Questions and Answers

emblemThe Bible needs to be studied and not just read. Otherwise, things that critics love to cite as examples of how God supposedly endorses the very things He labels as sin appear to be credible when they’re really not.

Here’s some samples…

1) 10 virgin wives –  They’re not married. It was part of the way weddings were celebrated in that culture. ” It was a custom sometimes used among the Jews on that occasion, that the bridegroom came, attended with his friends, late in the night, to the house of the bride, where she expected him, attended with her bride-maids; who, upon notice given of the bridegrooms’ approach, were to go out with lamps in their hands, to light him into the house with ceremony and formality, in order to the celebrating of the nuptials with great mirth. And some think that on these occasions they had usually ten virgins; for the Jews never held a synagogue, circumcised, kept the Passover, or contracted marriage, but ten persons at least were present. Boaz, when he married Ruth, had ten witnesses, Ruth. 4:2.” The point of the parable is to always have your game on spiritually so when Christ does blow the whistle, you’re not wishing you were more on top of things (Matthew Henry Commentary).

2) Killing lots of people. Noah had three sons (Gen 9:19). These guys didn’t just hear about the ark, they were on it. They saw the flood and how God responds to, not just sin in the context of trying to get it right and falling short, but the kind of evil that was nothing short of heinous (Gen 6:5).

Ham was one of Noah’s sons. He was an idiot. After seeing all that he had, he was still inclined to think and do things that were comparable to what had triggered God’s decision to wipe everything out to begin with. Bottom line: He knew better than to do what he did to his father.

In Genesis 9:20-25, you see Ham “doing” something to Noah(look at verse 24). The Bible doesn’t go into any detail, but it was reprehensible and Noah saw that toxic lack of character and disregard for God in, not only in Ham, but Ham’s son, Canaan. In fact, he says that Canaan will go on be a slave to his brothers (Gen 9:25). And it’s not that Noah was merely infuriated with Ham as much as he was forecasting what Ham’s inherited idiocy is going to translate to down the road, and he was right.

Deuteronomy is establishing the ground rules for what’s going to happen as part of the conquest of the Promised Land. By the time the Israelites had left Egypt and were ready to enter the land that had been promised to them, the decadent mindset of the Canaanites (descendants of Canaan) is in full swing. Israel (descendants of Jacob [Abraham -> Isaac -> Jacob {name was changed to Israel in Gen 32:28}]) isn’t engaged in a mere military campaign at this point. God’s using the army of Israel to do what had been foreseen centuries beforehand.

Again, the Canaanites weren’t just descendants of Ham in terms of bloodline, they were carbon copies of his disdain for God Himself. To give you an idea of just how insane these guys were, know that part of their religious ceremonies including burning children alive (2 Chron 28:2-3). Keep in mind too, these are descendants of a guy who was on the boat. They didn’t ignore God because they didn’t know or understand Who He was. They were just resolved to spit in His Face because they could.

As a result, certain hot spots were slated for total and complete destruction. Not because Israel was superior in tactics and arms, but because of the insane amount of evil represented by the people living in those cities (Dt 9:5).

So, there’s more to what may appear to be on the surface when you read a couple of passages in Deuteronomy. It’s a sick and twisted record of evil leading up to what amounts to the wrath of God. It’s not random nor is it casual. It’s intentional and it’s deserved.

BTW: There was always an offer or peace extended to those cites. But with the exception of one, every other city God off (see Dt 20:10-15; Josh 11:19-20).

3) Wear a hat or go to hell – There’s some things in Leviticus that talk about wearing clothes comprised of different kinds of fabric that are forbidden because of the way other cultures equated that particular practice as something reserved for the purpose of honoring some bogus deity (Lev 19:19). In 1 Corinthians Paul tells women to keep their hair covered because back then, depending on how you wore your hair, it was signaling loose morals (1 Cor 11:11-16). Bottom line: Look at who’s being addressed and consider the cultural dynamics of the time and it will make more sense than it would if you just look at what’s on the surface.

