Live from Petra, Jordan
This week’s Q&A is live from Petra, Jordan, with David Guzik, Lance Ralston, Miles DeBenedictis, and Chuck Musselwhite.
David Guzik: I am speaking to you from a hotel room near Petra, Jordan. Early tomorrow morning, I’m going to visit Petra with three friends of mine who are on the board of Enduring Word. Petra is an amazing place. I’ve been there a few times before. It was built by the Nabateans. Instead of a lead question today, I am going to invite my oldest and dearest friend in ministry, Lance Ralston, to give a short history about Petra.
Short History of Petra, the Edomites, and the Nabateans
Lance Ralston: Hey, folks, how are you doing? The Nabateans built Petra. An online search for Petra will show you some interesting pictures of the ruined city. The Nabateans were a nomadic Arabic tribe in the Saudi Arabian Peninsula. The area that we’re in right now, which they eventually developed into the city of Petra, was actually the ancient biblical realm of Edom. But the Edomites fell into decline, and their civilization and culture kind of fell apart. When they left the area, they were defeated by David and some of the other kings of Israel. And then the other big foreign powers like Babylon came down and really ended them, so the area became empty.
Then the Nabateans, who were a nomadic Arabic tribe, moved into the area. They were specialists at water preservation because they had been in the Saudi Arabian Peninsula. They had developed some very unique ways to reserve water, using the little bit of rainfall that they would get. They managed to be able to hang onto it and survive on that. So, when they moved into this area and settled down, no longer wandering around, they really took that to the next level. They developed some really interesting methods of water preservation, collecting water and putting it in big reservoirs.
They also turned the city of Petra into a center of trade. They became known as the major trade force for this entire area. All of the East West trade went through Petra, including everything that was coming out of the south end of the Saudi Arabian Peninsula – which is modern-day Yemen and the surrounding area – was traveling to the west over to Gaza, where it would be placed on ships and then go to the rest of the Mediterranean world. This was one of the places the traders stopped because it was one of the few places that actually had water. And where there’s water, there’s agriculture. The Nabateans had built up the agriculture of the area as well. So, all these caravans would stop here to resupply with water, food, and supplies, rest a little bit, and then finish the last part of their journey down to Gaza.
At the end of the first century, the Romans came in. It’s a complicated story. But they eventually came in and at first, the Nabateans were working with them. The Romans began to build some of their own places within the city of Petra itself. And then, as the Romans did, “Today, they’re your friend, and tomorrow they take over.” That’s what they did here. There are some great ruins here.
An interesting thing about the architecture here is that because it’s sandstone it was really easy to carve but would also hold up pretty well. Because they didn’t have to use any of their carvings as actual structures to support roofs or anything, they could just carve these structures into the cliff face, which you would never be able to make freestanding. So, the architecture here is a mix of both Babylonian Persian, Egyptian, and eventually Roman architecture styles all mish-mashed together.
David Guzik: Thank you, Lance. How many times have you been to Petra?
Lance Ralston: This is only my second time.
David Guzik: Miles, you’ve been twice before. And Chuck, this is going to be your first time here. We’re very excited about tomorrow. We’re going to go to Petra, and then after that, we’re going to go to Jabal al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia, which is an alternative site for Mount Sinai. If everything goes well, I’ll be doing a live Q&A from there next Thursday.
We’ve been in the Kingdom of Jordan for a couple of days. I really enjoy coming here. The last time I was in Jordan, about a year ago, we met with some wonderful pastors and Christian workers. We were able to communicate with them about the translation of my Bible Commentary into Arabic. That’s one of the big things that we are dedicated to doing here at Enduring Word: translating the Bible Commentary into the 10 most used languages in the world, plus some strategic languages. We’ve been making a lot of progress in the last year on our Farsi translation, and I’m very grateful for that.
Who did the Edomites descend from?
David Guzik: The Edomites descended from Esau, the brother of Jacob. Abraham had a son whose name was Isaac. Isaac and Rebecca had twins, and their names were Jacob and Esau. The Bible is very specific that the Edomites descended from Esau and not from Jacob. That was the source of the Edomite people. They are a sort of a cousin nation to the people of Israel.
