• Hermeneutics,  New Testament,  Old Testament,  Theology

    Should We Expect a Future Kingdom for National Israel?

    It is becoming increasingly popular to discount a future kingdom for geopolitical Israel. But both Old and New Testaments speak of a time when Israel will be restored as a national kingdom, with the Messiah ruling from Jerusalem. Passages such as Psalm 72:1–20, Isaiah 2:1–3, 11:1–9, 65:17–25, Zech 8:4–5, 14:16–19 are but a few of the passages which teach a future kingdom for Israel that is distinct from the eternal state. Although the Old Testament is very clear when speaking of a future kingdom for Israel, some biblical interpreters believe that the New Testament tempers our expectation for a future kingdom for Israel. Yet, there is no reason to deviate from what is clearly laid out in the Old Testament. The General New Testament Expectation of a Kingdom for Israel Rather than adjusting the expectation of a future kingdom for Israel, the New Testament confirms what the Old Testament told…

  • Culture,  New Testament,  Old Testament

    Slavery—Why Does the Bible Allow It?

    Why does the Bible allow slavery? At first glance this seems an irredeemable blemish to the goodness of the Bible’s message. Slavery is recognized as one of the great evils of our history. To many, this provides a significant reason for rejecting what the Bible teaches. Some balk at the belief that Christians can believe God revealed himself in a book which, not only does not condemn slavery, but actually allows it. How should we think about the fact that the Bible allows slavery? This is a challenging issue because our society brings with it cultural baggage which makes accurate interpretation of biblical texts on slavery difficult. Those of us who live in the Americas and Europe are familiar with the African slave trade, and this is the kind of slavery that we envision taking place in the Bible. But there are some key differences between the Bible’s picture of…

  • Christian Living,  New Testament,  Old Testament,  Theology

    Are We Living in the Last Days?

    The concept of the “last days” or end times captivates the imagination of many Christians. It conjures up vivid images of the rapture, the Antichrist, and apocalyptic events preceding Christ’s return. But what does the Bible actually teach about the last days, and are we living in them now? Intriguingly, the Bible declares we are living in the last days (but not in the last of the last days). Why We are Currently Living in the Last Days Thankfully, the Bible talks quite a bit about the issue of the last days. The Old Testament speaks about it prophetically, and the New Testament authors make it very clear that we are currently living in the last days. For example, in his sermon at Pentecost, Peter declares the dawn of the last days by quoting the prophet Joel: “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will…

  • Old Testament

    The Power of Genealogies and the Promise of Seed in Scripture

    Genealogies are often perceived as some of the most tedious portions of Scripture. However, they are actually among the most helpful parts of the Bible. Certain books use genealogies to draw attention to significant theological points. By paying attention to the genealogies we can glean tremendous theological benefit. The book of Genesis serves as an example of this. Genesis relies on genealogies (for example, Genesis 5 and Genesis 11) and employs specific vocabulary terms to enable the reader to trace God’s promise from Genesis 3:15 throughout history. This pattern continues beyond Genesis in notable junctures. For example, Ruth 4 continues the genealogies of Genesis, pointing ahead to a Messianic figure who will fulfill the promises of Genesis. Similarly, Matthew 1 establishes a final and comprehensive record of God’s faithfulness to the genealogical line of the Messiah. The Offspring Theme in Scripture Not only to genealogies function to point the reader…

  • Christian Living,  Culture,  Old Testament,  Theology

    Swift Justice: The Biblical Importance of Timely Judgment

    In a previous existence, I held a job where I was responsible for upholding the principles of fairness and accountability. And by that, I mean I was a high school swim coach. I loved swimming, and I loved helping others feel pain through swimming. I enjoyed the job immensely, but early on, I learned a valuable lesson about the necessity of timely justice. From the outset, I was basically doomed. Although I had been a swimmer myself, I really didn’t have an appropriate appreciation for the theological depravity of man. So, I developed a system where if someone broke the rules, they would have to submit themselves to pushups as punishment after practice. Breaking the rules included goofing off, ignoring commands, and the like. Well, after about 3 days of trying to implement this system, I realized it was a complete and unmitigated disaster. What happened was all fairly predictable.…

  • Old Testament,  Theology

    Did the Holy Spirit Indwell Old Testament Believers?

