Archives For Theology

Psalms 148-150 profoundly emphasize the importance of praising God by commanding us to praise Him numerous times. Examining these statements reveals that six prepositions (color coded below) help us understand various aspects of these commands:

Psa 148:1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights.

Psa 148:7 Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:

Psa 149:1 Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.

Psa 149:3 Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.

Psa 150:1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.

 2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.

 3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.

 4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

 5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

 6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

Among other things, these six prepositions teach us the following truths about our giving praise to God:

(1) the commanded places/locations/settings (“from the heavens”; “from the earth”; “in the heights”; “in the congregation of the saints”; “in the dance”; “in his sanctuary”; “in the firmament of his power”);

(2) the reason (“for his mighty acts”);

(3) the standard (“according to his excellent greatness”); and

(4) the means (“with the timbrel and harp”; “with the sound of the trumpet”; “with the psaltery and harp”; with the timbrel and dance”; with stringed instruments and organs”; “upon the loud cymbals”; “upon the high sounding cymbals”)!

 

 

 

Whether Solomon perished eternally is a question that has spurred more interest in my blog than any other subject that I have written about, which is something that I would never have expected. Until recently, an aspect of that question that I had not previously considered is the relevance of Hebrews 11 to one’s view about his eternal destiny.

Solomon is Not Mentioned in Hebrews 11

Hebrews 11 mentions many great saints of God and sets them forth as believers whose faith was exemplary. Although Hebrews 11 mentions David, who was a man of superlative faith and character (aside from his great sinful failures with Uriah and Bathsheba), it only does so in a brief listing of names that the author says that he did not enough time to talk about:

Heb 11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

Solomon, however, is not mentioned at all in this verse or elsewhere in the chapter. To assess properly whether this omission is relevant to our understanding of his eternal destiny, we need to consider other people that Hebrews 11 also does not mention.

Job, Hezekiah, and Josiah Are Not Mentioned in Hebrews 11

Job was the godliest man alive in his day (Job 1:8; 2:3), yet he is not mentioned in Hebrews 11. When we also take into account both his godliness and the genuineness of his faith that were displayed in the midst of horrific sufferings that he endured, it is even more striking and perplexing that Hebrews 11 does not speak of Job.

Like Job, Hezekiah and Josiah are extolled in Scripture for their stellar character and walk with God:

2Ki 18:5 He [Hezekiah] trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.

2Ki 23:25 And like unto him [Josiah] was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

Despite the unparalleled excellence of these two kings, however, neither one is mentioned in Hebrews 11! Hebrews 11 thus does not speak of Job, Hezekiah, and Josiah—three of the premier men of God spoken of in Scripture.

Discussion

Given the greatness of Solomon, one might argue that the lack of his being mentioned in Hebrews 11 implies that he perished eternally because he never repented of his great sinfulness late in his life. This reasoning, however, is faulty because Hebrews 11 also does not mention Job, Hezekiah, and Josiah, who were all exceedingly godly men about whom we can be certain that they did not perish eternally.

Conclusion

The lack of mention of Solomon in Hebrews 11 does not prove that he perished eternally. In fact, many other considerations show that Solomon did not perish eternally and that we will see him in heaven one day.

Suppose that all the major news networks were to carry a bombshell report that the Pentagon has had extended contact with aliens and will soon provide lengthy videotaped conversations between high-level government officials and the aliens. Over a period of many days, the videotapes reveal striking information provided by the aliens.

The aliens say that they have been around for 6 billion years and have traveled throughout our galaxy and have found no proof of the existence of God. They say that they first came to earth almost 5 billion years ago from a planet 10 light years away.

They emphatically deny that there were any people named Adam and Eve who were the first humans created by God. Instead, the aliens insist that when they came to the earth, they seeded it with its first life forms.

The aliens say that they have been observing what has happened on earth ever since. They say that there was a man named Jesus who lived many years ago, but they say that he was just a man who was made into a god by his devotees.

