Muslim Refugees?

Q. I had a brief discussion with a Christian lady. She thinks we Christians have to help Muslims as they need our help. I told her about the European countries which received and helped them, and were repaid with violence and welfare abuse by the Muslims. They want to take over the countries which let them in, and do not assimilate. They want to convert people to Islam, change the place into an Islamic state, and impose Sharia law. They resort to violence, riots, and terrorism. They abuse the welfare system, and drain the countries’ resources. I quoted Deut 7:2-5 and Mt 10:16 to her. Why did God want all Canaanites killed? If I apply Deut 7:2-5, would God want us to embrace these Muslims to love them, because God is love? I feel if I apply Mt 10:16 to refugees, we are to have love but also wisdom.

A. First, I think we need to make a distinction between real refugees forced to leave their country to escape war, natural disaster or persecution, and those coming under a pretense to perpetrate terrorism, create havoc, and cause disruption to overthrow and destroy. I don’t have statistics to prove it, but I expect the former to be in the majority, and the latter to be in the minority. Unfortunately, it’s the minority extremists that cause most of the problems and give a bad name to the whole. You’ve probably met people who claim all Christians are bigots and cause all the problems in the world, such as the crusades, the Inquisition, inciting hatred against LGBTQ etc. That’s not true, but the label that Christians are self-righteous snobs sticks, and you wished people knew better.

Like you, I deplore the fake refugees’ abuses of the system which showed them kindness. But I would not apply Deut 7:2-5 to Muslim refugees, because that’s misapplying Scripture. First, let’s examine the text:

Deut 7:1-5 “When the LORD your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you,
• 2 and when the LORD your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them.
• 3 Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons.
• 4 For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you.
• 5 But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.

From what you wrote, you are equating:
• Present day Muslim refugees = the seven nations living in the Promised land in OT times, and
• Current “Christian” nations= the ancient Israelites who utterly destroyed the nations to take over the land.

While there are similarities e.g. they will turn your sons (i.e. radicalizing youths) away from following Me (Yahweh) to serve other gods (Allah), there are also differences e.g. they are migrants, NOT nations greater and stronger than you (i.e. the European countries to which they escaped). In fact, the radical refugees see the analogy as:
• Present day Muslim refugees = the ancient Israelites in the minority, and
• Current “Christian” nations = the nations whom they are to utterly destroy to take over the land.
They would be wrong of course, but you can see how by misapplying Scripture you can twist it to justify any wrong action.

What we need, as you rightly pointed out, is both love and wisdom:
Mt 10:16 Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. (NASB)
We need to be as wise as serpents, and as harmless as doves, with no self-serving agenda (AMP). Our love need to abound more and more in real knowledge and all discernment (Php 1:9). Only then can we discern who are the real refugees that need our help, and screen out the extremists that need to be blocked from harming our people.

Help those who “deserve” it? (2 of 2)

(Contd. from yesterday)

What about the synonym “worthy“? The word “worthy” appears 51 times in 49 verses in the NASB. In view of space I won’t repeat the verses here. “Worthy” is used both in the negative (e.g. worthy of death) and positive sense. The positive sense is applied to both God and men:

God or Christ
2 Sam 22:4 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. (Also Ps 18:3)
• Rev 4:11 Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.
• Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

Men
Mt 10:10 or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support. (Also Lk 10:7; 1 Tim 5:18)
• Eph 4:1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, (Also 2 Thes 1:11)
• Lk 7:4 When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him;

The worker is worthy of his support or wages, but this has nothing to do with “helping” him, because he earned it. Christians are implored to walk worthy of their calling, of the gospel of Christ (Php 1:27), of the Lord (Col 1:10), of God (1 Thes 2:12; 3 Jn 1:6), and of the kingdom (2 Thes 1:5). None of these is earned or deserved, all are received by grace.

The only verse that speaks of someone “deserving” help in the sense of meriting it is Lk 7:4, but that was the Jewish elders’ assessment of the centurion, not God’s. Strictly speaking, God’s evaluation is in:
Lk 17:10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’

The centurion, and we as well, are unprofitable i.e. have not “gained” anything, when all we have done is our duty, what we are supposed to do. We have not “earned” anything by doing what was required, the bare minimum. There’s no merit. One might deserve help according to man’s standards, but not God’s. Nevertheless, God helps us and asks us to help others because of grace, not because he/she is deserving, as none of us are. Hope this helps.

