt) would not allow for the population explosion that obviously occurred while the Hebrews were captives. Less than 100 went down into Egypt, and yet by the time they left, they numbered more than 2 million (based on the figures in Numbers 1:46; cf. Archer, 1982, pp. 378-379). However, C.G. Ozanne, in his volume, The First 7,000 Years, has shed some light on this criticism.
Of course, the standard objection to this interpretation is the census totals of male Levites in Numbers 3. In this chapter the total number of Kohath’s male descendants “from a month old and upward” is given as 8600 (v. 28), these being divided between his four sons, Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. Assuming that the total number is to be divided evenly between the four sons, Amram must have had some 2150 male descendants within a few months of the Exodus. At first sight this figure may seem well-nigh impossible. When, however, it is broken down, it begins to assume more reasonable proportions. Thus, supposing that Amram was born fifty-five years after the descent into Egypt and that forty years constitute a generation, it is only necessary to allocate seven males to a family to arrive at a figure considerably in excess of the desired 2150. On this reckoning Moses would have had 7 brothers (for he himself may be ignored for the purposes of this calculation), 49 nephews, 343 great-nephews and 2401 great-great-nephews within the allotted span. A total of 2800 is thus obtained, of which the vast majority would still have been alive to see the exodus from Egypt. Bearing in mind the greatly extended period of childbearing (Jochebed was about 70 at the birth of Moses), the practice of polygamy (which enabled Jacob to have eleven sons in seven years), and above all the astonishing fertility of the Israelite women on which the Bible lays special emphasis (cf. Gen. 46.3; Exod. 1.7,12,19; Deut. 26.5), the rate of increase here suggested should not necessarily be thought incredible (1970, pp. 22-23).Thus, when all of the biblical information is considered, it is apparent that there is no contradiction between Exodus 12:40-41 and Galatians 3:17. Nor is there any problem in regard to Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6. As the late Bobby Duncan said when he ended his study of these matters, “Isn’t it amazing how the Bible clarifies the Bible?” (n.d., p. 4). Amazing indeed!
REFERENCESArcher, Gleason (1982), Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Archer, Gleason L. (1994), A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Barnes, Albert (1949a reprint), Barnes’ Notes—Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Barnes, Albert (1949b reprint), Barnes’ Notes—II Corinthians and Galatians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Boles, H. Leo (1941), Commentary on Acts of the Apostles (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Clarke, Adam (no date), Clarke’s Commentary on the Old Testament—Volume I: Genesis to Deuteronomy (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury).
Duncan, Bobby (no date), “The God of the Fourth Generation” (Adamsville, AL: Adamsville Church of Christ).
Henry, Matthew (no date), Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible—Volume I: Genesis to Deuteronomy (McLean, VA: MacDonald).
Hoehner, Harold W. (1969), “The Duration of the Egyptian Bondage,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 126:306-316, October.
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1974 reprint), Commentary on the Old Testament—The Pentateuch (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Kitchen, Kenneth A. (1966), Ancient Orient and Old Testament (London: Tyndale).
Lipscomb, David (no date), Commentary on Second Corinthians and Galatians (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Mauro, Philip (no date), The Wonders of Bible Chronology (Swengel, PA: Reiner).
Ozanne, C.G. (1970), The First 7,000 Years (New York: Exposition Press).
Rohl, David M. (1995), Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest (New York: Crown).
Thiele, Edwin (1963), “Chronology, Old Testament,” Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, ed. Merrill C. Tenney (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Unger, Merrill (1954), Archaeology and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Whiston, William, trans. (1974 reprint), The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
“How can you escape the condemnation of hell?”Jesus asked the scribes and Pharisees this question because of their sin (Matthew 23:13-36).
Jesus warns us about hell. Of the twelve passages in the New Testament containing the word ‘hell’ from the Greek word γέεννα, eleven are spoken by Christ. Six of them also contain the word sin.
Sin and hell are not popular words.
Are sin and hell really as bad as Jesus says? “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched” (Mark 9:43).
Some who call themselves Christians are embarrassed by what Jesus says about hell, so they abolish hell by teaching that everyone will be saved (universalism) or that hell is not eternal (annihilationism).
Jesus taught, however, that only few will enter the small gate and be saved, and that weeping and gnashing of teeth await the others (Luke 13:23-28).
He also taught that the fire of hell will be unending: “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire -- where ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’” (Mark 9:47, 48). Both the punishment and the reward are everlasting: “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46).
Some use Jesus’ teaching about hell as an excuse to reject Him. The atheistic philosopher, Bertrand Russell, wrote: "There is one very serious defect in Christ’s moral character, and that is that he believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment" (Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not A Christian, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957, p.17).
We can question Russell’s qualifications to judge the morality of Jesus since he believed that sex outside of marriage was not necessarily immoral, advocated trial marriages and believed in easy divorce. He was married four times and had many extramarital affairs.