Interestingly, when the Edomite population here in the modern-day Kingdom of Jordan had declined enough, they moved out of this area, and went to an area in South Judea, south of Jerusalem, closer to Be’er Sheva (Beersheba). There they became known as the Idumeans. Herod the Great, the great king who ruled when Jesus was born, was an Idumean. Therefore, he descended from the Edomites, yet not when they were here in the land of Edom, that is Jordan. Instead, by that time they had migrated over to the area of Judea.
Concerning Revelation 21, why will God destroy heaven and create a new one if it’s considered to be a holy place?
David Guzik: Miles tells us that the Greek word for “new,” kainos, can be translated as “renewed” or “fresh.” The ancient Greek language had two words for new: one of them meant absolutely new, and the other one meant renewed or fresh.
Lance added that it’s important to make the distinction that the new heavens and the new earth is not speaking of the heavens where God dwells. That doesn’t need to be made new. But the Bible uses the term heavens to refer to three areas: the blue sky, the Earth’s atmosphere; the night sky, which we would call outer space; and then the third heaven, or the third idea of heaven, is the heaven where God dwells. So, when we talk about a new heavens and a new earth, we’re not talking about a new place where God dwells. That heaven of God’s home never needs to be replaced. I would say that the heaven referred to here is the blue sky and the night sky; it’s the heaven that’s relevant to physical creation.
There’s a sense in which God has a divine purpose for this physical universe, but it’s not the same as the heaven where God dwells. I would just make that distinction. If by new heaven and new earth you’re thinking of the heaven where God dwells, I don’t think it refers to that at all. It refers to the heaven of material creation.
What is your understanding of 1 Corinthians 14:22?
1 Corinthians 14:22 – Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.
David Guzik: Lance, why were you chuckling when I was reading that question? Because it’s a well-known conundrum. It is a difficulty, isn’t it? I’ll admit that this is one of the most challenging verses in the New Testament. I’m going to quote from my commentary on this passage:
Here, the straight reading of the text presents one of the most difficult passages in the New Testament. In the straight reading of the text, Paul is plainly saying tongues is a sign to unbelievers, and prophecy is a sign for those who believe.
The problem comes when we see what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:23-25. First, that if unbelievers hear tongues in a meeting, they will not be blessed, but will say that you are out of your mind. Second, if unbelievers hear prophecy and are convicted in their hearts, their reaction may be to worship God and report that God is truly among you. So, in 1 Corinthians 14:23-25, Paul seems to indicate that tongues are not beneficial in ministering to unbelievers, while prophecy is beneficial to unbelievers. So, how then can tongues be a sign to unbelievers, and prophecy be a sign better suited for those who believe? There seems to be a contradiction between 1 Corinthians 14:22 and 1 Corinthians 14:23-25.
Perhaps Paul is saying that tongues are indeed a sign to unbelievers, but not a positive sign. They are a sign of judgment, as the unknown tongues of the Assyrians were in Isaiah’s day.
In the prophecy of Isaiah referenced in the above section, Isaiah was saying essentially, “These foreigners are going to come and conquer you, Israel, the Northern Kingdom, and you’re going to hear your conquerors speak languages you don’t understand. And that will be a sign of judgment to you.” I think that’s probably the best way to take it.
In this way, tongues indeed are a sign to unbelievers, but it is a sign that condemns them as they regard tongues speakers as being out of their minds.
This is a very challenging passage, but I think that’s the best way to understand it. Paul is saying that tongues are indeed a sign, but not a positive one for unbelievers. Before I move on, anything to add to that, guys?
Chuck Musselwhite: Having grown up in a Pentecostal church, when you hear a true message of tongues, there’s a power of the Spirit there which seizes even believers. But non-believers cast it off. They’re like, “What’s going on here?” It’s almost like a rendering from God, where He’s saying, “Okay, I’m here. Are you going to respond?”
David Guzik: Friends, I don’t know how well you can hear that. Chuck’s over on the other side of the room. Chuck grew up in Pentecostal circles, and he’s saying that if there is a genuine gift of tongues being offered forth, and a genuine interpretation as the Bible commands, there’s something very spiritually powerful there. And that spiritual power is something that can be a sign to unbelievers. I would just echo that and say “Amen” to that.
How are Tribulation martyrs included in Christ’s marriage and heavenly reward?
