Can You Be a Christian and Accept Evolution? Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, February 29, 2024 1 comments

by Steve Risner

We are three posts deep into a reaction to an article I found at called “Yes, you can be a Christian and accept evolution.” The other two posts in this series are here and here. You may want to catch up with those before continuing with this one if you haven’t read them already.

Much of what we have discussed so far has revolved around the idea that “evolution” has a variety of meanings and some are even scientific while others are not. Let’s move on today and see what this author thinks.

“So in theory God could certainly use evolution as a means of creation.” In theory, yes. In reality, based on the clear teachings of Scripture, He did no such thing at all, period. Universal common descent is void of evidence from Scripture or the natural world and, frankly, makes no sense and defies experience and the laws of nature and probability. He could have, but this is nothing like “He did.”

“…what do we do if it feels like scientific evidence is pointing us in the direction of one mechanism for creation, but Scripture points us in another?” Trust God first. Where you put your final or ultimate authority is where you’ll land. If you think man is smarter than God, you’ll trust man’s currently popular version of the humanist origins myth which will likely change in a few years. Or if the Bible is your source of ultimate Truth, you’ll allow Him the privilege of being more learned than you and you’ll accept what He tells you. “Science” is in conflict with the Bible when that science is a religious notion built on piles and piles of assumptions and extrapolations. True science testifies to the beauty of God’s creative works and His marvelous deeds. Origins cannot be a scientific study; it just cannot. You can’t observe, test, or repeat one-time past events. This is not difficult to understand at all; this is history. One’s philosophy and/or worldview will dictate what story of origins a person believes, but none of them are scientific. So science cannot point us in a direction that is contrary to Scripture when it comes to origins. Science has very little to say about it.

The author of this article then focuses on Psalm 19, a psalm of David. Regarding that psalm he says:

“…the big point he [David] wants to make about the heavens is that they communicate something about God.” Yes. They proclaim His awesome power and greatness. His magnificence is beyond comprehension. They don’t utter nonsense about the Big Bang or universal common descent or anything like that at all.

“Day and night, as we look up at the sky it is telling us something about the God who made it. The created world is like a letter from God to us saying ‘Look! I’m here! See what I’m like!’” This is why the unbeliever is without excuse. But it’s also a great reason not to hold hands with those unbelievers, trashing the Word of God and attacking Christians for their faith in Him and the truth of His Word. Don’t go beyond what is written. The Bible doesn’t tell us that nature will tell us the Gospel; it simply tells us that we have a Creator we are accountable to.

“It makes sense, then, for David’s mind to wander from one means of God’s self-communication to another.” Suggesting the “book of nature” is nearly as easy to understand or as clear a communication as the written Word of God is laughable and preposterous in my opinion. What we understand about nature is constantly revised. What we “knew” 10 years ago is hogwash today. What we “know” today will be tossed out in a few years. But the Word of God stands firm and is unchanging. He specifically tells us how He created, and less directly He tells us when He did that. There is no reason from Scripture—none at all—to hold a different view other than the one presented in the Bible. The only reason anyone does is because secularists and humanists have told their own tale of origins, and some Christians or churches have entertained it as possible even though the Bible is completely at odds with this origins myth. Nature does not tell us about the Gospel. It does not tell us any of God’s moral laws. It simply demands that we acknowledge our Creator and give Him the awe and respect He is worthy of as the Creator of everything.

“As nature illuminates for us something of what God is like, so does God’s written word, the Bible.” Again, acting like one is equal to the other is not only absurd, but it’s possibly a little blasphemous. Maybe that’s a little extreme, but I’d rather be accused by God of being zealous for His Word than being wishy-washy with it, allowing humanism to decide for me what the Bible means. I will correct this statement, however; nature does not tell us what God is like. Not at all. Nature tells us there is a God and that He’s awesome, that’s it.

“And Scripture goes further than creation can: it gives words to that which the heavens cannot articulate. The Bible spells out in detail God’s salvation plan for creation through Jesus, and gives us all that we need to know that salvation for ourselves.” Yes, I agree.

“So God uses both nature and Scripture to communicate with us about who he is.” Does nature really tell us truths about the Creator, or does it just make it clear to us that there is a Creator God? If it does speak truths about God, what are they? Are these the same truths as found in Scripture? If not, why not? If they are found in Scripture, why do we need to look to nature for them?

“The truth that we find in the pages of the Bible is God’s truth.” Why do you assault the Word of God by suggesting the clear teachings of Scripture are not true? That some other version of creation is more accurate and we needed light shed on this true version of our origins by atheists and other God-hating people?

“And the truth that we find by the study of the natural world using science is also God’s truth.” You cannot possibly argue that science discovers truth in many respects to nature. What we “know” now will be laughed at in the future as more knowledge is gained, much like what we “knew” 100 years ago is mocked today. That’s “God’s truth” in your mind? God’s Truth is the Good News, and what strategy for communicating the Gospel does not include some form of creation? To understand why we need a Savior, we need to understand creation and the events that transpired shortly after. The Gospel doesn’t make sense without a historical interpretation of Genesis. That’s just the way it is. Don’t argue with me about it; talk to the Lord who inspired His Word to be written the way it was.

We have come to a good ending point for this week’s post. I hope you’ve found this educational and thought-provoking. I always enjoy these. Take care and thank you for reading.

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1 Corinthians 16:5-14

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 26, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you —for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.
Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.
- 1 Corinthians 16:5-14

You know you’re getting close to the end of a letter when you get to the section for personal requests as we see from Paul in today’s passage. Next week, we will finish up the letter of 1 Corinthians with Paul’s final greetings for this letter.

The first section here contains Paul’s travel plans in verses 5-9. The journey that Paull writes about here lines up with the travels we see in Acts 19:21-22 and Acts 20:1-3. Paul did end up staying in Greece for about 3 months, which included his stop in Corinth, which was likely the “spend the winter” he referred to in verse 6.

Rather than explicitly asking them for money, Paul asks them to help him on his journey, which likely included supplies, equipment, etc. that he would need for his travels. Back in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul wrote about how he did not want to burden churches with fully supporting him financially, but he did expect them to help him with his travels to get to the next place to share the gospel.