4) Zombies – They weren’t zombies anymore than Lazaurus was a zombie when Christ brought him out of the grave (Jn 11:43). Here’s the thing: If Christ can rise from the grave, if He can call the universe into existence (Col 1:16), there’s no good reason to believe that He can’t do pretty much anything He wants to (Matt 19:26).

5) Women aren’t to have any authority over men – When you combine the multiple examples of women excelling in leadership roles throughout Scripture and the literal meaning of the words Paul used in the context of addressing difficult characters in the local church, it’s difficult to process Paul’s direction to the church in Ephesus and Corinth as universal prohibitions of women leading or teaching in general. Fact is, when you look at the resume of Deborah and the courage of Priscilla and Aquilla, it’s obvious that God has gifted both men and women with exceptional gifts and character traits that you wouldn’t ever want to dismiss based on a mere portion of God’s Word as opposed to Scripture evaluated as a comprehensive whole. Click here for a list of women leaders in the Bible.

6) Shrimp and Bacon – Shellfish and Pork can translate to some pretty serious sickness if it’s not cooked correctly. Why God would target these foods as “unclean,” is a matter of speculation. But it’s not unreasonable to think that He may have been wanting to protect His people from getting either Trichinosis or Vibriosis. In addition, making these foods dietary staples, however tasty they may be, is a bad idea just because of the heath risks attached to them. You won’t find the detrimental affects of Pork or Shellfish lingering near the top of the pile of data that can be easily accessed on the internet. But if you dig, you can find how the aggressive consumption of meat in general is a bad idea.

7) Slavery – First of all, kidnapping is a capital offense (Ex 21:16). Given the way the Slave Trade was structured in the 18th and 19th century, had it adhered to that one precept, it would not have existed.

As far as the manner Slavery is represented in the Old Testament, it’s represented in three different ways: Paying off a debt (Lev 25:39), punishment for stealing (Ex 22:3) and an alternative to war and judgment (Dt 20:10-15). The first two obviously temporary so they don’t really qualify as “slavery” the way we typically envision it.

The third kind is the one reserved for the enemies of Israel. The nations that surrounded the borders of Israel were both vocal and aggressive when it came to the way in which they worshipped other gods. To raise your hand against the Jews was to take your idolatry to a new and even more insidious level in that you were not only worshipping a false god, but you were now looking to destroy those who revered the one and only True God.

Still, as guilty as these nations were, God offered an option that allowed a person to live in peace among the Israelites as a servant, rather than be executed by God at the hands of a Hebrew soldier.

This was not “slavery,” in the way we envision it according to the paradigm that existed in the 18th and 19th centuries. This was an enemy of God being granted a second chance in exchange for their labor and the surrender of their contention for God Himself. It was not a punishment as much as it was grace, given the fact that the punishment would’ve been an execution that was more than justified. Furthermore, when you look at the exchange between the Gibeonites and Joshua in Joshua chapter 9, the Gibeonites embraced the opportunity to surrender. In addition, their work as woodcutters and water carriers was in the service of God as opposed to being personal servants of the Israelites themselves and when Solomon built the Temple it was located at Gibeon.3 Later in 2 Samuel 21, you see how God intervened on behalf of the Gibeonites for the injustices exacted upon them by King Saul by punishing Israel with three years of famine. If these people rated no more than the kind of consideration the typical slave received in modern day history, neither their pleas nor their territory would’ve been acknowledged.

Bottom line: The slavery referred to in the Old Testament has no modern day parallel and does not in any way represent a Divine endorsement of the slave trade as it existed in the US or any other part of the civilized world during the seventeen and eighteen hundreds.

8) Tattoos – “You are not to make gashes on your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves; I am Yahweh. (Lev 19:28).” It’s not the tattoo, it’s why it was being done that was the problem…”hey must not make cuts or prints in their flesh for the dead; for the heathen did so to pacify the infernal deities they dreamt of, and to render them propitious to their deceased friends.” (Matthew Henry Commentary) They weren’t getting tattoos for the sake of merely inscribing something on their body as much as they were doing it as part of pagan ritual.

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