If the “marriage supper” happens after the Bema Seat Judgment, how are the martyrs that come out of the Tribulation into the Millennial Reign included in Christ’s marriage and the heavenly reward?
David Guzik: I’m interested to know what my friends here think. But I don’t make a big deal out of sequential chronology in these things. I wouldn’t be firm on the idea that the marriage supper of the Lamb does happen before that. Now, I’m not saying that it doesn’t. I think there’s an argument to be made for it. But I think that we can easily make too much out of order of chronology in the Scriptures, especially when you’re dealing with these prophetic or apocalyptic passages. I think it’s something to be cautious about, and possibly avoided in that respect.
Paul refers to the Bema Seat judgment in 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and in Romans, if I remember correctly. The judgement at the Bema Seat isn’t to determine seating arrangements at the marriage supper of the Lamb. The judgment at the Bema Seat is to indicate role, reward, and responsibilities to God’s resurrected people who will be His servants in a millennial Earth. I see it in that way. It’s not necessary that the Bema Seat judgment happens before the marriage supper of the Lamb. It’s not impossible for it to be, but I don’t think it’s something to get hung up on, because it’s just not necessary. The Bema Seat, that judgment of believers unto reward, doesn’t have to happen before the marriage supper of the Lamb. Any other thoughts here, gentlemen?
Lance Ralston: The marriage supper of the Lamb is about our union with Christ.
David Guzik: Right. It’s a celebratory meal. The marriage supper was the best party that an Old Testament Biblical person ever went to. So, it’s no surprise that God uses that kind of imagery to describe our union with Christ. But the Bema Seat is for reward, again, not for seating arrangements. You don’t have to worry, “Who will I be seated next to at the marriage supper of the Lamb?” No, it won’t matter, believe me.
If evil wasn’t created, where did it come from? Or was evil created by God?
David Guzik: There’s a passage in Isaiah where God takes credit for creating evil. Guys, am I thinking of that right?
Miles DeBenedictis: In Isaiah 45:7, God says that He creates [evil] calamity. But it appears that it’s in the context of what He’s doing to Babylon.
Isaiah 45:7 – I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.’
David Guzik: Yes, yes. It’s a very specific context. If there’s any sense in which it is true that God creates evil, it’s the sense of allowing it and making a universe where evil can exist. We must recognize that it was possible for God to create a universe where evil just never existed. God could have done that. But God chose to create a world where evil could exist. And, in reference to that Isaiah passage, God deliberately did things and was active in creating things that were perceived as evil, because they were great judgments upon the nations, and sometimes upon His own people, Judah and Israel.
When a person is on the receiving end of judgment, they regard it as evil. They do. It’s almost universal in that respect. And God would say, “I am the author of that.”
So, we understand that evil is created by God in the sense that He allows it. And sometimes, that terminology can also be used because God sends a judgment that is regarded as being evil by those who receive it. But I’ll add one other thing to this.
Evil, as it exists in the world, is not a new thing. It’s a twisting and making crooked of something that is good which God has created. God didn’t have to create anything special for there to be evil in the world. God created good things, but good things that could be twisted, gifts that could be misused, blessings that could be abused, outpourings of His grace that could be taken advantage of. In one way or another, every evil in this world is a twisting of some good thing that God has created. So, God didn’t have to create a separate category of evil. He created good that had the potential to be twisted, and that’s what evil is in this world.
Was the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 fulfilled by Christ?
David Guzik: I love talking about the New Covenant. My answer is two-fold: yes, and not completely. Let me explain. The New Covenant passages are so dear to me because they explain so much of the work of Jesus, and how God wants us to live in the present age. They concern the new work that would be instituted by Jesus. And friends, there is no mistaking this whatsoever. Here’s why.
On the night before Jesus was crucified, the night He would be betrayed, Jesus got together with His disciples, and He took the elements used in the Passover supper: the bread and a particular cup of wine. He held them before His disciples, and He reinterpreted those elements from the traditional Passover supper. Taking a cup of wine, Jesus did not say the normal blessing that would be pronounced from the usual Passover liturgy, which goes back to ancient times and is still practiced today among faithful Jews who keep the Passover. Jesus reinterpreted that cup of wine. He said, “This is the new covenant in My blood.” If the disciples knew the full importance of that, a chill would have run up their spine at that moment. It’s hard to tell how aware the disciples were about the amazing things that were happening among them sometimes. But if they were aware, goosebumps would have broken out over every square inch of their skin, because Jesus announced that He was instituting the New Covenant by His death that was going to happen the next day.
