Category Archives: Bible study
There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. (1 Samuel 1:1,2)
Hannah desperately wanted a son and promised God that if he gave her a son she would give him back to God to serve him.
And she vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” (1 Samuel 1:11)
God answered her prayer. God gave her a son and she named him Samuel. When he was old enough she brought him to the house of God and gave him to Eli the priest.
And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young.Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. (1 Samuel 1:24,25)
The Israelites spent 400 years in Egypt. They were invited to settle in Egypt to escape the famine in their own land. At first they were honored guests but that status changed.
Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”
Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. (Exodus 1:8-11)
The people prayed to God for freedom from their bondage and God chose Moses to answer their prayers.
Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:7-10)
Abraham’s nephew Lot separated himself from Abraham and went to live in Sodom. His decision soon got him in trouble. Genesis 14:1-16 describes how a coalition of kings led by Chedorlaomer overcame Sodom and its allies and took as prisoners the people of those cities, including Lot. When Abraham heard of this he called out his followers and rescued Lot and the other captives.
After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). (Genesis 14:17)
But before the king of Sodom met him he encountered Melchizedek.
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. (Genesis 14:18-20)
Here is the intorduction to Psalm 18.
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who addressed the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.
(David celebrated his deliverance from the hand of his enemies and from the hand of Saul. Even though Saul had often tried to kill him, David apparently didn’t consider him an enemy.)
David begins the psalm by describing past troubles when his life seemed to be in danger. He called to God for help and God rescured him and gave him victory over his enemies. He said that God delivered him because of his righteousness. Read the rest of this entry
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. (1 Peter 1:10,11)
The Old Testament prophets tell us of the suffering Christ experienced when he was crucified; they tell us of the glory associeated with his rule over the earth during the Millennium. But what do they say about the time between these two events, the time in which we are living now? The answer is: not much. In fact they say nothing about the most important aspect of this era, the formation of the church. The apostle Paul was given the task of revealing this truth to us.
When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Ephesians 3:4-6)
The Old Testament teaches that Gentiles will be saved; it never tells of the formation of a new body composed of both Jews and Gentiles. Paul not only teaches us about this body but he also tells how it will be removed from the earth through the event known as the rapture. Read the rest of this entry
Most people get married at some time during their life. What happens when married people die? Are they still married? Some Sadducees once asked Jesus that question.
The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh. After them all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”
But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” (Matthew 22:23-30)
It is clear that the marriages we enter into on earth will no longer exist in Heaven but the Bible speaks of a different kind of marriage that will exist there. Read the rest of this entry
On December 6 President Trump announced that the United States embassy in Israel would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Since Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, this seems like a reasonable step to take, yet this decision has been met with protests all over the world. The United Nations voted 128 to 9 to condemn it. The Palestinians have objected and threatened violence because they consider Jerusalem to be their capital.
Israel is unique among the nations of the world. It began when God told Abraham to go to another land and promised to make a great nation of his descendants.
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. The descendants of Isaac became the nation of Israel and fulfilled God’s promise to make Abraham a great nation. Jerusalem became the capital of Israel. God’s temple was there and it was where Jesus was crucified, fulfilling the promise that all families of the earth would be blessed in Abraham. Read the rest of this entry
There is a logical fallacy known as the “No true Scotsman” fallacy. Here is how it is described in Wikipedia.
Philosophy professor Bradley Dowden explains the fallacy as an “ad hoc rescue” of a refuted generalization attempt. The following is a simplified rendition of the fallacy:
Person A: “No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
Person B: “But my uncle Angus likes sugar with his porridge.”
Person A: “Ah yes, but no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
This fallacy is often used in debates about evolution and creation. The evolutionist claims that scientists believe in evolution. The creationist points out that a lot of scientists believe in creation and reject evolution. The evolutionist says that they are not true scientists.
Even Christians sometimes use this fallacy to dismiss other Christians with whom they disagree on doctrine. I was once engaged in an internet discussion with someone who believed that the only true Christians were those who believed in the five points of Calvinism. Anyone who rejected this belief was not a true Christian. (If you don’t know what Calvinism is, you can find out here: What is Calvinism? )
Rudyard Kipling wrote a story called “The Man Who Would be King.” It is about two Englishmen who took control of a small state in Afghanistan and set up a kingdom there. You can read the story here.
The Bible tells of a man who would not be king. He was offered the kingship of Israel and turned it down. In view of what happened afterward I think he was wrong to do this.
The man’s name was Gideon. You can read his story in Judges 6-8. God called Gideon to deliver Israel from the Midianites. With only 300 men he was able to overcome a Midianite army of 135,000. The people of Israel were so grateful they offered to make him their ruler. Read the rest of this entry
Christianity is based on love. It was love that made God send Jesus to die for our sins.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
All that God wants from us can be summarized in two commands.
And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40)
We are saved through faith but love is more important than faith and is the only acceptable motivation for what we do. Read the rest of this entry
Before his arrest Jesus prayed that if it were possible he might avoid being crucified.
And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:39-46)
He wanted to avoid the crucifixion but he submitted to God’s will and as you know it was God’s will for him to be crucified. Read the rest of this entry
Leviticus 13 and 14 give God’s commands concerning leprosy. Leviticus 13:1-44 tells how it was diagnosed. A priest examined the skin of the person suspected of having leprosy and declared him clean or unclean on the basis of that examination. The next two verses describe how a person declared unclean was to live.
The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, “Unclean, unclean.” He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp. (Leviticus 13:45,46)
He was isolated and forbidden to have contact with those without leprosy.
Today the term “leprosy” is given to a disease called Hansen’s disease. A comparison of Hansen’s disease and biblical leprosy shows that they are not the same. Here is how the National Institute of Health describes Hansen’s disease.
Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy) is a rare bacterial infection that affects the skin, nerves and mucous membranes. After exposure, it may take anywhere from 2 to 10 years to develop features of the condition. Once present, common signs and symptoms include skin lesions; muscle weakness or paralysis; eye problems that may lead to blindness; nosebleeds; severe pain; and/or numbness in the hands, feet, arms and legs.
The Bible teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman and that in God’s eyes a same sex “marriage” is not a marriage at all. This is simple and is something that anyone can easily understand. At least it would be simple if it weren’t for the current transgender movement. A transgender person is one who perceives himself to be of the opposite to his biological sex. Some transgenders go far as to have sex change surgery which makes them appear to be of the opposite sex. When one of these people decides to marry the question of what is a same sex marriage becomes unclear.
Suppose a man and a woman decide to marry. If one of them was born as a member of the opposite sex and had a sex change operation is their marriage legitimate or is it a same sex union?
Suppose two members of the same sex want to marry but one of them was born as a member of the opposite sex. Is their marriage a same sex marriage or do they have a right to get married according to God’s laws?
Each cell in the human body contains 23 pairs of chromosomes. One pair determines the sex of the individual. Each chromosome is either an x or a y chromosome. A person with two x chromosomes is female, while one with an x and a y is male. Sex change operations have no effect on a person’s chromosomes. If a same sex couple marries and one of them is transgender, they are technically of different genders, so the marriage is permissible, but the cisgender member of the marriage is engaging in sexual activity with a person who is outwardly of the same gender, so he is violating the prohibition against sexual involvement between members of the same sex.
The transgender movement has raised a lot of questions about sex and marriage that we didn’t need to think about in the past. I don’t know the answers to these questions but I believe Christians should be aware of them so we can find answers and be prepared when we encounter these situations in real life.
It is generally accepted that the earth’s climate is changing and that the greenhouse gases produced by the use of fossil fuels are responsible for much of this change. In 2015 a group of nations signed an agreement known as the Paris Accord in which they agreed to take steps to ease climate change. Earlier this year President Trump was criticized when the withdrew the United States from this agreement.
President Trump’s action was not as irresponsible as most people seem to think. There are many scientists who think that human actions aren’t responsible for climate change. You can read the arguments for both sides of this issue here: Is Human Activity Primarily Responsible for Global Climate Change?
Both sides are based on the opinions of scientists who have studied the data extensively. For those who believe the Bible there is a third option. The Bible teaches that humans do affect the climate but not by burning fossil fuels. Read the rest of this entry
Every year around Christmas we see nativity scenes. The details of the scenes differ but all of them show the baby Jesus in a manger with Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Wise Men either standing or kneeling around him. These scenes serve a useful purpose by reminding everyone that Christmas is about Jesus, not Santa Claus. Unfortunately every nativity scene I have ever seen promotes an error. They show the Wise Men being present at the birth of Jesus. In fact they were nowhere near Bethlehem then and didn’t arrive until much later.
Here is Matthew’s description of the birth of Jesus.
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:24-25)
He doesn’t give any details about the birth except to tell us that Mary was still a virgin.
Luke 2:1-20 gives a more detailed description of Jesus’s birth. Joseph and Mary were forced to go to Bethlehem because of a decree by Caesar and Jesus was born there and placed in a manger. An angel revealed to a group of shepherds that the Messiah had been born and they came to see him. Read the rest of this entry
There is disagreement as to whether Jesus was God. Some who deny his deity say that he never claimed to be God. The fact is Jesus said several times in the gospels that he was God.
If you begin reading the gospels, beginning with Matthew, you will come to a section known as the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7. He stated three times in this sermon that he was God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)
He equated being persecuted for the sake of righteousness with being persecuted for his sake. Only God, the source of all righteousness, could make such a claim. Read the rest of this entry
While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the commands that God gave, the people became worried about whether or not he would return and they demanded that Aaron make gods to lead them.
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf.
And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it.
And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. (Exodus 32:1-6)
There are a lot of people who claim to be prophets who speak for God. The Bible warns us that many of them are not true prophets and we are not to listen to them. But how can you tell who really is a prophet and who isn’t? The Bible answers this question.
And if you say in your heart, “How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?”— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)
God sent Jonah to prophesy to the people of Nineveh.
Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4)
This is how the Ninevites responded.
And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. (Jonah 3:5-10)
Jonah said Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days and it didn’t happen. Does this mean that Jonah was a false prophet? Read the rest of this entry
Jeremiah 39-43 describes Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem and the events that followed it. Most of the inhabitants of the land were taken to Babylon but some were left.
Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, left in the land of Judah some of the poor people who owned nothing, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time. (Jeremiah 39:10)
A man named Gedaliah was appointed governor. He was assassinated and, fearing reprisals by Nebuchadnezzar, the Jews planned to flee to Egypt. They first asked Jeremiah to find out what God wanted them to do.
And they went and stayed at Geruth Chimham near Bethlehem, intending to go to Egypt because of the Chaldeans. For they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.
Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us—that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.”
Jeremiah the prophet said to them, “I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to the Lord your God according to your request, and whatever the Lord answers you I will tell you. I will keep nothing back from you.”
Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.” (Jeremiah 41:17 – 42:6)
We are commanded not to avenge ourselves but to leave all vengeance to God’s wrath.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
But just how do we leave vengeance to God? If what another person does to hurt us involves a violation of the law, there is a very easy way. Inform the police and press criminal charges against him. Here is what the Bible says about the role of government.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:1-4)
Did you notice the last sentence? For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. When we ask the government to take action against someone who has hurt us we are not avenging ourselves but turning the matter over to God’s servant. Read the rest of this entry