Ask Me Anything!
When David took a census of Israel, was he prompted by the anger of the Lord or by Satan?
Can you explain the differences in 1 Chronicles 21:1 and 2 Samuel 24:1? Was it the anger of the Lord or Satan?
This is a great question. I don’t know if I explain this in any detail in my commentary. We’re talking about the occasion when King David decided to make a census of the people of Israel. This was forbidden by God. For a couple of reasons, God did not want the kings of Israel to make a census, to count the number of people in their kingdom.
First, it could lead to pride. Counting can lead to pride, when you see how much you have, and you take pride in it. But probably, it’s very much tied to an ancient Near East concept. It was a Hebraic concept but also went broader than just the Jewish culture of the ancient world. But this ancient Near East concept was that you only count what you own. We can all understand that. You don’t count the money in somebody else’s bank account; you count the money in your own bank account. You only count what you own.
Therefore, for a king of Israel to say, “I’m going to take a census,” was a rebellious act of self-assertiveness against God. It was basically telling God, “These people belong to me; they don’t belong to You.” And God didn’t want the kings of Israel to have that attitude.
Therefore, in 2 Samuel 24, when David took a census of the people of Israel, David sinned. In His correction or rebuke of that sin, God offered David a choice between three bad fates: a widespread famine, an invasion by an enemy, or a plague upon the land. David picked the one that would most put him in the hands of God.
Now, our question concerns the issue that in 1 Chronicles 21, it says that it was the hand of Satan doing this against him. But in 2 Samuel 24, it was the anger of the LORD against him. Which one was it? I’ll be very straightforward with you. I think the answer is, “Both.” There was anger from the Lord against David. God was correcting David His servant in this; there’s really no doubt about that. But Satan was, and perpetually is, angry against the people of God and wants to attack them.
My answer is a bit evasive; I may be trying to get the best of both worlds. But I really think it is the most accurate. There is a very true sense in which both were angry with David. Satan was angry with the ruler over God’s people, as he would be all the time. But the Lord angry with David in a corrective sense of wanting to correct His people. I think this is one of those situations in the Bible where we don’t have to make a choice between the two, but one can actually include or accommodate the other.
When will the rapture of the church happen?
Listen to David Guzik’s teaching on the Rapture from his series, God’s Plan for the Ages: https://youtu.be/2QiXG7bpKec
That’s a great question, and I have answered it extensively on my website. You can go to either the YouTube channel or to the website, enduringword.com.
I believe in the pre-tribulation rapture theory. In other words, I don’t believe that there are any events on the prophetic calendar which need to be checked off before God catches away His church. I believe that it can happen at any moment, which in some sense is a thrilling thought. Here I am, at 12:08pm on a Thursday afternoon in Southern California, as I speak these words right now, but before I’m done with this program at 1:00pm, it’s entirely possible that the Rapture could happen.
Now, this is something of a controversial position among some Christians. There are Christians who have different conceptions. There is general agreement among Christians who take what we call a pre-millennial stance. That’s the first big dividing line of believers. I don’t mean dividing in necessarily a negative sense; these are just different opinions on the Scripture. Christians have different opinions over the nature of the Kingdom of Jesus and how it comes to the earth.
I am among those who believe that Jesus Christ will return to this earth in conquering triumph; He will return with His church; and at that point, He will establish His kingdom, which at least in some sense will never end, and in another sense, has a unique 1000-year period to it. So that would make me what is called a pre-millennial Christian.
There are other Christians who believe that this Millennium, this 1000-year reign of Christ, is simply allegorical in nature. I know I’m not really giving justice to that description, but for the time being, let’s accept that description for the idea of millennialism.
Then there is post-millennialism, which believes in this literal reign of Christ on the earth, but they believe that it’s done through the church. They believe Jesus Christ will return in conquering triumph after some time, after the Church has basically won the world to Jesus Christ and brought all institutions under the authority of Jesus Christ. Again, that’s known as the post-millennial idea.
I am very much decidedly pre-millennial. Among those who believe in this pre-millennial standpoint, most believe that, before the triumphant return of Jesus Christ, there’s going to be a seven-year period of great calamity, called by Jesus Himself a time of great tribulation.
