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Monday, July 31, 2017

God and Capital Punishment

by Frank Chesser, M.S.

[NOTE: The author of the following articles is an A.P. board member.]
In 1984 leaders of 13 major denominational churches in Florida signed a joint document condemning capital punishment. They described the death penalty as being extremely harmful, immoral, an action that encourages violence and demonstrates disrespect for human life and is inconsistent with the love of God.1 The conduct of these religious leaders is a classic example of refusing to think right about God. Capital punishment is a principle that is divine in origin and permanent in nature. It embraces all of time. God intends for the death penalty to be employed as an act of justice by duly authorized authorities for as long as man should inhabit the earth.


It is incomprehensible that anyone with even a superficial knowledge of the Bible would object to the death penalty. The Bible is replete with examples of capital punishment with God as the executioner. Was God acting immorally, exhibiting disrespect for human life, and in defiance of His own nature when he destroyed the world of Noah’s day with a global flood? Can a man descend to a depth of sin and evil that he no longer deserves to live? The mind is the axis of life. The minds of the objects of God’s wrath were incessantly evil. They were barren of a single good thought (Genesis 6:5). They feasted on vileness like vultures on the rot of dead flesh and filled the earth “with violence” (Genesis 6:11). Had they forfeited the right to life? Is not God sovereign over all that is? Is He not the source of life? Does He not retain the right to decide when life should end? Is it possible for God to act in a manner inconsistent with His own nature? Is a man thinking right about God when, by implication, he accuses God of acting immorally? “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God?” (Romans 9:20). The flood alone is proof of the moral justice of capital punishment and of its complete compatibility with the whole of God’s nature.
God executed capital punishment against Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim (Genesis 19). The inhabitants of these wicked cities had perverted the very core of man’s sexual being as designed by God. They were sick with sin. They coveted the unnatural and abnormal. They heaped dishonor upon “their own bodies” (Romans 1:24). They yearned after “strange flesh” (Jude 7). Their sexual passions were “vile” (Romans 1:26). They could not “cease from sin” (2 Peter 2:14). They had reached the point of no return. Did they deserve to live? God utterly destroyed these cities with burning sulphur and emblazoned the memory of them before the minds of men “for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7).
Was God acting improperly when He slew Er, Judah’s firstborn, because he was wicked (Genesis 38:7), killed his brother Onan, because he refused to submit to the Levirate marriage law and perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel (Genesis 38:8-10), or when “it came to pass at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock?” (Exodus 12:29). Does man have the right to call God into account for His actions? “Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘why have you made me like this?’” (Romans 9:20). Who is weak, frail, puny, sinful man to question the conduct of God? God destroyed the army of Egypt in the Red Sea (Exodus 14:26-28). He killed Nadab and Abihu because they “offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them” (Leviticus 10:1). He slew some in Israel who loathed the gift of manna, looked backward with longing eyes to the food provisions in Egypt, and demanded a change in diet (Numbers 11:4–34), and killed the ten spies who returned from Canaan with an evil report (Numbers 14:37). Is a man spiritually rational when he depicts such actions of God as immoral and dishonoring to human life?
God destroyed the families of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram in the heart of the earth and 250 princes with fire because they rebelled against the authority of Moses and demanded access to the priesthood (Numbers 16:1-33). He then slew 14,700 in Israel who accused Moses and Aaron of killing “the people of the Lord” (Numbers 16:41). He executed capital punishment upon a large number of Israelites who expressed contempt for the leadership of Moses and God’s provisions of grace in the wilderness (Numbers 21:5-6). He slew 23,000 in Israel for fornication and idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:8), commanded an additional thousand to be executed by the hands of judges (Numbers 25:1-9), and granted Joshua a victory over a coalition of five armies by killing more soldiers with hailstones than the army of Israel had slain in battle (Joshua 10:11).
God executed a host of men in Bethshemesh because of their lack of reverence for the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 6:19), killed Nabal for his wickedness (1 Samuel 25:38), and slew Uzzah for touching the ark (2 Samuel 6:7). He killed 70,000 men of Israel as an act of judgment upon David and Israel because of sin (2 Samuel 24:15), used a lion to slay a disobedient prophet from Judah (1 Kings 13:24), and slew Jeroboam, the first king of the northern kingdom (2 Chronicles 13:20). He executed 102 soldiers in Israel who refused to honor His authority through Elijah (2 Kings 1:1-12), used an angel to kill 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night (2 Kings 19:35), and slew Jehoram, the fifth king of Judah, with a bodily disease (2 Chronicles 21:18-19). God killed Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-10) and slew Herod for refusing to glorify God (Acts 12:23). Is a man thinking right about God when he arrays God’s love against God’s holiness, justice, and wrath and depicts capital punishment as harmful, immoral, and lacking in respect for human life?


