If you went to church as a child, you’ve probably heard the traditional Sunday School version of David and Goliath. If not, it goes something like this…
The Israelite army was being challenged by a giant named Goliath. All of the soldiers were terrified of Goliath and no one would step up to fight him. Then, David, a young boy around 12 years old came to visit his brothers, heard about Goliath and got mad! David volunteered to fight the giant and everyone thought he was crazy! Saul finally agreed and offered David his armor, which was much too big for the boy. David looked like a little boy wearing his Dad’s t-shirt. So, he took the armor off and went to face the giant with his little slingshot and miraculously hit Goliath between his eyes and killed him. The moral of the story? You are never too small to be used by God!
It’s a great story, but is it really what the Bible describes? Well, not quite. Unfortunately, the Sunday School version, as well as the story that is portrayed on many children’s cartoons, takes a lot of poetic license.
Anointed to be King
The first time David enters Israel’s story is in 1 Samuel 16. In this chapter, the prophet Samuel has followed God’s instructions and traveled to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be the next king. God told Samuel to set up a sacrifice so that he would not have to tell the people the primary reason for his visit. Jesse and his sons are consecrated and invited to attend the sacrifice and, upon their arrival, Samuel assumes that David’s oldest brother is God’s chosen one. He is rebuked by God for looking only at Eliab’s appearance. One by one, Jesse’s sons pass by Samuel and one by one, God says, “No.” This is where we pick the story up.
Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.”
And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.” So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah. (1 Samuel 16:10-13)
Many people point to God’s words regarding Eliab, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature…” along with the fact that David was the youngest and was not called to join them with the prophet and assume that David must have been a young boy – too young to be considered. That, however, is just not in this text. There could have been a reason why David may have had to remain with the sheep or David might have been a bit neglected by his family and forgotten about. Similarly, Eliab’s stature does not imply that David – or any of his other brothers – was small. Eliab may have just been the tallest and most impressive of the brothers, the golden child so to speak.
Mighty Man of Valor, A Man of War
Right after this event, the Bible tells us that the Spirit of the Lord left King Saul and that a distressing spirit troubled him. Saul’s servants wanted to help and offered a suggestion…
Let our master now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp. And it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well.” So Saul said to his servants, “Provide me now a man who can play well, and bring him to me.” Then one of the servants answered and said, “Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him. (1 Samuel 16:16-18)
Saul’s servants referred to David as a “mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person.” These are hardly words that would be used to describe a child, or even a young teenage boy. Some respond to this by saying that the events were not written in chronological order and that this really happened after David fought Goliath. However, there is not only a lack of evidence for this argument, there are some indications that it could not be true. Tim Chaffey explains…
First and foremost, 1 Samuel 17:15 states, “But David occasionally went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.” So David regularly served Saul before his encounter with Goliath. Also, 1 Samuel 18:2, which immediately followed the battle with Goliath, states, “Saul took him [David] that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore.” Finally, chapter 16 shows that Saul and David were introduced to each other and that David became his armor bearer (v. 21), whereas chapter 17 shows no such introduction, indicating they knew already knew each other.
David Leaves Home
Subsequently, King Saul sent for David and, “… David came to Saul and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armorbearer. Then Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Please let David stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.” And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.” (1 Samuel 16:21-23) We know 2 things from this passage. (1) David became Saul’s armorbearer. (2) Whenever the distressing spirit came upon Saul, David would take a harp and play it. Both bring us to an easy conclusion that David moved into the palace and was required to be in the presence of Saul at all times. 1 Samuel 17:15 confirms that, “… David occasionally went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.”
Too Young to Fight?
Next, we come to the story of David and Goliath. Israel’s army is gathered in the Valley of Elah, terrified by the Philistine giant, who twice a day issued this challenge…
Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us … I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. (1 Samuel 17:8b-10)
This had gone on for 40 days when David entered the camp to bring his brothers provisions from their elderly father. Here is where we find one of the most common misconceptions about David. Because only the 3 oldest brothers were with Saul, it is assumed that the other 5 brothers, including David, were all under the age of 20 (the age that men in Israel were required to enter military service). This theory makes sense until you look at all of the exemptions to military service that are provided in the Torah. Deuteronomy 20 lists the following reasons why a man who was over the age of 20 would be allowed to stay home from battle.
- He bought a new house and had not dedicated it.
- He planted a vineyard and had not eaten from it.
- He was betrothed to a woman and not yet married.
- He was fearful and fainthearted.
Deuteronomy 24:5 also instructs Israel that a man is exempt from service for 1 year following his wedding. It is apparent that David did not qualify for any of these exemptions, so it is safe to say that he was almost certainly under the age of 20. However, we should not read more into the text than what is written. We have no reason to presume that the rest of David’s brothers were too young to be at war. One or all could have simply been fearful or fainthearted. They were, after all, facing a giant that was terrorizing them. It is also quite likely when you are talking about a group of young men that at least 1 would have just built a new house that was not yet dedicated, planted a vineyard that he had not eaten of or become betrothed or recently married. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that David could have been as old as 19 years old – even right up to the day before his 20th birthday, which would better fit the description of David in 1 Samuel 16.