Among that group, there are different opinions about when the catching away of the church will happen. Some believe will happen before that seven-year period begins, some believe it will happen sometime in the middle, and some believe will happen sometime at the end. I’m not going to go into all the reasons why I believe that the Bible teaches a pre-tribulational rapture. But I do believe that this catching away of the church is described in that kind of scenario. You can go to the different resources I have on the YouTube channel for more information.
I believe I understand the biblical arguments of those with whom I disagree, and those who disagree with my perspective. I don’t think they’re stupid, or unspiritual. But I do think that there are some important differences in the way that they understand and approach some of these Scriptures. Sometimes it’s the issue of priority, and sometimes an issue of interpretation.
I don’t believe in the pre-millennial, pre-tribulational framework because I believe it has no problems. I believe I’m familiar with the interpretive problems associated with the pre-millennial and pre-tribulational framework. However, when I examine the other frameworks and other approaches, I believe quite strongly that the problems with those approaches are even more profound and even more difficult to deal with than the view to which I adhere. I believe that the approach I and others take on this issue has fewer problems and less severe problems than the other approaches.
How did Moses find out he was a Hebrew?
That is a tremendous question, and I think there’s a very suitable answer to it. Remember that in God’s wonderful providence, not only did the father and mother of Moses put him in a basket, cover it with asphalt or pitch, and send it out on the Nile River, but the mother of Moses also carefully followed the progress of that basket as it made its way down the Nile River. When Pharaoh’s daughter took it, and embraced that little baby to herself, the mother of Moses volunteered to be the nursemaid for this little baby. So not only did the mother of Moses continued to act as mother to Moses, at least in his young childhood, she also got paid for it. That’s a good deal, don’t you think?
You can just imagine that Moses as a boy, being raised by his nursemaid or nanny who was actually his own mother, would hear her whisper into his ear, “Don’t forget that you’re a Hebrew. Don’t forget that you’re Jewish. Don’t forget who you really are.” We are not told specifically in the Bible, but the most likely explanation for Moses’ knowledge of his own identity as a Hebrew and a Jewish man, was that he heard this from his own mother, who was his nursemaid, or nanny, as a boy, and that she instilled this within him.
When the Bible says, “No one knows the day or the hour of His return,” is it referring to the Jews and the Second Coming, or to the Church and the Rapture?
I believe that this passage refers to the Church and the Rapture. This is one of the reasons why I believe that the catching away of the Church and the triumphant second coming of Jesus are two events that are separated by some appreciable time. There are several reasons why I believe that, and one of the reasons is indicated by your question right here.
Sometimes the Bible describes the return of Jesus at a time and place where the whole earth understands exactly what is going on. The kings and leaders of the world know that it’s the coming of Jesus. The Bible gives an exact day count from the time of the abomination of desolation, a critical event in God’s prophetic timetable, until the glorious return of Jesus Christ. For this and a few other reasons, we have reason to believe in the predictability of the glorious return of Jesus Christ, perhaps even to the exact day. But there is another aspect of the return of Jesus, to which no man knows the day or the hour. It’s absolutely unknown.
I believe that the known return of Jesus is the return of Jesus described when He returns for His church, the catching away of the Church described in 1 Thessalonians. This is the aspect of Jesus’ return that is known to the whole world, or at least capable of being known to the whole world, that is his triumphant and glorious Second Coming.
Now, let me add this to this. There are some people who belittle the idea that I just spoke to about, and they say something to this effect: “How many second comings of Jesus are you going to claim to have? Doesn’t this make His glorious return actually the third coming of Jesus? I thought that Jesus was going to come again once and not twice.” No, listen carefully.
Think about the first coming of Jesus. There were many different aspects to the first coming of Jesus. If I were to ask you the question, “When did Jesus come to the earth the first time? When did He come as the Messiah?” I could give you several different answers to that. You could say that Jesus came to the earth when He was conceived in the womb of Mary. You could say that He came to the earth when He was born in Bethlehem. You could say that He came to the earth when He began His earthly ministry; that’s another aspect of His first coming. You could say that He came to the earth when He presented himself as the Messiah demonstrably at the Triumphal Entry. That’s at least four, and we could probably think of more different aspects of Jesus’ first coming, each one of them being some way in which He came to the earth or came to Israel and presented Himself.
