Archive for the ‘Bible Study’ Category

Bible Contradiction Answered Part 3: To Punish vs not to Punish

A certain skeptics website lists down examples of Bible contradictions.
One if it is as follows:

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.
Lev 20:10

But, why didn’t Jesus punish the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11 according to the Old Testament Law?

Answer:

Firstly, while many Christians think Lord Jesus was being gracious and merciful, the passage in John 8:1-11 is actually not really about grace and forgiveness.

In fact, Lord Jesus used this occasion to morally condemn both the priests and the adulterous woman

In the Old Testament, the Israelites had a certain judicial system (Exodus 18).
The leader of 10s and 50s and 100s served as lower court while Moses served as the supreme court, in today’s language.
God’s commandment (including Leviticus 20:10) then served as Penal Code back then.

Hence, we need to examine John 8 from judicial point of view with Lord Jesus acting as the Judge.

Firstly, we should notice that the law specifically says both the man and the woman must be punished.
However, the scribes and the Pharisees brought the woman only to Lord Jesus.
Where was the man?
This is the first legal difficulty.
Since an important element of the law was not satisfied (the man was missing), Pharisees’ case of punishment was much weaker.

Secondly, when Lord Jesus said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first”, He was using that occasion to show the scribes and the Pharisees that they were not any better morally than the adulterous woman.
We notice that they felt convicted and then left.

Lord Jesus then asked the woman, “Where are those accusers? Has no one condemned you?”. The woman said, “No one, Lord.”
He was actually asking a legal question: where are the accusers?

Picture a court room with a judge, a prosecutor and a defendant.
If halfway through the court process the prosecutor leaves the room, what will the judge do?
The judge will simply dismiss the case.
Since the Pharisees and the scribes left, that would make it the second legal difficulty.

Due to at least 2 legal difficulties above, Lord Jesus let the woman off, though He agreed she had committed adultery.
When He told the woman, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more”, Lord Jesus was actually condemning her morally but not legally.
In today’s word, “You are lucky this time. But you better stop your sinful action!”

(Compare this with the high profile case of ex-NUS professor Tey Tsun Hang who was charged in sex-for-grades case. Justice Woo Bih Li acquitted him of all the charges. Yet, Justice Woo still condemned him morally calling him ‘a man without honor’)

In conclusion, Lord Jesus actually upheld God’s law by not condemning her.
There is no contradiction here.
The Bible is trustworthy.

Posted September 4, 2019 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Bible Study

Bible Contradiction Answered Part 2: Horsemen vs Foot Soldiers

While the skeptics claim the Bible contradicts itself, Christians must believe that the Bible is internally consistent.
After all, if God can maintain order of this physical universe through some laws of physics, certainly God can also maintain order of His written word.

Another apparent contradiction is found here:

Then the Syrians fled before Israel; and David killed seven hundred charioteers and forty thousand horsemen of the Syrians, and struck Shobach the commander of their army, who died there.
2 Sam 10:18

Then the Syrians fled before Israel; and David killed seven thousand charioteers and forty thousand foot soldiers of the Syrians, and killed Shophach the commander of the army.
1 Chronicles 19:18

This is a record of war between king David and the Syrians.
2 Sam mentions 700 charioteers and 40000 horsemen whereas 1 Chronicles 19 mentions 7000 charioteers and 40000 foot soldiers.

In Part 1, we have already proposed a reconciliation between 700 and 7000 charioteers.
Basically, both books might have cited different version of military record as it could have been a long drawn battle.

Here we will attempt to reconcile the next apparent contradiction:
Was it 40000 horsemen or was it 40000 foot soldiers?

We need to remember that horsemen started their training as foot soldiers.
After some time, they then received training to fight using horses.
Also, we need to consider the terrain as it determined the strategy.

Imagine the following scenario.

David knew facing 40000 horsemen head on would have resulted in great casualty among his army.
Hence, he could have come up with this strategy: his army feigned loss and retreated from the battlefield to the surrounding thick forest.

The horsemen pursued.
They got off their horses at the border of the forest since horses were difficult to manuever inside the forests.
By then, 40000 horsemen became 40000 foot soldiers as they fought David’s army inside the forest.
David’s army then cut down 40000 foot soldiers with less casualty.