God often used man to administer judgment upon men and nations whose sin and rebellion called for the cessation of life. He used the sons of Levi to slay some three thousand men who had sinned in worshiping the golden calf (Exodus 32:27-28). He used Israel to stone a man who blasphemed the name of God (Leviticus. 24:10-14) and a man who violated the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36) and to bring judgment on His enemies (Numbers 21), and He praised and blessed Phinehas for appeasing His wrath in slaying two adulterers (Numbers 25:6-14). God’s statement to Abraham, “for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16), points to the inevitable judgment that would befall the inhabitants of Canaan when their sin reached the full mark. At the close of his life, Moses reminded Israel of the end of God’s grace, mercy, and forbearance with the seven nations in Canaan, and said, “And when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them.” (Deuteronomy 7:2). God used the nation of Israel to execute judgment upon the people of Canaan for their longstanding idolatry and sin (Joshua 1-12).
God used Israel to administer capital punishment upon Achan and his family (Joshua 7). The period of the judges was a spiritually tumultuous period in Israel’s history as the people “did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way” (Judges 2:19). They adopted the idolatry and wicked ways of the pagan nations. God utilized the king of Mesopotamia; Eglon, king of Moab; Jabin, king of Canaan; the Midianites, Ammonites, and Philistines to bring judgment upon them. As they manifested repentance, God would raise up judges to lead Israel in freeing the nation from the oppression of these heathen rulers and punishing them for their own idolatry and sin. Rivers of blood flowed across the land during this chaotic period as God used men to inflict capital punishment upon other men because of their impenitent sin and rebellion.
The Ammonites were descendants of Lot. They were pagan, idolatrous, cruel, and exceedingly corrupt. They refused to aid Israel in a time of great need and joined Moab in hiring Balaam to curse them (Deuteronomy 23:4). In the early days of Saul’s reign, they threatened to gouge out the right eyes of all the men in the city of Jabesh (1 Samuel 11:2). And the “spirit of God came upon Saul” (1 Samuel 11:6), and God employed Saul and Israel to kill the Ammonites until “it happened that those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together” (1 Samuel 11:11). The Amalekites shared kinship with the Ammonites in idolatry, cruelty, and wickedness. When Israel ascended out of Egypt, the Amalekites attacked them from behind, killing the most vulnerable: the elderly, weak, and feeble (Deuteronomy 25:17-18). God reminded Saul of this act of inhumanness and said, “Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them.” (1 Samuel 15:3).
David was a “man of war” (1 Chronicles 28:3). He was a sword of judgment in the hand of God to execute the penalty of death upon the enemies of God, whose corruptness of life called for their destruction. He often inquired of the Lord, seeking His will concerning battle engagements. He said of God, “He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” (2 Samuel 22:35). In a summary of some of his military victories, inspiration asserts, “And the Lord preserved David wherever he went.” (2 Samuel 8:14). God’s role for David’s life was for him to function as a hammer of God’s judgment upon heathen nations steeped in idolatry and iniquity and to secure and bring peace to Israel, thus creating a tranquil environment for Solomon to construct the Temple. It was this very point that David pressed upon the mind of Solomon in the closing days of his life (1 Chronicles 22:6-19).
God used Abijah, the second king of Judah, to render judgment upon Jeroboam and Israel because of their apostasy and idolatry. Five hundred thousand men of Israel perished in this conflict. Judah was victorious because “they relied upon the Lord God of their fathers” (2 Chronicles 13:18). Asa, the third king of Judah, faced an Ethiopian army of a million soldiers, the largest army mentioned in the Old Testament. He implored God for divine aid. “So the Lord struck the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah” (2 Chronicles 14:12). During the reign of Jehoshaphat, the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Edom descended upon Judah. In Jehoshaphat’s prayer before the congregation of Judah in Jerusalem, he expressed the nation’s helpless state and their total dependence upon God. God executed judgment upon the wicked nations by turning their swords against one another until “and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.” (2 Chronicles 20:24).
Idolaters and enemies of God, the Syrians affirmed that God was only a local Deity with limited power (1 Kings 20:28). God employed Israel to punish Syria and they “killed one hundred thousand foot soldiers of the Syrians in one day.” (1 Kings 20:29). An additional 27 thousand were killed by the weight of a wall that fell upon them in the city of Aphek (1 Kings 20:30). God utilized Jehu to judge the wicked house of Ahab. “So Jehu killed all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men and his close acquaintances and his priests, until he left him none remaining.” (2 Kings 10:11). He then killed all the worshipers of Baal until he had “destroyed Baal out of Israel” (2 Kings 10:28).
Israel descended into such depths of sin that God raised the sword of Assyria against them and destroyed their national identity in Assyrian captivity (2 Kings 17:5-23). Judah emulated Israel’s conduct and God utilized Babylon to execute judgment upon them. He later used the Medes and Persians to judge Babylon. Isaiah specifies ten pagan nations who suffered the judgment of God because of their grievous sin (cf. Isaiah 13-23). The New Testament closes with God’s answer to the martyrs of Christ who cried, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10). God administered judgment upon the enemies of His Son and the church and declared, “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!” (Revelation 18:20).
Is a man thinking right about God when he sees all of these biblical examples, yet still declares the death penalty to be harmful, immoral, disrespectful to human life, and inconsistent with the nature of God?


