"THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS" Deliverance From An Evil Age (1:3-5) by Mark Copeland

                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS"

                  Deliverance From An Evil Age (1:3-5)


1. Paul's greeting to the churches of Galatia (Ga 1:3) contains words of
   grace and peace...
   a. From God the Father
   b. And our Lord Jesus Christ

2. As an illustration of such grace and peace, Paul continues in verse
   a. "who gave Himself for our sins" (grace!)
   b. "that He might deliver us from this present evil age" (peace!)

3. I would like to direct our attention to the latter phrase...
   a. Undoubtedly we have heard much about Jesus dying for our sins
   b. But what of this idea of delivering us from an evil age?

4. The word "age" (aion) as used here means "period of time"...
   a. Paul has in mind the present period of time
   b. Paul views this time as evil - cf. Ep 5:16; 6:13

[Do we take seriously the evil of this age?  Do we appreciate the
deliverance that Jesus provides?  Consider for a few moments...]


      1. Paul described the sins of those in his day - Ro 1:18-32
         a. Against whom the wrath of God was coming
         b. For denying the Creator and suppressing the truth
         c. Given up to their own vile passions, they fell into
         d. They were filled with all sorts of unrighteousness
      2. He called such sins 'the works of the flesh' - Ga 5:19-21
         a. Sins that are evident (to those not blinded by them)
         b. Sins unrepented of that will keep one out of the kingdom of
            heaven - 1Co 6:9-10
      -- Paul and the early Christians found themselves living in an
         evil time

      1. Today, many think lightly of such things as:  fornication,
         adultery, divorce
      2. One is considered enlightened when they support:  abortion,
         homosexuality, same-sex marriage
      3. More and more our culture is accepting:  lasciviousness,
         pornography, drug abuse
      4. All of which reflect a world view impacted by:  humanism,
         evolution, selfishness
      -- Today we find ourselves living in a very evil time

[Yes, things are not much different today than they were in Paul's day.
Yet Jesus gave Himself for our sins "that He might deliver us from this
present evil age" (Ga 1:4).  Consider therefore...]


      1. Sin is a transgression of God's law - 1Jn 3:4
      2. All have sinned, for which the punishment is death - Ro 3:23;
      3. Jesus' blood frees us from the guilt of sin - Ep 1:7
      4. We receive remission of sins when we are baptized 
         - Ac 2:38; 22:16
      -- In Jesus, there is no condemnation for sin - Ro 8:1; 3:24

      1. Sin enslaves, but Jesus provides freedom from the dominion of
         sin - Jn 8:31-36
      2. This He does by giving us the Spirit - Jn 7:37-39
      3. We receive the Spirit when we are baptized - Ac 2:38; Ga 3:
         26-27; 4:6
      4. With the Spirit's aid, we can put to death the deeds of the
         flesh - Ro 8:12-13; Ep 3:16,20
      -- In Jesus, we are set free from the law of sin and death - Ro 7:
         24-25; 8:2

      1. We continue to be tempted by fleshly desires - 1Pe 2:11; Ja
      2. Jesus teaches us to watch and pray that we might avoid
         temptation - Mt 26:41
      3. His Father will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are
         able to bear - 1Co 10:13a
      4. In every temptation He will provide a way of escape 
         - 1Co 10:13b
      -- In Jesus, the godly can find deliverance out of temptations
         - 2Pe 2:9

      1. Those enslaved to sin are darkened in their understanding 
          - Ep 4:17-18; cf. 2Co 4:3-4
      2. Which explains their lewdness and greediness - Ep 4:19
      3. But Jesus reveals moral truth, and how we are to be renewed in
         true righteousness and holiness - Ep 4:20-24
      -- In Jesus, light shines in the moral morass that plagues our
         world - Jn 8:12; 12:46

      1. This present age with its lusts is passing away - 1Jn 2:17
      2. The day is coming when this world and its works will be burned
         up - 2Pe 3:10
      3. Even if we live out our lives, they are as momentary vapor - Ja
      4. Our deliverance may come in the form of our own death 
         - cf. Isa 57:1-2
      5. It will eventually come at the return of Christ - 1Th 4:15-17
      -- In Jesus, we have the promise of deliverance from every evil
         work - 2Ti 4:18


1. Living in a morally confused and spiritual dark world, in Jesus we
   a. Deliverance from the guilt of sin
   b. Deliverance from the power of sin
   c. Deliverance from the temptation of sin
   d. Deliverance from the moral darkness of our world
   e. Deliverance from the world that is passing away

2. We note that such deliverance is "according to the will of our God
   and Father"... - Ga 1:4c
   a. It was His plan from the very beginning - Ep 1:3-6
   b. It was His love that offered His Son for our sins -  1Jn 4:9-10

3. How shall we respond to such deliverance...?
   a. It was designed to be "to the praise of the glory of His grace"
      - Ep 1:6
   b. Thus Paul writes concerning God:  "to whom be glory forever and
      ever. Amen" - Ga 1:5

Shall we not glorify God by accepting His graceful deliverance from this
evil age that He makes possible through His Son Jesus Christ?  We do so
through obedience to the gospel... - cf. Mk 16:15-16

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Babylon: A Test Case in Prophecy [Part II] by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Babylon: A Test Case in Prophecy [Part II]

by Wayne Jackson, M.A.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Part I of this two-part series appeared in the November issue. Part II follows below, and picks up where the first article ended.]
In the preceding article of this two-part study, I began an investigation of certain Old Testament prophecies that focused on the famous city of Babylon. Three major points were discussed: (1) the prophets emphatically declared that wicked and arrogant Babylon would fall; (2) the providential instrument of the Lord, employed in the initial destruction of the city, would be the Medo-Persian regime; and (3) the immediate fall, and ultimate deterioration, would come after the Hebrews had languished seventy years in Babylonian captivity. In this article, I would like to highlight a number of particulars that are reflected prophetically in the biblical record.
The works of Herodotus and Xenophon are the two principal sources of historical confirmation. Herodotus (484-425 B.C.), known as the “father of history,” produced the first attempt at secular narrative history. His work, which dealt primarily with the Persian Wars, is an important source of information on the ancient world. He vividly describes the overthrow of Babylon. Xenophon (c. 430-355 B.C.), a student of Socrates, was a Greek historian born in Athens. He served in the Persian army and produced several valuable literary works. One of these, called Cyropaedia, is a sort of romance founded on the history of Cyrus the Great (559-530 B.C.). It provides considerable data on the fall of Babylon.
Again, we emphasize that one of the traits of true prophecy is that it deals in specific details, not generalities. Let us examine some of these particulars.


Babylon had been a brutal force. She was “the glory of the kingdoms” (Isaiah 13:19). She had been Jehovah’s providential “battle-axe” that had broken in pieces the nations of the ancient world (Jeremiah 51:20-24). For example, Nebuchadnezzar had defeated thoroughly the Egyptians at the battle of Carchemish (605 B.C.), and had enjoyed great success in Syria and Palestine, even subjugating “Zion” at the Lord’s bidding.
One might surmise that Babylon would have feared no one. Oddly, though, Jeremiah said: “The mighty men of Babylon have ceased fighting. They stay in the strongholds; their strength is exhausted, they are becoming like women” (Jeremiah 51:30). How remarkably this conforms to the actual history. Xenophon said that when Cyrus brought his army to Babylon, he initially was perplexed as to how he would take the city, since the Chaldean soldiers “do not come out to fight” (VII.V.7). The Babylonians fearfully remained behind their massive walls refusing, for the most part, to encounter the enemy—exactly as the prophet had indicated.


