General doubts about God's character, prophecy and the Bible.

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

Their Question:


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?


JPN Reply:


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 10:6with 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:

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:


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:

All the best

Their Reply:


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:


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.

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