Question / Comment - General doubts about God's character, prophecy and the Bible.

Their Question:

Hello,

I have just read your article on Samson. I have to wonder at God's poor judgement in selecting people to work for him. And this after that miraculous seeding of a barren woman by an angel. To what real purpose may I ask was Samson born? God sired a man to kill Philistines. Which in the overall schemes of things made very little difference to Israel's future. Samson botched his job. But, do you really accept that an angel ascended to heaven in the smoke and flames of a fire on which a sacrificial goat was burning. This is so stated. A burnt offering to God, suggested by the angel himself. You may recall that when the angel visited Manoah and his barren wife with the news they were to have a son they tried to thank the angel by providing a meal of goat.

If we must have a god let us have at lest have a logical and a sensible one. Did the scribes of the Bible of the bible really believe that god wanted animal sacrifice. They did of course for that was the custom in those days. To sacrifice to their gods.

Can we today be expected to accept that a 'Cosmic Intelligence' would to savour the aroma of burnt flesh?


Regards.


JPN Reply:

Hi

thanks for the email.

God's purpose for Samson is stated in the following verse:

Jdg 13:5 "For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines."

He reigned as a judge in Israel for 20 years and during that time Israel did experience deliverance from the Philistines. Unfortunately, as pointed out on the study, man still has free will and Samson made a lot of bad choices that eventually led to his downfall. Samson was not conceived through a 'miraculous seeding of the woman by an angel' as you mentioned. The Bible doesn't say that. 'The angel of the Lord' simply told the mother that she would conceive.

God did initiate animal sacrifices in the Bible as they were used as a means of teaching the people about the seriousness of sin and how that forgiveness for sin ccome through a blood sacrifice. As recorded in Leviticus:

Lev 17:11
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life.

Of course, the animal sacrifices were only given to teach the people up until the time came when the final sacrifice would be made for sin - and that is Jesus' death upon the cross. That is why the book of Hebrews states that God didn't take pleasure in the sacrifices, though necessary and useful until the time that Jesus came -

Heb 10:5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;
Heb 10:6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.
Heb 10:7 Then I said, 'Here I am--it is written about me in the scroll-- I have come to do your will, O God.' "

What God takes pleasure in today is people trusting in His Son who died for their sins. No more sacrifices are required. He has paid the price for all sin. But the Bible does tell us that without faith it is impossible to please God. If you want to please God then believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ - place your faith in Him and follow Him. That is what God requires of mankind today. That is what pleases Him.

All the best

Their Reply:

Hello  
Thank you for your reply: re my questions about Samson, his birth and animal sacrifice. On the subject of sacrificing an animal to God (in old testament times) we find that such rituals were common practice. Yet, it was rather a stupid one, considering the enormous waste of animal life that it entailed. However, its adoption saved many lives. Previously, it was children who were given up to the gods in sacrificial burnings. 
Offered up to gain favour or to placate the gods. The arrival of the One God ,mercifully put an end to this barbaric practice. Yet, the shedding of an animal's blood was curiously not enough. With the shedding of the blood of Christ, we have returned full circle as the wheel. But, then again the blood of man has always spilled to the earth. From the son of the first man and on down through millennium man's blood has always been
spilled. In our own century, in the battle-fields of the world, man's blood is still being shed. Sacrifices to a god who vanished centuries ago. The Ark of the Covenant is lost, buried beneath the sands of the desert. Its radio no longer works. And the wood of the Cross of The Crucifixion has turned to dust. Where lies the tomb of Moses, the chosen of God? And what of John the Baptiser, the herald of Jesus? Where does he lie, where is his monument?. They are gone, each and everyone and nothing remains. In Jerusalem, believers bang their heads against a wall of stone. They bemoan the loss of their temple, the loss of a kingdom and the disappearance of their god. Should we not also wail? For the coming of the promised kingdom was no more than a false promise.

JPN Reply:

Hi

thanks for the email. Concerning sacrifice - the God of the Bible hates and forbids the sacrifice of children which you are right in saying occurred amongst other nations. Israel was totally forbidden to participate in such a despicable practise.

