Thursday, December 12, 2019

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Did God Predestine Jesus to be Killed?

Calvinist Proof-Texts Answered

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” (Acts 2:23)

Did God Predestine Jesus to be Killed?

“Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God” (1 Thessalonians 2:15)

“But now ye seek to kill me.... Ye do the deeds of your father.... If God were your Father, ye would love me.... Ye are of your father the devil.” (John 8:40, 41, 42, 44)

“....this One given to you by the before-determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you having taken by lawless hands, having crucified Him, you put Him to death.” (Acts 2:23; Green's Literal Translation)


Commentary: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son(John 3:16). God gave the gift of His Son. This was predetermined. The murder itself was not God’s predetermined plan. Greek scholar, Christopher Wordsworth wrote, “God decreed the salvation of the World by Christ, but He did not command or approve the means by which that consummation was brought about.”(The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: in the Original Greek, with Notes and Introductions, Volume 2, p. 57). Thankfully, God was able to make Satan’s act of hatred work against him.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Christ's Death Defeated Satan


God did not orchestrate the Lord's death. This was Satan's doing. However, God used it to crush Satan as He promised in Genesis 3.

Here is a fuller quote for those interested:

"His Death, which Satan and the Jews contrived as the undermining of his Kingdom; that death pulled up the Pillars of Satan’s Kingdom. While they thought they were destroying Him, God was in and by Him destroying them and their Power. The great Gospel Promise was accomplished; while they were bruising his Heal, He broke Satan’s Head. Thus Peter acquaints us, his Death was the Death of Sin and Satan’s Power."
A Funeral Sermon Preached October 2, 1722. p. 34

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Saturday, November 30, 2019

Did God LITERALLY Pre-Plan Christ’s Death?

Did God LITERALLY Pre-Plan Christ’s Death?

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. 13:8; KJV)

And all dwelling on the earth will worship it, of whom their names have not been written from the founding of the world in the book of life of the Lamb having been slain. (Berean Literal Bible) 

Commentary: “Eminent modern critics understand it to mean, “Whose names are not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.” This sense is justified by chap. xvii. 8, and by the authority of the most important manuscripts.”

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Notes
Cowper, B. Harris “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” in The Journal of Sacred Literature, Volume 1 (London: Williams and Norgate, 1862), p. 215

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Jesus’ Death Orchestrated by Satan, Not God


but now ye seek to kill me, the man who has told you the truth, such as I have learnt it of God: Abraham did not act thus. your actions are like your father…. Jesus said to them, if God were your father, ye would love me: for I was commissioned by God to come; I did not come of my self, but he sent me…. you, who have the devil for your father, will execute the designs of your father: he was a murderer from the beginning, and deserted the truth, since he has no love for the truth: when he lyes, he speaks like himself: for he is a lyar, and the father of a lyar.
(John 8:40, 41a, 42, 44; Daniel Mace New Testament)

1. The religious leaders sought to kill Jesus.
2. Jesus stated that there was a "father" or supernatural influence behind their murderous intent.
3. Jesus pointed out that Father-God was NOT the One pushing them to murder the Son.
4. Jesus stated that their "father" or motivator to kill Jesus was Satan the murderer.

Therefore, it is Satan, NOT Father-God, who killed God the Son.

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Monday, November 25, 2019

Isaiah 53:10 Presents No Wrath - George Whitehead


Here is a fuller quote for those interested:

“There are still those that reject and disesteem Christ, and that esteem him smitten or plagued of God, and even to have undergone the wrath and vengeance of his Father in their stead…. Whereas, first, God had never any such wrath nor revenge, against his innocent Son, to execute upon him; nor will he so clear the guilty in their sins: 2d, It pleasing the Lord to bruise him, was neither in wrath, nor to take vengeance on him, nor yet actually or immediately by himself to bruise him, but permissively.”
Whitehead, George The Nature of Christianity, in the True Light Asserted: in Opposition to Anti-Christianism, Darkness, Confusion and Sin-pleasing Doctrines (New York: I.T. Hopper, 1833), p. 25

Saturday, November 23, 2019

God Gets No Joy in the Sinner's Death


God did not send Jesus to satisfy a supposed blood-thirsty wrath. God never wanted sinners to die and has never been happy about us suffering as the result of our sins. THAT is why He sent Jesus.

However, when sharing this elsewhere I was asked, "So how does the death of Jesus atone for sin?" Here is my answer:

Since the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23) and sin it was Satan who had the authority of death (Heb. 2:14-15), Jesus' death, burial and resurrection releases us from Satan's legal authority over us (1 John 3:8; Acts 26:18; Col. 1:12-14; 2:14-16). Thus, by accepting what Christ has done on our behalf, the Father is able to receive us without being accused of infringing upon the devil's former legal hold on us.