Following the global Flood, God reiterated the need for the increase of the human family (Genesis 9:1). Sin had changed everything, and the tranquil co-existence between man and animal had been supplanted with hostility (Genesis 9:2). The vegetarian status of both man and animals prior to sin had now been changed to allow man to consume meat (Genesis 1:29-30; 9:3).2 Divine permission to eat meat was accompanied with a prohibition regarding the consumption of blood. “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” (Genesis 9:4), because the “life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). Since human life reflects the image of God, the most severe possible penalty is attached to the action of murder that brings it to an end. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” (Genesis 9:6).
This principle and penalty embraces all of time. Civil government is ordained of God (Romans 13:1). It is an expression of God’s concern for man’s well-being, and when functioning faithfully, it discourages lawlessness and promotes peace and serenity. Romans 13:4 describes authorized civil authorities as ministers of God, persons who do not bear “the sword in vain,” and avengers divinely bound to execute “wrath on him who practices evil.” The sword is a symbol of capital punishment and, when wielded by the state, is an action authorized by God. Any man who attempts to sheathe the state’s sword is in rebellion to God and His will. He is resisting “the ordinance of God” (Romans 13:2). God placed the sword in the hand of the state, and no man has a right to remove it.
“He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:12). The willful taking of life demands the life of the perpetrator. In ancient times, God granted the right of vengeance to the victim’s nearest relative, designated as the “avenger of blood” who shall “put the murderer to death” (Numbers 35:19). Cities of refuge were provided for accidental slayings, allowing one to live in peace and safety whose act of killing was unintentional (Numbers 35:6-15). Moreover, the taking of life for self-defense purposes is not murder, and such action is not subject to the death penalty. The need and desire for self-preservation is divinely implanted. It is as natural and inherent to life as food and drink. It would be wholly inconsistent with the nature of God to design man with such a potent need and then refuse him the right to exercise it. Preserving one’s own life or the life of any innocent victim from the murderous intent of evil doers is perfectly compatible with both the nature of God and the nature of man as designed by God. Exodus 22:2 envisions just such a case as a man kills a thief caught breaking into his home at night in defense of himself and his family and is rendered guiltless.
“And he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death” (Exodus 21:15). “And he who curses his father or mother shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:17). Mothers descend into the depths of pain and anguish in order to bring life into the world. God’s mothers and fathers are heaven’s gift to children. Parents functioning according to God’s pattern for the home are children’s first insight into the nature of God. Parents are god-like in a child’s eyes. Parents who love God set the feet of their children on the road to eternal bliss. To strike or curse such a parent is an assault upon the heart. It inflicts mental and emotional pain that far exceeds physical suffering. It undermines the peace and joy of the home, the bedrock of society, and afflicts the heart of God.
“He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:16). Kidnapping was punishable by death. Stealing a man for slave traffic invited the death penalty even when the victim was yet in the thief’s possession. Robbing a man of his personal freedom was a capital offense. Exodus 21:22-23 contemplates an expectant mother’s losing her life or the life of her miscarried child as she endeavored to shield her husband from an aggressor. The aggressor was to be put to death. Exodus 21:29-30 envisions the death of a man or woman by an ox known to have a violent nature. Unless the relatives of the victim agreed upon financial compensation, the owner of the ox was to suffer the death penalty.
“You shall not permit a sorceress to live.” (Exodus 22:18). Sorcery strikes at the very heart of the sovereignty of God. It is an attempt to circumvent God and take charge of one’s own life. As are all efforts to rid man’s mind and life of God and His restraining influences, it appeals to the lust of the flesh. It fosters defilement (Leviticus 19:31). The Canaanites were engrossed in every form of sorcery and it was one of the reasons God removed them from the land (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Saul’s consultation with the witch of Endor is cited as one of the reasons God “killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David” (1 Chronicles 10:13-14). Sorcerers were to be put to death by stoning (Leviticus 20:27).
All forms of perverted sexual activity, such as incest (Leviticus 20:11-12,14), homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13), and bestiality (Leviticus 20:15) were subject to the death penalty. There are complexities associated with man’s sexual being as designed by God that transcend human comprehension. This truth is mightily reinforced by God’s law concerning even the touching of a man’s genitals. Foolish indeed is the man who refuses to perceive this truth and proceeds to tamper with this aspect of life. Perverted sexual conduct is an egregious assault upon the very core of a man’s being. There is no action of man that calls for more intense judgment. The homosexuality of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim incurred a judgment that God will not allow man to forget. It is a repetitive theme in both Testaments, a sign-post from God regarding His attitude toward this grievous sin (Jude 7), and the last book in the Bible holds it up as the epitome of sin (Revelation 11:8). A nation is doomed if it allows this sin to reach a level of national acceptance.
“The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10). Heterosexual relationships outside of marriage were punishable by death. Adultery injures the marital relationship like no other sin. There is something unique about the one-flesh relationship in marriage, and there is something unique about the sin that severs it. The stringent nature of Matthew 19:9 bears witness to this truth. Relaxing the rigidity of God’s marital law is to man’s own peril. It is senseless to tamper with the things of God. Those who think right about God would never consider such conduct. There is nothing that creates more excitement in the halls of hell than for man to attempt to modify God’s marital laws intended to protect the sanctity of the home, the foundational unit of society.
Idolatry was a capital punishment offense (Deuteronomy 17:2-7). This grievous evil, the source of so many sins, plagued Israel for almost the whole of their national life until their return from Babylonian captivity. False prophets aiming to lure Israel into idolatry were to be killed (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). Family members, such as one’s wife, son, daughter, brother, or friend who endeavored to entice their family “secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods” (Deuteronomy 13:6) were not to be pitied, spared, or concealed but were to be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 13:8-10). Rumors concerning a city’s involvement in idolatry were to be thoroughly investigated, and if found to be true, the city in its entirety was to be destroyed, and even the spoil of the city was to be burned (Deuteronomy 13:12-17).
Acts of rebellion against decisions made by a tribunal of priests and judges in execution of God’s law were subject to the death penalty (Deuteronomy 17:8-13). Prophets who dared to speak where God had not spoken, or who prophesied in the name of an idol were to be slain (Deuteronomy 18:20). Harlotry by the daughter of a priest was punishable by death (Leviticus 21:9). Child sacrifice to an idol was subject to death by stoning (Leviticus. 20:2). Desecrating the Sabbath with work called for the death penalty (Exodus 35:2). Capital punishment was to be administered to any non-priest who attempted to usurp priestly functions (Numbers 3:10), to a non-Levite who encroached upon Levitical responsibility in performing the services of the tabernacle (Numbers 18:22-23), to any Levite who neglected or refused to give his own tenth of the tithe received from Israel (Numbers 18:25-32), and to any Kohathite charged with transporting the sacred furniture of the tabernacle, if he looked upon or touched any of it (Numbers 4:15,20).
A man proven to be a false witness was to be put to death if such was his intention regarding the accused (Deuteronomy 19:16-21). Capital punishment was to be inflicted upon an incorrigible son (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), a new bride who was verified to be guilty of fornication prior to marriage (Deuteronomy 22:13-21), a man who raped an engaged or married woman (Deuteronomy 22:25-27), and one who blasphemed or cursed God (Leviticus 24:10-16).