But, doesn’t the Bible say that Saul’s armor much too big for David? This is really just another unfortunate myth portrayed in many Sunday school lessons. Let’s look at the relevant verses in 1 Samuel 17:38-39.
So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off.
David simply stated that he could not walk with the armor because he had not tested it. In the KJV, David’s words are translated this way, “I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them.” Testing or proving armor means to test it for defensive ability. David’s statement could actually indicate that he had some experience in battle.
Not a Boy
A second misunderstanding of this conversation comes from Saul’s words of caution to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” Some versions of the Bible use the word “boy” in Saul’s description of David, but that is not an accurate translation and creates even more confusion. The Hebrew word that is translated “youth” here can also be translated servant and can be used to describe a child, teenager or even a younger adult man, as was the case when it was used to describe Absalom in 2 Samuel 18:29 right after he was killed for attempting to take the throne from his father, David. At the time of Absalom’s death, most scholars believe that he was somewhere around 30 years old, give or take a couple of years.
In our day, slingshots are commonly marketed as children’s toys and that is how most in America view them. However, that was not always the case. In ancient times, slingers were skilled, deadly warriors who were employed by the Roman, Assyrian, Egyptian and Israelite armies (among others). Stones flung from their slings rivaled the velocity and precision of a handgun today. Most had been trained since childhood and had finely tuned their skill. In his book, Babylon: Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilization, Paul Kriwaczek explains how and why a sling worked so well. (emphasis added)
A sling works by increasing the effective length of a stone-thrower’s arm. Modern cricket bowlers or baseball pitchers can achieve maximum ball velocities of over 150 kilometres per hour. A slingshot as long again as the thrower’s arm will double the projectile’s speed, making the velocity of the bullet when it leaves the sling nearly 100 metres per second. This is already considerably greater than that of a longbow arrow, at only about 60 mps. Intensively trained from childhood onward, there is no reason to believe that a professional slinger could not beat 100 mps (meters per second) fairly easily and perhaps even begin to approach the muzzle velocity of a .45 calibre pistol round: about 150 mps. What is more, a smooth slingshot projectile has a far greater range than an arrow, as much as half a kilometre, because an arrow’s flight feather’s produce so much drag. The modern world-record distance for a stone cast with a sling was achieved by Larry Bray in 1981, who managed 437 metres, and thought in retrospect that he could surpass the 600-metre mark with a better sling and lead projectiles.
Without the myths, David’s victory over Goliath is a powerful testimony of God’s hand in Israel’s history. While faith is our primary goal when reading Scripture, we should not shy away from reason, logic and historical context. David was a mighty man of valor who had likely been trained in the use of a sling from the time he was a child. By faith, David surrendered his skills to God and was used mightily to defeat a man whose intention was to thwart God’s plan for Israel.
* All scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.
It was a grim and gruesome scene there on Golgotha. Two common thieves, caught in their crime and paying the price with their lives, were being crucified on either side of the sinless Son of God Who was also hanging on a cross. Blood dripped from their wounds into the dirt at the foot of the three crosses and groans came from nearer the top of these cruel instruments of death. Conversation swirled around the top of the hill and also between the men hanging there.
People standing around and passing by had cruel comments to make about the trio hanging on the crosses. Of course they had to be the worst of criminals to warrant being crucified; that would be a given in the minds of those at the scene. Then the Jewish leaders were there in all their pride and pomp. They had much to say against the Man on the middle cross. They accused Him of blasphemy: “If You are the Son of God, as You claim, come down from the cross!” “He saved others, but cannot save Himself. Come down now, and we will believe.” Let God save His Son, if, indeed, He is His Son, they scoffed. The thieves also repeated the things they heard from the throng at the foot of their crosses.
Suddenly evidence that the Holy Spirit was at work on that hill of desecration and death flashed out among those hanging there. Conviction lay hold on one of the thieves. Despite what he could hear the churchmen and priests and soldiers saying about Jesus, and the fact that Jesus was also being crucified, the thief rebuked his partner in crime for mocking the Man on the middle cross. “Hey, wait just a minute. We’re hanging here for crimes we committed. This is our just punishment. But this Man has done nothing wrong.” Recognizing and confessing his sin, he agreed with the sentence. In other words, he repented.
Then came one of the most amazing professions of faith recorded in the Holy Bible. Despite the sacrilege flowing on that hilltop, the thief recognized something holy. Someone like no one he’d ever come into contact with was bleeding to death on that next cross. Faith took hold, and he believed in the Man hanging beside Him. “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” He believed and confessed Jesus. Salvation washed him white as snow. “This day you’ll be with Me in Paradise.”
Charles Colson observed that the two thieves who died on either side of Jesus represent you and me – all of mankind. We’re one or the other. “We either recognize our sinful selves, our sentence of death, and our deserving of that sentence, which leads us to repent and believe – or we curse God and die. What is your response?”
