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Magical Menagerie

Friday, January 19, 2018
Jer 8:17, Isa 11:8, Isa 59:5, and Isa 14:29 mention cockatrices (which are half bird and half snake fictional creatures), dragons in Isa 13:22, satyrs (which are found mostly in Greek myths and are half human and half goats) in Isa 13:21 and Isa 34:14, and unicorns throughout the Bible (like in Num 23:22).  They're in the KJV Bible, but still, is the Bible saying these creatures exist or will exist for real and we should believe in them?

Sincerely,
Zoologist

Dear Zoologist,

The issue you are dealing with is a translation issue.  One of the reasons we prefer the New King James Version to the original King James is that some of the archaic language has been updated, and this includes animal classifications.  When the King James Version was written in 1611, they had less information regarding what specific animals were being referred to in the Hebrew Old Testament.  Animal names can be some of the toughest to track down in translation, especially if there isn’t any context to help pinpoint the animal.  Today, scholars believe that they have narrowed the animals in those verses down.  The word ‘cockatrice’ in the KJV is typically translated ‘snake’ or ‘adder’.  The word ‘satyr’ in the KJV is typically translated ‘wild-goat’, and ‘unicorn’ is typically translated ‘wild-ox’.  Regardless of the specific breed or species, the Bible isn’t referring to mythological beasts in these passages; it is mentioning real animals that the people of that time would have been familiar with.

Puppy Love

Thursday, January 11, 2018
I would like to know where all of God’s beautiful, four-legged creatures go when they die.  My grandson asked me this question right after his dog died.  Of course, I told him his dog went to heaven to be with God and is waiting for him... but the truth of the matter is, I don't really know where his dog went to!  I was always told that dogs and cats don't have souls, so if that's true... where would they go?

Sincerely,
Grammy Grief Counselor

Dear Grammy Grief Counselor,

Animals are a blessing from God, and your grandson’s fondness for his dog is shared by animal lovers the world ‘round.  Animals have the “breath of life” just like humans do (Gen 2:7, Gen 6:17).  This “breath of life” is also sometimes referred to as the “spirit” of a man or animal (Gen 7:22).  Animals have spirits, and humans have spirits, but humans were also made in the image of God (Gen 1:26).  Our spirits are eternal and will go up to be with the Father, and animal spirits are temporary and will return to the dust of the earth (Eccl 3:21).  God made our spirit of a different caliber than He made those of the animal.  Dogs don’t go to heaven, but we can feel confident that God has decided wisely on this issue like all others.  We may not always understand His reasons, but He always makes good decisions.

Knights Templar

Wednesday, January 03, 2018
Who are the Knights Templar?

Sincerely,
Historian

Dear Historian,

The Knights Templar was an order of knights that were endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church in 1129 and fought during the Crusades.  They were also known for building large fortifications across Europe.  There is a modern mystique surrounding the Knights Templar because they were a very secretive religious society… but all historical sources point toward them going out of existence centuries ago.

In any case, the Knights Templar have absolutely nothing to do with the Bible.  The Bible was completed over a thousand years before the Knights Templar were created by the Catholic church.  The Crusades and the Knights Templar are both good examples of how the Catholic church did (and does) things that have zero connection to the Word of God.  God tells us to never add or subtract from His Word (Rev 22:18-19).  All faithful churches take that command very seriously.

Sobering Thoughts

Friday, December 01, 2017
Is it true that christians can drink but not get drunk?

Sincerely,
Put A Cork In It

Dear Put A Cork In It,

The Greek word for ‘wine’ is ‘oinos’.  ‘Oinos’ simply means ‘grape juice’… sometimes fermented, sometimes not.  So whenever you see the word ‘wine’ in your Bible, it may be talking about fermented or non-alcoholic grape juice.  New wine is grape juice that hasn’t had the time to fully ferment; old wine is alcoholic and fully fermented.  This explains why in Lk 5:39 Jesus states that people would choose the old wine over the new wine.

We also have to understand that the wine that was drunk in Jesus’ day was made using the natural yeasts found on the outside skin of the grape.  When grapes are crushed, the grape juice mixes with this wild yeast and ferments the juice.  These natural yeasts will only ferment wine to about 13% alcohol content, not the 17% or higher of many wines found today.  Furthermore, most wine was diluted anywhere from one part wine with one part water to as much as one part wine with four parts water.  In fact, Roman soldiers were known to only drink a type of wine called ‘posca’ which was an especially diluted mixture of water, bitter herbs, and older wine.

We say all this to tell you that wine in Jesus’ day is not the same as today.  The word ‘wine’ is too generic for one to automatically assume that it was highly alcoholic.  God never specifically condemns drinking wine, but He does condemn ‘strong drink’ (Pr 20:1), drinking parties (1 Pet 4:3), and drunkenness (Rom 13:13).  Almost all alcohol that is consumed today would fall into the category of ‘strong drink’ because our alcoholic beverages are artificially fermented to increase their alcoholic content, and they are rarely diluted with water.  We would all do well to heed the words of Pr 23:31-32 and avoid alcohol as much as is possible.

Best Author Ever

Thursday, November 23, 2017
I've wanted to find a devotional book to use to help myself stick to a schedule of reading from the Bible everyday, but there are so many out there!  Do you have specific books or authors that you feel follow the Bible well?  There seem to be so many out there that add so much of their own thoughts and opinions.

Sincerely,
Looking For Guidance

Dear Looking For Guidance,

With the New Year ringing in, it is a great time to make plans to reinvigorate your Bible study.  There are numerous books out there that are designed to give you a running commentary on the Bible, but if you want to keep it simple, we recommend a straightforward, yearly Bible reading plan.  There are numerous schedules that will take you through both the Old and New Testament in a year.  Probably the easiest way to do this is to go and buy a “daily Bible” that breaks the Bible into 365 chunks.  Here is a link to an example.  There are other books, such as Hailey’s Bible Handbook that work well to help reference things if you get confused… or you could always write in to us!  We also have classes available for download on every book of the Bible at mvchurchofchrist.org/sermons .  Overall, our advice would be to simply start reading your Bible on a regular basis and deal with the questions as they come.  There is nothing more wholesome or fulfilling than simply reading the text God wrote (1 Tim 4:13).

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