Concealed versus Revealed

Q. How do you reconcile Deut 29:29 with Prov 25:2?

A. First, let’s examine what each verse says.
Deut 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.

The “secret things” are contrasted with “the things revealed”. They are the things God chose to keep to Himself.
Acts 1:7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;

The context of Deut 29 is the renewal of the covenant, about the blessings when Israel obeys and curses when Israel disobeys. So more specifically the “secret things” concern Israel’s future which is contingent upon her obedience.

The “things revealed” parallel “the words of this law” in the last part of v29. They belong to us & to our descendents forever, as God’s laws are abiding, so that we may observe them.

Prov 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

God gets glory when men realize their limitations in failing to understand His universe or the way He rules it:
Rom 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Kings get glory when they discern the truth & administer justice:
1 Kgs 3:9 So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?
Properly understood, I don’t see any contradiction between these verses. As God, He has a right to disclose some things to us and conceal others from us. Generally speaking, the concealed things He reserved for Himself concern the future, except in the case of prophecies He chose to reveal, as proof of His sovereignty:
Isa 21:43 Declare the things that are going to come afterward, That we may know that you are gods;

Within the subset of what He reveals, including His laws which reflect His nature, it is up to kings or rulers to understand His will, so that they can carry out His will & govern in accordance to His character. There is no conflict & perfect harmony between the 2 verses.

John the Baptist Shirking Responsibility?

Q. Why did John the Baptist go to live in the desert instead of with his parents? It seems like he had not observed the commandment to take care of his parents. Was he allowed to weasel out of his Levite duties? or maybe he left the priesthood because of the Pharisees.

A. I believe he lived in the wilderness to fulfill his calling as prophesied in:
Isa 40:3-5 A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
“Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

I think maybe you assumed too much. The word of God came to John in:
Lk 3:1-2 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.

Tiberius was the stepson of Augustus, whom he succeeded on the throne AD 14 according to Roman history. The 15th year of his reign was AD 29. Since John the Baptist was only about 6 months older than Jesus (Lk 1:26 ff), he was already a grown man at that time. His parents Zacharias and Elizabeth were not mentioned again in the NT after Luke 1. They might have already died by that time, after John had fulfilled his filial duties to care for his parents.

John did not weasel out of his duties as a priest. When God called him to be the Messiah’s herald, he obeyed, just as Samuel was raised by Eli to serve in the tabernacle, but responded to God’s call to become both a judge and a prophet. There is no evidence that John left the priesthood because of the Pharisees.

New Jerusalem (2 of 2)

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(Continued from yesterday)

The dimensions of the New Jerusalem are given in Rev 21:
Rev 21:16-17 The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.

Commentators are baffled by the size of the city, as 1,500 miles would be more than the flight distance from Toronto to Havana flying south, or to Saskatoon flying west. People can’t imagine the size of one city stretching halfway across the country. This is especially when its length & width & height are equal i.e. like a cube. A square city 1,500 miles in length & width is hard enough to imagine, but 1,500 miles in height too? No building is that tall, as even Mt. Everest is only 29,029 ft. or only 5.5 miles tall, less than 0.4% of 1,500 miles. For that matter, an altitude above 100 km or 62 miles above sea level is commonly used to define outer space, & 1,500 miles is over 24 times that!

Attempts have therefore been made to make the size more “reasonable”, including:
• It is only symbolic. 1,500 miles is literally 12,000 stadia, with 1 stadion equal to approx. 600 ft. These interpreters hold that both the 12,000 witnesses sealed in each tribe & the 12,000 stadia simply mean a complete number, & do not have to be taken literally. But if all it means is a complete number, why not 1,200 stadia?
• The 1,500 miles is the circumference, not each side. This would reduce each side 375 miles, still more than the distance from Toronto to New York City. And of course a height of 375 miles would still be beyond the imagination of anything on earth.
• Some argued that the height refers to the mountain or plateau on which the city sits, not the city itself, as its walls are only 72 yards or 216 ft high. Granting this assumption for the moment, that still requires the mountain to be 1,500 miles (or at least 375 miles) high, which simply does not exist.
Basically none of these options are satisfactory.

Personally I do not find such accommodation necessary, as the current earth will be burned up & we do not need to base the new on the old as reference:
2 Pet 3:10, 12-13 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. … looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
• Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

The diameter of our moon is 2,159 miles, so 1,500 miles is just under 70% of the moon’s diameter. A cubicle city that size would provide huge mansions for all OT & NT saints that ever lived (Jn 14:2).

Why cubicle? Because the Holy of Holies, where God dwells, was cubicle:
1 Kings 6:20 The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits in length, twenty cubits in width, and twenty cubits in height, and he overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid the altar with cedar.
Since God dwells among His people in the New Jerusalem, its dimensions are cubicle to represent perfect symmetry.

Does God Deceive the Unrighteous? (2 of 2)

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(Continued from yesterday)

Why would God send them strong delusion? In response to their rejection of the truth:
• they did not receive the love of the truth (v 10), which preceded God sending the deluding influence, &
• they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in wickedness (v 12).
In other words, they rejected the love of the truth first, & God confirmed their choice by sending the deluding influence. They chose not to believe, & God let them have their choice.

This is consistent with God giving them over in Rom 1:
v 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
• v 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
• v 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

Notice the downward spiral in “God gave them over”. It wasn’t that they erred once & God gave up on them mercilessly. It was that they are repeatedly unrepentant, hardened their heart & settled in sin as a way of life, that God allowed them to have what they wanted.

