Thursday, August 29, 2013

Misunderstood Jealousy of the Old Testament God

Is God portrayed differently in the Old Testament than in the New Testament? Many claim that the Old Testament God is harsher than the loving God in the New Testament. Even in Exodus 20:5 God describes Himself as jealous: “For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.” In isolation, this verse indeed paints a picture of “fire and brimstone.” But read the next verse. It continues by saying, “… but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

How could God describe Himself as both jealous and merciful? It seems inconsistent but, as with any Bible study, one must look further into the context and translation of the verse.

The word “jealous,” as used in this scripture, has a different meaning from what we usually think. The Hebrew word qannâ is actually used to describe the “justice and holiness” of God (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1996). This tells us that human jealousy and godly jealousy differ greatly.

The use of the word qannâ denotes God’s desire to have us put Him first in our lives. God feels jealous for our attention because He wants to bless us in a way that is only possible when we follow His laws. On the other hand, human jealousy results in resentment and envy, possibly even leading to the breaking the 10th Commandment—written in the same chapter in Exodus!

Malachi 3:6 states that God does not change. In both the Old and New Testaments our Creator expresses an abundance of love and mercy for His creation. He desires all of mankind to turn to His ways so that they may take part in His eternal promises. To learn more about this topic, take a look at the article “Jealous God? What Does That Mean?”

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Definition of a Christian

Many mainstream religions claim that “accepting Jesus into your heart” means you are a Christian. Can this really be true? Look at the first use of the word “Christian” in Acts 11:26: “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” The word itself means “follower of Christ.” Within the same verse, the word “disciple” means a student or pupil. So, just from this verse, we can conclude that a Christian studies and follows Jesus Christ. 

Consider the following: Effective students consistently engage in their learning by communicating with the instructor and studying the subject. It’s ludicrous to imagine that a student becomes a master of a subject by “accepting it into his heart.” The same principle applies to Christianity. Effective Christians consistently engage in their learning (beliefs) by communicating with their instructor (Jesus Christ and God, the Father) and studying the subject (the Bible). Ephesians 4:21-24 takes this concept even further by explaining that accepting Christ means literally “[putting] on the new man.”

Committing your life to being a follower and imitator of Jesus Christ involves a lifetime of effort. However, working to overcome sin and have the mind of Christ also brings about many physical and spiritual blessings. Learn more about how to make this change in your life in our article “What Is a Christian?

Friday, August 16, 2013

How Can You Have a Better Relationship With God?

It may be difficult to grasp the concept that God wants a relationship with us. In Romans 8:15 Paul tells the Christians in Rome, “You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father’” (emphasis added).

The word Abba signifies an intimate paternal relationship. Appreciating these words opens the door to grasping how God relates to His creation. He desires to be our Father in the deepest sense of the word. In fact, He sacrificed His Son so that we could have the chance to enter into His family!

John 3:16 demonstrates this fact: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

So what is the next step? “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). God’s desire to have a relationship with us is rooted in His perfect love. The love and mercy that He shows toward us should motivate us to full obedience to His commandments. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (John 15:10).

To learn more, read the Life, Hope & Truth article “Relationship With God.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Darwin’s Debacle

Charles Darwin stated in The Origin of Species, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down” (1860, p. 189).
Has this point been demonstrated? Has Darwin’s theory of evolution broken down?
Scientific advancement shows the human body to be more complex than Charles Darwin ever imagined. Consider the biochemistry of vision and blot clotting. Both of these processes require distinct molecular interactions. If there is a flaw in either of these interactions the proper biological response will not occur, resulting in blindness or hemophilia.
These processes have been described as “irreducibly complex”—a biological system that, as Michael Behe explains, stops working when any one of the functioning parts is removed (Darwin’s Black Box, 1996, p. 39). Many evolutionists acknowledge the existence of irreducible complexity; however, they quickly dismiss any further argument for creationism with concepts such as “apparent design” and “the blind watchmaker.” How could the entire universe be a product of blind chance? Take a closer look at the evidence and read the new Life, Hope & Truth article “Irreducible Complexity” to learn more. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

12 Tribes of Israel

When God mentions something once, it’s important. What if He mentions something dozens of times? What do you need to know about the 12 tribes of Israel?