Especially after addressing the various topics and issues that he brings up in this letter, Paul knew that it would be best for him to spend a fair amount of time with the Corinthian church (verse 7). They needed his guidance and instruction as they learned how to navigate being the church, especially in dealing with the pagan culture around them and the differing worldviews of Jews and Gentiles who had adopted the Christian faith.

However, Paul was writing this letter from Ephesus, and his work there was not quite complete (verse 8). He needed more time there before starting his next journey where he would visit Corinth. We see that by this point, Pentecost (Acts 2) was already a significant church holiday as it commemorated the birth of the Christian church. Paul would stay at Ephesus from the time of the letter writing until Pentecost (late spring), then travel to Macedonia in the summer, and then winter in Corinth.

Paul notes that there is much opportunity for him at Ephesus and that God is working there. The verb tense he uses when writing that “a great door … has opened to me” (verse 9) implies that the opportunity continues to be open to him, not just a one-time thing. Paul does not mention who specifically opposes him there, but we can guess from what historians know about the culture of Ephesus that the opposition was likely those who worshiped the goddess Artemis and built shrines to her (Acts 19:23-27).

In verse 10, Paul talks about sending Timothy there, which we see corroborated in Acts 19:22. Timothy was traveling when Paul wrote this and would likely be arriving in Corinth soon (1 Corinthians 4:17). Paul wanted to make sure they treated Timothy well when he arrived (verse 11). The people of the church in Corinth should trust Timothy just as much as they would trust Paul himself. Timothy had been with Paul for several years at this point, so Paul had trained him up in the faith. When Timothy’s work was completed in Corinth, Paul expected them to supply Timothy’s travel needs just as they would for Paul. While we don’t know who the “brothers” coming with Timothy would be, it is likely that they may have included Erastus (Acts 19:22).

In verse 12 when Paul brings up Apollos, it’s the same phrasing he uses to introduce new topics throughout the letter, implying that the Corinthians had brought up the topic with Paul. It appears from the text that Apollos and Paul were working separately. Paul could not convince him to go at the time, but Apollos would travel later. It is likely that Apollos was with Paul when the Corinthians asked Paul about him, but then he had left before Paul actually wrote this letter in reply.

Verses 13-14 include some brief commands of encouragement as Paul often includes at the end of his letters: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” These are good words to live by, whether applied to the first-century church in Corinth or the 21st-century church today. Watch out for any of the evils of this world that may pull you away from your faith, and stand firm in the gospel. We are all called to be courageous, strong, and loving as believers in Christ.

While Paul’s travel plans may not seem all that important to us today, this is helpful for two reasons. First, we see corroboration between Acts and 1 Corinthians, thus further verifying the truth of the Scriptures. Second, it shows that Paul was not simply remaining where he was. Life was probably relatively comfortable for him in Ephesus, but he knew he could not stay there. Paul’s mission from God was to go and make disciples, and he couldn’t do that by staying in one place. That doesn’t mean that all of us are called to uproot our lives and move around all the time as Paul was, but God does call some of His followers to that lifestyle to further spread the gospel message, even in today’s world. With our modern technology, we have opportunities to spread the gospel without leaving home, but God does call us to go elsewhere at times as well.

We sometimes forget that there were so many people besides Paul who were furthering the mission of the early church, so it is helpful for us to see others mentioned, including Apollos and Timothy. While Paul did great things for God’s Kingdom, he was by no means a one-man show. He needed others to support him and to help him with this monumental task of sharing the gospel throughout the known world. We, too, are not alone in this mission; in fact, we have thousands of believers all over the world to help us! But just as Paul did, we must all do our part and go where God calls us to go with the gospel message, whether near or far.

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Backstory of the Kings 23: Hezekiah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, February 23, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Hezekiah is the king who got me started on this series that we have been working through for five months now. (We are nearly done!) It was in my personal studies of Isaiah that got me thinking about how Hezekiah followed the ways of the Lord when his father, Ahaz, was so wicked. I believe one answer is that Hezekiah was old enough to be in the court of Ahaz when Isaiah would prophesy over the siege of King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel, who God raised to punish Ahaz for his open idolatry. Every prophecy came true, and as a youth, Hezekiah saw that what Isaiah said came true.

Hezekiah is rivaled only by Ahab for getting the most “screen time” in Scripture. Hezekiah gets coverage in three books: 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Isaiah. Isaiah gives Hezekiah four chapters (36-39) of just history, not including numerous chapters of prophecy surrounding those events. There are four major events in Hezekiah’s reign that are covered. 1) Hezekiah brought reform to Judah in not only reopening and repairing the temple but also removing high places and idols, including the Bronze Serpent that Moses made because the people were worshiping it. 2) Withstanding the siege of Assyria was the biggest event with much attention given to it. 3) Hezekiah had a sickness where he asked to be healed and was given 15 more years. 4) Hezekiah showed off his full wealth and resources before Babylonian envoys.

I am not going to go into detail about each of these events. You can read that in Katie Erickson’s post about Hezekiah and his reign. Instead, I want to focus on the backstory and what set up Hezekiah to make these decisions. Let me remind you from two weeks ago that Ahaz was 11 years old when Hezekiah was born. Ahaz wasn’t even old enough for his primary puberty growth spurt when he was engaged in sexual activity. As I said then, we don’t know the setting of that. I don’t believe Jotham gave him a wife at that age, but I do know Ahaz was heavily involved in idolatry and Jotham had no record of stopping any of the idolatrous practices. When Ahaz became king at 20 years old, Hezekiah was nine and I don’t think it would have taken him long to figure out that what his father was doing was dead wrong. I can picture Isaiah often taking Hezekiah aside and teaching him truth, as Isaiah was part of the king’s court. It is clear that Hezekiah followed the Lord. Departing so clearly and cleanly from what his father Ahaz was doing indicates both a Godly nurturing (which didn’t come from his father) and exposure to his father’s sins and seeing the path of destruction from them.

Hezekiah was not merely a moral man like Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, and Jotham. He didn’t merely walk in God’s ways; Hezekiah sought the Lord. Shortly before writing this post, I was in Isaiah and going through Hezekiah’s dealings and events, and I saw a theme in Hezekiah’s mind: he wanted to glorify God. He wanted God’s name to be glorified above and beyond his own safety and protection. He did not beg God to deliver him from Assyria for his own protection but because Rabshakeh had blasphemed the name of God. Hezekiah was not concerned about his own life for his own life’s sake, but he thought that death would cut off his worship of God and feared that God could not be worshiped from the grave. That is what drove his prayer for deliverance from Assyria and also what drove his prayer for healing. It was not about self but about God’s name and God’s glory. Only David had a heart for God like Hezekiah did.