It was the same pattern in the case of Pharaoh, who first hardened his own heart in the first 5 plagues (Ex 7:13-14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 34-35), then God confirmed his choice by hardening his heart from the 6th plague on (Ex 9:12; 10:1; 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8). The first two mention of God will harden Pharaoh’s heart (Ex 4:21; 7:3) is simply prophetic of what God will do, not His causing it.

God did not help Satan in deceiving the unrighteousness; He gave them over to judge them. There is a huge difference.

Does God Deceive the Unrighteous? (1 of 2)

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Q. 2 Thes 2:11-12 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Rom 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts.
Does God merely give them up or help Satan in deceiving the unrighteous?

A. On the surface it seems that God is actively causing the damnation of the unrighteousness by sending them strong delusion, but He does not help Satan in deceiving them, for the following reasons:

1. It’s not His nature:
Num 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
• Titus 1:2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
• Heb 6:18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.

2. It’s not His desire or wish:
Ezk 18:23 Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?
• Ezk 33:11 Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’
• 1 Tim 2:4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
• 2 Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

So what does 2 Thes 2:11 mean? Let’s examine the text carefully:
2 Thes 2:9-12 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

Note the following:
• The one coming, the man of lawlessness, the son of perdition (v 3), the lawless one (v 8), will come with deception of wickedness for those who perish (v 10).
• God will send those perishing a deluding influence, in order that they may be judged.
The Antichrist comes with deception, while God sends a deluding influence. What’s the difference?

Deception translates the Greek word apate, which means “to cheat, beguile”), that which gives a false impression, whether by appearance, statement or influence. The emphasis is on the one actively deceiving, whose aim is to destroy.

Deluding, on the other hand, translates the Greek words plane, which means:
1. a wandering, a straying about
a. one led astray from the right way, roams here & there
2. metaphorically
a. mental straying – error, wrong opinion relative to morals or religion
b. error which shows itself in action, a wrong mode of acting
c. error, that which leads into error, deceit or fraud.

The emphasis is on the one wandering astray, who erred morally resulting in wrong action.

Why would God send them strong delusion?

(To be continued)

Begotten not Made

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Q. The Nicene Creed said “Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father”. Doesn’t that say the Father begats the Son and is therefore superior? Wouldn’t that mean the Son had a beginning and was created?

A. No. The Nicene Creed’s declaration on the person of Christ states:
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.

The Creed specifically asserts that Christ is:
• The only Son of God i.e. there is none other;
Eternally begotten i.e. without beginning or end;
• True God, just as the Father;
• Not made i.e. not created;
• Of one Being with the Father i.e. same essence.
Skeptics and cults misconstrue the word “begotten”. To understand what the Creed means we need to go back to the NT.

“Begotten” translates the Greek adjective monogenes, which means “single of its kind, only“. It was used of only sons or daughters, and of Christ denoting Him as the only begotten Son of God. The word monogenes appears 9 times in 9 verses, 5 of which referred to Christ:
Jn 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
• Jn 1:18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
• Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
• Jn 3:18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
• 1 Jn 4:9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

You can see immediately that John wanted to point out not only is Jesus Christ the only begotten Son, single of its kind, He is also the only begotten God. As the Word He was God who co-existed with the Father from the beginning and created all things:
Jn 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
Skeptics and cults are therefore totally misinformed and sadly mistaken.

God’s Choice vs. Man’s Choice (2 of 2)

God's or Man's choice 1

(Continued from yesterday)

Yesterday we examined 3 out of 4 combinations of God’s choice versus man’s. Let’s look at the last one today:

God vs Man Choice

4. God bypasses the person, but he chooses to receive Christ:
a. If God has the final say (Calvinist), he is lost.
b. If man has the final say (Arminian), he is saved.

The Calvinist view is that if God passes over an individual and leaves him to his devices, his fallen state is such that without the enabling of the Holy Spirit, he does not have the ability to choose Christ on his own. Arminians disagree, believing that though a sinner is spiritually sick, he still has the capacity to receive Christ. Who is correct?

The Bible description of a fallen man is:
Jn 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him;
• Eph 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
• Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, …
• Col 2:13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, …

Jn 6:44 says “no one can”. “Can” speaks of ability. No one has the ability to come to Christ “unless the Father draws him”. The precondition for coming to Christ is the Father’s drawing, His enablement. Why can’t he come on his own? Because he is “dead” according to Eph and Col. A spiritually dead person does not have the ability to respond to Christ’s invitation, unless the Father draws or enables him. Arminians feel that man has prevenient grace so that he is only sick and not dead, and can still choose to accept Christ. I don’t find this in Scripture. It is a view held by many who overvalued man’s ability and understated God’s sovereignty, but there is no biblical basis for it.

Furthermore, the Arminian position would lead to an absurd conclusion, a reductio ad absurdum. Let’s play along and assume that a non-elect person does have the capacity to exercise his free will to choose Christ. If man has the final say, he is saved despite God bypassing him. Man becomes sovereign, not God, which is wrong by definition. What if God has the final say? Since God did not choose him, He overrules the man’s free choice of Christ. This would make God a capricious despot denying eternal life to a person who receives Christ. That is certainly not the God of the Bible. So I am persuaded both by Scripture and logic that the Arminian position is untenable.

Finally, why would God waste time in letting us convert those predestined to hell? He wouldn’t waste time. We witness to all as we don’t know who the elect are, but we won’t succeed in converting the non-elect. They would either resist God’s offer of salvation, or there would be false conversion in which there is an emotional response which withers away, but no real life that perseveres because it does not abide in Christ. God permits such activities to train us to be obedient and sharpen our evangelistic skill. Plus we learn to be more Christ-like in the process as you pointed out. Hope this is clear.