And make no mistake, a response is demanded of every human being. We each have a solemn spiritual choice to make that will determine the conduct of the rest of our lives and our eternal destination. The tale of two thieves is the tale of each of us. We’re either for Jesus, or we’re against Him, He told us. When we’ve believed in the saving power of the Man on the middle cross Who died to set us free, we are compelled to take the good news of the gospel to the lost among us. The answer we have to give is good news. Indeed, there is no other news or Name whereby we can be saved.
All scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
Have you ever been asked a question about God that you couldn’t answer? For many of us, that question is, “If God is love, then why did He command Joshua to kill every man, woman and child in the Canaanite nations?” Skeptics point to the 6th commandment and claim that God is a hypocrite, telling His people not to commit murder in one verse and then commanding them to murder in another. If we are honest, we will admit that this is a perplexing event. There are many different proposed explanations, but we are going to look at the two theories that I believe have the most biblical support.
The first possibility is that God used the Israelites to execute His judgment against these nations because of their great sin, which is based largely on God’s word to Abraham in Genesis 15:15-16…
Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.
In the verses preceding this promise, God gave Abraham an outline of future events. God told Abraham that his descendants would be strangers in a foreign land where they would be afflicted for 400 years. Then, He would judge that land and Abraham’s descendants would leave with great possessions and return to the land that He had given them. The reason for the delay was that the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet complete. (The Amorites were one of the Canaanite tribes and the name was probably used in this context to refer to all of the Canaanite people.)
The Canaanites were an utterly wicked and immoral people. Their culture was defined by child sacrifice, witchcraft, divination, sorcery, necromancy (consulting with the dead, aka demons) and debauchery of all kinds, including bestiality, incest and temple prostitution. God required the death penalty for every one of these practices. Yet, because God is patient and long-suffering, He waited several centuries to send His judgment. In other words, the sin of these people did not come to the point of warranting God’s judgment until the time of the Exodus and by that time, the Bible implies that every single person in the culture was corrupted.
Scripture clearly demonstrates that God uses nations to judge other nations – even nations that are not righteous themselves. For example, God describes Assyria as the rod of His anger in Isaiah 10:5-6…
Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger
And the staff in whose hand is My indignation.
I will send him against an ungodly nation,
And against the people of My wrath
I will give him charge,
To seize the spoil, to take the prey,
And to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
Then, in Jeremiah 25:8-9, God declares His intentions to use Babylon in judgment against Israel…
Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Because you have not heard My words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ says the Lord, ‘and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations.
Ironically, God sent Assyria and Babylon to judge Israel for the very same reasons He used Israel to destroy the Canaanites.
For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God… and they had feared other gods, and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made… the children of Israel secretly did against the Lord their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities… They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom the Lord had carried away before them; and they did wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger, for they served idols…they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them that they should not do like them. So they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.
2 Kings 17:7-17, abridged
When we see the destruction of the Canaanites as judgment, we can understand that it was not genocide. God was not sending Joshua to kill a certain race or ethnicity of people, but was employing Joshua and his army as a sword of judgment on a society who had permanently rejected Him and plunged headfirst into unrestrained evil. Despite what skeptics allege, God’s love was shown to humanity in this instance and others. He knew that if evil was left to continue to spread, more people would be lost for eternity and He could not allow that to happen. It was a cleansing of the land similar to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the global flood of Noah’s time. Yet, it is likely that had they repented, God would have spared them, just as He did for Rahab and all that she brought into her home.
The second explanation is referred to as the “angel view.” While it is controversial in some circles, it is certainly not a fringe theory. The angel view was universally accepted doctrine in the early church up until the 5th century A.D. At that time, critics used anything they could to attack and mock the church. Because of this, many Christians began to discard certain beliefs in exchange for new, more palatable theology. In recent times, many respected Bible scholars have subscribed to this belief, including:
M. R. DeHaan, founder of Our Daily Bread Ministries
Merrill Unger, author of various works including Biblical Demonology
Henry Morris, founder of the Creation Research Society and the Institute for Creation Research
Hal Lindsey, best known for his books on the end times
Chuck Smith, Calvary Chapel founder
Chuck Missler, founder of Koinonia House
So, what exactly is the angel view? To fully explain, we must go back to Genesis 6:1-7, which says…
Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
A basic reading of these verses does not aptly convey the meaning of the words. I am grateful to the late Chuck Missler for his teachings on this subject, which served as a springboard for my research. Much of my explanation comes from his messages.
The word that is translated “giant” in our Bibles is actually “Nephilim.” Nephilim means, literally, “fallen ones.” The word giant came about as a translation of the Greek word used in the Septuagint, “gigantes.” While the word giant is derived from gigantes, that was not the original meaning of the word. Missler taught that the original meaning of gigantes was “Earth-born.” Greek and Roman mythology support that definition as the Gigantes were said to be the offspring of Gaia and Uranus.
