Healing of Nations

Q. Why is the tree of life in Rev 22:2 for the healing of nations? Didn’t Rev 21:4 say there will no longer be any death or pain?

A. Although the words “sickness”, “illness” or “disease” are not in Rev 21:4, the implication is that they will no longer be present in heaven:
Rev 21:4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.

So if there is no sickness or illness, why is there need for healing?
Rev 22:2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

“Healing” translates the Greek word therapeia, which means:
• service rendered by one to another; care or attention;
• medical service, from which we get the English word “therapy”; cure;
• household service.

Taking the context of heaven into consideration, healing in Rev 22:2 should mean “for the service of”, which is so translated in:
Disciples’ Literal NTin the middle of its wide-road. And on this side and on that side of the river is a tree of life producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the service of the nations.
Young’s Literal Translationin the midst of its broad place, and of the river on this side and on that, [is] a tree of life, yielding twelve fruits, in each several month rendering its fruits, and the leaves of the tree [are] for the service of the nations;
The understanding is one of health-giving, not curing of disease.

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God sanctioned Genocide?

Q. What’s all this violence in the Old Testament? How can God order the extermination of a whole race of people, slaughtering men, women and children without exception? He is worse than Hitler or Pol Pot!

A. Instead of sitting under God’s judgment, critics and skeptics sit in judgment of God, charging Him to be a moral monster who butchers innocent people. They accuse God of being an out-of-control despot, killing those who oppose Him indiscriminately. Is that what’s happening? Of course not, because the accusers do not know the facts and are just ranting their false allegations.

What does the Bible say?
Deut 20:17-18 But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the LORD your God.
On the surface God did command the Israelites to utterly destroy the nations around them. Why? So that the nations may not teach the Israelites to do all their detestable things they have done in their idolatry. What detestable things? Archeology tells us a lot about the evil practices in the nations’ pagan worship, but let me quote just two passages from Scripture to illustrate.

Lev 18:24-25 Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.
God was punishing the nations who defiled themselves by doing all the detestable things by casting them out from the land. The list of “these things” is given in Lev 18:6-23, which includes:
• all forms of immoral sexual relations with blood relatives i.e. incest;
• adultery with neighbor’s wife;
• offering offspring to Molech as a whole burnt sacrifice;
• homosexuality;
• bestiality, among others.

The second example is in:
Deut 18:9-12 When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you.
This again includes burning children and all forms of the occult. As such, God is just in punishing the nations for their grievous evil. If God doesn’t judge them, He would not be righteous.

But even in His righteous judgment God is slow in anger and abounding in loving-kindness, being very patient in giving time to repent:
Gen 15:16 Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.
As an example, the Amorites were allowed four generations before judgment finally struck, when God used the Israelites to execute judgment.

Some feel the men and women deserved to be punished, but children? What evil could they have done? I need to point out two things. First an analogy. In dealing with cancer, you need to remove all the cancer cells, not just some parts of it. Otherwise what’s left behind will kill you. There can be no leniency in leaving parts behind. The same is true in dealing with the depraved nations, which need to be totally removed.

Secondly, in destroying the children, God is actually showing mercy to them, because children who are under the age of accountability, who do not yet have the capacity to distinguish right from wrong, are accepted into God’s Kingdom by grace. They are born sinners and do not deserve heaven, but God is compassionate and gracious. He gives grace when the young children are not yet developed to such an extent that they know how to trust Him. I have written on the evidence for this in previous posts. Those interested can refer to:
https://rayliu1.wordpress.com/2016/01/17/never-heard-gospel/
https://rayliu1.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/is-god-barbaric/
https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/original-sin-3/
https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/slaughter-of-the-innocents/

So in conclusion I say “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Gen 18:25) Don’t be so fast in condemning God, worry about how you will face Him as Judge instead.

Imprecatory Psalms versus Love your Enemies?

Q. Jesus taught us that we should love and pray for our enemy. Mt 5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Why is it that in Ps 109 David curses his enemies before God?

A. Imprecatory psalms and prayers invoking curses on ones’ enemies are a problem to many Bible readers, who find it difficult to reconcile these passages with Jesus’ command to love your enemies. And it’s not just David being vindictive, but involves other people such as prophets as well, who are God’s spokesmen and ought to know better e.g.

Jer 18:21 Therefore, give their children over to famine
And deliver them up to the power of the sword;
And let their wives become childless and widowed.
Let their men also be smitten to death,
Their young men struck down by the sword in battle.