When Cyrus surveyed Babylon’s fortifications, he said: “I am unable to see how any enemy can take walls of such strength and height by assault” (Xenophon, VIII.V.7). Accordingly, he devised a brilliant strategy for capturing the city.
As I mentioned in the previous article, the Euphrates river ran under the walls through the center of Babylon. From the river, canals—quite broad and sometimes navigable—were cut in every direction. The Jews in captivity could thus lament: “By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept, When we remembered Zion” (Psalm 137:1). Just to the west of the city was a huge lake-basin, some thirty-five feet deep and covering forty miles square, but which, at the time of the invasion, was but a marsh. Cyrus stationed soldiers at the point where the river entered the city, and also where it exited. At a given time, he diverted the Euphrates from its bed into the marshy lake area. His forces then entered Babylon under the city walls (Herodotus, I.191).
Consider what the prophets declared regarding Babylon’s fall. Isaiah, writing more than a century and a half earlier, referred to Jehovah’s decree. The Lord “saith to the deep: Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers, that saith of Cyrus, he is my shepherd and shall perform my pleasure” (Isaiah 44:27). Some contend that the language of this passage is an allusion to the Exodus, which occurred in Israel’s early history. That cannot be the case, however. The utterance is framed in the future tense, and the context specifically relates this matter to Cyrus. The prophecy “is usually taken as referring to the device Cyrus used in order to capture Babylon” (Fitch, 1954, p. 593).
Later, in his famous oracle against Babylon, Jeremiah exclaimed: “A drought is upon her waters, and they shall be dried up: for it is a land of graven images, and they are mad over idols” (50:38). Again, “I will dry up her sea, and make her fountain dry” (51:36). Though these passages have been interpreted in various ways, the language is quite consistent with the diversion of the river, which allowed the Persians to take the city virtually unopposed (see Wiseman, 1979, p. 849).


Concerning Babylon’s fall, Jeremiah represented the Lord as saying: “I have laid a snare for you, and you are also taken, O Babylon” (50:24). The term “snare” suggests that the citizens of the city would be taken by surprise; they “were not aware” of what was happening until it was too late (50:24b). Herodotus wrote: “Had the Babylonians been apprised of what Cyrus was about, or had they noticed their danger, they would never have allowed the Persians to enter their city” (I.191).
One aspect in the rapid conquest of the city had to do with the fact that the Babylonians, in their smug security, were engaged in drunken festivities; thus, they were wholly unconcerned about the enemy beyond their massive walls. But the Lord had declared: “When they are heated, I will make their feast, and I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, says Jehovah” (Jeremiah 51:39). Again: “And I will make drunk her princes and her wise men, her governors and her deputies, and her mighty men; and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, says the King whose name is Jehovah of hosts” (Jeremiah 51:57).
Herodotus recorded that the citizens of the central section of the city did not know that Babylon had fallen for a good while because “they were engaged in a festival, continued dancing and revelling until they learnt the capture” (I.191). Similarly, Xenophon said that “there was a festival in Babylon, in which all the Babylonians drank and revelled the whole night” (VII.5.15).


The prophets indicated that when great Babylon was taken, her rich treasures would be looted. The Lord, speaking prophetically to Cyrus, had promised: “[A]nd I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places” (Isaiah 45:3). Jeremiah announced: “And they shall become as women: a sword is upon her treasures, and they shall be robbed” (50:37). The treasures of Babylon were splendid beyond description. Herodotus, in describing just one of the temples in the city, declared that it contained more than twenty tons of gold (I.183). It is interesting to note that when Cyrus issued his famous decree that allowed the Jews to return to their land, he endowed them with silver and gold to help finance the project, as well as returning some 5,400 vessels of gold and silver that originally had been taken from the Hebrew temple (Ezra 1:4,11).
When Jehovah beckoned the Persians to come against evil Babylon, He charged: “[O]pen up her store-houses [granaries, ASV footnote]; cast her up as heaps, and destroy her utterly; let nothing of her be left” (Jeremiah 50:26). Xenophon reports that Babylon “was furnished with provisions for more than twenty years” (VIII.5.13). No wonder they felt secure; the storehouses were bulging. But God emptied them—just as His prophet had announced!


I already have mentioned Babylon’s famous walls. An ancient historian, Diodorus, stated that it took 200,000 men a full year to construct these fortifications (Fausset, 1990 p. 181). But Jeremiah prophesied: “The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly overthrown, and her high gates shall be burned with fire” (51:58). Where are Babylon’s walls, and her one hundred gates of brass (Herodotus, I.179) today? Under the “Summary” below, I will detail more precisely the demolition of the city.


The prophets repeatedly proclaimed the eventual utter desolation of ancient Babylon. Isaiah gave the following particulars:
And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall shepherds make their flocks to lie down there. But wild beasts of the desert shall live there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and ostriches shall dwell there, and wild goats shall dance there. And wolves shall cry in their castles, and jackals in the pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged (13:19-22).
Jeremiah was equally graphic; the reader may consult chapters 50 and 51 of his book for the numerous details given there.
At this point, I would like to mention two points that I made in Part I of this series. First, there was to be an initial defeat of Babylon. Second, afterwards there would be a gradual but progressive degeneration of the locale, which ultimately would become a site of absolute waste. In the following section, I will catalogue the destructions and degeneration of once-great Babylon.


  1. After a siege of two years, the city of Babylon was captured by Cyrus, commander of the Medo-Persian forces, in October of 539 B.C. This brought the Neo-Babylonian empire (614-539 B.C.) to a close. Significant damage to the city was not inflicted at this time, though some of the walls may have been broken down, at least partially.
  2. Following a rebellion of the Babylonian subjects, Darius Hystaspes took the city again in 520 B.C. He demolished the walls significantly and carried off the huge gates (see Jeremiah 51:58). Elsewhere I have given a detailed account of how the city was taken—again by a “snare” (Jackson, 1996). Herodotus wrote: “Thus was Babylon taken for a second time. Darius having become master of the place, destroyed the wall, and tore down all the gates; for Cyrus had done neither the one nor the other when he took Babylon” (III.159). Apparently, however, there was some subsequent repair of the walls (see McClintock and Strong, 1969, 1:596).
  3. During the reign of Xerxes (485-465 B.C.), the temple of Bel (Marduk) was plundered and destroyed. Much of the city was turned into ruins in 483 B.C., and the walls were dismantled further.
  4. Babylon again fall to Alexander the Great in 331 B.C. As Alexander neared the city, priests and nobles went out to meet him with lavish gifts, surrendering the city. Alexander proposed that he would rebuild the temple of Marduk. He employed 10,000 men to clear the dirt and rubble. They labored in vain for two months. Alexander died and the work was abandoned (Rollin, 1857, 1:575). A clay tablet has been found that confirms this enterprise. It records that in the sixth year of Alexander’s reign, he made a payment of ten manehs of silver for “clearing away the dust of E-sagila [Marduk’s great temple]” (King, 1919, 2:284-288).
  5. In 270 B.C. Antiochus Soter, a Greek ruler, restored several of the temples in Babylon, but the general decay of the city continued.
  6. In the time of Strabo (at the end of the 1st century B.C.), the site was in ruins. Jerome (fourth century A.D.), learned that Babylon had been used as a wild game park for the amusement of numerous Persian dignitaries (McClintock and Strong, 1969, 1:596). In the fifth century A.D., according to Cyril of Alexandria, due to the bursting of canal banks, Babylon became a swamp (Jeremias, 1911, 1:294).
  7. Volney, the French atheist who was such a militant adversary of the Bible, wrote his book, The Ruins of Empires, in 1791. Therein he stated: “Nothing is left of Babylon but heaps of earth, trodden under foot of men” (as quoted in Holman, 1926, p. 333). As Jeremiah had prophesied: “[C]ast her up as heaps” (50:26). It is ironic that a skeptic should lend support to confirming the accuracy of the biblical narrative!
  8. When archaeologist Austen Layard explored Babylon in the mid-nineteenth century, he described the heaps of rubbish that rendered the area a “naked and hideous waste” (1856, p. 413). Later, when Robert Koldewey excavated the city for eighteen seasons beginning in 1899, he said that as he gazed over the ruins, he could not help but be reminded of Jeremiah 50:39 (1914, p. 314). He reported that many of the sites were covered with forty to eighty feet of sand and rubble.
  9. A relatively modern air-view of Babylonia—once the world’s greatest city—shows only a mound of dirt and broken-down walls (Boyd, 1969, pp. 153ff.).
In recent years, Sadam Hussein attempted to build a tourist center near the site of old Babylon. The 1990 Persian Gulf War seriously impaired his plans.