Concerning the current state of Jerusalem and the kingdom you would probably benefit from reading and understanding Bible prophecy. It would help you to see that "the plan" has not gone astray and that God has laid out in advance what will happen. The current state of Israel and Jerusalem has all been prophesied. What is still coming (including the return of Jesus and the setting up of His Messianic Kingdom) has all been laid out thousands of years in advance. It is remarkable. From as early as Moses, God laid out that the Israelites would disobey the Lord and would be scattered among the nation until the time of the end when God would regather them back into their land. The prophets said that they would go many years without any king or temple but also that they would come back to the Lord in the last days. The prophets also said that God would make Jerusalem a stumbling block for the nations (turn on your TV or the internet and look at how everyone tries, and fails, to solve the problem of Jerusalem!) The Bible prophets said that at the time of the end every nation would come against Israel and Jerusalem. Apart form the US backing Israel through the UN, it is easy to see that things are rapidly moving in the direction that the Bible declares will happen.

There are better sites on this than mine but I do have a general page on prophecy here:
http://www.jesusplusnothing.com/prophecy.htm

All the best

Their Reply:

Hello,
 
I must confess today that I am in another quandary . Reading Genesis, I have stopped at at the point where Abel and Cain, make their offerings to God. I have thought hard but I still cannot understand why God turned down Cain's offering to him in favour of Abel's. Cain now rejected became angry and lashed out in that anger against his brother, resulting in his death. But, would it not have been more sensible of God to have accepted both offerings graciously? There then would have been no animosity of one brother to another. And as I think on God's rejection of Cain, I get a most uncomfortable feeling. If God knows the future, then he knew in advance the inevitable, murderous, consequences of his rejection of Cain's offering. He thus sanctioned murder.

If someone gives a you a present which you do not favour, you do not throw back in their face. You hide your disappointment and accept it graciously. God could have done the same. That he did not baffles the mind.
 
Let me have your thoughts.
 
JPN Reply:

Hi

this issue is actually related to the sacrifices that we talked about previously so it could serve as a good example. Concerning the offerings of Abel and Cain the New Testament says:

Heb 11:4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings.
1Jn 3:12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous.

Abel offered a 'better sacrifice'. Why was that? Well firstly because it was based on a blood sacrifice. And it was based on faith. As I mentioned in a previous email right from the very start God was trying to teach mankind that for sin to be forgiven there must be a sacrifice. All of these sacrifices pointed to the final sacrifice for sin - Jesus Christ. Cain on the other hand decided he could come and offer God something that was the fruit of his own work - product from the land.

In other words it is the age old battle between whether a person is declared righteous on the basis of their own 'good works' (Cain's offering) or whether God declares a person righteous based on their faith in a sacrifice for their sin (Abel's offering). The answer is obvious. Salvation today comes by the same means as how Abel was accepted - it is through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our behalf.

As for your comment that God 'sanctioned murder', that is a, um, novel comment! God was obviously not responsible for Cain's murder of Abel. Cain made that choice by himself. God even encouraged Cain that he could still be accepted. Have a look at what God said to Cain AFTER Cain gave the wrong offering:

But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
(Genesis 4:4-8)

In other words, God still instructed Cain that he can be accepted if he does what is right. God was gracious towards Cain. He told Cain to be careful because sin is crouching and waiting and that he needs to master it. Of course Cain didn't listen or do what is right... he simply took Abel out into the field and killed him.

All the best

PS Did you read the info on Bible prophecy?


Their Reply:
Thanks for your email, but there are still too many things that do not make sense.
After Cain murdered his brother Abel, God cried: "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's voice cries out to me from the ground." Iain, I can feel the anguish and the sorrow in these words. But where is the punishment for Cain's despicable act?
There was no punishment!
In Numbers.35.6-34 God said: And from each man,too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man."
There was no accounting!
Yet, in (Numbers.35.6-34) God saw fit to have a man stoned to death for collecting
firewood on a Sabbath.
This is all very difficult. I want to make sense of the Bible, but I become the more perplexed as I read its pages.
JPN Reply:

Hi

I'm puzzled why you say there was no punishment as the punishment is quoted in the very next verse after the one you quoted.

