"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" The Vision Of The Seventy Weeks (9:20-27) by Gary Rose

                          "THE BOOK OF DANIEL"

               The Vision Of The Seventy Weeks (9:20-27)


1. We come now to one of the most difficult passages of the Old
   a. Commonly called "The Vision Of The Seventy Weeks" - Dan 9:20-27
   b. Edward J. Young describes it as "one of the most difficult in all
      the OT, and the interpretations which have been offered are
      almost legion."
   c. Stuart says that "it would require a volume of considerable
      magnitude even to give a history of the ever-varying and
      contradictory opinions that have been offered"
2. With such a difficult passage before us, we should ...
   a. Approach it with humility, and not dogmatically
   b. Not draw conclusions that would contradict clear teachings of

[We begin our study with verse 20, in which Daniel first describes...]


      1. Even as Daniel was confessing his sin and the sin of his
         people, and making supplication for the holy mountain of God
         (i.e., Jerusalem) - Dan 9:20-21
      2. This was the same person seen in the vision at the beginning
         - cf. Dan 8:16

      1. Commanded to do so even at the beginning of Daniel's prayer
         - Dan 9:22-23
      2. For Daniel was "greatly beloved" - cf. Dan 10:11,19

[And so Gabriel, who provided explanation to Daniel regarding the
vision of the ram and the goat (Dan 8:16), now proceeds to give
details concerning...]


      1. 70 "weeks" are determined for Daniel's people (Israel) and his
         holy city (Jerusalem) - Dan 9:24
         a. The word "weeks" in Hebrew is actually "sevens" (i.e., 70
         b. Most agree it likely refers to "weeks", but weeks of what?
            1) Weeks of days?
               a) Then it would be 490 days
               b) Few believe this to be the case, and so most all
                  figuratize this passage to some extent
            2) Weeks of years (i.e., each day representing a year)?
               a) Then it would be 490 years
               b) But the Jews used a lunar calendar (360 days/yr), so
                  it would be 483 years according to our calendar)
               c) Many suggest this to be the answer, but it is not
                  without difficulty
            3) Of some complete, yet non-specific period of time?
               a) Then it may just refer to seventy complete periods of
               b) And each week may not be equivalent in time (i.e.,
                  one "week" may be longer than other "weeks")
      2. This period of time will be for the fulfillment of six things,
         each apparently related to the work of the coming Messiah
         a. To finish the transgression
            1) The marginal reading has "restrain" for "finish"
            2) The idea is that Messiah would provide a restraining
               power and influence which would check the progress of
               sin (Barnes) - cf. Ac 3:25-26
         b. To make an end of sins
            1) The marginal reading has "to seal up" for "make an end"
            2) The idea is that sins will be sealed up, or closed, or
               hidden, so that they will not be seen, or will not
               develop themselves (Barnes) - cf. Ac 3:19
         c. To make reconciliation for iniquity
            1) Literally, to cover iniquity
            2) How this would be done is not stated here, but 
               cf. Isa 53:5-6,10-12
         -- Note:  The first three things relate to our Lord's work of
            dealing with the problem of sin, how sin would 
            "restrained", "sealed up", and "covered over"
         d. To bring in everlasting righteousness
            1) Literally, to cause to come
            2) To provide a way by which a man could become righteous
               and holy - cf. Ro 3:21-26; 2Co 5:21
         e. To seal up the vision and the prophecy
            1) To complete, to finish, meaning the prophecies would be
               fulfilled (Barnes)
            2) Young suggests that it is referring to OT prophecies,
               especially those related to the work of the Messiah
               making an end of sin - cf. Lk 24:44-47
         f. To anoint the Most Holy
            1) Barnes opines that the Most Holy refers to the temple in
            2) And that the anointing of the temple refers to the
               presence of the Messiah in the temple - cf. Mal 3:1-2;
               Mt 12:6
            3) Especially regarding the presence of the Lord in the
               temple during His final week - cf. Mt 21:1-16
            4) Some believe it may refer to the baptism of Jesus when
               the Spirit came upon Him in the form of a dove - Mt 3:

      1. There shall be 7 weeks and 62 weeks - Dan 9:25
         a. Beginning with the command to restore and build Jerusalem,
            until Messiah the prince (the street and the wall shall be
            built, even in troublesome times)
         b. At least three possible decrees may serve as the "terminus
            pro quo" (starting point) of the 70 "weeks"
            1) The decree of Cyrus (539-538 BC) - cf. Ezr 1:1-4
               a) To rebuild the temple (and the city, cf. Isa 44:
                  26-28; 45:13)
               b) If one starts here, then the 70 weeks could not be
                  490 literal years, for that would place the end of
                  the 70 weeks around 55 B.C. (much too early)
               c) The appeal of using this decree as the starting point
                  1] It is the most well-known decree regarding the
                     restoration of Israel
                  2] It was given about the time Daniel received his
                     vision of the 70 weeks
               -- This decree is preferred by many who do not hold to a
                  literal 490 years (Young, Harkrider, McGuiggan)
            2) The decree of Artaxerxes (457 BC) - cf. Ezr 7:13-14
               a) For Ezra to restore the Law and its worship
               b) Starting here, 490 Julian years would end the 70
                  weeks around 33 A.D.
               c) But 490 lunar years end the 70 weeks around 26 A.D.
                  (seven years too early)
               -- This decree is preferred by some amillenialists who
                  hold to a literal 490 years, but not lunar years
                  (Haley's Bible Handbook)
            3) The second decree of Artaxerxes (445-444 BC) - cf. Neh 2:1-8
               a) For Nehemiah to build the city
               b) Starting here, 490 lunar years end the 70 weeks
                  around 38 A.D.
               c) This would place the start of the 70th week near the
                  beginning of Jesus' public ministry (ca. 30 A.D.)
               d) There are problems with the first 7 weeks ending
                  around 396 B.C., which some contend is too late for
                  the restoration of the city
            -- Premillenialists prefer to start with this decree, but
               so do some amillenialists such as Albert Barnes
         c. Each starting date has its problems, but I lean towards
            Barnes' choice of the second decree of Artaxerxes in 445
            B.C. as the terminus a quo for this prophecy
            1) The 7 and 62 "weeks" is the period of time from the
               decree until "Messiah the Prince"
            2) Barnes has this period ending with the baptism of Jesus
               and the beginning of His public ministry
      2. After the 62 weeks, certain events will occur - Dan 9:26-27
         a. Messiah will be cut off, but not for Himself
            1) This refers to the death of Christ
            2) Whose death occurs midway during the 70th week
               (see below)
         b. People of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city
            and the sanctuary
            1) The end of it shall be with a flood; until the end of
               the war, desolations are determined
               a) The people are generally accepted to be the Romans,
                  who destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70
               b) The "prince" is thought to be either Titus, the Roman
                  general, or perhaps referring to Jesus Himself (with
                  the Roman army as the instrument of God's judgment
                  upon Jerusalem)
            2) Many contend that the destruction must fall within the
               70th week
               a) However, Young and Barnes argue that such is not
                  necessarily required by the text
               b) The desolation to befall Jerusalem may be the
                  consequence of events during the 70th week, and not
                  fall within the period of the 70th week
         c. For 1 week, he shall confirm a covenant with many
            1) "He" refers to Jesus (Barnes)
            2) "Confirm a covenant" describes the work done by Jesus
               and His apostles in Israel, before and immediately after
               His death (Barnes)
               a) His earthly ministry lasted about 3 and half years
               b) The gospel was preached only to Jews for 3-4 years
                  after Pentecost
         d. In the middle of the week he shall bring an end to
            sacrifice and offering
            1) This refers to Jesus who was cut off, but not for
               Himself (Barnes)
            2) Through His death, He brought the need for sacrifices to
               an end - He 10:12-18
         e. The abomination and desolation to come - Dan 9:27
            1) Alluding to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70
            2) Jesus referred to this in Mt 24:15
            3) Again, this desolation may be the consequence of what
               occurred in the 70th week, even though it occurred after
               the 70th week
            4) But if required to occur during the 70th week, then the
               70th week must extend beyond A.D. 70 (Harkrider, 


1. Such a brief look at this difficult passage will naturally raise
   many questions, which are beyond the scope of our study

2. For more detailed study, one might consider the following
   commentaries which provide several alternative views...
   a. Commentary on Daniel, Albert Barnes
   b. The Prophecy of Daniel, Edward J. Young
   c. Commentary on Revelation, Robert F. Harkrider
   d. The Book Of Daniel, Jim McGuiggan
   e. Exposition Of Daniel, H. C. Leupold
   -- Each of these examine the passage from the amillenial
      perspective, which finds no place for the "gap theory" favored by
      dispensational premillenialists

While the passage is admittedly difficult, let's not lose sight of the
wonderful promises concerning the Messiah's work related to sin and
righteousness.  For Jesus through His death has truly brought an end to
the consequences of sin and introduced everlasting righteousness!