But Hezekiah’s heart did not carry over to the people. Hezekiah was even accused of apostasy for destroying the high places because the people wanted their idols. As with Ahab when in periods of utter darkness God preserved 7000 who had not bowed their knee to Baal, the reverse is found here. Hezekiah led the people to reform and to true worship, but the people did not want to follow God. The moment Hezekiah died, the plummet began. Hezekiah’s son Manasseh was the most wicked king of Judah, even worse than Ahaz; it was under Manasseh that God declared the judgment for Judah. Isaiah had been prophesying about the Babylonian captivity and restoration during Hezekiah’s reign, but my point is Hezekiah’s good life in leadership does not mean that the people followed the lead of their king in godliness.

We can compare and contrast Hezekiah’s upbringing to Joash’s upbringing. Both had idolatrous fathers, though Joash never met his. Both had Godly input: Joash had Jehoiada and Hezekiah had Isaiah. But Joash lost his Godly surrogate father and Hezekiah did not lose his mentor. Joash departed the faith and Hezekiah stayed faithful. Joash lived a moral life but showed that his faith was tied to his surrogate father. Hezekiah sought the Lord and His glory, and his morality followed that seeking. Joash just wanted to look good; Hezekiah wanted to honor God. There is a big difference between them.

Each king is still responsible for his own life. Some had good upbringings and turned evil. Some had bad upbringings and were evil. Some had a bad upbringing and turned good. Others had a good upbringing, as we’ll see next week with Manasseh, and turned bad. A common theme throughout all the kings is how they handled idolatry. With Israel, they were judged by letting Jeroboam’s idols remain or not. With Judah, they were judged by how they let the high places remain or not. Hezekiah sought the Lord even from his youth, and he received God’s heart about worship – its quality and location. He would not allow God to have competition with fake idols.

When I realized that Hezekiah was old enough to hear the prophecies given to Ahaz regarding the sieges by Rezin and Pekah, I believed that played a significant role in his faith and his belief in God. We have a few more kings to look at; I’ll address Manasseh and Amon together and then examine Josiah and then finally finish with the four kings, three of whom were Josiah’s children and one was his grandson to end the series.

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Can You Be a Christian and Accept Evolution? Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, February 22, 2024 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Last week, we began looking at a writing from in association with UCCF, talking about how being a Christian does not mean you must reject evolution. We started going through this article nearly line by line. You can view the first installment of this series here. Let’s pick up where we left off:

“[Evolution is] often implied to mean ‘the belief that all of the living world (and indeed the whole universe) came into being by a process of natural selection, genetic drift, etc. that was totally random, began purely by chance, and was absolutely unguided by any kind of Creator.’” Most evolutionists would take issue with this oversimplification. But, yes, most evolutionists believe in the Big Bang, chemical and stellar evolution, the emergence of solar systems and planets, and eventually abiogenesis leading to universal common descent from a single common ancestor. Show me evolutionists who don’t believe these things are natural occurrences. There are likely some but very few. And when one says “evolution,” this is almost always what is meant. Why hold hands with atheists and other secularists to disrespect the Word of God while claiming to hold to some sort of truth? Was God not capable of informing us of His work and how He produced the universe? Was He just waiting for atheists/secularists like Darwin and Lyell and Huxley to explain the truth to us? In nearly all conversations, when the term “evolution” is talked about, this is what the discussion is about. They will start with “evolution” as the adaptation or small change due to a variety of reasons and then jump to “evolution” meaning this more naturalistic and unscientific approach to the living world.

“Do you see how that last definition is very different to the previous two?” We covered the previous two in the previous blog post. In the minds of most evolutionists, these uses of the word are not that different. If they are different, then most of the evolutionists I’ve interacted with (which is probably thousands by now) are dishonest because they talk about one definition and then assume it means the other is true as well. It’s very often we hear about “evidence for evolution” and the “fact of evolution” while what is being talked about are slight changes in a population over time—often adaptive changes that swing back and forth like the beaks on the finches that Darwin noted. If you’re going to talk about “evolution” like this, don’t confuse it with universal common descent. They are not the same thing and are hardly related.

“Clearly, Christians have to reject the idea of a totally random, unguided start to life with no Creator!” Clearly, the author of this article hasn’t interacted with many theistic evolutionists since nearly all of them that I’ve spoken with do, in fact, believe that random, natural processes did ALL of it without the assistance of God or without Him after He wound it all up and let it rip. So “clearly,” while Christians should reject a completely natural/materialistic origin for the universe and life, many (maybe most) do not. For a lot of them, God is something they throw on top of the mess as an afterthought. “Yeah, evolution is true, and random, unguided processes account for the biodiversity we see on earth, but, I mean, God was there.”

“…if by ‘evolution’ you mean evolution without a Creator.” This is interesting because the only real difference between atheistic evolution and theistic evolution is the theistic evolutionist will insert a Creator while the atheist has no need for one. In other words, there’s no real difference apart from the theistic evolutionist inserting a creator because he feels good about doing so. One of these is what the Bible refers to as a fool to be pitied. The only difference between them and the other group is one is honest enough to admit there has to be a Creator. They just don’t like to believe what that Creator told us He did. The Word tells us the existence of the Creator is obvious to everyone and that we are all without excuse.

“But rejecting evolution as a complete worldview doesn’t mean we have to chuck out evolution as a scientific theory.” For most, the distinction is hardly noticeable. And if by “evolution” we’re meaning minute changes—adaptations, epigenetic changes, degenerative mutations, population isolation, etc.—then sure. We not only can accept this but we should. It’s what we see all around us. But if we mean something more like a slime ball in some warm pond somewhere that began to diversify into fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and then mammals until ultimately man; well, no, sorry. That’s not science. That’s not factual. That’s not even remotely plausible let alone likely.