Furthermore, this strategy is plausible as the war took place at Helam (2 Sam 10:17), east of Jordan and west of Euphrate.
Hence, due to abundance of water, we can expect thriving vegetation there.

The Syrian army started with 40000 horsemen. In the end, they died as 40000 foot soldiers.
There is no contradiction.
We can trust God to preserve His written word.

Posted August 22, 2019 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Bible Study

Bible Contradiction Answered Part 1: 700 vs 7000

Skeptics claim that the Bible contains much contradiction and therefore is unreliable.
However, we as Christians must believe that the Bible is inspired by God and therefore is internally consistent, at least in the original language.

One particular example of apparent contradiction is found here:

David also defeated Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his territory at the River Euphrates.  David took from him one thousand chariots, seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand foot soldiers. Also David hamstrung all the chariot horses, except that he spared enough of them for one hundred chariots. 
2 Sam 8: 3-4

And David defeated Hadadezer king of Zobah as far as Hamath, as he went to establish his power by the River Euphrates.  David took from him one thousand chariots, seven thousand horsemen, and twenty thousand foot soldiers. Also David hamstrung all the chariot horses, except that he spared enough of them for one hundred chariots.
1 Chronicle 18:3-4

Both passages record the war between king David and king Hadadezer.
Notice the difference: 2 Sam mentions 700 horsemen whereas 1 Chr 18 mentions 7000 horsemen.

Firstly, we should not accept the possibility of copying error between 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles.
The Hebrew words for hundred (מֵאוֹת֙ mê·’ō·wṯ) and thousand (אֲלָפִים֙ ’ă·lā·p̄îm) are not similar at all.
Unlikely the scribes made any mistakes in the Hebrew words.
Furthermore, if we were to accept one contradiction , why wouldn’t we accept a lot more contradictions among other books too?

A simple way to reconcile this apparent contradiction is to remember that a war is not one or two days event.
Instead, it can be weeks or months or even years.
Hence, any war-related number will always be updated from time to time.

2 Sam 8 mentions 1000 chariots + 700 horsemen + 20000 foot soldiers.
This can refer to the early major campaign.
However, such a war can a long-drawn battle with additional pockets of resistance around, just like pockets of resistance of Taliban in the war between US and Taliban.
1 Chronicles 18 mentions 1000 chariots + 7000 horsemen + 20000 foot soldiers.
The additional 6300 horsemen may come from these pockets of resistance after such a long drawn battle.

It is also worth remembering that the book of 2 Samuel was written between 900 to 700 BC whereas the book of 1 Chronicle was written around 400 C.
Hence, that 2 Samuel might have cited the early version of military record whereas 1 Chronicle the final version.

In conclusion, there is no contradiction in both accounts.
After all, it is the same Holy Spirit who inspired both books and, in fact, all books in the Bible.
We can have faith in God in preserving His written word.

Posted August 21, 2019 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Bible Study

Dying to Flesh: Lesson from the Gate of the Tabernacle 

Exodus 27:9-19

The courtyard of the Tabernacle had rectangular shape with 100 cubits length (north and south sides) and 50 cubits width (east and west sides).
The perimeter of the courtyard was fenced with white linen.
Meanwhile, the gate of 20 cubits long was located on the east side of the Tabernacle and was made from the combination of white linen, blue, scarlet and purple cloth.

In the Bible, each of the color carries spiritual meaninng.
The white linen represents the righteousness of the saints (Rev 19:8) which is none other than the righteousness of Christ Himself.
Blue is the color of the sky, representing Lord Jesus as the Son of God.
Purple is the color of royalty, representing Him as the King
Scarlet (red) is the color of blood, representing His nature as fully man of flesh and blood and His sacrifice as the Lamb of God

Let’s look at the gate of the Tabernacle from another point of view.
How did they get the purple, blue and scarlet dye for the cloth?
To begin with, since there was no synthetic dye in the ancient world, all the dyes must be derived naturally.
Hence, these dyes were expensive materials.
Very likely, the Israelites obtained blue, purple and scarlet fabric along with gold and silver when they had plundered the Egyptians (Exodus 12:35-36).