The New Covenant offers a complete cleansing from sin, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon everybody who partakes of the New Covenant, and not just a few people. Under the Old Covenant, the Holy Spirit was poured out on a few particular people for particular purposes. But under the New Covenant, everybody receives this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, complete cleansing from sin, new relationship with God, and inner transformation. He said, “I’ll take the stony heart out of them and put within them a heart of flesh.” It’s just powerful, beautiful stuff. You can look these passages up or look through my YouTube library where I speak about the New Covenant.
I do want to point out that there’s an aspect of the New Covenant promises that is not yet fulfilled: the complete gathering of Israel in the land and their salvation. When I’ve preached on this, I’ve titled it, “The Missing Piece of the New Covenant.” I don’t mean missing in that something is wrong, but that something has not yet been fulfilled. There are promises in the Scriptures to fully gather Israel into the land, and for there to be a tremendous outpouring of the Spirit upon Israel, so that they return and recognize Jesus as their Messiah. That is part of the New Covenant promises. So, was the New Covenant fulfilled in Jesus Christ? Yes. But I would say not completely yet. There’s still an aspect of the New Covenant that is yet to be fulfilled, but will happen before the end of the age, of course.
How do you deal with toxic people in life and in the church? How do you pray for enemies if you are unhappy doing it?
I was watching your 2 Samuel devotional about David, who went from bitter to better. How do you deal with toxic people in life and in the church? How do you pray for enemies if you are unhappy doing it?
David Guzik: I’ll give you the answer that Miles gave. He said you should pray imprecatory prayers. Miles, come closer and explain what an imprecatory prayer is.
Miles DeBenedictis: That was purely a joke.
DG: But what is an imprecatory prayer?
MD: Imprecatory prayer is a prayer of judgment, like when David prays in the Psalms, “Break my enemy’s teeth in their mouths.”
DG: Is that what you’re saying we should pray for our enemies?
MD: No, but in a sense, I think it actually is a righteous form of prayer, because it is giving to God the power to bring judgment. It is releasing it from your hands, and saying, “I’m not going to be the one to bring vengeance. Vengeance is God’s. God, You repay them. You do to them as You will and according to Your righteousness.”
DG: Excellent. Thank you for explaining that. The imprecatory prayer is good in the sense that it releases any kind of vengeance to God. And you know, that really is something you can pray. You can say, “Lord, whatever discipline, whatever correction, whatever they need, Lord, You do it. I give it over to You. I forsake any kind of taking vengeance on my own. Lord, You do it. I lay it in Your hands.” And that’s in the spirit of the imprecatory prayers.
But I would also say this. I know it’s hard and wearing and not fun – I don’t mean that in a light way – and unpleasant to pray for your enemies. But you need to keep on doing it. It’s what Jesus commanded, of course. But it’s also just good. It keeps our heart from getting bitter. I think we just need to continually do what Jesus told us to do.
Jesus recognized that we would have enemies. Jesus didn’t say, “Well, if you just love Me and follow Me, everybody will be your friend.” It’s not like that. Jesus told us we would have enemies, but He told us that we need to love our enemies, that we need to pray for those who spitefully use us.
At the same time, you ask how to deal with toxic people within the church. I can’t say everything that there is to say on this matter. But I’ll say one thing. We need to recognize the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. I think it is entirely possible and good for us to say to a person, “I forgive you. But I can’t trust myself to you again. I don’t hold any bitterness in my heart towards you. I pray for you daily. I love you in the Lord. But I’m not going to trust you in the same way until I see that there’s been repentance and a change in attitude and action that would really confirm that I could truly reconcile with you.”
There have been people that I’ve worked with and had a difficult time with throughout my life and my ministry. I would say about those people, “Look, I love them in the Lord. But I don’t want to work with them again.” And I don’t think that diminishes the love that I have for them. But it does definitely mean that there’s something still waiting to be reconciled. I would make that distinction.