Why would it surprise us that there is more than one aspect to the Second Coming, the Parousia of Jesus Christ, His glorious appearing? I believe that’s exactly what we’re talking about with the catching away of the Church and his glorious, triumphant return. These are two different aspects of one thing that’s lumped together in the idea of the Second Coming.
Does the Bible allow a woman to be a street preacher?
I know that in the bible it says that woman should not be lead pastors or teaching the bible in the church, but can a woman be a street preacher?
I would agree with you: I do believe that the Bible teaches that women should not be in places of congregational leadership, as you mentioned, such as a lead pastor, or teaching the Bible in the church. You can go through my YouTube library or the website to see the reasons why I believe that the Bible teaches that.
But I don’t see any restriction in the Bible for a woman doing the kind of evangelism that you’re speaking about. I just don’t see it. If there is any restriction to that in the Bible which I’m overlooking, please inform me, but I can’t think of any passage in the Bible which says that women are restricted in their ability or privilege of evangelism or preaching the gospel, such as being an open-air street preacher. I can’t think of any biblical restriction to that.
Do you have any advice for people having demonic dreams?
Why do people have demonic dreams repeatedly (such as being possessed, violence, sexual attacks), and how does one get them to stop?
I’m going to be honest with you about my limitations in addressing this question. First, I don’t ever recall having such dreams myself. So, I don’t have firsthand knowledge. Now, of course, I’ve spoken with people who have told me about such dreams that they’ve had. So, I am aware of the phenomenon that you’re speaking of, but not by firsthand experience.
Secondly, I don’t think this is something which the Bible directly addresses. We do know that in some way, demonic spirits have communicative ability to our minds. We know that they present temptations or influence us with tempting thoughts. And we really don’t know the mechanics behind this; we just know that it’s true that in some way, demonic spirits can communicate to our minds. I don’t know that the Bible gives us an adequate answer to how that works.
We do have a bit more of an answer to the last part of your question. How does one get them to stop? I don’t know how we can stop dreaming about anything. It’s possible that the more you tell yourself, “I’m not going to dream about this,” it’s almost more likely that you would have such a dream. I can’t say that with authority, but it seems like that might be the case.
But I do want you to know that we have the standard tools, or weapons, of spiritual warfare. I’m going to assume that you’re familiar with the spiritual warfare passage in Ephesians 6, or James 5, where it says, “Submit yourself to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
If I were speaking with a believer who was troubled by demonic dreams, and very much wanted those dreams to stop, I think I would begin by just counseling them to have a time of prayer before they go to bed. I would suggest that they metaphorically put on the armor of God, to fill their heart and mind with God’s Word, to pray a prayer of submission to God and resistance against the devil and all his agents, and then to claim a promise from Psalm 127:2, that He gives His beloved sleep.
Despite all of that, it may still be possible for somebody to have what seems to them to be a demonic dream. I wouldn’t regard it as useless to do these things, even if the attack persisted. Here’s something I’ve noticed from my own experience, and from talking to others about their experiences over the years: Oftentimes some kind of spiritual warfare or demonic attack will continue until we demonstrate a steadfast refusal to be shaken by such an attack. What I mean is that we shouldn’t be surprised if the devil does not flee at our first expression of resistance.
Now, I believe that verse in James; I believe it with all my heart; it’s in the Bible: resist the devil, submit yourself to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. I understand that. But sometimes it’s not the first expression of resistance that makes the devil flee. It is the continued demonstration of resistance that makes the devil flee. We need to demonstrate to the spiritual realm which exists around us that we are living for God and His pleasure, and we will not be shaken, and there’s nothing that can shake us from our faith in Jesus Christ.
Does 2 Timothy 2:20-21 suggest that we are saved by faith and works instead of by Christ’s death?