The accuracy of the dozens of prophecies regarding the fall of Babylon has baffled skeptics for generations. So remarkable has been the precision of the fulfillment that critics often have resorted to redating the predictions in both Isaiah and Jeremiah so as to make them appear to be records of history instead of prophecy! For example, in commenting upon the oracles of Jeremiah, chapters 50-51, James Philip Hyatt wrote: “Some of the poems in this present collection seem to reflect the city’s downfall, as prophecies after the event rather than predictions...” (1956, 5:1124, emp. added). Such a view ignores the evidence for dating the books at a much earlier period.
A former professor in a Christian university has even capitulated to this liberal viewpoint. Anthony Ash asserted:
Dating chapter 50 is virtually impossible. The arrangement of the text indicates that it was a composite, probably containing materials from different periods.... The chapter may have reached this form near the mid-sixth century B.C., when the fall of Babylon appeared likely (1987, p. 309, emp. added).
Upon this basis, then, one supposes that Jeremiah—or whoever put the composite together!—simply made a lucky guess as to the fall of Babylon. Such a view is disgusting, and unworthy of any Christian writer.


The prophetic details regarding the fall of ancient Babylon, as minutely recorded in the Old Testament narratives, truly are astounding. This is but another example of the amazing evidence that demonstrates the character of the Bible as the inspired Word of God.


Ash, Anthony L. (1987), Jeremiah and Lamentations (Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press).
Boyd, Robert (1969), A Pictorial Guide to Biblical Archaeology (New York: Bonanza).
Fausset, A.R. (1990 reprint), “Jeremiah,” A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Volume 2, Part 2, ed. Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Fitch (1954), “Isaiah,” The New Bible Commentary, ed. F. Davidson (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Herodotus (1956), The History of Herodotus, transl. by George Rawlinson (New York: Tudor).
Holman, Thomas (1926), “Prophecy Vindicated by Volney,” New Testament Christianity, ed. Z.T. Sweeney (Columbus, IN: NT Christianity Book Fund).
Hyatt, James Phillip (1956), The Interpreter’s Bible, ed. George A. Buttrick (Nashville, TN: Abindgon).
Jackson, Wayne (1996), “Zopyrus the Persian,” Christian Courier, 32[7]:27, November.
Jeremias, Alfred (1911), The Old Testament in the Light of the Ancient East (New York: Putnam’s Sons).
King, Leonard W. (1919), A History of Babylonia and Assyria (London: Chatto & Windus).
Koldewey, Robert (1914), The Excavations at Babylon (London: Macmillan).
Layard, Austen H. (1856), The Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon (New York: Harper).
McClintock, John and James Strong (1969), Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, reprint).
Rollin, Charles (1857), Ancient History (New York: Harper & Brothers).
Xenophon (1893 Edition), Cyropaedia, transl. by J.S. Watson and Henry Dale (London: George Bell & Sons).
Wiseman, D.J. (1979), “Jeremiah,” The New Layman’s Bible Commentary, ed. G.C.D. Howley, F.F. Bruce, and H.L. Ellison (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).

Don’t Bank Your Bucks in Big Bang Theory by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Don’t Bank Your Bucks in Big Bang Theory

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

For the past several decades, untold millions of students around the world have been taught that the Universe and everything in it is the result of a tiny ball of matter exploding 13-15 billion years ago (e.g., Hurd, et al., 1992, p. 61). Immediately following this “big bang,” the exploding material supposedly expanded in less than a millisecond to cause “most of the growth” of the 14-billion-light-year observable Universe (see Coles, 2007). This expansion, called “inflation,” has purportedly been “well established as an essential component of cosmology” (Coles, 2007, p. 33, emp. added). In fact, in an article penned in 2007 titled “Boomtime,” Dr. Peter Coles recognized that the theory of “[i]nflation puts the ‘bang’ in the big bang” (p. 36). Now, however, scientists are inching closer and closer to the conclusion that “the theory seems to have failed” (Brooks, 2008, 198[2659]:31).
The journal New Scientist recently ran an article by Michael Brooks titled “Inflation Deflated” (2008, 198[2659]:30-33). In the article, Brooks admitted that “[i]nflation is arguably the most important theoretical idea in cosmology since the big bang” (p. 31). Inflationary theory has “suggested that the major problems in cosmology could be solved if the universe had blown up like a balloon, inflating faster than the speed of light in the moments after its birth” (p. 31, emp. added). Yet now, the theory first proposed nearly 30 years ago to solve “major problems” with big bang cosmology, and the theory that has been advanced in classrooms all over the world as fact, is sheepishly “starting to look a little vulnerable” (p. 31). “[T]he theory seems to have failed,” wrote Brooks. Why? First, “there is the lack of any solid scientific idea for why or how inflation might have happened” (p. 32, emp. added). Second, “satellite measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation...seem to contradict the predictions of inflation” (p. 31). In short, although Brooks and others believe it is still “too early to say that simple inflation is definitely on the skids” (p. 33), “the theory seems to have failed” (p. 31). Atheistic cosmology’s “best theory of the early universe is starting to look a tad insecure” (p. 30, emp. added).
That must surely be a depressing thought to atheists: their “best theory” for the origin of the cosmos is “insecure,” lacking “any solid scientific idea for why or how inflation might have happened.” A better alternative to ultimate origins is found in the first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1). “For He commanded and they were created” (Psalm 148:5). So, “[l]ift up your eyes on high, and see Who has created these things” (Isaiah 40:26).


Brooks, Michael (2008), “Inflation Deflated,” New Scientist, 198[2659]:30-33, June 7.
Coles, Peter (2007), “Boomtime,” New Scientist, 193[2593]:33-37, March 3.
Hurd, Dean, George Mathias, and Susan Johnson, eds. (1992), General ScienceA Voyage of Discovery (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall).