How would you explain why Christianity is true among (or above) other religions?
David Guzik: There’s a lot to that question. But I’ll narrow it down to the basics. Christianity has something that no other religion has: God incarnated, sacrificed, and resurrected. Some people might laugh at those words. They might argue that the god Mithras of Roman mythology was a similar god. There are far more dissimilarities between Jesus and the apocryphal things of Mithras or other pagan idols and gods than there are similarities.
Christianity has not only the story of God’s incarnation, sacrificial death, and resurrection from the dead, but actual real evidence that it happened, and not just a legend, “once upon a time,” or make-believe, but actual evidence that it happened. That is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions.
Another fundamental difference between Christianity and other religions is that every other religion is the story of man reaching up to God to try to find Him. In contrast, Christianity is distinct because it’s the story of God reaching down to man in the person and work of Jesus Christ to bring salvation to man. What a remarkable difference that is between the two.
In what context is divorce biblically allowed?
In what context is divorce biblically allowed? I’m suffering in my marriage for the fifth year, and I feel like I need a divorce. Even counseling didn’t help. What should I do?
David Guzik: God gives us principles in the Bible about divorce. Now, it’s important to say that the Bible never commands divorce in those cases, but it does allow it. There’s a big difference between the two. First, divorce is permitted where the marriage covenant has been broken by adultery, sexual immorality, or unfaithfulness. That’s one situation where God permits divorce, but again, I want to stress that He does not command it.
As pastors, all four of us in here have seen marriages rebuilt and become stronger and more blessed than ever after the pain of adultery. We’ve seen couples forgive each other and make a commitment to holiness, and truly love and be faithful to one another. So, it’s not a command to divorce. But it is a permission. And we don’t want to slight that.
The other allowance that God gives is when there is abandonment by an unbelieving spouse. Now, there’s some difficulty in defining with any kind of precision what an unbelieving spouse is. Is it a spouse who makes no profession of faith? Is it a spouse whose life doesn’t match up with a Christian life at all? There are things to consider there. There’s also some issue about what abandonment means.
But in those two general cases of sexual immorality and abandonment by an unbelieving spouse, God clearly gives permission for divorce. Here’s the part that’s difficult. Those principles have to be applied with biblical pastoral wisdom. I don’t know where you live, I don’t know what your church situation is, I don’t know if you have godly pastors around you. But in a situation like this, a believer needs wise, pastoral counsel – a pastor who knows the Word and understands those principles and how they work out in the Scriptures, just as I’ve explained them to you, and who also knows your life situation. I’ll be honest with you, sometimes people are not very upfront about things when they bring up these situations, whether that’s intentional or unintentional. For a pastor to wisely, biblically, and appropriately say whether or not God would permit divorce in a situation, examination needs to be made into the situation, and the right questions need to be asked.
Whenever God permits divorce in His Word, He’s not commanding it. That’s a very important principle to remember. I think it’s the place of a believer to say, if this does apply, “Lord, I understand Your Word that in my particular situation, I may have permission to divorce, but Father, what I really want is Your will. Can you guide me as a child of God in this situation?” I’ll open up to the brain trust here. Chuck, do you want to come in? Here’s Chuck Musselwhite, folks.
Pastor Chuck Musselwhite offers his insights as a pastoral marriage counselor
Chuck Musselwhite: I guess I’d say two things. The first question I would ask is, “Why do you want a divorce?” You’re saying the marriage has been tough for five years. My second question, especially when I do marriage counseling, is to ask the person who wants a divorce, “Have you fulfilled your marital obligations?” This is oftentimes where I see a breakdown. Because the expectations they have on the other person is often a lot higher than the expectations they put upon themselves. When we’re married, we’re called to become one. So, we have to ask the question, “Are you are you both one as a couple?”
It’s also important to ask yourself, “Am I serving my spouse?” Ephesians 5 says that you have to lay down your life as Christ laid down His life for the church, especially if you’re a man. Are you laying down your life for your wife? And maybe you are, and there are other issues to be worked through. But even then, you have to still continue in that servant mentality. I think the whole aspect of serving our spouse is greatly undervalued. I think we’ve bought into this Disney romantic idea of focusing on what I get out of a marriage. But honestly, I get more out of my marriage by what I put in than whatever I was expecting from my wife. The fact is that when we sacrifice and serve and submit to one another in love, that’s where true joy and peace come from a relationship.