Capital punishment is ordained by God. God intends for the death penalty to occupy a permanent place in society for as long as the world stands. Opposing the death penalty is an act of defiance against God, the nature of God, and the will of God. Those who manifest aversion to capital punishment are refusing to think right about both God and sin.


1 Jon Nordheimer (1984), “Death Penalty Assailed By Florida Church Leaders,” New York Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/1984/11/27/us/death-penalty-assailed-by-florida-church-leaders.html, November 27.
2 Eric Lyons (2003), “Were All Men Vegetarians Before the Flood?”, Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1257.

Copyright © 2017 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 24, 2017


Bats Go Viral and Moses “Called” It

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Bats are the only mammals that can truly fly, but it turns out that they have other unique characteristics that separate them from most (if not all) other mammals. In a project headed by Dr. Peng Zhou, an international research team did extensive studies on bats. Bats are hosts to 100 different viruses, many of which are harmful or even lethal to humans.1 The team wanted to discover how bats can carry so many, and such deadly, viruses without getting sick themselves.
Turns out that bats have a special ability. When humans or mammals encounter a virus or other disease causing agent, their bodies “turn on” an immune system response that begins to fight the danger. When no such dangers are present, the body “switches off” the system. The reason for this on-off switch is that when the immune system is on, it fights threats, but it also poses risks to the animal. Michelle Baker, a member of the team, stated, “In other mammalian species, having the immune response constantly switched on is dangerous—for example it’s toxic to tissue and cells.”2 Bats, however, never seem to turn off their immune defense system. Even when no viruses or diseases threaten bats, they always have their immune response switched on. Baker noted that, in contrast to other mammalian immune responses that seem to harm their cells and tissues, “the bat immune system operates in harmony” with its body.3 What we see, then, is a mammal that can carry 100 viruses without getting sick, but that can easily transmit those viruses to other mammals and people.
These findings shed illuminating light on the biblical food regulations that Moses penned in approximately 1450 B.C. In Leviticus 11, Moses instructed the Israelites to avoid certain animals. He referred to those animals as “unclean” and told the Israelites to avoid contact with live unclean animals or with their dead carcasses. Leviticus 11:19 lists the bat as one of those unclean animals. Moses’ instructions would have kept the Israelites from getting viruses transmitted by bats.4 An in-depth look at the list of all unclean animals shows a remarkable knowledge5 by the author for avoiding potentially toxic and dangerous food sources.6 There is no way that Moses could have figured these things out himself. He must have been guided by an all-knowing, supernatural Being.
As we further explore the prohibition against eating or touching bats, a modern reader might wonder why even make such a law, because who wants to eat bats anyway? The fact is, however, bats have historically been “on the menu” in a number of countries. Lucy Maddox, writing for Science, penned an article in 2003 titled “Don’t Eat the Bats,”7 an instruction that sounds remarkably like what Moses said more than 3,000 years before she wrote her article. Maddox reviewed the history of the Chamorro people who live on Guam. This group was known to have unusually high chances of falling prey to a neurodegenerative disorder that can be debilitating and fatal. One reason suggested for this fact was that Chamorro people eat the seeds from the cycad plant. These seeds are known to have the neurotoxin BMAA in them. By washing the seeds thoroughly, however, most of the toxin can be removed. So, researchers were still baffled by the high rates of the disorder.
Turns out that the Chamorro people like to eat “flying foxes,” Guam’s large fruit bat. The bats also enjoy eating the seeds of the cycad plant, but they, of course, do not wash them. Because of this, BMAA builds up in bat flesh. Researchers found toxin levels in bat flesh to be “hundreds of times higher than in cycad flour.”8 Avoiding eating and touching bats is a great idea. We did not know why until recently. Moses’ most likely did not have all the details either. But the fact that he included bats in his list of unclean animals provides yet another piece of evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible.