To Judge, or Not to Judge? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


To Judge, or Not to Judge?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

One of the most oft’-quoted verses in the Bible is Matthew 7:1—“Judge not, that you be not judged.” Those engaged in immoral behavior frequently quote this verse when attempting to defend their sinful lifestyle. Certain religionists quote it when being challenged to prove that their questionable practices are backed by biblical authority. A belligerent teenager might be heard reciting this phrase to his parents when they inquire about his occasional association with “the wrong crowd.” Skeptics even quote Matthew 7:1 in an attempt to show an inconsistency in Jesus’ teachings. From church pews to barstools, from the “Bible belt” to Hollywood, Matthew 7:1 is ripped from its context and bellowed as some kind of scare tactic: “Do you dare judge me? Jesus said, ‘Judge not, that you be not judged.’ ” Allegedly, Jesus meant that we cannot pass judgment on anyone at anytime.
Sadly, Matthew 7:1 is not only among the most frequently quoted verses in the Bible, but also is one of the most abused verses in all of Scripture. Its exploitation becomes clear when the entire context of Matthew 7 is studied more carefully. Throughout Matthew chapters 5-7 (often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount), Jesus publicly criticized the Jewish scribes and Pharisees for their self-righteousness and abuse of the Old Testament. Near the beginning of this sermon, Jesus stated: “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). The unrighteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was at the heart of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus wanted His audience to understand that self-righteousness would not be permitted in the kingdom of heaven; rather, it would lead to “condemnation” in hell (5:20; cf. 23:14,33). A follower of God must be “poor in spirit” (5:3), not filled with pride. He must love his enemies, not hate them (5:44). He is to do good deeds, but only to please God, not men (6:1-4). The scribes and Pharisees were guilty of wearing “righteousness” on their sleeves, rather than in their hearts (6:1-8; cf. 23:1-36). It was in the midst of such strong public rebuke that Christ proclaimed:
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye”; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:1-5).
In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus instructed us not to do charitable deeds…“as the hypocrites do” (to be seen of men). In 6:5-8, Jesus told us not to pray…“like the hypocrites” (to be heard of men). In 6:16-18, Jesus taught us not to fast…“like the hypocrites” (to be seen of men). Likewise, in Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus was teaching us that judging another is wrong…when that judgment is hypocritical.
But, what if we are doing charitable deeds to be seen of God? Then by all means, “do good to all men” (Galatians 6:10)! What if our prayers are led from a pure heart and with righteous intentions? Should we pray? Most certainly (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Can we fast today, if the purpose of our fasting is to be seen of God and not men? Yes. But what about passing judgment? In Matthew 7:1-5, did Jesus condemn all judging, or, similar to the above examples, did He condemn only a certain kind of judging? Matthew 7:5 provides the answer. After condemning unrighteous judgments (7:1-4), Jesus instructed a person to “first remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” He was saying, in essence, “Get your life right first. Then, in love, address your brother’s problem.” This is consistent with what Paul wrote to the church at Philippi: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (2:4). God never intended for Christians to be recluses who never interacted with those around them. Rather, He gave us the responsibility of helping others by lovingly correcting them when they sin. In Matthew 7, Jesus was not suggesting that a person can never judge. He was saying, when you judge, judge righteously (as when we pray, fast, and do good deeds—do it without hypocrisy—John 7:24). Incidentally, Jesus already had judged the Pharisees. Thus, He obviously was not teaching that we should never judge anyone.
Further proof that Jesus did not condemn all judging can be found throughout the rest of chapter 7. In fact, in the very next verse after His statements about judging, Jesus implicitly commanded that His followers make a judgment. He said: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (7:6). Disciples of Christ must judge as to who are “dogs” and who are “hogs.” Otherwise, how can we know when not to give that which is holy to “dogs”? Or how can we know when not to cast our pearls before “swine”? Jesus said we must judge between those who are “worthy,” and those who are like dogs and pigs (cf. Matthew 10:12-15; Acts 13:42-46). A few verses later, Jesus again implied that His disciples must make a judgment.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Matthew 7:15-20).
Question: How can we “watch out” for false prophets if we cannot make judgments as to who the false prophets are? According to Jesus, determining the identity of false teachers involves inspecting “their fruits” and making judgments—righteous judgments.
What does the rest of Scripture have to say to those who regard all judging as being wrong?
  • In his letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul commanded those “who are spiritual” to restore those who have been “overtaken in any trespass…in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (6:1). Certainly, determining who is spiritual and who has sinned involves making judgments.
  • While addressing an issue in the church at Corinth where a man had “his father’s wife” (1 Corinthians 5:1), Paul wrote through inspiration:
    In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus…. I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person…. Therefore, put away from yourselves the evil person (1 Corinthians 5:4-5,11,13b).
    Paul commanded the church at Corinth to purge a fornicator from its midst. This man’s sin was even to be addressed in a public manner. To follow Paul’s command, the church had to make a judgment. Paul also commanded the congregation to “put away” others who were living in a state of sin. When we make such judgments today, they are to be righteousjudgments that are based on facts and carried out in love. Such judging should be performed in a merciful spirit (Luke 6:36-37), and for the purpose of saving souls (“that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”—1 Corinthians 5:5). Judgments are to be made from good (righteous) intentions. But judgments nevertheless must be made.
  • Paul instructed the church at Ephesus to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (5:11). And to the Christians in Rome he wrote: “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (16:17). Were churches going to have to make important judgments to comply with Paul’s commands? Yes.
  • Similarly, the apostle John indicated that “whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John 9-11, emp. added). To determine whether or not we are going to allow someone into our homes, necessitates a judgment on our part.
  • Finally, if all judgments concerning spiritual matters are wrong, then why would Jesus have commanded His disciples to go and teach the lost (Matthew 28:19-20; cf. Acts 8:4)? Before one ever teaches the Gospel to someone who is not a Christian, a judgment must be made. Is this person lost in sin, or saved “in Christ”? If we are to teach the lost today, then it is necessary to determine who is lost and who is not.
If we never can “judge people” in any sense, as many today suggest (through the misuse of Matthew 7:1), then the above commands never could be obeyed. But, they must be obeyed! Thus, (righteous) judgments must be made.
The popular and politically correct idea that “all judging is wrong” is anti-biblical. Those who teach that Jesus was condemning all judging in Matthew 7:1 are guilty of ignoring the context of the passage, as well as the numerous verses throughout the rest of the Bible which teach that judging the sinful lifestyles of others is necessary. One key ingredient that we need to incorporate in every judgment is “righteousness.” Jesus commanded that His disciples first get their own lives right with God; then they can “see clearly” to be of help to others who are overcome in their faults (Matthew 7:5). As Jesus told the Jews in the temple on one occasion: “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

The Case of the Empty Tomb by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


The Case of the Empty Tomb

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Around the year A.D. 165, Justin Martyr penned his Dialogue with Trypho. At the beginning of chapter 108 of this work, he recorded a letter that the Jewish community had been circulating regarding the empty tomb of Christ:
[A] godless and lawless heresy had sprung from one Jesus, a Galilaean deceiver, whom we crucified, but his disciples stole him by night from the tomb, where he was laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that he has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven.
In approximately the sixth century, another caustic treatise written to defame Christ circulated among the Jewish community. In this narrative, known as Toledoth Yeshu, Jesus is described as the illegitimate son of a soldier named Joseph Pandera. He further is labeled as a disrespectful deceiver who led many away from the truth. Near the end of the treatise, under a discussion of His death, the following paragraph can be found:

Diligent search was made and he [Jesus—KB] was not found in the grave where he had been buried. A gardener had taken him from the grave and had brought him into his garden and buried him in the sand over which the waters flowed into the garden.
Upon reading Justin Martyr’s description of one Jewish theory regarding the tomb of Christ, and another theory from Toledoth Yeshu, it becomes clear that one common thread unites them both—the tomb of Christ had no body in it!
All parties involved recognized the fact that Christ’s tomb laid empty on the third day. Feeling compelled to give reasons for this unexpected vacancy, the Jewish authorities apparently concocted several different theories to explain the body’s disappearance. The most commonly accepted one seems to be that the disciples of Jesus stole His body away by night while the guards slept (Matthew 28:13). Yet, how could the soldiers identify any thieves while they slept? And why were the sentinels not punished by death for sleeping on the job and thereby losing their charge (cf. Acts 12:6.19)? And an even more pressing question comes to the mind—why did the soldiers need to explain anything if a body was still in the tomb?
When Peter stood up to preach on the Day of Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ, the crux of his sermon rested on the fact(s) that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again on the third day. In order to silence Peter, and stop a mass conversion, the Jewish leaders needed simply to produce the body of Christ. Why did not the Jewish leaders take the short walk to the garden and produce the body? Simply because they could not! The tomb was empty. The Jews knew it and tried to explain it away, the apostles knew it and preached it boldly in the city of Jerusalem, and thousands of the inhabitants of Jerusalem knew it and converted to Christianity. John Warwick Montgomery accurately assessed the matter when he wrote: “It passes the bounds of credibility that the early Christians could have manufactured such a tale and then preached it among those who might easily have refuted it simply by producing the body of Jesus” (1964, p. 78). The tomb of Jesus was empty, and that is a fact.