It is especially problematic in view of God saying, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” (Deut 32:35; Rom 12:19; Heb 10:30) What were these people thinking? Don’t they know what God said? Some therefore consider such passages as sub-Christian and shouldn’t be in the Bible. How do we reconcile them as they are indeed part of Scripture?

Rather than consider those who call upon God to judge their enemies as being mean-spirited and beneath what a Christian should do, my opinion is that it is us who are not as close to God as the imprecatory psalmists were, who were more concerned about God’s name being profaned by their enemies than seeking revenge for themselves. David did evil in the sight of the LORD when he committed adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:27, 12:9) and when he ordered a census of Israel’s army (1 Chron. 21:7), but God never faulted him for his imprecatory prayers. That should alert the critics that they overlooked something.

The LORD called David a man after His own heart (1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22). David knew “Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully (Ps 24:3-4). He was not afraid to call upon God to “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me,” (Ps 139:23-24a). I would not dare to do so unless my heart was totally free from personal motives and 100% pure before God.

And his actions vindicated his thoughts. David had the opportunity to get back at those who wronged him, but he did not take matters into his own hands, instead leaving it to the LORD to exonerate him e.g. sparing Saul’s life twice (1 Sam 24; 1 Sam 26).

My conclusion is that unlike us who often view things through jaundiced eyes tainted by self-interest, David saw things in sharper contrast of right vs. wrong, conformity to God’s character or against it, positive or negative impact on God’s name etc. He therefore called upon God to deal justly with His enemies and give them the punishment they rightly deserved. Notice that in v 6-20 all the righteous judgment are taught elsewhere in the Bible, including doing unto his enemies what they did to him, and David had not gone overboard in retaliation against his enemies. He left the “settling the scores” entirely in God’s hands.

My last comment is that biblical ethics is a progressive revelation. While there is continuity between OT and NT ethics, with the coming of Christ in the age of grace, people receive a fuller understanding of what God requires of us than in OT times. We should therefore not read back NT standards into the OT and expect full compliance.

Transgender

Q. Ontario public schools are pushing transgender education” to keep people safe”. What’s your opinion?

A. I am all for keeping people safe from being bullied, but I’m afraid all this rhetoric is clouding up the real issue. Let’s define what we mean. One common definition is transgender or trans denotes or relates to a person whose sense of personal identity does not correspond with their birth sex. Gender means the state of being male or female, typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. Sex is biological and objective, whereas gender is social-cultural and subjective.

My opinion is that our “liberal” education had dumbed down people so that they can no longer think critically and clearly. The confusion arises in our post-modern society when people accept the subjective or relative as truth, over and above the objective or absolute. Let me use a simple example to illustrate. When you change the label on a can of “corn” to “peas and carrots”, does it change it into a can of “peas and carrots”? No, it doesn’t. The label is changed, but not what’s inside. It remains a can of “corn”, mislabeled to fool those who don’t know the contents. Yet many are foolish enough to accept such “re-definitions” as legitimate, under the guise of “human rights” or other fancy labels when they are nothing of the sort.

When educators focus on what people “feel” as opposed to who they really “are”, it’s like changing labels without changing the substance. The birth sex is determined by sex chromosomes. Individuals having one X chromosome and one Y chromosome (XY) are male. Individuals having two X chromosomes (XX) are female. It has nothing to do with “feelings”, which doesn’t change anything except how one feels about oneself.

When a person elevates feelings above fact, they are self-deceived and deceiving others. I am not saying feelings are not important. They are, but not at the expense of truth. Nowadays to justify themselves, people “redefine” things to suit their own preference, including when does life begin, gender, marriage, and many other things besides. The worst is when they not only choose the alternative for themselves, but force it on the majority by changing the legislation to offer them protection and impose heavy penalties on anyone who oppose them. This is the warped world in which we live now.

But by abandoning the tried and true throughout human history, they are only distorting things to sooth their own conscience. However, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Gal 6:7). God will hold us accountable to His standard, no matter how we redefined things.

Homosexuality (2 of 2)

(Continued from yesterday)

God forgives adultery and idolatry. He forgives homosexuality too when they repent:

1 Co 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Some of the Corinthians were fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, and homosexuals, but they were washed, sanctified, and justified.

