Saturday, July 27, 2019

Commentary on Job 1:21

"And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." (Job 1:21)

We often quote Scripture, very often out of context, in a way that denigrates God's character and paints Him as the author of evil. Job 1:21 is among many of such passages used to mischacterize Him.

We have been teaching a series on the book of Job in our Bible study class and I will be dealing with Job 1:21 specifically this coming Thursday. However, thought some of you might be blessed with a quote from a commentary I found where the author opposes using that passage to teach that all evil is God's will.


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Saturday, July 20, 2019

God Destroys Those Who Destroy His Temple

God Destroys Those Who Destroy His Temple

Troy J. Edwards


If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (1 Corinthians 3:17)

Recently I was asked by someone to explain this passage in the light of the Biblical truth advocated by our ministry that God, due to His divine nature of harmless love (1 John 4:16; Rom. 13:8-10; Heb. 7:26; John 10:10; 1 Pet. 5:7-10), does not literally or directly (by the use of His omnipotent power) bring destruction upon anyone.

We are to always keep in mind that the Bible is the inspired and infallible written Word of God. Nevertheless, because it comes to us from a time and culture far removed from our own then much of it requires explanation and interpretation (Prov. 1:6; Luke 24:25-27; Acts 8:27-34; 2 Pet. 1:20).

God chose to have His Word communicated via men who were part of an ancient Hebrew culture. All cultures, both past and present, have idioms. Idioms words that are unique to a particular language, culture and group of people. The ancient Hebrew people were no exception. Therefore, it is important to understand the unique idioms that were present among the culture and expressed through the writings of God’s servants. One of the numerous idioms among the Hebrews was the permissive idiom. The late Hebrew scholar, Robert Young, described this particular idiom while Commenting on 2 Chron. 25:16. He explained that the passage is, “.... agreeably to the well-known scripture idiom whereby what God allows he is said to do.”[1]

Though God spoke through the language and idioms of an ancient culture He also took into consideration the fact that His message would someday be studied by numerous languages and cultures in different ages that might not be familiar with ancient Hebraism. Therefore He always ensured that His meanings were explained in other portions of Scripture.

For example, God complains to Satan concerning Job, “….thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:3b). However, the careful reader understands that it was Satan who actually brought the destruction upon Job (Job 1:10-12). While the divinely inspired writer of Job rendered God’s statement to Satan in the permissive idiom of the Hebrews, the context of Job makes understanding the truth that His statement was permissive rather than causative. He is merely said to do that which He permitted Satan to do.

A study of the Bible shows us that God is only said to destroy when He removes His protective presence from the recipient of destruction (Psalm 145:20; Isa. 64:6-7; 43:25-28; 2 Kings 13:22-23; Prov. 1:24-28; Hosea 5:6). He is said to destroy when He “gives people up” and allows their enemies to destroy them (Isa. 34:2; 2 Chron. 12:5-7; Hosea 11:8-9; Eze. 21:31). Therefore, when reading any Bible passage, especially in the Old Testament, that appears to teach that God personally engaged in destructive behavior, it is best to interpret it in the permissive rather than in the causative.

Thankfully some Bible translators recognize this truth and render certain passages to reflect it. For example, in Isaiah 64:7 we read, “…. for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.” Isaiah complains that God has consumed them. However, Isaiah also complain that God “hid His face.” The “hiding” of God’s face is defined in Scripture as the removal of His divine protection, thus allowing whatever forces of evil already poised to destroy to have their way (Num. 6:24-27; Deut. 31:16-18; Isa. 59:1-2). Therefore, the New Century Version is correct in rendering Isa. 64:7 as, “…. That is because you have turned away from us and have let our sins destroy us.”

The Hebrew Idioms Carry Over into the New Testament
Many Bible students believe that gaining knowledge of the original Greek language is sufficient for interpreting and understanding the New Testament. Yet, though the New Testament is written in the Greek rather than the Hebrew, it was still written from a Hebraic perspective. Thus all of the cultural idioms found in the Old Testament carry over into the New.

Ignorance of this truth has led to grave misunderstandings of God’s character and actions. One of several scholars have noted that,

“.... the idiom of the New Testament not unfrequently departs from classical Greek, and follows the Hebrew. An interpreter who neglects this will fall into great difficulties, and commit many surprising and almost ridiculous mistakes.”[2]

I would add to the above statement that such surprising and difficult mistakes often lead one to mischaracterize God and paint a false picture of Him. In order to avoid misrepresenting God as a harsh destroyer, one needs to recognize that the permissive idiom (or “idiom of permission” as others refer to it) is just as frequent in the New Testament as well as in the Old.

