Ask Your Preacher
Who are the twenty-four elders?
Dear Taking Role,
The twenty-four elders seen in Rev 4:4 are before the throne of God. They are identified as wearing white garments and wearing crowns of gold. These details lend toward them being representative of the saved because God promises the faithful imperishable crowns (1 Pet 5:4) and robes of white (Rev 3:5). The book of Revelation is highly symbolic, and it is important to not get too bogged down in looking for specifics when the book is intended to give a bigger picture of the church’s persecution and eventual victory over Rome. Having said that, to us, the most plausible thing that the twenty-four elders represent is a combination of the redeemed from both the Old and New Covenants… twelve elders symbolic for the twelve tribes of Israel and twelve elders standing for the saved under the teachings of the twelve apostles. Both the faithful of the Old and the New Testaments are saved together in Christ (Heb 9:15, Heb 11:40), and all the faithful cast their crowns down before God (Rev 4:10). For an in-depth study of the book of Revelation, please feel free to download our class series on that subject at http://www.mvchurchofchrist.org/sermons.
I'm really confused now, and I need some help. Why does the Bible talk about the Pharisees when they are referring to something bad? Did they do anything bad, or are they bad or anything?
Not A Pharisee
Dear Not A Pharisee,
The Pharisees were a group of religious teachers that imposed their traditions and opinions upon people. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for adding to God’s Word and following tradition instead of truth (Mk 7:10-13). The Pharisees were constantly laying burdens on people that couldn’t be found in the Scriptures (Matt 23:4). The Pharisees were hypocritical because they pretended to be very righteous people, but it was all a public show done out of pride (Matt 23:27). The Pharisees are a great example of what is wrong with much of religion. When we don’t follow the Scriptures, our religion just becomes an act that doesn’t please God.
Could you elaborate on 1 Timothy 2:8. What is meant by holy hands?
Hand-ling The Verse
Dear Hand-ling The Verse,
It was not uncommon for those praying to raise their hands toward heaven as they prayed. In 1 Tim 2:8, Paul is exhorting that we should have clean hands when we pray to God. Our hands represent our lives and our actions. If our lives are full of wrathful and doubting behavior, our prayers will be hindered. The greatest example of this is in 1 Pet 3:7 where God warns husbands that their prayers will be hindered if they mistreat their wives. Our hands need to be holy when we approach God; our lives need to be holy if we approach the Lord in prayer.
I have heard many interpretations and predictions on what it is thought the mark of the beast will be. One of those thoughts is a microchip placed in your hand. Would it be wrong to implant my dogs with microchips? This seems to be the most effective way of keeping up with them and preventing them from getting lost, but is it wrong?
Devoted Dog Breeder
Dear Devoted Dog Breeder,
The verse you are referring to is Rev 14:9. However, take comfort – it isn’t referring to your pups. The book of Revelation is dealing with the struggle between christians and the idolatrous nation of Rome; therefore, it can’t be referring to modern microchipping, no matter what the televangelists and pop-culture preachers say.
It is important to remember that the book of Revelation is a book written with symbolic and figurative language (Rev 1:1). It is a vision the apostle John received on the island of Patmos that uses apocalyptic dream-like visions to teach on a real-life subject that was “soon to come to pass” and “at hand” (Rev 1:1 and Rev 1:3). Considering John wrote the book somewhere between 65 A.D. and 100 A.D. – we are about two thousand years too late for the vision to specifically apply to us. Today, you need to obey the Gospel in order to be in God’s light (1 Jn 1:5-6). We recommend that you read “What Must I Do To Be Saved?”, so that you can feel confident about what will save your soul. There is more to it than simply asking Jesus into your life, but it has nothing to do with unmarked hands or microchipping.
What is Jesus referring to in Matthew 11 when He says, "My yoke is easy; My burden is light"?
Dear Weight Lifter,
A yoke is a type of harness that is placed on oxen, so they can pull a cart or plow. In this circumstance, Jesus is using a yoke to explain that everyone has a burden to carry. Whatever you let guide your life, it becomes your master (i.e. money, family, pride, lusts, etc.), and you have to work to feed its will (Matt 6:24). Jesus says that if we will follow Him, learn from Him, and obey His commands, our burden will be much lighter than if we live worldly lives. He is a kind and gentle Master that will give us rest for our souls. (Matt 11:28-30).