Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

OLD TESTAMENT

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Who's Presiding?

Friday, July 13, 2018
Men (and a woman, Deborah) like Ehud, Samuel, Gideon, Samson, Jephthah, and Othniel served as judges.  Then men (whether good or bad) like Jehu, Omri, Solomon, Pekah, David, Josiah, Amon, Saul, and Uzziah served as kings.  A king and a judge ruled over Israel, but Jehovah was still supreme over them, so in biblical terms, what's the difference between a judge and a king?

Sincerely,
Don’t Judge Me

Dear Don’t Judge Me,

Kings ruled the nation; judges delivered the nation.  When the kings were instituted, it was because the people wanted a king to guide them in place of God (1 Sam 8:4-7).  Kings were in total control of the laws, military, and executive powers of the nation.

On the other hand, the judges were sent by God to deliver the nation but didn’t necessarily rule the nation.  Take Samson for example.  Samson never functioned as a legal guardian or lawgiver for Israel, but he was sent by God to deliver the nation from Philistine oppression (Judg 13:5).  We often get confused because when we think of the word ‘judge’, we think of someone presiding over a courtroom, but that wasn’t what the Old Testament judges were.  The judges of the Old Testament were sent to bring judgment upon the nations that were oppressing Israel.  When Israel was suffering and cried to God, God sent them judges to deliver them from suffering (Judg 2:16).

 

Head And Heart

Thursday, July 05, 2018
Are emotions in the heart or mind?  God reads the heart, but man says emotions are in the mind.  I am somewhat confused.

Sincerely,
The Thinker

Dear The Thinker,

The Bible uses the terms 'heart' and 'mind' as synonyms.  Mk 7:21 talks about thoughts proceeding from the heart, and 2 Pet 3:1 says that your mind is what thinks and remembers.  The term 'heart' is most often used when referring to the emotional aspects of the human thought process, and the word 'mind' is typically used to refer to the analytical thinking process... but that isn't always the case.  Truthfully, the two terms mean basically the same thing.

 

Out Of Context

Thursday, June 21, 2018
God says all gays are going to hell because they are gay, but God also said anyone who eats hoofed animals is going to hell, so does that mean anyone that has ever eaten at McDonald’s, Burger King, etc. is going to hell also?  Also, it says a women has to kill a goat when menstruating.  Isn’t sacrificing animals a pagan thing?  So won’t they go to hell for that, too?  Also, if God gives us free will, why do we even have commandments?  The irony in that is just too blunt.  Free will, then we have laws???  Why is Jesus born for man but made a god?

Sincerely,
Conflicted

Dear Conflicted,

We think you have an issue of receiving a lot of misinformation.  God does say that homosexuality is a sin (Rom 1:26-27), but the dietary habits and sacrifices that you referred to are Old Testament commandments.  First of all, it wasn’t all hoofed animals – just certain types (Deu 14:4-8).  Beef is from cattle and perfectly permissible, even to an Old Testament Jew.  As for animal sacrifice, that was a consistent part of Old Testament worship, but now that Jesus has come, we no longer are bound by the old law (read “Changing Of The Guard” for further information).

Last but not least, let’s address your concerns about Jesus and freewill.  Freewill doesn’t mean that you are incapable of doing anything wrong – it actually means the exact opposite.  Freedom to choose means that you can choose to do the right thing or choose to do the wrong thing.  God didn’t make us to be robots; He gives us the ability to live by His rules or to rebel against them.  He has set life and death before us, and we get to decide for ourselves how we want to live (Deu 30:19).  All mankind has sinned (Rom 3:23), and Jesus, God’s Son, came down from heaven and died on a cross, so we might have forgiveness of those sins.  Jesus is Deity (Jhn 1:1), and He emptied Himself that He might give us the freedom to choose life in Him (Php 2:6-8, Jhn 3:16).  If you would like more information about what it takes to choose Christ and be saved, please read “Five Steps To Salvation”.

 

Canon Fodder

Wednesday, June 06, 2018
My question pertains to one omitted book of the Bible, in particular, the book of Enoch.  I have learned that certain religions have omitted certain books, mainly the Gnostic gospels.  I have found adequate reasons for these New Testament scriptures to be omitted in certain cultures, but what about the book of Enoch?  I have recently purchased a book containing the writings of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and it includes the book of Enoch!  I was SOOO excited because I had previously purchased a single copy of this book, but couldn't find any evidence of it containing any truth.  The Dead Sea Scrolls and my purchased book of Enoch are in correlation. Also, in the book of Jude 1:6, there are references made to the fallen angels which are made known in the book of Enoch!  What is this mystery all about?  Did they omit it because people were somehow calling upon fallen angels (or their offspring) by name (demonic worship)?  Is this book valid?

Sincerely,
Connecting Dots

Dear Connecting Dots,

There are many writings that were included with the Dead Sea Scrolls that have non-biblical origins.  There are non-biblical writings that include commentaries on the Old Testament, paraphrases that expand on the Law, rule books of the community, war conduct, thanksgiving psalms, hymnic compositions, benedictions, liturgical texts, and wisdom writings.  Just because the book of Enoch was included in the Dead Sea Scrolls doesn't mean that it ought to be included in the Bible.

The question of what books to include in the Bible and what books to exclude as false is a major issue – and it is an issue that the early christians had to face.  Twenty-seven books are included in the New Testament canon (the word ‘canon’, when applied to Scripture, means ‘the officially accepted list of books’), and each one of these books is documented by early christians as being a divinely-inspired piece of literature.  In other words, the early christians believed that God wrote it.

The key to understanding why some books are included in the Bible and other books (even books from the same time period) are excluded is to remember that the Bible claims to be God’s Book (2 Pet 1:19-21).  The early christians (or Jews in the case of the Old Testament) lived during the time when these books were being written, and they were fully aware of who was doing the writing.  Today, we can’t tell which religious documents were written by apostles and which documents were written by heretics… but the early christians certainly could!  If someone claimed that a letter was written by the apostle Paul, all they had to do to verify the authenticity of the letter was to ask Paul for themselves.  The early christians were in the best position to differentiate between authentic apostolic writings and manmade documents.  This is exactly why the early church quickly adopted the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, and they have been almost universally accepted as the only New Testament books ever since.  Numerous historical documents verify that the New Testament canon that we use today was accepted, read, collected, distributed, and used by the early christians from very early on.  People who seek to say that they have “found” some new Bible books that have been missing from the canon have to prove that their books were accepted by christians (or Jews if discussing Old Testament canon) from the beginning – no one has been able to do that.

 

A Well-Driven Nail

Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Did Noah have authority to use metal in the construction of the ark?

Sincerely,
Builder

Dear Builder,

Every command that you find in the Bible has specific and general qualities to it.  For example, when God told Noah to build the ark, He told Noah to use a specific kind of wood (gopher wood – Gen 6:14) and build the ark to specific dimensions (Gen 6:15-16), but He left the details of how to cut, fasten, and construct the ark up to Noah.  It would have been wrong for Noah to use oak or birch, and it would have been wrong for Noah to change the dimensions of the ark, but aside from that, Noah had freedom to use his own wisdom in the engineering of the ark.  The things that God was specific on, Noah had to be specific on to… but the things God was general about, Noah had freedom to decide for himself.

Our understanding of God’s command to build the ark out of gopher wood is that gopher wood was to be the primary construction material.  If Noah had needed metal to fasten the gopher wood, there wouldn’t have been anything wrong with that.  However, if Noah had decided to replace the gopher wood with a metal construction, that would have been wrong because it would have gone against God’s command.

 

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