Gen 4:11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.
Gen 4:12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth."
Gen 4:13 Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is more than I can bear.
Gen 4:14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me."
Gen 4:15 But the LORD said to him, "Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.
Gen 4:16 So Cain went out from the LORD's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

The Numbers passage you quoted is part of the Mosaic law. In other words it was part of the Law that was given through Moses to the nation of Israel and came into effect once the nation of Israel had made their exodus from Egypt. It wasn't in place at the time of Cain (which is a couple of thousand years prior to the giving of the law) though murder is still murder and Cain was punished for his act. A punishment that Cain believed was more than he could bear.

All the best
Their Reply:

Hello,

Thank you for writing. As to prophecy Iain we must be careful as some terrible blunders were made by prophets. I enclose the following for your interest::

Ezekiel 29:10-11 Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia. No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.
Never in its long history has Egypt ever been uninhabited for forty years.
Regards
JPN Reply:

Hi,

Concerning Ezek 29:10-11, the Hebrew prophets of the Bible didn't make 'blunders'. In fact God has said in His word that if someone prophesied something that does not take place then they are a false prophet - so the pass rate for a Biblical prophet is 100%! No pressure then! Ezek 29 is an interesting one as the Bible speaks of desolation for Egypt still to come. There is a useful article on it here: http://www.raptureforums.com/FeaturedCommentary/egypts40yeardesolation.cfm

Have you read much to do with the prophecies of Jesus' first coming or His return? Detailed, clear and accurate. I purchased and watched a good DVD on it recently from here:
http://www.thedanielprojectmovie.com/

It is really good.

Have a look at this site for prophecies of Jesus first coming (given hundred of years in advance)
http://www.thedevineevidence.com/prophecy_jesus.html

Or read this for prophecies concerning our age:
http://www.raptureforums.com/Signs/50reasons.cfm

All the best
Their Reply:

how are you keeping? Well I I hope.

I have just re-read your reply concerning Ezek 29. You voice the opinion impression that the desolation of Egypt, is still to come. Iain, it is quite fascinating that both you and I who read the same biblical passages somehow arrive at different answers. Now I would be quite willing to concede that the Egyptian waste and desolation spoken of by Ezekiel, will occur in the future; providing, of course, that this is what the prophet was actually saying. But it is not written so. Stop for a moment to visualise his oratory. To whom was he speaking? Was he speaking to some idle villagers or to the warlords of Israel? Whoever he was talking to, can you imagine their response when he says he is not talking of the present day but of the future, of a time so far away that they really cannot comprehend its time scale. They would be puzzled and confused. Their hopes, their intentions were the times they lived in.

What care they if Egypt, was to be destroyed in two thousand years, or more. No, Iain, the prophecy of Ezekiel 29, concerning Egypt related to Pharaoh's Egypt, not some future Egypt . As the following scripture clearly shows. The word of the Lord came to the prophet saying:

" Son, of man set thy face against Pharaoh, king of Egypt and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt.

...I am against thee Pharaoh...I will bring a sword upon thee...and the land of Egypt shall be laid desolate and waste...and her cities shall be desolate 40 years."

Regards

JPN Reply:

Hi

have a read of the link I supplied again. It says:

"Portions of Ezekiel 29-30 seem to find connections with Nebuchadnezzar's time; however Ezekiel 30:3 alludes to the "day of the Lord," which is commonly associated with the Tribulation period. Additionally, Ezekiel 30:5 speaks of more than Egypt being attacked. It alludes to Ethiopia, Libya, Lydia, and Chub. The expanse of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom seems to not have included all these countries. Therefore, this part of Ezekiel's prophecy seems to connect better with Daniel 11:42-43, which is also often taught to be a Tribulation event.

Thus, we have to consider the possibility that Ezekiel 29-30 contain both near (fulfilled during prophets lifetime) and far (to be fulfilled after the prophets lifetime) prophecies. Some events Ezekiel describes clearly found fulfillment during Nebuchadnezzar’s time (near), whereas others seem to be reserved for future fulfillment. "

This is quite common. The prophets often gave prophecies that had partial fulfillment in their time but also spoke to a future time. For example, at the Bible study home group that I take, we are currently going through the book and prophecies of Joel. Joel gives prophecies and speaks of events in his own time but seamlessly jumps to the time of the end giving prophecies concerning the 'day of the Lord' (the time leading up to and including the 2nd coming of Jesus) .