"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" Daniel's Penitential Prayer (9:1-19) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF DANIEL"

                  Daniel's Penitential Prayer (9:1-19)


1. As we continue our survey of the book of Daniel, we come to a
   remarkable chapter...
   a. In which we find a beautiful prayer expressed by Daniel - Dan 9:
   b. In which we find an amazing revelation regarding "seventy sevens"
      - Dan 9:20-27

2. Without question, the latter part of the chapter is difficult...
   a. Edward J. Young describes it as "one of the most difficult in all
      the OT, and the interpretations which have been offered are
      almost legion."
   b. H. C. Leupold wrote "This is one of the grandest prophetic
      passages; and yet, if there was ever an exegetical crux, this is
3. In light of its difficulty...
   a. We should certainly approach this passage with humility, and not
   b. We should be careful not to draw conclusions that contradict
      clear teachings of Scripture

4. But before we consider the actual vision of the seventy weeks, let's
   take the time to consider the prayer offered by Daniel...
   a. A beautiful example of confessing sin and seeking forgiveness
   b. Akin to the prayer of David in Ps 51

[A wonderful blessing we enjoy as Christians is the cleansing blood of
Jesus as we confess our sins (1Jn 1:9).  Daniel's prayer in this
chapter provides insight into the art of confessing sin...]


      1. In the first year of Darius, son of Ahasuerus - Dan 9:1
         a. Of the lineage of the Medes
         b. Made king over the Chaldeans (Babylonians) - Dan 5:31; 6:
      2. The time is now about 538 B.C.

      1. Daniel knew the prophecy of Jeremiah, regarding 70 years of
         Babylonian captivity - Dan 9:2; cf. Jer 25:9-12; 29:10
      2. The 70 years of Jerusalem began in 606 B.C., with the
         captivity of Daniel and the first devastation of Jerusalem
         - 2Ch 36:5-7; Dan 1:1-6
      -- So with this first year of the Medo-Persian empire (With
         Darius the Mede over Chaldea, but with Cyrus the Persian over
         all), the prophecy of Jeremiah was almost completed 
            - 2 Chr 36:21-23; Ezr 1:1-4

      1. Daniel set his face toward the Lord God - Dan 9:3
         a. To make request by prayer and supplications
         b. This may have included facing toward Jerusalem - cf. Dan 6:
      2. With fasting, sackcloth, and ashes
         a. Physical preparations which illustrated his humility and
         b. Similar to the practice of others - Neh 9:1-2; Jon 3:5-9

[With the Word of God fresh on his mind, his heart humbled by his own
sins and those of his people, even his physical body humbled into
submission, Daniel begins his penitential prayer...]


      1. Addressing the Lord his God - Dan 9:4
         a. As great and awesome
         b. Who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who:
            1) Love Him
            2) Keep His commandments - cf. Ps 103:17-18; Jn 14:15
      2. Confessing in behalf of his people - Dan 9:5-6
         a. Of sinning and committing iniquity
         b. Of doing wickedly and rebelling
         c. Of departing from His precepts and judgments
         d. Of failing to heed His servants the prophets, who spoke to
            their kings, princes, fathers, and all the people - 2 Chr36:15-21
      3. Contrasting their shame with God's righteousness - Dan 9:7-9
         a. To Judah, Israel, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem belong
            shame of face
            1) Those both near and far off in countries where God had
               driven them
            2) To them, their kings, princes, and fathers
            3) Because of their unfaithfulness against God, their sin
               and rebellion - Ezr 9:6-7
         b. To God belongs righteousness
            1) To Him belongs mercy and forgiveness
            2) Even though they had rebelled against Him - Ezr 9:8-9
      4. Reviewing their sin, and the fulfillment of God's warnings 
         - Dan 9:10-14
         a. The nature of their sin - cf. Neh 9:13-30
            1) They have not obeyed the voice of the Lord
            2) They have not walked in His laws set before by His
            3) They transgressed His law, and departed so as not to
               obey His voice
            4) They had not prayed that they might turn from their
               iniquities and understand His truth
         b. The fulfillment of God's warnings - Lev 26:14-39; Deut 28:
            1) The curse and oath written in the Law of Moses has been
               poured out
            2) He has confirmed His words spoken against them by
               bringing a great disaster upon them
            3) Especially the disaster which has come upon Jerusalem
      5. Summarizing their sin - Dan 9:15
         a. To Him who delivered them from Egyptian bondage with a
            mighty hand
         b. They have sinned, and done wickedly!

      1. His passionate plea for God to:
         a. Turn away His anger and fury - Dan 9:16
            1) From His city Jerusalem, His holy mountain
            2) Because of their sins and iniquities
            3) For which they have become a reproach
         b. Hear his prayer and supplications - Dan 9:17a
         c. Cause His face to shine on His sanctuary, which is desolate
            - Dan 9:17b
         d. See their desolation, and the desolation of the city called
            by His name - Dan 9:18
         e. Hear, forgive, act and not delay! - Dan 9:19
      2. His passionate plea based, not because of their righteous
         deeds, but upon:
         a. God's righteousness, and for His sake - Dan 9:16-17
         b. God's great mercies, and for His city and His people called
            by His name - Dan 9:18-19


1. Like the penitential prayer of David in Ps 51, this prayer of
   Daniel is a classic example of how to confess our sins and seek
   God's forgiveness
   a. To seek forgiveness on the basis of God's lovingkindness and
      mercy, not one's own righteousness - cf. Ps 51:1-2
   b. To acknowledge one's sins before God - cf. Ps 51:3-4
   -- As we confess our sins (cf. 1Jn 1:9), remember the example of
      godly men like David and Daniel!

2. Daniel's noble character is seen in how he identified himself with
   his people in their sins...
   a. Even though he had been faithful to God throughout his life - Dan 6:10
   b. For such reasons he was "greatly beloved" by God - Dan 9:23; 10:

May the example of Daniel's life and faith inspire us in our own walk
with God, for we too have been blessed to be "greatly beloved":

   "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that
   we should be called children of God!" - 1Jn 3:1a

Are we trusting in the love and mercy of God for the forgiveness of
sins, and not our own righteousness?