“We have a God who’s big enough and powerful enough to create any way he wants to, right?” Of course, and He explained in a great amount of detail how He did this. On days 1-6, He was busy, creating the universe, earth, seas and land, sun and moon, and sea, sky, and all the creatures. Finally, He created man in His own image. This is written very clearly in Scripture. Anything that doesn’t work with this is in opposition to the Truth of God and His creative acts. He could have done it any way He chose. He chose the way He told us about in the Bible (not just Genesis). I love how theistic evolutionists like to take the angle that “God is big enough to do it however He wanted,” but in the same breath they say, “There’s no way He could make the universe in 6 days. What? Is He some sort of magician?” I’ve had people say this very thing to me—people who claimed to be believers. I’m not sure what they believed in, but it didn’t seem to be the Bible or the God found in its pages.

“Either mechanism for creation is totally legitimate for God to use if he wants to.” Sure, but one involves a beautiful creative act while the other involves death, mutation, and genetic destruction. Which seems more God-like? Which one seems “good”? Which one was described to us in detail by Him? Which one was attested to by numerous Biblical authors? Abiogenesis and universal common descent are nowhere to be found in Scripture. Not a single hint.

“He’s God, after all!” So let Him be God. Let Him be the authority on the matter. Stop calling Him a liar.

“There’s nothing in the theory of evolution itself which says it couldn’t be designed and directed by God.” In the minds of most evolutionists, this is false. In fact, the theory of evolution is built on naturalism. The Big Bang and all that comes with it is built on naturalism. Naturalism says nature is all there is and is responsible for all that happens. Again, the only difference between atheistic evolution and theistic evolution is one arbitrarily inserts a creator to fill in the gaps. That’s it. Because they want you to believe it’s scientific, many proponents of the theory of evolution will indeed claim there is no room for God in the theory because, by definition, the theory only describes nature. God is not natural; He’s supernatural.

We’ll pause here again so we can digest this all and think about the implications. Is God God? Is He honest? Is He sufficient? Is He able to do what He said He did? Is He able to tell us what He did?

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1 Corinthians 16:1-4

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 19, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.
- 1 Corinthians 16:1-4

After spending the past 7 weeks in 1 Corinthians 15, we have finally made it to a new chapter and a new section of this letter. There isn't really a common theme among the sections of this final chapter of 1 Corinthians, other than closing out the letter.

This section contains Paul’s instructions for handling money in the church. The beginning word structure in verse 1 is the same as in 1 Corinthians 7:1 when Paul introduced the topic of married life and in 1 Corinthians 12:1 when Paul introduced the topic of the gifts of the Spirit. It is likely, therefore, that this was another question the believers in Corinth had asked Paul – what do we do about collecting money? Specifically, it appears that the question was related to a collection for the church in Jerusalem. We do not know why the church in Jerusalem would be in specific need of money, however.

We also don’t know for sure what Paul is referring to that he “told the Galatian churches to do.” We know that Paul was in Galatia in Acts 16:6, and we have a letter in our New Testament that Paul wrote to the church there, of course. That may be referring to Galatians 2:10 (“All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along”), or he may be referring to something he told them in person that we do not have recorded.

Verse 2 gives specific instructions for setting aside money. Each individual or family should set aside money on the first day of the week in proportion to their income. While it doesn’t say specifically that this money would be collected during their worship gatherings, like how churches today collect weekly tithes and offerings, that could likely be implied through the context. Everyone was to participate in this, not just the rich, which is why the amount given should be related to that individual or family’s income.

Paul encourages them to follow this habit weekly so that they can save it up for when he arrives, rather than collecting money in the moment. But note that this money is not just going to Paul, so this is not Paul being greedy; the money is headed to the church in Jerusalem (verse 3). The Corinthian church was to appoint men to transport the money there, and Paul would write letters for those men to introduce them to the Jerusalem church and validate their role in this transfer. Paul’s affirmation would help the Jerusalem church not be suspicious of these messengers, and the church would trust that all of the money made it from Corinth to Jerusalem.

In verse 4, Paul mentions that he may go along with these messengers to Jerusalem, but is not clear whether Paul ultimately goes along or not. The distance between Corinth and Jerusalem was about 800 miles, so this would be a fairly significant trip for Paul and/or these messengers.

What significance does this passage have for us as the modern church? Clearly, we are not taking up an offering to give to Paul when he stops by. But the principle here is that we should collect money for the Lord’s people as Paul instructs the Corinthian church to do. While we are all called to spread the gospel message and make disciples, not all of us do that as a full-time vocation. We need to financially support those who do this work full-time so that they can fulfill their role of spreading the gospel and equipping the saints. This does not simply apply to pastors and local churches but also to missionaries and those who run organizations that help God’s people accomplish these goals.

It is also important to realize that giving a portion of our money to God should not be out of obligation or a burden but rather to celebrate what God has done for us and what He is doing in our lives and the lives of other believers. We know that everything is actually God’s (Job 41:11, Psalm 50:10, Psalm 24:1, etc.), and whatever we “have” is really just on loan from Him, and we should do with our wealth whatever God wants us to do.

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Backstory of the Kings 22: Hoshea

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, February 16, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Hoshea is the final king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel before it was taken by Assyria and completely scattered among the nations. Hoshea is not the cause of the complete conquering; he just happened to have the bag when the time came. Hoshea assassinated Pekah shortly after God humiliated him in his near taking of Judah during Ahaz’s reign, and Hoshea ruled for nine years. During those nine years, Hoshea rebelled against Assyria who made Israel a vassal during Menahem’s reign. That was the last straw, and Assyria came to flatten Israel and finish the job.

Hoshea was not a godly king, but he had a unique moniker to describe him. He did not do evil as those who went before him did. He is the only king that lasted more than a month who was not identified as following the idols of Jeroboam. Shallum is the other one who did not have that charge against him, and he didn’t reign long enough to do so even if he wanted to. Hoshea never followed God, but he was not as evil as those who went before him. The non-mention of the idols of Jeroboam indicates that he did not bow before those golden calves, he just didn’t follow God.

Israel fell under Hoshea. The bulk of 2 Kings 17 describes Israel falling to idolatry after idolatry after idolatry, and God had enough. His patience ran out, and He cast Israel out of their homeland until they learned not only to cease the idolatry but also to receive their Messiah. That day has not yet come, but Paul makes it clear in Romans 11 that God is not done with Israel yet.