In the ancient world, blue dye was obtained from certain sea snails/shellfish.
In order to extract the dye, the snails were crushed and the resulting fluid was further processed to yield the dye.
Meanwhile, scarlet dye was obtained from certain insects.
In the extraction process, the insects were immersed in hot water bath, sometimes boiling water, with added chemicals.
On the other hand, purple dye was obtained either from another type of snails or simply by mixing red and blue dyes.

Notice that in both situations, snails and insects had to die to yield the dye which was used as part of the gate of the Tabernacle.
What lesson can we draw here?

Similar to insects or snails, we may consider ourselves to be weak, sluggish, untalented or insignificant.
In short, we may dislike ourselves.
Nevertheless, just like they died to yield the dye, even when we are weak, we can surrender our lives to God.
As we learn to obey Him and die to our flesh (i.e. sinful nature in us), He will use us for His glory.

Unless the snails and insects yielded to the process of crushing or heating, they would never realize their potential in the building of the gate of the Tabernacle.
Unless we are willing to die to our sinful nature (i.e. crucifying the flesh), we will never realize our potential in the kingdom of God. 

A related verse to the principle here:

In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and earthenware, and some for noble use, some for ignoble.  
If any one purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work.  
2 Timothy 2:20-21 RSV 

Let us examine ourselves.
How is our journey of consecration thus far?

 

 

Quick Repentance

9 Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon.

10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’

11 Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.

12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’

13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.

14 However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.”

2 Sam 12:13-14

Sometimes, when God forgives, He does not remove the consequence of disobedience.
In the first post, we learn that God punished the Israelites by denying them entry into the Promised Land.
In the second post, we learn that God also punished Moses and Aaron with the same penalty.

In this post, we learn from David’s adultery.
Certainly David repented when Nathan rebuked him.
God forgave David, but God did not remove the punishment of his sin.
The child from adulterous act died no matter how much David prayed for the baby.
In addition, bloodshed ran in his family.
Even his son, Absalom, staged coup de tat against David.

If only David had admitted his sin earlier without causing the death of Uriah, the consequences would not have been this severe!
If only David had listened to his guilty conscience earlier!!

Important lesson.
We must always obey the LORD and quickly repent if we disobey Him.
Otherwise, the consequences will be worse.

Praising God and Resting in His Love

A thought inspired by the sermon by a Pastor in Surabaya.

Jacob had 2 wives: Leah and Rachel.
He loved Rachel but not Leah.
Can we imagine Leah’s cries as she was not loved?
Initially she hoped to win his affection through giving birth to sons.
Indeed, the LORD Himself opened her womb (Genesis 29:31).

First, she gave birth to Reuben which means “The LORD has noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me.”

Well, for patriarch, who was not happy to have a son? 
Yet, despite all his happiness, Jacob could not bring himself to love the mother, Leah.

Second, she gave birth to another son, Simeon, which means “The LORD heard that I was unloved and has given me another son.”
You bet, Jacob was overjoyed. Still, he could not love her.

Third, she gave birth to  Levi which means, “Surely this time mu husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons.”
And did Jacob give any affection to Leah? Still not at all.
Imagine Leah’s feeling. Her hope still did not come to pass year by year. Can you hear her cries?

Fourth, she gave birth to Judah which means, “Now I will praise the LORD!”
She realized something. True, she could not win Jacob’s love.
In the midst of her shattered dream, she chose to praise the LORD.
She must have realized that even if she did not receive any love from him, she could rest in God’s love.

What about us? When our world comes crashing down, what do we do?
Can we follow Leah’s example by choosing to praise the LORD?
Can we follow Habakkuk’s example of rejoicing in the LORD?
Can we rest in His love even if the people around us do not love us?

