• Church,  New Testament,  Old Testament,  Theology

    Covenant Theology and Infant Baptism

    Reformed paedobaptists are not shy to assert that their defense of infant baptism relies on covenant theology. In fact, although many Baptists take issue with infant baptism not being mentioned anywhere in Scripture, this is really a simplistic understanding of the Reformed position. In reality, for the Reformed paedobaptist, the entirety of the debate centers around the unified covenant of grace. Note the words of paedobaptist Cornelis Venema: This debate can be reduced to one principal question: Does the covenant of grace in its New Testament administration embrace the children of believing parents just as it did in the Old Testament administration? However complex and diverse the arguments, pro and con, on the subject of infant baptism may be, this remains the overriding issue. Precisely because the debate between paedobaptists and Baptists centers on the doctrine of the covenant of grace, particularly the similarity and dissimilarity of the covenant in…

  • Ethics,  Old Testament

    Does the Bible Support Polygamy?

    Anyone familiar with the Bible has had to wrestle with the question of polygamy in the Old Testament. There are numerous examples of polygamy. Some of these polygamous relationships are even practiced by those whom we would consider important people in Scripture. For example, Jacob (a patriarch of Israel) had two wives, Leah and Rachel (Gen 29). Similarly, David, a man after God’s own heart, had multiple wives. These stories give us pause. Why are there faithful Israelites who have multiple wives? Although many would reject polygamy today, some are willing to say the Bible still supports polygamy today. The First Mention of Polygamy Although the Old Testament has concrete examples of polygamy, these are not looked upon favorably in the Old Testament. Where polygamy exists, family strife and difficulty follows. The strife and rivalry between Rachel and Leah is well known to students of Scripture (cf. Gen 29-30). The…

  • New Testament,  Old Testament

    The Feast of Booths and the Kingdom of God

    The Feast of Booths is not something we often take the time to study because it involves a lot of time in the Old Testament. However, the New Testament assumes you know about it! In fact, knowing about the Feast of Booths helps us understand the Transfiguration in Matthew 17. What is the Feast of Booths? The Feast of Booths (Sukkot in Hebrew) was important for those in the OT and the NT. It was one of three times a year when all of the males in Israel were mandated to come to Jerusalem before God (Deut 16:16). The Feast of Booths was an 8-day celebration (beginning Tishri 15 on the Jewish Calendar), which happens to be in September/October in our calendar. During this feast, the people would live in temporary shelters (booths) and give offerings to the Lord (Lev 23:36). According to Lev 23:42, this was for native Jews only. The…

  • Hermeneutics,  Old Testament,  Textual Criticism

    Bible Codes and Secret Messages in Scripture?

    I will periodically interact with groups that believe in bible codes and secret messages in Scripture, or be asked about them at church. Looking for a secret message in the Bible is seductive and has a long history with many Christian and Jewish advocates. Is there any evidence that the Bible contains a secret message or a hidden code? One individual who would answer in the affirmative was Chuck Missler (1934–2018). Missler was a very intelligent man who had a background in information sciences (computers, cryptography, etc.). In some of his written works and lectures on bible codes he taught there is a secret message in Scripture. Chuck Missler provides a good template for explaining some of the faulty thinking behind the idea that the bible contains a secret message. We will focus on two of many problematic ways of searching for a secret message in the Bible. First, we…

  • Old Testament

    What Was the Population of Earth Before the Flood?

    Depending on who you ask, the global population is somewhere around 7.9 billion people. That is a lot of people. Is this the highest population the earth has ever experienced? In the spirit of investigation I want to consider what the population of the earth was before the flood. The Earth’s Population at the Very Beginning A straightforward reading of the Bible begins with two human beings, Adam and Eve, created by God and put in charge of the garden to take care of it and work it (Gen 2:15). Their offspring include Cain, Abel, and Seth, although Genesis makes clear Adam and Eve have other sons and daughters as well (Gen 5:4). Cain kills his brother in one of the most appalling acts of violence recorded in Scripture, and is banished from his immediate family. While in exile, Cain finds a wife, marries, and has children. Although some people…

  • Law,  Old Testament

    When Did God Establish the Sabbath Command?

