Tough Questions Answered

A Christian Apologetics Blog
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    April 2015
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  • Why Don’t We Know the Exact Route of the Exodus?

    Posted By on April 17, 2015

    The Bible describes the place-names and geography of the route that Israel took from Egypt to the plains of Moab, across from the city of Jericho, during the 40 years in the wilderness. So why is it that archaeologists and biblical scholars cannot agree on the exact route that was taken?

    Gordon Wenham, in his commentary Numbers, summarizes the problems that scholars face. Even though we have plenty of place-names in the Bible,

    place-names survive only if there is a continuity of settlement at the places concerned. Even then there may be changes of name for social, political or religious reasons (e.g. 32:38; Gen. 28:19; Judg. 18:29). And if a name has survived from biblical times to the present, it can often have become attached to a different place.

    Old Testament Jericho is now called Tell es-Sultan: the name Jericho survives in the Arab town (er-Riḥa), not far from the ancient mound. But in the case of Arad and Heshbon (Num. 21:1, 26) there are no remains of the conquest period at the modern sites bearing these names, and it looks as though the biblical sites must have been elsewhere.

    In the wilderness the problems are compounded. The inhabitants have been fewer and more mobile and there is very little assurance of the biblical names having been preserved at all, let alone always attached to the correct site. And there is always the suspicion that when a biblical-sounding name is found, it may not rest on ancient tradition but have been coined by a local trying to help a pilgrim searching for the holy sites.

    The fact that we have these problems does not stop scholars from looking for new archaeological evidence and from proposing new theories about the exodus route. But, in the end we must concede that we may never know where the “Israelites crossed the Red Sea, received the law, or ate the manna.”

    Wenham puts this in perspective for us when he explains that

    from a theological point of view, this uncertainty is of no greater moment than that surrounding the site of Calvary or the ascension. That these things happened is vital: to know where they occurred may provide food for thought, but is not of the essence of our faith.

    Commentary on Numbers 9-10 (The Israelites Leave Sinai)

    Posted By on April 15, 2015

    As we pick up in chapter 9 of Numbers, Moses reminds the reader of the presence of God in the cloud above the tabernacle. On the first day the tabernacle was completed (first day of the second year of the exodus, or 1445 BC), the cloud covered it (recall Exodus 40:34). Verses 15-23 in chapter 9 explain what the cloud meant for the Israelites.

    We first learn, in verses 15-16, that from dusk to dawn the cloud would have the appearance of fire so that the people of Israel could always see God’s presence, even during the night.

    Verses 17-23 have an almost poetic quality, as if the author is exalting the presence and direction of God in the life of Israel.  The presence of the cloud is equated with the command of God to stay where they are or to move their camp.

    The system is simple: if the cloud covers the tabernacle, the Israelites are to stay encamped where they are. This could be the case for a single day, weeks, or even months. When the cloud lifted up into the sky, it was a signal to Israel to get the camp ready for movement. The people would then pack up the tabernacle, gather their belongings, decamp in an orderly and prescribed fashion, tribe by tribe, and follow the cloud (God), wherever He led.

    As we skip ahead to the twentieth day of the second month of the second year (chapter 10, verses 11-36), the cloud lifts up and God signals to Israel that it is time to leave Mount Sinai, where they spent the last 11 months. The excitement must have been incredible, as in a short time Israel would reach the borders of the Promised Land of Canaan.

    In verses 14-28, Moses is careful to describe the exact order of decampment. The tribes move off in groups of three, as prescribed in chapter 2 of Numbers. The tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun went first. After they departed, the tabernacle was taken down by the Levite clans of Gershon and Merari. They would then load the curtains and poles of the tabernacle on oxcarts and set out behind Judah’s tribe-group.

    Next the tribes of Reuben, Simeon and Gad set out. They were followed by the Levite clan of Kohath, who carried the holy things of the tabernacle (i.e., the table for the bread, the lampstand, the incense altar, the altar of burnt offering, and the ark). In verse 33, however, we read that the ark was moved to the front of the procession. Notice that the Gershonites and Merarites were to arrive before the Kohathites so that the tabernacle could be assembled before the holy things arrived (except the ark).