Don't Worry, Be Happy by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Don't Worry, Be Happy

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

It certainly would not single-handedly prove the Bible’s inspiration if we could show that it is filled with practical advice that is time-tested and true. However, it would add considerable weight to the overall case of biblical inspiration if several such pieces of proverbial wisdom could be discovered. One of those can be found in Matthew 6:25, a passage in which Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”
Worry has consistently been one of society’s most plaguing problems. It has caused countless costs in the healthcare profession. It has crippled the effectiveness of Christians. Worry has retarded growth in family, led to the premature deaths of loved ones, destroyed businesses, and separated souls from God. Surely, worry can’t be that destructive, some might say. However, in an amazing book titled None of These Diseases, medical doctors S.I. McMillen and David E. Stern brought to light the fact that worrying and stress do cause major problems.
On pages 175-177 of their book, they included a partial list of conditions that are caused or worsened by worry and stress. Among those are infertility, suicide, lung cancer, breast cancer (or cancer of many types), anorexia, heart attacks, and strokes.
The negative effects of worry on the human body have been known for many years. The Great Physician’s prescription for a worry-free life was, and is, “just what the doctor ordered” for good health—physical, emotional, and spiritual.


McMillen, S.I. and David Stern (2000), None of These Diseases (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell), third edition.

Did God Create Us with a Desire to Sin? by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


Did God Create Us with a Desire to Sin?

by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

“There is no doubt that humans want to sin. Why would a loving God that does not want us to sin create us with that desire? What an evil thing to do! Apparently, He wants us to sin! How is that fair? Why would He expect us to not sin and then tempt us by giving us the desire to do it? That’s sick. How could He be a loving God?” Several months ago, a young lady approached me and made these accusations against God. Is this a dilemma for the God of the Bible?1
For the sake of argument, we will assume for a moment that it is true that God created us with a desire to sin. First, if we grant that He created us with a “desire to sin,” is it not also true that He simultaneously created us with an ability to choose not to sin? In other words, He did not create us so that we had to sin. He clearly gave us freewill—the freedom to make our own decisions. Every capable human proves on a daily basis that he does, in fact, have the freedom to do or not to do various activities. We are not mindless robots that act solely on instinct. You can choose to read this sentence or not. No matter how intense a particular temptation is, it has been proven to be able to be resisted by man. Now, if God wanted us to sin, and had the power to cause us to sin, why would He create us with the ability to choose not to do so? That would not make sense. Ironically, at the very beginning of time, God directly stated that it is not He Who wants sin to rule over us. Sin has a “desire” to do so, but He created us with the ability to “rule over it” (Genesis 4:7).
 Further, even if God did create us with a “desire to sin,” is it not also strange that He would give us a way of being cleansed or forgiven from that evil we desire to engage in? If He wanted us to fail, why would He do such a thing? The gift of forgiveness in the biblical model is a blatant inconsistency with such an idea, and serves as a formal proof that God does not want us to sin. Even more curiously, if He wanted us to sin, why would the system for forgiveness that He instituted entail His own agonizing death? Such a selfless act is not something a God would do who wanted us to sin and go to hell. Such behavior is, however, something a merciful God would do—a God Who wanted to give us independence and freedom of choice, and still give us a way to be forgiven when we make the wrong decisions.
That said, it simply is not accurate to say that God created Man with an inherent desire to do evil. If anything, since He gave us a conscience and inherent sense of justice or fairness, He created us with a pull or pressure to not do certain things. Every human being on the planet understands that there are some things that are fair, and some things that are not fair, and an unseared conscience pressures us to do the right thing by others.
Further, while we sometimes might desire to do evil, is it not also true that at other times we have a desire to do good? One could just as easily and equally ask the question, “Did God create us with a desire to do right?” Even the most hardened atheist or agnostic (e.g., Bart Ehrman2) admits that he wants (i.e., is tempted) to do good and does so (i.e., “succumbs” to that temptation) through various philanthropic activities. If God created us with a desire to sin, it must also be conceded that He created us with a desire to do good as well.
How can this apparent contradiction be explained? Is it not likely that God did not in fact create us with the desire to sin? We desire both activities at times because we have discovered that they both can make us feel good in different ways. That said, it is fair and consistent to conclude that God created us with that desire—i.e., the desire to feel good (i.e., to be happy, appreciate pleasure, to desire enjoyment and satisfaction), not purely the desire to do evil. For example, we were created to want to eat—to feel good from doing so—but not with the desire to be cannibals. Perhaps it would be better to describe it this way: God created us with the capacity to experience and appreciate feeling good. When we feel good, we naturally want to continue having that feeling. Those things with which we choose to fill the “feel good tank” up are our decisions as individuals with free will. Those decisions are no doubt influenced by many factors (e.g., experience, pride, our parents and teachers [Proverbs 22:6; 19:27], our friends [1 Corinthians 15:33; Proverbs 13:20], Satan [2 Corinthians 2:11], etc.), but the bad influences or evil desires are never from God. James 1:13-14 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” We desire to do evil things because of the momentary pleasures or good feelings they can give, not because God wants us to do evil. The wise individual will recognize that not all pleasures should be engaged in at will. He will choose to endure temporary affliction if it is necessary to do right, rather than enjoying “the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25).
But why would He not create an environment where we have no interaction with others and cannot be deleteriously influenced by them? In such an environment, we would lose the blessings we receive from interacting with others as well (e.g., conversation, companionship, physical affection, kind words, medical attention, technological advancement, gifts, etc.). There is a reason why solitary confinement is used as a serious punishment within the prison system. Isolation and loneliness are unhealthy. “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Interaction with others, and the blessings we can have from those interactions, are gifts from God. We live on a planet with over seven billion others. Since we all live together, our free will inevitably affects those around us, for good or ill. If we could not affect others with our decisions, then we simultaneously would cease to have the free will to affect those people for good or ill. Only through creating an environment where all humans were forced to obey God could the temptation to disobey God be eliminated. But in such an environment, God would cease to be aloving God Who grants us freedom. He would be a dictator, forcing everyone to obey Him as mindless automatons.
But why would God give us the capacity to experience feeling good at all? If it makes us do evil, how is that a good thing? There is no doubt that God’s choice to allow us pleasure is a blessing to us, in spite of its dangers. Who would honestly argue that a life completely devoid of having pleasurable feelings or feeling good would be a good (i.e., pleasurable) one? The very idea is self-contradictory. For the same reason we long to make our children happy and give them joy in life, God created us to be able to experience the same. One would not expect an unloving God, One Who wanted humans to sin, to also create us to be able to experience pleasure and joy. Such a decision, however, would be perfectly in harmony with a loving, gracious God Who cares for us and wishes to bless us with happiness, in spite of the bad decisions we and others around us often make. So notice that the desire to feel good is not inherently evil. In fact, the Creator’s decision to instill in us the desire to feel good and to experience pleasure is actually a blessing, not a curse, as long as He gave us, along with the capacity for appreciating pleasure, the ability to distinguish the good kind of pleasure from the bad, either through instruction or creating an environment where we can learn from experience.
Is it not true that a loving parent wishes to maximize happiness or joy for his child? This includes giving that child an environment where he can have a certain degree of freedom and independence. He is not chained to his bed his whole life, but is given rules (i.e., advice), warnings about what will happen if the child chooses bad pleasures, and the freedom to decide whether or not to obey or disobey those rules. He can decide to believe his parents,that they know what will make him happy, or believe that his way will have a better result. A child might reason that he would be happier if he ignored his parents’ warnings, and touched the stove anyway. For a moment, the child experiences the pleasure we often feel from engaging our free will, and as he feels good from the freedom he pridefully believes that he has proven his parents wrong. A moment later, when he is burned, he discovers why his parents made the rule in the first place, and learns to trust (i.e., have faith in) them. But what about when he touches the stove and nothing happens because the stove is off? In such cases, a loving parent’s discipline is given in order to make sure the child does not happen to touch the stove the next time—when it is on. Though the child does not yet understand why the rule has been given in the first place (since nothing happened when he touched the stove the first time), he learns to obey his parents anyway, and in time, learns to trust their wisdom through the verification of that wisdom in numerous other rules and warnings. But why does the parent go through this procedure? Clearly, to maximize happiness for the child in the long run.
God has done the same for us. First, God created an environment conducive to learning right and wrong. Notice that the created order has a system of punishment worked into it to help us distinguish certain things on our own. For example, pleasure can generally be gained from sexual activity in any form, but that does not mean that all forms are going to maximize our happiness. So God communicated certain ways we should engage in such activity in order to maximize happiness. He also designed a natural system whereby when we deviate from His rules about sexual activity, pain and sorrow will come in some way (even if we do not always recognize that our behavior is the cause of it). While we have the freedom to reject God’s will, He still encourages us to do right through a system of punishment worked into the created order (e.g., venereal diseases; physical danger from a lack of sobriety or reckless, imprudent behavior; potential for drug overdoses; diseases and cancers that come from certain sins; depression; family strife; loneliness; etc.). Also in the created order are constant admonitions helping us to behave correctly (e.g., through pressure from our conscience to behave in certain ways, through lessons gained from our observations of others, as well as through the direct admonition given to us by others who have made bad decisions). Does the creation of such an environment sound more like the work of a God Who wants us to sin or not to sin? Does such a system prove that the Creator apparently wants to encourage us to obey Him, while also giving us independence and the freedom to disobey Him if we choose?
Second, as a loving parent would be expected to do, God was sure to give us direct instruction to warn us about the differences between good and bad pleasures. The Bible is clear in communicating explicitly that our happiness is a major motivation behind the rules that God gave us (e.g., Psalm 19:7-8). The rules in the Bible were not selected randomly merely to control humans, in the same way a loving parent’s rules are not so selected. The great Sermon on the Mount is begun with the Beatitudes—the Son of God’s rules of thumb for being happy (i.e., “blessed”) in life. In Deuteronomy 10:12-13, Moses reminds the Israelites that God’s rules were for their good. In Deuteronomy 6:24 he says that God’s laws are “for our good always, that He might preserve us alive.” God’s commandments are often about more than how to get to heaven. They affect our lives here and now. In Proverbs 29:18 Solomon warns his son that eliminating God’s rules (i.e., His “revelation”) from a society will certainly allow total, unbridled freedom in the behavior of that society (i.e., people will “cast off restraint”) and that conscience-free behavior will be thought to be the way to happiness. That total freedom, however, contrary to what we might think, will not bring people happiness. Solomon warns, “Happy is he who keeps [God’s] law.”
A child might think that having no rules about running out in the street will make him happy, but in truth, happiness in the long run comes from (1) having those rules, and (2) obeying his parents’ rules. We may not always agree at the moment with what He says will make us happy, just as a child does not always agree with his parents; but, as with a child, we are oftentimes simply not in a position to know in the long run what will be best for us and the people around us. A child would love to make those decisions on his own, and develop his own system of right and wrong. He thinks that he can do so effectively—just as adults sometimes think we know better than God what will make us happy. But the bottom line is that the parents know a lot more about what will bring lasting happiness, and so the parent teaches, makes rules, and enforces them—as does God. The difference is that humans are imperfect in designing and enforcing rules, because like a child, we also do not know everything we need to know to do it perfectly. Parents disciplined “us as seemed best to them” (Hebrews 12:10), but biblical rules were made by the omniscient Mind Who created the human mind. Who could possibly know better what will bring the human mind happiness than He Who created it?
Did God create us inherently to desire to do evil? No. God created us with the capacity to experience pleasure and happiness and the desire to pursue it. He created us to be able to enjoy pleasure and feel good, through our eyes, ears, tongues, noses, and nerves, as well as in our very souls. He created an environment where we can choose to fill our pleasure tanks in different ways—right and wrong ways—as a parent does with a child, and then He gave us valuable instruction about which are the best choices. By creating such a free environment, pain, suffering, and evil are inevitable, since humans will oftentimes reject God’s rules and admonitions. But with such inevitably bad decisions, He made sure to provide a means by which we can be forgiven, and eventually, live with Him in an environment free from all evil.