They deny that this Jesus rose from the dead and insist there is no heaven to which he ascended. The aliens proclaim that the real good news for the world is that they have come to save mankind by revealing the truth about the history of the earth and about how life began on the earth.

The videotapes are followed by stunning live footage showing the aliens appearing and disappearing at will, zooming through the sky in spacecraft powered by technology unlike anything man has ever known, and dematerializing and rematerializing select people from one place on the earth instantaneously to other places on the earth.

The aliens insist that their phenomenal superpowers prove their authenticity and the authenticity of their message. If such contact with aliens would take place, would that disprove the Bible?

For those who believe that the Bible is the perfect Word of God, the answer is an emphatic, “No!” Aliens who would come proclaiming another gospel would be under the divine condemnation revealed long ago by God:

Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Notice that God specifies that if an angel from heaven were to come preaching another gospel, that angel must be accursed. What applies to any angel proclaiming such a message certainly applies to any other purported celestial being that would bring a message contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In reality, if any so-called aliens were ever to come to earth heralding another gospel, believers would know that such beings are not aliens at all but rather fallen angels masquerading as aliens. Contact with aliens would not disprove the Bible because human beings would not have any ability to authenticate the message of these beings other than to take their word for it.

Scripture unequivocally reveals to us that contact with aliens would not disprove the Bible. Believers must heed this instruction that God has provided them so that they will not be led astray by deceiving spirits claiming to be aliens from other planets, galaxies, dimensions, etc.

In an extended parable, God remarks on the heartlessness of people who fail to give newborn children the proper compassionate care that they should receive:

Eze 16:4 And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.

 5 None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born.

 6  And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.

This passage makes clear that God wants compassionate care given to newborn babies so that they would live. When such care is not given to them, it reveals the heartlessness of those who refuse to pity them and have compassion on them.

Arguing from the lesser to the greater, how much more heartless is it not just to fail to give compassionate care to newborns but also to take steps to kill them. In the same way, aborting an unborn baby displays the heartlessness of those who put to death a human being who is helpless, innocent, and undeserving of such inhuman treatment.

O God, please bring to an end the heartlessness of abortion and infanticide. Have mercy on these helpless babies. Work in the hearts of those who are doing these heartless things so that they will repent and believe in your Son.

Come quickly, O Christ, for the sake of these who are being mercilessly slaughtered. Hear their cries, O Father.

 

 

 

 

A godly minister and his godly wife believe very strongly that everyone should be buried. They think that cremation is wrong in the sight of God. The minister and his wife both die before their three children do.

The surviving son of the minister is an ungodly man who actively promotes evil in the sight of God. A year later, he is killed in a car accident.

His two sisters and other family must decide whether to have him cremated or buried. What should they do?

Knowing the strong convictions of his parents, should they have him buried even though he was not a believer? Since his parents are already dead, does it make any difference what their beliefs were?

In 2 Chronicles 22, Scripture provides an instructive passage that reveals another important consideration about the importance of burial that pertains directly to what these family members should do.

Jehoshaphat, Ahaziah, and Jehu

Jehoshaphat was a godly king of Judah (2 Chron. 17:3-6). When he died, his son Jehoram became king (2 Chron. 21:1). Jehoram was a wicked king (2 Chron. 21:6).

When Jehoram died, his youngest son Ahaziah became king (2 Chron. 22:1). Like his father, Ahaziah was a wicked king (2 Chron. 22:3-4).

While Jehu was rendering God’s judgment upon Ahab, a very wicked king of Israel, Jehu had Ahaziah killed (2 Kings 9:27; 2 Chron. 22:9). His doing so was from God (2 Chron. 22:7).

In a striking statement about the aftermath of the death of Ahaziah, Scripture reveals that Ahaziah was buried for an instructive reason:

2Ch 22:9 And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, (for he was hid in Samaria,) and brought him to Jehu: and when they had slain him, they buried him: Because, said they, he is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart. So the house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom.