1 “Bat ‘Super Immunity’ Could Help Protect People,” ScienceDaily, CSIRO Australia, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160222155631.htm.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 I have written about this in the book Behold! The Word of God (2007), Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/Behold%20the%20Word%20of%20God.pdf, p. 124.
5 Eric Lyons (2009), “Did the Bible Writers Commit Biological Blunders?”, Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=2731.
6 Butt, pp. 103-131.
7 Lucy Maddox, “Don’t Eat the Bats,” Science, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2003/08/dont-eat-bats.
8 Ibid.

Copyright © 2017 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.


Did God Order the Killing of Babies?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Skeptics and atheists have been critical of the Bible’s portrayal of God ordering the death of entire populations—including women and children. For example, God instructed Saul through the prophet Samuel to “go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey” (1 Samuel 15:3-4, emp. added). Other examples include the period of the Israelite conquest of Canaan in which God instructed the people to exterminate the Canaanite populations that occupied Palestine at the time. However, if one cares to examine the circumstances and assess the rationale, the Bible consistently exonerates itself by offering legitimate clarification and explanation to satisfy the honest searcher of truth.
The Hebrew term herem found, for instance, in Joshua 6:17, refers to the total dedication or giving over of the enemy to God as a sacrifice involving the extermination of the populace. It is alleged that the God of the Bible is as barbaric and cruel as any of the pagan gods. But this assessment is simply not true.
If the critic would take the time to study the Bible and make an honest evaluation of the principles of God’s justice, wrath, and love, he would see the perfect and harmonious interplay between them. God’s vengeance is not like the impulsive, irrational, emotional outbursts of pagan deities or human beings. He is infinite in all His attributes and thus perfect in justice, love, and anger. Just as God’s ultimate and final condemnation of sinners to eternal punishment will be just and appropriate, so the temporal judgment of wicked people in the Old Testament was ethical and fair. We human beings do not have an accurate handle on the gravity of sin and the deplorable nature of evil and wickedness. Human sentimentality is hardly a qualified measuring stick for divine truth and spiritual reality.
How incredibly ironic that the atheist, the agnostic, the skeptic, and the liberal all attempt to stand in judgment upon the ethical behavior of God when, if one embraces their position, there is no such thing as an absolute, objective, authoritative standard by which to pronounce anything right or wrong. As the French existentialist philosopher, Sartre, admitted: “Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist.... Nor...are we provided with any values or commands that could legitimize our behavior” (1961, p. 485). The atheist and agnostic have absolutely no platform on which to stand to make moral or ethical distinctions—except as the result of purely personal taste. The mere fact that they concede the existence of objective evil is an unwitting concession there is a God Who has established an absolute framework of moral judgments.
The facts of the matter are that the Canaanites, whom God’s people were to destroy, were destroyed for their wickedness (Deuteronomy 9:4; 18:9-12; Leviticus 18:24-25,27-28). Canaanite culture and religion in the second millennium B.C. were polluted, corrupt, and perverted. No doubt the people were physically diseased from their illicit behavior. There simply was no viable solution to their condition except destruction. Their moral depravity was “full” (Genesis 15:16). They had slumped to such an immoral, depraved state, with no hope of recovery, that their existence on this Earth had to be terminated—just like in Noah’s day when God waited while Noah preached for years, but was unable to turn the world’s population from its wickedness (Genesis 6:3,5-7; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:5-9). Including the children in the destruction of such populations actually spared them from a worse condition—that of being reared to be as wicked as their parents and thus face eternal punishment. All persons who die in childhood, according to the Bible, are ushered to Paradise and will ultimately reside in Heaven. Children who have parents who are evil must naturally suffer innocently while on Earth (e.g., Numbers 14:33).
Those who disagree with God’s annihilation of the wicked in the Old Testament have the same liberal attitude that has come to prevail in America just in the last half century. That attitude has typically opposed capital punishment, as well as the corporal punishment of children. Such people simply cannot see the rightness of evildoers being punished by execution or physical pain. Nevertheless, their view is skewed—and the rest of us are being forced to live with the results of their warped thinking: undisciplined, out-of-control children are wreaking havoc on our society by perpetrating crime to historically, all-time high levels.
Those who reject the ethics of God’s destructive activity in the Old Testament, to be consistent, must reject Jesus and the New Testament. Over and over again, Jesus and the New Testament writers endorsed and defended such activity (e.g., Luke 13:1-9; 12:5; 17:29-32; 10:12; Hebrews 10:26-31). The Bible provides the only logical, sensible, meaningful, consistent explanation regarding the principles of retribution, punishment, and the conditions under which physical life may be extinguished.


