Ask Your Preacher
The other day, I asked myself, “Was a Gentile in Moses’ day able to become one of God’s people?” I was (for some reason) told the opposite.
A Change In Mind
Dear A Change In Mind,
People were able to convert to Judaism if they wanted to. Ex 12:48 specifically says that if a man wanted to participate in the holy offerings of the Jewish nation and eat the Passover, he could be circumcised. When he did that, he would become “as one born in the land”. God did allow for people to convert to Judaism. Probably the most famous convert to Judaism was Ruth. Ruth was originally from the nation of Moab (Ruth 1:4), but eventually, she converted and chose to serve Jehovah (Ruth 1:16).
Why does 1 kings 7:26 say, “And it was a hand-breadth thick, and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup with flowers of lilies: it contained TWO thousand baths.”
And 2 Chronicles 4:5 says, “And the thickness of it was a hand-breadth, and the brim of it like the work of the brim of a cup with flowers of lilies, and it received and held THREE thousand baths.”
Why would one say two thousand baths and one say three thousand baths? You wouldn't think it's a contradiction, would you?
Grasping For Gallons
Dear Grasping For Gallons,
1 Kgs 7:26 and 2 Chr 4:5 are talking about the actual contents of the sea of bronze and the maximum content for the sea of bronze.
1 Kings 7:26 tells us that the molten sea contained 2,000 baths of water while the 2 Chronicles passage tells us that it could receive and hold 3,000 baths. 2 Chr 4:5 adds another word to the passage that is the word you would use for something’s maximum capacity. Therefore, 1 Kgs 7:26 is simply saying that the sea normally held 2,000 baths of water, and 2 Chr 4:5 tells us that it was capable of holding 3,000 baths – the thing was only filled to two-thirds capacity. It is like saying my coffee cup holds 16 ounces of coffee, but I only fill it to 10 ounces because that’s all I want to drink. No contradiction; just two different details about an amazing structure.
Why is there a New Testament if God never changes?
God never changes, but humans do, and mankind wasn’t ready for Christ’s law in the beginning. Gal 3:24 says that the Old Testament law was a tutor to lead people to Christ. Just like beginning arithmetic must be taught before you dive into calculus, the Old Law prepared people for a greater and more perfect law. The Old Testament taught people about sin (Rom 3:20), and it showed that all mankind had sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23). The Old Testament law was added because of sin and as a preparation for Jesus’ entrance into the world (Gal 3:19). The Old Law could never save people because all a law can do is condemn the law-breaker – only the gift of Christ’s blood can provide forgiveness for the sinner (Gal 3:13). The New Testament combines God’s laws with a plan to provide forgiveness for those who break those laws.
Does the exact Hebrew translation say in the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not kill”? Or does it say something along the lines of “Thou shall not murder”? Obviously, Moses was a great military leader (along with Joshua, David, Gideon, etc.). I'm a soldier, and I get asked this question. I don't know how to answer it.
On The Defense
Dear On The Defense,
The Hebrew word used for ‘kill’ in the Ten Commandments literally means ‘murder’. There is a difference between killing someone in self-defense and pre-meditated, intentional murder of another human being. The Bible has plenty of examples of faithful people going to war (David killed Goliath in battle – 1 Sam 17:49-50). The Bible is also full of examples of capital punishment for certain crimes (Num 15:35). Num 35:15-16 makes a distinction between accidentally killing someone and premeditated murder. A police officer may have to kill someone while serving the community, but that isn’t murder. The same is true with a soldier.
I give 10% of my income bi-weekly (tithes) as instructed from the church. I give offerings as afforded, as instructed by my church. I know the lights need to be paid, the mortgage paid, and the needy assisted when they go to the church for assistance. I can see why we should give to the church who serve the people. But, I need to know; is tithing a commandment that will truly bring on a curse to the withholder and blessings on the giver? (Malachi 3:8-9) I have struggled financially and wonder if it means I have no faith if I give less than 10%. I mean, tithes and offerings are necessary, but many churches need money to sustain itself, a place to worship, a place to fellowship with other saints. Does God need my money to show I believe He will provide for me? Is it a form of sacrifice to the temple or a means to take care of the church? I struggle with the Old Testament applicability today.
Dear Perplexed Giver,
Mal 3:8-10 teaches some principles about giving, but it doesn’t uphold the “10% or doom” preaching that many money-grubbing churches constantly harp on. Tithing is a Jewish commandment, not a christian one (more on this in a bit), but the Old Testament is full of examples that give us principles to live by (1 Cor 10:11). The principle behind Mal 3:8-10 is that when we give to God as He asks, He will bless us for our faithful trust in Him. This is true in our finances and in every other area of life. However, just because we give financially doesn’t mean that we won’t ever suffer or have needs. The belief that giving to God will always get you more money is called the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ – read “Cash Cow” for specifics on that false doctrine.
Now, let’s deal with the specifics of tithing. Tithing is an Old Testament commandment (Num 18:24), not a New Testament one. Jews tithe; christians “lay by in store as we have prospered” (1 Cor 16:1-3). God doesn’t give a specific percentage that christians should contribute. We must prepare beforehand what we will give (that’s the “lay by in store” part – 1 Cor 16:2). He also commands that we be “cheerful givers” and that we give as we have “purposed in our hearts” (2 Cor 9:7). Though tithing (which means ‘one tenth’) is a good rule of thumb for giving… it isn’t a command. The church is instructed by God to take up a collection once a week – you must decide for yourself what a cheerful and faithful giver looks like.