Montgomery, John Warwick (1964), History and Christianity (Downers Grover, IL: InterVarsity Press).

Alleged Discrepancies and the Flood by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Alleged Discrepancies and the Flood

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Name a Bible subject that has been scoffed at or ridiculed more than the account of the Noahic Flood. Name a topic that has borne the brunt of more jokes, or that the unbeliever has used more often to poke fun at the Bible, than Noah’s ark. Likely it would be difficult to find any Bible subject that has received more derision in modern times, or has been the subject of more mockery than the story recorded in Genesis 6-9.
The biblical account of the great Flood is one of the more prominent stories in Scripture, with more space allotted to it in the book of Genesis than to the creation of “the heavens, and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” (Exodus 20:11; Genesis 1-2). Four of the first nine chapters of Genesis are devoted to the record of Noah, his immediate family, and the Flood. We know more about the Flood than any other event (recorded in Holy Writ) from approximately the first 2,000 years of man’s existence on Earth. What’s more, there are several New Testament references to Noah and the Flood (Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-27; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5). Yet, the account of Noah, his ark, and the great Flood has been, and still is, a favorite target of Bible critics.
More than a century ago, renowned American agnostic Robert Ingersoll penned his infamous book titled Some Mistakes of Moses. Regarding Noah’s ark and the Flood, he wrote: “Volumes might be written upon the infinite absurdity of this most incredible, wicked and foolish of all fables contained in that repository of the impossible, called the Bible. To me it is a matter of amazement, that it ever was for a moment believed by any intelligent human being” (1879, p. 155). In more recent times, evolutionist Douglas Futuyma asked: “Can you believe that any grown man or woman with the slightest knowledge of biology, geology, physics, or any science at all, not to speak of plain and simple common sense, can conceivably believe this? (1983, p. 203). In that same year, skeptic Dennis McKinsey, the one-time editor of the journal Biblical Errancy(touted as “the only national periodical focusing on biblical errors”), argued that there is a “large number of contradictions between biblical verses with respect to what occurred” in Genesis 6-9 (1983a, p. 1, emp. added). Furthermore, McKinsey has alleged there also exist a “great number of difficulties, impossibilities, and unanswered questions accompanying the biblical account” of the Flood (p. 1).
Before answering some of the alleged problems with the Flood and Noah’s ark, one must first recognize that we are addressing four chapters of the Bible that involve the prevailing power of an omnipotent God Who performed various supernatural feats. Although a skeptic might consider any mention of the miraculous in connection with the Flood as an untenable defense by a Bible believer, the simple truth is that Genesis 6-9 makes it clear that God worked several miracles during the Flood. Just as God worked miracles prior to the Flood (e.g., creating the world and everything in it—Genesis 1-2), and just as He worked miracles after the Flood (e.g., confusing the language of all the Earth—Genesis 11:1-9), He performed wonders during the Flood. As John Whitcomb noted in his book The World That Perished: “A careful analysis of the relevant exegetical data reveals at least six areas in which supernaturalism is clearly demanded in the doctrine of the Flood” (1988, p. 21). What are these areas? “(1) [T]he divinely-revealed design of the Ark; (2) the gathering and care of the animals; (3) the uplift of the oceanic waters from beneath; (4) the release of waters from above; (5) the formation of our present ocean basins; and (6) the formation of our present continents and mountain ranges” (p. 21; cf. 2 Peter 3:4ff.). The fact is, “one cannot have any kind of a Genesis Flood without acknowledging the presence of supernatural powers” (Whitcomb and Morris, 1961, p. 76).
Thus, certain “difficulties, impossibilities, and unanswered questions accompanying the biblical account” (McKinsey, 1983a, p. 1) of the Flood may be explained sufficiently simply by acknowledging God’s supernatural involvement. However, apologists do not have to appeal to an “endless supplying of miracles to make a universal flood feasible,” as Bernard Ramm suggested (1954, p. 167). In truth, many of the alleged contradictions and proposed absurdities involving Noah and the Flood are logically explained by an honest and serious study of the Scriptures.


One of the most frequently criticized parts of the biblical account of the Flood involves the size of Noah’s ark and the number of animals that lived in the vessel during the Flood. Allegedly, “[T]he ark...was far too small to be able to contain the earth’s millions of...animal species” (Wells, 2008). Another critic asked: “How could two of every animal survive for approximately 10 months on a boat encompassing 1,518,750 cubic feet. The food alone would absorb tremendous space” (McKinsey, 1983a, p. 1). In a document titled “Biblical Absurdities,” infidel.org board member Donald Morgan wrote: “The size of Noah’s Ark was such that there would be about one and a half cubic feet for each pair of the 2,000,000 to 5,000,000 species to be taken aboard” (2008). Even one of the evolutionary scientists interviewed in Ben Stein’s recent documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, mocked the Bible’s account of Noah housing all of the various kinds of land animals on the ark (2008). All of these criticisms beg the question, “Was Noah’s vessel an adequate ark or a deficient dinghy?”
Adapted from an Image courtesy of Vance Nelson, CreationTruthMinistries.org
First, contrary to popular belief, the Bible does not teach that Noah took aboard the ark two of every species of animal on Earth. The Hebrew term used in the Flood account (as in the Creation account) to distinguish animals is min (translated “kind” 10 times in Genesis 1 and seven times in Genesis 6-7). The Bible was written long before man invented the Linnaean classification system. The “kinds” of animals that Adam named on the sixth day of Creation and that accompanied Noah on the ark were likely very broad. As Henry Morris observed: “[T]he created kinds undoubtedly represented broader categories than our modern species or genera, quite possibly approximating in most cases the taxonomic family” (1984, p. 129, emp. added). Instead of Noah taking aboard the ark two of the brown bears species (Ursus arctos), two of the polar bear species (Ursus maritimus), two of the American black bear species (Ursus americanus), etc., he could have simply taken two members of the bear family (Ursidae), which could have possessed enough genetic variety so that bears thousands of years later could look significantly different. Even in recent times scientists have learned of a polar bear and brown bear producing an offspring. Some have tagged the bear with the name “pizzly,” in order to reflect its “polar” and “grizzly” heritage (see Wittmeyer, 2007). Truly, “[i]t is unwarranted to insist that all the present species, not to mention all the varieties and sub-varieties of animals in the world today, were represented in the Ark” (Whitcomb and Morris, 1961, p. 67). Still, even after analyzing the number of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians proposed by evolutionary taxonomist Ernst Mayr, Whitcomb and Morris concluded that “there was need for no more than 35,000 individual vertebrate animals on the Ark,” plus the small, non-marine arthropods and worms (1961, p. 69). Needless to say, the “2,000,000 to 5,000,000 species” proposed by Donald Morgan is grossly overstated.
Second, supposing that the cubit in Noah’s day was 17.5 inches (a most conservative “cubit” considering the Egyptian cubit, the Mesopotamian cubit, and the “long” cubit of Ezekiel 40:5 all exceeded this measurement by two inches; see Free and Vos, 1992, pp. 38-39), then Noah’s ark would have been at the very least 437.5 feet long, 72.92 feet wide, and 43.75 feet high. “[T]he available floor space of this three-decked barge was over 95,000 square feet,” the equivalent of slightly more than 20 standard basketball courts, “and its total volume was 1,396,000 cubic feet” (Whitcomb, 1988, p. 25), which means “the Ark had a carrying capacity equal to that of 522 standard stock cars as used by modern railroads” (Whitcomb and Morris, 1961, pp. 67-68). What’s more, “if 240 animals of the size of sheep could be accommodated in a standard two-decked stock car,” then 35,000 animals could be housed in less than 150 such cars (p. 69), which is less than 30% of the ark’s total capacity. Suffice it to say, “[T]he dimensions of the Ark were sufficiently great to accomplish its intended purpose of saving alive the thousands of kinds of air-breathing creatures that could not otherwise survive a year-long Flood” (Whitcomb, 1988, p. 25). [NOTE: God likely allowed Noah to take young animals into the ark, instead of those that were fully grown, in order to save space and reduce the amount of necessary food. It also would have meant that, on average, the animals would have lived longer and produced even more offspring after the Flood.]