Sartre, Jean Paul, (1961), “Existentialism and Humanism,” French Philosophers from Descartes to Sartre, ed. Leonard M. Marsak (New York: Meridian).

Copyright © 2009 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jesus Didn’t Condemn Homosexuality”

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

By and large, the American culture is aggressively promoting the sinful lifestyle of homosexuality. In the midst of such pressure, many people who call themselves Christians are caving in and accepting this perverted lifestyle in spite of God’s clear teachings against it (Butt, 2003). Just recently, the country singer Carrie Underwood stated that her Christian faith led her to support gay marriage (Nilles, 2012). In truth, the life and teachings of Jesus Christ could never be accurately understood to lead a person to conclude that homosexual marriage is moral (Miller and Harrub, 2004).
One of the most common arguments made in support of homosexuality is that Jesus Christ did not explicitly condemn the practice. Supposedly, since Jesus never stated specifically: “Homosexuality is a sin,” then His failure to denounce the lifestyle can be interpreted to mean that He approved of it. This reasoning is riddled with error.
First, Jesus explained to His followers that He did not have time to teach them everything they needed to know. He told them that the Holy Spirit would bring to their remembrance all that He had taught, and would include additional teaching that He had not had time to cover. He told His disciples: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:12-13). When we look to the inspired writings of the New Testament, we see the authors boldly and specifically condemning the practice based on the revelation they received from the Holy Spirit (Miller and Harrub, 2004). Thus, it is wrong to suggest that only the “words in red” are Jesus’ teachings. On the contrary, He foretold that more teaching would be done after His return to heaven due to the fact that the apostles “could not bear” all of it at the time.
Second, even if Jesus did not explicitly condemn the practice (though He actually did, as will be noted later), that certainly could not be used as evidence that He condoned the practice. For instance, where does Jesus explicitly state that bestiality is wrong? Where in the New Testament does Jesus state that polygamy is wrong? Where are the “words in red” that specifically condemn pedophilia? Are we to suppose that the Son of God condoned using crystal meth because there is not an explicit statement from Jesus’ mouth that says “do not smoke crystal meth?” The idea that silence from Jesus on a subject means He approved of or condoned the practice cannot be substantiated.
Finally, it must be considered that Jesus did, in fact, speak against homosexuality. On numerous occasions, Jesus condemned the sins of adultery (Matthew 19:18), sexual immorality (Matthew 19:9) and fornication (Matthew 15:19). These terms describe any type of sexual intercourse that is not within the confines of a marriage ordained by God. Jesus then proceeded to define exactly what God views as a morally permissible marriage. He stated:
Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate (Matthew 19:4-6).
By defining marriage as between one male and one female, Jesus effectively condemned all other arrangements, including but not limited to one man and two women, one woman and two men, three men and one woman, three men and three women, one man and one man, one woman and one animal, etc. You can see the overwhelming logic of such. For Jesus to have to explicitly condemn every assortment of genders and numbers would be absurd. When He defined marriage between one man and one woman, He clearly showed that such an arrangement is the only one authorized by God.
Several years ago a man named Cory Moore “legally married his 2004 Cherry ES-335” Gibson guitar (“Man Marries Guitar,” 2007). He said: “The day I got her, I just knew she was the one…. I know it seems weird, but I really love her—like, really love her, with all my heart. I just wanted to make it official” (2007). Are we to conclude that because Jesus never specifically condemned a man marrying his guitar then the Son of God approved of such? To ask is to answer. In 2006, 41-year-old Sharon Tendler married a dolphin (“Woman Marries Dolphin,” 2006). Jesus never said one word explicitly about refraining from marrying a dolphin. Does that mean His “silence” should be viewed as approval? Not in any way.
Homosexuality is a sin. It always has been, and it always will be. The inspired New Testament writers repeatedly teach that to be the case. Jesus explained that the Holy Spirit would bring to the inspired writers information that they could not handle at the time of His departing. In addition, Jesus did explicitly define marriage as being between one man and one woman. The ruse to suggest that Jesus approves of homosexuality because He never expressly condemned it cannot be sustained logically, nor can it be defended on any type of moral grounds. The person who presumes to claim to be a Christian, and yet supports homosexuality, misunderstands the teachings of Christ and needs to repent and stop approving of a perverted, destructive practice that Jesus condemns (Matthew 19:1-9).


Butt, Kyle (2003), “Homosexuality—Sin, or Cultural Bad Habit?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=7&article=1239.
“Man Marries Guitar” (2007), http://www.messandnoise.com/discussions/865688.
Miller, Dave and Brad Harrub (2004), “An Investigation of the Biblical Evidence Against Homosexuality,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=557.
Nilles, Billy (2012), “Carrie Underwood Reveals She Supports Gay Marriage,” http://www.hollywoodlife.com/2012/06/11/carrie-underwood-supports-gay-marriage-christian/.
“Woman Marries Dolphin” (2006), http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/woman-marries-dolphin/2006/01/01/1136050339590.html.