Hoshea’s background is very simple: 32 years of political turmoil from Zechariah until the end of Pekah’s reign and Assyria had taken control over Israel, allowing them to exist as a mere servant or vassal state. They were allowed to exist and rule their own people, but they were subservient to Assyria. Hoshea made a final attempt to break free from Assyria and because he did not seek the Lord, he was doomed to failure. God had chosen to judge Israel – cast them out and scatter them because for too long they had blasphemed His name and His land by professing to be His people but serving every idol and not God Himself. Not one of the kings of Israel ever walked in the ways of the Lord; only Jehu and Hoshea came remotely close.

As I noticed in this study, the reigns of Jeroboam II through Hoshea spam a total of 83 years, ¾ of which were Jeroboam II’s and Pekah’s reigns alone. But the Scriptures spend very little time describing these kings and their reigns. It was like the Chronicler gave up saying the same thing over and over and over again. Each king was evil, they did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, they followed such and such idols, and there are a few political and military maneuvers, but that is about it. They did not follow or seek after God, even in name only, and you can only write the same sins enough times before you get tired of it. God is mostly concerned about the spiritual status of the king and then of the nation. While God has indeed saved and preserved people despite wicked times, when the ruler and nation as a whole are turned towards idols, God’s mercy is the only thing keeping that nation intact.

When the Holy Spirit-inspired author of Scripture gives up describing the sins of the kings, either showing the progressing away from them or further decline into sin, for multiple generations and multiple kings, there isn’t much to say other than there were no kings in Israel who wanted God as their ruler.

This goes all the way back to 1 Samuel 8 when Israel asked for a king. They got Saul, the man who looked the part but never did the part. And they got king after king after king who wanted to do things his own way instead of God’s. All the kings of the Northern Kingdom were ungodly men, and Israel got precisely what they asked for; it was a curse upon them. They did not want God ruling over them. God had chosen them; He saved them from Egypt, He did all sorts of miracles for them, and He protected them and guided them, and they spat in His face for it. The amazing thing is how God was so merciful that He let them live that long.

Hoshea was simply the last king carrying the bag when Israel fell. He is not to blame for it. The judgment was decided long ago. Had he chosen to walk with the Lord, God may have spared them as He did with Josiah in Judah, whom we will look at in a few weeks. But we can never know what would have happened. As bad as Israel’s sins were with non-stop idolatry, what Judah did was far worse. There are 8 kings left to discuss in Judah’s history, and only two of them were good. Next week, we’ll look at Hezekiah, the king who got the most attention in Scripture among the split kingdoms with only Ahab rivaling him for space.

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Can You Be a Christian and Accept Evolution? Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, February 15, 2024 5 comments

by Steve Risner

After an abnormally long hiatus from writing, I had my interest piqued when someone online posted an article from about how it’s okay for Christians to believe in evolution. This platform seems to be an extension of the UCCF, University and Colleges Christian Fellowship. The article is titled, “Yes, you can be a Christian and accept evolution.” It was decently written and made some good points, but along the way, they often seemed to talk out of both sides of their mouth. As a Biblical creationist who has studied the topic for over 30 years, below is what I feel needed addressed from this article.

The article begins by saying that their title is controversial. They’re correct. But it’s only controversial because people have forsaken sound logic and given up basic reading comprehension skills to toss out what the Bible clearly tells us about creation and when it happened. They’ve accepted the humanist origins myth first and then tried to cram the Bible’s narrative into that—melding two different religious views on the subject of origins.

But they move on to say, “…[the biology students are] being taught in lectures seems to totally contradict what their Christian community has told them they should believe about creation.” This is disingenuous. It’s not that biology is teaching something contrary to some unfounded, odd interpretation of Scripture. This statement would be honest if it said, “…seems to totally contradict what their Bible has told them they should believe about creation.” This is obviously what the Bible shows us—God created the heavens, earth and all that is in them and He did it in 6 days. Adam was created on day 6, and from Adam to Jesus was about 4000 years give or take. Jesus lived 2000 years ago or so. This can be drawn from the Biblical text and corroborated with external sources. A belief in universal common descent is nowhere to be found in the pages of Scripture. In fact, much to the contrary.

“…it’s a choice between the authority of God’s word and the weight of scientific evidence.” This is why it’s hard to trust evolutionists. They say things out of both sides of their mouths, or they bait and switch, or they simply don’t understand what the basics are. It’s a choice between two competing worldviews. What they’re referring to as “science” is not science at all. Yes, evolution is a fact. But universal common descent is a fabrication and not scientific at all. This has been discussed ad nauseum, and evolutionists refuse to understand how the limits of science work. This is a clash of philosophy or, more accurately, religions. We don’t argue the facts or deny them. As Biblical creationists, we just understand that facts and opinions about those facts are not the same thing and don’t carry the same weight.

“But what if you don’t have to choose?” You don’t; this is a false dichotomy. Science and the Bible are not in conflict. However, the humanist origins myth and the Bible are seriously at odds.

“…evolution does make sense of the data.” I studied this for over 30 years in high school, college, and grad school. If you mean evolution as small changes in a population over time due to a variety of reasons, sure. If you mean evolution as in universal common descent, not at all. Not only does it not make any sense, but it’s also naïve. The number of perfectly timed and perfectly placed mutations necessary for real change to occur is beyond any reasonable person’s ability to stretch reality.

“…this doesn’t mean you have to give up on the God who inspired Genesis.” Sure. But believing in universal common descent does mean you have to reject what God said in Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, the Gospels, Paul’s writings, Peter’s writings, John’s writings, and a host of others. You are welcome to be inconsistent and carry internal contradictions, but don’t encourage others to follow you in this lunacy. As a follower of Christ and someone who trusts God’s Word, I reject the humanist origins myth—that is the Big Bang and all the cosmic evolution that had to take place after that, including abiogenesis and universal common descent from a single common ancestor.

“And if your non-Christian course mate thinks the gospel is compelling, but they couldn’t possibly believe that the world was created in the space of one week – that doesn’t have to stop them from following Jesus.” The Truth is offensive to those who are at war with God. Compromising the Truth of Scripture to win souls means you’re selling them a false Gospel. If you are embarrassed by the Bible and if you’re twisting the words of Scripture so you can win a friend, you’re not being honest with them or yourself. Can your friend believe a man dead 3 days rose from the grave under His own power and authority? It’s much harder, in my estimation, to believe in the Resurrection than it is to believe in the creation and Flood narratives.