Furthermore, as I wrote in my book, "God's Word: Devil Destruction Power,"

"Satan hated God and lusted after the opportunity to kill Him. Satan, like a mad man blinded by hatred, ignored any repercussions that would accrue from killing the sinless, righteous Son of God. He deceived himself into thinking that he could hold God Himself in his prison of death (Acts 2:22-27) and took advantage of the opportunity to kill Him (Luke 22:53). The resurrection of Christ proved him wrong (1 Cor. 15:54-58) because, “....God raised Jesus and unleashed Him from the agonizing birth pangs of death, for death could not possibly keep Jesus in its power” (Acts 2:24; The Voice). The reason that it was not possible for death to keep Jesus in its power is because the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23; James 1:15). Since Jesus had never sinned Satan blindly and illegally placed Jesus under his power of death, thereby forfeiting his legal rights over the earth and mankind." pp. 58, 59


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Saturday, November 16, 2019

He Only Permits, P. 147


Because of the challenges that we get from those who do not bother to read our books or listen to our teachings but only want to debate over our social media memes:

This meme is a brief explanation from one of my books explaining the Bible's teaching on what we call the "permissive sense." It is certainly not the Calvinist idea that softens their false predestination teachings nor is it just another (nicer) way of saying that God was the cause of something terrible.

"Permission" is God granting the freedom to His creatures to work with Him in creating their future and His invitation to partner with Him in determining their circumstances. It is also the sad non-compulsive way in which He will cooperate with our desire to keep Him from working in our lives if we do not want Him (See Psalm 81:7-16; Job 21:14 and many others).


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Friday, November 15, 2019

Does God LITERALLY Harden Hearts?

Does God LITERALLY Harden Hearts?

But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go. (Exodus 10:27; King James Version)

But JEHOVAH permitted Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened, so that he would not send them away. (A Translation of the Old Testament Scriptures from the Original Hebrew By Helen Spurrell) 

Commentary: “Nothing but a total unacquaintance with the Oriental style could have, hence, given rise to the absurd idea, that God really hardened the heart of Pharaoh. Everywhere in Scripture God is said to do what he permits, whether good or bad, and especially if the thing done be uncommon, and out of the ordinary course of things. Let it suffice to have, once for all, made this remark…. Yet I will permit his heart to be so hardened that he will not let the people go.”

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Notes

Barrett, Richard A. F. A Synopsis of Criticism Upon Those Passages of the Old Testament in which Modern Commentators have Differed, Vol. I (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1847), p. 208

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Rescued from the Father or Satan? (Meme)



Jesus did not come to rescue us from a wrathful, angry Father (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). Instead, “God rescued us from the dark power of Satan and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13; Contemporary English Version)

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Saturday, November 9, 2019

Does God LITERALLY Send Evil Spirits?

Does God LITERALLY Send Evil Spirits?

And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him. (1 Samuel 16:23; KJV)

Whenever God allowed the evil spirit to afflict Saul, David would play the harp, Saul would be relieved of his torment, and the evil spirit would depart. (v. 23; The VOICE)

Commentary: “It only remains to say that there is need of no other agency from God than the permissive.* Satan never needs to be sent on such a mission; it is only requisite that the Lord suffer him to go. Such permission is one feature in that awful retribution which God must send upon apostate souls. They having chosen sin and rebellion rather than obedience, and, consequently, evil rather than good, God leaves them to their own guilty choice, to ‘eat the fruit of their own way, and to be filled with their own devices.’”1

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Notes

1. Cowles, Henry Hebrew History from the Death of Moses to the Close of the Scripture Narrative (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1875), p. 139

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Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Deaths of Ananias and Sapphira

The Deaths of Ananias and Sapphira

By Troy J. Edwards

(An Excerpt from our book, “Does God Send Sickness”)

Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold some property, gave some of the money to the church while pretending to give it all away. Peter told Ananias that he lied to the Holy Spirit. This brought God’s judgment upon him:

But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things (Acts 5:3-5)

Peter does not predict or inflict judgment upon Ananias as some have claimed. There is no indication that Peter even knew what would happen to Ananias until it did. After seeing what happened to Ananias Peter was able to accurately predict Sapphira’s death (Acts 5:7-10). But Peter does not claim that Sapphira’s death is the result of having been struck down by God.
Some argue that the fact that both Ananias and Sapphira died in the exact same manner proves that the death was divinely inflicted. This is not necessarily true. We live in a culture where “shame of exposure” is not the major issue that it is in more shame-based cultures such as the orient. Furthermore, we don’t seem to realize how much God actually protects us, even in our sins. It is indeed possible that both husband and wife can go through the same embarrassing shock. Add to the fact that as a result of judgment the Holy Spirit removed His protective presence (or rather, they pushed Him away), their hearts were unable to handle what this shock and fear had done to their systems and their hearts shut down on them. This is a passive judgment:

No causative agent of Ananias' death is reported beyond Ananias’ own behavior and response. Likewise with Sapphira, though she learns (from Peter) that she has tempted the Lord’s Spirit (5:9), this same Spirit—though dynamically explosive thus far in Acts—makes no retaliatory move. Sapphira is blown away by no mighty wind and burnt up by no fiery tongues; again, she simply collapses and expires.1

These scholars also write, “True, Ananias dies as he hears these words [of Peter].... but these are words of revelation and accusation, not retribution and execution.”2 When God is passive and is no longer protecting a person or nation, Satan takes advantage of the opportunity (Job 1-2; Eph. 4:26, 27; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 Pet. 5:8-10).
Peter never once blames God for the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira. On the contrary, Peter attributed all healing to God and all sickness to the devil only five chapters later when he said, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him (Acts 10:38).
Despite these Biblical facts, there have been a number of speculations about Ananias’ death. The most widely held idea is that God personally killed him. Some believe it was an angel that struck him (similar to Herod in Acts 12 – a passage we will examine momentarily), others believe that the devil did it and still others believe that the shock of his sin being exposed caused Ananias to have a heart attack. I believe that it is a combination of the latter two.
Those of us who place Satan as the cause of death believe that the judgment upon Ananias was similar to the standard judgment Paul outlines in 1 Cor. 5:5 which says, “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh.” One commentator writes:

(5) Ananias hearing these words fell down.— It is to be noted that St. Peter's words, while they press home the intensity of the guilt, do not contain any formal sentence. In such a case we may rightly trace that union of natural causation and divine purpose which we express in the familiar phrase that speaks of “the visitation of God” as a cause of death. The shame and agony of detection, the horror of conscience not yet dead, were enough to paralyze the powers of life. Retribution is not less a divine act because it comes, through the working of divine laws, as the natural consequence of the sin which draws it down. It was necessary, we may reverently say, that this special form of evil, this worst corruption of the best, should be manifestly condemned on its first appearance by a divine judgment. And we must remember that there is a silence which we may not dare to break as to all but the visible judgment. The dominant apostolic idea of such punishments was that men were delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. v. 5). St, Peter himself speaks of those who are “judged according to men in the flesh,” who yet “live according to God in the spirit” (1 Pet. iv. 6).3 (Emphasis are mine)

God is not the inflictor of disease and death. God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that they should turn and live (Eze. 33:11). As wicked as Ananias and Sapphira were, God had no pleasure in their deaths.

Notes
1. Walton, Steve Reading Acts Today (New York: t & T Clark International, 2011), p. 67
2. Ibid, p. 68
3. Ellicott, Charles John The New Testament commentary for English Readers (New York: Cassell and Company, LTD, 1884), p. 27


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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Does God LITERALLY Kill?

Does God LITERALLY Kill?

He hath cut off in his fierce anger all the horn of Israel: he hath drawn back his right hand from before the enemy, and he burned against Jacob like a flaming fire, which devoureth round about. He hath bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire. (Lamentations 2:3-4; KJV)

Cut down by God’s anger, the pride and strength of Israel falls; He withdrew His right hand and stood back and allowed Israel’s enemies to wreak havoc in the land. God has burned and consumed Jacob in an insatiable fire. (v. 3; The VOICE)

Commentary: The International Standard Version Reads, “He withdrew his protection as the enemy approached.” God does not “kill” by physically bringing harm. When we choose to rebel against Him, we remove ourselves from under His protective presence. This gives an open door for our enemies to destroy us. All Scripture implying that God killed, smote, or slew should be understood in this manner.


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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

My Grace is Sufficient for Thee



“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

God Did NOT Say:

  1. “No!” to Paul’s request to have the thorn removed. Paul said “he will yet deliver us; ye also helping together by prayer for us” (2 Cor. 1:8-11). Prayer delivers from trials.

  1. “Paul, learn to just grin and bear it.” Paul said “our present troubles are small and won’t last very long” (2 Cor. 4:17-18; New Living Translation)

  1. “My grace will allow you to tolerate Satan’s thorn.” God’s grace is given to enable us to resist Satan’s attacks (James 4:6-7; 1 Pet. 5:5-10). Paul taught that we are to take an aggressive stand against Satan (Eph. 6:10-18)


Read your Bible and stop reading things INTO your Bible that are not there.

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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.


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[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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