Copyright © 2012 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Did God Approve of Rahab's Lie?

Did God Approve of Rahab's Lie?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Whereas many Bible passages in both the Old and the New Testament indicate that lying is sinful,1 critics of the inspiration of the Bible contend that the biblical teaching on this subject is contradictory. The most frequently cited example revolves around Rahab’s lie in the book of Joshua and two separate, favorable comments about Rahab in the New Testament (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25).
Although some well-meaning Christians may creatively contend that Rahab did not lie in Joshua 2, a simple, straightforward reading of the biblical text indicates that she did. After Rahab hid the Israelite spies on her roof among the stalks of flax (Joshua 2:6), she told the messengers of the King of Jericho (who were pursuing the Israelites) that the men in question had already left, and exactly where they went she did not know (2:4-5). However, (1) the Israelites had not left, and (2) she knew exactly where they were. In fact, after speaking to the king’s men, she went back up to the roof to speak with them and to help them safely escape (2:8-21).
According to Bible critics, God is inconsistent in His condemnation of dishonesty. How can “lying lips” be “an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 12:22), while at the same time God spared Rahab from the destruction of Jericho (Joshua 2:9-21; 6:22-25). How is it that “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8), and yet Rahab be commended twice by New Testament writers?
By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace (Hebrews 11:31).
[W]as not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way (James 2:25)?
Is the Bible inconsistent on this subject? And do these verses not prove that lying is approved in some situations?
First, simply because the Bible commends an individual for a righteous act does not mean that God condones everything the person ever did. Just as husbands and wives can be faithful to each other despite their short comings, and just as children can be submissive to their parents and yet have fallen short of their parents’ expectations many times while growing up, every accountable soul has the potential to be faithful notwithstanding their regretful sins and imperfections.
Keep in mind that Jesus was the only accountable Person ever to live Who never sinned.2 Though Noah, Abraham, Moses, and many others were counted faithful (Hebrews 11:7-29), they occasionally disobeyed God’s will (Numbers 20:1-12) and acted foolishly or cowardly (cf. Genesis 9:21; 12:12-20; 20:1-18). The apostle Peter, who also served as an elder in the early church (1 Peter 5:1), was guilty at one time or another of having a lack of faith (Matthew 14:31), denying that he knew the Lord (Matthew 26:69-75), and hypocritically withdrawing himself from Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-14). Yet God chose Peter to be a preacher of the Gospel and to pen two of the New Testament epistles. He was not chosen because of his sins; he was chosen in spite of them (and because he repented of his sins and sought to walk in the light rather than wander habitually and rebelliously in the darkness—cf. 1 John 1:5-10). Every saved soul is a former coward, murderer, blasphemer, adulterer, thief, or liar, etc. Every faithful Christian who is walking in the light is tempted to sin, and sometimes (or far more often than we might like to admit) we think, say, or do unchristlike things. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). All faithful followers of God still make mistakes, have moments of weakness, and struggle in a variety of ways, yet they can still “do justly,” “love mercy,” “walk humbly” (Micah 6:8), and “persevere” faithfully (Revelation 3:10).
Second, keep in mind that Rahab was a Canaanite harlot. The people of Canaan were (generally) extremely wicked. They practiced “abominable customs” (Leviticus 18:30) and did “detestable things” (Deuteronomy 18:9, NASB). They attempted to cast spells upon people and call up the dead (Deuteronomy 18:10-11). They would “burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods” (Deuteronomy 12:30). They were so nefarious that God said they defiled the land and the land could stomach them no longer—“the land vomited out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:25). This statement summarizes the level of depravity in Canaan (of which Jericho was a part). Whether Rahab had fully embraced her culture’s debauchery or whether she was more of a victim of her circumstances (as many women have been throughout history), she nevertheless is described in Scripture as a “harlot” who lied (Joshua 2:1-8; 6:17,25). Such sinfulness in the life of a Canaanite woman should come as no surprise. But thankfully, the life of Rahab did not continue to parallel her pagan culture. She wanted out, and the Lord provided a way—which leads us to a third point to consider.
Rahab’s recorded words and actions in Joshua 2 reveal a woman in transition—from living like a pagan harlot to embracing the One true God and His ways. Notice her statements to the Israelite spies:
I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea…and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites…. And as soon as we heard these things our hearts melted…for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on Earth beneath (Joshua 2:9-11).
Rahab then coupled her confessed belief in the existence of Jehovah and His mighty works with action (Joshua 2:6-24). She courageously hid the two Israelite spies from the King of Jericho. She treated the spies kindly. She helped them escape the city. She gave them specific instructions on what to do after they made it out of the city (so that they would not be caught by the king’s men). Rahab and her family kept secret the Israelite plan to destroy Jericho. And, as directed, Rahab bound the scarlet cord in her window, and gathered her parents and other family members in her house (according to the spies’ commands) in order to be spared from Jericho’s destruction. Indeed, as the New Testament rightly recognizes, Rahab actively demonstrated her faith in Jehovah (however so uninformed, inexperienced, and flawed her faith still was).
Fourth, Rahab’s dishonesty is never condoned in Scripture. She was no more commended in the Old Testament or the New Testament for lying than she was for her harlotry. She was commended and graciously spared from the destruction of Jericho because of her overall faith and works at the time—despite the fact that her newly found, courageous faith (which was quickly emerging out of a heavily pagan culture) was still a work in progress. Yes, she lied to the king’s men, but she also (1) confessed belief in Jehovah, (2) appealed to Him for help, (3) showed kindness to the Israelite spies, (4) courageously hid them and helped them escape, etc. There is no logical or biblical reason either to deny Rahab’s lie or to criticize her overall, emerging faith in God. If we would rightly commend a newly recovering alcoholic, pornography addict, or covetous individual who has a temporary set-back in a moment of trying temptation in the midst of a grueling attempt to repent and live a righteous life, could the merciful and gracious God of the Bible not rightly commend Rahab for her overall faith and works in her newfound walk with the Lord?