end notes

1 Well-known reformation theologian John Calvin taught the doctrine that humans have a “sinful nature.” According to Calvin, sin has been passed down from Adam to all humans. Humans are, therefore, born in a state of “total depravity.” For a response to that false doctrine, see Caleb Colley (2010), “The Problematic Concept of a Sinful Human Nature,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=3749&topic=379; Kyle Butt (2004), “Do Children Inherit the Sin of Their Parents?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=1378; Caleb Colley (2004), “Did David Authorize Infant Baptism?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1062; and Moises Pinedo (2009), “Are Children Born With Sin?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=2697.
2Kyle Butt and Bart Ehrman (2014), Butt/Ehrman Debate: Pain, Suffering, and God’s Existence (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Defend the Truth...In Meekness and Fear by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Defend the Truth...In Meekness and Fear

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

The Truth of God’s Word is precious (Proverbs 23:23; cf. John 17:17; Psalm 119:142,151). God expects humanity to come to learn it and love it (John 8:31-32; Psalm 119:47,48,113,119,127,165,167). Christians are then expected to defend it and let others know about it (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:4; Acts 26:24-25). The inspired apostle Peter even commanded first-century Christians to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15, emp. added). God is serious about His people teaching and defending His Word.
In our proclamation of the Truth, however, we must keep in mind what Peter noted at the end of 1 Peter 3:15—that our defense is to be made “with meekness and fear” (emp. added). Christians are to try to be Christ-like at all times, including when we defend the truth. Our teaching is to be characterized “with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15, NASB/RSV). We are to “honor all people” as we “fear God” (1 Peter 2:17). As we “proclaim the praises of Him” who called us “out of darkness into His marvelous light,” we must be “clothed with humility” (1 Peter 2:9; 5:5).
Recently a man who identified himself as a Catholic priest wrote an unsolicited letter to Apologetics Press. We had never heard of this gentleman before reading his note. Although, sadly, he is very mislead in his adherence to Catholic doctrine (see Pinedo, 2009), consider some of his analysis of a handful of preachers in the church of Christ. [NOTE: He refers to preachers as “elders.”]
As a Roman Catholic priest who follows non-Catholic religions with some interest...I have observed a lot of meanness, rudeness, and lack of basic civility among CoC [Church of Christ—EL] elders [preachers—EL], especially recently. How does one explain this? In general (no doubt there are exceptions perhaps many), Christian love seems deficient in the way they seek to promote truth.
In general, they strike me as tending to be suspicious, rash and uncharitable in their judgments about other people’s motives, prone to arrogance, and even too eager to call someone a liar, more so than the average pagan in the streets. These comments are based on only my limited experience, to be sure, and sometimes, no doubt, I am guilty of some of the very same sins and character flaws.
I was considering doing some kind of oral interaction with an elder or two about Catholic matters. Now it looks to me like this would be a royal invitation to verbal abuse, misrepresentation, and even character assassination....
Some members of the Lord’s church might tend to dismiss this criticism with a wave of the hand, but we believe this gentleman was right in his assessment and denouncement of some who attempt to “defend the truth,” yet do so in an unchristlike manner. What’s more, we all need to be reminded of the necessity and seriousness of “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We must examine ourselves and ensure that our teachings and defense of the truth are done lovingly and patiently, confidently yet kindly, neither rudely nor arrogantly (1 Corinthians 13).
Keep in mind what the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy shortly before commanding him to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). He described “a servant of the Lord” as one who “must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition” (2 Timothy 2:24-25). May God help us to live according to the Truth as we seek to defend it.


Pinedo, Moises (2008), What the Bible says about the Catholic Church (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/wtbsatcc.pdf.

