Ask Your Preacher
We are instructed not to take the name of the Lord in vain, but can the word ‘god’ really be considered the Lord’s name? We do not know how to pronounce the Lord’s name, so we refer to the Lord as ‘God’, ‘Father’, and ‘Lord’, but aren’t those just classifications? God is what the Lord is; Father is His relationship to us (as is Lord), so should we consider those the name of God or just classifications for Him? I know this doesn’t apply to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, for we are given Their names, and we know how to pronounce Them.
Sincerely, Name Recognition
Dear Name Recognition,
There is more to treating God’s name as holy than just avoiding the word ‘Yahweh’. It is true that the Jews didn’t pronounce the name ‘Yahweh’ (the name God gives Himself when He talks with Moses – Ex 3:13-14), considering it to be such a holy name that it was best left unsaid. The technicality of not being able to pronounce a particular Hebrew word is missing the point though.
The command to not use the Lord’s name in vain comes from Ex 20:7, otherwise known as the Ten Commandments (Ex 34:28). This is an Old Testament verse, but it is just as applicable to New Testament Christians because the concept is reiterated in the New Testament as well. Not using His name in vain is about more than just God’s technical name of ‘Yahweh’; it is about treating God as holy. Peter said it best when he said that you and I are to “show forth the excellencies of Him who called you” (1 Pet 2:9). We are to treat God with reverence (Heb 12:9). You would never use your parents’ names as swear words or exclamations of disdain. You would never speak ill of your friends or treat their names as bywords and cursing. When you say ‘God’ or ‘Lord’, everyone knows who you are referring to. Be very careful that you only use His name with the utmost respect. Sanctify all the names and terms you use for God as holy (Lk 1:49). God will not be mocked (Gal 6:7); if we don’t treat Him with respect and admiration – no technicality of pronunciation will save us on the Judgment.
My husband and I will be having our baby boy soon. We still don't know if we should circumcise him. What does the Bible say about this topic?
Sincerely, Concerned Parent
Dear Concerned Parent,
There is nothing wrong with circumcising your son as long as it isn’t for religious reasons. In the Old Testament, a Jewish boy was circumcised on the eighth day of his life (Lev 12:2-3), or he was to be cut off from his people (Gen 17:14). The reason for this was circumcision was a token of the contract God had between Him and Israel (Gen 17:11), and without circumcision, you could not be considered an Israelite.
When the New Covenant (a.k.a. the New Contract) began in Christ, circumcision was no longer mandatory for men. To Christians, circumcision means nothing (1 Cor 7:19). Baptism has replaced circumcision as the token of the new covenant. Just like you couldn’t be a Jew without circumcision, you can’t be a Christian without baptism (Mk 16:16). Of course, the difference is babies are circumcised, and adults are baptized.
There are medical reasons for why some doctors recommend circumcision, and it may be worth consulting your physician on the subject. However, from a spiritual standpoint, it makes no difference either way. So congratulations on the new addition to your family, and rest easy. Whatever decision you make will be fine.
Could you help me with I Cor. 11 as far as the head covering or not covering? How long/short should the hair be? Why is there such a multitude of different interpretations on this passage? Also, if you choose to wear a covering, do you only wear it in the assembly or every time you pray as well? A girl we worship with ALWAYS has a "hat" on. Just curious for some clarification; thanks!
In Over My Head
Dear In Over My Head,
Women must always have their heads covered while praying (1 Cor 11:5), but God has built into every woman a permanent head-covering – her hair (1 Cor 11:15). God designed men and women differently… this should be no surprise to anyone that has ever dealt with the opposite gender! Men are to be the leaders in the home (Eph 5:23) and the church (Tit 1:5-6). Women are the heart of the family (Tit 2:4-5), and men are not complete without them (1 Cor 11:12). Both genders are equal heirs of salvation, but they are designed with different strengths and roles (1 Pet 3:7). One way that God signifies this is by having men look different from women. When women have long hair and men have short hair – it pleases God (1 Cor 11:14-15). There are varying degrees of long and short hair, but ultimately – men are to look like men, and women are to look like women. This principle is even borne out in the Old Testament (Deut 22:5). The teachings of 1 Cor 11:1-16 are simply teaching that a woman’s long hair is a God-given covering for her head, and men are not to have that same covering due to their varying roles in leadership. The confusion over those verses is caused by people not paying attention to 1 Cor 11:15 when it says that a woman’s “hat” is her long hair.
When taking the communion, should you physically "break the bread"?
Sincerely, Not Enough Crumbs
Dear Not Enough Crumbs,
We must break the bread like Jesus did, by sharing it with others who are also taking the Lord’s Supper. The term ‘break the bread’ can mean two things:
- Physically separating a loaf of bread (Acts 27:35)
- To have a meal, share food (Acts 2:46)
When we take the Lord’s Supper, we use Christ’s example as our guide.Christ took the bread first and then the juice (Matt 26:26-27) – so we do it in the same order. Jesus used grape juice, so we use grape juice (Matt 26:29). So if Jesus physically broke the bread as part of the Lord’s Supper, we should to. The example we see is that Jesus gave thanks for the bread and then broke the bread to share it with the disciples (Matt 26:26). So when we take the Lord’s Supper, we are to do the same thing… share the bread with the other christians assembled. Without being too dogmatic on the point, the bread gets broken, by default, every time other christians take some from the loaf. The emphasis isn’t on who breaks the bread - but on us all sharing the meal together (1 Cor 10:16-17).
In what ways does Jesus fulfill the symbolism underlying the Feast of Tabernacles?
Sincerely, Sign Of The Times
Dear Sign Of The Times,
There is no direct allusion to Jesus in the Feast of Tabernacles, only distant connections. The Feast of Tabernacles (also known as the Feast of Booths) was one of three Jewish festivals that all the men of Israel were required to attend in Jerusalem (Deu 16:16-17). The Feast was eight days long, seven days plus a Sabbath day, and required all Israelites to leave their homes and live in tents/booths (Lev. 23:39-40). The purpose of this was to commemorate how their ancestors had lived forty years in the wilderness and to acknowledge how God provided for them in that desolate region of the world (Lev 23:42-43).
The Jews used the feast to remember how God provided manna in the wilderness. In the New Testament, we are told that Jesus is the true manna for the soul (Jhn 6:49-51). The Jews dwelled in temporary shelters while in the wilderness until God took them to the Promised Land. Christians dwell in temporary tents, our physical bodies, until we are given heavenly bodies (2 Cor 5:1-4). These connections are not necessarily direct symbolism found in the Feast of Tabernacles, but they are parallels between the New Testament church and Old Testament Israel.