    The third group of tribes to leave was Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin, and the final group consisted of Dan, Asher and Naphtali.

    R. Dennis Cole, in Numbers: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary), explains the meaning of the order of departure:

    The order and symmetry of the beginning of the journey from the mountain of God, the place where the nation has been constituted, to the Promised Land, where the fulfillment of that nationhood was to be confirmed, echo the essential themes of . . . unity and harmony, purity and faithfulness. The people of God move out in harmonious accord, faithful to the Lord’s leading through the cloud pillar and the ark of the covenant, the symbols of his presence with them in a miracle of nature and in the focal point of the relationship between God and his people.

    When the people of God follow his instructions, there is orderliness, unity, and harmony. The faith of the Israelites is on display for future generations to emulate.

    Verses 29-32 describe Moses asking his brother-in-law, Hobab, to travel with them to the Promised Land. Why was Moses so interested in having Hobab come along? Probably because Hobab was familiar with the terrain they would be covering, and he could help Moses find water and better navigate the terrain God was leading the nation through.

    In verses 33-34, we learn that this initial part of the journey to the Promised Land would be a “three-day journey.” Rather than understanding the journey as actually taking three days, it should be understood as a measure of distance. Fifteen miles per day was the average distance an army could travel, so it is best to interpret the journey as covering about 45 miles. It may have taken more than 3 actual days for Israel to cover that distance.

    Finally, in verses 35-36, Moses repeats two phrases, one when Israel departs their camp, and one when Israel arrives at a new destination. When they depart, Moses exclaims, “Rise up, O LORD! May your enemies be scattered; may your foes flee before you.” When they come to rest, he exclaims, “Return, O LORD, to the countless thousands of Israel.”

    The faith and confidence that Moses has in the God of Israel stands in sharp contrast to events that will soon occur. Things are about to go downhill.

    Will Extinct Animals Live on the New Earth?

    Posted By on April 13, 2015

    Now this is an interesting question. Randy Alcorn says “yes” in his book Heaven, and here is how he explains his answer:

    I think it’s a question based on a rational conclusion. Were dinosaurs part of God’s original creation of a perfect animal world? Certainly. Will the restoration of Earth and the redemption of God’s creation be complete enough to bring back extinct animals? Will extinct animals be included in the “all things” Christ will make new? I see every reason to think so and no persuasive argument against it.

    Resurrection is the key concept he builds from to draw his conclusion.

    I think we should fully expect that extinct animals and plants will be brought back to life. By resurrecting his original creation, God will show the totality of his victory over sin and death. It’s apparent that the Curse that fell on the earth resulted in some species dying out. But God promises, “No longer will there be any curse” (Revelation 22: 3). And because it seems that the Curse will not merely be nullified but reversed, it seems likely that God might restore extinct animals and plants on the New Earth.

    Animals are created for God’s glory. What could speak more of his awesome power than a tyrannosaurus? When talking to Job, God pointed out his greatness revealed in the giant land and sea creatures behemoth and leviathan (Job 40– 41). Why shouldn’t all people have the opportunity to enjoy these great wonders of God on the New Earth? Imagine Jurassic Park with all of the awesome majesty of those huge creatures but none of their violence and hostility. Imagine riding a brontosaurus— or flying on the back of a pterodactyl. Unless God made a mistake when he created them— and clearly he didn’t— why wouldn’t he include them when he makes “everything new”?

    Commentary on Leviticus 23 (The Feasts of Israel)

    Posted By on April 10, 2015

    In chapter 23 of Leviticus, God summons the Israelites to worship and to celebrate seven annual feasts he has appointed. Walter Kaiser and Duane Garrett, in the NIV Archaeological Study Bible: An Illustrated Walk Through Biblical History and Culture,  explain that “during these holy convocations the priests presented sacrifices and other offerings, while the common people rested from their daily labor, sometimes fasting and sometimes feasting, and celebrated the seasonal blessings of God and the great redemptive moments in the lives of his people.”