The Hebrew words for “Sons of God” are bene ha’elohim, a phrase which, as Chuck Missler explains, is reserved in the Old Testament for direct creations of God, like angels or Adam, the first man created from the earth by the hands of God. In fact, even in the New Testament, Adam is the only person in Jesus’ genealogy who is called a son of God.
Finally, “daughters of men” is literally “daughters of Adam.” In contrast to what some who oppose the angel view teach, there is no indication that these women who bore the Nephilim were specifically descendants of Cain.
So, if we take the Bible literally, the text says that the Sons of God (fallen angels) took wives from the daughters of Adam and produced offspring called Nephilim (fallen ones). Those who hold to this view believe that except for Noah’s line (Genesis 6 says that he was perfect in his generations), all of humanity was contaminated with these Nephilim genes and God sent the flood to wipe them out in order to preserve a pure line through which Jesus could come as our Messiah. There are many other indications that this theory could be true, including in the New Testament. In his article, “Mischievous Angels or Sethites? Textual Controversy” Chuck Missler point to 2 New Testament verses that seem to confirm the angel view:
“In the mouths of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” In Biblical matters, it is essential to always compare Scripture with Scripture. The New Testament confirmations in Jude and 2 Peter are impossible to ignore.
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [Tartarus], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; 2 Peter 2:4-5
Peter’s comments even establishes the time of the fall of these angels to the days of the Flood of Noah.
Even Peter’s vocabulary is provocative. Peter uses the term Tartarus, here translated “hell.” This is the only place that this Greek term appears in the Bible. Tartarus is a Greek term for “dark abode of woe”; “the pit of darkness in the unseen world.” As used in Homer’s Iliad, it is “…as far beneath hades as the earth is below heaven`.” In Greek mythology, some of the demigods, Chronos and the rebel Titans, were said to have rebelled against their father, Uranus, and after a prolonged contest they were defeated by Zeus and were condemned into Tartarus.
The Epistle of Jude also alludes to the strange episodes when these “alien” creatures intruded themselves into the human reproductive process:
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Jude 6,7
The allusions to “going after strange flesh,” keeping “not their first estate,” having “left their own habitation,” and “giving themselves over to fornication,” seem to clearly fit the alien intrusions of Genesis 6. (The term for habitation, oivkhth,rion, refers to their heavenly bodies from which they had disrobed.)
These allusions from the New Testament would seem to be fatal to the “Sethite” alternative in interpreting Genesis 6. If the intercourse between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” were merely marriage between Sethites and Cainites, it seems impossible to explain these passages, and the reason why some fallen angels are imprisoned and others are free to roam the heavenlies.”
The connection between the pre-flood Nephilim and the Canaanite destruction can be found in verse 4, “There were giants (Nephilim) on the earth in those days, and also afterward…” So, there were Nephilim in the Earth after the flood, but, who were they and where did they live? Deuteronomy 9:1-2 tell us that the people of Canaan were descendants of the Anakim and Numbers 13:33 explains that the Anakim came from the Nephilim. They were numerous and included:
The Rephaim, Emim, Horim & Zamsummim of Genesis 14-15
Arba, the father of Anak, Joshua 14:15, 15:13
Anak and his 7 sons, the Anakim from Numbers 13:33
Og, King of Bashan, mentioned in Deuteronomy 3:11 and Joshua 12
Goliath and his 4 brothers, 2 Samuel 21:16-22; 1 Chronicles 20:4-8 (“giant” used in these verses is literally, “Rephaim”)
The Canaanites were descendants of the Nephilim and, if the angel view is correct, then it would indicate that the human line in this area was corrupted. According to this view, God commanded Joshua and his army to kill every man, woman and child in Canaan in order to prevent them from corrupting the people that He had chosen to become the lineage of the Messiah.
Whichever view is correct, it is clear that the destruction of the Canaanites was not genocide, but judgment of pervasive sin. God made clear that He was the one that would be dealing with the inhabitants of Canaan and that He was not doing any of it because of Israel’s righteousness, but only because of the wickedness of the Canaanites.
“Therefore understand today that the Lord your God is He who goes over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and bring them down before you; so you shall drive them out and destroy them quickly, as the Lord has said to you.
“Do not think in your heart, after the Lord your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land’; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out from before you. It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Throughout the Bible, God judged nations that rejected Him and embraced wickedness, including His own people Israel. This does not make God evil, but instead demonstrates His perfect righteousness. Just as we would not expect a murderer or rapist to be spared justice, so we cannot condemn God’s actions against wicked people. In reality, all of us deserve the sword of God’s judgment. Yet, through His amazing grace, God Himself came, the seed of the woman, to take that judgment on Himself at the cross. Just like Noah’s great Ark and the home of Rahab with the scarlet cord hung from her window, Jesus is our escape hatch. He is coming back one day to judge all people and nations who have rebelled against Him, but if we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will not have to face that judgment. As long as the Earth remains, there will be things we don’t understand, but we can take comfort in these words….
Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
It’s hard to believe in anyone today. Do you take the word of the used car salesman that the vehicle is in triple-A condition? The politician who only wants what’s best for the little guy? The company that’s only in business for your business success? The professor who pushes evolution though there’s no evidence? Or the preacher who says a Man named Jesus rose from the dead? Who do you trust? What do you trust? To believe or not to believe: that is the question.
Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Believe me, this was not an era of easy believism in Rome. Christians were dying like flies for acknowledging any competition to the mastery of Caesar who had elevated himself to deity. If they were going to confess and believe in Jesus as living and Lord, they knew they could very well be signing their own death warrant. But if He indeed died for them so they could be saved, would, should they not be willing to live and even die for Him? To believe, and confess that they believed, became the testing question.
Actually the “confess and believe” requirement Paul presented was a strong one, a life-or-death issue. When he wrote “confess”, these Roman Christians understood that he meant they were to declare publicly, speak out freely, of their allegiance to Christ as their Master and Lord. This same Jesus Who was the Jewish carpenter from Nazareth, no less, Who professed to be the Son of the Living God. The same One Who died to deliver everyone from their sins and give them eternal life – if they would but confess and believe. Their deep conviction of the facts of His life and death and return to life were to be a cause of celebration. Public celebration.
And to believe that Jesus rose from the dead? Well, this is the part where the Athenians laughed and walked out on Paul at Mars Hill, right? Now, not only must I confess that the humble Judean is my Master and Lord, demoting Caesar, I must believe that the One Who hung on a Roman cross, crucified by Roman soldiers for competing with Caesar, was indeed the Son of God and shown to be so with great power, Almighty power, through His resurrection from the dead. To believe, and confess my belief, in a crucified, resurrected Jew from Nazareth, and so be saved from sin and eternal death, though the confession may cost me my life – to believe or not to believe: that is the question.
And the question hasn’t changed. We must still be willing to publicly confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead. To stake our eternal life, and maybe this life, on these truths. To so firmly believe that our daily celebration of life declares that Jesus is our living Lord. “Neither is there salvation in any other.” To believe or not to believe: that is the question. He IS Lord! He IS alive! Believe! And be saved.
Years ago, I came across a chart arguing that same sex marriage was not biblically wrong. The chart was shared by many of my Facebook friends, and by both Christians and non-Christians. My heart was saddened to see many of my Christian friends sharing the chart, not grasping the horrendous errors it espoused. After noticing similar charts show up again on my news feed recently, I determined that a response is in order. I encourage everyone to take a moment and familiarize yourself with the chart below, which I’ll address over a series of blogs in order to provide more depth than a single blog can.
The writer(s) of this chart are either ignorant of theology, doctrine, and Scripture (and logic), or are purposefully using fallacious arguments and twisted representations of Scripture to win people to their side, which no correct position would need. Let’s answer the question, “Why is homosexuality sinful?” and “Should gays should be allowed to marry?”
Our discussion will start with, “Because the Old Testament said so!”, and the inevitable response of, “The O.T. also says it’s sinful to eat shell-fish, to wear clothes woven with different fabrics, and to eat pork” and, “Should we still live by the O.T. laws?”
The creators of this chart are trying to remove the Old Testament as an authority today because several verses make it quite clear homosexuality is sinful:
Leviticus 18:22: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
Leviticus 20:13: If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.
While many try to discount these verses with a context change, they have failed (on every level) to justify those grammatical/contextual changes. The chart above doesn’t take that approach, but instead makes the sweeping implication that all Old Testament commands are irrelevant today, after all, many Christians eat bacon, which is banned by the Old Testament, right? Why is it okay to ignore those rules but not the homosexual rules? Haven’t all those rules expired? No.
The writers of the chart have either ignored or completely misunderstood basic Old Testament theology and the different types of laws given in the Old Testament. Why is it okay to eat pork but not murder? (Both are said to be wrong in the Old Testament.) Because the law dealing with pork is not the moral law given in the Old Testament, but a law specifically for Israel which was fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Many laws were given to the nation of Israel to define their culture, or to guide the sacrifices during the O.T. time frame.
The cultural laws were meant to keep Israel separate from the pagan nations surrounding them. God knew if they mingled with the pagan nations, those nations would lead Israel away from Him. In fact, every time Israel ignored God’s command to stay separate from the other nations, those nations did lead them away from God. The cultural laws, and the laws governing sacrifice during the O.T., are no longer applicable to Christians today, because Christ has provided the ultimate sacrifice. Actually, the New Testament reveals this over and over, explaining the differences between these laws in several places, such as the book of Hebrews and Peter’s vision in Acts 10. However, there is another law given in the O.T. which is never overturned, which never expires, and is re-emphasized by Jesus and every writer of the N.T.: the moral law of God.
God’s moral law does not change, because it comes from the nature of God Himself, who is eternal and unchanging. Again, these laws are reiterated in the N.T., just as homosexuality being sinful is reiterated in the N.T., showing it was part of the moral law. In fact, if we look at the passages above in Leviticus, they are clearly defining moral behavior, and therefore never expire. The same passage which says homosexuality is sinful (Leviticus 18) also gives the moral law against incest. The passage in Leviticus 20:13 is clearly moral, too. Beginning in verse nine, God gives moral laws, such as not cursing your parents, not committing adultery, not lying with your father’s wife or your daughter-in-law, and, finally, in verse 15, the passage condemns beastiality. Is the author suggesting these laws have all expired? Is committing adultery now allowed by God? Or other sexual abominations such as beastiality? Clearly not.