Those who slew Ahaziah at the direction of Jehu buried Ahaziah because he was the son (grandson) of godly king Jehoshaphat who sought God wholeheartedly. Out of consideration for the godliness of Ahaziah’s grandfather, Ahaziah was buried when he died even though he himself was a wicked king.

Application

Just as Ahaziah was buried out of consideration for the godliness of his predecessor, the sisters and family of the wicked son who died in the accident related above should choose to bury him out of consideration for the godliness of his parents and their strong beliefs that burial is the only right thing to do. Even though this minister’s son was a wicked man himself, his surviving relatives should not choose to cremate him because his parents, even though they have already died, would not have approved at all of having their son cremated, were they still living.

Choosing to bury people who are from godly Christian families but themselves are not godly is supported by what Scripture reveals was done in the case of Ahaziah after he had been killed. The surviving relatives of such people should not choose to cremate them.

First Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 5 both record one of the most important events in world history. A close comparison of those two inspired records of that event provides a profound insight about the importance of music.

The following table provides a verse-by-verse comparison of the passages. It is clear from that comparison that the author of 2 Chronicles provides information about musical ministry that took place on this occasion about which the author of 1 Kings 8 makes no mention.

1Ki 7:51 ¶ So was ended all the work that king Solomon made for the house of the LORD. And Solomon brought in the things which David his father had dedicated; even the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, did he put among the treasures of the house of the LORD. 2Ch 5:1 ¶ Thus all the work that Solomon made for the house of the LORD was finished: and Solomon brought in all the things that David his father had dedicated; and the silver, and the gold, and all the instruments, put he among the treasures of the house of God.
1Ki 8:1 ¶ Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.  2 ¶ Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.
2 And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. 3 Wherefore all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto the king in the feast which was in the seventh month.
 3 And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. 4 And all the elders of Israel came; and the Levites took up the ark.
 4 And they brought up the ark of the LORD, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up. 5 And they brought up the ark, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, these did the priests and the Levites bring up.
 5 And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude. 6 Also king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel that were assembled unto him before the ark, sacrificed sheep and oxen, which could not be told nor numbered for multitude.
 6 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims. 7 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims:
 7 For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above. 8 For the cherubims spread forth their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.
 8 And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day. 9 And they drew out the staves of the ark, that the ends of the staves were seen from the ark before the oracle; but they were not seen without. And there it is unto this day.
9 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 10 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt.
10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that the cloud filled the house of the LORD,

11 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place:

 

(for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course:

  12 Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:)

  13 It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever:

that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD;

11 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD. 14 So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.
 12 ¶ Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness. 2Ch 6:1 ¶ Then said Solomon, The LORD hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
13 I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever. 2 But I have built an house of habitation for thee, and a place for thy dwelling for ever.

I’m confident that probing why this information is provided in the one account and not in the other will provide valuable insights about what the Bible teaches about music. I’m going to save my thoughts on the significance of this comparison for a later post.

Scripture warns high-level civil authorities not to consume alcohol because it puts them at risk of failing to fulfill one of their key responsibilities:

Proverbs 31:4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: 5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

Only God knows how much justice for afflicted people has been perverted by leading civil authorities who have not heeded this divine instruction. If you are a leading civil authority over people, you should not drink alcohol so that you can faithfully provide justice to afflicted people.

Balaam professed that the Lord was his God (Num. 22:18). Yet, both Testaments record that he was a wicked man who harmed God’s people greatly (Num. 31:16; Rev. 2:14).

God gave profound authentic revelation about the Messiah through him (Num. 24:15-19). God has even inscripturated that revelation for all time in the Bible.

Theologians have rightly used the authentic revelation given by God through Balaam in spite of his wickedness. We can and should learn doctrine and edify one another through the recorded oracles of Balaam that God has given to us in Scripture.

Similarly, God’s people have used songs or musical pieces that accurately convey truth about God even though they have been written by otherwise perverse people.

Given that the former practice (using divine revelation given through Balaam) is indisputably proper, are there any valid reasons to hold that it is improper for us to use good music that has been produced by ungodly sources? Should Christians use good music from ungodly sources?

