Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

OLD TESTAMENT

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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.

Two Sides Of The Tale

Monday, January 01, 2018
There are two passages that some people say don't go well together.  In 2 Samuel 24:1, God incited David to take a census, but in 1 Chronicles 21:1, Satan incited David to take the census.  How can this be?  Some people say that either God Himself morphed into Satan or the author of Chronicles calls God "satan" because God's anger acts as an adversary to David or people say this is just a biblical error and don't know why it's there.  At first, I thought these were two separate events, but no, these two verses describe one event.  What do you say, and how would you explain this?

Sincerely,
Head Count

Dear Head Count,

Those two verses describe two sides of the same coin.  2 Sam 24:1 says that God was upset with Israel, and 1 Chr 21:1 says that Satan fought against Israel.  Both are true.  God was upset with how Israel was behaving, so He took His protection away and allowed Satan to fight against Israel by tempting David.  God often does this.  We are protected as long as we turn to Him and place our faith in Him, but when we wander into ungodly living – all bets are off.  The great lion, the devil, hunts for wayward sheep that have strayed from the Great Shepherd (1 Pet 5:8).

Changing Of The Guard

Friday, December 29, 2017
I don't get it... if Jesus was a Jew, why isn't Judaism the correct religion?  Did I miss something?

Sincerely,
Confused Christian

Dear Confused Christian,

Jesus was born a Jew (Matt 1:17), lived under the Jewish law (Lk 2:41-42), and even taught His fellow Jews to obey the Old Testament law (Matt 23:1-3).  Judaism was the right religion, until Jesus died on the cross and replaced Judaism with Christianity.  The Old Testament, the law the Jews followed, was a tutor to lead people to Christ, but after Jesus came, mankind was supposed to follow Him instead (Gal 3:24-25).  The Jewish law said that someday there would come a Messiah who would save them from their sins – Jesus was that Messiah (Jhn 1:45).  The Jewish law taught mankind that they needed a Savior, and that they should prepare for His coming.  Jesus came providing the grace and truth that wasn’t possible under Jewish law (Jhn 1:17).  Jesus’ death made a permanent sacrifice for sins that none of the Old Testament animal sacrifices ever could (Heb 10:1-4).

This Little Light Of Ours

Tuesday, December 19, 2017
What are the different lights that the book of Genesis talks about?  It says God made light; then it says He made the sun, stars, and moon later in chapter one!  Please explain in detail.

Sincerely,
Star Gazer

Dear Star Gazer,

God created light for the earth on the first day of Creation and separated the light from the darkness (Gen 1:3-5).  It wasn’t until day four that God created the sun (as well as the stars and moon) as a permanent source of light in the heavens (Gen 1:14-19).  This is often seen as a contradiction because everyone knows that the sun is the source of daylight here on Earth.  However, it isn’t a contradiction; it is merely a surprising detail of the Creation story.  God created the day and night cycles first, and later created a permanent source of light for those cycles.  This is no different than a house being built using contractor-grade work lights, and as the house nears completion, the permanent electrical system is put into place, and permanent lighting is installed.  We have never known a time when the earth’s light source wasn’t the sun, just like a homeowner never knows a time when the house was without permanent light fixtures.  There is no contradiction, just a very impressive creation process orchestrated by an immensely powerful God.

A Dirty Word

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Is there a difference in the meaning of ‘unclean’ in the Old Testament and the New Testament?  It is my understanding that many things in the Old Testament that were considered unclean weren't necessarily wrong or sinful, but in the New Testament, my understanding is that the word ‘unclean’ is for things that are wrong or should be avoided.  Thanks!

Sincerely,
Scrubbed Up

Dear Scrubbed Up,

The word ‘unclean’ refers to anything that is ‘contaminated or unholy’.  Many times that is in reference to something contaminated by sin – in which case, ‘unclean’ is referring to something sinful (some good examples of this are Rom 1:24, Eph 4:19, and Lam 1:8).  However, some things that were unclean were simply things that a Jew needed to purify themselves from if they came in contact with it (i.e. leprosy, dead bodies, pus, or other body ailments – Num 5:2-3).  It wasn’t a sin to be a leper, but it was a contaminated condition, and there was a need for quarantine.

In both the Old and New Testaments, we must always use context to decide whether the word ‘unclean’ is in reference to sin or merely referring to something that is contaminated in some way.  For example, 1 Cor 7:14 refers to the children of unbelievers as being ‘unclean’… but that isn’t referring to sin.  All children are born without sin, but the children that are born into a christian home are purified from many of the struggles that an unbeliever’s child must face.  We give this example simply to show that not all New Testament uses of the word ‘unclean’ refer to sin.  The deciding factor is always context.  The word means ‘contaminated or unholy’… context will tell you whether the contamination is sin.

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