    Verse 5 kicks off the calendar of feasts with the Passover celebration. Kaiser and Garrett write:

    Passover was celebrated on the fourteenth day of the first month of the Hebrew calendar (our late March to early April). According to Exodus 12:26–27, when subsequent generations inquired about the meaning of the Passover, they were to be told that it commemorated the manner in which the Lord had spared the Israelites the night he struck down the Egyptians’ firstborn sons (Ex 12:29–30 ).

    Verses 6-8 describe the second feast, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Kaiser and Garrett explain the significance of this festival:

    The Feast of Unleavened Bread immediately followed the Passover (Ex 12:15–20) and lasted for one week. In the context of the exodus, eating bread without yeast signified hasty preparation and a readiness to depart. Yeast, which was studiously avoided during this feast, became a symbol of the pervasive influence of evil (cf. Mk 8:15 ; 1 Co 5:7–8 ).

    Verses 9-14 describe the third spring festival, the Offering of Firstfruits.

    The Offering of Firstfruits took place at the beginning of the barley harvest and signified Israel’s gratitude to and dependence upon God. It occurred seven weeks before [the next festival of] Pentecost, but there was also an offering of firstfruits associated with the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost . . . in celebration of the wheat harvest (Num 28:26–31).

    Verses 15-22 describe the fourth spring festival, the Feast of Weeks, also called Pentecost.

    The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, occurring seven weeks after Passover, was a day of sacred assembly in which no work was allowed. Its primary focus was an expression of gratitude to God for the wheat harvest.

    Verses 23-25 describe the first fall festival, the Feast of Trumpets.

    The Feast of Trumpets, celebrated on the first day of the seventh Hebrew month, marked the end of the agricultural year. The seventh month was important because it also included two major holy days— the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Booths. The blasting of trumpets announced the commencement of this special month.

    The Israelites associated the sound of trumpets with the theophany (visible manifestation of God) on Mount Sinai (Ex 19:16–19). Priests had also sounded trumpets prior to the destruction of Jericho (Jos 6:16), and trumpets were regularly used in Israel as a military signal (2 Sam 2:28). Thus, the blast of trumpets at the onset of the seventh month added to the solemnity of this sacred season.

    Verses 26-32 describe the second fall festival, the Day of Atonement. Recall that the Day of Atonement was carefully examined in chapter 16 of Leviticus.

    The Day of Atonement focused exclusively on atonement for the sins of the people. This ceremony took place on the tenth day of the seventh month. The high priest made atonement first for himself and his family and finally for all the people. Coming at the end of the agricultural year, this feast symbolized a final reckoning before God.

    The seventh and final festival of the year is described in verses 33-44, The Feast of Tabernacles.

    The Feast of Booths (also called the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkoth) took place five days after the Day of Atonement (Num 29:12–40). The people “camped out” in small huts during this time in order to recall their temporary living quarters prior to taking the land of Canaan. This joyous week was a time of final celebration and thanksgiving for the year’s harvest (Deut 16:14–15 ). As the seventh and last annual feast, the Feast of Booths also represented the Sabbath principle.

    The significance of these festivals is commonly missed by evangelical Christians. Consider the words of Gordon Wenham in The Book of Leviticus (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament):

    Three of the principal OT feasts were taken over directly by the Christian Church: passover = Good Friday, unleavened bread = Easter, weeks = Pentecost. The three most significant events in Christ’s redemptive ministry coincided with these festivals. That they no longer always coincide today is because of various modifications to the calendar introduced since the first century.

    The linkages between the feasts and Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are unmistakable. Wenham explains,

    The last supper seems to have been a passover meal (cf. Matt. 26:17), and John implies that our Lord was the true passover lamb whose bones were not to be broken (John 19:36 quoting Exod. 12:46; cf. John 19:14). Easter Sunday was probably the day the first sheaf was offered as a dedication offering. It is this ceremony of offering the firstfruits which led Paul to speak of Christ in his resurrection as the firstfruits (1 Cor. 15:23). Elsewhere he uses another aspect of the festival of unleavened bread as an incentive for holiness: as all yeast had to be cleared out of the home in preparation for the feast of unleavened bread, so sin must be put out of the Christian community.