“…you can be a Christian and accept evolution.” Very few people contest this, regardless of how you define evolution.

“In reality, we use the word ‘evolution’ in an everyday sense to mean any of a whole spectrum of related ideas.” This is what we’ve been saying forever. Evolutionists like to bait and switch or, more specifically, motte and bailey. It happens all the time. They say one thing and get you to agree and then, without indicating it, they use the same word but apply a completely different definition.

“‘Accepting evolution’ could just mean agreeing with the statement that organisms change and adapt to their surroundings over time, which is easy enough to observe in nature.” Few do not understand and accept. This is actually scientific. It’s observable. It’s demonstrable. Creationists do not argue against this at all. This is what most evolutionists will get creationists to agree to, but then they switch meanings (see below).

“…did everyone else look at peppered moths as a case study?” This is glorified as a wonderful example of evolution when it has nothing at all to do with it. Both colors of moth existed before and after “selection.” The relative numbers of each may have changed for a period. That is not evolution and is not at all related to universal common descent. And, as this article points out, it’s one of the best examples they’ve got, yet folks still believe this nonsense. If this isn’t indoctrination, I don’t know what is.

“Or we could use ‘evolution’ to mean the idea that all species, humans included, are descended from a single common ancestor, a single-celled organism swimming around in the primordial soup several billion years ago.” Yes, you can believe this, but it’s at odds with actual science and is completely at odds with what the Bible clearly tells us in multiple places about creation. Even the words of Christ Himself contradict this belief in universal common descent. Why trust man’s skewed interpretation of data he’s collected from a fallen world—beliefs that will be overturned by the next generation—rather than trust the Words of Almighty God who was there and told us about it? Do you believe Him or not? What other supernatural or historical events do you not accept from Scripture? Atheists, who are openly at war with God, need the Big Bang and universal common descent for their faith to exist. It’s the only reason such things are accepted. But to make their situation not look so utterly naïve, they slap the label “science” on it so they’re arguing from the smart guy’s position. It’s not true at all. Naturalism explains a lot, but it cannot explain origins, not even close.

We will rest here and pick it up again next week. I hope you find this quote-by-quote approach useful. I would encourage you, if you are interested, to search some of the key words in today’s blog post in the Worldview Warriors blog page to see other posts that have been written on the topics. Thanks for reading!

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1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 12, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
- 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Paul has been discussing the resurrection for this entire chapter, and he finally comes to his conclusion here, though this passage still leaves questions in our minds of exactly what will happen when the dead are raised.

In verse 50, he continues the contrast he brought up in the previous section about the perishable versus the imperishable. Our sinful bodies that we currently possess are not able to fully inherit the kingdom of God because they are perishable. These decaying bodies cannot be a part of the perfection that awaits us in eternal life. For us to experience eternity with God, our bodies must be changed so that they are perfect and imperishable. This is why our resurrected bodies are required to be different in some way than our current earthly bodies, as Paul previously discussed.

Paul acknowledges in verse 51 that a lot of this is mysterious to us. The Corinthians did not fully understand the details, and neither do we, though Paul will attempt to inform them (and us). When Paul says that not all of the believers will “fall asleep,” he implies that some will still be alive when Christ comes back for His second coming, as referenced in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.

All believers will receive some kind of body that is changed at the second coming of Christ. Verse 52 indicates that this change will be instantaneous – “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye.” Those who already died will be raised in their imperishable bodies, and those who are alive will be instantly changed and transformed.

What does that change look like? Paul clarifies it a bit more in verse 53 by saying that the perishable will be “clothed” with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality. Those whose physical, earthly bodies are decaying in the grave will be given new, imperishable bodies. Those who are mortal – still alive in this world – will be given immortal bodies that will last for eternity. All of our new bodies will never die or decay so that we can experience eternal life with Jesus Christ.

Why is all this necessary? As Paul says in verse 54, “The saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’” This saying is reminiscent of Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14. Paul further references the rhetorical questions from Hosea in verse 55: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Death does not have victory over us when we have our imperishable and immortal bodies. There is no sting of death when we will live forever with Jesus Christ.

What is the sting of death? Paul tells us in verse 56 that it is sin. Sin is the only reason that death exists. Sin only has that power because of the law, which explains God’s perfect standards to us. Because we sin and we are not able to live up to the perfect standards set in God’s law, our punishment is death (Romans 6:23a).

But, as the second half of Romans 6:23 tells us, “the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul reiterates that here in verse 57 by saying, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is only because of Jesus Christ that we have this victory and will not succumb to the sting of death that we deserve. As Hebrews 2:14-15 tells us, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”

But what does all of this mean for our daily lives as followers of Jesus? Paul tells us in verse 58: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Because of all of this that Paul has explained to us, we should fully work out whatever God has for us to do. Even if things are rough in this world, we know that we will have true victory, perfection, and immortality in the life to come.

Our bodies will be broken, sinful, and decaying while in this world, but because of Jesus Christ, we know that we will have perfect bodies in the future eternal life that we will share with Him. We should work toward that goal with everything that we do in this life, knowing that perfection awaits us one day because of the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus!

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Backstory of the Kings 21: Jotham and Ahaz

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, February 9, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The Bible races through Uzziah’s 52-year reign in Judah then comes to Jotham and basically skips over that one, too. There is very little coverage of Jotham’s 16-year reign other than he walked with the Lord but did not tear down the high places. His reign overlapped with Uzziah due to Uzziah’s leprosy, but nothing else is said worthy of attention. Jotham’s son Ahaz got a lot more attention, not just in Kings or Chronicles but also in Isaiah. A large portion of the early chapters of Isaiah consists of Isaiah preaching to Ahaz. The rules of Jotham and Ahaz are covered in 2 Chronicles 27-28.

Jotham was 25 years old when he became king and ruled for 16 years. Ahaz was 20 years old when he became king and ruled for 16 years. Jotham was born 27 years into Uzziah’s reign. Ahaz was born when Jotham was 21, four years before Uzziah died. But here is where it gets interesting. Hezekiah was 25 when he became king, and Ahaz was 36 when he died. What does that say? It means Ahaz fathered Hezekiah when he was 11 years old. That’s not biologically impossible, however, it does give a hint at what was going on spiritually during Ahaz’s youth.