Who are God’s chosen people? If you said the Jews, you are partly right. The Jewish people are descended from Judah—one of the 12 sons of Israel. Each of the families of the 12 sons became a tribe, so Judah was just one of the 12 tribes of Israel. And all 12 tribes were God’s chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2).

Who were the 12 tribes?

·         Reuben.
·         Simeon.
·         Levi (this priestly tribe didn’t receive a territory, and sometimes is not listed when the tribe of Joseph is listed as two separate tribes).
·         Judah.
·         Zebulun.
·         Issachar.
·         Dan.
·         Gad.
·         Asher.
·         Naphtali.
·         Joseph (often listed as two tribes named for his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh).
·         Benjamin.

What were they chosen for? Did they fail in God’s mission for them? Were they replaced?
Also, who are the other tribes of Israel besides the Jews? Where are they today? Did God fulfill His promises to them? What did He say about the 12 tribes of Israel in the end times, and what do these prophecies mean for you today?

These questions and many more are covered in an excellent online resource, the 12 Tribes of Israel Today on the website.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What Happened to the 12 Tribes of Israel?

The Bible tells the story of how God worked with one man and his family, for the purpose of blessing all mankind. God gave both spiritual and physical promises. What happened to the 12 tribes of Israel and God’s physical promises to them?

In Genesis 12:1-3 God made promises to Abram that were later expanded and passed down to his descendants.

“Now the LORD had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Spiritual blessings through Abraham

Christians today recognize, as the apostle Paul did, that part of this promise involves spiritual blessings that would come through Abraham’s descendant Jesus Christ.

“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles [Greek, “nations”] in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ” (Galatians 3:13-16).

This wonderful spiritual promise of Christ’s coming and His sacrifice to make possible forgiveness and salvation is a promise that all mankind can be eternally grateful for!

National and physical promises to the 12 tribes of Israel

But there were other elements to God’s promises that involved a physical and national component. God promised that many nations would come from Abraham and that they would multiply like the stars of heaven. They were promised tremendous physical blessings and control over the gates of their enemies.

The book of Genesis traces how these physical promises were passed on down to Abraham’s son Isaac, to Isaac’s son Jacob, and to Jacob’s 12 sons. These 12 sons became the forefathers of the 12 tribes of Israel.

The Bible traces the history of these 12 tribes, from the time when all 12 tribes were united as a single nation to a time when a division saw 10 tribes break away from the other tribes that were led by Judah.

Generations later, the northern 10 tribes, known as the house of Israel, were the first to go into captivity. Except for a few thousand families in the time of Ezra, these tribes did not return from the lands to which they were deported. In fact, they were lost to history in general and have been called the lost tribes of Israel.

Where did the lost tribes of Israel go?

On the Life, Hope & Truth website, the
12 Tribes of Israel section looks into this fascinating story. For example, the article “12 Tribes of Israel Today: Who Are They?” says:
“To follow the history of the 12 tribes of Israel after the fall of their nation to the Assyrians in 721 B.C., we must recognize the path of their deportation and identify them by the names given them by their conquerors. Various websites and books have a great deal of information connecting the 12 tribes of Israel to the nations of Western Europe and the United States today, and it would be impossible to cover all this material in this answer.”

The article goes on to examine some of the most intriguing and relevant biblical and historical documentation, quoting from first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus; historian Tamara Rice
; authors Boris Piotrovsky, John Henry and James Parker; English historian and scholar George Rawlinson; Danish linguistic scholar Anne Kristensen; as well as archaeological evidence of the migration of these peoples from the Middle East into Europe.

There is much more in articles in the 12 tribes of Israel section of the
Life, Hope and Truth site.


The website is designed to help people who are searching for answers to life’s difficult, intriguing and important questions. As the About Us section says, “ exists to fill a critical void in this world—the lack of understanding about the purpose of life, the lack of realistic hope for a better future and the lack of truth!