    There are many questions a New Testament believer is faced with when thinking through the Sabbath. For example, why was Israel commanded to keep the Sabbath? This is perhaps the most important question, and as I have written elsewhere, I believe the purpose of the Sabbath command was to give visible demonstration of the fact that Yahweh is Creator and Redeemer. When Israel kept the Sabbath, they were demonstrating that, as Creator, God had the right to dictate how one is to function in the created world. But another important question arises concerning the timing of the Sabbath. When did God institute the Sabbath? Did the Sabbath predate Moses? Evidence for a Pre-Decalogue Sabbath Some theologians argue that the Sabbath has always been an obligation for mankind since creation. To arrive at this conclusion, some have appealed to passages like Genesis 26:5 which says Abraham obeyed the voice of Yahweh,…

  • Christian Living,  Hermeneutics,  Old Testament

    Train up a Child in the Way He Should Go? A Promise?

    Proverbs 22:6 has been interpreted in some circles as a promise to parents that if they do their jobs right, their child will never abandon the faith. However, this in turn has resulted in many parents feeling as if God has broken His promise to them when their child turns from the faith. Train up a child in the way he should go:And when he is old, he will not depart from it (Prov 22:6, KJV) Although this verse has been used by many parents and church leaders as a promise, it is important to slow down and read this verse carefully. A Proverb is a Principle, Not a Promise First, a proverb is not a promise! Proverbs are axiomatic (self-evident) sayings about how life normally works. But, there are plenty of exceptions to proverbs, because life is complicated by many factors. For example, although Proverbs 21:17 says the one…

  • Ethics,  Old Testament

    Why is Incest Wrong According to the Bible?

    Although incest is specifically prohibited by Leviticus 18, we often (unfortunately) isolate this text from its foundation. In biblical law it is important to understand the relationship between Law and creation to aid the process of application. In the case of incest, we need to understand that incest is prohibited because of its connection to Genesis 2:24. Tracing the Language of Incest to Genesis 2:24 Leviticus 18:6–18 begins with the introductory phrase, “None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness” (אִישׁ אִישׁ אֶל־כָּל־שְׁאֵר בְּשָׂרֹו לֹא תִקְרְבוּ לְגַלּוֹת עֶרְוָה). This verse functions as an introductory phrase which relates to the entire section on incest. The pertinent phrase we need to consider is “blood relative,” which can be literally translated, “flesh of his flesh” (שְׁאֵר בְּשָׂרֹו). This phrase invokes repetition of a concept which is first mentioned in Genesis 2:24 in the description of the “one flesh”…

  • Apologetics,  Old Testament

    Who Was Cain’s Wife? Was it Incest?

    A natural question arises concerning Adam and Eve’s children. Who was Cain’s wife? If there were no other humans besides those who came from Adam and Eve, then by definition wouldn’t Adam and Eve’s children be committing incest? Cain would have no option except to marry his sister, which would be incest! If Cain married his sister, that would seem to be wrong because of Genesis 2:24’s definition of a “one flesh” relationship? Cain is not the only one who might be guilty of incest by that definition. Abraham married his half-sister (cf. Gen 20:12). At the very least, this would seem to be poor planning by the Creator; at the worst, it would be a plan where the Creator causes His creatures to sin. Although there have been a variety of answers to question of who Cain’s wife was and why apparent incest was allowed, one solution holds promise…

  • Christian Living,  Old Testament

    Principles in Proverbs on Wise Communication

    Communication is important. More importantly, how communication is done is important. Jesus himself said that “the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matt 12:34b). It is underappreciated in our culture that what we say—whether verbally, over text, or on social media—these acts of communication reveal our hearts. It is a good and important exercise to evaluate our own communication and see how we line up. The ancient world prized wisdom, specifically the discussion of how to act in daily life. Unsurprisingly then, Proverbs provides some of the most pithy and helpful statements on how a righteous man or woman engages in communication. In many cases, Proverbs will contrast the righteous and his communication style and the non-righteous. What follows are a few of the many principles derived from Proverbs on how the righteous communicate. The Righteous Brings Benefit by His Communication The mouth of the righteous is…