A related example... When Jesus read from Isaiah 61 in the synagogue as mentioned in Luke 4:18 and said that it was fulfilled today in their hearing, He actually stopped mid-verse and closed the book. Why? Because the part that He read was to do with His first coming (and thus fulfilled when He came) and the second part of the verse (the day of vengeance of our God) relates to His 2nd coming and thus was not read. He knew this and thus stopped mid-verse! Here is what he read from Isaiah (in blue and what he didn't read in black)

"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."
(Isaiah 61:1-3)

All the best

Their Reply:

Hi

I have read the link you supplied. As to prophecy it is either correct or incorrect. Edgar Cayce was considered a prophet. He was however a complete failure. He was as stunned as everybody else when the bombs fell on Pearl Harbour. If a prophecy is made it must come true in its entirety, it cannot be partially correct. otherwise its other parts must necessarily be incorrect or false. And you are left with no more than the result of a good guess. Jesus prophesied on at lest two occasions that he would return to earth and be seen by those to whom he spoke. He told his disciples and a high priest that they would not taste death, until they had seen the kingdom of God come and the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven. Mark 9:1 & 14:62.

Iain, you speak of the day of vengeance of our God. I have never heard of such a thing? A day of Vengeance?

Please enlighten me.

Regards

Our Final JPN Reply:

Hi

True - Edgar Cayce was a false prophet. No prophecy in the Bible will fail. But why are your feet so quick to run to unbelief as soon as you get to a passage you don't understand yet? The two examples that you have given are not failed prophecies. Here they are:

And he said to them, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power." After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!" (Mark 9:1-7)

The fulfillment of Mark 9:1 happens in the next few verse - verses 2-7. Jesus gave three of the disciples a glimpse of what the Messianic Kingdom will be like. Jesus Himself was 'transfigured' before them and shown in His power and glory. Moses, representing the righteous dead was seen with Him. Elijah, representing those that will not see death but will be translated (or raptured) when Jesus returns was with Him.

That this is the fulfillment of Jesus' word that some would see the kingdom of God come with power is confirmed by one of the people who were there - Peter himself. In his 2nd letter he wrote:

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. (2 Peter 1:16-18)

Concerning Jesus' oath before the High Priest the following comments in the Believers Bible Commentary are useful:

Being an obedient Jew under the law, Jesus answered: "It is as you said." He then asserted His Messiahship and deity even more strongly: "Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." In essence He was saying, "I am the Christ, the Son of God, as you have said. My glory is presently veiled in a human body; I appear to be just another man. You see Me in the days of My humiliation. But the day is coming when you Jews will see Me as the glorified One, equal in all respects with God, sitting at His right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven."

In verse 64 (from Matthew 26) the first you is singular, referring to Caiaphas. The second you is plural (also the third), referring to the Jews as representative of those Israelites living at the time of Christ's glorious appearing, who will clearly see that He is the Son of God.

"The assertion is sometimes made," writes Lenski, "that Jesus never called Himself ‘The Son of God.’ Here (in v. 64) He swears that He is no less."

As for the 'day of vengenace of God' the Bible says that the current time or age that we live in (and it has been this way since the time of Jesus) is called the Day of Salvation (or the day of grace). What this means is that currently God is not judging the world (as a general rule) but is extending His hand of grace and mercy towards all so that they will repent and turn back to Him. But the Bible declares that this period of time will not go on forever. The Bible declares that there is another 'day' (which is not just a single day but a period of time) coming called the 'Day of the Lord' or the 'Day of Vengenance' as Isaiah 61 quoted below stated. This IS the day of God's judgement. this period of time will come at the end in association with the return of Jesus Christ. Here are some scriptures:

Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Because of this, all hands will go limp, every man's heart will melt. Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. See, the day of the LORD is coming --a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger-- to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. I will make man scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the LORD Almighty, in the day of his burning anger. (Isaiah 13:6-13)

Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow-- so great is their wickedness!" Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel. Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her. (Joel 3:12-17)

This is part of what Jesus said about the last days and His return:
For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-- and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. Immediately after the distress of those days 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:21-30)

I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:12-17)

The moral of the story? NOW is the time to get right with God and believe in His Son Jesus Christ and His work for you Derek. He calls on us all to receive His Salvation and not His judgement. And to this end He has given ample evidence of the truth for those who want to know.

All the best