I disagree that God didn’t warn Sodom and Gomorrah because they were Gentiles. The classic counter-example is God sending Jonah to warn Nineveh, capital of Assyria, a Gentile empire. In fact, God asked His prophets to prophesy against many Gentile nations, including Ammon, Babylon, Egypt, Moab etc. For example:

Ezk 25:2 Son of man, set your face toward the sons of Ammon and prophesy against them,
• Ezk 29:2 Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against all Egypt.
• Ezk 38:2 Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him

But a final objection is based on Lot:
2 Pet 2:7-8 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men or by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds),

Although some saw Lot as an ineffective witness in not being able to convince even his sons-in-law, and his subsequent debasement in getting drunk and committing incest, the final comment on his life in the NT is that he was righteous (three times). I believe that he did warn the Sodomites, but they did not repent because of the depth of their depravity.

Abraham was indeed a prophet as God Himself said so:
Gen 20:7 Now therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”

He bargained with the Lord in Gen 18, persuading God not to destroy Sodom if there were 50, then 45, then 40, then 30, then 20, and finally just 10 righteous people there. Even then they could not find 10, and Sodom was destroyed.

Is it extremely difficult to correct homosexuality? I don’t know how difficult it is, but there are many successful cases. In any event, I believe Jesus’ principle applies:
Mt 19:26 With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (Also Mk 10:27; Lk 18:27)

Homosexuality (1 of 2)

Q. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God. Was it because of their homosexuality or their un-repentance? The OT and NT show clearly that God forgives adultery and even idolatry. Homosexuality is not mentioned. God sent prophets to warn the Israelites of their idolatry, and Nathan to King David for his adultery. Prophet was not mentioned in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah. Was it because Sodom and Gomorrah were Gentiles? Or was it because there was no prophet at that time other than Abraham? Or because it is extremely difficult to correct that perversity?

A. “Sodom and Gomorrah” occurs in 23 verses in the NASB, but not together with the word “homosexuality” as pointed out by gay apologists. They therefore proposed that the reason they were destroyed is not homosexuality, but violence and un-repentance. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is given in Gen 18 and 19:

Gen 18:20 And the LORD said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.
• Gen 19:13 for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it.”

It is true that in those two chapters “their sin is exceedingly grave” and “their outcry has become so great”, the sin was not named. But what the gay supporters conveniently ignored is the context:

Gen 19:4-5 Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.”

The word “relations” in Gen 19:5 is literally “intercourse”. It was the men of the city demanding to have sex with Lot’s men visitors, so clearly the sin was homosexuality. Furthermore, the English word “homosexuality” is a relatively modern term not used in older versions like KJV, NKJV, or NASB, only in more contemporary versions like the NLT (4 times), ESV (twice), or NIV (once). However, the condemnation against same-sex relations is uniform across all versions.

In addition, the commentary on Sodom and Gomorrah in the NT is that they indulged in gross immorality:

Jude 1:7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

It is therefore not what the gay supporters suggested, but indeed homosexuality.

(To be continued)

Is Paul a Male Chauvinist? Part 2 of 2

(Continued from yesterday)

• You may be reading too much into 1 Tim 2:14. All it said was Adam was not deceived but Eve was. It said nothing about Paul’s attitude towards women, that he was a woman-hater as some feminists claim, or at least a male chauvinist. Paul was not married (1 Co 7:8) so he never had the responsibility of a husband to protect his wife, nor did he condone men blaming women for the husbands’ mistakes. My opinion is based on:

1. As a Pharisee who knew the Law (Php 3:5), he understood fully a husband’s “covering” of authority over his wife:
Num 30:6-8 “However, if she should marry while under her vows or the rash statement of her lips by which she has bound herself, and her husband hears of it and says nothing to her on the day he hears it, then her vows shall stand and her obligations by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if on the day her husband hears of it, he forbids her, then he shall annul her vow which she is under and the rash statement of her lips by which she has bound herself; and the LORD will forgive her. (Also Num 6:10-12)
If Adam were there all the time, since he said nothing and did not forbid Eve, he gave his tacit approval by his silence and eating the fruit himself; he cannot avoid his responsibility. I understand the Law came later, but the principle is the same.

2. Paul was the one who penned:
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
• Eph 5:28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;
• Eph 5:33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

As such, it is highly unlikely that he would condone husbands blaming their wives for their own mistakes.

3. Although Eve sinned first, Paul never charged woman with greater responsibility. The primary responsibility of sin and death entering the world rest with Adam as head of his family and mankind:
Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned
• Rom 5:17 For if by the transgression of the one (Adam), death reigned through the one (Adam), …

So I find faulting Paul for something he never did, or even stood against, to be an unfair accusation. Hope this helps.