The Old Testament is clear: homosexuality is sinful. Should we live by all the laws of the Old Testament? No, not at all, but no Christian was suggesting that anyway. This argument gives a false dilemma by claiming you either follow all the laws or none of the laws, which isn’t the case. The cultural and sacrificial laws expired with the coming of Jesus Christ, but the moral law is only reinforced by Jesus and will never change. So do I still think homosexuality is sinful because the Old Testament says so? Yes, I do. Does that make me a “sexist, chauvinistic, judgmental, xeno-phobic” person? No, it doesn’t. It simply means I love homosexuals enough to tell them the truth, even if many people will spew hatred in my direction for doing so.
This year, nearly a month ago on October 31st, we celebrated the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral. The act of nailing a document to the door was not, in and of itself, that unusual, but it was its content that was to make history. As mentioned, the act itself was not that unusual; the nailing of documents to the door was a call to debate, and the defense of one side or another was posted for all to read and thus respond.
What Martin Luther did was to call into question one of the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church: that of “justification”. That is to say, that one is saved by grace through faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9) (Sola Fide, Sola Gratia). The Truth is found in the Bible alone, and not in what the Church may say it is (Sola Scriptura). Further, that Jesus Christ is our only Lord and Savior (Sola Christus). And finally, we live for the Glory of God alone, not for the Church or anyone therein (Soli Deo Gloria).
These themes contained in Luther’s theses were put forth to convince the Church that they needed to change and reform their practices which had corrupted their doctrine. The Church had been allowing people to “buy” their way into heaven. The money, of course, went to the Church allowing them to expand and beautify their churches. It had also led to the placing of “unqualified” individuals into positions of authority in the Church, as they were able to buy a Bishop position, or even Cardinal. The Church wanted to be the “go-between” between God and the people, setting the rules based on their interpretation of Scripture (to which few had access).
The Catholic Church had been the only Christian denomination for more than 1,000 years and, during that time, had grown to be more of a political force than a spiritual one. They did, however, use their spiritual authority to convince the political leaders to “cooperate” with the Church, when it suited their needs. They had lost sight of their true mission, which was to share the gospel and grow up life-long followers of Christ. It became, rather, an international multinational enterprise designed to enrich its members.
Luther defended himself at a “trial” in Worms, Germany and was fortunate to have royal supports who protected him from the Church, or he would have been “eliminated” as a heretic, as those who had come before him had been. Luther found sanctuary in Germany and was able to translate the Bible into German for the general public to begin to know the Word of God directly and personally.
Once the earthly power of the Church had been broken, others followed Luther in defiance of the Church. What would become the Protestant Reformation had begun and there was no turning back. The Church did begin to push back against the “heretics” who now taught that Scripture was the final authority and not the Church. For the next 300 years numerous conflicts within and among nations were largely based on religious grounds. Thousands of people were killed defending what each thought was the “true” religion.
While there were negative consequences of this Reformation, there were many positive ones. There was a gradual spread of the Bible in native languages, and although Bibles were still hard to come by (because of the expense of the printing), it was able to be read by those who were literate.
The Reformation also allowed for the questioning of “authority” on the political level, as it had been questioned on the spiritual level. Ultimately the founding of this country was based on a willingness to question the authority of the King which had been born, in part, out of the Reformation. The Reformation laid the ground work for the justification of questioning kings and princes, whose actions did not line up with the Word of God. The Founding Fathers studied the writings of the early Reformers to find the scriptural justification for the American Revolution. Such works proved critical to the Americans who were reluctant to defy the “lawful” king without scriptural justification.
David Hume once said: “Were a stranger to drop suddenly into this world, I would show him as specimen of its ills, a hospital full of diseases, a prison crowded with malefactors and debtors, a field of battle strewn with carcasses, a fleet floundering in the ocean, a nation languishing under tyranny, famine, or pestilence. Honestly, I don’t see how you can possibly square with an ultimate purpose of love.”
The question of evil and suffering has plagued the philosophical debate over the existence of God for thousands of years. Many see a deep incompatibility between the all-loving and all-powerful God of Scripture and the world of pain and suffering they observe. The argument goes something like this: If God is all-loving, He would desire to stop evil, and if God were all-powerful (both of which the Bible claims), He would have the power to stop evil. Therefore, since evil exists, the God of Scripture doesn’t. Many great answers have been given to this objection, from free will to justice. These answers have shown that there is no contradiction between Scripture and the world, but instead of regurgitating those typical (and good) responses, I’d like to take another approach for a moment.