    When did the Holy Spirit come to the church? On the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. It occurred the 50th day after Easter. Wenham continues:

    Recognition of the OT background to these Christian festivals could perhaps give greater depth to Christian worship. When we celebrate Good Friday we should think not only of Christ’s death on the cross for us, but of the first exodus from Egypt which anticipated our deliverance from the slavery of sin. At Easter we recall Christ’s resurrection and see in it a pledge of our own resurrection at the last day, just as the firstfruits of harvest guarantee a full crop later on (1 Cor. 15:20,23). At . . . Pentecost we praise God for the gift of the Spirit and all our spiritual blessings; the OT reminds us to praise God for our material benefits as well.

    Does God Have a Good Purpose for All Evil?

    Posted By on April 8, 2015

    Many Christians and non-Christians, alike, struggle with why God would allow so much seemingly senseless evil in the world. When a child is buried in the waters of a tsunami, how can there possibly be any good purpose for that? Can’t an all-powerful God do better?

    I used to ask these questions myself, but over the years I’ve learned that even though my heart wants to impugn the character of God, my mind tells me that I’m just wrong. Why am I wrong?

    The whole argument stands or falls on whether I can prove that God knowingly allows some evil that has no good purpose. But that is impossible. Norman Geisler explains, in his book If God, Why Evil?: A New Way to Think About the Question, why this argument fails:

    Not only can no mortal assert with confidence that there can be no good purpose for some suffering (because we do not know it), but we can affirm with certainty that God does know the good purpose for all suffering and other evils. Why? Because God is omniscient, and an all-knowing mind knows everything.

    Further, God is omnibenevolent, and an all-good God has a good purpose for everything He does or permits. Hence we know for sure that there is a good purpose for all suffering – including the apparently unjust or innocent kinds – even if we do not know it.

    We, as finite human beings, cannot possibly hope to ever know the purpose for all instances of evil and suffering we see, but God, as infinitely knowing, can and does.

    Let’s summarize this reasoning:

    1. That we don’t know a good purpose for evil does not mean there is none.

    2. An all-good God knows a good purpose for everything (including evil).

    a. Some evil seems to us to have no good purpose.

    b. But an all-good God has a good purpose for everything.

    c. So even evil that seems to have no good purpose does have a good purpose.

    3. Therefore, there is a good purpose for all suffering, even that which we cannot now explain.

    We can be mad at God for allowing certain kinds of evil, but in the end we just don’t have the information He does. When we take our 4-year old to the doctor to receive vaccination shots, she is convinced that there is no good purpose for the suffering she is feeling when that needle enters her skin. But, as her mother knows, there is a good purpose for that needle. The child simply must trust her mother, and we must trust God.

    Will Everyone Be Equal in Heaven?

    Posted By on April 6, 2015

    We live in an age and place (21st century western civilization) where equality is near the top of the list of principles that we hold dear. Because equality is so important to us, many of us just assume that equality must be equally important to God. If it’s important to God, then surely Heaven is a place where everyone is equal, right?

    Not exactly. As with any question, we need to be careful in defining our terms. Equality can mean a lot of different things, so let’s take a look at equality in Heaven. As usual, our guide is Randy Alcorn and his book Heaven. Alcorn writes:

    All people are equal in worth, but they differ in gifting and performance. God is the creator of diversity, and diversity means “inequality” of gifting (1 Corinthians 12: 14-20). Because God promises to reward people differently according to their differing levels of faithfulness in this life, we should not expect equality of possessions and positions in Heaven.

    Let’s stop there. The Bible is clear that believers will receive different rewards in Heaven based upon their faithfulness and service to God while on earth. So, we know that everyone will not be equal in rewards. Alcorn continues:

    If everyone were equal in Heaven in all respects, it would mean we’d have no role models, no heroes, no one to look up to, no thrill of hearing wise words from someone we deeply admire. I’m not equal to Hudson Taylor, Susanna Wesley, George Mueller, or C. S. Lewis. I want to follow their examples, but I don’t need to be their equals. There’s no reason to believe we’ll all be equally tall or strong or that we’ll have the same gifts, talents, or intellectual capacities.