During Uzziah’s and Jotham’s reigns, it is noted that while they walked with the Lord, the people did not. Hezekiah showcased this in greater detail. He walked with the Lord, and he tore down the high places, but the people sought out their idols one way or the other. One such idol that Hezekiah would destroy was the bronze serpent that Moses had made. It was being worshiped during Jotham’s and Ahaz’s reigns and very likely long before that too.

Jotham was moral, was religiously right before God, and did not bow before the idols, but he did nothing to stop his people from doing so. Ahaz went full-blown into idolatry. He didn’t merely worship the Baals and Asherah; he even sacrificed his children on the altar to Molech. Hezekiah was spared this fate because he was already 9 years old when Ahaz became king and was too old for such a sacrifice. The Molech worship required an infant, a newborn. Jotham was the fourth king in a row that did nothing about the idol worship going on in Judah, even though they did not worship them personally. When Ahaz became king, he went full out. Again, he fathered Hezekiah when he was 11 years old, which means he did the deed when he was 10. I get it was a different culture then, but it was the girls who tended to get married younger while the men often weren’t married until their 30s when they were old enough and mature enough to lead a home. We don’t know what was going on there other than idol worshiped was tolerated. Nearly all the idol worship going on involved sexual activity, and kids were not exempt. It was much more than just burning incense or a candle and offering food before a man-made statue. Whether Ahaz engaged in sexual activity as a ten-year-old in the practice of idol worship, or whether he witnessed something and was acting it out, or even if Jotham was involved or knew about it or what, it would not surprise me if this activity led to his choices as an adult to go full out in sin against God.

Both Jotham and Ahaz sat under the ministry of Isaiah. Jotham had peace in his day, but Ahaz had trouble. God rallied both Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Israel to reduce Judah to just Jerusalem. Isaiah spent multiple chapters telling Ahaz how the battles and the sieges with Rezin and Pekah would go. God treated both these pagan kings as smoldering wicks, candles on their final flame, before their final snuff out. But Ahaz refused to listen and instead turned to the idols even more than before. Syria beat him in battle and so Ahaz, instead of turning to the Lord as Isaiah strongly admonished him to do, turned to the gods of Syria and shut down the Temple. Because of his idolatry and his wickedness, he wasn’t even given a king’s burial when he died at a mere 36 years old.

Jotham is an example of someone who walks the Christian walk but does nothing about the sin going on around him. Scripture says very little about him, simply indicating him building some walls and cities and defeating the Ammonites again. That’s all we have, but by examining the spiritual status on Uzziah’s side and on Ahaz’s side, we can see that Jotham’s walk with the Lord was personal and involved nothing else. He didn’t even train his son, Ahaz, to walk in the ways of the Lord. And when people are only concerned about their own salvation, even if God does let them in, they will be marked as one who would have “unfulfilled potential” written on their tombstone. They will have “Yes, they professed the faith, but there was nothing real about it.” Jotham’s own son was a prepubescent father who then walked in idolatry, and I don’t believe Ahaz just started it when he became king. He may have kept his idolatry quieter as a youth, but there is no indication he ever walked with God.

Ahaz is partly a product of the apathy and complacency of a generation of four kings who supposedly walked with God but let the idolatry continue. Any one of these kings could have cut off the head of the snake, but they wanted to be politically correct and not offend the idol worshippers. They themselves may have thought it would be just fine to worship God at these high places. Joash and Amaziah turn to the idols. Uzziah usurped the role of a priest and sought to do a duty he was not permitted to do. Jotham did nothing but further build the kingdom’s physical might but did not touch the spiritual defenses. And Ahaz is a product of that, driven by his lust for power, for comfort, for ease, for everything that these other gods had to offer. He had no regard for God or Scripture or the things of God. He shut down the temple, which Hezekiah would reopen, and despised the wisdom of Isaiah, who proved God’s faithfulness time and time again. I believe it was Isaiah’s prophecies regarding Rezin and Pekah’s assault on Jerusalem going down precisely as he described that played a significant role in Hezekiah’s faithful rule and it was in that study that spawned this series. Next week, we’ll look at Hosea, the final king of Israel.

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1 Corinthians 15:42-49

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 5, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
- 1 Corinthians 15:42-49

Just before this, Paul began to address what our resurrected bodies will be like. In that passage, Paul established that our resurrected bodies will be different than our earthly bodies but yet mde from similar material. Here, he elaborates on that a bit, through we as humans still do not know many details of our resurrected bodies.

Verses 42-44a calls out three characteristics of our natural, earthly bodies: they are perishable, dishonorable, and weak. In contrast, our supernatural or resurrected bodies will be imperishable, glorious, and powerful. This verse continues the metaphor from the previous section about how a seed that is sown must die before it is “raised” as a new plant. The seed and the plant are similar substances yet also very different, and the same is true with our natural bodies versus our super natural bodies.

Philippians 3:20-21 also illustrates this transformation for us: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Our lowly, natural bodies will undergo a transformation as we go from natural to supernatural, from physical to spiritual. Jesus Christ has the power to make that transformation happen for us.

These contrasts help us see that there will be definite differences between our natural or earthly bodies the we possess today and the the supernatural, spiritual, resurrected bodies that we will experience one day in heaven. Jesus has brought immortality to those who follow Him, as referenced in 2 Timothy 1:10.

The last part of verse 44 states, “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” When Paul says that our resurrected bodies will be ‘spiritual,’ he is not meaning that we won’t have bodies in some way and exist only as spirit. But our ‘spiritual’ bodies will be different and have different functions than our earthly bodies. They will be bodies that can last for eternity and are given to us by God Himself.

These disctinctions are discussed more in the rest of this passage. In verse 45, Paul develops a contrast between two categories – the first Adam and the last Adam. Paul has used this contrast before, specifically in Romans 5:12-21. There, he talked about how sin and death came through one man (Adam) but life came through another man (Jesus). Here, he references the creation of Adam’s body in Genesis 2:7 in contrast to how the last Adam (Jesus) possesses a life-giving spirit.

Paul continues in verse 46 by stating that the natural came first and then the spiritual. While the account in Genesis 2 shares that God created Adam’s physical body before breathing the breath of life into his nostrils, this more likely refers to the spiritual body that will never die once a person receives eternal life. There will be some kind of transformation that occurs in our bodies, because our new, spiritual bodies will never become corrupt like our current, earthly ones.