David Guzik: Thank you, Chuck. That’s great. I appreciate it.
Would you lead a tour to Petra or related places?
Yes. We’re working on a tour to Israel next year, in the fall of 2024, which may also offer an optional few days here in Jordan, which would be wonderful.
When are you coming to Kenya?
I’ll actually be in Kenya and Uganda in April.
What books have you written, where can I buy them?
You can purchase my printed commentaries on our website, enduringword.com/shop.
My complete commentary on the entire Bible is available absolutely free at enduringword.com or on the Enduring Word app. You don’t need to buy the books. But we put it in print for people who want it in print. We don’t have all of the Bible Commentary in print yet. We’re still working on that.
Does the Bible teach a plurality of elders, as opposed to having a single head pastor with associate pastors “beneath” him?
I believe that the Bible does not mandate any particular form of church government. I do believe that either the elder-rule model, with a plurality of elders, or the pastoral leadership model, are both biblical examples. I think we find examples of both of those leadership models in the New Testament church. The most important thing for biblical leadership of a church is not the structure that they use, but the godliness of the leaders. If you have godly leaders, either one of those structures can work and God can bless them. I think that God did not command a specific structure or of church government, in order to leave it adaptable to the times, the people, the congregation, the needs, which the church needs to be sensitive to.
Is limited atonement biblical?
Thank you for your commentary. It’s the first I’ve read since I started reading my Bible. My question is, Is limited atonement biblical?
It matters in what sense someone means that the atonement is limited. There is very clearly a sense in which Jesus died for the world, and for the sins of the world. The Bible says so directly. However, we do understand that the atoning work of Jesus on the cross is only effective for those who believe.
There’s a sense in which Jesus died for the sins of all the world, and the Bible clearly says so, but it is limited in effectiveness to those who believe. That’s one of those areas of theology where everything really depends upon the definition of how somebody wants to define it.
Childhood Trauma and guilt: Is it a sin if we are Christians and still have traumas if we had a hard childhood or adolescence? I feel blessed because Christ chose me, but I still have bad memories and I feel guilty.
If you’re talking about things that were done to you, bad experiences that were inflicted upon you, you don’t have anything to feel guilty about. I do believe that, ideally, God wants you to “get beyond them,” so to speak, but that’s not something that can be done by saying the words or snapping a finger. It takes time and it takes God’s healing. The way that works out can be different in each individual life. I do think it’s ultimately God’s goal to redeem those things and have them be in the rearview mirror, to come to the place where Joseph could say to his brothers, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” Man, that’s a heart that has fully released these things. I do believe that’s God’s will. But I’m very sensitive to the fact that this can’t be commanded, as if someone could say, “Hey, hurry up. You’re not over it yet.” I want to be very sensitive to not doing that in a person’s life.
So, you don’t need to feel guilty about anything that has been done to you, but maybe you’re grieving over the sins of your youth. Remember that great psalm of David, where he prayed the Lord, “Remember not the sins of my youth.” If that’s what you’re talking about, you can bring those sins of your youth to God, confess and repent of them, and receive His forgiveness from them.
Whether the things that trouble us from our pasts are things that we have done, or things that have been done to us, God can bring great healing. Sometimes this takes a long time for God to work His work into it. But we’ve seen God do it again and again. So, please don’t lose heart; God is still working in you and through you.
Since “forever” (eternity) is a long time, is it not the case that, for some who go to hell, the punishment doesn’t “fit the crime,” so to speak?
I look at it in a couple of ways. First of all, the way I conceive of the duration of Hell’s punishment, is that it is only as long as is just. Sometimes we talk about a sin or a crime being a debt. We talk about a prisoner who is released from prison, because they paid their debt to society. We use that terminology. Well, once a debt is paid, there’s no reason any longer to require it. Here’s the problem. Imperfect beings, human beings, you and I, every person who’s ever walked this earth has been imperfect, with one exception, and that’s Jesus Christ. It’s impossible for imperfect beings to make a perfect payment for sins. So, the debt can never be paid. In His justice, God would say, “You’ll be released as soon as the debt is paid,” but the debt is never paid. That’s one aspect to think about.