The Passion and Antisemitism: Who Murdered Jesus? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Passion and Antisemitism: Who Murdered Jesus?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The furor surrounding Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ preceded by many months the release of the movie on February 25. The official Web site states: “Passion is a vivid depiction of the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ’s life” (Passion Web site). Special emphasis is placed on the physical suffering Christ endured. Throughout the film, the language spoken is the first-century Jewish language, Aramaic, except when the Romans speak their language, i.e., Latin (Novak, 2003). Gibson, who both produced and directed the film, sank $25 million of his own money into the venture.
Much of the stir over the film stems from the role of the Jews in their involvement in Christ’s crucifixion. In fact, outcries of “anti-Semitism” have been vociferous, especially from representatives of the Anti-Defamation League. Their contention is that Jews are depicted in the film as “bloodthirsty, sadistic, money-hungry enemies of God” who are portrayed as “the ones responsible for the decision to crucify Jesus” (as quoted in Hudson, 2003; cf. Zoll, 2003). The fear is that the film will fuel hatred and bigotry against Jews. A committee of nine Jewish and Catholic scholars unanimously found the film to project a uniformly negative picture of Jews (“ADL and Mel…”). The Vatican early avoided offering an endorsement of the film by declining to make an official statement (“Vatican Has Not…”; cf. “Mel Gibson’s…”). This action is to be expected in view of the conciliatory tone manifested by Vatican II (Abbott, 1955, pp. 663-667). Even Twentieth Century Fox decided not to participate in the distribution of the film (“20th Decides…”; cf. “Legislator Tries…”; O’Reilly…”).
Separate from the controversy generated by Gibson’s film, the more central issue concerns to what extent the Jewish generation of the first century contributed to, or participated in, the death of Christ. If the New Testament is the verbally inspired Word of God, then it is an accurate and reliable report of the facts, and its depiction of the details surrounding the crucifixion are normative and final. That being the case, how does the New Testament represent the role of the Jews in the death of Christ?
A great many verses allude to the role played by the Jews, especially the leadership, in the death of Jesus. For some time prior to the crucifixion, the Jewish authorities were determined to oppose Jesus. This persecution was aimed at achieving His death:
So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff (Luke 4:28-30, emp. added).
Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God (John 5:18-19, emp. added).
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him… “Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” (John 7:1-2,19, emp. added).
“I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by (John 8:37-41,59, emp. added).
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him…. Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand (John 10:31-32,39, emp. added).
Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death…. Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him (John 11:53, 57, emp. added).
And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him (Luke 19:47-48, emp. added).
And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people (Luke 22:2, emp. added).
Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him (Matthew 26:3-4, emp. added).
These (and many other) verses demonstrate unquestionable participation of the Jews in bringing about the death of Jesus. One still can hear the mournful tones of Jesus Himself, in His sadness over the Jews rejecting Him: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:37-39). He was referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and the demise of the Jewish commonwealth at the hands of the Romans in A.D. 70. Read carefully His unmistakable allusion to the reason for this holocaustic event:
Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:41-44).
He clearly attributed their national demise to their stubborn rejection of Him as the predicted Messiah, Savior, and King.
Does the Bible, then, indicate that a large percentage, perhaps even a majority, of the Jews of first century Palestine was “collectively guilty” for the death of Jesus? The inspired evidence suggests so. Listen carefully to the apostle Paul’s assessment, keeping in mind that he, himself, was a Jew—in fact, “a Hebrew of the Hebrews” (Philippians 3:5; cf. Acts 22:3; Romans 11:1; 2 Corinthians 11:22). Speaking to Thessalonian Christians, he wrote:
For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, emp. added).
This same apostle Paul met with constant resistance from fellow Jews. After he spoke at the Jewish synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, a crowd of people that consisted of nearly the whole city gathered to hear him expound the Word of God. Notice the reaction of the Jews in the crowd:
But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles….” But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region (Acts 13:45-46,50-51).
Paul met with the same resistance from the general Jewish public that Jesus encountered—so much so that he wrote to Gentiles concerning Jews: “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake” (Romans 11:28). He meant that the majority of the Jews had rejected Christ and Christianity. Only a “remnant” (Romans 11:5), i.e., a small minority, embraced Christ.
What role did the Romans play in the death of Christ? It certainly is true that Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross. First-century Palestine was under the jurisdiction of Rome. Though Rome permitted the Jews to retain a king in Judea (Herod), the Jews were subject to Roman law in legal matters. In order to achieve the execution of Jesus, the Jews had to appeal to the Roman authorities for permission (John 18:31). A simple reading of the verses that pertain to Jewish attempts to acquire this permission for the execution are clear in their depiction of Roman reluctance in the matter. Pilate, the governing procurator in Jerusalem, sought literally to quell and diffuse the Jewish efforts to kill Jesus. He called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people and stated plainly to them:
“You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. I will therefore chastise Him and release Him” (for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast). And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas”—who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder. Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” Then he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.” But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested. And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will (Luke 23:14-25).
It is difficult to conceptualize the level of hostility possessed by the Jewish hierarchy, and even by a segment of the Jewish population, toward a man who had done nothing worthy of such hatred. It is incredible to think that they would clamor for the release of a known murderer and insurrectionist, rather than allow the release of Jesus. Yes, the Roman authority was complicit in the death of Jesus. But Pilate would have had no interest in pursuing the matter if the Jewish leaders and crowd had not pressed for it. In fact, he went to great lengths to perform a symbolic ceremony in order to communicate the fact that he was not responsible for Jesus’ death. He announced to the multitude: “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it” (Matthew 27:24). Technically, the Romans cannot rightly be said to be ultimately responsible. If the Jews had not pressed the matter, Pilate never would have conceded to having Him executed. The apostle Peter made this point very clear by placing the blame for the crucifixion of Jesus squarely on the shoulders of Jerusalem Jews:
Men of Israel…the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses (Acts 3:12-16, emp. added).
Notice that even though the Romans administered the actual crucifixion, Peter pointedly stated to his Jewish audience, not only that Pilate wanted to release Jesus, but that the Jews (“you”)—not the Romans—“killed the Prince of life.”
Does God lay the blame for the death of Christ on the Jews as an ethnic group? Of course not. Though the generation of Jews who were contemporary to Jesus cried out to Pilate, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25, emp. added), it remains a biblical fact that “the son shall not bear the guilt of the father” (Ezekiel 18:20). A majority of a particular ethnic group in a particular geographical locale at a particular moment in history may band together and act in concert to perpetrate a social injustice. But such an action does not indict all individuals everywhere who share that ethnicity. “For there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11), and neither should there be with any of us.
In fact, the New Testament teaches that ethnicity should have nothing to do with the practice of the Christian religion—which includes how we see ourselves, as well as how we treat others. Listen carefully to Paul’s declarations on the subject: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham's seed” (Galatians 3:28-29, emp. added). Jesus obliterated the ethnic distinction between Jew and non-Jew:
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity (Ephesians 2:14-17).
In the higher sense, neither the Jews nor the Romans crucified Jesus. Oh, they were all complicit, including Judas Iscariot. But so were we. Every accountable human being who has ever lived or ever will live has committed sin that necessitated the death of Christ—if atonement was to be made so that sin could be forgiven. Since Jesus died for the sins of the whole world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2), every sinner is responsible for His death. But that being said, the Bible is equally clear that in reality, Jesus laid down His own life for humanity: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep…. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:11,17-18; cf. Galatians 1:4; 2:20; Ephesians 5:2; 1 John 3:16). Of course, the fact that Jesus was willing to sacrifice Himself on the behalf of humanity does not alter the fact that it still required human beings, in this case first-century Jews, exercising their own free will to kill Him. A good summary passage on this matter is Acts 4:27-28—“for of a truth in this city against thy holy Servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy council foreordained to come to pass.”