Paul continues his contrast between Adam and Jesus by sharing their differences in creation. Adam was created from the dust of the earth, while Jesus was “of heaven” (verse 47). Jesus was not created, as He is God and has existed in eternity past. But when He came to earth as a man, He came from heaven. The Greek preposition used there could mean of, out of, from, etc.

This world that God has created is one of order, and following that principle, all people who are on the earth are of the earth, and those who are in heaven are of heaven (verse 48). We do not know exactly what that means, other than the continuing contrast Paul is making between earth and heaven. There will likely be some similarities, but our heavenly bodies will be different than our earthly bodies, just as heaven is different than the earth.

Finally, Paul wraps up this contrast by focusing on the image that we bear as humans in verse 49. The word used for ‘image’ there is the same word that’s used in Genesis 1:26 in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Just as we are created in God’s image on earth, we will also exist in God’s image in our heavenly bodies.

We do get some further insight into what our resurrected bodies may be like when we look at the accounts of Jesus appearing on earth after His resurrection in Luke 24:36-43 and John 20:19-21:25. Jesus was recognizable to the disciples, but at the same time, they also didn’t recognize Him. Paul also writes on this topic further in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, indicating that his responses here did not answer all of the Corinthians’ questions on this topic.

This passage does not answer all of the questions that we have about our resurrected bodies either. We really do not know any specifics about what these new bodies will be like, other than that they will be like these earthly bodies but also different in fundamental ways. While our earthly bodies will die, are stained by sin, and are weak, our supernatural, resurrected bodies will live forever in perfection and power that is granted to us through our faith in Jesus Christ, which can only come about by the grace of our perfect God.

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Backstory of the Kings 20: Zechariah through Pekah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, February 2, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

I am going to hit five kings in one go here. Early in the history of the Northern Kingdom when Baasha died, the kings Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Tibni ruled in a span of 12 years, about half of which was Omri alone. Now we get to another moment of violent turbulence for the throne. Zechariah, son of Jeroboam II, lasted six months before being assassinated. His killer, Shallum, lasted one month before being assassinated. His killer, Menahem, lasted ten years before dying. Menahem’s son Pekahiah lasted two years before being assassinated by Pekah. Pekah began his reign when Uzziah died. So in Uzziah’s 52-year reign, he out-lived five kings from Jeroboam II to Pekahiah. Pekah was the second to last king of Israel, and I’ll focus on him more than the others.

Of the five kings we will examine (Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah) only one, Shallum, is not marked for not departing from the sins of Jeroboam. Zimri who only had a seven-day reign was marked as such. Shallum was not identified as such, but he was no godly man. Shallum’s one-month reign is summarized in just four total verses, including his assassination of Zechariah.

During the political turmoil of Israel, another power came into play: Assyria. Menahem paid off Assyria to not completely capture them and thus became a vassal, a servant state of Assyria. Israel was allowed its independence, but it was ultimately under the thumb of Assyria. Pekah eventually came into the picture and Assyria began to take the towns and cities of Israel. At the end of Pekah’s reign, he joined up with Syria, which had not been completely conquered yet, and advanced upon Judah. Ahaz, the grandson of Uzziah, was ruling at this time, a new king with only a few years under his belt, and he paid off Assyria to help him. The prophet Isaiah spent quite a bit of his early ministry warning Ahaz to follow the Lord and not to turn to idols or other nations.

As I have mentioned in the past two weeks, the background for these kings is hardly given. There is not much to say. God had sent his prophets to warn Israel against turning from idolatry, yet those golden calves remained standing. That false representation of Jehovah remained, and God was tired of it. He let the kingdom of Israel stand for two reasons: 1) He did not want to break His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and 2) He fulfilled His promise to Jehu for his wiping out of Ahab’s line and the Baal worship. But once Jehu’s line met that promise, the bottom fell out, just as it did for Judah several generations later.

None of these kings took any regard for God, and the only king that God ever seemed to take notice of was Pekah – and that, only in the context of telling Ahaz that he was nothing, a dying tree, and a fading vapor. Just a few years after Ahaz’s death, the entire nation of Israel would be consumed by Assyria. And none of these kings seemed to learn from the kings who went before them or even from their brothers in Judah. In all the political turmoil of three assassinations (there would be a fourth when Hosea murders Pekah), Pekah seems to be the one to bring stability. It was not a healthy stability, but for 20 years, there was political stability. Assyria still controlled Israel at this point as tributes were demanded, and Hosea would try to rebel against them. Menahem had little stability because of Assyria swooping in; he had no power to do anything about it other than to bribe his way out and tax his people to the point of shattering their economy.

Everything in these kings’ reigns has nothing to do with God. They did not seek God. Jeroboam II set no principles or guidelines for what would follow. He just built up his political power, strengthened his army, and retook cities, but it was all political and not at all in any regard towards God. Jehu gave Israel a chance to turn to God. Elijah and Elisha were in active ministry, and Baal worship was out. But Jehu and those who followed gave little more than lip service to the true God. Those idols still stood and kept drawing people away from the true faith. Hosea was ministering during this time, and his message was a picture of a prostitute who kept going back and forth between her husband and other lovers. When we look at the history of the kings of Israel, we see them going back and forth between God and the idols. But the last one to turn towards God was Jehoash when he sought the advice of Elisha. There is no indication of anyone from Jeroboam II all the way through Hosea ever seeking the Lord even for a moment.

What can we learn from these kings? Jeroboam II was perhaps the strongest king of Israel politically. As soon as he died, the bottom fell out. It does not matter how strong of an economy or how strong politically a nation is; if God chooses to judge a nation, nothing man does to support it is going to stand. In the 41 years between Jeroboam II’s death and the formal fall of Israel to Assyria, it went from the strongest economy and military they had to total non-existence. There was some brief stability with Pekah, who kept things going the longest, but it was like the Great Depression between the two huge drops where there was momentary stability before everything crashed. God would judge Israel for its idolatry, and in two weeks when we examine Hosea to see how and why it all happened.

Next week, we’ll look at Jotham and Ahaz who sat under Isaiah’s ministry and witnessed what was going on with Israel.

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