Someone recently challenged me online about my faith in the gospel of Christ saying no one ever got saved by His death but by faith and works. Based on 2 Timothy 2:20-21 I stepped back. How would you suggest I reply?
2 Timothy 2:20-21 – But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
This passage is not speaking about salvation. This is a passage speaking about service, how someone can be used by God. If I’m teaching through 2 Timothy and come to this passage, and see it in its context, where it’s talking about someone being used by God, this is talking about service unto God, unto His people, and unto a needy world. It’s not talking about the way to salvation.
In answer to a person who says that nobody ever got saved by Jesus’ death, there are many, many passages which talk about the salvation that comes to us through the death of Jesus, through His blood. Remember, when the New Testament uses that phrase, “the blood of Jesus,” it’s referring in a shorthand way to His death. In these passages, we see repeatedly that the death of Jesus, His sacrifice on our behalf, was absolutely essential for our salvation.
Remember that Jesus, on the night before He was crucified God together with the disciples, He put the cup in front of His disciples. That cup was the picture of not only His suffering, but the wrath of God that was about to be poured out upon Him. The cup is an Old Testament picture of the wrath of God poured out upon His enemies, those who are ripe for judgment. When Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood,” He established the New Covenant. He established the basis for our salvation by what He did in his sacrificial death.
The person quoting you that passage doesn’t understand that it’s speaking about service, not salvation. It is true that our own personal sanctification, holiness, or obedience, does make a significant difference in our service. But it’s not what determines our salvation.
Is it proper for a whole congregation to “pray in the Spirit” or speak in tongues at the same time?
I was at a church where the pastor said, “Let us begin to pray in the Spirit.” And many of the congregation began to pray/speak in tongues or so it seemed. Is this biblical? Does that edify the church?
Here’s my understanding from 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. I would recommend that you read those chapters in my commentary at enduringword.com, especially regarding the use of tongues in church services. But to give you a direct answer, no, I don’t think that is biblical.
Paul seemed to make an exception for the use of the gift of tongues. He said that it should not be done simultaneously at a church service but done in order. When a person prays or speaks in tongues, they are not speaking unto man but unto God. In the church service, things are not to be done primarily for the individual’s edification, but for the edification or building up or spiritual blessing of the gathered group, not just a particular individual.
So, Paul specifically says that the gift of tongues in a church service should only be used by two or three people at the most, and each of those in turn, and never without an interpretation of the tongue, because that’s what really edifies one another. Now, there are people who say, “Well, this practice of congregational speaking in tongues would be fine at something like a believer’s meeting; it would give no cause of offense or stumbling to a non-believer in their presence.” I wouldn’t get legalistic about such things. But plainly speaking, that’s not what the Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote about the Lord’s will for the church. Paul specifically prescribed order in the church services.
I’m assuming that what you’re talking about is a Sunday morning service, a worship service open for the public, and not a special service where they said, “Hey, we’re just believers here, so perhaps we might give more latitude to the things of the Spirit.” If there was someone at that gathering who did not yet believe, and they heard the whole group speaking in tongues, they would have every reason to think, “These people are crazy! What’s going on?” That’s what Paul said we should seek to avoid, so that we don’t needlessly give offense to unbelievers.
Are ghosts in castles and haunted places lost souls from Hades, or are they demons who trick people?
I would say that they’re demonic spirits to trick people. Besides one exception, we don’t have any evidence in the Bible of people coming back from the realm of the dead, to haunt or speak to people. And in fact, the effort to contact the dead in the world beyond is prohibited by the Bible. God prohibits it.
There is the one unique exception; I would consider it to be an absolute one-off, and not anything upon which any doctrine or practice should be based.
In 1 Samuel 28, I believe that God uniquely sent Samuel back from the realm of the dead to speak to the disobedient King Saul, and to pronounce judgment upon him. There are a lot of different reasons why I believe that this was an actual appearance of Samuel, and not just some conjuring trick from a witch or sorcerer or medium. I won’t get into those reasons now. But I do not believe that this very unusual situation sets an example or a precedent for anything that we should practice.