    Would you really want Heaven to be a place where everyone had the same talents and gifts as everyone else?

    If we all had the same gifts, they wouldn’t be special. If you can do some things better than I can, and I than you, then we’ll have something to offer each other. We live in a culture that worships equality, but we err when we reduce equality to sameness. It’s illogical to assume everyone in Heaven will be able to compose a concerto with equal skill or be able to throw a ball as far as everyone else.

    In a perfect world, Adam was bigger and stronger than Eve, and Eve had beauty, sensitivities, and abilities Adam didn’t. In other words, diversity— not conformity— characterizes a perfect world.

    Alcorn poses the question: how can we all be happy in Heaven if some people have greater talents and rewards than others? He provides an answer from theologian Jonathan Edwards:

    The saints are like so many vessels of different sizes cast into a sea of happiness where every vessel is full: this is eternal life, for a man ever to have his capacity filled. But after all ’tis left to God’s sovereign pleasure, ’tis his prerogative to determine the largeness of the vessel.

    Alcorn explains:

    A pint jar and a quart jar can both be full, but the larger jar contains more. Likewise, in Heaven all of us will be full of joy, but some may have a larger capacity for joy, having been stretched through their dependence on God in this life. John Bunyan said it well: “He who is most in the bosom of God, and who so acts for him here, he is the man who will be best able to enjoy most of God in the kingdom of heaven.”

    Commentary on Leviticus 18-20 (Laws and Punishments)

    Posted By on April 3, 2015

    Chapters 18-20 of Leviticus give moral instruction to the Israelites that separate them from the surrounding cultures. Chapter 18 deals primarily with the institution of marriage and sets strict boundaries around sexual intercourse. Chapter 19 gives positive instruction to the people about how to treat each other in their everyday lives. Chapter 20 spells out the maximum punishments that were to be given for the most serious offenses (mostly from chapter 18).

    Beginning in chapter 18, verses 1-6, we read the overall purpose for the following chapters. The Israelites are prohibited from following the practices of the Egyptians (from where they came) and the Canaanites (where they are going).

    Why? Because “I am the LORD your God.” Three times God reminds them in these verses that He is the “LORD your God.” In fact, in chapters 18-20, the phrase “I am the LORD your God,” or something close to it, is repeated almost 50 times! This phrase would communicate at least three things to the Israelites, according to Gordon Wenham.

    First, “it looks back to the redemption of Israel from slavery in Egypt.” It is a reminder that he brought them out of Egypt.

    Second, “Israel, as the people of God, was expected to imitate God, to be holy. ‘For I am the Lord your God, and you must sanctify yourselves and be holy, because I am holy’ (Lev. 11:44).”

    Third, “this phrase often provides the motive for observing a particular law. Under the covenant the people of God were expected to keep the law, not merely as a formal duty but as a loving response to God’s grace in redemption.”

    Verse 6 states the main thrust of chapter 18, to prohibit marriage, and therefore sexual intercourse, between close relatives. Verses 6-18 spell out the incest prohibitions in detail. Wenham explains the basic principles underlying the rules in verses 6–18: “a man may not marry any woman who is a close blood relation, or any woman who has become a close relative through a previous marriage to one of the man’s close blood relations. All the relationships prohibited here can be seen to be out-workings of these two basic principles.”

    So why are so many verses dedicated to incest in chapter 18? Mark Rooker explains:

    “But the issue of incest in Israel was more problematic than in other cultures. This was due to two separate but related factors. First, the Israelites were not allowed to intermarry with foreigners, particularly the Canaanites. This obviously greatly reduced the number of possible marriage candidates. Second, the lands that a family or clan inherited were to remain inside the family or clan, necessitating that marriages take place between relatives. These two restrictions made incest laws indispensable. Sexual energies had to be subordinated to God’s will.”