    As believers, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit within us (1 Cor 6:19). The Holy Spirit indwells us as part of the new covenant (2 Tim 1:14; cf. Ezek 36:26). But what about Old Testament believers? Did the Holy Spirit indwell Old Testament saints? There are many that would argue that the Holy Spirit did indeed indwell Old Testament saints. Others, like Jim Hamilton, argue that the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit is a New Testament phenomenon. How should we think about this issue? The Temporary Empowerment of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament The Holy Spirit was very active in the Old Testament. For one thing, the Spirit inspired the prophets as they wrote holy Scripture (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). The Spirit also uniquely gifted individuals like Bezalel from Judah to construct the Tabernacle (Exod 31:2-5). The Spirit also was very active…

  • New Testament,  Old Testament,  Review,  Theology

    The Baptism Debate: Understanding and Evaluating Reformed Infant Baptism

    The majority of those who identify as Christians believe in infant baptism (also known as paedobaptism). Infant baptism is a major doctrinal belief for Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Reformed churches, such as Presbyterians. Yet, there is a strong contingent of Christians who reject infant baptism, arguing that only those who believe in Christ should be baptized (a position known as credobaptism). Given the fact that baptism is a core command within the church, this is an essential issue on which to have an opinion! This debate about baptism can sometimes get messy and confusing. Christians on both sides of the issue often do not understand their own position, let alone the opposing arguments. I wrote The Baptism Debate to help believers understand what baptism is and why infant baptism does not actually fulfill the biblical definition of baptism. Because Catholics and Lutherans have their own reasons for baptizing infants, I…

  • Old Testament

    Who was Haman the Agagite?

    The story of Esther takes place during the reign of King Xerxes. In Esther 3:1 we are introduced to Haman the Agagite, who is promoted within King Xerxes’ retinue to second in command. Immediately following the introduction of Haman into the narrative, we find out that since Mordecai does not bow before him, Haman wants to destroy not only Mordecai, but Mordecai’s entire race—the Jews! This desire to destroy the Jews is not a passing fancy for Haman. He follows through with his desire and pays off the king to make a decree that all the Jews be destroyed (Esther 3:8-11). The Family Lineage of Haman the Agagite Haman is clearly portrayed as a violent individual, and yet, it seems there may be more to the story. Some scholars have noted that the term “Agagite” is rare, and it is likely related to the king of the Amalekites. This connection…

  • Ethics,  Law,  Old Testament

    Does the Bible Command a Woman to Marry Her Rapist?

    Critics of the Bible often say Scripture is anti-women when it comes to the issue of rape. After all, doesn’t the Bible command a woman to marry her rapist? This is a common argument, and critics point to Deuteronomy 22:28–29 as evidence that the Bible is hopelessly out of touch with ethical norms and common decency. Deuteronomy 22:28–29 reads as follows: “If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days” (NASB). Does this passage teach that a girl who is a rape victim must marry her rapist? Some would argue there is no rape in Deuteronomy 22:28 on the…

  • Old Testament

    Understanding Circumcision in the Bible

    Circumcision is a prominent theme in both the Old and New Testaments. Many Christians have not given much thought to the significance behind circumcision. Why were Israelites circumcised? Although circumcision was practiced by other cultures and religions, it holds a special value for the Israelites. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this ancient practice of circumcision and what it meant for the Old Testament Israelites. Circumcision and the Egyptians Although we know about circumcision primarily through the Old Testament description, it was not a unique custom known only to Israel. Jeremiah 9:25–26 provides a list of nations that seem to have practiced circumcision. Besides Judah, this list specifies Egypt, Edom, the sons of Ammon, and Moab. Out of all the nations listed, Abraham appears to have had the most significant interactions with Egypt. He spent time in Egypt during a severe famine in Canaan (Gen 12:10–20) and…