After informing Noah about an upcoming worldwide flood, and commanding him to build a massive boat of gopher wood, God instructed His faithful servant, saying, “You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above” (Genesis 6:16, emp. added). Upon reading about this window in Noah’s ark, many have challenged its usefulness. Since, historically, windows have served two basic purposes (lighting and ventilation), inquiring minds want to know what good one window, about 18 inches square, would be on an ark with a capacity of roughly 1,400,000 cubic feet, occupied by thousands of animals. Dennis McKinsey has asked: “How could so many creatures breathe with only one small opening which was closed for at least 190 days?” (1983a, p. 1). Other skeptics also have ridiculed the idea that sufficient ventilation for the whole ark could have come through this one window (see Wells, 2008). In fact, anyone even slightly familiar with animal-house ventilation needs is taken aback by the apparent lack of airflow allowed by the ark’s design. Unless God miraculously ventilated the ark, one little window on a three-story boat, the length of which was approximately a football-field-and-a-half long, simply would not do.
Questions regarding the “window” on Noah’s ark and the problem of ventilation have escalated largely because the Hebrew word translated window (tsohar) in Genesis 6:16 appears only here in the Old Testament, and linguistic scholars are unsure as to its exact meaning (see Hamilton, 1990, p. 282). Translators of the KJV and NKJV use the word “window” to translate tsohar; however, according to Old Testament commentator Victor Hamilton, they “do so on the basis of the word’s possible connection with sahorayim, ‘noon, midday,’ thus an opening to let in the light of day” (p. 282). Hebrew scholar William Gesenius defined tsohar in his Hebrew lexicon as simply “light,” and translated Genesis 6:16 as “thou shalt make light for the ark” (1847, p. 704). He then surmised that this “light” represented, not a window, but windows (plural). The ASVtranslators also preferred “light” as the best translation for tsohar. Still more recent translations, including the RSV, NIV, and ESV, have translated Genesis 6:16 as “[m]ake a roof” for the ark, instead of make a “window” or “light.”
Such disagreement among translations is, admittedly, somewhat discouraging to the person who wants a definite answer as to how tsohar should be translated. What is clear, however, is that the word translated “window” two chapters later, which Noah is said to have “opened” (8:6), is translated from a different Hebrew word (challôwn) than what is used in Genesis 6:16. Challôwn(8:6) is the standard Hebrew word for “window” (cf. Genesis 26:8; Joshua 2:18). Yet, interestingly, this is not the word used in 6:16. One wonders if, in 8:6, Noah opened one of a plurality of aligned windows that God instructed him to make in 6:16.
Another assumption often brought into a discussion regarding the “window” (tsohar) of 6:16 is that it was one square cubit. Although many people have imagined Noah’s ark as having one small window about 18 inches high by 18 inches wide, the phrase “you shall finish it to a cubit from above” (6:16, NKJV; cf. RSV) does not give the Bible reader any clear dimensions of the opening. The text just says that Noah was to “finish it to a cubit from the top” (NASB; “upward,” ASV). The simple truth is, the size of the lighting apparatus mentioned in this verse is unspecified. The text indicates only the distance the opening was from the top of the ark, rather than the actual size of the window. Thus we cannot form a definite picture of it. But, we do know that nothing in the text warrants an interpretation that the “window” was just a “small opening” (as critics allege). A more probable theory, which aligns itself appropriately with the text, is that the opening described in Genesis 6:16 extended around the ark’s circumference 18 inches from the top of the ark with an undeterminable height. According to geologist John Woodmorappe, such an opening would have provided sufficient light and ventilation for the ark (1996, pp. 37-44). [For further reading on this subject, see Woodmorappe’s book, Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study.]
It is important to remember that many details about biblical events are not revealed to the reader. So it is with the plans for Noah’s ark. As Henry Morris commented, “It was obviously not the intention of the writer to record the complete specifications for the ark’s construction, but only enough to assure later readers that it was quite adequate for its intended purpose...‘to preserve life on the earth’” (1976, p. 182). Truly, absolute certainty regarding the openings on the ark cannot be determined. We know of an opening mentioned in Genesis 6:16 (tsohar), as well as one mentioned in 8:6 (challôwn). And, since Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark survived the Flood, it is only logical to conclude that God made proper ways to ventilate the ark in which they lived during the Flood. Although nothing in Scripture demands that those living millennia after the Flood know how it was ventilated, lighted, etc., it is very likely that God used the opening mentioned in Genesis 6:16.