Help those who “deserve” it? (1 of 2)

Q. Is there a passage in the Bible that says help those who deserve help?

A. The answer depends on what exactly do you mean by “deserve“. If by “deserve” you mean they are “needy“, then most definitely YES:

Ps 40:17 Since I am afflicted and needy, Let the Lord be mindful of me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God.
• Ps 70:5 But I am afflicted and needy; Hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay.
• Ps 72:12 For He will deliver the needy when he cries for help, The afflicted also, and him who has no helper.
• Ezk 16:49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.

If you were thinking is there a “priority ranking” in the Bible such that certain people are more “deserving” of our help than others, the answer is again YES:

1 Tim 5:16 If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed.
• Jas 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

God has a “bias” for the poor, the needy, orphans and widows, those who have no other means of support. While the world in general tries to ingratiate itself with the rich and the powerful, God is diametrically opposite. His nature is just, and His righteousness is such that He prefers the underprivileged.

However, if by “deserve” you mean “merit” or “earned“, then the answer is NO or at best a limited “yes”. First, the Bible’s fundamental premise is grace, not merit. To say someone “deserves” help implies he has earned or merited it, and we are obliged to help him. Not to help means we are not living up to our obligations, and depriving him of something that is rightfully owed him. That is NOT what the Bible teaches.

When you look up “deserve” in the Bible, the emphasis is not on what you merit by virtue of your good works. I’m using the NASB, a literal translation, for clarity; other versions will be different. “Deserve” or “deserves” or “deserved” appear a total of 11 times in the NASB, but except for Judg 9:6 consistently used in a negative sense – deserve to be beaten, to die, deserve punishment – as recompense or reward demanded by our wickedness, iniquities, and folly:

Deut 25:2 then it shall be if the wicked man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall then make him lie down and be beaten in his presence with the number of stripes according to his guilt.
• Judg 9:16 “Now therefore, if you have dealt in truth and integrity in making Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have dealt with him as he deserved
• 2 Sam 12:5 Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die.
• 1 Kgs 2:26 Then to Abiathar the priest the king said, “Go to Anathoth to your own field, for you deserve to die; but I will not put you to death at this time, because you carried the ark of the Lord GOD before my father David, and because you were afflicted in everything with which my father was afflicted.”
• Ezra 9:13 After all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and our great guilt, since You our God have requited us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us an escaped remnant as this,
• Prov 26:5 Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes.
• Isa 3:11 Woe to the wicked! It will go badly with him, For what he deserves will be done to him.
• Mt 26:66 what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!”
• Lk 23:41 And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”
• Heb 10:29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
• Revelation 16:6 for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it.”

It is not used in the sense of earning merit for right, so that we are obliged to help him. Why? Because even though the “good” deeds of “good” people are “good” by human standards, they simply do not measure up to God’s perfect standard:
Isa 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Filthy garments don’t merit anything.

(To be continued)

The Lie

Q. 2 Thes 2:11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie. What is the lie? Why would God send people a powerful delusion? Wouldn’t that make God responsible?

A. The phrase “the lie” appears only twice in the NIV NT, here and in 2 Thes 2:9. To answer your question, let’s start with the immediate context – 2 Thes 2:1-12, which talk about the Great Apostasy in the end times, and the Man of Lawlessness, the Antichrist. We analyze 2 Thes 2:9-12 by dividing the 4 verses into three parts – that which the lawless one does, the people’s response, and what God will do:

9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie,
10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie
12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Note the chronological sequence:
• First, the lawless one, empowered by Satan, will use power, signs and wonders to deceive.
• Next, the people who refuse to love and believe the truth to be saved, choose to believe the lawless one’s lie and delight in wickedness. That’s why they perish.
• Then God sends the people a powerful delusion to confirm their refusal to love the truth, so that they will be condemned.
So God’s sending the delusion did not cause their unbelief, but in response to it. They perish because of their own choice and love of wickedness.

