Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

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Counting The Days

Thursday, December 13, 2012
What does 490 days and 70 weeks mean in the Bible, and does it relate to today?

Sincerely,
Delving Into Daniel

Dear Delving Into Daniel,

The seventy weeks of Dan 9:24 (also known as 'the 490 days') are symbolic weeks, not literal (much of the language in the book of Daniel is symbolic).  In order to understand what the seventy weeks represent, we need to have a little context.  At this time, the nation of Israel was in captivity, and the city of Jerusalem lay in ruins.  God had promised that He would bring Israel back from Babylonian captivity after seventy years (Jer 25:11-12).  Daniel knew that those seventy years of captivity were almost finished, and he had just finished praying that God would begin to return Israel (Dan 9:20) to the holy mountain of Jerusalem.  After this prayer, the angel Gabriel came and told Daniel that his prayer had been heard and that God had more details to tell him about Israel’s future (Dan 9:22-23).

These figurative seventy weeks represent the time from the restoration of Israel to the day when Jesus (referred to as the Most Holy One) came to die for mankind’s sins (Dan 9:24).  During that time, Jerusalem would be rebuilt even through troublesome times (Dan 9:25).  God revealed to Daniel the future of Israel and the coming of Jesus Christ.  So, yes, the seventy weeks relate to us today because Christ died for our sins… but, no, they don’t refer to any future events.

Oh, The Horror!

Thursday, December 13, 2012
I recently had a demonic nightmare.  It started off by me and my father and an unknown family member moving equipment.  We went back to get the rest and stopped in a store.  No one was around, so we started to believe it was abandoned, so we took food until we saw the owner.  Then he acted like we were just about to steal it, but we paid for it.  Then it jumps to me being held by my mother.  She starts telling me about some movie like it was real.  I said, “I’m good; I saw the movie.”  Then she asked something else, and then she asked, “What about Jesus?”  I said, “No.  No one is ever good enough for Jesus.”  Then she turned into a white guy with a black cloak, and it was like he was sucking my face in with a straw.  Everything went black as I tried to stay awake; then I woke up again in real life.  WHAT WAS THAT ALL ABOUT!?

Sincerely,
Whoa, Buddy!

Dear Whoa Buddy,

It means you had a bad dream.  It might also mean you ate too much before bed, but it doesn’t mean anything spiritual.  The days of dreams and visions have passed.  In the past, God spoke to various people through dreams, visions, and prophecy, but today He speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb 1:1-2).  Now that we have the complete and perfect Bible – there is no need for God to give people individual dreams or visions (1 Cor 13:9-10).  It is through the Word of God that we learn how to live faithfully (Rom 10:17).  So don’t worry about your dream; your face is safe from the straw-sucking beast.

As The Lord Wills

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
I have a question that I am having problems understanding.  I am pretty sure that I have read somewhere that, "We are to do the Father’s will".  I believe that I have read this on church websites, but I don’t understand how this works.  Does this mean to do good things in the Lord’s name?  For example: helping homeless people?  I really want to do God’s will, but I don’t know what He would want me to do.  Please help me understand this.  Thanks again for all your help!

Sincerely,
Willing To Serve

Dear Willing To Serve,

Yes, we must do the will of God (Mk 3:35, 1 Jhn 2:17).  The question is: how can we know what the will of God is?  God tells us that He has revealed His will to us through the Scriptures.  Jesus says that we err when we don’t know the Scriptures (Mk 12:24).  With ready minds, we must diligently examine the Scriptures to see what manner of life we should live (Acts 17:11).  When we study and then live by what we have studied, we are doing God’s will (Jas 1:21-22).

The Double Ceremony

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
I have recently become engaged; we were planning on a March wedding.  Since I have never been married before and am almost fifty years of age, I want the fairy tale... the problem is work and bills right now.  Would it be wrong to get married privately and have a mock ceremony later with family and friends?  Would this matter in God’s eyes?

Sincerely,
The Blushing Bride

Dear The Blushing Bride,

Congratulations on your engagement!  As long as you aren’t deceiving people by having a mock ceremony later (in other words, everyone knows you were married privately beforehand), then you are perfectly fine.  God deeply cares about the institution of marriage (Matt 19:4-6), but He leaves the details of the wedding ceremony to individual taste.  Wedding details are molded by culture, the personality of couple, financial restraints, and dozens of other factors.  If you and your fiancée decide to have a small private wedding and then later renew your vows in a larger venue – more power to you.  Place God in the center of your marriage, and all the rest will just be details.

All On My Lonesome

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
     I can't keep my faith in God.  I'm the only one at my school who believes in Him, and it's starting to feel stupid.  How can I keep my faith?

Sincerely,
Me, Myself, and I

Dear Me, Myself, and I,

The U.S. is struggling with losing its biblical ties, but it isn’t as bad as we perceive it to be.  Statistically, only about 4% of Americans categorize themselves as atheistic or agnostic.  That means that the vast majority of the United States believes in God.  Sadly, the voices most often heard in media, culture, and schools make it sound like only a fool would believe in God.

Ironically, the Bible says the opposite (Ps 53:1).  The responsibility that Christians have is to make the evidence of God’s existence clear in a culture that is opposed to God.  The evidence of God’s existence is staggering.  We recommend you read our articles “Does God Exist?” and “Who Wrote The Bible?” because both of those articles cover some of the evidence that will help you stand firm by your convictions – you might even share some of it with your brother.

Hang in there.  Elijah once felt like he was the only godly man left, and God told him there were 7,000 others in his small corner of the world who also were faithful (Rom 11:2-4).  Feeling like the last faithful person isn’t the same as actually being the last.

Something else to consider, it sounds like you could use a faithful congregation, so you don’t feel so alone.  The Bible says that is one of the purposes of the church (Heb 10:24-25).  Not all churches do this, but we would be happy to help you find a congregation near you that is faithful, gives Bible answers, and will help you to stand strong.  Just e-mail us at askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org.

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