Posted February 17, 2016 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Bible Study, Thought

Pastor Kong’s Sermon 12, August, 2015 Church Wide Bible Study End Times Reality (2/3)

Dan 9.
Daniel was 82 years old by then. This was the year 500BC, 67th year of captivity.
Daniel prayed for the restoration of Jerusalem. Even though he was 82, he still fasted as he loved God.
Dan 9:21-24
Archangel Gabriel looked like man. We need to be kind to everybody as we might entertain angel.
70 weeks: 70 sevens. 490. It is not clear the meaning of 490 here.
From the context, we see transgression, sin and iniquity.
Sin: Single offence. Transgression: Repeated offence. Iniquity: Full-grown bondage.
Iniquity can be passed from one generation to the next generation.
Lord Jesus came to forgive transgression, sin and iniquity.
However, until now we have not seen everlasting righteousness, sealing up of prophecy, and anointing of the Most Holy (which is the Holy of Hollies of the Temple of God).
Even now, the Jews are planning to build the third temple of God. The moment it is done, we know Lord Jesus is coming soon.
Daniel 9:25
7 weeks. 7*7 years. There were 4 royal decrees for rebuilding of the temple and the city.
Nehemiah 2:1
444BC Mar April Nehemiah received the permission from King Artaxerxes.
7 weeks: 7*7 Jewish years=49 Jewish years =48 years of the world. From 444BC to 396 BC, we had 48 years. At the same time, Jerusalem was rebuilt and the Old Testament was completed.
62 weeks: 62*7 Jewish years = 428 years. 396 BC +428 years became 33 AD Mar-Apr. This was when Lord Jesus was crucified.
Lord Jesus was cut off (crucified) for the sins of many.
Daniel 9:26
40 years after Lord Jesus died, Roman General Titus massacred the Jews. However, Daniel was seeing antichrist. He signed peace treaty for Jerusalem.

Middle East problem.
1. Economics: Oil and energy.
The west does not want to depend on Middle East to get oil.
2. Politics: Middle East is in the middle of civilization.
Rev 8:7-11. Nuclear wars just before Lord Jesus returns. Rev 9:18-19. Apostle John saw missiles which killed a third of the world’s population.
3. Military: Radical militants trying to get nuclear warheads.
4. Spiritual: Satan’s attempt to hinder God’s word.
Jews became blessing wherever they went. God promised them they would be the heads and not the tails. Gen 17:7-8. It is an everlasting covenant/possession.
Israel and the land of Canaan become the test of God’s promise. Satan worked days and nights to either destroy the Israel or to stop them from possessing the land.
After the second world war, the Jews returned to the promised land. Immediately after the Israel declared independence, the surrounding nations attacked Israel.
Luke 21:20, 29.
Israel was the blossoming fig tree in 1948. Dan 10:12-13. The prince of Persia was a demonic prince, a fallen angel over the nation.
There were prince and small kings. Michael is the archangel of Israel.
All this spiritual war affects the politics. Since angels do not die, this war has been ongoing ever since.
Why did Michael come? Because Daniel kept praying for 21 days.
When we pray, God hears and sends angel to answer our prayer. The angel may be hindered but we should keep praying
5. Grudge: Jews and Arabs.
Arab was descended from Ishmael. Gen 21:8-10-12 Mocking: Physical abuse. Middle East was the place of family feud.
Some things will happen before Lord Jesus comes back.

Volatile things happen in Middle East. The antichrist will come as master negotiator, negotiating with Israel, Iran, US and other nations.
The antichrist will sign a 7 years peace treaty.
After 3.5 years, he will break the peace treaty, come to the Temple, set up an image of himself and make the whole world worship him.
The next 3.5 years will be intense persecution. After that, Lord Jesus will come.

How should we live? Let’s listen to Lord Jesus.
1. Do business until He comes. Be excellent in study/work. The parable of talents.
2. Evangelize until He comes. Acts 1:8
We don’t have much time.
3. Encourage one another until He comes.
Heb 10:25. Don’t neglect spiritual discipline.
4. Pursue reward until He comes. Rev 22:12. There is eternal reward as we serve Him.
5. Live in hope until He comes. Titus 2:13.
We live in a broken-down world. Nevertheless, God is sovereign. Today, so many things do not make sense. In heaven, God will make us understand.

Posted August 27, 2015 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Bible Study, Kong Hee, Sermon