Ask children who are even vaguely familiar with the biblical account of the Flood how many animals of each kind Noah took into the ark, and you likely will hear, “Two!” Most Bible students are familiar with the instructions recorded in Genesis 6:19 that God gave to Noah: “And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female” (Genesis 6:19, emp. added; cf. 7:15). It seems that fewer people, however, are aware that God also instructed Noah, saying, “You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth” (Genesis 7:2-3, emp. added). According to Bible critics, these verses are contradictory. “Are clean beasts to enter by 2’s or by 7’s?” asked skeptic Dennis McKinsey (1983b, p. 1). Michelle Andrews, writing for a special 2004 collector’s edition of U.S. News and World Report, was so bothered by the differences between Genesis 6:19 and 7:2-3 that she claimed, “there are two versions of the story of Noah and the flood” in Genesis, neither of which supposedly was written by Moses (2004, p. 28).
The biblical text, however, is rather easy to understand without giving up on the inspiration of Genesis, or the authorship of Moses: the clean beasts and birds entered the ark “by sevens” (KJV), while the unclean animals went into the ark by twos. There is no contradiction here. Genesis 6:19 indicates that Noah was to take “two of every sort into the ark.” Then, four verses later, God supplemented this original instruction, informing Noah in a more detailed manner, to take more of the clean animals. If a farmer told his son to take two of every kind of farm animal to the state fair, and then instructed his son to take several extra chickens and two extra pigs for a barbecue, would anyone accuse the farmer of contradicting himself? Certainly not. It was necessary for Noah to take additional clean animals because, upon his departure from the ark after the Flood, he “built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (Genesis 8:20). If Noah had taken only two clean animals from which to choose when sacrificing to God after departing the ark, then he would have driven the various kinds of clean beasts and birds into extinction by sacrificing one of each pair. Thus, after God told Noah to take two of every kind of animal into the ark, He then instructed him to take extras of the clean animals. Similar to how Genesis chapter 2 supplements the first chapter of Genesis by giving a more detailed account of the Creation (see Lyons, 2002), the first portion of Genesis 7 merely supplements the end of the preceding chapter, “containing several particulars of a minute description which were not embraced in the general directions first given to Noah” (Jamieson, et al., 1997).
One translation difficulty, which should not trouble a person’s faith, revolves around the actual number of clean animals taken into the ark. Through the years, various Bible students have wondered whether this number was seven or fourteen (Genesis 7:2). The Hebrew phrase shibb’ah shibb’ah is translated somewhat vaguely in both the King James and American Standard versions. [According to the King James Version, clean animals were taken into the ark “by sevens” (Genesis 7:2). The American Standard Version has the clean animals taken “seven and seven.”] Newer translations are worded more clearly, but there is general disagreement among them. The New King James and New International versions both agree that Noah took seven of each clean animal into the ark, whereas the Revised Standard Version, the New English Bible, and the English Standard Version all translate shibb’ah shibb’ah to mean “seven pairs” of clean animals. Although some believe that “there can be no certainty on this point” (Willis, 1979, p. 171), H.C. Leupold argued that the Hebrew phrase shibb’ah shibb’ah “would be a most clumsy method of trying to say ‘fourteen’ (1990, 1:290). Comparing similar language within Genesis 7, Whitcomb and Morris persuasively argued: “The Hebrew phrase ‘seven and seven’ no more means fourteen than does the parallel phrase ‘two and two’ (Gen. 7:9,15) mean four!” (1961, p. 65).
Still another allegation skeptics make concerning Genesis 7:2 is that “[c]lean and unclean animals were not delineated until the eleventh chapter of Leviticus. The Mosaic law arose 600 years after the Flood. There were no Jews, Israelites, or clean/unclean animals in Noah’s time” (McKinsey, 1983b, p. 1). Thus, regardless of how one answers the question concerning the number of animals on the ark, this second allegation still lingers in the minds of skeptics. Supposedly, instructions regarding clean and unclean animals were not given until hundreds of years after the Flood (see Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14).
Skeptics refuse to see, however, that simply because Moses made laws concerning clean and unclean animals at a much later time than the Flood, does not mean that such rules concerning animals could not have existed prior to Moses—yes, even prior to the Flood. As commentator John Willis noted: “A law or a truth does not have to have its origin with a certain individual or religion to be a vital part of that religion or to be distinctive in that religion” (p. 170). Jesus, for example, was not the first person to teach that man needs to love God with all of his heart (cf. Deuteronomy 6:5), or that man must love his neighbor (cf. Leviticus 19:18), and his enemies (cf. Proverbs 25:21-22). Yet these teachings were central to Christ’s message (cf. Matthew 22:34-40; Matthew 5:43-48). Similarly, simply because God chose circumcision as a sign between Himself and Abraham’s descendants, does not mean that no male in the history of mankind had ever been circumcised before the circumcision of Abraham and his household (Genesis 17). What’s more, Moses wrote in the book of Leviticus years after Abraham lived: “If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised” (12:2-3, emp. added). Moses, however, was not laying down a new law. On the contrary, he knew very well what was expected from God concerning the matter of circumcision, even before he included this sort of instruction as part of Mosaic Law (read Exodus 4:24-26).
For skeptics to allege that differentiation between clean and unclean animals was nonexistent prior to Moses, is totally unsubstantiated. Mankind had been sacrificing animals since the fall of man (cf. Genesis 3:21). That God had given laws concerning animal sacrifices since the time of Cain and Abel is evident from the fact that the second son of Adam was able to offer an animal sacrifice “by faith” (Hebrews 11:4; Genesis 4:4). Since “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17), Abel must have received revelation from God on how to offer acceptable animal sacrifices. Such revelation easily could have dealt with which sacrificial animals were acceptable (“clean”), and which were unacceptable (“unclean”). Furthermore, more than 400 hundred years before Moses gave the Israelites laws differentiating clean and unclean animals, God made a covenant with Abraham concerning the land that his descendants eventually would possess (Genesis 15). Part of the “sign” that Abraham was given at that time involved the killing of a heifer, a female goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a pigeon (Genesis 15:9). “It just so happens” that all of these animals were later considered clean under the Law of Moses (cf. Leviticus 1:2,10,14).
Without a doubt, the distinction between clean and unclean animals existed long before the Law of Moses was given. Although this distinction did not include all of the details and applications given by Moses (prior to the Flood the distinction seems only to have applied to the matter of animals suitable for sacrifice, not for consumption—cf. Genesis 9:2-3), animal sacrifice to God was practiced during the Patriarchal Age, and it is apparent that the faithful were able to distinguish between the clean and unclean. Noah certainly knew of the difference.


In Genesis 8:4, the Bible indicates that Noah’s ark rested “on the mountains of Ararat.” This statement, like so many others in Genesis 6-9, has come under attack by critics. For example, in his two-part article on the Flood, skeptic Dennis McKinsey asked: “How could the Ark have rested upon several mountains at once?” (1983a, p. 2). Three months later, McKinsey commented on the passage again, saying, “Gen. 8:4 says ‘mountains,’ plural, not ‘a mountain,’ singular.... Apologists repeatedly say one should read the Bible as one reads a newspaper, which is what I am doing. I assume the book says what it means and means what it says” (1984, p. 3). How could the ark rest on more than one mountain?
Although the ark was a huge vessel, it obviously did not rest on more than one of the mountains of Ararat. So why then does the text literally say “the mountains of Ararat?” The answer involves the understanding of a figure of speech known as synecdoche. Merriam-Webster defines this term as “a figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole (as fifty sail for fifty ships), the whole for a part (as society for high society)...or the name of the material for the thing made (as boardsfor stage)” (2008, italics in orig.). Just as Bible writers frequently used figures of speech such as simile, metaphor, sarcasm, and metonymy, they also used synecdoche. As seen above (in the definition of synecdoche), this figure of speech can be used in a variety of ways (see Dungan, 1888, pp. 300-309):
  • A whole can be put for the part.
  • A part may be put for the whole.
  • Time might be put for part of a time period.
  • The singular can be put for the plural.
  • And the plural can be put for the singular.
In Genesis 8:4, the plural obviously was put for the singular. Only a few chapters later this same figure of speech is used again. Sarah asked, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age” (Genesis 21:7, emp. added). Anyone who knows much about the history of the Old Testament and the genealogy of Christ knows that Sarah had but one child (Isaac). In certain contexts, however, one might use a synecdoche and speak of one child (as did Sarah) by using the word “children.” Often, when I call for the attention of my two sons and one daughter, I refer to them as “boys and girls.” I actually have only one daughter, but summoning my children with the expressions “boys and girl” or “boys and Shelby,” simply does not flow as well as “boys and girls.” Thus, I frequently use the plural (“girls”) for the singular (“Shelby”). The emphasis is not on the singularity or plurality of the nouns, but on particular categories (“boys” and “girls”).
Another apparent example where Bible writers used “the whole for the part” or “the plural for the singular” is found in Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32. In these passages, Matthew and Mark claimed that “the robbers” (plural) who were crucified with Christ reviled Him. Luke, however, mentioned that “one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed” Christ (23:39, emp. added). Luke then went on to document the humble attitude of the penitent thief. So why did Matthew and Mark indicate the “thieves” (plural) reviled Jesus? Although the penitent thief could have reviled Christ earlier, it is feasible that Matthew and Mark were using the plural in place of the singular in their accounts of the thief reviling Christ on the cross. The emphasis, once again, would be on a particular category, and not the number of a noun. Just as other groups reviled Christ (e.g., passers-by [Matthew 27:39], Jewish leaders [Matthew 27:41-43], and soldiers [Luke 23:36]), so did the “robbers” (Matthew 27:44; Mark 15:32)—not necessarily a plurality of robbers, but the category known as “robbers,” which included at least one thief who reviled Christ (Luke 23:39).
Although skeptics may dislike the Bible writers’ use of figures of speech, if critics are honest, they must acknowledge the possibility that Moses, Paul, and others occasionally used figurative language (just as people do in modern times). Once a person recognizes the use of figures of speech (e.g., synecdoche) in Scripture, he cannot deny that a very plausible explanation for the use of “mountains” in Genesis 8:4 is that it is written in the plural form, even though it is referring to a single “mountain.”