Here’s a second thing to consider. I do believe that there will be different gradations of punishment in Hell. Jesus spoke of those who would have greater condemnation, those who would be more accountable for their sin. And I simply think the principle of justice demands that some will have a greater punishment in hell than others. Now, of course, I don’t I’m not trying to imply for a moment that some people will have it good in hell. No, no. The Bible never implies that. It’s just that some people will have it worse than other people will. That is another way that God matches the judgment to the crime.
God is a good judge. God’s good in everything He does. This is fresh on my mind, because I’ve preached about this a couple of times in the last month or so. God is good at everything He does. There’s not a single thing that God does that He’s not good at. God is a good judge. And what does a good judge do? Number one, a good judge acquits the innocent. Number two, He punishes the guilty. Number three, He punishes the guilty appropriately – not too much, not too little. That’s what a good and perfect judge does. God is that perfect judge. While we may not be able to comprehend it completely, we trust in the ultimate goodness and rightness of God’s judgments.
Is tithing for our day?
That’s a big study to go into throughout the New Testament. It’s a study I love to talk about. Maybe we’ll make that a lead question sometime. But the quick answer to that is proportional giving is commanded of believers today.
In instructing the Corinthians about how they should give, Paul said that you should give as you have been blessed. In other words, if you’ve been blessed more, you should give more. If you’re blessed relatively less, then you don’t need to give as much. Proportional generosity is a Christian principle.
Now, tithing, or ten percent, that’s just a proportion. It was the proportion that was commonly practiced under the Old Covenant. Should Christians do more for the Lord? Should they be more generous under the New Covenant than under the Old? I think there’s a case to be made for that. But I will say this, though the New Testament does not emphasize the tithe, it does give the principle of proportional giving, and secondly, it frees Christians to give more than ten percent. I’ve heard that among some early Christians, they used to say things like this: “We’re not under the tithe; we can give more.” I know that’s a challenging thought. But there are some believers who I think are not really pleasing the Lord, because they’re stuck on giving ten percent, when God has blessed them so much that they should really give more.
How have you had the time to research and write all your commentary and Bible resources?
Here’s the thing. My commentary reflects work going back almost forty years now – thirty-seven or thirty-eight years. I’ve been working in a certain direction, with a certain passion, with a certain heart for a long time. And it’s really just an outgrowth of my Bible preaching and teaching ministry. I never set out to write a Bible commentary. I just found that what I prepared for myself as teaching notes, was beneficial for other people as Bible commentary. But I’ve been working at it for a long time.
What is the biblical significance of Petra?
Petra is identified with a place in the Old Testament called Bozrah. The idea is that when a coming world leader persecutes the Jewish people, they will find refuge in Bozrah. I don’t mean that it has to be this specific place, but it concerns this general area. By the way, there are thousands of hotel rooms in this area that could receive a lot of refugees, as well as Petra itself. But I think more in terms of the infrastructure, they have to support a lot of people around here. This is Jordan’s biggest tourist attraction by far, and deservedly so.
The Bible speaks about the Jewish people being persecuted under a coming world leader, fleeing to Bozrah, and the Messiah executing judgment at Bozrah at His return, in protection of His people. Those are some very definite events. Plus, anytime you read in the Scriptures about the land of Edom, this is the general land of the Edomites. What we know today as Petra wasn’t built by the Edomites. It was built by the Nabateans, as Lance explained so well at the beginning of today’s Q&A. But this general area was part of the area where the Edomites lived for many years until they went over to a section Judea in Roman times, and became known as the Idumeans.
Is Christianity the only Truth?
Jesus Christ, the founder and focus of Christianity, said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except by Me.” That’s a very exclusive claim. Now, it’s not to say that God has not revealed things to humanity through creation and conscience. But those are things that would align with that would go along with the truth that is found in Jesus Christ.
So, if somebody discovers a principle of electricity that helps them to build a semiconductor, you could say, “Well, that’s truth. And that didn’t come from Christianity.” Well, it’s truth of the created order, which God created, and the Bible says that God created all that. In some way or another, you can trace all truth back to Jesus Christ, the One who said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.