I believe that whenever there is a real phenomenon occurring, I would say most certainly that it is demonic in character, and it is not a visitation from the dead.
How do you tell the difference between a real preacher and a false preacher, if both know the word of God?
Christians need to have a sense of whether somebody is rightly dividing the Word of God. Just because someone opens a Bible and reads a few verses doesn’t mean everything they say, or even the majority of what they say, is biblical. There are more than a few preachers who read a couple verses, and then completely depart from those verses. There are other preachers or teachers who read some verses, but then twist those verses to try to make them say something that the text does not actually say.
Christians need some discernment to understand those who rightly divide the word of truth. That’s the phrase that Paul uses in 2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
The concept of rightly dividing the word of truth means being able to understand and explain it in its context and its true sense. Now, let’s be honest: nobody does that perfectly. There is no perfect Bible interpreter. But we need to work hard to do the best we can. When we see that we might be mistaken or misinformed in our biblical understanding, we need to do something about it, and change to be more accurate according to the Scriptures. This is a process of growing in Christian discernment.
You can also discern something about false teachers if they are ignoring significant aspects of the Christian life. It would require being very familiar with somebody’s teaching to be able to notice this, but if a person never teaches on obedience, holiness, the cost of discipleship, the place of suffering in the Christian life, or if they only mention them once every 10 years or so, then I think it can fairly be said that they’re not rightly dividing the word of truth. Therefore, they are doing a disservice to the people to whom they are preaching. That’s a difficult determination to make, because to do so fairly, you need to look at somebody’s teaching over the last one or two years, which to be honest is a lot of work. But if we want to understand others in fairness, we need to give attention to those things.
We need to be familiar enough with the Scriptures ourselves so that we can understand when somebody is taking the Scriptures out of context, or when they’re misapplying or misunderstanding them. Sometimes it might take a little bit of searching or study on our part to do it. But it should be done.
I’ll say this to any teachers or preachers who might happen to listen to this. We should not at all be offended when people evaluate our teaching in light of the Scriptures. Do you remember what the Bible says about the Bereans? Acts 17:10-11 describes the people of the city of Berea to whom Paul came and preached. It said that they were more noble than other believers because they diligently searched the Scriptures to see if the things which Paul taught about were actually true. Well, that’s a very noble thing to do.
If the Bible compliments believers for going to the Scriptures to analyze and judge the teaching of the Apostle Paul, then I should not be offended in the slightest if believers go to the Scriptures, to understand, judge, and assess my own teaching.
Is the entire Tribulation God’s wrath, or only the last 3 1/2 years? Will Christians be present for all 7 years?
I know the church isn’t appointed to wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9), but is all of the tribulation God’s wrath? Some say only the last 3 1/2 years are God’s wrath. Will we be here for all 7 years?
There are many wonderful believers in Jesus, who don’t accept this framework of understanding the Second Coming of Jesus, which we would call the Great Tribulation. But that’s a different issue. I’m speaking now to those who do accept this premillennial framework of this 7-year period of Great Tribulation.
The Bible seems to describe that the real wrath of God is concentrated in the final 3 1/2 years of this Great Tribulation. This happens after what Jesus and the prophet Daniel called the Abomination of Desolation. The wrath of God is concentrated in that latter period. But there is certainly some aspect of tribulation and difficulty in the first 3 1/2 years.
This is one of the reasons why, even though I adhere to the concept of a pre-tribulation catching away of the Church, I think there is a far greater case for a mid-tribulation Rapture than there is for a post-tribulation Rapture. I know that many lovely Christians would disagree with me on this, but that’s not the point here. Considering some of the passages which describe Jesus, a post-tribulation Rapture concept seems to be relatively weak. I think there are other good reasons for believing in a pre-tribulation Rapture. But in some sense, the entire seven-year period that we would call the Great Tribulation is an expression of judgment. It’s just the greatest expression of that judgment takes place in the second half of it.
Should we pray to God or to Jesus? Does it make any difference?
We understand that Jesus is God. God the Father is God. God the Son, Jesus Christ, is God. The Holy Spirit is God. Whether we pray to Jesus, or to God, or to the Holy Spirit, we would be praying to God. So. the issue is not praying to God.