According to evolutionist Bill Butler, “The greatest geologic fiction that the Creationists adhere to is Noah’s Flood” (2002). The idea that water ever covered the entire Earth, including the highest hills and mountains (Genesis 7:19-20), supposedly is unthinkable (and impossible). In Butler’s article, “Creationism = Willful Ignorance,” he asked: “If the earth’s surface were covered by an additional 29,000+ feet of water, how do you get rid of it?” If Mount Everest reaches a height of over 29,000 feet, then the Bible allegedly indicates that the Flood waters reached even higher—approximately 23 feet higher than the peak of Mount Everest (Genesis 7:20). If such is the case, where did all of the water go?
First, the Bible is more specific about Who caused the waters to subside, than where exactly all of the waters went. Moses wrote: “God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided.... And the waters receded continually from the earth” (Genesis 8:1,3). Years later, the prophet Isaiah recorded how Jehovah compared a promise He made to Israel with His promise “that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth” (Isaiah 54:9). Although these passages do not tell us exactly where the waters went, for the person who believes that God worked several miracles during the Flood, it is reasonable to conclude that God did somethingwith the Flood waters.
Second, the skeptic’s assertion (that there presently is not enough water on the Earth for there ever to have been the kind of flood described in Genesis 6-8) is based upon invalid assumptions. The truth is, no one knows the height of the mountains or the depth of the ocean valleys in Noah’s day. Thus, one cannot know how much water was on the Earth during the Noahic Flood. Psalm 104:6-8 indicates that, at some time in the past, God established new heights and depths for the Earth’s mountains and valleys. Directing his comments to Jehovah, the psalmist proclaimed:
You covered it [the Earth—EL] with the deep as with a garment; the waters were standing above the mountains. At Your rebuke they fled, at the sound of Your thunder they hurried away. The mountains rose; the valleys sank down to the place which You established for them” (NASB, emp. added).
Just as God miraculously altered the Earth’s topography during the Creation week (Genesis 1:9-13), and just as He miraculously sent flood waters upon the Earth, God miraculously caused the waters to subside. In all likelihood, the antediluvian world was vastly different from the Earth of today (cf. 2 Peter 3:6). It is reasonable to believe that the mountains of Noah’s day were much smaller than such peaks as Mount Everest or Mount McKinley that are so well known to us. Thus, the Flood would not have had to rise to levels of 29,000+ feet to cover everything on the Earth. According to the Scriptures, the waters rose above the mountaintops; however, we simply cannot know the heights reached by the antediluvian mountains. (Interestingly, marine fossils have been found in the Himalayas; see “Mt. Everest,” n.d.)
In an attempt to defend his criticism of the Noahic Flood, and to discredit anyone who would argue that the Earth’s topography after the Flood was likely very different than it was before the Flood, Butler suggested the following. First, he emphatically states that, since “[t]he Tigris/Euphrates valley existed in its present form before the flood,” the topography of the Earth could not have changed that much during (and after) the Flood. Second, he argued that “the text specifically states the flood covered ‘all the high mountains.’ If the mountains were low at this time, the word ‘high’ would not be used” (2002).
Notice, however, the faulty reasoning involved in both points Butler made. First, there is no proofthat “The Tigris/Euphrates valley existed in its present form before the flood.” In fact, according to Genesis 2:10-14, there was one river that went out of Eden that then parted and became four rivers. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers of today, however, do not branch from a common source, but flow from separate sources in the Armenian mountains. The rivers of the same name in Genesis 2 are different from those that exist today by the same name. (It is very possible that the people who left the ark, as well as their descendants, used familiar names for the new rivers they found.) Second, simply because Genesis 7:19-20 stresses that the Flood waters covered “all the high hills/mountains” (emp. added), does not mean these mountains could not have been somewhat lower than the mountains of today. Butler stated: “If the mountains were low at this time, the word ‘high’ would not be used” (emp. added). On what basis does he make such an assertion? If in a particular class of dwarfs, some were taller than others, could we not speak of certain “tall dwarfs” in his class? Who is to say that we could not use the word “tall” when speaking of a few particular dwarfs who might be much taller than the rest of the class? Similarly, just because Genesis 7:19-20 uses the word “high,” does not mean that the antediluvian mountains were at their current height. Truthfully, however tall the mountains were before the Flood, some were “higher” than others, and thus could be referred to as the “high mountains.”
Third, Butler wrote: “Water is less dense than the rock of the earth’s surface. Thus it would not drain down below the surface. Even if you forced it down, where is it? No oil or gas well has ever hit a subterranean ocean 29,000+ feet thick” (2002). As is often the case with Bible critics, time is not their friend. Repeatedly throughout history, time has helped exonerate Bible writers. Whether it is archaeologists finding remains of a particular biblical people, which critics once alleged never existed (e.g., the Hittites; cf. Butt, 2002), or scientists finally learning why the eighth day of a child’s life would have been the perfect day to perform circumcision (cf. Genesis 17:11; Holt and McIntosh, 1953, p. 126), again and again time has turned out to be a friend of the Bible and a foe to the ever-changing theories of man (cf. Harrub and Thompson, 2002). Consider Butler’s comments. He confidently asserted that the Flood waters would be unable to “drain down below the surface.” He then asked, “even if you forced it [the Flood water—EL] down, where is it?” Apparently, in 2002, no one knew about great amounts of water below the crust layer of the Earth. With the passing of time, however, scientists have learned differently.
Livescience.com staff writer Ker Than reported that “[s]cientists scanning the deep interior of Earth have found evidence of a vast water reservoir beneath eastern Asia that is at least the volume of the Arctic Ocean” (2007, emp. added). “The discovery,” Ker Than added, “marks the first time such a large body of water was found in the planet’s deep mantle” (2007, emp. added). Butler criticized the biblical Flood account because the Flood waters supposedly “would not drain below the surface” of the Earth, yet a large amount of water has been discovered “in the planet’s deep mantle.” What’s more, “researchers estimate that up to 0.1 percent of the rock sinking down into the Earth’s mantle in that part of the world [eastern Asia—EL] is water” (Than).
Once again, time has become the foe of the Bible’s critics. Although no one can be certain what happened to all of the water that once flooded the Earth, it is very possible that God sent some of it to reside “in the planet’s deep mantle.” Regardless, it is unreasonable to reject the Genesis Flood account because one assumes the Flood waters could not have relocated beneath the Earth’s crust. One wonders how Flood critics will react to news of a “vast water reservoir beneath eastern Asia.”
Where did all of the Flood waters go? The most logical answer in light of the Scriptures appears to be that God made room for the waters by adjusting the Earth’s topography. Much of the water from the Flood likely has retreated into the deeper ocean trenches—valleys that, in places, are over seven miles deep. What’s more, some (or perhaps much of it) may very well be under the Earth’s crust.


Skeptic Dennis McKinsey wrote that “[a]nyone believing in the Flood must provide rational answers to...questions” (1983a, p. 1) regarding Noah’s ark, the number of clean and unclean on the ark, where the ark eventually rested, what happened to all of the Flood waters, etc. The fact is, “rational answers” do exist to these questions and many others. Given adequate time and tools (beginning with the Bible), an apologist can reasonably counter any and all criticisms of the Flood and Noah’s ark.


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