What is “the lie”? In the NKJV NT, the phrase appears one more time:
Rom 1:25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

“The lie” is contrasted with “the truth of God”. The background goes all the way back to Genesis 3, the temptation and fall of man:
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
• Gen 3:4-5 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The very first lie in the Bible is a direct contradiction of God’s word in:
Gen 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.
claiming that it cannot be trusted. It imputes an ulterior motive to God’s prohibition, not for our good to protect us, but to selfishly guard His superiority so that we won’t be like Him. Therefore obedience keeps us down while disobedience will promote us to be like God. This lie has been repeated throughout the ages in all religions, men trying to establish their own goodness apart from God. Men had fallen for it time and again, and will continue to do so until the end.

Strange Command

Q. I find 1 Kings 20:35-37 hard to digest. I don’t understand why the man who refuses to strike the prophet is punished so severely. Is there any other context that I should be aware of in understanding this? To simply have someone walk up to you and say “Hit me” is probably something I would refuse to do as well. And supposing that it was already known that the person asking was a man of God, wouldn’t the person being asked be even more fearful of punishment for striking the man that asked for that exact reason? How is the person being asked supposed to know that what he was being asked to do was permitted by God when it seemingly goes against how we are asked to treat each other?

A. This looked like a strange demand, until you examine the text carefully:
1 Kings 20:35 Now a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to another by the word of the LORD, “Please strike me.” But the man refused to strike him.
• 36 Then he said to him, “Because you have not listened to the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as you have departed from me, a lion will kill you.” And as soon as he had departed from him a lion found him and killed him.

First, “another” in v 35 is literally “his neighbor”, not someone living next door, but another “sons of the prophets”. This is clearer in the ESV or NIV:
ESV And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow at the command of the LORD, “Strike me, please.” But the man refused to strike him.
• NIV By the word of the LORD one of the company of the prophets said to his companion, “Strike me with your weapon,” but he refused.

So he is not asking a stranger, but a fellow prophet, who should know better.

Secondly, he asked “by the word of the LORD” i.e. at the LORD’S command. The text did not say how much he explained, but one can infer from v 36 “not listened to the voice of the LORD” that, as a minimum, he did say that his request is the LORD’s voice, not his own, otherwise he couldn’t pronounce judgment on his companion for refusing to obey God’s command. There are no punctuation marks in the Hebrew. This interpretation takes the translation to be:
1 Kings 20:35 Now a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to another, “By the word of the LORD, please strike me.” But the man refused to strike him.
This position makes it clear that the punishment was for disobeying God’s command.

In this connection, an earlier incident in 1 Kings 13:1-24 involving another prophet being killed by a lion for disobeying God’s command is instructive. There, the LORD commanded the prophet directly:
1 Kings 13:9 For so it was commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which you came.’
• 1 Kings 13:17 For a command came to me by the word of the LORD, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water there; do not return by going the way which you came.’

Yet, despite his knowing God’s command, he listened to the lying old prophet and returned, with dire consequences:
1 Kings 13:21 and he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have disobeyed the command of the LORD, and have not observed the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you,
• 22 but have returned and eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which He said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water”; your body shall not come to the grave of your fathers.’”

God’s commands sometimes are not what we expected e.g. His asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, but odd or reasonable, they are to be obeyed. They are not optional. So make sure whether what’s asked of us is from God or men. For that we need discernment, which God gives to those who seek for it:
Prov 2:3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding;
4 If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Satan

Q. Why did Satan fall? When?

A. Some scholars suggest Satan’s fall is described in Ezk 28 and Isa 14:

Ezk 28:11-17 Again the word of the LORD came to me saying,
• 12 “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
• 13 “You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared.
• 14 “You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire.
• 15 “You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created Until unrighteousness was found in you.
• 16 “By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence, And you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane From the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire.
• 17 “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, That they may see you.

Although some commentators claim this passage refers to the king of Tyre (v 12), as did Ezk 28:1-10 to the leader (ruler or prince) of Tyre (v 2), there are indications that it goes beyond the man who claimed to be god (v 2 and 9) to the being influencing him:
• Had the seal of perfection, perfect in beauty (v 12) – no mere human was described as perfect;
• Was in Eden (v 13), on the holy mountain of God (v 13) – Eden was destroyed during the Flood, so the king of Tyre in Ezekiel’s days could not have been there;
• Was the anointed cherub (v 14, 16) – cherubim (plural) was an order of angels;
• Blameless – although Noah (Gen 6:9) and Job (Job 1:1, 8, 2:3) were also described as blameless, combined with perfection this describes no ordinary human;
Now, if this describes Satan before his fall, how and why did he fall?