The movie is, indeed, graphic. Despite various inaccuracies and additions that usually come with an attempt to transfer a biblical narrative to the screen, The Passion of the Christ nevertheless does a credible job of reenacting the excruciating torment that Jesus endured by undergoing Roman scourging and crucifixion. The film fosters a renewed appreciation of the suffering that Jesus subjected Himself to in behalf of sinful humanity.
Anti-Semitism is sinful and unchristian. Those who crucified Jesus are to be pitied. Even Jesus said concerning them: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). But we need not deny or rewrite history in the process. We now live in a post-Christian culture. If Gibson would have produced a movie depicting Jesus as a homosexual, the liberal, “politically correct,” anti-Christian forces would have been the first to defend the undertaking under the guise of “artistic license,” “free speech,” and “creativity.” But dare to venture into spiritual reality by showing the historicity of sinful man mistreating the Son of God, and the champions of moral degradation and hedonism raise angry, bitter voices of protest. The irony of the ages is—He died even for them.


Abbott, Walter, ed. (1966), The Documents of Vatican II (New York, NY: America Press).
“ADL and Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion,’ ” [On-line], URL: http://www.adl.org/interfaith/gibson_qa.asp.
Hudson, Deal (2003), “The Gospel according to Braveheart,” The Spectator, [On-line], URL: http://www.spectator.co.uk/article.php3?table=old&section=current&issue= 2003-09-20&id=3427&searchText=.
“Legislator Tries to Censor Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion,’ ” [On-line], URL: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2003/8/27/124709.shtml.
“Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion’ Makes Waves,” [On-line], URL: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/08/08/entertainment/main567445.shtml.
Novak, Michael (2003), “Passion Play,” The Weekly Standard, [On-line], URL: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/014ziqma.asp.
“O’Reilly: Elite Media out to Destroy Mel Gibson,” [On-line], URL: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2003/9/15/223513.shtml.
Passion Web site, [On-line], URL: http://www.passion-movie.com/english/index.html.
“20th Decides Against Distributing Gibson’s ‘The Passion,’ ” [On-line], URL: http://www.imdb.com/SB?20030829#3.
“Vatican Has Not Taken A Position on Gibson’s Film ‘The Passion,’ Top Cardinal Assures ADL,” [On-line], URL: http://www.adl.org/PresRele/VaticanJewish_96/4355_96.htm.
Zoll, Rachel (2003), “Jewish Civil Rights Leader Says Actor Mel Gibson Espouses Anti-Semitic Views,” [On-line], URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2003/09/19/ national1505EDT0626.DTL.

Another Pointless Attempt to Defeat Biogenesis by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


Another Pointless Attempt to Defeat Biogenesis

by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

“British scientists recreate the molecules that gave birth to life itself”—the title of a recent article posted by the UK based, Mail Online (Enoch, 2012). Such a bold, presumptuous title certainly grabs your attention, considering that it leaves the impression that abiogenesis has finally been proved—that non-living “molecules” can give rise to life, contrary to the mounds of scientific evidence that prove that life comes only from life (see Miller, 2012). Unfortunately for the atheistic evolutionist, the article admits more bad news for the beloved theory than good.
The article begins with the statement, “Scientists [i.e., evolutionary scientists—JM] are one step closer to understanding the origin of life...” (Enoch). To the atheist, this would sound exciting, until he realizes that the author is tacitly admitting that after decades of work trying to establish that life could somehow evolve from non-life—which must have occurred in order for Darwinian evolution even to begin—scientists still do not understand the origin of life. Robert Hazen, a research scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Geophysical Laboratory, admitted in his lecture series, Origins of Life, that scientists “don’t know how life began,” but rather, have to “make an assumption that life emerged from basic raw materials through a sequence of events that was completely consistent with the natural laws of chemistry and physics” (Hazen, 2005). Paul Davies, theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist, and professor at Arizona State University said, “One of the great outstanding scientific mysteries is the origin of life. How did it happen?... The truth is, nobody has a clue” (2006, 192[2578]:35). Eminent British evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, also admitted that no one knows how life began (Stein and Miller, 2008).
The problem with this idea, from a scientific standpoint, is that science has, in fact, spoken about the origin of life. Science has proven time and again that, in nature, life comes only from life (Miller, 2012). Life does not come from non-living things in nature. So, according to science, the answer to the origin of life question must be found outside of nature—from a supernatural source. Don’t expect the atheistic evolutionist to accept that logical implication from the scientific evidence, and don’t expect Enoch’s article to make that admission either.
What are the facts that can be gained from the research discussed in the article? The tests conducted by organic chemists at the University of York and the University of Nottingham reveal that “using simple left-handed amino acids to catalyse the formation of sugars resulted in the production of the predominantly right-handed form of sugars” (Enoch). This is amazing and significant research. The problem, as usual, is not the evidence of science, but the interpretation of the evidence by evolutionists. The researchers assert that their find might explain how carbohydrates could have originally evolved on Earth and why the right-handed form dominates in nature. According to Paul Clark, who led the team of scientists who conducted this research, “One of the interesting questions is where carbohydrates come from because they are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. What we have achieved is thefirst step on that pathway to show how simple sugars—threose and erythrose—originated” (Enoch, emp. added).
Notice that they “jump from A to Z” in their conclusion that their findings have proven to be the “first step” in showing how “simple sugars…originated.” How can one make such an assertion? That’s like seeing a car for the first time, noticing that it is green, and proceeding to assume that the first step has been taken in proving that all vehicles are green cars. The researchers go beyond the evidence when they apply their excellent research to a hypothetical world that allegedly might have existed eons ago, that might have had just the right conditions and available materials to produce the results they gathered from their experiments—conditions and materials which have only been present in their laboratory, not in nature—which may or may not have been the means by which, in the evolutionist’s eyes, life could have somehow spontaneously arrived in the first place.
As is usually the case when such research is publicized, the authors want to grab your attention by boldly implying something that has not actually occurred. One has to read the article cautiously to catch the myriad disclaimers laced throughout the article, which subtly highlight the fact that the implications of the research are characterized by mere assertions and conjecture—not proof. A quick perusal through the short, 357 word article, watching for disclaimers, reveals the following phrases concerning the interpretation of the research: “could have occurred”; “could explain”; “many people think”; “we are trying to understand”; “most scientists believe”; “hypothetical conditions”; “that may have been present on early Earth.” The truth: naturalistic scientists don’t have a clue how life originated. They can only guess and speculate because (1) they were not around when life was originally initiated, and (2) because nature reveals that life cannot come from non-life.
With that in mind, notice the significant admission by Paul Clarke. “For life to have evolved, you have to have a moment when non-living things become living—everything up to that point is chemistry. We are trying to understand the chemical origins of life” (Enoch, emp. added). So, Clark admits that his team’s research does not even involve trying to answer the ultimate question of how life could come from non-life. His team was merely interested in trying to figure out how the non-living building blocks of life could come about—not how they could make the jump to life. That question is still untouched by Clark’s team, and the scientific world at large.
In essence, these scientists are merely trying to figure out how the blocks of life could have come about from pre-existing materials that they hope were in existence eons ago—not how those building blocks could have accidentally arranged themselves into a building that came to life and started walking around giving birth to other fully functional buildings. In truth, the question of “how life could come from non-life” has already been addressed by the work of Redi, Spallanzani, and Pasteur, and their scientific research indicates that abiogenesis cannot happen (see Miller, 2012). So why are Clark and his team wasting their time trying to prove how the building blocks leading up to a disproven theory could form? According to the article,
The research has echoes of the landmark Miller-Urey study in 1952, which simulated hypothetical conditions that may have been present on early Earth. It showed how the building blocks of life can form from simple chemical reactions—for example, electrical activity like that associated with lightning can prompt the formation of amino acids.
The problem with this statement is that the authors appear to have not gotten the memo that the Miller-Urey experiments are now considered to be almost totally irrelevant to the abiogenesis question today (see Miller, 2012 for a discussion of these experiments and how they are viewed today). The fact that the authors point to those experiments indicates that either they are behind the times among the evolutionary community or are so desperate to validate the possibility of abiogenesis that they ignore recent research which refutes their hopes.
Sadly, in this day and age, many scientists are only interested in studying nature to determine how things happen through various evolutionary theories, rather than simply finding how things happen. Their initial assumptions corrupt their interpretations of the evidence. Why would scientists not simply follow the evidence—wherever it might lead? Could it be that “they have itching ears” that prohibit them from enduring “sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:3)? Could it be that they refuse to “receive the love of the truth,” but instead, choose to “believe the lie” because they take “pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)? Regardless, the evidence is clear. In nature, life comes only from life. So, according to the scientific evidence, the only way life could have been initiated in the beginning was through a supernatural act by a Being outside of the natural realm. That is where the scientific evidence leads the logical mind.