It is understandable that immoral people do not like what Jesus says about sin and hell.
Yet we will discuss the objections that some raise against this teaching of Jesus.
Two basic arguments are made: (1) hell is too severe as punishment; (2) God’s nature is incompatible with eternal punishment.
Here are some statements by people who make the first objection. “Eternal punishment for a mere lifetime of sin? How just is that?” “No finite act or sum of finite acts (which is itself finite) could be of sufficient severity to merit infinite punishment.” “Is it not plain that sins committed in time and space cannot deserve limitless retribution?”
This objection is simply an expression of man’s desire to make light of sin. How can the severity of sin be measured? Sin is a violation of God’s will. Thus, God is the One who determines its seriousness. Eternal punishment reveals the seriousness of sin!
Because of His love for man, and the terrible consequences of sin, Jesus makes clear how bad sin is: “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire” (Matthew 18:8, 9).
Jesus also indicated the seriousness of sin is by taking our punishment upon Himself and dying in our place so we can be saved from the eternal consequences of sin, if we repent and accept the grace and forgiveness offered through Him.
It is presumptuous to claim that punishment in hell is too severe. Hell proves how serious sin is.
Does eternal punishment conflict with the nature of God?
This involves asking why God does certain things. We should remember the question God asked Job: “Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?” (Job 40:8).
What questions are asked by people who object to the idea of hell? Notice that each question is actually an attempt to blame God for sin.
Why did God make man able to sin?
Well, man can sin; that much is certain. So maybe the first question should be: what characteristic enables man to sin?
Angels are also able to sin: “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, with seven others, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) -- then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:4-9). Sinful angels were banished to hell and the unrighteous will share their punishment: “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
What characteristic enables men and angels to sin? They are not robots, but are self-directing beings. Why did God create them that way? I guess He wanted men and angels, rather than robots. Why? Well, would you rather have a robot or a child with whom you can have a voluntary loving relationship?
One could make a cute little robot with an electronic eye, and program it so that when it ‘saw’ you, it would come rolling toward you, throw out its arms and say, “I love you! I love you!” Would that be love? The God of love had more in mind.
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Genesis 1:26-28).
God created man to rule. What did He tell Cain about sin? “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:7).
Man is accountable because his sin results from his own choice.
Another question is asked: Since God is all-powerful and has foreknowledge, why does He not only allow people to be born who will choose what is right?
That God is all-powerful does not mean that He can do contradictory things. When God gives man a choice, it must be a real choice, not a make-believe choice, because that is no choice at all. A choice exists only if there is a real alternative.
God’s knowledge of the future is not deterministic but observational, just like our knowledge of the past is observational. God exists outside of time, but man must make his choice in the course of time.
In fact, God allows people to be born even though He knows that all of them will sin (Romans 3:23). He does this because He has a plan by which any of them who wants to can be saved! “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
By objecting to hell, people try to blame God for their sins.
In Ezekiel’s day the people were complaining: “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?” (Ezekiel 33:10). They tried to blame God that they were burdened by sin. Ezekiel was to tell them: “‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die?’” (Ezekiel 33:11). In stead of complaining, they just needed to repent!
Another question people ask is: How can a good God send anyone to hell? Paul wrote to people who refused to repent: “Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
God in His great goodness and mercy is willing to forgive and sanctify the vilest sinner who repents. If we believe in Jesus, repent of our sins, confess our faith and are baptized, we can be forgiven (Acts 2:38).
When people refuse to repent, they may not blame God for the consequences. Paul continues: “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness -- indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:5-11).
God’s judgment is righteous. He would not be just if He left sin unpunished. Since everyone sins, everyone deserves punishment.
Yet, there is a difference among people. It is not that some are sinless and some are not. The difference is that some believe in God, love Him, and want to do what is right (although they fall short), whereas others turn their back on God.
God would be unjust if He showed favoritism. He cannot just pass over the sins of those who love Him and are trying to do what is right, because they too have sinned.
Thus He sent His Son who lived a life without sin and did not deserve to die (John 10:17, 18). Jesus allowed himself to be crucified to pay the penalty for our sins, “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 2:24 - See Isaiah 53:5).
Hell is not too severe a punishment for sin, and God’s nature is not incompatible with eternal punishment, since He has provided a way of escape through the sacrifice of Christ.
I know that sin and hell are as bad as Jesus says, because reliable evidence and testimony prove that He is the Son of God and knows what He is talking about. He fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies about the coming King.
His life and teaching prove that He is the Messiah. “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:10, 11).
As the officers said, who came back empty-handed after they were to arrest Jesus: “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46). What was the testimony of the Roman soldiers who crucified Christ? “So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” (Matthew 27:54).
No one has ever shown more love for His fellow man than Jesus. Thus when He warns us about hell, we should listen.
“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4, 5).
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive