There are different Biblical principles involved. We believe that the following will best express our religious convictions against participating in Military Service and War:
A true Christian is a stranger, alien and exile (1 Peter 2:11; Hebrews 11:13) while here on earth; an ambassador for Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20); and a representative of God's kingdom. As such, and in being a light to the world by proper conduct (Matthew 5:14-16), a true Christian does not take part in this world's governmental or political affairs, as presently, it is not God who rules this world, but Satan the devil (Revelation 2:13; Luke 4:5-6). Christians are challenged to come out of the governmental and political systems of this world (Revelation 18:4).
Revelation 19:7-9 states the following about the marriage between Christ and His Church: "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb [Jesus Christ, compare Revelation 5:1-14] has come, and His wife [the Church, compare Ephesians 5:31-32] has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, 'Write: "Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!"'..."
Please note that this Scripture does not say where the marriage supper will take place. Other Scriptures strongly imply that it will take place here on earth, after Christ's return.
Matthew 24:44 reads, "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."
The term "key of David" is only mentioned once in the New Testament, in Revelation 3:7, and a deviation of the term, i.e., "key of the house of David," is only mentioned once in the Old Testament, in Isaiah 22:22.
We have published a comprehensive booklet, titled, "Don't Keep Christmas," in which we explain, in detail, why Christmas celebrations are wrong and prohibited in Scripture. This booklet includes many quotes from historical records, proving that Christmas celebrations took place long before the birth of Christ. They were kept to honor pagan deities, such as the Persian sun god Mithras, who was born on December 25. By contrast, as our booklet proves on pages 23-25, Christ was not, and could not have been, born on December 25, or anywhere near that date.
Note the following quote regarding Mithras from pages 13 and 14 of our booklet, "Don't Keep Christmas," citing excerpts from an article of a popular magazine:
Much has been speculated as to the identity of the 144,000. However, if we let the Bible speak for itself, the answer becomes rather obvious.
Let us begin our analysis by quoting from a letter of the Worldwide Church of God, dated November 1987:
"In verse 1 [of Revelation 7] we find that the Day of the Lord -- the time of terrible plagues -- is to be delayed temporarily UNTIL the servants of God have been sealed. According to the sequence of prophesied events, this sealing is yet IN THE FUTURE. It will occur AFTER THE COMING GREAT TRIBULATION AND THE APPEARANCE OF THE HEAVENLY SIGNS, but just BEFORE THE PLAGUES of God's judgments are poured out.
This question was addressed by the Church before. We are quoting, as set forth below, from a letter published by the Worldwide Church of God, which explains the long-standing position of the Church on the matter:
"Water divining, also known as 'water witching' and 'water dowsing,' is practiced all over the world. It is the craft of seeking underground water by means of a divining rod, commonly a forked stick which is held by the twigs, one in each hand with the stock pointing outward or upward. As the diviner walks over the ground, the stick will suddenly twist in his hands and point downward, supposedly indicating the presence of underground water. At times there is water; at other times there is none.
We are glad to do so. The following is a very brief summary and only relates, in passing, a few pieces of the Biblical, historical or archeological evidence, to raise interest and curiosity:
Let us read, first, the passage referred to above, in context. Christ said to Peter, beginning in Matthew 16:18: "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
Indeed most of "orthodox Christianity" teaches the fallacious concept that humans either go to hell or to heaven upon their death. Many falsely teach, in addition, that they go to a temporary place called limbo or purgatory, when they die. However, the Bible very clearly teaches an altogether different occurrence. In answering the question about Enoch, we must first consider some fundamental Biblical teachings about death as it now relates to mankind.
Much has been speculated as to the nature of Satan's ultimate fate. From all the available Scriptures, we can safely say that Satan will not repent, nor will he cease to exist.
To begin with, we want to quote from pages 51 and 52 of our free booklet, " Angels, Demons and the Spirit World":
Christ stated unequivocally that "no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man" (John 3:13, NASB Version). This includes Elijah. However, we must realize that the Bible speaks of more than just one heaven. In our Update #97, we addressed in our Q&A the fact that there are three heavens. While the first two heavens are physical and refer to the earth's atmosphere and the space beyond our atmosphere, the third heaven is composed of spirit. That is the heaven where God lives, and to that heaven no human being has ever ascended. In Update #97, we also addressed that Elijah did not go to the third heaven, where God's throne is, but only to the first heaven. To quote from the Update:
It does not. However, there are some who believe and teach that certain Scriptures prohibit such a practice. They mainly turn to Exodus 23:19, which states: "The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk."
The identical prohibition is repeated in Exodus 34:26. We also find the following prohibition in Deuteronomy 14:21:
"You shall not eat anything that dies of itself; you may give it to the alien who is within your gates, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner; for you are a holy people to the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk."
The short answer is that there will not be any physical people after the time period called "the Great White Throne Judgment," which is described in Revelation 20:11-15.
We read in Revelation 21:4 that after that time, there will be no more death. We also read in Revelation 20:14 that "Death" was cast into the lake of fire. This means, that whatever physical human being existed, they will, by that time, either have been burned up and destroyed in the lake of fire (thereby ceasing to exist forever), or they will have been changed into immortal spirit beings, unable to die. Physical people die. One cannot keep a physical human being alive forever. Therefore, since there will be no more death, there cannot exist physical people for all eternity at that future time.
In a recent sermon, titled "How it Will Be As God?", we attempted to show, from the Biblical revelation, the extent of man's future. The sermon is posted on our Webpage.
Our hope for the future is not so much summarized with the concept of "ruling," than it is with beautifying life and with guiding and helping others to live a peaceful life, in accordance with God's Way (compare Isaiah 2:1-5).
The origin and history of April Fool's Day [also spelled as "April Fools' Day"], also called "All Fools' Day," are not entirely clear. Many explanations have been advanced to explain its origin.
We are glad to.
The Biblical text does not indicate here whether this was a marriage which had taken place some time previously or whether this was a recent event. The Hebrew commentary, Soncino, offers one possible explanation that the Cushite woman was "a woman of Ethiopian origin." It continues:"Legend tells that Moses married the queen of Ethiopia..."
The Hebrew writer Josephus gives the following narrative in his work, "Antiquities of the Jews", p. 58, addressing one of Moses' campaigns as an officer in Pharaoh's army, prior to his flight from Egypt (compare Acts 7:22-29; Hebrews 11:24-27):
It is not.
Although the Passover is at times referred to as a feast day (compare Leviticus 23: 4-5), the Bible distinguishes between the day of Passover (on Nisan or Abib 14) and the seven Days of Unleavened Bread (on Nisan or Abib 15-21). [The first month of the year, in accordance with the Hebrew Calendar, is called Abib or Nisan. Abib, the original name, means "sprouting" or "budding." The name Nisan was adopted following the Babylonian captivity. The first month is comparable to the Roman calendar period of March-April, and begins, in Biblical terms, with a new moon.] Exodus 12:14 refers to the first day of Unleavened Bread (compare Leviticus 23:4, 6), NOT the Passover.
Genesis 41:44-46 reads as follows:
"Pharaoh also said to Joseph, 'I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.' And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnath-Paaneah [the Margin of the New King James Bible states here: "Probably Egyptian for 'God Speaks and He Lives.'"]. And he gave him as a wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On. So Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt. Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt."
We also read, in Genesis 46:20: "And to Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On, bore to him."
For a thorough understanding of the time frames referred to as "Great Tribulation" and "Day of the Lord," please study our free booklet, "The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord."
The Bible proves that God only forgives us, if we meet certain conditions. One important condition is repentance. God does not forgive us, if we refuse to repent. Today, God has only called comparatively few and is not yet judging the rest of the world. This means, God has not yet forgiven the world, as they have not yet repented, but God does not hold them accountable at this point in time (This is not to say that sin does not have built-in penalties which a sinner will have to pay automatically). Those not called and not forgiven yet are described in Acts 17:30-31: "Truly, these times of ignorance God OVERLOOKED [not, forgave!], but now COMMANDS ALL MEN [those called] EVERYWHERE TO REPENT." We have to REPENT of our sins before baptism (in addition to accepting Christ's sacrifice as
We need to properly understand what exactly was given to the Jews -- what is meant with the word "oracles." In Romans 3:2, we are told that the "oracles of God" were committed to the "circumcision." At the same time, we are told that "their unbelief" did not make "the faithfulness of God" without effect (verse 3). The Greek word for "oracles" is "logion." It is also used in Acts 7:38; Hebrews 5:12; and 1 Peter 4:11. In all these passages, the oracles or "sayings" must originate from God. If something is being said or written which is contrary to God's Word, it does not constitute any longer the "oracles of God."
A careful review of the Scriptures reveals that God forgives us our sins, when we repent. In the same way, God requires of us to forgive a sinner his or her sins or trespasses AGAINST US, when he or she repents. Many times, however, we may not know whether or not a person has repented of his or her sins against us. The Bible instructs us as how to deal with such a situation:
In the context of Matthew 17, Peter, James and John accompany Jesus to a high mountain, and then, in verse 9, Jesus says, "'Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.'" In this vision they witness Jesus being transfigured and appearing in His glorified state. Along with Jesus, Moses and Elijah also appear. In the parallel account of Mark 9, these disciples wonder at the instruction from Jesus when He spoke of His resurrection: "So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant" (verse 10).
Several have asked this question, especially in light of inconsistent teachings of the Church of God in the past on this matter. First of all, let us try to determine who the Pharaoh of the Exodus was. Some believe that the Exodus took place around 1290 B.C. and have concluded that Ramses the Great was the Pharaoh who resisted Moses. However, Ramses ruled a full century and a half later than the Exodus occurred.
Quoting from a Good News article of the March-April 1988 edition:
There were, in fact, numerous "Old Testament" covenants. Our free booklet, "And Lawlessness Will Abound...", explains the different Old Testament covenants in detail. Bible scholars sometimes refer to "the Old Covenant," but when they do, they basically talk about the covenant that God made with Israel at Mount Sinai, as described in Exodus 19. When Israel broke that first "old" covenant, by worshipping a golden calf, God made a new "old" covenant with Israel (Exodus 34:10, NIV). Later, God made a third "old" covenant with the younger generation of Israel, in Moab, just prior to their entering the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 29). By that time, the sacrificial system, which was added due to Israel's sins, had become part of that
Some have stumbled over this issue, and it does require a balanced understanding to properly apply ALL the Scriptures on this topic. Let's begin with 2 John: "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds" (verses 10 and 11).
In order to properly understand the passage in Matthew 18:17, we need to review all the Scriptures to see whom God has entrusted with the administration of the Church of God.
The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18; 2:18-19). It is He who leads and directs the Church, the building of God the Father (1 Corinthians 3:9). He adds those to the Church whom He wants (Acts 2:47). He is composing the body -- the Church (1 Corinthians 12:18, 24). He is the One who places members in certain positions and appoints the ministry (1 Corinthians 12:28). He uses appointed ministers to appoint others to the ministry (Titus 1:5; compare Acts 14:23) by, among other things, the laying on of hands (1 Timothy 5:22).
This verse must be considered in light of other Scriptures in the Bible. Knowing that it is impossible for God to lie (Compare Titus 1:2), we know that the Bible does not contradict itself--that is, God hasn't inspired teachings that differ. With that view in mind, let's consider the verse in the context of Matthew 5 along with applicable principles in God's Word.
Acts 20:7 reads: "Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight." This Scripture does not say Paul observed Sunday, the first day of the week, as a day of worship. If this were an example for us today, we would be starting the service on Saturday night - not on Sunday morning. Verse 7 shows Paul preached to them until midnight. Also services would have to continue till dawn (verse 11).
Listed below are seven proofs, when taken together, show that the Sabbath is still in effect and to be observed by Christians today.
1) Mark 2:27-28 -- The Sabbath was made specifically for man, and Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath, not some other day.
2) Genesis 2:2-3 -- The Sabbath was made by God through Christ at the same time that man was made, and was set apart as holy time for all mankind forever.
3) Exodus 16 -- Israel had lost the knowledge of the Sabbath in the Egyptian slavery and God showed them which day it was by means of special miracles - and thereby, re-emphasized the importance of keeping the Sabbath holy.
4) Exodus 20: 8-11) -- The Sabbath was one of the Ten Commandments.
No, we don't know that we are cursed when we keep the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath. But we do know that humans are cursed if they don't keep them (compare Matthew 25:41, 46).
To fully understand this serious question, which might very well determine one's eternal life or death (compare Revelation 21:8; 22:15), we must fully realize what the Bible means with the "law of Moses"; what the apostle Paul taught; and what the Church decided in Acts 15.
We have thoroughly discussed and answered these and many other related questions in our free booklet, "And Lawlessness Will Abound...."
You are correct that Christ is indeed referred to as the "firstborn from the dead." Our free booklet, "Are You Already Born Again?", explains on pages 7 and 8:
"Christ... became born again when He was resurrected to Spirit. It was at that time that He became the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29 tells us that we are to be 'conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.' We also read in Colossians 1:15, 18: 'He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation... And He is... the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.'
We are addressing here strictly the Biblically described spiritual fasting -- not fasting for health reasons. The fast during the Day of Atonement -- one of God's annual Holy Days -- is the only commanded fast in the Bible (Leviticus 23:27, 29, 32). The fast on the Day of Atonement, referred to by the commandment to "afflict your souls," has been rightly understood as abstaining from food and drink for 24 hours. (For more information, please read our free booklet, "God's Commanded Holy Days."). However, we find that God's people fasted, or were asked to fast, on other occasions as well (compare, for example, Joel 2:12; Nehemiah 1:4; 2 Chronicles 20:3; Matthew 17:21; Daniel 9:3; Acts 13:2-3; Acts 14:23).
Many believe, based on prophecies contained in the 11th chapter of the book of Daniel, that immediately before the return of Jesus Christ, a powerful Arab leader or "king of the South" will still arise in the Middle East. Daniel 11:40-41 says: "At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack [or: push at] him [the king of the North]; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown..."
Before answering this question specifically, let us briefly review why children are being adopted. Adoption in this day and age is usually done because the couple do not have children of their own and want to raise one or more children, or, if they do have their own children, they wish to add to the family fold. This last possibility requires the co-operation of the other children, since it will impact them. In addition, single parents may also want to adopt children. An unfortunate modern trend is for homosexuals and lesbians to adopt children, bringing them up to accept their "alternative lifestyle," which is clearly condemned by God in the Bible, for instance, in Romans 1:24-27. This unbiblical development only compounds the problem by the social acceptance and proliferation of more
This is important to understand, and the Bible reveals Who Jesus Christ is and by what name we should address Him. Peter, in speaking before the Sanhedrin in defense of healing a lame man, said: "'let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole'" (Acts 4:10). Continuing in verse 12: "'Nor is there salvation in any other, for there in no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.'"
At another time, Peter again taught the power and significance of Jesus Christ.
The concept of "Church Eras" is derived from the book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, reporting messages of Jesus Christ to the "seven angels" of the "seven churches." Although these churches were quite literal congregations, they have also been understood as representing seven Church eras, beginning at the time of the early apostles and leading to the time of the return of Jesus Christ.
It is not! Nowhere is this concept taught in Scripture. Those who have this understanding and preach it, do so against the clear teaching of the Bible. Actually, the Biblical proof that true Christians do NOT die because of time and chance is overwhelming. For a thorough discussion of this important question, please listen to our sermon on "Time and Chance," which is posted on our Webpage.
Ireland consists of two separate countries -- the South, also known as Eire, and the North. The North (or Northern Ireland) has been historically linked with Great Britain. The British people, and the people in Northern Ireland, are descendants from Ephraim, one of the two sons of Joseph (a son of Jacob or Israel). The people in the South (or Southern Ireland) are descendants from ancient Dan, one of the 12 sons of Jacob. (Please note that the descendants of Dan can also be found today in Denmark. This Q&A only discusses Dan's descendants in Southern Ireland).
History shows that the original settlers of the Emerald Isle were the "Thuatha De Danaan" - - descendants from ancient Dan.
Not in name, of course, but yes, if we understand properly what the word "Christians" stands for. Prior to New Testament times, nobody was called a "Christian," per se. We read, in Acts 11:26, that "the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." Subsequently, the term became known as a description for Christ's followers, and was used both by unconverted people (Acts 26:28) and by converted disciples (1 Peter 4:16).
The Bible says specifically which animals we may eat, and which we must not eat. A list of those "clean" and "unclean" animals can be found in several places, including in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. According to the Bible, such "popular" animals as pigs or swine, hares, rabbits, lobsters, shellfish, shark, or clams, are labeled "unclean" and are not to be eaten -- even today.
In addition, the Bible specifically points out that we are not to eat blood or fat, even from clean animals. Leviticus 7:23-27 states:
When considering the relevant Scriptures and some external sources, we can, indeed, find out the approximate time of Christ's birth, but it is impossible to find out the exact date.
King David had divided the priests into several "courses" or divisions -- that is, each group or "course" of priests was to serve God for a specific period of time. David had established 24 of those priestly courses. Luke 1:5-9 shows that Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was of the course of Abijah (which courses are listed in 1 Chronicles 24) and that he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course or division. Each course lasted eight days -- from Sabbath to Sabbath.
Leviticus 19:23-25 prescribes what we are to do with newly planted fruit trees. This law, which is still valid today, states:
"When you come into the land, and HAVE PLANTED all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised (or: unclean). Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten. But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the LORD. And in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, that it may yield to you its increase: I am the LORD your God."
Originally, the Church under Mr. Herbert Armstrong was not sympathetic towards cremation as a form of burial, as there doesn't seem to be any Biblical examples, as will be explained herein, where holy people of God actually chose this method of burial. The Church later, under Mr. Armstrong, changed its stance on the matter, realizing that the form of burial today differs from the form used in Biblical times. Cremation was not known in Biblical times, as it is known today. In ancient times, one would have only had a funeral pyre which did not burn bone, but only tissue. The bones would still need to be buried much in the same way as the body, making the procedure rather pointless. Today, we only have the ashes in a small container which then can be "buried" in a vault or in the ground, if
This is clearly not our understanding! In fact, such a teaching would totally misrepresent and ignore what God is saying about circumcision.
As we explain in our free booklet, "And Lawlessness Will Abound...", God gave man timeless physical and spiritual laws, including health laws, as well as temporary ritual laws, which had a passing and time-related purpose. For instance, God told man that certain animal food is good to eat, while other animals are not fit for consumption (Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14). These are health laws, given for the good of man, which are still in effect today. In fact, they will still be in effect at the time of Christ's return (compare Isaiah 66:16-17).
The Bible specifically states that Christ became both sin and a curse for us, when He died on the cross. Notice 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Galatians 3:13, in the New King James Bible:
"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree')" (Galatians 3:13).
These two passages are correctly translated from the original Greek. The Interlinear Literal Translations renders the two passages as follows:
"For him who knew not sin for us sin he made... Christ us ransomed from the curse of the law, having become for us a curse..."
First of all, it is important to realize that we must receive our teachings from the Bible; so even IF Mr. Armstrong HAD taught that there would still have to be a future king of the South, we still would have to be able to back up such a teaching with Scripture. We have published several articles in previous Updates (Q&A in Update 154; Comments from our Readers in Update #156), and we have also placed a StandingWatch program regarding the king of the South on our Web, showing that Scripture does NOT DEMAND a future king of the South. In addition, we are also pleased to state that Mr. Armstrong did NOT teach something contrary to this fact, several false claims of some notwithstanding.
Actually, Acts 14:23 teaches the exact opposite. Looking at the context, we find that the ones who "appointed elders in every church" (verse 23) were "the apostles Barnabas and Paul" (verse 14; compare, too, Acts 15:2).
Jesus Christ, when He was here on earth as a human being, lived indeed a sinless life. He never sinned by breaking any of God's Commandments (compare 1 John 3:4, Authorized Version). Rather, He kept perfectly all of God's Laws. He said in John 15:10: "I have kept My Father's commandments."
The Biblical record is conclusive that Christ never sinned. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Christ "was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." He was "separate from sinners" (Hebrews 7:26); and even when He suffered, He "committed no sin" (1 Peter 2:21-22). Christ challenged His listeners to convict Him of sin (John 8:46), knowing that they would be unable to do so. He also testified of Himself that "no unrighteousness" was in Him (John 7:18).
When we review from God's Word what He tells us about His laws - we can know this statement in verse 25 of Ezekiel 20 cannot be complete as presented.
In Psalm 19:7-10 we read: "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether." Romans 7:12 tells us "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good."
In our booklet, "Baptism--A Requirement for Salvation," we address and answer this question, as follows, beginning on page 27, under "Who Should Baptize?"
"Once a person is truly ready for baptism, a true minister of Christ should perform the baptism, though it may sometimes require a waiting period by virtue of the fact that a minister of Christ is not immediately available. We need to understand, though, that God is in charge and that when He calls someone and leads them to baptism, He will also work out the necessary details to send one of His ministers to perform the baptism. For instance, God sent Peter to Cornelius, and He sent Philip to the eunuch so that they could be baptized.
This is indeed the understanding and teaching of the Church of the Eternal God and its corporate affiliates in Canada and Great Britain.
First, let us realize that the message, that God gave to the ancient prophet Ezekiel, was in fact a modern prophecy for a modern "Ezekiel":
The Bible clearly reveals that Jesus Christ, when He was here on earth as a human being, did not wear long hair. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:14: "Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?" It would therefore be inconceivable to assume that Jesus would have worn long hair.
Some have misunderstood a passage in the book of Matthew, erroneously claiming that Christ was a "Nazirite" (also spelled Nazarite in the Authorized Version) and that He therefore wore long hair. However, Christ was not a Nazirite, but a Nazarene. The passage in Matthew 2:23 reads:
"And he [Joseph] came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, 'He [Christ] shall be called a Nazarene.'"
The Scripture that some use to teach this concept is Matthew 24:22. Various translations use the terms "cut short" in quoting the words of Jesus Christ. For instance, the NIV states: "'If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.'" Similarly, the NKJV renders this verse: "'And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.'"
What days will be "cut short" or "shortened"?
Let us read Daniel 9:24-27 in context, in the Authorized Version:
This possibility exists. In fact, several Scriptures suggest this to be the case.
For instance, we read in 2 Peter 3:12 that we are to be "looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God" -- the return of Christ. The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible ("Strong's") defines the Greek word, "speudo," (under #4692), translated as "hastening," as "to 'speed'..., urge on...; by impl. to await eagerly; (make, with) haste unto."
While the current practices of the Church of God have been shaped by both national laws and customs regarding the conducting of both weddings and funerals, the ultimate basis is firmly established in Scripture. These significant events of a Christian's life are of great importance in the plan which God has established for all of mankind.
The Bible distinguishes between the house of Israel (also referred to as the lost ten tribes) and the house of Judah, or the Jews. At the time of Paul, the house of Judah was politically composed of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and part of Levi. A careful study of Paul's writings reveals that he uses the term "Jew" many times as a SUMMARY TERM, which also includes all the tribes of the house of Israel; for instance, Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh), Simeon, Levi, and Reuben.
God never promoted polygamy or intended that His followers should engage in that practice. Although the Old Testament records that several of the patriarchs practiced polygamy, it was never in accordance with God's will and His intent for marriage. When a man took more than one wife, curses and punishment were the consequence.
Abraham sinned when he had sexual relationships with Sarah's maid Hagar. This was not only a sin because he lacked faith in God that He could give him a son through his wife Sarah, who was barren, but he also sinned, because he was married to Sarah and therefore committed adultery with Sarah's maid.
The passage reads, in the New King James Bible: "One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD."
Before we address the questions whether this passage is still in force and effect today, and whether it applies to the Church of God, let us try to determine what the passage conveys, as worded.
The Holy Scriptures do not record Paul's death, and although historians agree that Paul was murdered, they are somewhat divided regarding the precise events leading to Paul's death.
For instance, the 27th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, copyright 1959, writes on page 394, under "Paul":
The account referred to can be found in Judges 11:30-31, 34-40. We read:
We assume that you are referring to the concept, taught by some, that ministers can only ordain other ministers to a rank equal to or lower than the rank held by the ordaining minister. Although it is true that the Bible does contain examples reflecting such a procedure, there are other examples reflecting a different procedure.
A correct understanding of this question includes the correct concept of ranks in the ministry. We read in Ephesians 4:11-12 that Christ "Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."
The Bible must always be the last word on all doctrinal matters, not the personal opinions of man. Unfortunately, there can be an attitude of "pick and mix" where doctrines can be summarily dismissed that may not suit someone's personal life-style; that are "uncomfortable," or "not acceptable" in today's society; or that don't fit in with someone's general approach. On the other hand, if the Bible purportedly backs up personal opinions and beliefs, then Biblical teaching is readily accepted. This means that there are those who, because of their own personal behavior, amend their understanding of Scripture in order that their practices can be (in their own eyes) accommodated by the Word of God. The subject of homosexuality is just one example.
When we consider all the Biblical Scriptures related to this topic, it appears very likely that a temple will be built in the near future, prior to Christ's return.
When Christ was asked by His disciples what the sign of His coming and of the end of the age [of this present civilization] would be (Matthew 24:3), He referred to the "great tribulation" (verse 21) and, at that same time, "'the abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (verse 15; compare, too, Mark 13:14, adding, "where it ought not"). In Luke 21:20, in the parallel account, Christ is quoted as saying, "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near."
The passage reads: "But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner -- not even to eat with such a person."
In the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation, John received a message for the "angels of the seven churches" (Revelation 1:20). As we have pointed out before [compare the Q&A in Update 157], these messages were to be meant for seven existing local Church congregations in seven distinct cities at John's time, but they were also directed to all Christians at all times (compare Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, and 22), and they included messages for seven consecutive Church eras, beginning at the time of John, and ending at the time of Christ's Second Coming (compare Revelation 1:19-20).
The Church of the Eternal God in the USA and its corporate affiliates in Canada and Great Britain have consistently taught that it is not wrong to eat out on the weekly Sabbath or annual Holy Days (which are also called "Sabbaths" in the Bible), depending on the circumstances. At the same time, we must always keep firmly in mind that whatever we do or say or think on the Sabbath should be in realization of the fact that we are spending time that God has set aside for a holy purpose (Isaiah 58:13-14).
Quoting from our booklet, titled, "God's Commanded Holy Days," pages 21 and 22, we have said:
Some, in an attempt to teach a Sunday morning resurrection, have used Matthew 28:1 in support of such a teaching. We do know, however, that Jesus Christ was resurrected on Saturday afternoon, around sunset, after having been in the grave for three days and three nights. He was killed on a Wednesday, and placed in the grave on Wednesday afternoon, just around sunset.
We have set forth in detail the Biblical and historical proofs for a Wednesday crucifixion and a Saturday resurrection in our free booklet, "Jesus Christ -- A Great Mystery." In that booklet, we have also explained the correct understanding of Matthew 28:1, as follows:
The passage in question reads in full, beginning in verse 14:
"Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected... (verses 14-17)."
We understand from God's Word that man does not have an immortal soul. Rather, man is a mortal soul! (See Genesis 2:7; Psalm 146:3-4; Psalm 104:29, Authorized Version throughout, unless otherwise noted. Compare our free booklet, "Do You Have an Immortal Soul?") Thus we must understand that at death, the soul is dead. It has no inherent immortality in it. Christ said: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6). Thus man is flesh; of the dust of the ground. And when he dies, he returns to dust. We also see that, as with mankind, this same fate befalls animals (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20). In Ecclesiastes 3:21 we find these words: "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that
We addressed this question in our new booklet, "Should You Fight in War?" We are bringing you the following excerpts:
Christ's statement that He came to FULFILL the law does NOT mean that He did away with it -- quite the CONTRARY is correct.
Notice what Christ said in Matthew 5:17: "Do NOT think that I came to DESTROY the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy BUT to fulfill." Christ did not say here that He had come to destroy the law. Neither did He say that "fulfilling" the law meant, "destroying it," because if that were true, Christ's statement would read: "I did not come to destroy the law but to destroy the law." This would make no sense.
The concept that the wicked go to an ever-burning hell after their death is nowhere taught in Scripture. In fact, the Bible does not even teach the existence of an ever-burning hell, torturing wicked souls of departed ones for their evil deeds.
The concept of an ever-burning hellfire is derived from paganism. Richard Craze explains in his book, "Hell, An Illustrated History of the Netherworld," copyrighted 1996:
Let us consider Revelation 14:11 in context with the previous two verses. The entire passage reads:
A superficial reading, especially in many of the modern translations, might indeed lead us to conclude the existence of a never-ending torture of the beast (a military leader) and the false prophet (a religious leader) in hell. However, analyzing the Scripture carefully, a different conclusion is warranted.
The Authorized Version (AV) translates Revelation 20:10, as follows:
"And the DEVIL that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet ARE, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."
It is indeed correct that Paul told the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." And it is also true that we MUST believe in Christ, as only in His name can we find salvation (compare Acts 4:12). However, Paul did not say that belief in Christ is ALL that we must have. Rather, belief in Christ is only the starting point. Notice how the record in Acts 16 continues, in verses 32-33:
Let us notice the entire passage in Philippians 1:19-24: "(19) For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, (20) according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. (21) For to me, to live [is] Christ, and to die [is] gain... (23) For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. (24) Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you."
It is important that we understand the time setting of Revelation 22:15. Before discussing the passage in detail, we need to realize that it describes a time AFTER the heavenly Jerusalem has descended to earth. We read earlier, in Revelation 21:1-2: "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Verse 10 continues to explain that "the great city, the holy Jerusalem, [was] descending out of heaven from God." Verse 27 continues that "there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life."
Here is the specific reference in question: "'You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the LORD'" (Leviticus 23:17). The vital key found in this Scripture that will lead to understanding what (or more specifically, who) is being represented by these two loaves appears in the last sentence: "'They are the FIRSTFRUITS to the LORD.'"
Notice what exactly John said in Matthew 3:11: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me ... will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
As a part of his ministry, John was baptizing "with water unto repentance" (verse 11). He required that we must "bear fruits worthy of repentance" (verse 8). In comparison, Christ would be coming to also baptize, not just unto repentance, but also, with the Holy Spirit and with fire!
Let us read the Scripture in context, by quoting John 2:18-22:
"(18) So the Jews answered and said to Him, 'What sign do You show to us, since you do these things?' (19) Jesus answered and said to them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' (20) Then the Jews said, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?' (21) But He was speaking of the temple of His body. (22) Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said."
Christ used the metaphor of taking up the cross in numerous places, for instance, in Matthew 10:38 and in Matthew 16:24; in Mark 8:34 and in Mark 10:21; as well as in Luke 9:23 and Luke 14:27.
Especially Matthew 10:38 is interesting, in view of its context with verse 39:
"And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, who, when he was known as Saul, had been persecuting the true saints, was converted on the Road to Damascus. Christ commanded Ananias to baptize him, so that he could receive the Holy Spirit, telling Ananias: "I will show him [Paul] how many things he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:16).
Paul, throughout his converted life, understood the fact that he had to go through much suffering and through many trials. At one time, God refused to heal him of a sickness, and Paul responded: "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10).
The Bible does not teach that when a Christian dies he goes to heaven. Let us be certain we understand the truth as pointed out in the Scriptures.
First, the Bible is very clear what happens to a person at the time of his or her death.
In Ecclesiastes 9:4-5 we find the following:
"But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten." Their memory (the faculty of remembering) ceases to exist (See the marginal notes in the Companion Bible).
Verse 6 continues: "Also their love, their hatred; and their envy have now perished..."
The answer to your question, whether to send donations to organizations which help the poor, is one that requires a BALANCED approach. Considering the life of Jesus Christ, one must conclude that the focus of His life was in serving God. He put God FIRST. However, He also had great compassion on the poor: "'...I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way'" (Matthew 15:32).
It is correct that 2 Peter 2:6-8 refers to "righteous Lot," and describes him, by extension, as a "godly" person. The entire passage reads: "[Since God turned] the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)--then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment."
In Matthew 24:7, Jesus Christ speaks about end-time events and warns His listeners: "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there shall be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places."
In Matthew 24:7, and in the parallel Scriptures of Mark 13:8 and Luke 21:11, the Greek word for "earthquakes" is "seismos," meaning, according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, No. 4578, "a commotion, i.e. (of the air) a gale, (of the ground) an earthquake--earthquake, tempest."
Actually, the Bible is very clear as to the meaning of this word. However, orthodox Christianity, and especially Catholicism, have distorted the meaning and have adopted a concept of a "saint," which is in total opposition to the Biblical teaching.
The "Christian" world thinks that a saint is a very special kind of a Christian; usually one who has died, went to heaven, and who is now interceding before God on our behalf. The "Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine," by Peter Geiermann, edited 1946, defines a "saint" as "one whose soul is in heaven" (page 111).
We are told, in Genesis 4:1-2, of two sons born to Adam and Eve, i.e., Cain and Abel; and of the respective relationships of these two sons with God. This is a very familiar story to all. But once the story of Abel's death through the wicked hands of Cain is told in the first fifteen verses of Genesis, chapter 4, we read in Genesis 4:16-17 of Cain moving to the east of Eden and of the conception of his wife.
In this short historical account of events, it is not revealed to us how much time elapsed, nor are we told of the time sequence of the events recorded in the verses that follow. We only know that the human race continued to increase over the face of the earth.
It is indeed correct that God promises long life to those who honor their parents. We must understand, however, the correct meaning of this promise.
Exodus 20:12 states: "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you." Deuteronomy 5:16 adds: "Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long [AV: PROLONGED], and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you."
There is indeed much confusion regarding how to pray and to whom one should pray; however, the Bible clearly reveals that the followers of Jesus Christ should direct their prayers, first and foremost, to God the Father.
When asked about how to pray by one of His disciples, Jesus was very specific regarding to whom prayer was to be offered: "So He said to them, 'When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven '" (Luke 11:2). In the full context of His instruction about prayer, we find this final comment: "'If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! '" (Luke 11:13).
We addressed this issue, to an extent, in the Editorial, "An Independent Mind," in Update 208. In the Editorial, we quoted some of Mr. Armstrong's statements about "independents," as follows:
"This is what Mr. Armstrong thought about independents: 'What about a single member, "a joint, or part," going off by itself--or following a man instead of the Church of God that is in direct continuous succession from the apostolic Church founded by Christ, in A.D.31? He is like a joint or a piece of wood or stone, entirely outside of, and therefore no part of the body of Christ that shall marry Christ' (The Incredible Human Potential, ed.1978, pp.123, 124-125)."
Even though we might sometimes be tempted to become surety for another person, especially a Church member, a close friend or a relative, the Bible contains strong warnings against such conduct.
Proverbs 6:1-5 reads:
The Bible is very clear that humans are not to eat the flesh of animals which God designates as "unclean." Comprehensive lists of clean and unclean animals can be found in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. When studying those lists, it is obvious that the following animals are "unclean" and that its flesh is inappropriate for human consumption (even though they might be frequently eaten in certain parts of the world, and even considered as "delicacies"): Pigs or swine; hares or rabbits; camels; horses; donkeys; lamas; civet cats; monkeys and apes; cats; dogs; ostriches (including their eggs); seagulls; swallows; whales; dolphins; sharks; catfish; eel; lobsters; crabs; clams; oysters; shrimp; shellfish; octopus; squid; frogs; snakes; lizards; turtles; mice and ants. This list is not
For some, 2 Corinthians 3:3-11, and especially verse 7, teaches that the Ten Commandments, which were written on tablets of stone, ceased to be in force and effect, when Jesus Christ died on the cross (compare Ryrie Study Bible, footnote to 2 Corinthians 3:7). However, a careful reading of the entire passage does not uphold such an erroneous teaching. In addition, you might want to study our booklet, "And Lawlessness Will Abound," for a full explanation as to why the Ten Commandments are still to be obeyed today.
Let us review the entire passage of 2 Corinthians 3:3-11, in context:
In John 20:22, we read that Christ, after His resurrection, but before His ascension to heaven and the subsequent Day of Pentecost, breathed upon the disciples and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit." Some erroneously teach that on that occasion, Christ gave His disciples the Holy Spirit (compare Nelson Study Bible and the Ryrie Study Bible, comments to John 20). Others understand correctly that Christ did not give the Holy Spirit to His disciples at that time. The New Bible Commentary: Revised explains:
"The breathing upon them of the Spirit is understandable since the Greek 'pneuma' means both breath and spirit. This would appear to be in anticipation of Pentecost, although some specific assurance of the conveyance of the gift is clearly given here."
God cannot lie. It is against His very nature and being to lie (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). God has told us in His Word that it is a sin to lie (Exodus 20:16). God does not tempt us to sin (James 1:13), and He does not tempt us--let alone order us--to lie. On the other hand, God sometimes uses lying people or even lying spirits or demons to carry out His purpose (compare 1 Kings 22). This does not mean that God orders anyone to lie--but since men and demons are free moral agents and may decide to sin, God may use them to accomplish a certain goal--but the decision to sin, including to lie, is still man's or the spirit's decision (For a better understanding, please read our free booklet, "Angels, Demons and the
1 Corinthians 15:20 says that "...Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the FIRSTFRUITS of those who have fallen asleep." James 1:18, however, refers to Christ's true disciples, in this day and age, calling THEM firstfruits: "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of FIRSTFRUITS of His creatures."
We also read in additional passages that true Christians, who are called to the truth and to salvation in this day and age, are referred to as "firstfruits":
Revelation 14:4 says: "These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being FIRSTFRUITS to God and to the Lamb."
Some have used this passage to justify Christian participation in pagan worship services. This is, however, not the meaning of 2 Kings 5:17-19, and the Bible, as a whole, clearly condemns such practices. Before analyzing the passage in question, let us review what happened before.
Isaiah 28:16 reads: "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Behold I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; WHOEVER BELIEVES WILL NOT ACT HASTILY."
What is meant with "Whoever believes will not act hastily"?
The context clearly refers to the announcement of God THE FATHER to lay in Zion (which many times describes the Church of God) a precious cornerstone for a foundation. This describes the Messiah, Jesus Christ, as many New Testament passages reveal (compare Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Romans 9:33; Ephesians 2:20; and 1 Peter 2:6-8).
The answer is yes, and the way in which this might occur involves personal growth as well as God choosing someone to fulfill a special function in His service.
First of all, understand that God gives man His Holy Spirit as a gift. Peter explains this in context in Acts 2:38: "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [Margin: forgiveness] of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"
Absolutely not! God's Word is very clear that such a possibility simply does not exist.
First of all, let us remember that God made animals and humans according to their kind (Genesis 1:21, 24-28). Animals can only reproduce other animals, according to their kind (two dogs can produce another dog, but they can't produce a horse or a bird), and men can only produce humans (they can't produce animals). Since men and angels belong to a different "kind," it is impossible for that reason alone, that they could produce human offspring.
In the passage in question, Paul was addressing the yearly Passover ceremony. Beginning in 1 Corinthians 11:23, Paul reminded the disciples of the event when Christ instituted the New Testament symbols of bread and wine at the annual Passover service (compare verses 23-26). He then continued:
"Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep."
We must be very careful that we don’t fall into the trap of trying to say that what Paul taught was just an instruction for his time, some 2,000 years ago--and that it is not necessarily binding for us today. This wrong understanding was epitomized by an Anglican Bishop who, when challenged on a particular issue a few years ago, wrote:
"My disagreement stems partly from my understanding of the way in which I read the Bible, praying that the Holy Spirit will enlighten my understanding of what statements are unchangeable and what are conditioned by social and cultural norms of the time in which God spoke to those involved."
The short answer is, No. We read in 1 Corinthians 6:18 that we are to "flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body." Members of God's Church are also told not to "make provisions for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Romans 13:14)." Further, they are commanded to "abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God" (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).
The word Zion first appears in the Bible as the name of the ancient Jebusite fortress called the city of Jebus which was situated on a hill within the subsequent boundaries of Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 5:7 states: "Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David)." Note that from this original conquest, the area was enlarged: "Then David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the City of David. And David built all around from the Millo and inward" (2 Samuel 5:9; also, 1 Chronicles 11:4-9).
Proverbs 22:6 has caused many righteous parents, over the years, to question their righteousness, or even their conversion, when their children who had been trained in the way of righteousness and truth later departed from it. They concluded that it must have been their fault that their children did not stay loyal to God.
However, a close look at Proverbs 22:6 might reveal that the righteous parents caused unnecessary grief for themselves in this matter (Of course, we must also realize that many parents who thought that they were converted Christians might not have been converted at all, which might be evidenced by the fact that they later left the Way of Truth, compare 1 John 2:19).
1 Corinthians 7:14 reads, "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy."
The Ryrie Study Bible gives the following correct explanations of this passage:
"The presence of a believer in the home sets the home apart and gives it a Christian influence it would not otherwise have. A believing partner, therefore, should stay with the unbeliever. However, this does not mean that children born into such a home are automatically Christians. They are holy in the sense of being set apart by the presence of one believing parent."
In order to fully comprehend what Paul is referring to with his symbolism or allegory (compare Galatians 4:24), we must carefully review the context. We should note, first of all, to whom Paul is writing. The letter is addressed to "the Galatians" -- non-Jewish peoples who had come to the faith. These peoples never were part of the Old Testament relationship between God and the ancient nation of Israel. They were never part of the Old Covenant. IF Paul had in mind to address the so-called "Old" and "New" Covenants in Galatians 4, then his concluding statement in Galatians 5:1 would make little sense. There, he says: "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled AGAIN with a yoke of bondage."
It is true that the Bible teaches that the roles of men and women in this day and age are different, whether it is in a marriage relationship, or insofar as teaching or preaching in Church is concerned. The Bible says that the husband is the "head" of his wife (1 Corinthians 11:3), and it is stated in God's Word that a woman is to be silent during Church services (1 Corinthians 14:34-35). But the different roles and responsibilities assigned by God to men and women IN THIS DAY AND AGE do not make women in any way inferior to men! Please note that not only a woman, but also a man, unless he is ordained, is not to preach to others in Church. This task is reserved for the ministry (Romans 10:14-15)--but again, this does not make ministers in any way "superior" to non-ordained
As a general rule of understanding, there is a difference between teaching and preaching in Church--preaching can be, and often is more of a corrective nature. Preaching, in that sense, should be left to the ministry, whereas non-ordained men can of course teach during Church services, if asked by the ministry to do so.
We read in Matthew 5:48 that we are to be perfect just as God is perfect. The Authorized Version says: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." However, this translation may be somewhat misleading. The New King James Bible translates Matthew 5:48: "... you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." Rotherham says: "Ye therefore SHALL BECOME perfect..."
Actually, Christ spoke at least twice about the body attracting eagles. His words are recorded in Matthew 24:28 and in Luke 17:37. In both cases, He spoke about His return to this earth. However, we might note a few distinctions, as we look at His statements more carefully.
Let us review His sayings one at a time.
In Matthew 24:26-28, Christ says: "'Therefore if they say to you, "Look, He is in the desert!" do not go out; or "Look, He is in the inner rooms!" do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.'"
Before addressing 1 Corinthians 11:1-2, we need to give a brief background on Herbert W. Armstrong and the Biblical teaching about "apostles." Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986) was led by God to establish the Radio Church of God in the early 1930's--later to be renamed the Worldwide Church of God. This powerful work focused on the Biblical guidelines that characterize the true followers of Jesus Christ. Mr. Armstrong's ministry was based on the understanding given to him, and he often spoke of his personal growth in understanding. He even mentioned in his old age that he had been learning more within the last year than ever before--and as it occurred, this was the last year of his life. He continually taught what the Bible records in 2 Peter 3:18: "...but grow in the grace
In recent years, we have seen a spate of allegations and revelations about the behavior of certain leading political figures and other high profile leaders, both in the UK and the USA, as well as in Western Europe. While this is not a new phenomenon, public attitudes seem to have changed to a more liberal and tolerant, if not accepting approach. This is because of moral and ethical barriers being lowered as society adopts a much more permissive attitude.
We may recall that in the US presidential election in the late 1990’s, the public re-elected their President in spite of his behavior. As long as the President gave the American people a good standard of living it didn’t matter, as one commentator put it, “what happened after dark.”
The Bible teaches that God had no beginning, but that He has always existed. We read that God created all things; that is, human beings, animals and all physical things, as well as angelic beings and all spiritual "things." However, God is not just one Person, but a Family, presently consisting of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. We read that God created everything through Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-17)--proving that God the Father and Jesus Christ existed before there was anything else. Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us that God the Father created "the worlds" through His Son, Jesus Christ. John 1:1 says that the "Word"--Jesus Christ (compare Revelation 19:13)--was "in the beginning" with God and that the Word WAS God. John 1:3 tells us that "all things" were made through
Many have attempted to "define" who or what is a true Christian. However, far too often, a totally false explanation has been offered. For example, some would say that somebody is a Christian who is a member of a "Christian" church. Others claim that one is a Christian if he or she believes in Jesus Christ. Still others state that one becomes a Christian if he or she is baptized into a Church organization, perhaps even as an infant.
What is the Biblical truth on the matter? It is important that you understand, because otherwise you have no immediate hope for your future. We read that there is no salvation in any other but in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). In order to be saved, you must be a follower of Christ--a true Christian.
It is true that we are all "unworthy" in comparison with God the Father and the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but this is not what Paul is addressing. Rather, Paul speaks about the manner in which we partake of the Passover--and yes, if we partake of the Passover in an unworthy manner, and if we, especially, fail to discern the Body of Christ which was beaten for our healing from our sicknesses, then prolonged sickness and even death might be the consequence.
Before analyzing the passage in Romans 5:12, 19, let us very briefly discuss the concept of "original sin." It was developed by Augustine, based on a wrong translation of the Greek text in Romans 5. The Broadman Bible Commentary points out, in Vol. 10, on page 195: "Augustine, who knew very little Greek, followed the Latin translation... and, on the basis of this mistranslation, developed his doctrine of original sin, understood as inherited guilt, and the result was a lurid picture of unbaptized infants in limbo. It is significant that even Roman Catholic scholars, plagued most by this disaster, are now saying bluntly the doctrine is not in Scripture."
To answer this question, we need to briefly describe the historical background.
It depends what is meant by that term. Also, we need to understand that the Bible teaches a resurrection to immortal life and a resurrection to a physical existence.
Regarding the resurrection of those who died "in Christ," that is, in whom God's Holy Spirit dwelled when they died, we read that they are resurrected with an immortal SPIRITUAL body. God will raise them up to spiritual, immortal and eternal life. God will not first resurrect their dead "physical bodies" and then "change" them into spiritual bodies. Rather, God will resurrect or raise the Christians with spiritual bodies, as the Bible clearly indicates. We read the following, in 1 Corinthians 15:35-49, about the "first" or "better" (Hebrews 11:35) resurrection to eternal life:
The Church's teaching is based on numerous principles and implications, as revealed in Scripture.
The Old Testament demands that no one who is uncircumcised is to participate at the Passover (Exodus 12:48). Even though physical circumcision is no longer a requirement for New Testament Christians, they are to be circumcised spiritually (Colossians 2:11-12; Romans 2:26-29). This can only occur through the indwelling Holy Spirit, which God gives us after proper baptism. And so, we read that Christ's disciples had been baptized (even though, in the extraordinary case of the eleven apostles, they had not yet received the Holy Spirit--they would receive it, however, on the Day of Pentecost).
Please read first, in regard to this question, our special tribute to Herbert W. Armstrong and the excerpts from his 1984 article, titled, "How Would Jesus Vote for President?", which are published in this issue of the Update. The tribute and excerpts give an overview regarding the problems for a Christian being involved in voting in governmental elections. We need to understand that the issues of jury duty and voting for the government are connected with the issue of military service and war. We have addressed the problems regarding Christian participation in jury duty and joining the military in previous Q&A sections of these
A Luke 22:35-38 reads in context: "And He said to them, `When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?' So they said, `Nothing.' [God took care of them.] Then He said to them, `But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: "And He was numbered with the transgressors." For the things concerning Me have an end.' So they said: `Lord, look, here are two swords.' And He said to them: `It is enough.'"
Q Although there are examples in the Old Testament when men decided to go to war, other passages show that God ordered them to war. If human warfare is always wrong, did God order men to SIN?
A To answer this question, it would be helpful to recall that sin begins in the mind - many times, long before the physical act is committed.
A Paul is talking here about rulers in general who uphold certain laws to guarantee a civil and peaceful and harmonious lifestyle among their citizens. Paul is referring to submission to and enforcement of civil and criminal laws, such as theft or murder.
A There are different Biblical principles involved. We believe that the following will best express our religious convictions against participating in military service and war:
A There are different Biblical principles involved. We believe that the following will best express our religious convictions against participating in jury duty:
A In the context of this booklet, we need to understand that the issues of jury duty and voting for the government are both connected with the issue of military service and war.
We do. It is important to understand what the Bible has to say about the subject of interracial marriages.
It is, of course, true that the Bible teaches that we must change, and that Jesus Christ does not accept us "as we are." Our new booklet, "Baptism -- a Requirement for Salvation?" explains in detail that we must repent BEFORE Christ accepts us -- and, before we can properly "accept" Him.
The mere fact that some misuse and misapply a certain Biblical term is not enough reason for us not to use it. For instance, many preach a wrong gospel message (compare Galatians 1:6-9), or even a false "Jesus" (compare 2 Corinthians 11:4). This does not mean, however, that God's Church should therefore refrain from using the terms "gospel" or "Jesus."
In Matthew 24:3, the disciples asked Christ three questions: "'Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the SIGN of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'"
Christ had just spoken about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (vv. 1-2). The disciples wanted to know more about the destruction of the temple, erroneously believing that that event would coincide with Christ's return. As it turned out, the temple was destroyed in 70A.D., but Christ would not return for many years. Christ explained to them that there would have to occur first numerous significant events, before He would return.
In Mark 13:4, the disciples are quoted as asking, "'Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the SIGN when all these things will be fulfilled?'"
Baptism is not for children. But once a person is old enough to comprehend the meaning of baptism, when should his baptism occur? We have answered this question in our free booklet, "Baptism--A Requirement for Salvation," beginning on page 24. We are quoting the relevant sections below. Following these quotes, we will also quote from the writings of the Worldwide Church of God, under its late human leader, Herbert W. Armstrong, to show that our position today is exactly identical with what had been taught under Mr. Armstrong.
In our free booklet, "Baptism--A Requirement for Salvation?", the following is pointed out on pages 25-27, under, "When To Be Baptized"?
We will be glad to explain.
First Tithe is the first ten percent of one's "increase," referring to his or her job earnings and/or other income, such as proceeds from rental, interest or gains from stocks or other investment. It is to be sent to God's Church in furtherance of the preaching of the gospel.
As we point out in our free new booklet, "The Mysteries of the Bible," Christ's "message pertained to the Church of God for all times, including seven historic Church eras... [and] also... seven local Church congregations at the time of John" (p. 23). In this Q&A, we will strictly address Christ's timeless message to individual Christians.
Christ's message INCLUDES a warning and admonition to all Christians throughout the existence of the Church. This can be seen by Christ's repeated admonition to ALL seven churches, to "hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (compare Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13 and 22).
It does not mean this at all.
Actually, the term "synagogue of Satan" is used only twice in the Bible, namely in Revelation 2:9 and Revelation 3:9. Before analyzing these two passages in detail, let us first get some background:
The word "synagogue" is used in several places in the New Testament. The word is derived from the Greek word "sunagoge" and means, literally, a "bringing together." The Greek word "sun" means "together," and the Greek word "ago" means "to bring." (Compare "Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words," by W. E. Vine). Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible defines it as a "place where people are led together." Although originally used for religious or other gatherings of Jews, the word was later also applied to religious or other gatherings of Christians.
It depends what is meant by "spiritual gifts."
If there is one command by Christ which has been more often violated in the Church than most others, it is perhaps the procedure for conflict resolution between brethren, as set forth in Matthew 18. We might think that in a given situation this procedure might not apply, or that there are other ways to deal with a perceived or real problem. However, experience has shown time and again that circumventing the godly-inspired procedure for the purpose of resolving problems between members has ALWAYS caused unnecessary harm.
Let us therefore carefully and prayerfully review the procedure, and let us make every effort to apply it, as instructed in God's Word:
The Gibeonites, who belonged to the Hivites (who were descendants from Canaan, the son of Ham, 1 Chronicles 1:8, 13-15), were one of the peoples which had occupied the Promised Land, prior to Israel's arrival (Exodus 3:8). God had commanded the Israelites not to make a covenant with any of these people. Rather, He wanted them expelled from the land (Exodus 23:28, 32-33). However, under Joshua, the Gibeonites, pretending to be a people from far away, tricked the Israelites into acting hastily by making a covenant with them to let them live amongst them (Joshua 9). In fact, the capital of the Gibeonites or Hivites was "Gibeon," a town situated on a rocky eminence, about six miles northwest from Jerusalem and four miles from Bethel, where the modern village of El-Jib now stands
In the passage in question, Jesus made the following comment:
"... if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death."
He elaborated on this statement in additional passages, such as John 8:52: "... If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death." In referring to our participation at the annual Passover service, He stated, in John 6:50, 58: "This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die... He who eats this bread will live forever."
You are referring to the following statements in our above-mentioned booklet:
God's Holy Spirit is foremost the POWER of God, emanating from both the Father and the Son. But it is also the MIND of God, including all the characteristics of God Himself. When God's Holy Spirit dwells in us, we are to change, by replacing our human nature with the nature of God (1 Samuel 10:6; Romans 8:13), enabling us to follow God and to be obedient to Him (Numbers 14:24; Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:27; 1 Peter 1:22).
A: For an in-depth Bible study as to HOW, exactly, our righteousness must exceed the "righteousness" of the scribes and the Pharisees, including their actions, thoughts and motives, please look up and study carefully all the Scriptures quoted in this Q&A, especially those passages in which Jesus Christ condemns the scribes and the Pharisees for their concept of "righteousness."
No, it does not mean that at all. Quite to the contrary, we are clearly told in Scripture, so that we CAN know, what our destiny is. We read in Ephesians 3:14-19 that it is our destiny to become spirit members within the Family of God, and that we KNOW that we are to be filled with "all the fullness of God."
1 John 3:2 does not tell us something different. In fact, this passage CONFIRMS, rightly understood, that we DO know what our destiny is. When we read this passage in context, it states:
"Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we KNOW that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
Although in most cases, human anger is wrong, there is nothing wrong with godly indignation or wrath, which is always righteous. But we need to understand the nature of godly anger, and against whom or what it is directed.
Certainly not. Our free booklet, "Baptism--A Requirement for Salvation," explains in detail that only adult LIVING persons are to be baptized, after they repent of their sins and believe in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. A person who has died, cannot repent and believe in anything, as long as he is dead. The reason is that a dead person knows nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5). Our free booklet, "Do We Have an Immortal Soul?," explains that a person who dies is without consciousness--he or his soul does not go to heaven or hell, because he--the person--IS the soul. As long as he is alive, he is a living soul, and when he dies, he has become a dead
An important tool in understanding a particular passage in Scripture is to look at the passage in context, as well as in the light of other Scriptures. In John 9, Christ healed a man on the Sabbath who had been born blind. The Pharisees and the Jews accused Christ of breaking the Sabbath and concluded that He was not from God (verse 16) and a "sinner" (verse 24, in Greek, "hamartolos"). In response, the healed man said: "Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshipper of God and does His will, He hears him... If this Man were not from God, He could no nothing" (verses 31, 33).
This well-known law has been grossly misunderstood by some, thinking that God actually required the maiming of an offender who was guilty of injuring another person. However, this is clearly not the intended meaning of the "an eye for an eye" principle, and the Church of God has never taught otherwise.
The "an eye for an eye" principle is commonly known as the "lex talionis," which is Latin for the "law of retaliation." It is mentioned in the Old Testament in Exodus 21:23-27; Leviticus 24:18-20; and Deuteronomy 19:21.
An important key to use when studying God's Word is to understand WHY God has inspired certain stories: "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Corinthians 10:11). Read the context of this quote in verses 1 through 13, and you will understand that God used their examples as a warning to others. He also revealed very detailed information about Moses for the purpose of instruction: "And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward" (Hebrews 3:5).
David, in verses 7-11 of Psalm 19, had just described the considerable blessings which exist in obedience to God’s law and His Way of life! He spoke to the law of the LORD, to the testimony, to the statutes of the LORD, to the commandment, to the fear of the LORD and to the judgments of the LORD. He knew that all of God’s laws were in existence during his time and had been established for all times--even to the end of this present society and on into eternity! These laws describe the very character of our God and a Way of life for us!
The question addresses a seemingly difficult passage in Exodus 4:24-26, which reads:
"And it came to pass on the way [to Egypt], at the encampment, that the LORD met him and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses' [literally: his] feet, and said, 'Surely you are a husband of blood to me!' So He let him go. Then she said, 'You are a husband of blood!'--because of the circumcision."
In order to answer this question, we need to explain first what the two trees symbolized.
As we read in the first three chapters of the book of Genesis, when God created Adam and Eve, He placed them in a beautiful garden, called the garden of Eden or Paradise. In that garden, God had planted two special trees. Although these trees were literal trees, they also had specific symbolic meaning and significance. The two trees were called the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The Biblical account of Noah's Ark is clearly factual. Some have advanced arguments saying that Noah could never have built the Ark, and that the Ark would not have been big enough to hold all the animals. Both objections are without foundation.
Some of the following material has been published in "The Good News" magazine, February 1980, and in "Exploring Ancient History--The First 2500 Years," Imperial Schools, 1967.
The Bible clearly prohibits the consumption of animal meat which it describes as "unclean" in Old and New Testament passages (such as Leviticus 11:1-47; Deuteronomy 14:3-20; and Acts 10:1-21, 28). For more information on this prohibition, please read our free booklet, "And Lawlessness Will Abound."
In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus speaks about literal murder as well as feelings and expressions of hate. The passage reads as follows:
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' [Margin: Lit, in Aram., Empty head] shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell [Margin: Gr. Gehenna] fire."
There are many passages that convey and support the understanding that oil is used biblically as a symbol for the Holy Spirit.
For instance, we read in Mark 6:13 that Christ had His disciples anoint sick people with oil, and they were healed. We know that Christ healed the sick with the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 8:43-46 -- the Authorized Version has here, "virtue," but the literal meaning is, "power," compare New King James Bible. Compare, too, Mark 5:30; Luke 6:19).
Christ gave His disciples the same ability to heal sick people by the power of the Holy Spirit (Mark 16:18), which presence is symbolized by the anointing of the sick person with oil (James 5:14).
The answer is that the bride will ultimately involve many more than those who are given eternal life in the first resurrection. A review of this topic will reveal just what the Bible means when it refers to the “bride.”
First of all, Jesus Christ is presented as the bridegroom in many examples. Even at His appearance as a human and before His death, Jesus spoke of Himself as the “bridegroom” (Luke 5:34-35). In this account, Jesus taught that He would be taken away and that no “marriage” would be consummated at that time.
When trying to understand Biblical prophecy, it is critical that we are familiar with the meaning of certain key prophetic phrases. For instance, all these terms listed in the Question have a FUTURE prophetic application. This means that when we read a passage in the Old or New Testament, which uses one of these phrases, we should recognize that the passage refers to the future!
Here is an overview of the meaning of these phrases:
The LATTER DAYS:
As we point out in our booklet, "Teach Us To Pray!", Christ's promise in Mark 11:24 is indeed subject to several conditions. In this passage, Christ is emphasizing the absolute necessity of manifesting living, unwavering and obedient faith in our lives (compare verses 22-23). Without faith that God will do what we ask Him for, we cannot expect to receive anything from Him (compare James 1:6-8). But godly faith alone is not sufficient, either. As explained in our booklet, additional necessary aspects of successful prayer include the need to ask; to ask in faith; to pray boldly; to keep God's Commandments; to bear the right kind of Christian fruit in our lives; to pray in Christ's name; and to pray always.
The original writings of the Bible are, in fact, God's infallible Word. However, in the face of such myriads of beliefs—all claiming the Bible as their source, most people dismiss the real authority of the Book that God has inspired.
Both Catholics and Protestants use the Bible as the basis for what they believe and teach. Various translations and versions of the Bible are available, and these differing accounts do reflect the bias of those organizations and individuals who have authored them.
Indeed there are numerous examples of resurrections, both in the Old and the New Testament! For instance, 2 Kings 13:21 relates the record of a dead person who "revived and stood on his feet," when the bones of Elisha touched him. There was no magic associated with Elisha’s bones but it was a demonstration of God’s power and His approval of Elisha--showing that he died as a servant of God, even though he died from a sickness (verse 14). Also, John 11:38-44 records the story of the resurrection of Lazarus who had been dead for several days. We also read, in Luke 8:49-56, that Christ brought a dead girl back to life. In the case of the young girl, we read that Christ commanded the parents "that she be given something to eat" (verse 55) -- proving that this was a resurrection
Perhaps no other single event captures the focus of religionists more than that of the return of Jesus Christ. From the first generation of the Church of God until now, people have been utterly convinced that Christ would return in their own lifetime. That has led some into bitter disappointment and even an absolute abandonment and rejection of their faith!
In spite of what people concoct in their own imaginations, is God actually working out His plan according to a pre-determined time line?
Let’s see what God reveals in His written Word, and in doing so, let the Bible teach us a true understanding and a balanced perspective on this important question.
This is apparently correct. The historical background of the design of the European flag, and its biblical significance, is quite interesting. The Catholic News Agency, Zenit, wrote the following on December 7, 1999:
"December 8 is a very special day for Europe: in 1955, on that day, the European Ministers' delegates officially adopted the European flag designed by Arsene Heitz... The decision was taken following the 1950 European Council's... convocation of a competition to design the flag of the newborn European Community...: 12 stars on a blue background.
John 1:1 tells us that the "Word" was God. The "Word" is a reference to Jesus Christ (compare Revelation 19:13; 1 John 1:1-3). John 1:14 tells us that Jesus Christ, the "Word," "became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, existed as a God being long before the events took place, which are described in John 1:14--that is, long before He "became flesh." Philippians 2:5-11 tells us that Christ, who was "in the form of God," took "the form of a bond servant" and came "in the likeness of men." Hebrews 2:14 confirms that Jesus partook of flesh and blood, so that He could die. As long as He was an immortal Spirit being, He could not die.
Virtually all English Bibles, which we have today, do NOT accurately set forth the order or divisions of the Biblical books, as originally maintained and inspired by God.
THE OLD TESTAMENT
The Hebrew Bible of the Old Testament consisted originally of 24 books. It is to be divided into three sections:
(1) The Law (5 books of Moses)
(2) The Prophets (8 books)
-- The former prophets—Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings (4 books)
-- The latter prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, 12 Minor Prophets (4 books)
(3) The Writings (11 books)
-- Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs (4 books)
-- Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther (4 books)
-- Daniel, Ezra/Nehemiah, and Chronicles (3 books)
Matthew 1 and Luke 3 describe different lines. Matthew 1 describes Christ’s legal genealogy through Joseph. Luke sets forth Mary’s line.
Matthew 1:16 tells us that Matthew’s record covers Christ’s lineage through His stepfather Joseph. It says “Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.”
A correct rendering of Luke 3:23 shows that Luke is setting forth Christ’s blood descent. However, the translation of the New King James Bible is misleading. It gives the impression that Joseph was the father of Heli, and that therefore, Luke is also setting forth Christ’s descent of Joseph. This is incorrect, as Joseph was not the SON of Heli, but of Jacob, as Matthew 1:16 points out.
It is important that we understand correctly the meaning and usage of the Hebrew word "Elohim," as many teach that the word "Elohim" either ALWAYS conveys a singular meaning, or that it ALWAYS conveys a plural meaning. However, both of these teachings are WRONG!
Q: The United States and many other nations celebrate Halloween on October 31. Some feel that a Christian should not participate in such celebrations. What is your point of view?
A: The Bible is very clear that a true Christian must not, under any circumstances, celebrate Halloween.
Halloween has its origin in pagan and occult worship services and ceremonies. It was later "adopted" by the Catholic Church which gave it a "Christian" mantle. However, its Satanic and demonic rites remained and can still clearly be noticed even in today's Halloween
The Encyclopedia Britannica, 1959, has this to say about "Halloween":
It sure does. Although tattooing our bodies is extremely popular amongst many peoples and even in our Western society, including amongst sailors, marines, teens and others, the Bible clearly prohibits this practice.
Leviticus 19:28 tells us:
"You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD."
A: We read in John 7:37-39, "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, [which] those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."
We read in verse 2 that the Holy Days that were celebrated at that time evolved around "the Feast of Tabernacles."
A: 1 Kings 15:5 reads, "...David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite."
A: Our Question and Answer section in Update #100 (July 4, 2003), explained the facts pertaining to the ancient and modern origins of Mother's Day. We emphasized that it is a Christian's personal decision to determine whether the evidence presented was "sufficient or not to establish a direct and immediate connection between pagan origins, Catholic Church influence, and our modern custom of celebrating Mother's Day -- especially in the United States, Canada and continental Europe."
A: Very few educated people doubt the existence of Christ. There are more than 1,000 works of literature written very early in Church history affirming the existence of Christ. Much of it was written by pagans or Jews.
Q: Would you please explain 1 Corinthians 9:20-21?
A: 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 is one of those Scriptures that has been used by some for the support of their false claim that Paul no longer taught obedience to God's law. This is, however, not at all what Paul was saying here.
Let us read, in context, the entire passage of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:
A: In Revelation 3:7-8, Christ tells the angel of the church in Philadelphia: "These things says He who is holy, He who is true, 'He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens': ... 'See I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it.'"
A: We should realize that members over the years, in following Church teaching, have declared bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a recognized and legal means in this world to free oneself from debts, under certain circumstances. Court decisions have been rendered, involving Church members, dealing with questions regarding tithes and offerings in bankruptcy procedures. Certain state laws allow churches to keep tithes, up to a certain amount and percentage, which were received from members who subsequently filed for bankruptcy.
More importantly, the Bible endorses the concept of declaring bankruptcy in certain circumstances. What is the biblical basis for the Church's long-standing teaching that the declaration of bankruptcy is not against Scripture, under certain circumstances?
The Bible reveals that Jesus Christ was always the Son of God; that is, the second member of the God Family. However, the Bible also reveals that Christ BECAME the Son of Man when He gave up His divine glory and became a human being.
Hebrews 1:2 states that God "has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds." The very next verse (verse 3) then describes Jesus, God's Son, in this way: "who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high..."
A: In order to properly answer this question, we need to go back and review the biblical basis for a decision that the Worldwide Church of God made under Mr. Herbert Armstrong in 1974, involving divorce and remarriage. Prior to 1974, it had been the understanding of the Church that every marriage was bound in God's eyes. This included civil marriages, whether or not the married couple "invited God into their lives," and -- arguably, it included even marriages of persons who didn't even claim to believe in the God of the Bible. Mr. Armstrong explained our growth in Biblical knowledge regarding this point in a member letter, dated May 14, 1974:
A: Many Scriptures prohibit the charging of interest or usury in certain circumstances.
For example, Exodus 22:25 states, in the Authorized Version, "If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury."
The Hebrew word for "usury" is "neshek" or "neshech" and has the meaning of "biting" (Young's Analytical Concordance). Its root word is "nashak" or "nashach." Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, under Nos. 5391 and 5392, gives the following explanation: "...to strike with a sting (as a serpent); fig. to oppress with interest on a loan."
A: We are glad to. To understand all these passages in their proper context, we must realize that God has decided to call a few people during this day and age, to offer them salvation, while the overwhelming majority of mankind will be called at a later time -- during the Millennium, and during the Second Resurrection and the Great White Throne Judgment period (Revelation 20:6, 11-12). Everyone will get his or her chance to respond to God, but everyone in his or her own order (compare 1 Corinthians 15:23). God has not preordained anyone to eternal death -- those who are not called yet are not judged yet -- they will be judged later, when their time of calling has come.
A: In Matthew 12:40 Christ makes the statement, "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Authorized Version throughout). In John 2:19 He said, "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up." In John 2:21 it is noted: "But He spake of the Temple of His body."
We will address in this section the following questions in relation to these verses:
1) Was Christ dead for exactly 72 hours?
2) Was Christ in the tomb for exactly 72 hours?
3) How can we reconcile these two Scriptures since they appear to be contradictory?
4) Was Christ not dead the whole time He was in the tomb?
A: The Bible is very explicit that we are to honor our parents at all times. For example, Exodus 20:12 and Ephesians 6:1-3 make this Christian duty very clear. In one of our recent Updates (Update #95), we explained that Jesus Christ honored His mother on a continuous basis.
To "honor" or "remember" our mother just on one particular day in the year, while forgetting to do so in day-to-day living, would, of course, be wrong. The world tries to make up for the forgetfulness to always honor one's parents by dedicating a day to mothers. As Christians, we are to honor our parents at all times! This fact alone, would not preclude a Christian from participating in Mother's Day celebrations.
A: Matthew 12:38-40 reads as follows:
"Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, 'Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.' But He answered and said to them, 'An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.""
A: The Bible is very clear that God heals sick people who try to obey God and who have faith that He will heal them. He tells us in Exodus 15:26, "If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you."
We are also told how healing from sickness has been made possible. We are healed by the stripes of Jesus Christ who gave His life for us, and who was tortured and beaten so that we can obtain forgiveness of our sins and healing from our sicknesses and diseases (Psalm 103:1-3; Matthew 8:16-17; 1 Peter 2:21-25; Isaiah 53:5).
A: The Bible does indeed reveal the existence of "three" heavens. While the first two heavens are "physical" in nature, the third heaven is composed of spirit -- it is referred to in Scripture as God's dwelling place.
That there is more than one physical heaven can be seen in Genesis 1:1, where we read, "In the beginning God created the HEAVENS and the earth" (New KJB; RSV)." Also, in Genesis 2:1, "Thus the HEAVENS and the earth were finished, and all the hosts of them" (New KJB; RSV). These verses imply that "the whole material universe was created simultaneously with the earth" (Herbert W. Armstrong, "Mystery of the Ages," p. 45).
A: We at CEG, along with our affiliated groups in Canada (CGCF) and in the UK (Global), are continually asked the question by Church of God people why we have not merged with one of the larger Church of God groups at a time when some seem to encourage unity among all the people of God.
Since this is an often asked question, we have attempted to give answers in various sermons and articles presented by our ministry. Still the question continues to be directed toward us as a group.
A: If Jesus Christ committed just one sin, we would not have a Savior. If He had violated the Fifth Commandment ("Honor your father and your mother...," Deuteronomy 5:16; Exodus 20:12), He would have sinned, as "sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4). Many Scriptures make clear that the law spoken of in the New Testament includes the Ten Commandments (compare James 2:8-12).
Centuries before Christ, the ancient Romans celebrated the evenings of February 14th and February 15th as an idolatrous and sensual festival in honor of Lupercus, the "hunter of wolves." The Romans called the festival "Lupercalia." In her book, "Customs and Holidays Around the World," Lavinia Dobler states on page 172: "It was not until the reign of Pope Gelasius that the holiday became a 'Christian custom.' As far back as 496, Pope Gelasius changed Lupercalia on February 15th to St Valentine's Day on February 14th."
The Encyclopedia Britannica states on page 336 in its 15th edition, volume 10:
A: It is not. The Biblical record clearly reveals that Mary, although a virgin when "she was found with child of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:18-20; Luke 1:27-35), had additional children after the birth of Jesus Christ. Matthew 1:24-25 tells us that Joseph "did not know" Mary [a Biblical expression for sexual intimacy, including intercourse, compare Luke 1:34] "TILL she had brought forth her FIRSTBORN Son." The word "till" or "until" signifies that Joseph DID know Mary sexually after Christ's birth. The same Greek word for "till" or "until" is used in Matthew 2:15 and Matthew 5:26, showing a change in circumstances after a certain event.
A: In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul sets forth the timeless principles of proper hairstyle and hair length for men and women. After explaining in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that the Head of Christ is God the Father, the Head of a man is Christ, and the head of the woman (wife) is the man (husband), Paul continues: "(verse 4) Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. (verse 5) But every woman who prays or prophecies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. (verse 6) For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. (verse 7) For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God... (verse 10) For
A: The Bible teaches that we are to confess our sins to God. We read in 1 John 1:8-9, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Other Scriptures clarify that such confession must be made to God. Romans 14:10-12 states, "But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: 'As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.' So then each of us shall give account of himself to God."
A: The Church of the Eternal God believes in and teaches the Godly command of tithing. Our booklet, "And Lawlessness Will Abound," explains on pages 18-20 that tithing is a binding command today that was not abandoned by Christ. (Our booklet explains that Hebrews 7 did not abandon tithing - contrary to what some may erroneously claim.) Our Updates have consistently upheld and referred to God's command to tithe -- compare, for example, Edwin Pope's Editorials in Updates #38 (dated April 12, 2002) and #53 (dated July 26, 2002). That tithing is a command for today is taught in many Scriptures, including Matthew 23:23; Luke 18:12; and Malachi 3:8-10.
A: The answer is clearly "yes." Our Statements of Beliefs point out that the Church of the Eternal God in the United States, the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada, and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom, uphold and teach "the major doctrines" which "were taught by Herbert W. Armstrong," unless " any particular doctrine is proven to be wrong by the Bible." As we all know, Mr. Armstrong clearly taught hierarchical government within the Church -- that is, rule "from the top down." He did not teach, and neither do we, that the Church is to be ruled by the lay membership, that is, rule "from the bottom up." We clearly understand that God the Father is above all, and that Jesus Christ, the Head of His Church, is under the Father. Christ, in turn, appoints those
A: The entire passage in Hebrews 3 and 4 speaks about the failure of ancient Israel to enter the Promised Land of Canaan, and the fact that Christians must be careful to avoid making the same mistakes, so that they can enter the future Millennial rest -- the spiritual Promised Land, so to speak. At the same time, Paul draws an additional analogy between the weekly Sabbath and the Millennial rest at the end of man's rule, comparing the coming Millennial rest with a Millennial "Sabbath" of 1000 years. Several Scriptures indicate a 7000-year plan of God -- comprising a "week" of seven 1000-years "days." God gave man 6000 years (or 6000 "days" of 1000-years each) to prove that man, under Satan's influence, cannot rule himself. These first six "days" of 1000-years each will be followed by
A: 1 Corinthians 11:26 reads, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes." Many have interpreted this Scripture to say, "Take it as often as you please." But this is not what the Scripture teaches.
Reading the context, Paul was reminding the disciples of the events that happened on the "same night in which He (Christ) was betrayed." (verse 23). Paul stated that on that night, Christ took the bread and the wine, gave it to His disciples, and said, "Take, eat... do this in remembrance of Me... This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." (verses 24, 25).
A: The Bible prohibits the consumption of the "flesh" of certain animals, designated as unclean in passages such as Leviticus 11:1-8 and Deuteronomy 14:7-8. The Church has long understood that the use of medications, mineral supplements or vitamins derived from unclean animals does not violate the Biblical injunction against eating the FLESH of unclean animals. Until recently, diabetics had to use insulin derived from pigs, and the Church did not prohibit such use. (Now, the best form of insulin is derived synthetically). This is based on the understanding that medication, drugs and supplements fall into the category of non-food. For instance, calcium can be extracted from oyster shells.
A.: The Bible specifically mentions several times, in passing, the use of makeup. One of those passages can be found in 2 Kings 9:30, stating that the evil and wicked queen Jezebel hoped to seduce King Jehu. We read, "Now when Jehu had come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she put paint on her eyes and adorned her head, and looked through a window."
A: The Bible specifically mentions two birthday celebrations of kings, ending with the deaths of certain individuals (John the Baptist and Pharaoh's chief baker, compare Mark 6:21-27 and Genesis 40:20-22). There is another possible reference to birthday celebrations in Job 1:4: "And his [Job's] sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them." The German Menge Bible explains that this is a reference to the "birthdays" of the sons (A similar expression is used in Job 3:1, referring to Job's day of birth). The children's conduct prompted righteous Job to "sanctify them," for he said, "It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." (Job 1:5).
A: We believe that the Bible is very clear and explicit in condemning Christian participation in war. You may want to reread our Editorial, titled, "War or Peace -- Which?" (Update #81, February 21, 2003), and our Q&A, titled, "Christian Participation in War" (Update #67, November 15, 2002). How do we explain Israel's fighting in the Old Testament? Did God, who does not change, condemn war in the New Testament, but approved of it in the Old?
The Ten Commandments are listed in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21. There is universal acceptance that the number of the commandments which God gave to us, is ten. In fact, the Bible calls this set of commandments from God, "...the Ten Commandments" (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 4:13; 10:4).
There is, however, disagreement as to HOW to number the Ten Commandments. Many professing Christians count the Ten Commandments differently today than the Jews do--and the early New Testament Church did.
For instance, the Jews count Exodus 20:2-3 as the First Commandment, which reads, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me."
A: The command in Exodus 12:18 is an essential part of the annual seven day celebration of the Days of Unleavened Bread. As we fully explain in our new booklet, "God's Commanded Holy Days," these annual Feast days are still to be kept today.
A: There is no biblical evidence that God created animals at the beginning with vicious natures. We do find, however, that the nature of animals changed, when they gave in to Satan's influence.
We read, for example, in Genesis 3:1 that "the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made." While Satan is described as a serpent and as a dragon (Revelation 20:2), it appears that Eve was confronted by and spoke to a real serpent in the Genesis account. Satan gave the serpent a voice -- as later, God gave a donkey a man's voice to speak to the false prophet Balaam (Numbers 22:28; 2 Peter 2:16).
If they do, does that mean if we are unclean because of a bodily discharge as described in verses 16-24 that we should not come before God in prayer or for worship during the time which we are unclean? Should we abstain from sexual relations with our marriage partners in order to be clean thus allowing us to keep the Sabbath holy?
A: Most of the laws in Leviticus 15 were clearly only of a ritual nature and are no longer binding for us today. We explain the concept of ritual laws in our free booklet, "And Lawlessness Will Abound..." As we point out on page 53 of the booklet, one way to determine whether laws are temporary or permanent, is to look at the "penalty":
A: According to the Hebrew calendar, a month starts with a new moon. While there are express and clear commandments in the Bible to celebrate today God's weekly Sabbath and His annual Holy Days, there is no command in the Bible, enjoining us to celebrate today the beginning of the new months -- or new moons. The early New Testament Church continued to keep and celebrate the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days, but we do not have any Biblical record indicating that they celebrated new moons. (In Colossians 2:16, Paul does not speak about "new moons" in general, but about "a new moon" -- referring specifically to the Feast of Trumpets, the only annual Feast day which falls on a new moon.)
Doesn't this contradict Scriptures such as Deuteronomy 24:16, stating that children are not to be put to death for their fathers, but that a person "shall be put to death for his own sin."?
A: This question has puzzled many over the years. To fully understand what God is saying in Exodus 20:5, let us read the entire passage in context, beginning with verse 4:
"(4) You shall not make for yourself a carved image… (5) you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, (6) but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments."
A: Many years ago, the Church of God, under Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, the late Pastor General of the Church, made the administrative decision to ask Church members and co-workers to send one tenth of their second tithe to the Church, to be used for necessary Feast of Tabernacles expenses, including rental for Church halls. Since then, the Church has usually referred to this amount as the "tithe of the tithe." Church members and co-workers were asked to calculate their second tithe available to them at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, and to send ten percent of that (calculated) amount to the Church, in advance, as soon as possible. This practice has allowed the Church to avoid using for the payment of Feast expenses general contributions received to be spent for the preaching of
A: It is wrong. Such words are known as "euphemisms," which are defined as the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for another felt to be too blunt or offensive.
God instructs us not to take His name in vain (Exodus 20:7). To casually use expressions such as "My God," "O my Lord," or "Jesus Christ," just to utter surprise or emphasis, is therefore clearly prohibited. So is the casual use of a common German welcome greeting ("Gruess Gott" or "Gott zum Gruss"-- meaning, "Greet God" or "God as a greeting"), or the casual use of the French or Spanish farewell expressions, "adieu" or "adios" (both meaning, "to God").
A: The Bible is very explicit, for important reasons, to enjoin the newly married couple to live separate from their parents. We read about this Biblical injunction at the institution of the marriage, in Genesis 2:24, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Later, in Matthew 19:5, Jesus Christ quotes this very Scripture with approval, to explain and to uphold the sanctity of the marriage relationship.
A: In Daniel 4, king Nebuchadnezzar tells Daniel about a dream. The king had seen "a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven." (verse 13). This "watcher" had proclaimed "a decision" that had been made "by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men.'" (verse 17). Daniel interprets the dream to the king, explaining to him that because of his pride, he will have to live for seven years with the animals. He states in verse 23, "... the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven... this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king..."
A. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 reads, "When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man's wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance."
A: Leviticus 25:1-7 reads:
A: Leviticus 19:17 states, "You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him." Other translations render this, "...so that you do not share in his guilt," or, "participate in his sin."
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, ed. 1961, make the following insightful comments regarding this passage:
"Instead of cherishing latent feelings of malice or meditating purposes of revenge against a person who has committed an insult or injury against them, God's people were taught to remonstrate with the offender and endeavor, by calm and kindly reason, to bring him to a sense of his fault."
The specific term, "Ancient of Days," is used in Daniel 7:9, 13, and 22. As with the term "Yahweh" (see the Q&A in our Update of November 29), it seems to be referring to both the Father and Jesus Christ.
In Daniel 7:9-14, we read that "thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated...And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion..."
This passage identifies the Ancient of Days as the Father, and the "One like the Son of Man" as Jesus Christ, appearing before the Father in heaven after His resurrection. However, Daniel 7:21-22, when speaking of the "Ancient of Days," seems to be talking about the returning Christ:
Both are correct.
In most cases, when using the expression, "the LORD" ["Yahweh" in the Hebrew, basically meaning "The Eternal" or "The Everliving One"], the Old Testament refers to the One Who later became known as the Son, Jesus Christ. There are statements, however, which use the expression "Yahweh" for the One Who later became known as "the Father." This also proves that both the Father and Jesus Christ have always been God beings, and that the Old Testament teaches that there is more than just one God being.
Notice Jeremiah 23:5-6, which uses the term "Yahweh" for both God beings in the same context:
This passage of Scripture has indeed puzzled many people. Proverbs 26:4 reads: "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him." Verse 5 adds: "Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes."
The Bible teaches that God creates both good and "evil." Isaiah 45:7 reads (quoted from the Authorized Version throughout), "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." We are also being told in Jeremiah 6:19, "Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not harkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it." (The New King James Bible translates the Hebrew word for "evil" with "calamity" in both passages. The Hebrew word ("ra") is the same, though, as used in Genesis 2 to describe the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.)
These are not the words of a pacifist." Could you please explain this passage in light of your strong stance against Christian participation in war?
A: Luke 22:35-38 reads in context:
"And He said to them, 'When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?' So they said, 'Nothing.' [God took care of them.] Then He said to them, 'But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: "And He was numbered with the transgressors." For the things concerning Me have an end.' So they said: 'Lord, look, here are two swords.' And He said to them: 'It is enough.'"
There are different Biblical principles involved. We believe that the following will best express our religious convictions against participating in jury duty:
In your new booklet, "And Lawlessness Will Abound...", you are referring, on page 11, to the "law of jealousy," as quoted in Numbers 5:29-30, as a "ritualistic procedure" to determine whether a wife had committed adultery or not. What is that "spirit of jealousy"? Is this law still to be applied and practiced today? If not, how are we in the Church to determine whether a wife is guilty of adultery or not?
Matthew 24:34 is not dealing with the same set of events as in chapter 16:28. Note the context of Matthew 24 and 25. In verse 3 of the 24th chapter, the disciples of Christ asked him the following: " 'Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age.' " Christ then goes on to answer them by pointing out events that literally span the entire church age, but He deals primarily with those events that signal His imminent return to the earth.
Paul is talking here about rulers in general, who uphold certain laws to guarantee a civil and peaceful harmonious lifestyle amongst their citizens. Paul is referring to the submission to and the enforcement of civil and criminal laws, such as theft or murder.
Isn't the Sabbath for the Jews only, and didn't God introduce the Sabbath to the Jews for the first time in Exodus 16?
It is not correct that the Sabbath is mentioned for the first time in Exodus 16, or that God introduced the Sabbath to the people at that time. The Sabbath is mentioned in the very second chapter of the Bible, where God set it aside as HOLY, to be USED by man for a HOLY purpose.
Can you please explain how the term "Apostle" should be used today in light of its usage in the New Testament?
Jesus Christ is the only individual who is referred to in Scripture as "the" Apostle (Hebrews 3:1). Paul and Peter refer to themselves as "an" apostle," or, as "an apostle of Jesus Christ." (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 9:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 12:12; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:1; 1:11; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1).
We received last week an interesting question regarding our use of the word "Lucifer." We are sharing our response with you:
In the Hebrew, the word translated as "Lucifer" in the King James Bible and many other translations, is "helel," or "heylel," and means, according to Strong's, Young's, and other commentaries, "lightbringer," "shining one," "morning star"," or "shining star of the dawn."
Editor's Note: We are receiving interesting questions from new people in response to our advertisement campaigns. We recently answered one question regarding the biblical teaching that Lucifer and his angels occupied the earth prior to man. We are sharing our response with you:
When Adam and Eve were created and placed in the Garden of Eden, the serpent was already there, in order to deceive Eve. The serpent is later identified as Satan the devil (Rev. 12:9). But Satan was not always Satan.
Editor's Note: We are receiving interesting questions from new people in response to our advertisement campaigns. We recently answered one of the many questions, regarding the biblical teaching on a secret rapture. We are sharing parts of our response with you:
The bible nowhere teaches two comings of Christ - or a secret rapture to heaven. The passage alluded to by some, that He will come as a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:1-4), describes the timing of His coming - the world will not expect His return at that time. It does not talk about the manner of His coming (visibly or secretly). Compare also Matthew 24:36-44.
Is it in accordance with the Bible for Christian women to give sermons or Bible studies, or to publish, or have published, their Biblical or spiritual articles?
The Bible is very clear that such conduct would be in violation of Scripture. We are setting forth below excerpts from pages 13-14 of our booklet, "The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families":
As we point out in our booklet, "Should You Fight in War?," it is wrong for a Christian to take the life of another human being in war or otherwise, including in "self-defense." But does this mean that a Christian must do NOTHING when he or a loved one is being attacked? The Bible does not say that at all. In fact, we have a tremendous responsibility for action in those kinds of circumstances--but we must know what exactly is required of us. Most will disagree with the following comments, because human nature is unwilling and incapable of obeying God and His Law. True Christians have no alternative but to do exactly what God commands--however unpopular and difficult and even wrong in the eyes of man this approach might be.
There is no inconsistency, but we must understand the context of the passages involved.
Titus 1:2 tells us: "... in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began." God CANNOT lie. In other words, it is IMPOSSIBLE for Him to do so. Malachi 3:6 adds: "For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob." God's character does not--CANNOT--change, because God has WILLED not to change in that respect. Since He has a perfect Will and a perfect character, He CANNOT do something against His own nature. It is impossible for God to sin because He has WILLED never to sin. And His Will is perfect. To put it still differently, God CAN DECIDE to make something impossible with Him.
Over the years, there has been much speculation about the identify of the "two witnesses." Some fanciful and some down-right ridiculous concepts have been advanced, and there have been people at all times--it seems--claiming that they are one of the "two witnesses", or that they know who they are.
The truth is that it has not been revealed yet who the two witnesses will be--and we strongly hold that those who may believe that THEY ARE the two witnesses are misled and are misleading others.
Surprising as it may sound to some, the Bible nowhere identifies a particular person as "the Antichrist." Even though religious preachers and programs may be talking about the "coming Antichrist," they really misapply certain Scriptures to promulgate such a false concept.
It is correct that the Bible says that two individuals, called the "beast" and the "false prophet," will appear on the world scene, and that Satan will use them, as his instruments, to bring havoc to this world. Scriptures also refer to the "false prophet" as the "man of sin," and they speak of the "beast" as the "king of the north" or "King Jareb of Assyria." But the Bible nowhere says that either one of those two persons--either the "beast" or the "false prophet"-- is "THE Antichrist."
While "forever" may indeed convey an absolute sense of being perpetual or interminable, "forever" is also used metaphorically and in a conditional sense.
The Hebrew word that is translated many times as "forever, is "owlam." It can be found in Daniel 12:2. In this case, the English word "everlasting" is used to translate the Hebrew word "owlam": "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to everlasting contempt." This prophesied occurrence speaks of a future time when the fate of many humans will be decided on a perpetual and eternal basis.
It is important to understand exactly WHO did resurrect Jesus Christ, and that the Scripture reveals the truth in this matter.
This is absolutely incorrect. Under the law, you are entitled to be excused from serving on a jury, if you have sincere religious convictions, based on the Bible, which prevent you from serving on a jury. You might be excused by a clerk, once you make your request in writing, or you may be required to appear before a judge to explain to him or her your sincere religious convictions. Our Q&A in Update # 66 (Update ending Friday, November 8, 2002), explains in detail the grounds for Biblical refusal to serve on a jury.
Christ knew very clearly what He was saying, and He was by no means uneducated or incorrect about His statements regarding the proverbial mustard seed.
He stated in Matthew 13:31-32:
"Another parable He put forth to them, saying: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."
Even though God COULD know everything, He has decided NOT to know--generally speaking--how we will act under pressure. God's purpose is to create in us holy righteous character, which requires free moral agency and the opportunity to chose right from wrong. God tests us to see HOW we will act--that is, He tests us to get to know us better in the process of our overcoming the wrong way and accepting and living the right way. Since God knows even the secrets of our hearts (Psalm 44:21) and our thoughts (Psalm 94:11), He knows what kind of trials He can bring upon us, so that we CAN pass them, and which would not be too difficult for us to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). [Please read pages 58-69 in our free booklet-- "Teach Us To Pray!"
Even though the Bible nowhere states explicitly that the ancient house of Israel kept Sunday, it is very clear from the implicit record that they did. It is also clear that God punished them severely for this practice. We know that they abandoned the weekly Sabbath--the seventh day of the week (from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset). This was one reason why they went into slavery. We also know that they were guilty of idolatry, e.g., Baal worship. And historical records prove that Baal--the sun god--was worshipped on his day, Sunday, the first day of the week. In fact, Baal, the pagan sun god, was worshipped under many different names throughout man's history.
In the vast majority of Biblical passages, the terms "all" or "every" are all-inclusive and don't allow for exceptions, but this is not always the case. The fact that Bible commentaries and interpreters have IGNORED this vital truth, has misled them to reach doctrinally incorrect conclusions. It is also very critical to read passages in context, and in consideration of other passages which might shed more light on a given subject. Failing to do so might lead to wrong concepts.
The Bible uses the word "elder" in many different connections. In each case, the context will show, however, how the word is to be understood.
"The Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words," by W.E.Vine, gives a fairly accurate description of the meaning of the word "elder," with the exception of several related or unrelated blatant mistakes, as will be pointed out by us through annotations in brackets:
Vine's commentary states the following:
"1. PRESBUTEROS..., an adjective, the comparative degree of 'presbus,' an old man, an elder, is used
"(a) of age, whether of the elder of two persons, Luke 15:25, or more, John 8:9, 'the eldest';
"or of a person advanced in life, a senior, Acts 2:17;
The answer may very well be YES! In fact, no matter how many times you may have been ceremonially baptized, the crucial question is whether or not you followed all that the Bible requires in order to have a valid baptism.
It is true that many church organizations that nominally claim to be based on Biblical Christianity also include baptism in one form or another.
Although this might be surprising to some at first sight, the answer is clearly, "Yes." Here is why:
In John 1:1, we read that the "Word" ("Logos" in Greek, meaning Speaker or Spokesman) was with God (the Father), and that the Word was also God. That is, both God (the Father) and the Word were members of the Godhead--they were both God Beings. Verse 3 tells us that "all things were made" through the Word, and verse 14 explains that "the Word BECAME flesh and dwelt among us"--as the "only begotten of the Father." So, clearly, the "WORD" was none other than the second Member of the Godhead, Who became a human being.
It is important to understand that true Christians are called out of this present evil world--its governments, administrations, laws and philosophies--in order to be different. They are set aside for the holy purpose of living a righteous life in this world, and preparing for the soon-coming Kingdom of God, which will be established on this earth when Jesus Christ returns. True Christians are to live under the law of God and His government, to which they must have their first allegiance.
Even though our Western societies reckon days from midnight to midnight, and some even define a day as the period from morning to night, this is a purely human invention. The Bible is very clear that days are to be counted from sunset to sunset. For instance, the Sabbath, the last day of the week, is to be counted from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.
Set forth are excerpts from our booklet, "God's Commanded Holy Days":
The Bible teaches both. Unfortunately, many modern English translations--including the New King James Bible--have clouded the meaning by falsely rendering certain Scriptural passages.
In writing to the Christians living in Colosse, a city in western Turkey, Paul addressed the unique revelation that they, as converted Christians, had received the Holy Spirit—that is, that Jesus Christ was living within them through the Holy Spirit--and this fact was their assurance of the hope for eternal life.
In verses 24 and 25 of Colossians 1, Paul speaks of the Church of God by calling it the “body” of Christ. He also addresses the fact that he, Paul, had become a minister of the word of God. In this context, he continues addressing these faithful brethren:
The Scriptural passage in question is found in 2 Peter 3:17-18, which reads:
"... beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
Grace has been commonly understood as unmerited pardon--especially in connection with the forgiveness of sin. God forgives us our sins, not because we deserve to be forgiven, but because of Christ's sacrifice. However, the Greek word for "grace" conveys a much broader concept than just the "unmerited pardoning of sins."
Let us, first of all, understand that the Bible clearly teaches that God HEALS our sicknesses and diseases. To quote from a prior Q&A:
"He tells us in Exodus 15:26, 'If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.'
"We are also told how healing from sickness has been made possible. We are healed by the stripes of Jesus Christ who gave His life for us, and who was tortured and beaten so that we can obtain forgiveness of our sins and healing from our sicknesses and diseases (Psalm 103:1-3; Matthew 8:16-17; 1 Peter 2:21-25; Isaiah 53:5).
Exodus 23:20-23 reads, in the Authorized Version:
"Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off."
It is true that the Old Testament contains references to God using the term "Father." It is also true that, most generally, the One who dealt DIRECTLY with Israel was the same Personage who was the Son, Jesus Christ--not the One known today as "the Father."
However, in Isaiah 9:6, we find a notable prophecy about Jesus Christ that includes several of His "names" or "designations":
"For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Amos 8:11-12 reads:
“'Behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord God, 'That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of HEARING the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it.”
Some have concluded that this passage tells us that in the future, God's Word--the gospel of the kingdom of God--will NOT be preached anymore to the world. However, that conclusion would be inconsistent with Christ's prophecy in Matthew 24:14, which says: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."
The astounding truth is, YES! There are a multitude of prophetic statements throughout the Word of God that very specifically speak of our day--the generation living just before the promised return of Jesus Christ! However, many who claim to be ministers, teachers or students of the Bible dismiss much of the Old Testament as irrelevant and outdated--especially when it comes to prophetic sections.
The question of God's omnipresence has puzzled men for centuries and millennia, and diverse and sometimes incredible answers have been proposed.
One common idea in Orthodox Christianity is that God, as a Spirit being, is everywhere, as allegedly, Spirit has no form or shape--no limitations--no "parts." God is understood to be--even though proponents of that idea would oppose such wording--a formless or shapeless "blob"--permeating everything.
In Matthew 18:20, Christ said: "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." It is important to note the context. Christ's comments in verse 20 follow the description of the proper procedure for conflict resolution between brethren. At least two of our Updates address this issue, including the fact that Christ gave the final authority to the ministry, to disfellowship or excommunicate an unrepentant brother or sister --and not to the entire membership. Verse 20 must be read in this context--it does not address at all the question of Church attendance.
The Nelson Study Bible explains:
Matthew 7:6 reads as follows:
"Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."
We need to state, first of all, that the Bible compares the truth about the Kingdom of God with a precious pearl (Matthew 13:45-46). At the same time, "dogs" or "swine" describe debased and quarrelsome people, filled with anger and hostility toward God and His Law (Philippians 3:2; 2 Peter 2:22; Revelation 22:15).
Barnes has the following insightful comments regarding the meaning of this passage:
Christ said in Matthew 24:21: "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be." Notice the time frame--the Great Tribulation will begin at the time when the "abomination of desolation" will be observed standing in the holy place (verse 15). At that time, the "man of sin"--a false religious leader--will be sitting in the temple of God in Jerusalem, claiming to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:2-4). This will coincide when Jerusalem's desolation has drawn near, as it will be attacked and made desolate by Gentile armies (compare Luke 21:20-24).
First of all, our stance against serving on a jury is based on many Biblical passages, not just on the requirement of two eye witnesses. Even if two honest eye witnesses were available to testify against an accused, a true Christian should still not participate in the jury system of this world. For a further in-depth discussion of this vital question, please read our Q&A's in Updates #289 and #66.
In Update #66, we state, indeed, the following, after having discussed numerous additional principles prohibiting true Christians to serve on a jury:
There can be little doubt what Revelation 17:9 describes. The previous verses in the same chapter talk about a fallen woman sitting on a scarlet-colored beast, with seven heads and ten horns. As we explain in our free booklet, "Europe in Prophecy," the scarlet-colored beast on which the woman sits depicts the last seven revivals of the ancient Roman Empire.
In Biblical terminology, a religious entity is many times depicted as a woman. The true Church of God is identified as a woman (Revelation 12:6, 13-17); a virgin (2 Corinthians 11:2); and the wife of Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:7). Likewise, Christ's true followers are identified as "virgins" (Matthew 25:1; Revelation 14:4).
This statement by Jesus Christ highlights a misunderstood truth that very few have comprehended, about the purpose and message of Jesus Christ, as well as the conduct of His followers--those who would claim to be Christians.
In an earlier account, Jesus pointedly contrasted His origin to that of the Jews who heard His preaching (Compare John 8:21-30). What He addressed were their actions, their lifestyle--their very way of living. He plainly said that they were "'...OF this world'" (John 8:23); while, on the other hand, He emphatically stated that He was "'...NOT OF this world'" (Same verse).
To clarify, our stance against serving on a jury is based on many Biblical passages and principles, not just on the requirement of two witnesses. For an in-depth discussion on this issue, please read our Q&A in Update #289.
The throne of David does exist on earth. To show where it is located today, let us consider the following facts:
(1) We are told that the scepter--a symbol of kingship, compare the margin in the New King James Bible--was given to Judah.
Genesis 49:10: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah... Until Shiloh [the Messiah, Jesus Christ] comes."
(2) We are told that David's "seed" or descendants would rule or have dominion over Israel. This could be fulfilled in ANY of the tribes of "Israel"--the name given to Jacob by God (Compare Genesis 32:28; 35:10). We are specifically told that God would establish the throne of David's kingdom forever over Israel, in his son Solomon.
We are glad to explain this highly misunderstood topic in detail. As we will see, the Bible clearly teaches THREE resurrections--not just one.
Paul was inspired by God to write in 1 Corinthians 15:20-26:
The indications are that they will. Although there have been feeble attempts to build a new Temple ever since the destruction of the Second Temple of God by the Roman army in 70 AD, none have been successful—to date!
Some historical and contemporary background will shed light on the ongoing desire of Jews to once again establish a Temple in Jerusalem, which would include daily animal sacrifices in accordance with Old Testament guidelines, which are clearly revealed to commence soon in Jerusalem, before they are suppressed again by an invading power (compare Daniel 12:11).
Even though many professing Christians believe that the Ten Commandments are no longer binding on us today, and although some Biblical "scholars" quote, amongst other Scriptures, the book of Galatians as evidence for such assumptions, the Bible totally rejects and disproves such ideas.
It does not. Please look carefully at the context of the passage in light of other Biblical evidence.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 reads:
Although in the vast majority of cases, men have been sitting on the throne of David, it is indeed correct that on a few occasions, a woman, rather than a man, occupied the throne.
We are told that the Kingdom of Great Britain was formed on May 1, 1707, with the merger of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, which had been in personal union under the House of Stuart since 1603. In 1801 Great Britain merged with the Kingdom of Ireland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. After most of Ireland left the union in 1922, in 1927 its name was amended to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Christ's statements are not inconsistent, but they complement each other. Please understand that Christ was addressing two different sets of circumstances.
In the passage in Mark 9:40, we read the following, beginning with verse 38: "Now John answered Him, saying, 'Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.' (verse 39) But Jesus said, 'Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. (verse 40) For he who is not against us is on our side.'" Compare, too, Luke 9:49-50.
The answer to this question depends on many different circumstances.
As a general statement, God makes it very clear that His tithing laws are still in force and effect today, and that He commands us to tithe to Him. For a full explanation and discussion of this vital question, please read our free booklet, "Tithing-Today?"
In our booklet, we also discuss how to calculate God's tithe. We state the following, which sets forth the teaching of the Church of God for many years:
They should not.
New Year’s Day celebrations are linked to pagan customs and even demonic activities. Professor Philippe Walter’s book, “Christianity—the Origins of a Pagan Religion,” copyright 2003, 2006, makes several startling statements about the real origins of New Year’s Day, as well as its customs.
Walter explains the pagan belief that by the end of December and on “New Year’s Day” (January 1), “fairies… enter the homes of those who worship them… One must take pains to prepare the meal that should be offered to them in a clean and isolated room…”
A German magazine, PM, wrote the following about New Year’s Day, and the customs associated with New Year’s Day, in an article, titled, “What is special about New Year’s?”:
Matthew 22:23-30 reads:
These chapters describe an attack of Gentile countries against "Israel." Some have concluded that this attack will occur PRIOR to the return of Jesus Christ. Others believe that it is the same attack which is described in the 20th chapter of the book of Revelation; that is, at the END of the Millennium or about 1,000 years AFTER Christ's return.
Many have been confused about the scroll with seven seals (compare Revelation 5:1), and they have tried to attach human interpretations to them. But John saw, in a vision, that no one was able to break and explain the seven seals, except for the Lamb, Jesus Christ (compare Revelation 5:3, 5-7, 9; 6:1). We therefore need to turn to Jesus Christ's Words in order to understand the seven seals. And IF we accept the explanations of Jesus, as written, then the meaning becomes very clear.
We have already written about this subject in two previous Updates (Update #157 and #187). We explained that it has long been understood and taught by God’s Church that Christ’s message to the seven churches has at least a three-fold application. First, it relates to seven literal churches or church congregations in Asia Minor at the time of John. Then, it describes the history of the Church in seven distinct prophetic "Church eras" from the time of John until Christ’s return. And finally, it points out character traits of spiritual strength and weakness of God’s people throughout the existence of the New Testament Church. Christ’s message to the seven churches, although in some
Even though the ancients in Old Testament times did swear, the New Testament tells us that we should not do so today.
We read Christ's words in Matthew 5:33-37: "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.' But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one."
In the thirteenth chapter of the book of Revelation, two "beasts" are described. As we will see, these are symbolic descriptions of powerful world empires.
1) The First Beast (Revelation 13:1-10):
Beginning with Revelation 13:1, John sees in a vision a fantastic beast rising out of the sea, which has seven heads and ten horns, and on his head ten crowns. This reminds us of Satan’s description in Revelation 12:3 as "a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns..." Revelation 12:9 identifies the dragon as Satan the devil. This shows that Satan is giving his power to the beast (compare Revelation 13:2, 4).
Chapters 17 and 18 of the book of Revelation need to be read together with Revelation 13. We discussed the events in Revelation 13 in the Q&A in our last Update (#329). We pointed out that the first beast, which is described in Revelation 13 as having seven heads and ten horns, identified past military and economic resurrections--as well as one still future resurrection--of the ancient Roman Empire in continental Europe. We explained that the second beast, which is also described in Revelation 13, is identified as a religious power. It is depicted as working hand in hand with some of the political and military resurrections or revivals of the first beast. We showed that the first "beast" can describe the revived Roman system, as
We find two references in the Bible about the Nicolaitans, and they are both contained in the second chapter of the book of Revelation. In His message to the church of Ephesus, Jesus Christ says in Revelation 2:6: "But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." Again, in His message to the church of Pergamos, He says in Revelation 2:15: "Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate."
Much has been speculated about the origin and exact nature of the Nicolaitans and their teaching.
The question as to the exact identity of the 144,000 and the great multitude, as well as the woman and the dragon, has puzzled many over the decades and centuries.
1) The 144,000 and the Great Multitude in Revelation 7:
We are told in Revelation 21 that John sees in a vision that God will create a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21: 1; compare 2 Peter 3:13; Isaiah 65:17-18; 66:22; Psalm 102:25-26)—apparently after this earth and the heavens have been burned up (compare 2 Peter 3:7, 10). There will be no more sea on the new earth (Revelation 21:1)
This particular passage has caused great confusion for many readers, and has prompted some Christians to adopt wrong and unbiblical teachings.
This is what Jesus said in Mark 9:43-48:
The most complete summary of the Holy Days given by God and to be observed by His people is found in Leviticus 23. Carefully note how the first two verses introduce these special days:
“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying. ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: “THE FEASTS OF THE LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are MY FEASTS”’” (Leviticus 23:1-2).
We find that, in New Testament times, certain local congregations apparently had a Passover meal in Church before partaking of the Passover symbols of bread and wine, as can be seen in the passage in 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 (Authorized Version):
The use of the term "Lord's Supper" for our observance of the New Testament Passover is not biblical--and it only adds to the confusion surrounding the CORRECT observance of the New Testament Passover.
The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:23-24: "For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He BROKE it and said, 'Take, eat; this is [meaning "represents"] My body which is BROKEN for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'"
John 19:31-37 reports that at the time of Christ's crucifixion, a soldier pierced His side with a spear and killed Him. When other soldiers came to break the legs of Christ and the two robbers, they noticed that Christ had already died. Therefore, they did not break His legs. Verse 36 informs us that "these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, 'Not one of His bones shall be broken.'"
When the disciples heard that marriage was for life, and that it can only be dissolved under very limited circumstances, they responded, "If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry" (Matthew 19:10). Jesus answered that "all cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given" (verse 11). He continued, in verse 12:
"For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it."
First of all, we need to understand that the Bible commands God's disciples to eat a piece of unleavened bread and drink a small portion of red wine ONCE a year--at the annual festival of Passover. When Jesus instituted the new symbols of bread and wine, replacing thereby the Old Testament Passover lamb, He did so during the evening of Passover (Matthew 26:18-20; compare Luke 22:11-20). Christ did not teach that we should partake of the symbols of bread and wine, in memory of His Sacrifice, any time we please. It is to be observed annually--once a year (compare Leviticus 23:4-5).
Let us read the entire context of Christ's sayings. Christ introduced the topic in reference to the scribes and the Pharisees (verse 2), but His application of His words were obviously much broader. He said, beginning in verse 6:
The Scripture in question is Matthew 23:10, which reads: "And do not be called teachers, for One is your Teacher, the Christ."
However, as you rightly point out, there are several passages, which speak of ministers as teachers.
For instance, 1 Corinthians 12:28-29 reads:
"And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers... Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?..."
Ephesians 4:11-13 confirms:
"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith..."
Let us note and review carefully what Christ said in Luke 14:26: "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."
However, Christ also commanded us to love even our enemies (Luke 6:27), and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). As the Bible does not contradict itself (John 10:35), it is therefore obvious that Jesus' sayings in Luke 14:26 cannot mean that we actually are to HATE our fellow man. But what DO they mean?
Let us read Christ's sayings in Matthew 8:21-22 in context, beginning with verse 19:
"Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, 'Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.'... Then another of His disciples said to Him, 'Lord, let me first go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, 'Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.'"
The parallel passage in Luke 9:59-60 reveals that Christ was calling this man into the ministry, challenging Him to "Follow Me... [and to] go and preach the kingdom of God."
Philippians 1:12-18 reads, in context:
The answer to this question might be quite surprising to some who have never heard the truth before. The fact is, a Roman soldier KILLED Christ by piercing His side with a spear. Notice what happened.
The following is excerpted from our free booklet, "Jesus Christ--A Great Mystery," pages 78 and 79:
"How Did Christ Die?
"... Christ died by shedding His blood (Mark 14:24), and it is through His precious shed blood that we can be saved (1 Peter 1:18–19).
The answer to all of these questions is a resounding, "No."
Regarding pictures, images or statues of Christ (including those which picture Him on the cross), we clearly read that we are not to have images of God (Exodus 20:4). Since Jesus is God (John 1:1; Hebrews 1:8; Titus 2:13), the creation and use of images or pictures of Christ violates this express prohibition.
In the thirteenth chapter of the book of Revelation, John sees two "beasts.” These are symbolic descriptions of powerful world empires.
Beginning with Revelation 13:1, John sees in a vision a fantastic beast rising out of the sea, which has seven heads and ten horns. This beast received a deadly wound, but was healed. We explained in previous Q&A's and some of our booklets, that this beast describes the Roman Empire at the time of John, its subsequent fall and its ten revivals or resurrections throughout history until the time of Christ's return. The last and tenth resurrection is unfolding in Europe right now before our very eyes. (For more information, please read, for example, our free booklet, "Europe in Prophecy.")
We don't believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, appeared to anyone after she had died in the first century. Mary is dead and buried, sleeping the sleep of death in her grave, and awaiting her resurrection to eternal life at the time of Christ's return. The Bible makes it very clear that all who died in Christ will be resurrected when Christ comes back to this earth--not before then (compare 1 Corinthians 15:22-23, 50-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). As we explain in our free booklet, "Do We Have an Immortal Soul?", those who die sleep a dreamless sleep of death, without any knowledge, activity, consciousness or thought. For this reason alone, Mary could not have really appeared to anyone after she had died.
Before attempting to address those numbers, we need to understand--as we pointed out in detail in previous Q&As--that we do not know the exact day of Christ's return. Matthew 24:44 reads: "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." In Mark 13:32-33, we read Christ's words: "But of that DAY and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is." Neither Christ, nor God's angels, nor we "know" [present tense!] the DAY and the HOUR of His coming. Christ seems to be saying that we won't know the exact time -- a phrase broader than just a 24-hour-day. The reason for this conclusion is given in Acts 1:6-7:
We read in Romans 8:29-30 that God will glorify those whom He has called in this day and age. It is explained in verse 29 that He predestined those whom He foreknew "to be conformed to the image of His Son." Even though the Scripture says, in verse 30, that He already "glorified" them, this is still a future event, but it is absolutely certain to occur.
John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible explains that "they are already glorified in Christ, their head and representative... It is an observation of a Jewish writer... that a thing 'which is decreed to be', is spoken of in the past tense: 'this is the Scripture style concerning things decreed, and such is the glorification of all God's elect.'"
Actually, this question has puzzled quite a few people. It is important to read all the relevant passages in context.
We read in Matthew 26:27-29 that Jesus gave wine to the disciples, symbolizing His shed blood for the forgiveness of sins. The entire passage reads (Authorized Version throughout, unless otherwise mentioned):
"And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament [covenant], which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."
Some have concluded that Jesus was Mary's only child, and that He therefore asked John to take care of His mother after His death, as there was nobody else in His immediate family who could have done so. However, this is not what the Bible teaches.
We read in John 19:25-27:
"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother... When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold your son!' Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother!' And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home."
The particular passage in question is found in John 8:3-11. It reads, in context (emphasis added):
It most certainly is not, even though some within orthodox Christianity teach this false idea. The biblical teaching, however, is altogether different.
It is true that God WANTS those to be in His Kingdom whom He calls to salvation. And as we explain in our booklet, "Are You Predestined to Be Saved?", God is confident that His disciples WILL "make it" into His kingdom (compare Philippians 1:6). He knows that all those whom He has called now CAN make it. We even read that God has already "glorified" them (Romans 8:30), even though their glorification is still in the future. God is so confident that they will be glorified that He speaks of that future event as something which has already occurred (compare Romans 4:17).
Hebrews 10:24-26 reads, in context:
"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. For if we sin willfully, after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins."
We can clearly see from this passage that Paul warns us not to forsake the "assembling of ourselves together," as the consequence of doing so could lead to our committing the unpardonable sin.
What is meant by, "assembling of ourselves together"?
Note the following renderings, which make the intended meaning clearer:
Actually, Christ's words, as quoted above in the book of Matthew, are also recorded in Mark 13:30 and in Luke 21:32. Christ had been asked privately by four of His disciples (Mark 13:3) "... when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3). Christ proceeded to describe events which would take place, leading to His Second Coming and to the end of THIS age and the beginning of the Millennium--the NEW age of the wonderful world tomorrow.
The short answer is, "Yes." Before discussing this biblical fact in more detail, let us just emphasize that there is hierarchy in God's Church. This is more fully explained in our Q&A on "hierarchical government." God has decreed that His Church be led or "governed" by His true and faithful ministry, as discussed in our Q&A on "ministerial authority."
With that background, let us answer the question regarding ranks within the ministry.
Especially two Scriptures, i.e. Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:28, show that God has ordained ministerial "ranks" within His Church. These passages read as follows:
Several visions are recorded in the book of Zechariah. Some commentaries try to interpret these visions by limiting them to events at the time of Zechariah. However, as the book deals with the end time and the return of Jesus Christ (compare Zechariah 14:1 ff), it must be viewed, foremost, as containing prophecies for our time today.
In this light, let us review Zechariah's vision of the woman in a basket, as recorded in Zechariah 5:5-11, where we read:
As we mentioned in our Q&A in Update #359, when discussing Zechariah's vision of the woman in a basket (Zechariah 5:5-11), Zechariah's visions must be viewed, foremost, as containing prophecies for us today.
In Zechariah 5:1-4, we read the following:
As we mentioned in previous Updates (360 and 359) when discussing Zechariah's visions of the "woman in the basket" and the "flying scroll," as recorded in the fifth chapter, Zechariah's visions must be viewed, foremost, as containing prophecies for us today.
In Zechariah 6:1-8, the following is recorded:
As stated in previous Updates, (361, 360 and 359) when discussing Zechariah's visions of the "woman in the basket," the "flying scroll" and "the four chariots," as recorded in the fifth and sixth chapters, Zechariah's visions must be viewed, foremost, as containing prophecies for us today and our immediate future.
Zechariah 1:18-21 states:
As explained in previous Updates, when discussing Zechariah's visions of the "woman in the basket," "the flying scroll," "the four chariots," and the "four horns and the four craftsmen," as recorded in chapters 6, 5 and 1, respectively, of the book of Zechariah, Zechariah's visions are to be viewed together and contain foremost prophecies for us today and for our immediate future.
While commentaries are divided as to the intended timing of some of the visions, virtually all agree that the vision of the "measuring line" applies to the future Millennium, when God's Kingdom will be established on this earth.
Zechariah 2:1-5 reads as follows:
As we explained in our last Update (#363), the vision of the "measuring line" clearly deals with prophetic events for us today and for our immediate future. It should therefore be self-evident that the statements immediately following that vision are likewise addressing events, which will shortly come to pass.
Zechariah 2:6-13 reads:
As is the case with all the visions given to Zechariah, the vision of the high priest relates foremost to our days--even though it might also refer to an initial and preliminary fulfillment at the time of Zechariah.
Zechariah 3:1-10 reads as follows:
Understanding the true application of what Jesus stated is vitally important, and far too many people misapply what is meant.
The exact quote from Matthew 16:27 is as follows: “‘For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.’”
This statement is amplified by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
The implication of Paul’s teaching points to how Christians fulfill their calling as members of the body of Christ—the Church of God (compare Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:24).
As we mentioned in previous Q&A's, the visions in the book of Zechariah relate foremost to our days--even though some of them might also refer to initial and preliminary fulfillments at the time of Zechariah.
Zechariah 4:1-14 reads as follows:
The question of the ultimate destiny of Satan and demons has been hotly debated for centuries and even millennia. However, just based on the revelation of the Bible, we cannot conclude that Satan and his fallen angels will ever cease to exist. If they will, then the Bible has simply not revealed that to us. What is revealed points clearly at a never-ending life of Satan and his demons, cut off from God and existing in the blackness of spiritual darkness forever.
We explain the fate of Satan and his demons in more detail in our free booklet, "Angels, Demons and the Spirit World," on pages 51 and 52. We are quoting below a few excerpts:
Numerous passages in the book of Zechariah and in other places in the Old and New Testament reveal that the city of Jerusalem will be facing a terrible time of destruction, but that it also will be subsequently blessed beyond human comprehension.
Jesus stated in Luke 21 that Jerusalem will be surrounded by Gentile armies which will make the city "desolate" (verse 20). He added that the city will be "trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (verse 24). We read in Daniel 11:41 that the "king of the North" -- a military leader -- will "enter the Glorious Land" and "plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain" (verse 45)--apparently establishing the city of Jerusalem as his new headquarters.
To properly understand what Paul is saying--and what he is not saying--let us read the entire passage of 1 Timothy 2:1-7, in context:
As we will see, there is no biblical evidence, which would support this conclusion. We should, first of all, notice, that Christ did NOT say that Peter would be the first Pope. A Scripture sometimes quoted for this assumption is Matthew 16:18. We discussed this passage in a previous Q&A, as follows:
"Christ said to Peter, beginning in Matthew 16:18: 'And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it...'
Bible translations are most certainly the way we can understand the Word of God in our own language. The Bible offers proof of this fact, and it further reveals additional keys that will determine whether or not we have true understanding of what is written.
On the Day of Pentecost, miraculous events took place that included the giving of God’s Holy Spirit. Note what occurred:
There are indeed numerous Scriptures in the Old Testament, including in the book of Zechariah, which give precise details on the appearance of the Messiah about 2,000 years ago. As those passages can be found throughout the pages of the Old Testament, this fact alone proves the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.
For instance, we find literally dozens of biblical references to Christ's First Coming in the book of Isaiah. We are just quoting a few selected examples:
As we will see, the entire Word of God that was written down to become a part of what is called the “Bible,” has been preserved through various copies and translations and is available to us, today!
However, the question arises as to which manuscripts should be included and actually constitute the true Scriptures of the Bible. Major religions differ on this most vital consideration. For instance, the Jewish religion uses only those books commonly called the Old Testament, Hebrew Bible or Tanakh. Modern copies are primarily based on the Masoretic Text that dates from between the seventh and tenth centuries AD. None of the New Testament books are accepted as a part of the Hebrew Bible.
As it is rightly pointed out in the question, the punishment, as described in the book of Zechariah, deals foremost with the MODERN descendants of the ancient houses of Israel and Judah. It will be inflicted on them just prior to the return of Jesus Christ.
We understand that the modern descendants of the houses of Israel and Judah include the peoples of the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as the modern Jews (who live inside and outside the state of Israel). For more information, please read our free booklet, "The Fall and Rise of Britain and America."
The famous woman Rahab who helped the spies at the time of Joshua, is clearly identified in the Bible as a harlot or a prostitute. This is the obvious conclusion, when we just accept the relevant Scriptures on their face value.
As a first step in answering this question, we need to consider what the New Testament is. Why is there even such a collection of books and letters that report on events from the first century A.D.? Are these merely the random writings of an influential religious movement that have found their way into the literature of the present time?
Or, as the New Testament claims for itself, is this part of the inspired Word of God? Understanding who preserved the New Testament adds even more proof about the unquestionable authority of this part of the Bible that we now possess!
What is the New Testament? Consider the following summary statement given in the “Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible,” Herbert Lockyer, Sr., Editor, 1986:
We explained in an earlier Q&A on Zechariah's vision of the four chariots (in Zechariah 6:1-8), as well as in our free booklet, "Angels, Demons and the Spirit World," that the horses mentioned in this first vision, as well as other visions in the book of Zechariah, describe angels or spirit beings. Angels can appear or manifest themselves in the form and shape of animals, including horses, as well as men. In Zechariah's first vision, which begins in Zechariah 1:8, angels manifest themselves both as men and as horses. Notice the exact wording:
When we read certain historical books, we may find something like the following narrative, as adopted from sources published on the Internet:
The process of canonization was complex and lengthy. In the first three centuries of the Christian Church, there was no New Testament canon that was universally recognized. Nevertheless, by the 2nd century there was a common collection of letters and gospels that a majority of church leaders considered authoritative. These contained the four gospels and many of the letters of Paul. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian (all 2nd century), held these to be on par with the Hebrew Scriptures as being divinely inspired. Other books were held in high esteem, but were gradually relegated to the status of New Testament apocrypha.
We mentioned in a prior Update, when discussing the vision of the High Priest Joshua in Zechariah 3:1-10, that Joshua is a type of Jesus Christ. This fact becomes even more obvious in the passage, which describes the coronation of Joshua.
Zechariah 6:9-15 reads:
The book of Zechariah is an extraordinary inspired book which contains unique insights into the workings and the mind of God.
Zechariah's Hebrew name, "Zekar-yah," means "Yahweh Remembers," or "Yahweh Has Remembered." This name is related to the message of the prophet: God remembers His people and will not forget their work for Him, if they follow Him faithfully.
The Apocrypha are a collection of books, which were written in Greek by various individuals from about 400 to 200 B.C. The Catholic Church considers some of these books as inspired Scripture.
At the Council of Trent (1546 A.D.), the Catholic Church declared that some apocryphal books, together with unwritten Catholic tradition, are of God. It was stated that those who disagreed with this decision were to be considered "anathema."
The Roman Catholic Church (as well as the Greek Orthodox Church) consider the following Apocrypha (which are also referred to as Deuterocanonical books) as inspired:
Tobit or Tobias
Wisdom of Solomon
Jesus Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)
Baruch (including the letter of Jeremiah, Baruch 6)
The book of Enoch belongs to the so-called Pseudepigrapha books and was apparently written during the first century B.C.--even though some claim that it was written before then.
The "Epistle of Barnabas" is not inspired. It was clearly not written by the Apostle Barnabas. Mosheim states in his "Ecclesiastical History" that the author "must have been a very different person from the true Barnabas, who was St. Paul's companion."
The epistle contains numerous Scriptural errors and should therefore not be considered as inspired. It was never referred to by Jesus or any of the New Testament writers as Scripture, and it was not included in the New Testament by the apostles. As we explained in a prior Q&A, the apostles Paul, Peter and John canonized the New Testament Scriptures, but the Epistle of Barnabas was not one of those books.
We do not consider the "Apostles' Creed" as inspired--neither in the form used by the Roman Catholic Church, nor in its numerous variations used by Protestant churches. Some claim that the "Apostles' Creed" is the oldest of all the Christian creeds. It is considered the basis of all other creeds in non-Catholic churches. As fairy tales would have it, some allege that each of the apostles supplied one article to the Creed. This claim is totally without merit. The apostles had nothing to do with formulating this Creed.
In "The Lost Books of the Bible," the following is explained:
The passage reads:
"But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death."
When and how does sin start? Does death only await us when sin is "full-grown"?
Vincent's Word Studies explains that the terms "drawn away" and "enticed" "are metaphors from hunting and fishing." It continues: "Drawn away, as beasts are enticed from a safecovert into a place beset with snares. Note the present participle, as indicating the progress of the temptation: 'is being drawn away.' Enticed-- As a fish with bait. Also the present participle."
We see, then, that a PROGRESSION is described.
As a first step in answering this puzzling question, we must understand that all of God’s commandments were given for the good of mankind! King David extolled God and continually praised Him for His Way: “…For all Your commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172).
Very specifically, God chose the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for a unique relationship with Him. Note what He offered to Israel:
“‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…’” (Exodus 19:5-6).
No. In John 10:35 it states that “the Scripture cannot be broken,” and so we must look for another explanation.
In John 18:13 Jesus was described as being brought to Annas, who was the father-in-law of the high priest at that time--Caiaphas. According to Josephus, Annas had been deposed of the high priesthood in 15 CE by Valerius Gratus, and Caiaphas was the high priest from 18 to 36 CE. However, other sources, as quoted below, state that Annas was dismissed as high priest in AD 23.
It is a Catholic custom to abstain from eating meat on "Good Friday" and to eat fish instead. Where did this custom originate?
First, let us examine the precise nature of this custom.
We are quoting from an Internet Website:
This fact has indeed puzzled quite a few people. While the world is engaged in Easter celebrations around this time, members of the Church of God are not. WHY NOT? Why would anyone claiming to be Christian not celebrate the most important festival of the "Christian" world, purportedly memorializing the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ? Simply put, because Easter is neither Christian, nor does it memorialize the death and resurrection of our Savior.
In fact, the Bible presents some very specific guidelines for the kinds of clothing and style that should be worn. In this Q&A, we are addressing the topic in a more general way. Subsequent Q&A's will address this topic, and related topics, in more detail.
While some may consider the Bible as being archaic, with little relevance for our day, quite the opposite is true! At the very outset, God gave man responsibility to care for the earthly realm (Compare Genesis 1:26-28). In particular, Adam was told to “tend and keep” the specially prepared Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15).
In last week's Q&A, we addressed some general principles regarding the kinds of clothing and style that should be worn. We emphasized the importance of right balance and modesty.
Paul also instructed the Church of God regarding the length of hair that both men and women should wear:
“Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God” (1 Corinthians 11:13-16).
Some have used this passage to teach a secret rapture just before or at the beginning of the Great Tribulation. However, that is not what Christ was referring to in this Scripture.
Mark 13:24-27 discusses the VISIBLE return of Jesus Christ (verse 26), AFTER the Great Tribulation and the heavenly signs (verse 24). Verse 27 reads: "And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of the earth to the farthest part of heaven."
In the past, we discussed at length the false teaching of a secret rapture. For more information, please re-read our Q&A on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
In that Q&A, we also wrote regarding Mark 13:27:
Surprising as it may seem, the Bible has indeed much to say about the existence of certain elusive creatures. It is entirely possible that some of these creatures, such as the "Loch Ness monster" in Scotland or similar "lake monsters" in other parts of the world, might exist today.
First of all, let us examine some interesting Scriptures which clearly describe animals, which are generally believed today to be myths or legends, or which are thought to have become extinct. Some have attempted to apply living known animals, or Satan, or world powers, to the biblical descriptions, but those attempts must be considered as totally inadequate.
We find in the ninth chapter of the book of Genesis that, following the great flood by which God wiped out all existing mankind, save Noah and his family, God made a covenant with Noah. In that covenant, God emphasized the sanctity of human life.
Genesis 9:5-6 reads: “Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning… from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.”
This question has been the cause of controversy for many centuries and generations. While one major Christian denomination teaches that the Holy Spirit only proceeds from the Father, but is given us through the Son, another major Christian denomination holds that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son.
To answer this question from the Bible, we must first of all realize that the Holy Spirit is not a Person or a Personage, but the POWER and the MIND of God. It is through the POWER of the Holy Spirit that God creates and acts, and mightily sustains what He has created. For more information on this vital subject, please read our free booklet, "Is God a Trinity?"
Although the biblical answer to this question is highly controversial, the Bible teaches very clearly that there is no other way to eternal salvation than through Jesus Christ. Non-christian religions reject this claim outright, and even many Christian organizations and denominations feel uncomfortable about this and think that they must apologize for the Scriptures and offer "alternatives," such as, "as long as we follow our conscience," or, "as long as we believe in someone or something," we are or will be saved.
Since we are not interested in humanly devised fables and interpretations, let us focus strictly on the clear teaching of the Bible.
The Bible does state that we can become part of the Israel of God in the following manner: “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16).
If we choose to follow the Way of God, completely and fully, by following the lead of God's Holy Spirit dwelling within us, then we are the Israel of God or, in other words, Godly Israel or Spiritual Israel.
The Bible uses this particular term only once, in Luke 21:24. It is important to notice the context.
Christ had been asked by some of His disciples when the temple would be destroyed (Luke 21:5-7). In reviewing the parallel passage in Matthew 24:1-3, we learn that they had also asked Him when the end of the age--the end of this present evil civilization--would occur, and when He would return--apparently believing that all of these events would be interconnected.
Christ began to warn of coming religious deception, wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences, and fearful sights and great signs from heaven. He explained that all these were the beginning of sorrows--the beginning of the end.
Much prophetic speculation has ensued pertaining to Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 4, but if we allow the Bible to interpret itself, the answer to the meaning of that dream becomes very clear.
Note, first, the following highlights from that chapter. We are told that Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which made him afraid (verse 5), but none of the "wise men of Babylon" could explain the meaning of the dream. Finally, Daniel was brought before the king (verse 8). We will recall that Daniel had explained to the king his first dream about a statue, as recorded in Daniel 2.
Over the years, many ideas have been advanced to the effect that Nebuchadnezzar's dream, as described in Daniel 4, has some kind of hidden prophetic meaning for us today. In the last Q&A, we discussed Nebuchadnezzar's dream in much detail. We pointed out that the dream referred to that ancient king and predicted his seven years of insanity to punish his pride. We showed that the dream was fulfilled, exactly as God had pronounced it, and that King Nebuchadnezzar subsequently repented of his pride at the time when his sanity was restored to him.
The Bible does not say specifically why Satan will attempt a second coup, but it does give us several hints and indications which we might want to consider.
Prior to the physical creation, God brought into being the spirit world of angels. After God had created the physical universe and the earth, an archangel named Lucifer was placed over one third of the angels here on earth to beautify it. This was long before man was created with the ultimate potential to become a full-fledged member of the God Family. Nothing is said in the Bible that Lucifer or any of the angels had that same potential which would later be given to man.
Actually, the command to bless others even though they may not seem worthy of our blessing is to be found throughout the Bible.
We read in Matthew 5:44: "But I say to you, love your enemies, BLESS THOSE WHO CURSE YOU, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." (Compare, Luke 6:27-28).
Romans 12:14-20 adds:
"BLESS THOSE who persecute you; BLESS AND DO NOT CURSE... Repay no one evil for evil... If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves... If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
Actually, the Bible has quite a bit to say about this topic.
(1) To give a good definition of righteous character, as we want to apply this term in this Q&A, we would like to quote from several of Herbert Armstrong's writings, the late Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God.
In "What Science Cannot Discover About the Human Mind," copyright 1978, he wrote about righteous character as "the ability in a single entity to come to comprehend and distinguish the true values from the false, the right way from the wrong, to choose the right and reject the wrong, and, with power of will, to do the right and resist the evil."
In "Mystery of the Ages," copyright 1985, he elaborated, as follows:
In our last Q&A, we discussed the fact that God is creating His holy and righteous character in man, as it is His purpose to reproduce Himself in man--to enlarge His God Family through man. The same cannot be said about angels.
There is no indication in Scripture that it is--or has ever been--God's purpose to enlarge the Family of God--presently consisting of God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ--through angels. Rather, angels are created beings; they are all "ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation" (Hebrews 1:14).
Understanding our part and responsibility regarding the work of God is a pivotal issue for those who claim to follow the Christian faith! The fact is that there is great confusion about exactly what the work of God means.
To truly comprehend what Jesus taught about the work of God, we must consider not only the verse in John, but, additionally, we need to compare other references in God’s Word. First, here is the text in question:
“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent’” (John 6:29).
We can safely say that it was never God's intent for man to engage in the kind of slavery which has brought so much misery and pain on others. We can also say that it was never God's original intent that there should be any form of slavery. And we conclude that it will be very unlikely that there will be any slavery in the Millennium.
To give an overview of the ORIGIN of slavery in the Bible, let us quote from The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, by James Hastings:
We have discussed the issue of physical healing in several of our Q&As, http://eternalgod.org/qa/4963, http://eternalgod.org/qa/3221, http://eternalgod.org/qa/3749, http://eternalgod.org/qa/2842 , and also at length in our free booklet, "Sickness and Healing--What the Bible Tells Us."
The following issues will be discussed in this Q&A:
--OUR BELIEF ON PHYSICAL HEALING
--WHAT TO DO WHEN WE ARE SICK
--WHY ANOINT WITH OIL?
--THE USE OF AN ANOINTED CLOTH
--DOES GOD HEAL ONLY BAPTIZED MEMBERS OF HIS CHURCH?
First of all, let us read these verses in the book of John:
"Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, 'Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!'”
We have explained this passage, in detail, in our booklets, "Is That in the Bible?--Man's Holidays or God's Holy Days," and "God's Commanded Holy Days." In these booklets, we show from Scripture that Colossians 2:16-17 does not teach--as many have erroneously concluded--that the weekly Sabbath and the seven annual Holy Days are no longer binding; in fact, correctly understood, that particular passage teaches the exact opposite.
James 2:2 contains a statement which, at first sight, may be difficult to understand, as it seems to contradict other biblical passages. A careful analysis of the Scripture shows, however, that there is no inconsistency, and that James addresses an important principle related to our Christian way of life.
James 2:1-6 reads, in context:
In John 7:38, Christ spoke of the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the apostle John added in verse 39: "But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom [better: which] those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."
We will be trying to answer this question as best as we can. In the past, the Worldwide Church of God attempted to strike a proper balance as to what is appropriate and inappropriate clothing, but in the process, some might have gone overboard at certain times by leaning too much to the "right" or to the "left." Occasionally, the Church was even accused of promoting a yard-stick religion, while at other times, it was perceived to allow for appearances which were clearly not in line with biblical standards.
Jesus Christ warned His end-time disciples of the Great Tribulation, which will be so terrible that nothing like it ever happened before and will ever happen again (Matthew 24:21; Daniel 12:1). At the same time, Christ challenged us to watch and pray always to be counted worthy to escape or be protected from the Great Tribulation. Even though God is certainly capable of protecting us wherever we might be, HE HAS DECREED that He will protect His very elect at a particular place here on earth.
We would like to quote the following excerpts from chapter 8 of our free booklet, "Is That in the Bible?--The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation," pages 54-55:
Just the opposite is true! Christians still have to make a continuing choice to obey God and to reject the wrong way, and the Bible fully explains this most remarkable and foundational truth!
As a beginning point, we need to understand that God’s intentions have always been that mankind would ultimately be given the sustainable option to choose a path leading to life and reject the one leading to death. Chapters two and three of Genesis recount the epic account of how Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. From this record we see very clearly that God gave man an opportunity to choose for himself (compare verses 16-17).
Let us read the passage in context, beginning in Romans 13:8:
"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does not harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment [better: fulfilling] of the law."
The Amplified Bible gives the following rendering, with the brackets in the original:
We need to understand that Christ died for our sins, and sin is defined as the transgression of God's law (1 John 3:4, Authorized Version). In that sense, all of God's spiritual commandments are of equal importance, as Christ died for each and every one of our sins.
There is more to this question than first meets the eye!
To begin, there is no statement in the Bible which says or implies that Jesus was married to anyone. In fact, if He had exchanged vows with someone, the absence of any supporting Scripture would be strange, especially considering it was not out of the ordinary for the ordained men of God to have a wife. Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 9:5 that other apostles as well as the brothers of the Lord had wives that traveled with them. Matthew 8:14 also mentions Peter's wife in passing. In addition to this, the Bible also takes the time to mention Christ's brothers and sisters, some by name; His mother and step-father, who raised Him; His cousin, aunt and uncle; but never mentions a wife.
It is true that many translations say that the "love of money is a root of all evil" (compare the New King James Bible; the New International Version; the Living Bible; the New Revised Standard Version; and the Amplified Bible). Other translations, besides the Authorized Version, maintain that it should say that "the love of money is THE root of all evil" (compare the Revised Standard Version; the Revised English Bible; the New American Bible; the New Jerusalem Bible; Moffat; Scofield; and Lamsa).
The Interlinear Literal Translation states that the original says, "For a root of all evils is the love of money," but it continues to render the phrase as: "For the love of money is the root of all evil."
Christ said the following in John 14:1-3:
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
First of all, please notice that after Jesus has prepared these "mansions," He will come again to the earth and receive His disciples to Himself so "that where I am, there you may be also." When Christ spoke these words, He was here on earth. That is where His disciples "may be also"--here on earth, not in heaven.
The answer to this question has far reaching implications! First, consider that the people in the time of Jesus Christ looked for the prophetic Elijah—the one promised in the Book of Malachi.
By way of background, here is the reference in question, in fuller context—quoting Luke 1, verses 15-17:
We are indeed close to the time of the year when people get all excited in anticipation of the Christmas season, complete with the hustle and bustle of shopping and, far too often, excesses both in over-spending, over-eating and over-drinking.
Far too many never seem to stop and think about the consequences of these excesses. Are people considering the fact that what is charged and overspent has to be paid back and sometimes at high interest rates, and that for a long time; also, that there are long range effects of excesses in eating and drinking to one's health; and finally, that there are terrible consequences for family relationships; especially, when arguments break out, leading to violence to the degree that someone loses his or her life?
In the book of Revelation, John is transported "in the spirit" to God's throne in heaven, from where he observes events which will take place shortly in heaven and on earth. The passage in Revelation 5:8-10 describes what John sees in heaven; it reads in the New King James Bible:
Surprisingly to many, the "magi" were neither "astrologers," nor did they visit Joseph, Mary and the Christ Child in the inn, nor is it biblically revealed how many there were. However, there are traditions which would support the idea that they were twelve, not three, as commonly assumed.
This seems to be a relatively simple matter to determine from the Bible, but there are myriads of different ideas that exist about this question. Let us look at some basic Scriptures.
In Matthew 24:26-30, Jesus Himself said:
The ceremony of "laying on of hands" is mentioned as one of the basic doctrines of God's Church (Hebrews 6:2). However, when reading quite a few commentaries, the very existence of that doctrine is commonly denied--nor is there any understanding as to what this doctrine contains.
Our answer addresses strictly the situation in the USA. In regard to other countries, any pledge or its wording would have to be examined on an individual basis, although the principles expressed herein would most certainly apply.
The short answer whether or not it is permissible for a Christian to pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag is that the Church of the Eternal God does not feel that it is biblically problematic for a Christian or his children to do so. However, if someone has conscientious problems in that regard, he must of course follow his convictions (compare Romans 14:23).
As a beginning point in answering your question, first consider these comments from the NASB Study Bible regarding “suffers violence,” as translated in Matthew 11:12: "The Greek here is taken in a passive sense. In this context its passive meaning is, ‘suffers violent attacks.’ The verse emphasizes the ongoing persecution of the people of the kingdom.”
The statement by Jesus in Matthew 11:12 reflects the violence of persecution against representatives of the Kingdom of God. Specifically, those in the forefront of proclaiming the future establishment of God’s Kingdom on the earth are targets of mortal violence.
John 1:14 says that ".. the Word [the "Logos," that is, Jesus Christ the Spokesman] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory... full of grace and truth."
The Greek word "charis," which is commonly translated as "grace," has a variety of meanings. It can and very often does refer to God's forgiveness of our sins--His "unmerited pardon"--and to our justification. We read in Romans 3:24 that we are "being justified freely by His grace" (compare also Titus 3:7).
In the context of this verse, the account shows that Jesus was reacting to the rejection of His teaching by the Pharisees (compare verse 14). In Luke 16:13, Jesus concluded a parable with this admonition, “‘…You cannot serve God and mammon’”—a statement that challenged the Pharisaical practices!
Continuing in Luke 16:15-16:
“And He said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
“‘The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.’”
At first glance, it might appear that the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John gave inconsistent times pertaining to Christ's crucifixion. However, this is not the case. Apparent inconsistencies are explained when we realize that Matthew, Mark and Luke used the Jewish reckoning of time, while John gave the Roman reckoning.
(1) According to the JEWISH reckoning, a day of 24 hours duration begins at sunset and ends at sunset, and the (approximate) twelve hours of the daylight portion BEGIN WITH SUNRISE, while the (approximate) twelve hours of the night portion BEGIN WITH SUNSET.
Although the correct answer can be easily ascertained from the Scriptures, many commentaries are actually confused regarding the meaning of this passage. Paul said, in context, in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5:
It is not. Paul clearly understood and taught that there is a Second Resurrection for all those who were never called to salvation in this life. This will include the multitude of the past and present houses of Israel and Judah, as well as the multitude of non-Israelite nations--the "Gentiles." Paul knew that today, only very few --the "firstfruits" (compare Romans 8:23)--will be called to salvation and the pre-millennial First Resurrection to eternal life. Paul knew that the Second Resurrection will not be to eternal life, but to a physical temporary existence, but with the potential to qualify for eternal life.
It is indeed correct that the Church of God keeps the Passover one day earlier than the Jews do today. The reason is that based on the Bible, the Jews keep the Passover one day too late.
This year, the Church of God keeps the annual Passover on Sunday evening, March 28, after sunset. However, the Jews keep the Passover, beginning on Monday evening, March 29, after sunset. As we said, they keep it one day too late. They keep the Passover when the Bible commands to keep the "Night to Be Much Observed"--two totally different and separate occasions.
Please notice our comments in our free booklet, "The Meaning of God's Spring Holy Days":
Reading Revelation 12:17 in context, it shows that in the future, just prior to Christ's return, some in God's Church will be protected from the Great Tribulation and Satan's wrath, while other Christians will have to go through that terrible time of martyrdom.
Revelation 12:17 reads: "And the dragon [Satan the devil] was enraged with the woman [the Church of God], and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
We begin our discussion of this passage by quoting from chapter 13 of our free booklet, "Is That in the Bible?--The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation":
In Matthew 24, containing the famous "Olivet prophecy," Jesus Christ explained the "sign of His coming and the end of the age" (verse 3). After discussing the "beginning of sorrows" (verse 8), He pointed at the worldwide preaching of the gospel (verse 14), followed by the Great Tribulation (beginning with verse 15). In that context, Jesus said, in verses 19-22:
The passage in question refers to the time of the Millennium, after Christ's return, when the Kingdom of God will be established here on earth.
Zechariah 13:2-3 reads:
"'(Verse 2) It shall be in that day,' says the LORD of hosts, 'that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land. (Verse 3) It shall come to pass that if anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who begot him will say to him,"'You shall not live, because you have spoken lies in the name of the LORD." And his father and mother who begot him shall thrust him through when he prophesies...'"
The Bible does indeed teach that every human being has a spirit, but that spirit is neither immortal nor a soul.
I. The Spirit in Man
We discuss the biblical concept of the "spirit in man" extensively in our free booklet, "The Theory of Evolution--a Fairy Tale for Adults".
In this Q&A, we are quoting the following excerpts:
In our last Q&A (in Update #438, dated April 15, 2010), we explained that God gives every person, apparently at the time of conception, a "spirit," which the Bible calls the "spirit in man." This spirit is not a soul--the person is the soul--nor is it a conscious being. When the person or the soul dies, the spirit in man returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7). It is being stored in heaven until the time of that person's resurrection.
According to most Christian commentaries, this passage addresses the First and Second Coming of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Savior of mankind. However, most Jewish commentaries reject this conclusion and give the passage a different meaning.
Zechariah 12:10-11 reads as follows:
"And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be great mourning in Jerusalem..."
It is true that most Jews today do not consider the passage in Isaiah 53 as a prophecy pertaining to the first coming of the Messiah. We will discuss their rationale later in this Q&A. First, let us briefly point out that Jesus Christ was and is the Messiah; and that He fulfilled precisely the prophecy in Isaiah 53.
For instance, Isaiah 53:1 ("Who has believed our report?") is quoted in John 12:37-38 in reference to Jesus.
Isaiah 53:3 ("He is despised and rejected by men") finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ (compare John 1:10-11; Luke 19:14; Mark 6:3).
Isaiah 53:4 ("Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows") is quoted in Matthew 8:17 in reference to Jesus.
In fact, there are a few major events in the Bible that transpired before the opening verse of the Bible.
Perhaps surprisingly, the earliest record can be found in the New Testament. In John 1:1 we find an event that transcends our understanding of time and reveals an existence eons before the physical creation of the universe.
John 1:1-2 reads: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God."
Let's have a look at these two verses first: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”
A better translation for Genesis 1:2 is: “The earth became without form, and void...” We find the same exact Hebrew word, "ha^ya^h," translated appropriately in Genesis 2:7 as "became." The translators had certain leeway based on the context of the sentence in terms of whether they would translate it "was" or "became." In the case of Genesis 1:2, it really should be the latter.
The first time that the Bible mentions "Urim and Thummim" is in Exodus 28:30, in connection with the garments for the high priest; especially, the "ephod" and the "breastplate of judgment." The breastplate was to be placed on the ephod (Exodus 28:28), and verse 30 reads: "And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron's heart when he goes in before the LORD." A similar statement can be found in Leviticus 8:8.
In Old Testament times, God established a system whereby the poor would not be in perpetual poverty. God did this in His great mercy, knowing what human nature is like, and that there are those who accumulate and those who squander. He did not want a few extremely wealthy individuals ruling over the masses who were just getting by, or who became and were poor. In reflecting on the situation of this world, Christ said in Matthew 26:11: "For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always." He knew that as long as Satan rules this world; as long as human carnality exists; and as long as societies work in the way they do; the poor would always be among us.
Let us first of all understand that there is nothing in the Bible demanding a red heifer to be born prior to the return of Jesus Christ. It is true, however, that some Jews and Christians have attached an end-time application to the ancient Old Testament ritual of the killing of a red heifer for purposes of purification. As will be explained herein, this ritual is no longer in force. But some Jews and Christians believe that the ritual must be applied today, as a prerequisite for the commencement of sacrifices and the building of a third temple, and they expect a red heifer soon to be born. (In fact, when conducting a Yahoo search on the Internet, one receives about 280,000 results for "red heifer.").
Let us read what this verse says: "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name."
Does this mean that we will be looking into the face of God for eternity or strumming on harps with no constructive work to do?
Sarah, the wife of Abraham, is described in Scripture as a faithful and righteous woman (Isaiah 51:1-2; Hebrews 11:11; 1 Peter 3:5-6). Still, we read that she broke the ninth commandment and lied on several occasions. There are mainly two different sets of circumstances, inducing Sarah to lie.
Sarah's first lie is recorded in Genesis 18. God appeared with two angels to Abraham and Sarah and promised them that they would have a son within a year. Genesis 18:11-15 states:
The answer is yes. She was that very same person. And this is significant, as we will see.
To begin with, we should mention that Christ's genealogy, as set forth in Matthew 1:1-17, is different, to an extent, from the genealogy as set forth in Luke 3:23-38. The reason is that the genealogy in Matthew "is traced through Joseph, Jesus' legal (though not natural) father, and it establishes His claim and right to the throne of David (1:6). The genealogy in Luke 3:23-38 is evidently that of Mary..." (compare Ryrie Study Bible).
There can be no doubt that the woman Rahab, who is described in the book of Joshua as protecting and rescuing the Israelite spies in the city of Jericho, was a harlot (see our Q&A on this topic).
Even though this might be difficult for us to understand, God does indeed suffer and experience mental pain when He sees that we suffer. Every loving father or brother would feel mental anguish when he observes that his children or brethren suffer innocently or because they go the wrong way and inflict pain upon themselves as a consequence. Even more so, God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son--the firstborn among many brethren--suffer when they see that we experience pain and anguish and despair.
When Jesus was dying a terrible death on the cross, He cried out, just before He died, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). Did He really mean it? Did the Father forsake Him at that moment? If so, why? And if not, why would Jesus have uttered those words?
Some, not understanding the significance and deep meaning of Christ's words, say that He just shouted out these words to fulfill a prophecy from Psalm 22:1. They contend that Jesus repeated the words written down by David in the Old Testament, just to show that He was the Messiah.
Even though most scholars feel that the prophet Habakkuk ministered during the "death throes" of the ancient nation of Judah--just prior to their Babylonian captivity--nothing is known about the prophet, including his age or his family.
It is clear, however, that Habakkuk's writings are not limited to the time of ancient Judah. Rather, the book of Habakkuk is a prophecy about our times today. For instance, we read in Habakkuk 2:1-3:
As other Scriptures show, this event was unique to that time in the building of the Church of God; however, this example also reveals the type of commitment that may be needed when the necessity arises.
The context of this account happened surrounding the Day of Pentecost and then the immediate period of time subsequent—perhaps several weeks and months.
Let’s first take a look at the account as recorded in Acts 2:42-47:
In our last Q&A, we wrote:
"Paul, in bringing the gospel to the Thessalonians, worked: '…nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us' (2 Thessalonians 3:8-9)."
Does this mean that God's true ministers, in following the perceived example of Paul, must not seek employment with the Church of God and that they must not seek to be remunerated or otherwise recompensed by the Church for their services?
This is not what Paul is stating in 2 Thessalonians 3:8-9; nor is it what was implied in our Q&A.
The short answer is: Absolutely not. We will explain the reason for this conclusion in this and the next Q&A.
It is important to fully understand that Satan and his demons, as well as God's holy angels, are not all-powerful. They can only do what God allows them to do. Even in the spiritual created realm, God has placed limitations, as far as power, authority and ability are concerned.
One example is when Gabriel appeared to Daniel to deliver to him a message from God. Gabriel struggled for three weeks to get past the prince of the kingdom of Persia, a very powerful demon. When the archangel Michael came to help, Gabriel was able to free himself from the demon and to reach Daniel. We read in Daniel 10:10-13, 20-21:
In our last Q&A, we explained that God did not give Satan or his demons the power to heal human beings. In this Q&A, we want to explain "miraculous healings," "caused" by Satan, which, upon further scrutiny, prove to be not true healings at all.
In our free booklet, "Angels, Demons and the Spirit World," we wrote the following in Part 2, "The World of Demons," on pages 42-44, 51:
In John 17:13, we read: "But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they [His disciples] may have MY JOY fulfilled in them."
First, let us explain what the two trees in the Garden of Eden symbolized.
We are quoting the following excerpts from chapter 2 of our free booklet, "Human Suffering--Why...And How Much Longer?" :
"When God created the first human being, Adam, and his wife, Eve, He placed them in a garden—the Garden of Eden, also called Paradise. God also created two special trees in this garden—the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He told man that he was allowed to eat from all the trees in the garden with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This means that man could eat, and should have eaten, from the tree of life.
We realise that some groups approach the preaching of the gospel by going from door to door. But this is not in accordance with Scripture, and it can do more harm than good.
First of all, we have to realise that this is not the only day of salvation. In 2 Corinthians 6:2, it states the following: "For He says: 'In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you..'." We have long understood that this verse is a mistranslation of Isaiah 49:8 where it states that this is "a day of salvation" (Authorized Version). If today was the only day of salvation, then Satan, who has the world in the palm of his hand, would be winning the battle outright. Of course, that is not the case.
This account in Luke 2:41-51 is about the time when Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem for the "Feast of the Passover" (verse 41). At that time, Jesus was just twelve years old (verse 42). Jesus then lingered on and after three days, His parents realised that He was not in the company (verses 43-44). They returned to Jerusalem to look for Him (verse 45). They found Him sitting in the temple, both listening and asking the teachers questions (verse 46). In verse 48 we read that Mary said to Jesus: “Son, why have you done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” Jesus answered in verse 49: “Why is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
Throughout the written Word of God, we see the record of prophets who have arisen to warn people of impending punishment—both on an individual basis and that given to nations. We find the warnings and the consequences that followed!
In His great love and patience, God has sought to turn people from their rebellion against Him: “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live” (Ezekiel 18:23)?
This proclamation is echoed in the writing of the apostle Peter when he states: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
No, it does not mean that at all.
First, let us establish how long the Great Tribulation is supposed to last. In a previous Q&A on this issue, we wrote the following:
Let us read Hebrews 13:9 in context, including verses 10-16:
The Bible teaches very clearly that Jesus Christ is God. As we will see in future Q&A's, the Bible also explains that Jesus Christ was God before His birth as a human being; who and what the Father is; and what is the potential of man. In this Q&A, we will address the biblical proof that Jesus Christ is God today.
In our free booklet, "Jesus Christ--A Great Mystery," we are stating the following:
In our last Q&A, we showed that Jesus Christ is God today. As we will show in this Q&A, the Bible also teaches very clearly that Jesus Christ did exist, AS GOD, prior to His First Coming. In fact, there was never a time, prior to His birth as a human being, when Christ did not exist as God. (In future Q&As, we will address the relationship between God the Father and Jesus Christ; the nature of the Holy Spirit; what Jesus became when He came in the flesh; and the potential of man.)
In our free booklet, "God Is A Family," we are explaining the following regarding the divinity of Jesus Christ--PRIOR to His birth as a human being:
We have discussed in previous Q&As http://www.eternalgod.org/qa/9508 http://www.eternalgod.org/qa/9483 that Jesus Christ was God before He came to this earth, and that He is God today. From this it follows that He was and had to be God--the "Immanuel" or "God with us"--when He came to this earth during His First Coming. As we saw in the last Q&A, He confirmed this fact to the Jews at His time, when He called Himself the "I am"--the Everlasting One--the God of the Old Testament.
As we explained in previous Q&As, (Who Was Jesus When On Earth?, What Was Jesus Before His Birth as a Man?, and Is Jesus God?) Jesus Christ--the Word or Logos or Son of God--was "WITH" God since all eternity, and He also "WAS" God. The difficulty in understanding this fact may be easily resolved when we recognize that the word "God" is a NAME that can refer to both the Father and the Son. It is, in fact, a FAMILY name. Ephesians 3:14–15 confirms this truth, telling us that it is "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole FAMILY in heaven and earth is NAMED."
The short answer is, no -- the Holy Spirit is neither God nor a Person. Rather, the Holy Spirit is God's POWER emanating from God the Father AND from God the Son.
Verse 14 summarizes the Parable of the Wedding Feast spoken by Jesus Christ in which He teaches about the Kingdom of God and about the accountability that people have when God offers them salvation—that is, eternal life (compare Matthew 24:1-14).
Contrary to what many teach and who say that parables were used by Christ to make His teaching more clear, just the opposite is true. The Bible addresses this:
“All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: ‘I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world’” (Matthew 13:34-35).
To best answer this, we want to look first at a more general time frame, by reviewing both Old and New Testament Scriptures. In Galatians 3:16-17, we read, “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to SEEDS,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘AND TO YOUR SEED,’ who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.”
In previous Q&As, we discussed the nature of God—that God is a ruling and governing Family—the “Kingdom of God”—consisting of two Spirit beings, the Father and the Son. We also learned that the Holy Spirit is not God or a Person, but the power of God, emanating from both the Father and the Son. Please see for further information:
To answer these and related questions, it is important to explain some of the background and to look at the context of the Scripture.
First, we need to understand from the context what is meant with “one.” Christ said that the Father and He are ONE (John 10:30). Christ was not saying that the Father and He were one being. Rather, He addressed the concept of complete unity between the Father and Him. There was and always will be total harmony between the two members of the God Family. In fact, Christ won a legal argument with the Pharisees by proving that the Father and He, although “one,” were TWO beings (John 8:17–18).
In order to offer an accurate analysis of the fate of the “tares,” we need to look at the entire parable in Matthew 13, in its context. Beginning with verse 24, Jesus states:
The basic economics of what is happening now in the United States is actually in line with prophecy. Gold (as well as silver) has an inverse relationship to the US dollar (USD). There are other factors (such as demand) that contribute to the price of gold going up, but as the value of the USD goes down and becomes weaker, it takes more USD to buy an ounce of gold. Hence we see one of the reasons that this precious metal is going up in price. Many investors see the power of the USD diminishing and are putting their money in gold (or elsewhere) as a hedge in an effort to offset exposure to price changes and to minimize risk.
In Isaiah 45, “the LORD” (“Yahweh” in Hebrew) speaks to Cyrus and tells him that he will be an instrument in God’s hands to fulfill His Will. He specifically prophesies that and how Cyrus will conquer Babylon (compare verse 1) and that he will allow Jerusalem to be rebuilt and Judah to be released from captivity (compare verse 13). He also emphasizes that Cyrus did not know God, when He called him for his special mission (verses 3-5).
We have seen in previous Q&As that it is indeed the potential of man to become God—a full-fledged God being in the Family of God. This teaching was already revealed in Old Testament times, even though most did not comprehend what was actually said. As you will recall, in the very beginning of man’s creation, God (“Elohim” in Hebrew), said: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our Likeness” (Genesis 1:26). To be created in the image and likeness of God means, ultimately, to become God (1 Corinthians 15:49; Psalm 17:15). Also, the book of Psalms speaks of men as (potential) gods. Psalm 82:6 reads: “I said, ‘You are gods, And all of you are children of the Most High.’” Jesus used this passage to prove that He was the Son of God (John 10:31-39). We also read that men will come
First, let us explain that the Feast of Purim is not one of God’s commanded Holy Days. It is celebrated by the Jews, and observing the Purim Feast by them is, per se, not against Scripture. As a Jew, Jesus would have kept the Feast of Purim, although there is no specific reference in the New Testament that He did. But as it is pointed out in the Question, many times the way in which it is celebrated is clearly against God’s commandments.
The date for Purim in 2010 was February 28th and this year will be on March 20th.
Wikipedia makes the following comments about this festival:
The importance of this question, and its answer, can be found in the Word of God—in writings that very specifically address what has, what is and what will happen to the people of God in this, our generation!
The Worldwide Church of God was the culmination of the calling and life’s work of Herbert W. Armstrong in re-establishing the Truth of God as it was revealed and practiced in the early New Testament Church. Following his death in 1986, an insidious change infiltrated the Worldwide Church of God through the introduction of another “gospel”—one taught by most of the prevailing churches which claim to be Christian but which neither know God nor obey the gospel of Jesus Christ (compare 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Matthew 7:21-23 and Galatians 1:6-9).
Sadly, many have a totally wrong concept as to how Jesus Christ lived when He was here on earth. They might have read Scriptures saying that even though He was rich, He became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9), not realizing that Paul is using a comparison between the richness of the immortal God who owns everything, and, in contrast, the poverty of man whose insignificant riches might be here today and gone tomorrow (compare Proverbs 23:4-5).
But Jesus Christ was by no means a vagabond or a hippy. Even though some claim, for instance, that He wore long hair, the Bible is very clear that He did not (compare 1 Corinthians 11:14). [For more information, please read our Q&A, Did Jesus Wear Long Hair?].
The Old and the New Testament speak about the appearance of “THE” or “THAT” prophet. The concept of such a prophet is first introduced in Deuteronomy 18:15, when Moses announces to the people:
“The LORD your God will raise for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.”
In his speech before the Sanhedrin, Stephen makes reference to this passage, in Acts 7:37.
Many try to use this passage to “prove” that we are allowed today to eat whatever man in his twisted mind has decided to devour—including the meat from pigs, dogs, monkeys, rats, cats, squirrels, as well as frogs, snails, ants, scorpions, snakes, lobster, shrimp, shellfish and oysters, just to name a few. However, this is most certainly not what the passage conveys.
1 Timothy 4:1-5 reads, in context:
The passage in 1 John 3:9 reads, according to the New King James Bible:
“Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”
Many feel it is only necessary to “say” that we accept and believe in Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth. Outside of the fact that this is nebulous and undefined, it is not what the Bible reveals as being required to become a Christian.
True conversion is a spiritual change from sinfulness to righteousness. This does not and cannot happen in an instant. It is a Godly change in our character and actions, from the carnal person we were, to one that God wants us to become. This transformation does not happen by fiat, as many suppose.
As many of our readers know, the Church of the Eternal God and its affiliates, the Global Church of God in the UK and the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada, as well as the Kirche des Ewigen Gottes in Germany, observe the annual Festival of the Days of Unleavened Bread. God commands us that during the seven days of that Festival, all leavened products have to be removed from our houses, and that only unleavened products are to be consumed during that time.
We read in the New Testament that animal sacrifices did not forgive sin, nor did they clean or purify the ancient Israelites from an evil conscience. That was never the purpose of the animal sacrifices. Forgiveness of sin and the opportunity to inherit eternal life was only made possible through the supreme Sacrifice of Jesus Christ (John 3:14-17).
Hebrews 10:1-4 makes it very clear that animal sacrifices were just reminders of sins, but that they could not take away or forgive sin. They were foreshadowing the death of Christ. We read:
1 John 5:4-8 reads, in context:
“(Verse 4) For whatever is born [better here: begotten] of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (Verse 5) Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (Verse 6) This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who [better: which] bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. (Verse 7) For there are three that bear witness (in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. (Verse 8) And there are three that bear witness on earth): the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.”
In Matthew 26:21, Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray Him— much to their sorrow (v 22). In verse 25, we read: “Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, ‘Rabbi, is it I?’ He said to him, ‘You have said it.’”
This betrayal was prophesied in Psalm 41:9: “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.”
We read of this betrayal in Matthew 26:14-16: “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?’ And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.”
The answer is, “No.” In our Q&A published in the Update of April 22, 2011, the question of whether or not Judas committed the “unpardonable sin” is addressed. It was pointed out, among other things, that Judas had never received the Holy Spirit prior to his death. We will now address the specific question that arises from Matthew 26:24, which reads:
“‘The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.’” Compare Mark 14:21 and Luke 22:22.
The Scripture that you are referring to is found in Leviticus 23:6-8, “And on the fifteenth day of the same [first] month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.' "
It is correct that we should be keeping this Feast as well the other five annual Holy Days mentioned in this chapter. (For more information, please read our free booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days.” ). But there are a couple of other points that are noteworthy.
The Bible contains quite a few Scriptures dealing with Egypt’s past, present and future conditions. However, there is also much speculation being circulated, which is not necessarily in agreement with Scripture, or which cannot be proven by Scripture. For instance, some say that in the end time, Egypt will be the king of the South, as mentioned in Daniel 11. Of course, Daniel 11 does not specifically identify the king of the South, and it says nowhere that it is Egypt.
In his booklet, “The Middle East in Prophecy,” copyright 1948, 1972, Herbert Armstrong wrote this:
“Ethiopia, the King of the South!
Violence is erupting in Syria, and the question is what the future will hold for that country. Does the Bible tell us anything about Syria’s past, and does it give us any indications as to what is in store for it? The Holy Scriptures certainly do.
Syria is sometimes referred to in the Bible as “Aram,” and the Syrians are called “Arameans.” Historically, there have been times of war and of peace between Syria and the houses of Israel and Judah. After Jacob had deceived his father Isaac and his brother Esau, he fled to and lived in Syria, where he was terribly deceived by his uncle Laban. Hosea 12:12 tells us: “Jacob fled to the country of Syria; Israel served for a spouse And for a wife he tended sheep.”
Libya has been in the news for quite some time, and nobody seems to know what the future holds for that biblical country. God’s Holy Scriptures do give us a glimpse, however, as to what we can expect to occur in or pertaining to Libya.
It is commonly accepted that Libya is designated as “Put” or “Phut” in the Hebrew Scriptures. Put was the son of Ham, a son of Noah (Genesis 10:6; 1 Chronicles 1:8). The word “Put” or “Phut” means “bow” or “warrior.” According to Josephus, Put settled in the land of Libya. Depending on what translation one might use, the word “Phut” is sometimes mentioned in addition to Libya. As the Ryrie Study Bible explains, the word “Put” can also refer—depending on the context—to just a part of the country of Libya.
The Bible contains numerous passages, dealing with the future of Iran, which was formerly known as Persia. Most commentaries and encyclopedias are in agreement that the modern-day Iranians are descendants of the ancient Elamites. For instance, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible equates Elam with Persia. Genesis 10:22 and 1 Chronicles 1:17 state that Elam was a son of Shem—and therefore a brother of ancient Asshur or Assur. The city of Sushan or Susa was one of the capitols of the Elamite or Persian empire, and Esther, Daniel and Jeremiah resided there at times. Susa is today known as Shush—a city in modern-day Iran.
In two recent Q&As, we discussed the question whether Judas might have committed the unpardonable sin, dealing with the issue whether Judas is lost http://www.eternalgod.org/qapdf/10163, and whether he rejected his chance for salvation when he betrayed Christ http://www.eternalgod.org/qapdf/10136.
We concluded that Judas did not commit the unpardonable sin, mainly because he never received God’s Holy Spirit prior to his death. Please read or re-read our Q&As, which also explain the nature of the unpardonable sin.
Even though Ethiopia is not mentioned as often in the current news as countries such as Egypt, Libya, Syria or Iran, the Bible has much to say about the past and future of Ethiopia. As we pointed out in a recent Q&A on Egypt, Ethiopia was at one time the influential “king of the South,” as mentioned in the book of Daniel, and the Bible shows that Ethiopia will still play an important role in future world affairs. This is not that surprising when considering even the present role and status of Ethiopia, which should not be underestimated. As the Wikipedia encyclopedia tells us:
The Bible has indeed much to say about the descendants of Esau in our times. In this Q&A, we will discuss the history and the modern identity of Esau. In a subsequent Q&A, we will be addressing the future of Esau, as prophesied in the Scriptures.
Esau was the twin brother of Jacob. Due to the fact that he sold Jacob his birthright for some red stew, he became also known as “Edom,” which means “red” (Genesis 25:30). Later the name Idumea (Isaiah 34:5, Authorized Version; the New King James Bible says, “Edom”) was applied to some of the descendants of Esau or Edom. Herod the Great was an Idumean. (It was Herod who killed the male babies in Bethlehem and surrounding areas, from two years old and under, compare Matthew 2:16.)
As was explained in our previous Q&A, the Turkish people can be identified today as belonging to the descendants of biblical Esau or Edom. Additional biblical references to modern Turkey are Teman (descendant of Esau), Idumea, Bozrah (ancient capital of Esau) and Seir (compare Joshua 24:4).
In the previous Q&A, we saw that the modern Babylonian system under Assyria’s lead will conquer Edom (modern Turkey) and enslave it, after Edom had at first escaped the “king of the North,” while participating in the defeat of the modern houses of Israel (mainly the USA and GB) and Judah (the modern Jews).
We also saw in the last Q&A that God expressly stated that He will bring about Edom’s defeat to punish them for their conduct.
Psalm 137:7 tells us one reason for God’s anger with Edom: “Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom The day of Jerusalem, Who said, ‘Raze it [Lit., make it bare], raze it, To its very foundation!’”
The short answer is that it most certainly is not acceptable for a true Christian to compromise his or her Christian beliefs for any reason whatsoever.
What is compromise? A compromise is an agreement (or proposed agreement) to accept a situation in which the parties get variations from what they originally sought, to achieve a compatible outcome. It can also be defined as an amicable agreement between parties in controversy, to settle their differences by mutual concession.
There are different schools of thought in the “Christian” world that seem to teach that a powerful and influential Muslim person will claim in the end time to be the Mahdi, trying to unify much of the Muslim and Arab world under his leadership. Some claim that the king of the South, mentioned in Daniel 11, will be that person; others claim that the “beast” in the book of Revelation, whom they very often mislabel as the “Antichrist,” will be that Mahdi.
Many archeological and historical researchers and Bible commentaries have understood for a long time that the Arabs are descendants of Ishmael, son of Abraham and Sarah’s Egyptian maid, Hagar. We read the following prophecy about Ishmael in Genesis 16:7-12:
In our previous Q&A in Update No. 502, we showed that Saudi Arabia is the great nation that had been prophesied to Ishmael, the son of Abraham. Ishmael was born when Abraham was eighty-six years old. He was circumcised at the age of 13—a custom still followed today by the Arabs. Ishmael and his half-brother Isaac buried Abraham together. Ishmael died aged 137.
In the parable of the “unjust steward,” as recorded in Luke 16:1-13, we find the overseer for a rich man's business in trouble for mismanaging the day to day affairs. When called on the carpet, the steward then mounts a campaign to quickly settle some of the debts he has been remiss in and is subsequently commended for being so shrewd (compare verses 1-8).
The Church of the Eternal God in the USA, the Global Church of God in the UK, and the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada, conduct their weekly and annual Sabbath services by opening with prayer (usually after singing three congregational hymns), and by closing with prayer (after singing a final congregational hymn). These prayers are given by baptized men who have been selected by the song-leader—sometimes after consultation with or direction from the presiding minister. On occasion, and subject to the discretion of the presiding minister, baptized visitors and guests from other Church of God organizations, who might not regularly attend our fellowship, might be asked to give the opening or closing prayer.
As we pointed out in a previous Q&A, discussing opening and closing prayers, the Church of the Eternal God in the USA and its corporate affiliates, the Global Church of God in the UK, and the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada, trace their roots to the Worldwide Church of God under the late Herbert W. Armstrong (who died in 1986). During his lifetime, Mr. Armstrong established the way in which Church of God services should be conducted, and we have substantially adopted these procedures. As a consequence, our weekly and annual Sabbath services include opening and closing prayers, a song service, announcements, occasional special music presentations (especially during the Feast of Tabernacles), and a sermonette and a
Specifically, in the book of John, Jesus instructed His disciples about prayer. In the hours before His death, He revealed that they would now have access to the Father—but that He, Jesus, was the means by which that would be possible.
Here are the relevant verses:
“‘And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it’” (John 14:13-14).
“‘You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you’” (John 15:16).
It might appear so at first sight, but upon closer scrutiny, we will see that there is no contradiction.
Isaiah 26:13-14 states: “O LORD our God, masters besides You Have had dominion over us; But by You only we make mention of Your name. They are dead, they will not live; They are deceased, they will not rise. Therefore You have punished and destroyed them, And made all their memory to perish.”
On the other hand, we read in Isaiah 26:19:
“Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead.”
You seem to be referring to our Q&A on Saudi Arabia, where we wrote the following:
“Turning to the New Testament, we find that Arabs were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost when God poured out His Holy Spirit on the New Testament Church (Acts 2:11), and that Paul, after his conversion, went to Arabia (Galatians 1:17) and stayed there for a while, perhaps, as Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible suggests, to associate with those Arabs who had been converted on the Day of Pentecost.”
Christ told us that no one knows the DAY of His return. He even said that He Himself does not know the DAY, nor the angels, but the Father alone. The reason is that it is within the Father’s sole authority to decide when the day of Christ’s return has come.
Note what we said in one of our Q&As, addressing certain numbers in the book of Daniel, and answering the question as to whether the 1,260 days, 1,290 days and 1,335 days mentioned there show us exactly when Christ will return:
In previous Q&As, we published guidelines for opening and closing prayers, and for preparing and giving sermonettes. We pointed out that our weekly and annual Sabbath services begin with a song service (usually by singing three congregational hymns), followed by an opening prayer, a sermonette or short spiritual message of about 10 to 15 minutes, the singing of another congregational hymn, announcements, followed (occasionally) by a special music presentation (especially during the Feast of Tabernacles), the sermon or main spiritual message of about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, and we conclude with a final congregational hymn and the closing prayer.
No specific amount in regard to Holy Day offerings is mentioned, but God’s Word includes guidelines and principles that can help us to decide how much to give.
Firstly, we must keep in mind that we cannot out-give God. Secondly, those of us who have been in the Church of God for a while know about the existence of the annual Holy Days and God’s command to give an offering on those days. We have time to prepare and save for these offerings so that we do not have to make a last minute decision as to how much we may want to give on a particular Holy Day.
In a recent Editorial in Update #484 (for the week ending March 18, 2011), titled, “Offerings,” we said the following:
God’s Church decided more than 70 years ago that we must follow the current Hebrew Calendar in order to be able to observe the annual Holy Days at their proper times. (For more information on God’s annual Festivals, please read our free booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days”). However, over the years, some concluded on their own, without godly authority, that they should deviate from that decision. As a consequence, estimates suggest that there are no less than 500 versions of “calendars” in existence, all claiming that their version is the one and only correct one, and the result is utter confusion, while God states very clearly that HE is NOT the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).
In our last Q&A, we explained why the Church of God has made the decision to accept and follow the current Hebrew calendar. The short answer is that God has entrusted the Jews—and no one else—with the preservation of the calendar and the determination and identification of the correct dates of the annual Holy Days.
We also explained that in AD 358-359 A.D., the Jews’ chief leader, Hillel II, carried out his God-given authority to present the Hebrew calendar throughout the future, and it is that calendar which we are to apply for the determination of the annual Holy Days.
In coming to an understanding of the events that transpired at the creation of man, we need to more fully comprehend how God created the first man and woman. Some believe that they were created in a “broken” state of being so that God could “fix” it later by grace. Others have concocted the idea that they were predestined to fail and that they had no other option in the matter. Then there are those who say that God created Adam and Eve in a holy state from which they “fell.” Still, some professing Christians think that nothing can be concluded from the Scripture regarding this matter.
In order to properly understand what Christ is telling His disciples, as recorded in the account of Matthew, we need to also review other passages in the parallel accounts of Mark and Luke, as well as passages in the book of Revelation.
As we addressed in a prior QA in this series on human nature, God does not create things in this manner. So where then did Satan the devil come from, and how does he influence mankind?
In our booklet, "Angels, Demons and the Spirit World", we explain about the origin of this menace to mankind:
In the last Q&A on the order of prophetic events, we discussed Christ’s sayings in Matthew 24, showing that prior to His return there would be religious deception, wars, famine, disease epidemics, a Great Tribulation (including a martyrdom of the saints), heavenly signs, and a time described as God’s wrath, which will be poured out over this entire world. We noticed that the first four seals in the book of Revelation describe the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, corresponding to false religion, war, famine and pestilence; and the fifth, sixth and seven seals describe religious persecution, cosmic disturbances, and the time of God’s wrath.
The New Testament of the Bible does speak about the office of prophet as being a part of the spiritual order designated by God for leadership in the Church:
“And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:28).
We also find that Jesus Christ, Who is the Head of the Church (compare Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; Colossians 1:18), selects people to serve in capacities including that of prophets:
In looking at mankind in the past and present, we see a commonality throughout cultures for a disposition towards the same attitudes, feelings and emotions. Of more concern are the baser inclinations of man that have led to all evils that have existed in the world. Some may conclude that mankind is born this way.
As discussed in a previous Q&A, Adam and Eve were not created with this nature, but rather had it shaped and influenced by Satan (Also, please see our second Q&A on the subject). But once they had acquired it, it did not mean that their descendants would automatically have it as well.
In the last two Q&As http://www.eternalgod.org/qa/10927 and http://www.eternalgod.org/qa/10990 on the order of prophetic events, we discussed Christ’s sayings in Matthew 24, showing that prior to His return, there would be religious deception, wars, famine, disease epidemics and pandemics, a Great Tribulation (including a martyrdom of the saints and an European attack on the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the state of Israel), heavenly signs, and a time described as God’s wrath, which will be poured out over this entire world.
In our previous Q&A, we began discussing the Day of the Lord. We showed that the Day of the Lord describes and encompasses the seventh seal of the scroll which the Lamb opens—and the seventh seal consists of seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet consists of the seven last plagues or bowls of God’s wrath. We addressed the first six plagues of the seventh trumpet, pointing out that during the sixth plague, the kings of the east and other powers of this earth will assemble at a place called Armageddon or “hill of Megiddo,” which is about 55 miles north of Jerusalem. From there, they will move towards Jerusalem, where they will try to fight the returning Jesus Christ. That “battle” will take place in
In a recent Q&A ("Bound by Human Nature?") we mentioned the following in the context of the false concept that we are born with an evil human nature:
“Also, if it was passed on genetically, then Christ could not have lived a sinless life, having been born of Mary - but He did (Hebrews 4:15). Of course, we read that Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3), as He was begotten in Mary's womb and born of her. He had human nature, but He never sinned, showing that His nature or flesh did not automatically force Him to sin.”
While many do not recognize this truth, they are willing to concede the fact that Christ was not born into a sinful situation though they believe that the rest of mankind was.
A “sect” may be defined as “a body of persons agreed upon religious doctrines usually different from those of an established or orthodox church from which they have separated; non-conformist or other church as described by opponents.”
The terms “cult” and “sect” are often used interchangeably; a sect is usually connected with religion and a cult may be – but many things outside the religious arena can also be classified as cultish. Certain television programmes may have a cult following – never a sect following.
Let us notice this passage in context. We read, beginning with 1 Thessalonians 4:13:
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope… God will bring with Him [Jesus] those who sleep in Jesus… we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means PRECEDE those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up TOGETHER WITH THEM in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
In previous Q&As, including the Q&A on “Matthew 24” and the Q&A on the “events which will occur after the Great Tribulation has begun”,we discussed that mankind will have to endure a time of unparalleled sorrows and suffering.
We also pointed out in the past, that just prior to Christ's return, some in God's Church will be protected from the Great Tribulation, while other Christians will have to go through that terrible time.
In previous Q&A’s, discussing the seventh plague of the seventh trumpet, mentioned in the Book of Revelation http://www.eternalgod.org/qa/11097 , and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, http://www.eternalgod.org/qa/11159 we described the resurrection and the change of the saints. As immortal beings and born-again members of the Family and Kingdom of God, they will meet the returning Christ in the air and descend with Him on the Mount of Olives, where Christ’s decisive battle against the evil forces of this world will take place.
We explained in the last Q&A regarding Christ’s battle with hostile armies at the time of His return, that Jesus Christ will come back “on clouds”; that His holy angels will accompany Him; that He will be met “on clouds” in the air by His saints—true, converted Christians who will be resurrected and changed to immortality at the time of His return; and that all will descend together on the same day to the Mount of Olives to make an end of deceived hostile human armies and their leaders (Revelation 19:11-21; Zechariah 14:1-15). After that, Christ will deal with the real author of destruction and deception—Satan the devil along with his demons.
We read in Revelation 20:1-3:
In Acts 16:1, we meet up with Paul during his travels north and west of Jerusalem in modern day Turkey. While here, Paul meets an up-and-coming disciple we know as Timothy. Timothy had a good reputation among the brethren in the area – in the cities of Lystra and Iconium in particular. Paul was impressed with him as well and invited Timothy to join him on his travels through the region. However, before they commence their travels together, Paul has Timothy circumcised (Acts 16:3). While this might not seem like a significant detail, it is important to examine in context because the implications are significant.
In a previous Q&A on Daniel 9, we explained that Jesus, the Messiah, would be cut off after His public ministry, but not for Himself (verse 26); and that He will confirm a covenant for a week; but that in the middle of the week, He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering (verse 27). We explained that Jesus Christ was killed quite literally in the middle of the week—on a Wednesday—in 31 A.D. In addition, we showed that He began His public ministry of one prophetic week [of seven prophetic days or seven literal years, applying the principle of “one day for one year” (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:3-6)], but that He was killed or cut off after 3 ½ years of His public ministry. He began preaching publically in the year of 27 A.D., and He
The events described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 will occur after Christ’s return, at the very beginning of His rule over mankind—not 1,000 years later. In a previous Q&A, we discussed the fact that Jesus Christ will have to complete 3 ½ years of His public ministry to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, before His rule over all nations in the Millennium can really begin to flourish. We saw that Christ will free the modern descendants of the houses of Israel and Judah from captivity and bring them into the Promised Land. They will build the waste cities and inhabit them, live in peace and safety, and God will forgive all their iniquities and enter with them into the conditions of the new covenant.
As we approach the Passover season, it might be a good time to analyze exactly what Christ did for mankind, and how we can reciprocate, and what we ought to do for God.
The Bible shows that at the beginning of the Millennium, after Gog’s armies were destroyed (compare Ezekiel 38 and 39), God will reinstitute animal sacrifices at a newly built temple in Jerusalem. It is possible that the Jews will build a third temple PRIOR to Christ’s return, which will survive the partial end-time destruction of the city of Jerusalem and which will be identical with the millennial temple, described in the book of Ezekiel (compare our Q&A http://www.eternalgod.org/qa/5352 , answering the question whether the Jews will build a temple in Jerusalem prior to Christ’s return. Compare also another Q&A on the same topic, http://www.eternalgod.org/qa/782 ).
The short answer is: No, they do not.
Luke’s account of Christ’s anointing occurred prior to the events described by the other gospel writers; they did not take place in the same city; and the women anointing Christ were not the same.
The New Testament has many references to disciples and apostles.
Strictly speaking, a disciple is anyone who follows another's teachings. In the Bible, the name “disciple” comes from the Greek word, “mathaytes,” which means learner, student or pupil. We read that the loyal disciples were not just learning, but also, that they agreed and followed their leader, Jesus Christ. However, many turned away who at one time were His followers during His 3½ year ministry. We read in Acts 1:15 that there were only about 120 disciples just before the day of Pentecost. This was after preaching to many thousands of people, feeding miraculously more than 10,000 people, and performing many healings!
After Christ has returned and freed the tribes of Israel from slavery, brought them into the Promised Land and begun the reinstitution of the temple service, He will allot the Promised Land to the twelve tribes. This will apparently occur during the remaining 3 ½ years of Christ’s ministry to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (compare our Q&A, “What will Jesus do after Satan has been banished?").
The idea that we will go to heaven after death is an entirely unbiblical concept. It is derived from paganism.
As Lewis Brown explains in “This Believing World”:
“In very early times that idea flourished not alone among the Babylonians and Egyptians, but also among the barbaric tribes in and around Greece…these mysteries [came] down from Thrace or across the sea from Egypt and Asia Minor… they declared that for every man, no matter how poor or vicious, there was a place in heaven. All one had to do was to be ‘initiated’ into the secrets of the cult.”
As we explained in the previous Q&A, the Bible teaches nowhere that we ascend to God’s third heaven after we die. Some insist on the opposite, quoting a few passages which supposedly support their belief in an afterlife in heaven after death.
One of those passages is Philippians 1:23-24. They claim that Paul said that he wanted to die, depart from this earth and be with Christ in heaven. The Nelson Study Bible interprets the passage to mean that “he wanted to go right away to heaven and be with Christ.”
But Paul did not say that he wanted to be with Christ in heaven.
In the two previous Q&A’s, we explained that the Bible does not teach that we go to heaven upon death. The last Q&A began to discuss passages, which are sometimes quoted to teach the opposite. We continue to discuss additional passages in this Q&A.
Last time, we explained John 14:1-4, stating that in the Father’s house there are many mansions, and that Christ is preparing a place for us and that He will return and receive us to Him.
The Bible teaches indeed that we are going to enter the kingdom of heaven, but this does not mean that we will go to heaven. We need to understand what is meant by the term, “kingdom of heaven.”
First of all, we should note that only Matthew uses this expression. The other gospel writers use consistently and exclusively the term, “kingdom of God.” It is therefore obvious that both terms describe the same thing.
Numerous theories exist as to what happened to the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant. Some claim, based on the uninspired Second Book of the Maccabees, that Jeremiah hid it in a cave on Mount Nebo in Jordan when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem. The non-inspired book of 1 Esdras claims that the Babylonians carried the “ark of God” to Babylon. There are also those who say that it is located today beneath the Temple Mount.
Simply put, God’s grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is the gift of God. It includes manifold facets of God’s undeserved pardon and forgiveness, His mercy and His compassion.
For instance, our heart is established and made firm and becomes totally convicted through grace, preventing us from accepting wrong doctrines (Hebrews 13:9). It is grace with God when we suffer wrongfully for righteousness’ sakes (1 Peter 2:19); after all, when we experience wrongful persecution, our reward will be great (Matthew 5:10-12).
It does not. Please look carefully at the context of the passage in light of other Biblical evidence.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 reads:
In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 there is a falling away (“apostasia”) mentioned, which is defined by Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries (G646) as “defection from the truth, falling away, forsake.” This verse is in the section of Scripture (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4), which reads as follows in its entirety:
In a previous Q&A we discussed the meaning of grace. We pointed out that grace does not dispense with individual responsibility. In this Q&A, we will show in more detail what God expects of us.
It is claimed that the New Testament teaches that we are no longer obligated to keep God’s Law, and that especially Paul made clear that the Law is no longer binding for us. This is a terrible and, quite frankly, abominable doctrine stemming from demons.
A fundamental statement of John the Baptist can be found in John 3:36 to the effect that he who believes Jesus Christ will inherit eternal life, but that God’s wrath rests upon a person who does not “obey” Christ (compare the correct rendering in the Revised Standard Version).
John had refused to baptize those who came to him without having shown fruits of repentance, challenging them with the question as to who had warned them to flee from the wrath to come (Matthew 3:7-12; Luke 3:7-17). In Matthew 23:33, Christ reiterated John’s warning, ultimately equating the wrath of God with the condemnation of hell fire. That is, if someone refuses to repent and obey God, ending up in committing the unpardonable sin, he will be destroyed in the lake of fire.
The answer is a resounding, Yes. Most of our readers understand the importance of prayer for the Work of God and His ministers, deacons, members and coworkers who are actively involved in the Work of God. However, in this Q&A, we want to show the strong emphasis, which the Bible places on the duty and responsibility of non-ordained and ordained Church members to pray for God’s Work and the human instruments whom God chooses to carry out His Work.
There have indeed been many reports over the centuries about the White House being haunted and visited by “ghosts,” and quite recently, it was claimed that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has had encounters with ghosts.
“Roll Call” wrote on June 6, 2012, that “Pelosi… recounted an unusual anecdote about how the ghosts of past women leaders spoke to her at her first White House meeting as Speaker… in 2006… ‘I realized that on that chair with me was Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Hall, Lucretia Mott, you name it, they were all there… And I could hear them say “at last we have a seat at the table,”’ Pelosi said.”
As we have explained before, the Bible teaches three resurrections—one to eternal life, and two to physical life. But does the Bible tell us anything about the location as to WHERE, exactly, those who have died will be resurrected?
In our Q&A on the “resurrection of the physical body,” we addressed the question as to HOW God will resurrect those who have died. We wrote the following:
The Israelites endured many tests and trials after leaving Egypt and often fell short of what was required of them. One test was to have serious consequences that would affect so many. That was when the spies were sent into Canaan.
The Bible teaches that it is the potential and destiny of man to enter the Kingdom and Family of God; that is, to become an immortal and eternal God being. Much information on this intriguing subject is provided in our free booklets, “The Gospel of the Kingdom of God” and “God Is a Family.” We will be quoting at length from these and other booklets throughout this Q&A.
Those who are called and chosen in this day and age, are to qualify for entrance into God’s Kingdom, when Jesus Christ returns to this earth. But what, exactly, will they be? And what powers will they have?
Since the Word of God is consistent in its teaching (John 10:35) and stands forever (Isaiah 40:8; Psalm 119:160; and 1 Peter 1:25), the instruction to both judge and not to judge is not a contradiction. Therefore, it is vital to understand the difference between the types of judgment that are appropriate and the types that are inappropriate. The Bible draws a distinction between righteous judgment and situations in which judgment is to be avoided. The Bible is clear in its instruction for Christians both to judge righteously and to abstain from judgment. How can we reconcile the difference? The answer is that not all judgment is the same. Reading closely in the Bible, we find that judgment requires context in order to determine if it is appropriate behavior.
In the Q&A in Update 234 of March 10, 2006, the question of the first two verses in 1 Corinthians was discussed, and the conclusion was that “1 Corinthians 11:1 can, and must be taken at face value: We are to follow Paul or any other servant of God ONLY to the extent that he follows Christ.”
In this Q&A, let us look specifically at the meaning of “imitate”. “Mimetes” (pronounced mim-ay-tace) is the Greek noun to be translated as “imitator” (see Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries). The Greek verb, which means “to mimic” or “to imitate”, is “mimeomai” (see Young’s Analytical Concordance).
Note the different translations of 1 Corinthians 11:1:
When we think of the word “church,” we need to understand that it is not a reference to a building, but rather to a group of people—the “called-out-ones”--who were given a specific purpose or commission to accomplish. This task can only be achieved with the help of God, who opens doors and provides opportunities to the church as a group of zealous and dedicated people.
Rightly understood, there is not only one purpose or even one main purpose of the church, but there are quite a few reasons for the existence of the church of God.
One main purpose can be derived from Matthew 24:14, which explains that the gospel of the Kingdom of God is to be and will be preached and published to the world as a witness.
The Bible teaches us that Christ will return after the Great Tribulation has commenced, and within approximately a year after the beginning of the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord will not end when Christ returns, but it will continue throughout the Millennium and beyond—it describes the time when God will rule in the affairs of men. After the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment, also known as the Second Resurrection, lasting perhaps 100 years, there will be a third resurrection for those who have committed the unpardonable sin. They will be cast in the Gehenna or “hell” fire—the “lake of fire”--to be burned up and destroyed.
During one of the early encounters of Moses and Aaron with Pharaoh, “Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers (or soothsayers); so the magicians of Egypt, they ALSO DID IN LIKE MANNER with their enchantments. For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods” (Exodus 7:10-12).
The Bible teaches us that we must be willing to forgive and forget, upon repentance. The Bible does not teach us that we must overlook and ignore ungodly conduct of those who reject God and persecute His people; especially, when it has relevance and important bearing on other Christians. The Bible even tells us that sometimes, some need to be admonished—even in public, if necessary—to prevent that others follow their wrong example.
For instance, in Titus 1:10-14, Paul warns Titus not to tolerate those in a certain nation who oppose him:
Beginning with verse 11, Revelation 20 describes the Great White Throne Judgment period, which is also referred to in Scripture as the “Second Resurrection.” It will follow the First Resurrection (of all those true Christians who will have been resurrected to immortal life, at the time of Christ’s return). The Second Resurrection will also follow the Millennium of 1,000 years of Christ’s rule here on earth (compare Revelation 20:1-4).
The story of Eli is recorded in the first four chapters of 1 Samuel. Eli served as priest; in fact, as High Priest in the house of the LORD in Shiloh (compare 1 Samuel 1:9, 24). Eli was also a judge over Israel (1 Samuel 4:18). Eli was a descendant of Ithamar, the fourth and youngest son of Aaron the High Priest (compare Exodus 6:23).
The account in 1 Samuel also introduces the story of Samuel—the one who replaced Eli as judge over Israel (compare 1 Samuel 7:6).
For Eli, serving as both priest and judge to Israel, a great sense of responsibility and accountability to God was required. Turning to a later account, consider what God said as it is recorded in the second chapter of the Book of Malachi concerning His priests:
We read in Leviticus 23:42 that ancient Israel was commanded to “dwell in booths for seven days.” God commanded Israel to build temporary huts or booths out of tree branches and live in them during the Feast of Tabernacles (compare Nehemiah 8:14-18).
What is a booth? In the Hebrew, the word is “sukkah.” It means, literally, a “covering or a booth,” but as we will see, it conveys more than that.
The word “sukkah” is translated 12 times as “tabernacle” in the Authorized Version. In most cases, it refers to the Feast of Tabernacles (compare Leviticus 23:34; Deuteronomy 16:13, 16; 31:10; 2 Chronicles 8:13; Ezra 3:4; and Zechariah 14:16, 18-19).
The Bible states that Christ will return to rule on this earth (John 14:3; Isaiah 9:6-7; Luke 1:30-33; Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:13-14), and born-again Christians will rule with and under Him (Daniel 7:27; Luke 13:28; Jeremiah 30:7-9; Ezekiel 37:24-25; Ezekiel 34:23-24; Isaiah 30:20-21; Luke 22:29-30; Matthew 19:28; Revelation 2:26-27; Revelation 20:4, 6).
In John 11:35 we read the shortest verse in the Bible in the English translation: “Jesus wept”. It is only in the book of John that we read about the death and raising from the dead of Lazarus by Jesus.
Wikipedia states that: “In some places in the English-speaking world, including the UK, Ireland (particularly Dublin) and Australia, the phrase ‘Jesus wept’ is a common expletive, curse or minced oath spoken when something goes wrong or to express mild incredulity.”
Unfortunately, it appears that a number of authors also use this two-word-verse as en expletive in their writings.
Why did Jesus weep at this particular time? Many authors and commentaries have offered numerous ideas and explanations.
Let us look very closely at both passages.
In Psalm 8:4-5, David wonders about the purpose of the creation of man. We read, in the New King James Bible: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and you have crowned him with glory and honor.”
David proceeds in the next verses to show that man has received dominion over the animal world (verses 7-8).
In previous Q&A’s, we showed how the survivors of the modern descendants of the houses of Israel and Judah will be brought out of captivity and led to the Promised Land, where they will settle down. We discussed a subsequent invasion of Far Eastern nations into the Promised Land at the beginning of the Millennium, and how God will deal swiftly with these hostile armies. We also discussed the fact that Christ will come to bring spiritual and physical restoration for all peoples, but He will rule in Jerusalem over—at first--the Israelite nations. How, then, will “Gentile” nations come to and accept the truth?
As this is a very broad subject, we will provide answers in several Q&As. This Q&A constitutes the first installment, to be continued next week.
The purpose of this first installment is NOT to answer most of the questions about the Land Sabbath and the Jubilee Year. Answers will be provided in future installments. In this installment, we will mainly be quoting from commentaries to show the different positions applied to the issues—which are somewhat reminiscent of SOME opinions and concepts which are occasionally raised by some Church members as well. In subsequent installments, we will discuss the substantive accuracy or inaccuracy of many of those statements.
In this second installment on the questions raised, we are proceeding with answering whether those Old Testament institutions are still of any validity today. In last week’s first installment, we quoted the relevant biblical passages (mainly Exodus 23:10-11 and Leviticus 25:1-7, 18-22), and we cited numerous commentaries to show their understanding as to what these passages meant for the ancient Israelites. Now, we are beginning to answer the question as to what they mean for us today.
In the last two installments of this series, we discussed the views of numerous commentaries on the issue, and we saw from Scripture that the Sabbatical Year (also referred to as the Land Sabbath and the Year of Release; compare, for example, Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:1-7, 18-22), as well as the Jubilee Year (compare, for example, Leviticus 25:8-14), were laws for the nation of Israel, which were related to the Land of Canaan. The Year of Release and the Jubilee Year included also the cancellation of personal debts and the restoration of all real estate to its prior owner. Land was not to be sold forever.
In the previous three installments, we discussed the biblical regulations of the Land Sabbath (Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:1-7, 18-22) and rejected extreme viewpoints which hold that either these regulations must be enforced today, literally and in their entirety, by the Church of God and its members, while others hold that they are no longer applicable today, not even in principle.
It was Satan’s goal from the outset to try to kill Christ physically and spiritually. Satan attempted to have Christ killed as a Child, including through Herod’s mass murder of young boys from two years old and under. If he had succeeded, this would have altered or even defeated God’s plan for a Saviour, but Satan’s attempt was thwarted by God, and Christ was protected as a Child in Egypt. We might even recall that Satan tried to wipe out all the Jews to prevent Christ from being born as a Jew from the tribe of Judah, but through Esther’s and Mordecai’s brave conduct, that plan was thwarted as well.
The Bible is clear that faith is measured in terms of both quantity and quality.
Before going into detail about what the Bible says about measuring faith, it is important to clarify just what faith is. Hebrews 11:1 says it best: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We understand this to mean that faith is an action which treats things that have not yet happened, and things which are not empirically evident, as truth. There is no practical distinction between the object of faith and reality to the believer. Faith is the ability to believe in deed.
The short answer to your question is that as true Christians, we should not vote in governmental elections. We must understand what Paul meant with his usage of the words, “God’s ministers,” and the entire passage in Romans 13:1-6, when applying the concept to the political powers to be.
We addressed a related issue in a previous Q&A, discussing Romans 13:3, where we said:
In the previous Q&A, we explained, among other things, that a Christian is not to get involved in political campaigns or vote in governmental elections, and that he is not to participate or support rebellious uprisings. This fact will be discussed further in this Q&A as well. The question may arise then as to when human authority is established in God’s eyes; in other words, when do successful rebels constitute such authority which we must be subject to?
The commentary of Blunt, “The Annotated Bible,” addresses this issue in the following manner:
In Joshua 10:11-14, we are introduced to one of the greatest miracles recorded in Scripture. We read:
The Scripture that is being referred to here can be found in Philippians 2:12: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…”
When Paul wrote this under inspiration of God, he was not saying that it was entirely up to us as an individual to “make it” into the Kingdom of God as many take it to mean today. Nor is he saying that we can come to the necessary knowledge of God by ourselves or walk in the Christian way without guidance and help.
We know that the Bible does not contradict itself, as God’s Word cannot be broken (John 10:35). When we come across a seeming contradiction, it is only because of a misunderstanding of certain passages, or because of an inaccurate or misleading translation.
In Hebrews 9:4 we read regarding the ark of the covenant or Testimony, that “in [it] were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant…”
However, in 1 Kings 8:9, we read: “There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb…”
Several explanations are possible which would shed light on these passages, without attempting to create a contradiction.
In the previous Q&A, we answered the question as to what was in the ark of the covenant—just the tablets with the Ten Commandments, or also the pot with manna and Aaron’s rod? We pointed out that the latter two items could have been placed inside the ark at one time, but were later removed, perhaps through the Philistines or the men of Beth Shemesh. The question might be asked how this would be possible. Isn’t it true that no one could touch the ark without being killed—as the example with Uzzah is supposed to prove? If so, would not anyone be killed immediately, when touching the ark, before being able to remove items from the ark?
In Daniel 7, four great world-ruling empires are described, which are seen by Daniel in a vision as four beasts. When Daniel saw the vision, only the first empire was in existence—the Babylonian Empire, which was symbolized as a lion (verse 4). It was to be followed by the Medo-Persian Empire, which was symbolized as a bear (verse 5). It, in turn, was to be replaced by the Greco-Macedonian Empire, which was symbolized by a leopard (verse 6). In his vision, Daniel also saw a fourth beast with ten horns (verse 7). Although not identified by name, it is unanimously accepted by biblical scholars and historians that the fourth empire, which subdued the third beast, represents the Roman Empire. It was to exist until the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God here
There is compelling biblical evidence that this will be accomplished by the modern Jewish State of Israel. In spite of the current seemingly overwhelming obstacles, a Temple dedicated to God is destined to once again arise in Jerusalem.
The setting for the Book of Ezekiel is of particular interest.
Ezekiel, a member of the priestly family of Buzi (Ezekiel 1:3), was taken to Babylon from Judah in 597 B.C. It was in this period of captivity that Ezekiel received visions from God. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in 586 B.C., and some of Ezekiel’s prophetic messages addressed these events; however, the greater part of his prophecies were for future fulfillment!
Jesus very clearly said that the Temple of God which existed in His generation would be utterly destroyed (compare Matthew 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:1-6). However, He also spoke of startling prophecies for our day in answer to His disciples' questions: “‘…Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’” (Matthew 24:3).
Among the future occurrences Jesus related, the following astounding statement is made by Him—warning of an event that was not yet fulfilled, but it would be shortly before His return:
"‘Therefore when you see the “abomination of desolation,” spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the HOLY PLACE’ (whoever reads, let him understand)…” (Matthew 24:15; also, Mark 13:14).
Jerusalem is designated to be the royal city of Jesus Christ’s reign on the earth. Ezekiel’s presentation of the Temple he saw has its setting in the future—and in the City of Jerusalem: “In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city” (Ezekiel 40:2).
Other prophecies also speak of Jesus Christ establishing Jerusalem as the place of His future rule:
This question has been a highly political issue which has been much debated in the UK, the US and other Western nations, but since we are not getting involved in politics and the affairs of this world, we want to look only at the biblical instruction regarding work for individual Christians, without taking political sides on this issue. Neither are we to “recommend” to a government as to what to do in such a case, except for pointing out the clear biblical principles as revealed in the Bible.
In the books of Daniel and Revelation, four world-ruling empires are described, which have been identified as Babylon (compare Daniel 2:38; 7:17), Medo-Persia (compare Daniel 2:39; 7:17; 8:20), Greece (compare Daniel 2:39; 7:17; 8:21) and Rome (compare Daniel 2:40-43; 7:17). The Roman Empire was to be divided into Eastern and Western Rome, and the Western part would fall (compare Revelation 13:3), but it was to be revived ten times and would endure until the time of Jesus Christ’s return. Proof for these statements can be found in our literature, including our booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.” In that booklet, we also state the following:
The Roman Empire fell, but it was to be revived ten times prior to Christ’s return. Following the revival through the Vandals and the Heruli under King Gaiseric and King Odoacer, the third revival would follow shortly.
The Third Revival under King Theodoric the Great of the Ostrogoths:
The Gale Encyclopedia of Biography writes:
Previously, we covered the first four revivals of the ancient Roman Empire, after its demise. The fourth revival under Justinian occurred about 554 A.D., but it too would come to an end and go back into the “abyss” of history. But almost 250 years later, the world would observe the next revival.
The Fifth Revival under Charlemagne
The Living World of History states:
Previously, we covered the first six revivals of the ancient Roman Empire, after its demise. The sixth revival under Otto the Great occurred about 962 A.D., but it too would come to an end. It would take more than 450 years after Otto’s death, before the next revival of the ancient Roman Empire would occur.
The Seventh Revival under Charles V of Habsburg
Charles V of Habsburg was crowned in 1530 A.D. by pope Clement VII as Holy Roman Emperor, and Germany could speak again “with its former authority in Europe,” as it had done under Otto the Great. According to P.M. History, Charles V ruled over an empire which never saw the setting of the sun. The Book, “The Living World of History” states:
The eighth resurrection of the Roman Empire under Napoleon had come and gone. According to the Bible, two more revivals would have to take place before Christ could come back. And so, the ninth, but short-lived revival occurred in the 20th century, over 100 years after Napoleon, under Mussolini and Hitler.
The Ninth Revival under Mussolini and Hitler
Technically, it was Benito Mussolini under whom the ninth revival of the Roman Empire took place, but he was of course greatly supported in this by Adolf Hitler.
The Living World of History states the following about Mussolini:
The ninth, but short-lived revival of the ancient Roman Empire occurred under Mussolini and Hitler. In the previous installment, we concentrated on Mussolini. In this installment, we will discuss some little-known facts about his ally Adolf Hitler and his magical beliefs and demonic powers.
The ninth resurrection of the Roman Empire under Mussolini and Hitler has ended, and one more revival is prophesied to occur. That last revival of the ancient Roman Empire has been in the making for quite some time, and its final configuration is not that far off.
According to the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation, the last European revival of the ancient Roman Empire will be a unification of ten nations or groups of nations, which will give their power to the “beast”—a charismatic political and military leader. This political power bloc will be collaborating with a mighty Church organization claiming to be Christian, but it is a fallen church which has rejected the truth of God and has aligned itself with the political powers of this present evil world.
In the last installment, we showed that the final resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire has already begun in Europe. We saw that core member states of Europe—ten nations or groups of nations—will unify and become militarily strong (Daniel 2:42). They will only rule for a short time and give their power and authority to a charismatic political personage—the “beast”—(Revelation 17:12-13). That short-lived unification under the beast will be hostile towards Jesus Christ (verse 14). Other passages show us that the “beast” will work together with a religious figure, called “the false prophet.”
In the last installment, we began discussing some of the characteristics of the beast (a future charismatic political and military leader ruling ten nations or groups of nations in Europe, compare Revelation 17:12-13, 17) and important aspects associated with him. We saw that he will be worshipped as a god; that he will blaspheme God and that he will persecute the saints who do not accept his mark, his name and the number of his name, which is 666.
In this installment, we will continue pointing out some interesting facts which will identify the coming beast.
In previous installments, we showed that the final resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire has already begun in Europe. We saw that core member states of Europe—ten nations or groups of nations—will unify and give their power and authority to a charismatic political personage—the “beast” (Revelation 17:12-13), who will work together with a religious figure, called “the false prophet.”
In this installment, we will discuss the biblical revelations about the religious organization that the “false prophet” will represent. A future installment will address the “false prophet” himself—also in light of historic forerunners.
In the previous installment, we discussed the biblical revelations about the religious organization that the “false prophet” will represent. We have seen that the last seven revivals of the ancient Roman Empire constituted a collaboration between religion (the Roman Catholic Church) and state (the political empires under military leaders), while the first three revivals of the ancient Roman Empire were not supported by the Catholic faith.
In this installment, we will address historical forerunners of the end-time “false prophet”—including Simon Magus.
In the previous installment, we discussed Simon Magus and other historical forerunners of the end-time “false prophet.” In this final installment, we will point out the biblical revelations about the false prophet who will manifest himself soon on the world scene, as well as the final destiny of the religious system that he represents.
We have seen that the last seven revivals of the ancient Roman Empire constituted a collaboration between religion (the Roman Catholic Church) and state (the political empires under military leaders), while the first three revivals of the ancient Roman Empire were not supported by the Catholic faith. The false prophet will be the end-time leader or last pope of the Catholic Church.
This pivotal Scripture does indeed reveal that God gives His Holy Spirit by measure to some. However, in the case of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit of God the Father dwelt in Him without measure from conception to fulfill His mission—the work given to Him by the Father.
It is important to understand this verse in the context given when John the Baptist testified about who Jesus was:
During one of His most famous discourses, Jesus Christ states with utmost clarity that love is the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-40). Since we have the instruction and command to love, it is vitally important that we know what love is. How do you know if you have the love that God expects you to have? What qualities does an expression of love have? In what ways is love expressed? These questions are basic, but fundamental to the life of a Christian.
Since angels are still free moral agents, even though created and composed of spirit, could they still sin and rebel against God? Or, could some demons still repent and become righteous? And what will happen to Satan and those demons who will not and therefore cannot repent and change?
These are interesting questions, and even though the Bible may not give us total and complete answers in each case, there are in fact several references and hints in Scripture which might allow us to reach certain conclusions.
Barring extraordinary circumstances, such as health issues or very long distance, which would prevent us from attending Church services, the answer is clearly yes. Not to attend Church services because of lack of convenience or interest is clearly sinful in the eyes of God. And if in doubt, it is always better to attend than to use “excuses” for not attending.
Some believe that the Bible teaches that at the time of Noah, angelic beings produced giants through sexual intercourse with women. In fact, this belief is wide-spread and sometimes referred to as the “most controversial concept” in the entire Bible. Proponents refer for proof to Genesis 6:1-4. This passage reads:
“Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose… there were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”
In our Update #479 (dated 11th February 2011; Q&A: “Are You God’s True Church?”), the specific question was asked: “Every splinter group or offshoot of the Worldwide Church of God claims to be God’s true Church. What do you say of yourselves?”
In Exodus 6:2-3, God states the following to Moses:
“And God spoke to Moses and said to him: ‘I am the LORD [YHWH or Yahweh; some translate erroneously as Jehovah. The expression “Eternal” is perhaps the best rendering in the English language to convey the correct meaning]. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty [El Shaddai], but by My name LORD [YHWH] I was not known to them.” The Authorized Version says: “… but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.”
Compare also Exodus 3:14,-15, where God reveals Himself for the first time to MOSES as “the LORD [YHWH] God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, And the God of Jacob.” He identifies Himself as “I AM WHO I AM,” and adds that “This is My name forever.”
God created marriage as a union between a man and a woman. This would exclude, for instance, marriage relationships between two men, or two women; nor would it allow polygamy.
In the booklet, “‘In the Beginning…’ Answers to Questions from Genesis,” by the Worldwide Church of God, copyright 1980, the following is stated about polygamy:
This question is related to the issue of “single procession” or “double procession” of the Holy Spirit, which is hotly debated in orthodox Christianity. For instance, while the Roman Catholic or Latin Church believes and teaches that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, the (Greek) Orthodox Eastern Church believes and teaches that it only proceeds from the Father, but that it is given through the Son. As both Churches believe in the concept of the Trinity (one God in three Persons, erroneously believing that the Holy Spirit is a Person), their explanation of the procession of the Holy Spirit is, by necessity, flawed.
Ephesians 4:11-12 states the following: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…”
Even though “teachers” is listed together with the offices of the ministry, including apostle, prophet, evangelist and pastor, what was the original intent of this passage and the inclusion of “teachers”?
Looking at the qualifications of a bishop (literally, an overseer) or an elder (compare New International Version) will help us to clarify this issue.
1 Timothy 3:1-7 states:
The Bible does indeed speak of God’s Kingdom in different ways. But as we will see, there is no contradiction, nor are there separate or distinct Kingdoms.
Let us note several examples where the Bible speaks of the Kingdom of GOD:
In Mark 10:15, 25 we read that we must receive and enter the Kingdom of GOD. Mark 14:25 quotes Christ saying that He will drink wine in the kingdom of GOD. He states in Luke 4:43 that He came to preach the kingdom of GOD. He adds in Luke 6:20 that the poor are blessed because theirs is the kingdom of GOD.
The astounding truth of the Bible is that generally, He does not hear, nor does He answer the prayers of just anyone. In fact, at this time and throughout human history, only a small proportion of people have had the kind of relationship with God in which their prayers would be heard by Him!
In the very beginning messages of Jesus Christ, He taught about praying, and throughout His ministry, He continued to teach His own disciples how to pray. His example gives us an important key to God hearing our prayers, and what is recorded in the Book of Hebrews about Christ is vital for us to understand:
In our Q&A on the “law of jealousy,” we pointed out that this law was a "ritualistic procedure,” which is no longer applied in its literal sense today. We stated that “In Numbers 5:11-31, God gave Old Testament Israel a supernatural means of determining whether a wife had committed adultery or not, although she had not been caught, and no witness was present (Numbers 5:13). When ‘the spirit of jealousy’ came upon the husband, so that he suspected a transgression of his wife, the husband could bring his wife to the priest, and he had to bring at the same time the ‘grain offering of jealousy’ (Numbers 5:15)… The priest gave the woman ‘holy’ or ‘bitter’ water to drink, after she had denied, under oath, any transgression. God then
Perhaps surprisingly to some of our readers, the answer to all of these questions is, “No.” Let us understand.
We read in Titus 3:4-6: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared… according to His grace He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit [which] He poured out on us ABUNDANTLY through Jesus Christ our Savior…”
We read in 1 Peter 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His ABUNDANT mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
The emphasis in this verse is on life in the time that is beyond this current age:
“‘For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.’”
As a first consideration in answering this question, it is important to understand that this world, its society and its ways are under the dominance of Satan (compare John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19). Jesus Christ told His disciples that He had “‘…overcome the world’” (John 16:33), and John adds: “…For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
Christians have this challenge regarding the present age:
Much confusion exists as to whether true Christians are to attempt and do what they can to make this world a better place—to improve sad conditions by voting for “better” leaders; to fight against dictatorships to replace them with democratic politicians or to invade democratic countries to replace them with dictators; to engage in missionary activities in poor countries to build hospitals there or engage in other charitable work; or to desperately try to save some souls through evangelistic campaigns in an effort to proselytize or convert others—only to realize with frustration and disappointment that all these noble efforts are destined to fail.
The Old Testament of the Bible contains Hebrew Poetry, but it is not to be compared with the kind of today’s poetry which rhymes at the end of each verse. Rather, Hebrew Poetry is designed to express more clearly and by emphasis certain aspects of the truth. It is important to realize when and how Hebrew Poetry is used, so that we do not misunderstand the intended meaning of a particular passage.
In this series, we will discuss in depth the beauty and wisdom of inspired Hebrew poetry. It can be generally described as PARALLELISM. In Hebrew, the rhyme is the repetition of thoughts or the extension of similar thoughts.
In the last Q&A, we discussed one aspect of Hebrew Poetry in the inspired pages of the Old Testament—that of Identical and Similar Synonymous Parallelism.
In this Q&A, we will address INTROVERTED and ANTITHETIC PARALLELISM.
In INTROVERTED PARALLELISM (a/k/a chiasmus), the order of the thoughts is reversed. In the first line, thought 1 is followed by thought 2. In the second line, thought 2 is followed by thought 1.
Let us look at a few examples:
“Have mercy upon Me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness;
“According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgression.”
In the last two Q&As, we discussed several variations of the concept of parallelism in biblical Hebrew Poetry, namely identical and similar synonymous parallelism, and introverted and antithetic parallelism.
As we will recall, Synonymous Parallelism describes the repetition of identical or similar thoughts; while in Introverted Parallelism, the order of thoughts is reversed, and in Antithetical Parallelism, opposite thoughts are expressed.
In this final Q&A in our series about Hebrew Poetry in the Bible, we will discuss further concepts of poetic devices.
One of these devices is the concept of SYNTHETIC PARALLELISM, which is also sometimes referred to as constructive or epithetic parallelism.
Even though one has to avoid the “temptation” to attach a symbolic meaning to just about every number or combination of numbers, as used in the Holy Scriptures, there can be no doubt that a particular significance exists in regard to certain numbers or numerical combinations. This concept is known as biblical Numerology. The Bible itself makes this clear when it talks about the famous figure “666” (as will be discussed below)—the number of the end-time beast in the book of Revelation—or when it refers to certain numbers in the book of Daniel (for instance, 1260 days, 1290 days, and 1335 days).
In the last Q&A, we discussed the significance of numbers 1 to 6 in the Bible. In this Q&A, we will continue with pointing out the biblical importance for numbers 7 and 10.
Number 7 belongs to the most important numbers in the Bible.
It stands for completion and perfection, and it is generally understood and recognized in this way.
In the last two Q&A’s, we discussed the significance of numbers 1 to 7 and 10 in the Bible. In this final Q&A of this series, we will conclude with pointing out the biblical importance of numbers 12 and 40.
Number 12 is generally understood as being the number of foundations. Twelve is a combination of the number 2 (which can symbolize union) and the number 10 (which symbolizes godly judgment).
Jesus tells us that a day has twelve hours (John 11:9)—referring to the daylight portion—adding that the day is followed by the night (verse 10)—another period of twelve (dark) hours.
It is true to say that the Church of God has never been part of mainstream Christianity, and it would be equally true to say that for the last 2,000 years, the doctrines of the Church have been taken purely from the Bible.
Syncretism has become commonplace in mainstream Christianity and is defined by Webster’s as "the combination of different forms of belief or practice.” This word syncretism does not appear in the Scriptures, but the subject is certainly addressed and condemned. We have to see the faulty trap of syncretism (combining right aspects of godly worship with wrong practices).
In casually reading passages dealing with the staff of Moses and the staff of Aaron, we might perhaps not think that any important significance should be attached to them. However, upon careful scrutiny, some amazing revelations may come to light.
The Hebrew word for the staffs of Moses and Aaron, is “mattheh.” It can mean staff or rod, and it can also mean “tribe,” showing the connection between the staff and the person and even the tribe which is represented by the person. Of course, both Aaron and Moses were of the tribe of Levi.
In the Authorized Version (old King James Bible), John 20:17 is rendered as follows: “Jesus saith unto her [Mary], Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” Jesus had been resurrected from the dead, and He made these comments to Mary when she met Him after she had discovered that His tomb was empty.
One explanation given in times past was that Christ did not want Mary to touch Him because He was not yet glorified and had not gone to heaven to be glorified and presented as a weave sheaf offering before God. Although this explanation may sound feasible at first sight, it doesn’t stand the test of scriptural application.
God’s command, not to add to or take from His Law, has wide-ranging applications and practical consequences in many areas of daily life. For instance, when we look at the question, why we are not to observe Christmas or Easter, then the first answer might be that they are pagan, not Christian, and that the Bible nowhere commands their observance. In fact, God prohibited His followers to worship Him, as pagans worshipped their gods (Deuteronomy 12:29-32), and Christ warned us that we are not to uphold human traditions while rejecting God’s commandments (Mark 7:8-9).
But there are additional important reasons to consider, which are not limited to the question of Christmas and Easter observance, and they affect our worship of God in other ways.
Some orthodox Jews wear leather boxes (“phylacteries”) which contain portions of Old Testament passages. They base this custom on Scriptures in Deuteronomy and Exodus.
One of those passages is Deuteronomy 6:6-8, which states, in connection with the pronouncement of the Ten Commandments:
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall BIND them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as FRONTLETS between your eyes.”
In our free booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound,” we stated the following:
“Another example [of an injunction which is no longer valid today for Christians] would be a law contained in Deuteronomy 22:12, commanding that tassels be made on the four corners of one’s clothing. The reason is given in Numbers 15:38–40: ‘…that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD to do them… and so be holy to the LORD.’ … Today, God’s Holy Spirit reminds us of God’s law. Ancient Israel needed those physical reminders, however, as the Holy Spirit was not promised or given to them. Under the New Covenant, those physical reminders should not be necessary, as the law of God is being written on our hearts and minds.”
This is a question that has troubled people for ages. If God is perfect and powerful, and if sickness is bad, why do people become sick? Whether a sickness is life threatening or just enough to slow us down, it is important to understand the reason and purpose for sickness in man. The Bible reveals that sickness is something that God allows for several different reasons.
In Acts 1:15, it says there were about 120 disciples.
In 1 Corinthians 15:6, we read that Christ appeared to 500 “brethren” or disciples.
Many commentaries suggest that the 120 disciples, mentioned in Acts 1:15, only refer to those in Jerusalem, and that the 500 brethren were living in Galilee at that time.
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown states: “… the number … about an hundred and twenty—Many, therefore, of the ‘five hundred brethren’ who saw their risen Lord ‘at once’ (1Co 15:6), must have remained in Galilee.”
The People’s New Testament agrees, stating: “[They were] about an hundred and twenty. This was the number of disciples at Jerusalem, but not all who were then disciples. See 1Co 15:6.”
In certain Islamic countries, thieves and others are maimed, by cutting off their hand. Was such a procedure ever condoned or even enjoined in the Bible, under any circumstances? The passage in Deuteronomy 25:11-12 states:
“If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall not pity her.”
Was this command to be applied literally?
In a previous Q&A, we explained the meaning of the “lex talionis” in the Old Testament—the “eye for an eye” and “a tooth for a tooth” principle.
We pointed out the following:
We read in Hosea 1:2-3 that God told the prophet Hosea to “take yourself a wife of harlotry” and that Hosea did so and married “Gomer the daughter of Diblaim” and that she had children with him. In Hosea 3:1-3, God commanded Hosea to “love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery,” and that Hosea bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and one and one-half homers of barley, but that he had no sexual relationship with her.
The question in this Q&A is whether these passages are to be understood literally, even though, in any case, they represent God’s relationship with Israel.
Commentaries are divided on the issue.
As will be explained herein, many have taken this statement to justify anti-Semitic sentiments, or to explain horrible incidents like the Holocaust when millions of Jews were killed in gas chambers. But is it possible that a “curse,” which is placed by parents on their children and future generations, can automatically bring about such terrible results? Some turn for an explanation to the “curse” which God placed on parents and children who “hate” Him.
It is interesting to look at the definition of this phrase. One of many definitions that can be found on the Internet makes the point well:
”They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger. But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant, and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late. The frog's survival instincts are geared towards detecting sudden changes.
When dealing with the Father’s and Christ’s relationship with His Church, we find that the Bible pictures the same through several analogies. One of these analogies is the concept of a marriage agreement—we read that both in the Old and in the New Testament, the “congregation in the wilderness”—Old Testament Israel—and the Body of Christ—New Testament Israel or the Church of God—are pictured as entering a marriage agreement with the LORD or YHWH, who was none other than Jesus Christ. In other words, the old covenant and the new covenant are compared with marriage agreements. We read that Christ—the bridegroom—will marry His Church—the bride.
Since the Bible does not contain any contradictions (compare John 10:35), what then is the answer to this question?
Zephaniah 3:9 addresses the time of the Millennium, when Jesus Christ rules on and over the earth, and states:
“For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, That they may all call on the name of the LORD, To serve Him with one accord.”
Compare also Isaiah 19:18: “In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the LORD of hosts…”
The Bible is very detailed about certain developments pertaining to these countries and power blocs, just prior to and leading to the return of Jesus Christ. Before specifically addressing and identifying the Ukrainians and Russians in the Bible, let us give you first a general overview of coming prophetic events.
In our booklet, “Biblical Prophecy—From Now Until Forever”, we point out that in the near future, European powers will attack Far Eastern nations, including Russia and Ukraine.
The question you ask relates to people who have died and who have been resurrected to physical life—an example of the unparalleled power of God.
The Bible records specific examples of individuals who were miraculously healed by God—and note that in every case, a servant of God was instrumental in the act:
Elijah raised the Zarephath widow’s son (1 Kings 17:20); Elisha raised the Shunammite woman’s son (2 Kings 4:32-37); a dead man was raised after accidently being brought into contact with Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:21); Jesus raised Jarius’ daughter (Mark 5:41-43), the son of a widow (Luke 7:11-17)—and Lazarus (John 11:43-44); Peter raised Dorcas (Acts 9:40-41); and Paul raised a young man named Eutychus (Acts 20:9-12).
Some claim that Jesus came to do away with the Law of the Ten Commandments and replace it with a “new” Law, which happens to be identical with the Ten Commandments, except for the omission of the Sabbath. This treacherous and deceitful argument has convinced quite a few people that they do not have to keep the Sabbath anymore. But the truth is that the Ten Commandments have not been abolished, and when you break one of the Ten Commandments, you break them all.
Please note these excerpts from pages 14-15 of our free booklet, “Baptism--A Requirement for Salvation.":
To answer this question, let us begin with some basic passages in the Bible. Here is what John 9:31 tells us: “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.”
Psalm 34:17 also tells us the following about righteous people: “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.”
How are we to understand the statement that God does not hear sinners? Is this an error since we believe that God knows and thus hears everything--even the most secret thoughts of men, as we read in Psalm 94:11: “The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are futile.”
In our last Q&A, we stated that the rich ruler in Luke 18:18-23 (and in the parallel passage in Mark 10:17-22), who was unwilling to sell all he had, “turned down an opportunity to become a minister.” But is this conclusion correct, as the Bible only says specifically that Jesus asked him to “follow Him,” without expressly stating that He wanted to ordain him to the ministry?
We read in Isaiah 66:19: “I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish and Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles."
On the other hand, we read in Revelation 1:7: "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.”
Is there a contradiction? Shouldn't those who "who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory" have seen Christ in His glory at His return when "every eye will see Him"?
In your weekly Update 112 for the Week ending October 11th, 2003, you discussed the Last Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Do you still feel that this is the 8th day as there are those in the Church of God who think that this applies to the seventh day of the Feast?
We are happy to discuss this further. The Q & A that you refer to can be found at http://www.globalchurchofgod.co.uk/qa/3525 . In this answer, the last paragraph states the following:
Some doubt that Christ became human at all. Others believe that He was fully God and fully man when He was here on earth. Then there are those who teach that while the “human form” of Jesus was here on earth, the “Son of God” was still in heaven. They believe that when Jesus “died,” the Son of God continued to live.
The Bible reveals many astounding details concerning events which will take place at the time of the end! One such example is a prophecy about the fate of two individuals who are mentioned several times in the Word of God. What is said about them will help us answer exactly who “the man of sin” is:
“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Revelation 19:20).
It is absolutely correct that Jesus Christ is referred to, in English translations of the Bible, as the “only begotten” Son of God.
We read in John 1:17-18:
“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
The question of sickness and healing has confused many people. Some don’t believe in godly healing; others claim that given enough faith, God will heal every sickness in this life. Some carry with them feelings of guilt, as they prayed to God for healing and were not healed, concluding that the reason must be their fault and their lack of faith. Some conclude that if we prayed to God for healing “in accordance with” or “subject to” His Will, this would already signify our doubt in God’s intervention. Some say that when Paul asked God for healing (compare 2 Corinthians 12:7-10), Paul did not really have the faith that God would heal him. They make the same argument regarding Elisha (2 Kings 13:14, 20-21), stating that Elisha was not healed because he
Some feel that because pagans might use certain symbols, Christians are prohibited from using them. This, however, is an erroneous conclusion. For instance, some wonder whether true Christians ought to use the symbol of the heart.
In this regard, the following correct answer was given by the Letter Answering Department of the Worldwide Church of God, shortly after the death of its human leader, Herbert W. Armstrong:
“You asked whether there is any biblical prohibition against using the symbol of the heart, since it is often associated with the pagan observance of Valentine’s Day. We should remember that it is God who made the heart. Reference is made to it many times in the Bible. God uses this organ as a SYMBOL of our attitude and thoughts, for example.
The Bible is an instruction manual for mankind on a whole raft of issues and can be extremely useful in helping us with matters that might otherwise go unheeded. One principle that seems to be ignored in general today is the Quarantine Principle. Quarantine is defined in the Concise Oxford Dictionary as: Period of isolation imposed on voyagers, travellers, sick persons – that might spread contagious disease.
The Bible has much to say about quarantine and leprosy which was highly contagious and is covered in some detail. However, the same principles apply about colds, flu, sore throats and other infectious and contagious diseases which can equally and easily be spread – thus inconveniencing and causing problems to others.
It depends on what is meant by the term, “prophet.”
Smith's Bible Dictionary describes a biblical prophet as follows:
“The ordinary Hebrew word for prophet is nabi, derived from a verb signifying ‘to bubble forth’ like a fountain; hence the word means one who announces or pours forth the declarations of God. The English word comes from the Greek prophetes (profetes), which signifies in classical Greek one who speaks for another, especially one who speaks for a god, and so interprets his will to man; hence its essential meaning is ‘an interpreter.’”
Easton's Bible Dictionary explains:
Here are Christ’s words, in context, quoted from Matthew 5:17-19:
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
In the Authorized Version, Isaiah 45:7 reads as follows:
“I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. I the LORD do all these things.”
First, let us briefly focus on the word, “create.” It is “bara” in Hebrew and means, “bringing something into existence which did not exist before.” The word is used in Genesis 1:1, revealing that God created the heavens and the earth. Hebrews 11:3 elaborates that the worlds (the universe as well as the earth) “were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
The twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation contains some focal points in the vast role Satan has held in God’s government. In particular, verse 4 reveals the first rebellion of Satan and one-third of the angels who followed him (called “ruler of the demons” in Mark 3:22). This verse also clearly establishes the adversarial position of Satan against “the Child”—Jesus Christ—and “the woman.”
We stated the following about the “woman” in our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation,” page 78:
In 1 Timothy 1:18-19, Paul says the following:
“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck…”
As we pointed out in a previous Q&A about “prophets” in God’s Church today, the concept of “prophecy” and “prophet” does not have to relate to the future, but can include or refer to “inspired” teaching and preaching. We stated the following:
There are indeed several references to giants in the Bible, and several words are used to describe giants.
In Job 16:14 (Authorized Version), we read about Job’s complaint against God: “He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant.” Here, the word for “giant” is “gibbor” and is defined as “mighty” or “a strong one.”
In the writings of the Bible there are a small number of examples of individuals who received the Holy Spirit without a Christian baptism. Prior to the time of the establishment of the New Testament Church, some received the Holy Spirit without first being baptized. They were used by God at that time for a specific and special purpose. They had a job to do, which involved establishing the truth of God among people on the earth and executing the plan of God.
Following the establishment of the New Testament Church, the standard process for receiving the Holy Spirit involves a Christian baptism followed by the laying on of hands by a minister of God.
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."-Matthew 5:14