Many agree that free will answers why evil and suffering exist, but the next question is often ,“If God knew Adam and Eve would sin and cause death and suffering, why create them in the first place? Why create a world that He knew would end up in pain and suffering?” When Hume looks at the world, He cannot reconcile God’s ultimate plan of love with his observations, but I want to submit to you that suffering and pain is the only way for God to make the greatest act of love. Scripture says:
John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
The greatest love that someone can express to another is to die in their place, to sacrifice themselves for the well-being of another. Sacrificial love is the greatest expression of love, because sacrifice involves pain and suffering of some sort. Dying for someone requires pain and sacrifice of your life. Giving finances when you’re struggling requires extra work to make up the difference. Donating a kidney is a frightening surgery and painful recovery, yet these sacrificial actions express the greatest love.
Why then, would God look down the timeline of history, know that mankind would sin and cause suffering and pain, and still create the world? God knew that in the midst of that pain and suffering, in the midst of the evil brought about by man’s free will and sinful choices, God could show His greatest expression of love towards us by dying on the cross to save us and bring us back into a relationship with Him. Pain and suffering make the greatest expression of love – sacrificial love – a reality, which is why the Bible says:
Romans 5:8: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
A God who is by nature love, would desire to express the greatest love possible to His children, and that love is possible because He created mankind, knowing we would sin, and knowing that our sin would give Him the perfect opportunity to love us beyond measure. Love is not only the purpose of the cross, it’s the plan and reason for creation. My prayer is that the world will see the love that pain made possible, and the gospel in which this greatest love was expressed to the world by its Creator.
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people.” Luke 22:1-2, NKJV
Last weekend, our family celebrated Passover, a time when Jewish families still remember their Exodus from Egypt and when Christian families have a wonderful opportunity to remember what our Savior did for us more than two thousand years ago. In fact, for many years the early church continued their celebration of Passover and The Feast of First Fruits, since they knew that Jesus, or Yeshua, was Himself the fulfillment of both. Consider some of the following elements of Passover and how they correspond to the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross.
1. The Selection of the Passover Lamb – The Tenth of Nissan
The Jewish people were required to select a Passover lamb on the tenth of Nissan. They would take the lamb into their homes for 4 days in order to inspect it to ensure that it was free of spot or blemish. According to many scholars, Jesus made His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (known to the church as Palm Sunday) on the tenth of Nissan, thereby presenting Himself as the eternal Passover Lamb.[i]
Exodus 12:3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.’”
John 12:12-15 “The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”
2. The Unleavened Bread
Before Passover week, families are required to rid their homes of all leavening and consume only unleavened bread. During the Passover Seder, three matzahs are placed on the table. Early in the ceremony, the middle piece is broken and half wrapped in a linen cloth and hidden. It is later searched for and, once discovered, broken into pieces and distributed to be eaten as the last course of the meal. When Jesus was eating the last Passover (the Last Supper) with His disciples, He broke the matzah and told them that it was His body, broken for them. Later, His flesh was indeed broken, wrapped in linen cloth and hidden away for three days and three nights.
Exodus 12:15 “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.”
Luke 22:19 “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’”
3. The Wine
Four cups of wine are consumed as a part of the Passover ceremony: the cup of sanctification, the cup of deliverance, the cup of redemption and the cup of completion. These cups are based on Exodus 6:6-7, which reads in part, “‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.”
Luke 22 records Jesus drinking the first cup (“I will bring you out”) and the third cup (“I will redeem you”) with His disciples. It is the third cup, the cup of redemption, of which He says, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” Jesus did not drink the fourth cup (the cup of completion) because, as He explained to His disciples, He will drink it with us in His Father’s Kingdom.
4. The Bitter Herbs
For the Israelites, the bitter herbs reminded them of the bitterness of their slavery in Egypt. For followers of Christ, they remind of us of our bondage to sin and the bitterness that results. Just as God delivered the Israelites from their bondage because of the blood of the Passover Lamb that was painted on their doorposts, so He has delivered us from slavery to sin if we will apply His blood to the doorposts of our hearts.
Exodus 12:8 “Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.”
5. The Sacrifice of the Passover Lamb – The Fourteenth of Nissan
The tradition of the church is that Jesus died on “Good Friday,” since Friday is the day before the Sabbath. However, in addition to the weekly Sabbath, Israel had several “High Sabbaths” throughout the year, one of them being Nissan 15. This is why many believe that Jesus died on Nissan 14[ii] and was buried before sundown, corresponding with the day and time that the Passover Lamb was sacrificed. This teaching corresponds more accurately to Jesus’ remaining in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights.
Exodus 12:6 “Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.”
Mark 15:42-44 “Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time.”
6. The Feast of Firstfruits – The Seventeenth of Nissan
The first day after Passover week (The Feast of Unleavened Bread), an offering of the firstfruits of Israel’s harvest was to be brought to the priest. On The Feast of Firstfruits, Jesus was resurrected along with all of the saints who had died before Him, the firstfruits of the harvest of souls.