Scripture reveals that everything about God is true. His Spirit, Son, law, commandments, judgments, and works are all true—100% true.3 The simple fact is “God…cannot lie” (Titus 1:2). “It is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). His perfectly truthful nature will not allow Him to lie. Furthermore, throughout God’s truthful Word honesty is commended, while dishonesty is condemned.4 So, if God is always truthful, and if His Word teaches us to be honest, then how can a faithful child of God ever believe we have a God-approved license to lie, even if a lie is told for the purpose of trying to help others? A person may feel like he or she is doing a good thing, but no God-given authority exists for lying (for whatever “noble” reason).
One important lesson that we can learn from God is that we can be perfectly honest and yet not reveal everything we know. God is omniscient (Psalm 139) and has obviously not told us “everything.” We don’t even know everything about the 33-year life of Jesus on Earth (John 21:25). Most of what God knows He has not shared with mankind, but those things that He has truthfully revealed to us are for our eternal benefit (Deuteronomy 29:29). Similarly, whatever situation that we are in, we are to be truthful, but we do not have to say everything that we are thinking or everything that we know about a particular matter. Parents should show maturity and wisdom if their five-year-old son asks them where babies come from. Children’s Bible teachers should show discretion if they are asked point-blank questions about sensitive, sinful matters such as pornography, adultery, homosexuality, abortion, or even bestiality (Leviticus 18:23). We may struggle with the best way to address a sensitive topic (which may “get us in trouble” with various ones), but we have no right to lie. We may tell children to ask their parents at home in private. We may speak in broad, truthful generalities. We may let children know that we will plan to talk with them about various matters on a different occasion (i.e., years from now). We may attempt to distract the questioners and pray that God will providentially deliver us from the uncomfortable situation. Whatever course of action the Christian takes, it should be done (1) honestly, (2) wisely (Matthew 10:16), and (3) with sincere and loving motivations (Matthew 6:1-4; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
But what if a person’s life is at stake? What if you could save a life by lying? Answer: Although human life is an extremely valuable gift from God (Genesis 1:26-27), the most important thing in this life is not merely to live, but to be faithful to God, regardless of the situation. Jesus could have lied and worked things out to spare His own life, but He died (and rose) for a higher purpose. He submissively fulfilled His Father’s will. Jesus and His inspired spokesmen could have instructed the early church to avoid persecution and death by lying for each other or by denying their own faith in Christ, but they didn’t. In fact, to those first-century Christians who were suffering (or were about to face great tribulation), even to the point of death, Jesus declared, “Be faithful until death [“even to the point of death”—NIV], and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
Whether a husband or a wife, a mother or a father, a saintly sister in Christ or a spiritual shepherd at a local church, in whatever dire situations people may find themselves, we can creatively attempt to protect families, friends, neighbors, and churches by saying and doing all sorts of things (even by remaining silent), but we should be willing even to die before sinning against the holy God of heaven. Like Samuel, who, with God’s blessing, only told a part of the reason why he traveled to Bethlehem in tumultuous times (in order to protect his own life—1 Samuel 16:1-13), we may truthfully only tell some of what we know about a particular matter in order to save our lives or the lives of others. But, we must be resolved to “be imitators of God as dear children” in all things at all times (Ephesians 5:1). We must be resolved to put away lying (Ephesians 4:28) and to be honest all day, every day.
The story of Rahab should not be used as a license to lie. Instead, we should retell Rahab’s story to show the greatness of Jehovah over the false gods of this world and to inspire God’s people to courageous acts—similar to many of those works demonstrated by a woman from the pagan city of Jericho some 3,500 years ago.


1 Exodus 20:16; Leviticus 19:11; Proverbs 6:16-19; Ephesians 4:25; Colossians 3:9; Revelation 21:8.
2 Romans 3:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22.
3 1 John 5:6; John 14:6; 2 Samuel 7:28; Psalm 119:14,151; 19:9; Daniel 4:37.
4 Leviticus 19:36; Psalm 15:2; Proverbs 16:11; Ephesians 4:28.

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