Lesson #3 – How to study the Bible

For this lesson, let us deal with hard questions. Sometimes these areas cause biblical readers to either give up reading the Bible or have a negative attitude toward the Bible.

Killing of babies – there are several aspects to consider about this. The first and most obvious is that it was customary two thousand years ago to kill your enemy including babies. That is not to say that God approved, but that is the way they did it. That was the practice. I’m sure there are things that we do today that could be confusing or seem to be wrong when viewed back on to us from a future history. Now let’s go on to more details.

Part of the worship of the god Baal included throwing their babies into fire. This was a despicable act. When the Jews turned away from God to worship Baal, they also adopted that same practice. This makes their acts even more despicable because God never said to do anything so horrible about their own children. This brings up the modern-day abortion issue. It is not part of worship unless you consider self-interest as a type of worship that modern women have their babies killed in various horrible ways.

There were times in which God told the Jews that after a battle they should kill everyone that occupied that taken city including babies. But why! Let’s look at it from a practical point of view. Who would take care of these babies? At what age would some be saved and some not? Why would we expect God to intervene on their behalf since they represented an anti-God culture? We can hypothesize that God could intervene in some miraculous way, but when God does do miracles that is for a specific purpose. There would be no purpose in raising a heathen baby in a Jewish culture. In fact, that could pollute the bloodline of the Jews. This was a problem with Samaritans who earlier intermingled with non-Jews.

An entirely different point of view about the subject could be that when a baby dies, it goes to heaven because it has not reached an age of accountability to accept or reject God. As a result, God brings babies into his heavenly fold which is a type of lovingkindness.

God rejected the Jews – let’s get facts straight. The Jews rejected God. He allowed them to experience natural consequences of their own choosing. In each case when it was said that God allowed them to be rejected, he also had a means of redemption for them. Sometimes they needed to learn the lesson to improve their loyalty to God. Sometimes they needed to be disciplined as a father would discipline the child. At no time has he ever permanently and forever reject the Jews because they are his chosen people through which Jesus came to be the Savior of the world.

The Jews crucified Jesus – much anti-Semitism has been generated as a result of this idea. A closer look at the event of crucifixion reminds us that the Romans actually were the ones who put Jesus on the cross. To me I think it is important because we have the Jews and the Gentiles collaborating for the crucifixion of Jesus. This is a picture of sinful man all over the world. It is also a picture of the divine Jesus dying on the cross for all mankind whether Jew or Gentile. Yes, those Jews that were clamoring for the crucifixion of Christ shouted out to Pilate that his blood should be on their heads and on the heads of their descendants. Those words were said in a sarcastic and vengeful attitude. It was not prophetic even though the Jewish nation has suffered so much throughout the world’s history. Scripture tells us that there will come a time in which the Jews will accept Christ as the Messiah. Therefore, the rejection of him is only temporary even though to us it is many years.

The wrath of God when he is said to be a loving God – not only has God had wrath for the Jews, but  also did toward Gentiles. We must remember that God is a well-rounded person. He has his own intentions and plans. When humans do not cooperate, or worse, be in such a state that they would try to nullify God’s plans, much happened. Why would God not have the right to be angry? You might say, “But he is God!” It is a mistake to only think of God in the positive. The opposite of love can be anger. The opposite of happiness can be sadness. God has emotional experiences as a result of his relationship with humankind. It is important to realize, though, that the wrath of God has positive purposes. It may be to correct the direction a person is going or the experiences they could potentially have. Are we to say that God should just stand by and let us behave in an unseemly manner without any response on a divine level?

Why does God allow terrible things such as tornadoes and earthquakes to occur when he is supposed to be in charge of nature? – If God were ever to intervene for the conduct of nature, it would have to be for a specific purpose. For instance, when God was flooding the entire earth and most of humanity drowned, he had Noah build an ark out of his mercy. We cannot look at God as the Wizard of Oz who is pulling levers and pushing buttons. He established the behavior of nature as a result of what occurs with the currents and the shifting of the underground plates in the earth. These things ultimately have a positive result for rejuvenating the environment including plant and animal life. Yes, a human being might lose his life as a result of the terrible experience he had with nature such as a tornado. Are we to think that God will reach his divine hand down and pluck that person out of the way? That is nonsense. If we follow this train of thought, then God is supposed to stop every car accident or every house fire from occurring. If that is the case, we are not living in a normal natural world. We are living under a glass dome of robotic experiences. When we ask a question like that, it is usually the result of something that struck close to home. Certainly, we don’t want something bad to happen when nature is in an uproar. But that’s the normal situation for nature.

God called David His Son even though David committed adultery – this is an important question. The center of the answer is around forgiveness. David was not exempt from the result of his behavior. He was forgiven. He wrote Psalm 51 as a record of his humbling before God. He knew he did wrong and wanted to fix the bruised relationship he had with God. This is the same as Peter when he denied Christ after the Lord’s arrest. When he realized the magnitude of his denial, he wept and asked God for forgiveness. We must learn the lesson that all of us being imperfect will do bad things. What we do as a result is what makes the difference. An opposite example of that of Judas. He regretted what he did but did not ask God for forgiveness. Instead, he took matters into his own hands and committed suicide. This was not trying to heal a broken relationship with God. Always remember that God has indefinite and infinite forgiveness.

Portions of Scripture seem to contradict other Scriptures – one the complaints of disbelievers and liberals is that the creation story is contradicted within the Bible. They say that chapter 1 and chapter 2 of Genesis do not match or support each other. The fact is that chapter 2 is an explanation or further enlightenment for how creation took place. We do this all the time. We will make a statement and then add additional information to support what we just said. This is true what God accomplished in the writing of the first and second chapter of Genesis. Chapter 1 was an overview. Chapter 2 was an explanation. The disbelievers also talk about the events recorded in Gospels. They say that an event may be recorded or were declared by Jesus in one area but contradicted or is recorded differently in another of the Gospels. If we start reading the Bible with a negative attitude and preconceived notions of what we want to read, we will not benefit from the ministry of the Holy Spirit and teaching us what God is saying through those Scriptures. We should compare one scripture to another. But we should make the comparison for the sake of understanding and not nitpick Scriptures that will lead us away from the Lord.

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