God’s dealings with king Nebuchadnezzar when he reigned over ancient Babylon reveal some profound demands that God makes over all governmental leaders of every nation, including American presidents. These demands profoundly refute a grave error that American presidents must not make in their thinking.

The Divine Demand for Social Justice

Daniel poignantly appealed to king Nebuchadnezzar to turn from his sinfulness, including his failures to deal properly with the poor in his kingdom:

Dan 4:27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.

Although he was the king over the most powerful empire in the world in his day, Nebuchadnezzar needed to learn that his position of power did not mean that he could do whatever he wanted to poor people—he had to show mercy to them!

Similarly, American presidents must learn from God’s dealings with Nebuchadnezzar that they must show mercy to the poor. Every American president must make addressing social justice issues in his country a top priority, especially in doing what he can to show mercy to the poor.

The Divine Demand for Humility

When king Nebuchadnezzar became proud in his heart in thinking that the greatness of his city that he had built for his kingdom was the result of his exerting the might of his own power and that he had done so for the sake of glorifying his own majesty (Dan. 4:30), God abased him profoundly (Dan. 4:31-33). After God had humbled him and then restored him, he openly testified that God is able to abase those who walk in pride (Dan. 4:37).

Every president of the US needs to learn from what God did to abase Nebuchadnezzar that any greatness that he enjoys in his presidency is ultimately not because of his own resourcefulness and abilities to conduct an effective campaign and run the country well. Instead, as president, he has been put in that position of immense power by God and allowed to prosper in it so that he would humbly glorify God and govern in His fear.

The Divine Demand for Declaring the Truth about Who Reigns Over All

Nebuchadnezzar was the king of an idolatrous empire that had exalted itself greatly against the God of heaven (cf. Dan. 3). God revealed to him His demand that he had to recognize that God is the One Who reigns over all and exalts whomever He wishes to whatever positions of authority they have (Dan. 4:25).

By dealing with Nebuchadnezzar openly in a profound humiliating manner, God brought him to testify the truth about God as the One who reigns over all (Dan. 4:34-35). Every American president needs to learn from Nebuchadnezzar that God wants him to acknowledge that God is the One who reigns over all and is the One who has exalted him to his position of top authority in our nation.

Conclusion

American presidents must not make the grave error of thinking that because they govern a secular country, they are free from any obligations toward God. In spite of their exalted position over the American people, the divine demands on them remain the same as they were on Nebuchadnezzar.

Every American president must learn from God’s dealings with king Nebuchadnezzar that he must govern in the fear of God by meetings God’s demands upon him.

 

 

Job was a married man who was neither a Christian nor a Jew. God testified on two occasions that he was the most righteous man of his day (Job 1:8; 2:3).

Job did not live in a Christian or Jewish country, and we have no evidence that Job lived under a theocracy. What Job therefore tells us should be the role of civil authorities is profoundly important for a biblical understanding of what civil governments should and should not do.

In Job 31:9-11, Job speaks of what he believed would be the case had he as a married man committed adultery with another woman:

Job 31:9 If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbour’s door;

 10 Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her.

 11 For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges.

12 For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase.

Job specified that his having relations with a woman other than his wife, including his neighbor’s wife, would have been a heinous crime. As a righteous man, Job believed and taught that adultery was a horrific crime.

Job also made known that he believed that adultery was an iniquity that was “to be punished by the judges,” which shows that Job believed that civil authorities would rightly punish any such adulterous relations that he would have had. Because Job did not live in a Jewish country and as far as we know, he did not live under a theocracy, his giving this teaching provides vital revelation for what righteous people are to believe that civil authorities in any nation should do with those who commit adultery.

Based on this revelation that preceded the giving of the Mosaic Law by many hundreds of years, we learn that the Bible teaches that adultery is a heinous crime that civil governments are to punish. The Bible does not teach that adultery is a sin but not a crime.