For example, our Lord Jesus taught us to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13). But does God actually lead people into temptation? James tells us, “…. God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (James 1:13b). God’s Word never contradicts itself. Therefore, the only explanation is that our Lord taught using the idiomatic expressions of the Jews. As one scholar stated, “Lead us not, in the Hebrew idiom, signifies ‘Suffer or abandon us not.’”[3] Another commentator writes, “A Hebraism, according to which God is said to do that which he permits to be done. The meaning is, preserve us from temptation; permit us not to fall into temptation.”[4] Hence, this is ample proof that the Greek New Testament requires knowledge of Hebrew idioms in order to fully comprehend it.

“Him God Shall Destroy”
Since the Hebrew idioms, including the permissive idiom, carries over into the New Testament, then when we read in 1 Corinthians 3:17, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy,” we can understand this as permissive rather than causative.

In the Old Testament God said concerning His house, or temple, “…. and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight” (2 Chron. 7:20b). The Contemporary English Version renders it, “I will desert this temple where I said I would be worshiped” and the Good News Translation reads, “I will abandon this Temple that I have consecrated as the place where I am to be worshiped.”

When God forsakes or abandons His temple then that is the removal of His protection, to which He permits those enemies already poised to destroy to have their way:

I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies. (Jeremiah 12:7)

The Unlocked Dynamic Bible translates the latter part of Jer. 12:7, “I have allowed their enemies to conquer the people whom I love.” It is in this manner that God is said to destroy in relation to His temple:

The Lord hath cast off his altar, he hath abhorred his sanctuary, he hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; they have made a noise in the house of the LORD, as in the day of a solemn feast. The LORD hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion: he hath stretched out a line, he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore he made the rampart and the wall to lament; they languished together. (Lamentations 2:7-8)

Again other translations make the permissive sense of these passages clearer: “The Lord rejected his altar and deserted his holy Temple; He allowed the enemy to tear down its walls” (Good News Translation); “The Lord abandoned his altar and his temple; he let Zion's enemies capture her fortresses” (Contemporary English Version); “He has allowed our enemies to tear down the walls of our temple and our palaces” (Unlocked Dynamic Version).

This same pattern by which God is said to destroy, which is by the loss of His protection over the sinning one rather than to directly inflict, continues into the New Testament. While the Old Testament Jews built an external temple, the New Testament reveals that God’s temple are the physical bodies of those who follow and serve Christ (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:14-16; Eph. 2:21-22; John 2:19-22). In the same epistle in which we are warned that God would destroy those who destroy His temple we learn how church rebels are disciplined:

To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Cor. 5:5)

Just as we see in the Old Testament that God does not destroy directly but by no longer protecting the offender and allowing their enemies to kill them, the same principle applies to the New Testament temple defilers. God will no longer protect them from the consequences of their own destructive behavior (see Rom. 1:24-28). The “Unlocked Dynamic Bible” interpretation of 1 Cor. 3:17 brings this out:

Yahweh promises that he will destroy anyone who attempts to destroy his temple. This is because his temple belongs to him alone. And HE PROTECTS YOU by the same promise because you are now his temple and you belong to him alone!

Therefore, with all such passages, always keep in mind that God’s primary method of destruction is “permissive” and not “causative” in the sense that He will no longer protect a person and will allow them to suffer the inevitable consequences of their sin.


For a greater understanding of this subject we highly recommend the following books:



Visit us at www.vindicatinggod.org for more details



[1] Young, Robert A Commentary on the Holy Bible, as Literally and Idiomatically Translated out of the Original Languages (New York: Fullarton, McNab & Co., 1868), p. 315
[2] Stuart, Moses Elements of Biblical criticism and interpretation (London: B. J. Holdsworth, 1827), p. 99
[3] Davidson, David The Comprehensive Pocket Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments with Explanatory Notes by David Davidson (Edinburgh: James Brydone, 1848), p. 619
[4] Paige, Lucious Robinson A Commentary on the New Testament, Volume 1 (Boston: Benjamin B. Mussey, 1849) p. 77

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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Did God Cripple Jacob for Life?



Did God Cripple Jacob for Life?

Troy J. Edwards


And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. (Gen. 32:24-25)

Due to our belief that God does not directly (or uses His omnipotent power to) inflict anyone with sickness, disease, handicaps, death, destruction or tragedy, there are questions that are brought to us from time to time concerning Bible passages that appear to contradict this premise. God placing Jacob’s hip out of joint is one of them.

There are a number of people whose agenda is to prove that God is a dispenser of life’s difficulties. Among several reasons for this is their desire to protect their precious ideology of what it means for God to be sovereign (to exercise ultimate control over every event that occurs in the life and destiny of every single human being in existence). These individuals are desperate to find any passage to make their case. Naturally, they believe that the incident in Genesis 32 where Jacob wrestles with God and has his thigh placed out of joint provides them ample proof that God is behind sicknesses such as osteoporosis.

Avoid Private Interpretations

You will often hear or read commentaries on this passage telling us that God cripple Jacob for life. Is this a truth derived from Scripture or is it a biased interpretation influenced by an ideology that has a sickness and tragedy inflicting deity at its center?