The issue is praying to God the Father. Throughout the Scriptures, we see the pattern of praying to God the Father, through the mediation and access that we gain through God the Son, through the empowering and inspiration that we get from God the Holy Spirit. True prayer is an expression of the Triune God. We pray to God the Father, through the mediation and the help of God the Son, with the inspiration and assistance of God the Holy Spirit.
Now, is it wrong to pray directly to Jesus as God? No, it’s not wrong. Neither is it wrong to directly pray to God the Holy Spirit. We want to acknowledge that the general emphasis in the Scriptures is to direct our prayers to God the Father, and I think that’s a fine pattern. But there’s nothing wrong with praying to God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Are Christians today to keep biblical holidays?
I will assume that you’re referring to the feasts of ancient Israel. Some Christians keep those feasts today; most Christians don’t. Let me refer you to last week’s the lead question of our Q&A, where we discussed Christians and the Sabbath. I’ll summarize: No, Christians are not under obligation to keep the Jewish feasts, such as Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, Passover, Purim, the Feast of Tabernacles, and so on. Christians are not obligated to keep these feasts.
However, we do have freedom in Jesus Christ to keep them. If someone wants to keep them, and keep them unto the glory of God, in recognition of how Jesus has fulfilled these feasts, praise the Lord – it can be a wonderful thing. But we should not put that obligation upon ourselves or upon other brothers or sisters. We have freedom in Jesus Christ to observe those aspects of the ceremonial law or to not observe those aspects in ceremonial law, as we may feel led, and according to our conscience. We are not forbidden to keep them, but neither are we commanded to keep them.
What will we eat in the Millennium?
In the Millennium, since nothing will harm us on the holy mountain, what will we eat that can take the place of meat?
We’re going to eat angel food cake in the Millennium. No, of course, I’m joking. I don’t know what we’re going to eat the Millennium. It could be produced from the ground. It could be something like manna, a divine creation of food and sustenance. Or it could be something that we can’t even conceive of now. The Bible doesn’t specifically say. There are some indications that in the Millennium, humanity will revert to a vegetarian diet. I don’t think it’s clear enough to be dogmatic about it, but there are indications of that.
Of course we will eat the produce of the ground, we may eat something which God especially creates, such as manna. Or maybe we’ll eat something that we just can’t even imagine. But I can promise you this: whatever God gives us to eat in the Millennial Kingdom is going to be great.
Now, I don’t believe that we who are believers and belong to the Church now will be citizens of the Millennial Earth. We will be residents and have access to Millennial Earth, and we will have access to Heaven as well; we’ll have access to both places. But we will be God’s agents to administer and to rule over the Millennial Earth and those who are left behind after the glorious return of Jesus, described at the end of the book of Revelation and other passages.
Are the Hebrew Israelites correct when they say that the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God are for the Israelites, not the Christians?
No, the Hebrew Israelites are incorrect in that. Because very consciously, the New Covenant was going to be offered to the entire Earth. We see this in its Old Testament promises, and we see it in its New Testament fulfillment; the new covenant was intended for the entire earth. The covenant that God made with Abraham has a blessing for the whole earth. But the covenant itself was for Abraham and his genetic descendants, although it obviously contains a blessing for the whole earth. The Mosaic Covenant, the Old Covenant, the covenant of Mount Sinai, that was specifically made with the nation of Israel. But the New Covenant, both in Old Testament promises and in New Testament fulfillment, specifically says that it is for the entire earth and for all the nations.
It would be correct to say that there is a limit to of the covenants, regarding the Old Testament covenants, most notably the Abrahamic covenant. Again, I want to make it clear, the Abrahamic Covenant says that it includes a blessing to the entire earth, but it is not a covenant made with the entire Earth. So there’s the Abrahamic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the Old Covenant or Mosaic Covenant. Those covenants are narrower in whom the covenant is made with: Israel, or the genetic descendants of Abraham, specifically; the covenant descendants of Abraham. But the New Covenant is consciously given to the entire earth. So, I would say that they are incorrect with that assumption.