    Verses 19-23 identify other pagan customs that were to be avoided by Israel. These included sex during menstruation, adultery, child prostitution/sacrifice, homosexual acts, and bestiality.

    Verses 24-30 record the curses that will fall upon the nation if they follow the pagan practices outlined in the previous verses. God warns Israel that he will drive them out of the land, just as he is driving out the Canaanites for the sins they have committed. The picture given is that of the land literally vomiting out its inhabitants for their sins. Several hundred years later, the Israelites would indeed be exiled from Canaan for their sins.

    In chapter 19, God tells the people how to treat each other in their daily lives. Chapter 19 repeats almost all of the Ten Commandments, expanding upon them. Remember that the Ten Commandments are the foundational moral principles for Israel, and that all of the laws and rules coming after the Commandments are details meant to help the Israelites apply them to their lives.

    Verses 9-18 are illustrative of the kinds of behaviors God desires from his people. These actions are what will make the people of Israel holy, just as God is holy. God expects the Israelites to: 1) leave food for the poor who have no land, 2) not steal from each other, 3) not lie to each other, 4) not defraud or rob each other, 5) not hold back earned wages, 6) not take advantage of the disabled, 7) not show partiality in legal matters, 8) not slander each other, 9) not endanger each other’s lives, 10) confront each other about sins, 11) not seek revenge against each other.

    The final culmination of all these instructions is in verse 18: “love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark Rooker writes:

    “This statement, ‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ forms a climax to this first major section, and it was regarded by some as the central principle of the Law. The significance of the verse is also highlighted by the fact that Jesus and Paul both cited this verse as a summary of the duties one has to his fellow man (Matt 22:39–40, Rom 13:9).”

    “Love your neighbor as yourself” is also repeated in several other New Testament passages, showing how important Lev 19:18 is to the New Testament writers: Matt 19:19; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Gal 5:14; and Jas 2:8.

    Finally, in chapter 20, God describes the punishments for the most serious sins listed in previous chapters. Keep in mind that God has already commanded the people to not commit these sins, so chapter 20 answers the question: “what do we do with people who commit these sins?”

    Most, but not all, of the punishments in chapter 20 either call for the offender to be put to death by the community (stoning being the most prevalent method), or by God “cutting them off.” In the cases where God promised to “cut them off,” this was understood to be a death sentence to be executed by God himself. The community would not, in this case, execute the offender, but leave matters in God’s hands.

    What kinds of sins deserved the death penalty? Those crimes that were committed against religion and against the family unit. God considers these sins to be the most serious. Verses 2-6 cover religious sins and verses 9-21 cover sins against the family.

    In verses 1-5, we see the first religious offense deserving of the death penalty. “Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death. The people of the community are to stone him.” So what does giving children to Molech mean?

    There are two practices from Israel’s neighbors that are likely prohibited here. First, some parents would dedicate their daughters, at birth, to become a temple prostitute for the god Molech. Second, some parents would offer their children to be sacrificed to Molech. Generally, the children would be killed, and then burned in the “arms” of a Molech statue.

    In verse 3, God explains that his name is profaned when his people worship Molech by offering their children. To the outside world, God would be no different from any of the other false pagan gods worshipped in the ancient near east.

    In verses 4-5, we see that God will also place a death sentence on any people who know that child sacrifice to Molech is occurring, but who don’t report it. Thus God makes the entire community responsible for rooting out this particular form of evil.

    The remainder of chapter 20 lists many other sins that are punishable by death. By calling out these particular sins, God is clearly communicating how seriously he takes these offenses to be.

    Will God Defeat Evil?

    Posted By on April 1, 2015

    Many skeptics make the following argument:

    1. If God is all-good, He would defeat evil.

    2. If God is all-powerful, He could defeat evil.

    3. But evil is not defeated.

    4. Therefore, no such God exists.

    Does this argument work? Not according to theologian Norman Geisler. In his book If God, Why Evil?: A New Way to Think About the Question, Geisler explains why this argument fails.