Davies, Paul (2006), New Scientist, 192[2578]:35, November 18.
Enoch, Nick (2012), “British Scientists Recreate the Molecules that Gave Birth to Life Itself,” Mail Online, January 27, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2092494/Life-sweet-New-clue-chemical-origins-sugar-molecules-DNA-recreated-scientists.html.
Hazen, Robert (2005), Origins of Life (Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company).
Miller, Jeff (2012), “The Law of Biogenesis,” Reason & Revelation, 32[1]:2-11, January (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1018&article=1722.
Stein, Ben and Kevin Miller (2008), Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Premise Media).

Capital Punishment and the Bible by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Capital Punishment and the Bible

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The Bible is the written Word of God. Within its pages, we find the wisdom of God. We find what is best for the human race—how God intends for life to be conducted. What is God’s view of capital punishment? Both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament address this subject.


Very early in human history, God decreed that murderers were to forfeit their own lives: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he the man” (Genesis 9:6). This standard continued into the Mosaic period (cf. Numbers 35:33). As a matter of fact, the law God gave to Moses to regulate the Israelite nation made provision for at least sixteen capital crimes. In sixteen instances, the death penalty was to be invoked. The first four may be categorized as pertaining to civil matters.
1. Under the law of Moses, the death penalty was required in cases of premeditated murder (Exodus 21:12-14,22-23; Leviticus 24:17; Numbers 35:16-21). This regulation even included the situation in which two men might be fighting and, in the process, cause the death of an innocent bystander or her unborn infant. It did not include accidental homicide, which we call “manslaughter.”
2. Kidnapping was a capital crime under the Old Testament (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7). One movie, which was based on an actual incident, depicted the kidnapping of a seven-year-old boy as he was walking home from school. The man who stole him kept him for some seven years, putting the child through emotional and sexual abuse, before the boy, at age fifteen, was finally returned to his parents. He was a different child, and never again would be the same. God would not tolerate such a thing in the Old Testament, and much of the same would be stopped in America if such crimes were taken more seriously.
3. A person could be put to death for striking or cursing his parents (Exodus 21:15,17; Leviticus 20:9). Jesus alluded to this point in Matthew 15:4 and Mark 7:10.
4. Incorrigible rebelliousness was punishable by death (Deuteronomy 17:12). For example, a stubborn, disobedient, rebellious son who would not submit to parents or civil authorities was to be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).
The next six capital crimes can be identified as more specifically pertaining to religious matters.
5. Sacrificing to false gods was a capital crime in the Old Testament (Exodus 22:20).
6. Violating the Sabbath brought the death penalty (Exodus 35:2; Numbers 15:32-36).
7. Blasphemy, or cursing God, warranted the death penalty (Leviticus 24:10-16,23).
8. The false prophet, specifically one who tried to entice the people to idolatry, was to be executed (Deuteronomy 13:1-11), as were the people who were so influenced (Deuteronomy 13:12-18).
9. Human sacrifice was a capital crime (Leviticus 20:2). The Israelites were tempted to offer their children to false pagan deities, like Molech. But such was despicable to God.
10. Divination, or the dabbling in the magical arts, was a capital crime. Consequently, under Mosaic law, witches, sorcerers, wizards, mediums, charmers, soothsayers, diviners, spiritists, and enchanters were to be put to death (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:26,31; 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:9-14).
The next six crimes pertain to sexual matters.
11. Adultery was punishable by death under the Old Testament (Leviticus 20:10-21; Deuteronomy 22:22). Can you imagine what would happen in our own country if adultery brought the death penalty? Most of Hollywood would be wiped out, as well as a sizeable portion of the rest of our population!
12. Bestiality, i.e., having sexual relations with an animal, was punishable by death (Exodus 22:19; Leviticus 20:15-16).
13. Incest was a capital offense in the Old Testament (Leviticus 18:6-17; 20:11-12,14).
14. Homosexuality was a capital crime (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13).
15. Premarital sex brought the death penalty (Leviticus 21:9; Deuteronomy 22:20-21).
16. Rape of an engaged or married woman was a capital crime in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 22:25-27). Again, imagine what would happen in this country if rape brought the death penalty! Much of the unconscionable treatment of women now taking place would be terminated.
Capital punishment was written into God’s will for the Jewish nation in the Old Testament. The death penalty was a viable form of punishment for at least sixteen separate offenses. Some people have misunderstood one of the Ten Commandments which says, “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13). They have assumed that the law forbade taking human life under any circumstances. But God required the death penalty for some sixteen crimes. Therefore, the commandment would have been better translated, “You shall not murder.” In other words, the command was a prohibition against an individual taking the law into his own hands and exercising personal vengeance. But God wanted the execution of law breakers to be carried out by duly constituted legal authorities.


Moving to the New Testament, which reveals God’s will this side of the cross, the matter of capital punishment is treated virtually the same. The New Testament clearly teaches that capital punishment is God’s will for human civilization. Consider, for example, Romans 13:1-4.
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
This passage clearly affirms that the state—civil government—has the God-ordained responsibility to keep law and order, and to protect its citizens against evildoers. The word “sword” in this passage refers to capital punishment. God wants duly constituted civil authority to invoke the death penalty upon citizens who commit crimes worthy of death.
For about the last thirty years, Americans have actually witnessed a breakdown on the part of judicial and law enforcement system. In most cases, the government has failed to “bear the sword.” Instead, the prison system has been overrun with incorrigible criminals. Premature parole and early release has become commonplace in order to make room for the increasing number of lawbreakers.
The apostle Paul, himself, articulated the correct attitude when he stood before Porcius Festus and defended his actions by stating, “If I am an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I do not object to dying” (Acts 25:11). Paul was acknowledging that the state properly possesses the power of life and death in the administration of civil justice.
Peter held the same position as that of Paul. He enjoined obedience to the government that has been sent by God “for the punishment of evildoers” (1 Peter 2:14; cf. Titus 3:1). Jesus implied the propriety of capital punishment when He told the Parable of the Pounds. Those who rebelled against the king were to be brought and executed in his presence (Luke 19:27). Compare that parable with the one He told about the wicked husbandmen in Luke 20:15-16 in which He indicated that the owner of the vineyard would return and destroy the husbandmen.