Peter writes, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation (2 Pet. 1:20). When we study Scripture we must never interpret it based on our assumptions, which are often influenced by our theological ideology. We must interpret Scripture with Scripture. Scripture is its best commentary and dictionary. It defines its own words better than the best Greek and Hebrew Bible dictionaries written by scholars and no commentary written by men can match the accurate perspective on Scripture than other divinely inspired passages of Scripture.

Allowing Scripture to interpret itself also means that we should never read into the Bible what is not there. If the Bible itself does not teach a particular (or popular) understanding of a situation recorded in Scripture then we must reject that understanding. To do so is to offer a private interpretation, one not backed by divine revelation. In the cased of Jacob, one must be able to show from clear Scripture that God crippled him for life. Otherwise, one is offering a private interpretation that has no divinely inspired basis of authority.

Some of us have engaged in wrestling matches or some other intense sport. You engage in these sports to win and sometimes winning means doing something to hurt your opponent. However, most of us never intend to permanently damage our opponent or cripple them for life. In a wrestling match one may possible do something to dislocate a shoulder or some other part of the body but we know that it will heal in time. Jacob chose to wrestle with God and took the risk of such a thing happening. That is the risk of engaging in this type of sports activity.

But check any online medical site and you will learn that “out of joint” does not mean “crippled for life.” Bones and parts of the body that are “out of joint” are known to heal in time. In Jacob’s case, there is nothing in Scripture that indicates that this was a permanent condition that afflicted him for the rest of his life. As far as any we can tell from the Biblical evidence, Jacob only suffered this conditioned immediately after the wrestling match. We are told nowhere in Scripture that Jacob spent the rest of his days as a cripple. Not only is Scripture lacking on this but even medical science would not confirm such an idea.

Jacob Leaned on His Staff

But one might say, “Woah, hold on there brother. The Bible talks about Jacob having to lean on his staff.” It certainly does:

By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. (Hebrews 11:21)

At this time Jacob was 130 years old (Gen. 47:8-9) and we are told that he was close to death (Gen. 48:1; 49:33). At that age and in that condition, it would be necessary to have something to support you when you decide to come off of your sick bed, stand and worship God after ministering blessings to your grandchildren. The very context of the passage tells us that Jacob was leaning on the staff due to being near to death and not because he had been crippled for life.

But why did Jacob need a staff in the first place? The same reason that all of the Israelite men had staffs (Exodus 12:11, 32). Jacob and his descendants were shepherds (Gen. 46:32-34; 47:3). Shepherds managed the sheep with a staff (Psalm 23:1-4). It is interesting that, just before Jacob’s famous wrestling match with God, we are told that he already possessed a staff:

I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. (Gen. 32:10)

Therefore, Jacob did not have a staff because he was crippled. He already possessed a staff because he was a shepherd. The belief that Jacob had to use a staff because God crippled him for life is a private (and dishonest) interpretation of Scripture and should be rejected.

Conclusion

Jacob’s situation was a unique one in which he engaged in a wrestling match with God and suffered one of the possible consequences of that sport. Many wrestlers, football players, boxers and other athletes have suffered temporary injuries that left some part of their body temporarily out of joint. Most have healed and continued to participate in their sporting event.

To conclude that Jacob was crippled for life because he suffered an injury is to go beyond Scripture. To use such a passage to claim that God is the author of crippling sicknesses, diseases, and handicaps is to go beyond proper Bible application. It is a dishonest intent to support a bias theological perspective. Worst of all, it is a denigration of the kind, loving, gentle, and good character of God who heals and delivers rather than inflicts with sickness, disease and pain.

Reject such views of God. He is the Lord “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases” (Psalm 103:3). He is not the Lord “who inflicteth thy sicknesses and crippleth thee.”


To learn more lookout for the soon coming revised edition of our book,

Does God Send Sickness?
A Study of God’s Character in Relation to Sickness and His Victory Over It




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Friday, July 12, 2019

God Does NOT Appoint Disaster


“We cannot simply accept disaster as God’s appointment, as part of the design for this world. His perfect order is: no sin, no sickness, no satanic tests. But this world is not as God originally made it, pronouncing it ‘good’. At point after point in God’s world, the structured harmony of God’s good creation have become discordant and harsh. This world is an ambiguous ‘fallen’ world, now marked not only by the beauties of creation, but also by disorder, pain, struggle and death.”
Atkinson, David The Message of Job (The Bible Speaks Today) (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1991), p. 25

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Saturday, July 6, 2019

Does God Make People Handicapped? A Study of Exodus 4:11



Men have used Scripture such as Exodus 4:11 to teach that God has predestined people to be born with sickness, disease, and handicaps. But is this what the passage is teaching? In this lesson, Pastor Troy Edwards explains how the passage, when understood in the light of the ancient Hrbrew permissive idiom as well as in comparison to the work of Christ on mankind's behalf, does not teach that God is the inflictor of handicaps or sickness.


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Saturday, June 15, 2019