    Now, in this form of the argument, it would appear the first two premises are true. Certainly being all-good, God wants to defeat evil. And if He is all-powerful (and can do whatever is possible to do), then there must be some way He can overcome evil without destroying freedom. If not, then why create free creatures to begin with? Why waste all of human history on a project He knows will fail?

    Since God is omniscient (all-knowing), knowing “the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10), and since He has set aside a plan of redemption, including the death of His only Son (Revelation 13:8; Acts 2:23), and since He “chose us in Him before the creation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4), and since He infallibly predicts a victorious end of the world (Revelation 21–22; 1 Corinthians 15:25–28), then surely He has a plan that includes the defeat of evil without the destruction of freedom.

    So what is wrong with the skeptic’s argument? The answer is found in premise 3.

    The real problem then is in the third premise: “Evil is not defeated.” It has no time indicator on it. Since this is an argument in the present, it must be restated as follows:

    1. If God is all-good, He would defeat evil.

    2. If God is all-powerful, He could defeat evil.

    3. But evil is not yet defeated.

    4. Therefore, no such God exists.

    When the argument is put in form, the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises. Evil may yet be defeated in the future. It simply does not follow that because God has not yet defeated evil He never will. To claim so is like saying that because a speaker has not yet come to a conclusion in his lecture he never will. Give him a chance. Listen to the whole thing. History is not over. Let’s wait to hear “the rest of the story.” We have no infallible knowledge of the future. Given who God is – keep in mind that He is all-powerful and all-good – we have every right to expect that He will defeat evil.

    Will We Lose Our Identity in Heaven?

    Posted By on March 27, 2015

    Is Heaven some kind of dystopia where everyone drones on and on about how they love God? A place where everyone talks, thinks, and acts the same? Is Heaven full of Stepford Wives?

    Randy Alcorn, in his book Heaven, answers with a resounding “no.” Alcorn first reminds us that

    [w]e can all be like Jesus in character yet remain very different from each other in personality. Distinctiveness is God’s creation, not Satan’s. What makes us unique will survive. In fact, much of our uniqueness may be uncovered for the first time.

    Alcorn then quotes from C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity:

    Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most ‘natural’ men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints. . . . Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.

    In Heaven you will finally be you! All of the unique aspects of your personality will shine through brilliantly for the first time. Rather than everyone becoming automatons in Heaven, we will be the most fascinating group of people you can imagine.

    Why Don’t Christians Celebrate the Day of Atonement?

    Posted By on March 25, 2015

    If God commanded the Day of Atonement to be a lasting ordinance, then why don’t Christians, who regard the Book of Leviticus as the inspired word of God, celebrate this holy day?

    The reason, quite simply, is that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is seen as the fulfillment of the purpose of the Day of Atonement by the New Testament writers. In the Gospel of Matthew, the author refers to the curtain in the temple being torn in two when Jesus died, thus destroying the separation between God and man that was remembered every year on the Day of Atonement.

    In the Book of Hebrews, the central theme is the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement in Jesus Christ. There are several passages in Hebrews that compare Jesus’s death to the rituals of the Day of Atonement.

    Hebrews 7:26-27 reads, “For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day, as high priests do — first for their own sins, then for those of the people. He did this once for all when He offered Himself.”

    As the perfect high priest, Jesus did not need to repeat sacrifices for himself and for his people, as Aaron did. Once was enough for Jesus.

    Hebrews 9:11-14 reads, “But the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), He entered the most holy place once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?”

    The blood of Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, is so much more powerful than the blood of goats and cows.

    Hebrews 9:25-26 reads, “He did not do this to offer Himself many times, as the high priest enters the sanctuary yearly with the blood of another. Otherwise, He would have had to suffer many times since the foundation of the world. But now He has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

    Jesus’s one sacrifice is all that was needed for the removal of mankind’s sins. When his sacrifice was made, he declared, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Hebrews 10:11-12 states, “Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins. But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.”

    What does all of this mean for the believer?

    God says, “I will never again remember their sins and their lawless acts. Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin” (Heb 10:17-18). The writer of Hebrews adds, “Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way He has opened for us through the curtain (that is, His flesh), and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water” (Heb 10:19-22).

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