Those who oppose capital punishment raise a variety of objections to its legitimacy. For example, someone might raise the question: “Did not Jesus teach that we should turn the other cheek?” Yes, He did, in Matthew 5:39. But in that context, He was impressing upon the Jews their need not to engage in personal vendettas. The same point is stressed in Romans 12:14-21. Paul said, “Repay no one evil for evil” and “do not avenge yourselves.” In other words, Christians are not to take the law into their own hands and engage in vengeful retaliation. God insists that vengeance belongs to Him.
Notice, however, that Romans 13 picks right up where Romans 12 leaves off and shows how God takes vengeance. He employs civil government as the instrumentality for imposing the death penalty. So, individual citizens are not to engage in vigilante tactics. God wants the legal authorities to punish criminals, and thereby protect the rest of society.
A second objection to capital punishment pertains to the woman taken in adultery. “Did not Jesus exonerate her and leave her uncondemned?” Surely the story about the woman taken in adultery in John 8 has been misused and misapplied more than almost any other Scripture. Yet a careful study of this passage yields complete harmony with the principle of capital punishment. At least four extenuating circumstances necessitated Jesus leaving the woman uncondemned:
First, Mosaic regulation stated that a person could be executed only if there were two or more witnesses to the crime (Deuteronomy 19:15). One witness was insufficient to evoke the death penalty (Deuteronomy 17:6). The woman was reportedly caught in the very act, but nothing is said of the identity of the witnesses. There may have been only one.
Second, even if there were two or more witnesses present to verify the woman’s sin, the Old Testament was equally explicit concerning the fact that both the woman and the man were to be executed (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22). Where was the man on this occasion? Obviously, this was a trumped up situation that did not fit the Mosaic preconditions for invoking capital punishment. Obedience to the Law of Moses in this instance actually meant letting the woman go.
A third point to take into consideration is the precise meaning of the phrase “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7). If this statement is taken as a blanket prohibition against capital punishment, then this passage flatly contradicts Romans 13. Instead, what Jesus was getting at was what Paul meant when he said, “you who judge practice the same things” (Romans 2:1). Jesus knew that the woman’s accusers were guilty of the very thing of which they were willing to condemn her. He was able to prick them in regard to their guilt by causing them to realize that He knew they were guilty of the very same thing. The Old Law made clear that the witnesses to the crime were to cast the first stones (Deuteronomy 17:7). Jesus was striking directly at the fact that the woman’s accusers were ineligible to fulfill this role.
Fourth, capital punishment would have had to have been levied by a duly constituted court of law. This mob was actually engaging in an illegal action—vigilantism. Jesus, though the Son of God, would not have interfered in the responsibility of the appropriate judicial authorities to handle the situation. Remember that, on another occasion when one of two brothers approached Jesus out of a crowd and asked Him to settle a probate dispute, Jesus responded: “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” (Luke 12:14). So the effort by this mob in John 8 to ensnare Jesus was without legal justification.
Jesus actually handled the situation appropriately, in keeping with legal protocol of both Old Testament law as well as Roman civil law. The woman clearly violated God’s law, and deserved the death penalty. But the necessary prerequisites for pronouncing the execution sentence were lacking—which is precisely what Jesus meant when He said, “Neither do I condemn you.” Since the legal stipulations that were needed to establish her guilt were not in place, He would not override the law and condemn her. Jesus’ action on this occasion in no way discredits the legitimacy of capital punishment.
A third objection that has been raised in an effort to challenge the propriety of capital punishment is the insistence by some that the death penalty serves no useful purpose—especially when it comes to deterring other criminals from their course of action. Opponents insist, “capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime.” This kind of humanistic, uninformed thinking has held sway for some 30+ years. It might be believable if it were not for the inspired Word of God informing to the contrary.
Even if capital punishment did not serve as a deterrent, it still would serve at least one other worthwhile purpose: the elimination from society of those elements that persist in destructive behavior. The Bible teaches that some people can be hardened into a sinful, wicked condition. They have become so cold, cruel, and mean that even the threat of death does not phase them. Paul referred to those whose consciences had been “seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2). Some people are so hardened that they are described as “past feeling” and completely given over to wickedness (Ephesians 4:19). God invoked the death penalty upon an entire generation because their wickedness was “great in the earth” and “every imagination of the thoughts of [their] heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
So the human heart and mind can become so alienated from right, good, and truth that a person can be unreachable, incorrigible, and irretrievable. The death penalty would spare law-abiding citizens any further perpetration of death and suffering by those who engage in such repetitive actions. How horrible and senseless it is that so many Americans have had to suffer terribly at the hands of criminals who already have been found guilty of previous crimes, but who were permitted to go free and repeat their criminal behavior!
So even if capital punishment was not a deterrent, it is still a necessary option in society. It holds in check the growth and spread of hardened criminals. A careful study is warranted of the expression “so you shall put away the evil from your midst” (Deuteronomy 13:5; 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21; 1 Corinthians 5:13).
But the Bible clearly teaches that the application of penal punishment, including the death penalty, is, in fact, a deterrent. For example, God wanted the death penalty imposed upon any individual, including one’s relative, who attempted secretly to entice others into idolatry. Such a person was to be stoned to death in the presence of the entire nation with this resulting effect: “So all Israel shall hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you” (Deuteronomy 13:11).
Another instance of this rationale is seen in the pronouncement of death upon the incorrigible rebel: “And all the people shall hear and fear, and no longer act presumptuously” (Deuteronomy 17:13). The principle is stated again when the Jews were instructed to take a rebellious and stubborn son and stone him to death with the effect that “all Israel shall hear and fear” (Deuteronomy 21:21).
This same perspective is illustrated even in the New Testament. Paul emphasized that elders in the church who sinned were to be rebuked publicly “that others also may fear” (1 Timothy 5:20). Ananias and Sapphira, a Christian couple in the early church, were divinely executed in Acts 5, and in the very next verse Luke wrote: “So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things” (Acts 5:11). These passages prove that a direct link exists between punishment and execution on the one hand, and the caution that it instills in others on the other hand.
The Bible teaches the corollary of this principle as well. Where there is inadequate, insufficient and delayed punishment, crime and violence increase. Notice Ecclesiastes 8:11—“Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” This very phenomenon is occurring even now in America.
The court system is clogged and backed up to the point that many cases do not come to trial for literally years. Criminals who have been shown to be guilty of multiple murders and other heinous crimes are given light sentences, while those who deserve far less are given exorbitant sentences. A mockery of the justice system has resulted. Such circumstances, according to the Bible, only serve to encourage more lawlessness. The overall citizenry cannot help but grow lax in their own attitudes. This principle is evident in the biblical expression, “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6).
If the Bible is to be believed, capital punishment is, indeed, a deterrent to criminal behavior. The elimination of hardened criminals is necessary if societies are to survive. The liberal, humanistic values that have held sway in America for the last 40 years are taking their toll, and getting back to God’s view of things is the only hope if the nation is to survive.
A fourth quibble that someone might raise is that capital punishment appears to be a rather extreme step to take since it is as cruel, barbaric, and violent as the action committed by the criminal himself. Is it not the case that capital punishment is resorting to the same kind of behavior as the criminal? May capital punishment be viewed as a vindictive retaliation? The biblical response to this question is seen in the oft’-repeated phrases: “his blood be upon him” (Leviticus 20:9,13,27; Deuteronomy 19:10; Ezekiel 18:13; 33:5) and “his blood be upon his own head” (Joshua 2:19; 2 Samuel 1:16; Ezekiel 33:4; Acts 18:6).
Those who carry out the death sentence are, in reality, neutral third parties. They are merely carrying out the will of God in dispensing justice. The criminal is simply receiving what he brought upon himself—his “just desserts.” The expression “his blood be upon him” indicates that God assigns responsibility for the execution to the one being executed. It’s like we tell small children: “If you put your hand in the fire, you’re going to get burned.” There are consequences to our actions. If we do not want to be executed, we should not commit any act that merits death. If we do commit such an act, we have earned the death penalty, and we deserve to get what we have earned. The one who metes out the punishment is not to be blamed or considered responsible for the execution of the guilty.
Rather than oppose those who promote capital punishment, painting them as insensitive ogres or uncaring, callous, uncivilized barbarians, effort would be better spent focusing upon the barbaric behavior of the criminals who rape, plunder, and pillage. It is their behavior that should be kept in mind. Tears and compassion ought to center on the innocent victims and their families. Lethal injection of a wicked evildoer hardly can match the violent, inhuman suffering and death experienced by the innocent victims of crime. They continue to suffer, while the perpetrator carries on for many years, many trials, and many appeals before justice is served—if it ever is. The God of the Bible is incensed and outraged at such circumstances. The time has come to start listening to Him as He speaks through His inspired Word.