The clues are:
• Internally filled with violence, sinned (v 16);
• This sin is described as unrighteousness (v 15);
• Heart was lifted up because of beauty and splendor (v 17) i.e. he was proud.
There is no indication that it was due to an external influence, but from within, from his own desire. Now let’s look at Isa 14:

Isa 14:12-15 “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!
• 13 “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.
• 14 ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’
• 15 “Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit.

Again some commentators believe this is just a taunt against the king of Babylon (v 4), but “fallen from heaven” (v 12), compared to “thrust down to Sheol” (v 15) and contrasted to “ascend to heaven” (v 13), seems to be more than figurative of fallen from the heights. Star of the morning (v 12) is literally “the shining one”, Lucifer in Latin. The crux is in the five “I will” in v 13-14, above the stars of God (heavenly hosts or angels) and culminating in “make myself like the Most High”. This is reminiscent of the serpent’s temptation “you will be like God” (Gen 3:5). The issue, as in Ezk 28, is pride. Lucifer was not satisfied with being created beautiful and wise, but wanted to be like God his Creator, for which he was cast down from heaven.

The question of “when did Satan fall” is less precise. We said yesterday that angels were created early in the creation week:
• Day 1 – Light;
• Day 2 – Expanse – sky;
• Day 3 – Land and seas, vegetation;
• Day 4 – Lights – sun, moon, stars;
• Day 5 – Water creatures, birds;
• Day 6 – Land creatures, man;
• Day 7 – Rested.

Taking Gen 1 to be more than poetry, the foundation of the earth would be created on Day 3, and according to Job angels were there to witness it:
Job 38:6-7 “On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
So angels, including Lucifer, were created prior to Day 3, and possibly as early as Day 1. It could not be before Day 1, because in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (Jn 1:1). Only God is eternal, not angels.

When did Lucifer sin? The Bible did not say specifically, but we can infer that it was some time after the creation week. This is because God pronounced each day from Day 1 to Day 5 “good”, and Day 6 “very good”. He also blessed and sanctified Day 7. My conjecture is that He would not have called it good or sanctified it had Lucifer rebelled during that time.

How long after the creation week? I don’t know as the Bible didn’t say. The serpent was already there in Gen 3. Some suggest that it might be 20-30 years after Creation as Adam and Eve were adults in the Garden of Eden, but God created man and woman, not boy and girl, and asked them to be fruitful and multiply. So He likely created them as young adults. All I can say is that it is some time after the creation week, before the fall of man. Beyond that is speculation.

Angels

Q. God created angels first before humans (we know because Satan was already fallen as the serpent). But do we know why He created them? And when?

A. The word “angel” translates the Hebrew word “mal’ak” and the Greek word “aggelos“. The former means “messenger, representative, or ambassador”; the latter also means “messenger, envoy, one who is sent”. As such, we know one primary purpose God created them was to be His messenger, to communicate His will e.g.
Dan 8:16 And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, and He called out and said, “Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision.”
• Mt 2:13 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”
• Lk 1:28 And coming in, he (an angel) said to her (Mary), “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
• Acts 5:20 “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.”
An angel spoke to Peter and the apostles.

Another reason God created angels was to execute His purposes, including His judgments e.g.
Ps 103:21 Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you who serve Him, doing His will.
• 2 Sam 24:16 When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented from the calamity and said to the angel who destroyed the people, “It is enough! Now relax your hand!” And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
• Mt 13:41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,
• Jn 5:4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.
• Acts 12:23 And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.

What’s more, they were charged to watch over and serve God’s children e.g.
Ps 34:7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.
• Ps 91:11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.
• Mt 18:10 See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
• Heb 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?

As to when, the Bible did not state explicitly, but there are hints:
Gen 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. The hosts refer to heavenly hosts, or angels.
• Ex 20:11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. “All that is in them” would include angels.
• Job 38:6-7 On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
When God laid the cornerstone of the earth, the morning stars and the sons of God, both referring to angels, were there already to sing and praise.
So the clues point to early in the creation week, but we just can’t be sure.

I Don’t Believe in God!

Q. “Don’t tell me about your religion. I don’t believe in God.” How would you answer that?

A. There are many ways to approach this. Let’s start by defining what, or who, we mean. The Oxford Dictionary defines god as “the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being”:
• Creator means “a person or thing that brings something into existence”;
• Ruler and source of all moral authority implies, as a minimum, intelligence and goodness; and
• Supreme being means the highest person.