Leviticus 23:9-12 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
While skeptics accuse believers of checking our minds at the door of the church, we have a much better option. Jesus said that He came to fulfill the law and the prophets and that is exactly what He did. In addition to the complete fulfillment of Passover, Jesus fulfilled more than 300 prophecies in His first coming alone.[iii] We can look forward to the fulfillment of many more at His return.
“Everything in the Torah (or the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses) has a prophetic as well as historical significance and merits our careful attention. Jesus indicated this in Matthew 5:17, ‘Think not that I am come to destroy the Torah, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.’ Paul also emphasized this in Romans 15:4, ‘For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning. . .’ The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed; the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed.” ~ Chuck Missler[iv]
Blog authored by Cindy Koen
[i] – http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Spring_Holidays/Shabbat_HaGadol/shabbat_hagadol.html
[ii] – http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Spring_Holidays/First_Fruits/first_fruits.html, http://www.jesuschrist.com/jesus-christ-was-crucified-on-wednesday-not-friday/,
[iii] – http://www.accordingtothescriptures.org/prophecy/353prophecies.html
[iv] – http://www.khouse.org/articles/1995/105/print/ Continue reading
Before my eye-opening experience with God, I wasn’t aware of the term worldview. Soon after my eyes were opened, I was given a video set called The Truth Project, and it helped me realize the significance of how we see the world. God is and has been active in my life, yet I neglected to acknowledge him – either out of doubt or being preoccupied with other things, and by other ideologies.
A worldview requires sense perception and consistent methods of interpretation. Sense perception is necessary and reliable enough for understanding reality. At the same time, that which gives meaning and substance to what is perceived to be real goes beyond the physical and determines our stance on topics such as politics, human rights, family, and all those things that tug at our heart. Worldviews influence self-esteem, decision making, and how we treat others. That is why our outlook on life and how we see the world is important and why we should be cautious of empty deceit.
Solutions to issues in our culture and community can be seen from many angles. Some would believe that the truth about most topics is relative to each person and the angle at which each person is coming at the topic. This belief lacks truth because if it is all relative, then what is true? A secular worldview sees things from a humanistic point of view and would even question God’s supremacy over all, putting man as supreme. When man is ultimately in control and decisions are based on personal preference, our integrity is compromised because not everyone has the same outlook on life.
There are many ideologies that influence our worldview. Some are better than others, but what we are gambling with is our heart. An honest assessment of our character and our views can expose in what and whom we put our confidence. Someone with a biblical worldview has their confidence in one God, the God of the Holy Bible.
A biblical worldview recognizes God as sovereign, righteous and as Creator, the uncaused Cause. It is highly considerate of the nature of God, God as in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The inerrancy of the Bible is core since a biblical worldview is grounded in the Bible and God’s truth claims.
The Bible was given by God and, believe it or not, it is true – much physical evidence is available. The challenge is how we come together and consistently interpret and explain all that is available to us. Responsible use of the mediums that we have at our disposal and actively discerning what we are exposed to as consumers is imperative to avoid being deceived into illogical behaviors and ideas.(2) These ideas will shape our worldview and affect how we think and what we choose to believe. Eliminating all ideas that oppose the majority would help a particular ideology, but at the same time limit our understanding of reality. So when considering different opinions, we must be careful not to compromise biblical truth for temporary comfort.
One way to measure the tension between worldviews and what is at risk is our identity. At one point I questioned who I was, asking myself, “Am I who they say I am?” This process was difficult because of how much “their” opinion meant to me. Since we are all opinionated at times, let’s agree that opinions do matter and serve a purpose, but they are not what we should base our identity on. Opinions, just like characteristics, are going to change with time, but God is not limited by time and he does not change. When people and all the things in which we find so much significance let us down, remember that we were created by God and for God.
Our identity has been established, and our understanding of it is limited by time, so we must not waste it. God himself said “let us make man in our own image” (Genesis 1:26), and it was done. Then in a selfless expression of love, God made himself known physically, in Jesus, reconciling all of mankind once and for all. When I came to the understanding of the power of the gospel, my trajectory in life and my interpretation of the world around me was different.
Knowing your worth in Christ is good, but loving your neighbor as yourself is equally as important. Understanding all doctrine might not be necessary for salvation, but working to do so will strengthen your faith and your defense for what you believe. What I believe and placing my confidence in God has impacted my life, and that of those around me, in many good ways.
We can easily be misled into dangerous territory because naturally we are intelligent, creative, and emotional people. We can be curious, and the mind is powerful, so there is a lot at stake and the attacks come from different angles. For example, education, entertainment, religions, and politics are some areas where crafty deception is lurking for its victims. We can be challenged intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally, and for that reason we must “be strong in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:10) and hold on firmly to His word. His revelation is a blessing and our best defense. Most importantly, we have an intercessor – his name is Jesus (Romans 8:34). The gospel of Jesus Christ is essential in our walk as we follow Him. As humble followers of Jesus, we must fix our eyes on him as he leads us “in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalms 23). This Christian worldview stands on a firm foundation that has stood the test of time. “I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments” (Colossians 2:4 ESV).
Blog authored by Jaime Martinez