For people who don’t believe in God, even though they may not say it, essentially they are denying:
A creator or First Cause. The Law of Cause and Effect states that every material effect must have an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause. If you trace our physical universe to its beginning, it must be caused by something or someone outside of itself. It cannot cause itself into existence, otherwise it would violate the law of non-contradiction. This is because the universe must exist in order for it to create anything, and it must not exist such that it has to be created. But self-creation requires both to be true simultaneously, and it simply can’t be, otherwise logic breaks down and there is no basis for reasoning. So a transcendent First Cause must pre-exist our universe, whom we call the Creator.
A designer. If you examine our universe, you will observe order (e.g. planetary orbits), symmetry (e.g. structure in organisms), and intricate design such that things work together. Just as a building requires an architect and a painting requires a painter, so this careful design requires a highly intelligent Designer who planned and executed everything.
A person. Not only is the First Cause all-powerful in order to create the universe, and all-knowing to design all living and inorganic matters, He must have personality as we have intellect, emotions, an innate sense of right and wrong (morals), and a will to decide, as that which is created, namely us, cannot be greater than the creator.

So simple logic tells us that an omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), moral being (person) exists, and we call this First Cause Designer God. To say that you don’t believe in God simply tells us that you do not want to accept the evidence, which are plenty. It does not change the fact that God exists, who you can know if you care to find out.

Jacob wrestling with God

Q. In Genesis 32 Jacob wrestled with a man and asked him to bless him, and he changed his name from Jacob to Israel. Who is he? What does it mean?

A. Skeptics laugh at the Bible claiming it is full of contradictions e.g.
V 24-25 Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.
• V 30 So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.”

They say Jacob obviously wrestled with a man according to v 24, for how else can God not prevail against him. But in fact they do not understand and presupposed many wrong ideas.

First let’s observe what the passage said:
V 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
• V 28 He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”

Jacob obviously knew that his opponent was someone higher than him, for he asked Him to bless him, buy probably did not know His identity until His self-disclosure in v 28, after which he realized that He was God. But didn’t the Bible say no one has seen God? Yes, in:
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 6:46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.

No one has seen God the Father at any time. Who Jacob saw was God the Son, the only begotten God, the One who is from the Father, the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, and He allowed Jacob to prevail against Him in order to bless him. There is no contradiction. Skeptics do not know God, and presumed the Bible to be wrong, when actually they are the ones who are in error.

Fourteen

Q. In Jesus’ genealogy in Mt 1:17 there were 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 from David to the deportation to Babylon, and 14 from the deportation to the Messiah. What is the significance of “fourteen” in the Bible?

A. The number fourteen or fourteenth appears 44 times in the NASB. I’ve read authors who are into numerology or gematria proposing fanciful meanings for the number. Just think of the many permutations and combinations of smaller numbers you can put together to equal 14, and you can see how the imagination can run wild very quickly. So I shall restrict myself to biblical citations, and have classified the 44 references as grouped in the Appendix.

The frequency of the references is as follows:
1. Passover 12 X
2. Feast of Tabernacles 9 X
3. Purim 5 X
4. Victory/Defeat 4 X
5. Turning Point 4 X
6. Service 4 X
7. Inheritance 2 X
8. Unclassified 4 X

Passover is the feast instituted the night before God delivered His people from Egyptian slavery. The Feast of Tabernacles or Ingathering celebrated the final harvest of olives and fruits and also the start of the civil new year. Many scholars believe it to be symbolic of the Second Coming of Christ, the final ingathering of God’s people. Purim is the feast commemorating the deliverance of the Jews by Esther from a massacre plotted by Haman. All three (26 out of 44 X or 59%) are related to the idea of deliverance and salvation.

The second major idea is that of turning point. There were 4 references to 3 battles which meant victory to the conquerors, but defeat for the captives, a turning point. These are followed by 4 references to turning points of 14 generations, days or years. Altogether 8 out of 44 times or 18% are related to turning points. A third minor idea is that of service or order of ministry, 4 out of 44 X or 9%.

If you are interested in numerology you can search online. I am a historical-grammatical-cultural type and did not spend much time in this topic.

Appendix: Fourteen in the Bible