Why was King David not stoned for committing adultery with Bath-sheba?
The Bible leaves no doubt as to David's guilt. According to the law (Lev. 20:10), one who committed such a deed was worthy of death. But the wheels of justice seem to move slowly at times, and the apparent laxity with which "justice" was carried out in this case was not unique. Historically, we see that the "administration of death" lost its teeth soon after the days of Moses. The people of Israel as a whole never did observe God's laws perfectly. Nor were the transgressors always punished in a prescribed manner. The society in general simply winked at certain sins. David was not the first to commit adultery and get away with it for a time. Another point to consider is that David, being the king, was the ultimate authority in the nation. Who would have dared to cast the first stone? Ultimately it was Nathan, a prophet of God, who confronted David with his sins. But, we might ask, why didn't God strike David down immediately? God in His infinite wisdom turned a bad situation into something good — for us all! He didn't take David's life, but neither did He let David get away with his sins (II Sam. 12:11-14). God exercised patience, knowing David s heart, and David ultimately repented. David's heartfelt repentance serves as an inspiration and an example for all generations. Psalm 51 records David's prayer as he renewed his contact with God. Yes, David sinned — as have all humans (Rom. 3:23). But unlike so many individuals, David's confession was heartrendingly sincere, his repentance total, and he humbly submitted to the punishment God did mete out. David received forgiveness. And in the resurrection he will be king over the 12 tribes of Israel. Perhaps this whole affair was recorded to graphically illustrate the limitless mercy and patience of God who is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Pet. 3:9).
I do not understand Matthew 24:40-41. What does it mean "one shall be taken, and the other left"? Taken where?
These scriptures must be read in context. In Matthew 24, Christ is telling His disciples about His return to this earth. Verses 40-41 state: "Then [at the time of His return] shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill the one shall be taken, and the other left. " Christ is showing that at His return there is to be a separation made between those who have and those who have not qualified to enter God's Kingdom as spirit beings (I Cor. 15:50-53). While great tribulation is prophesied, it is evident that many people will be going about their personal business, seeking their own satisfaction (Matt. 24:37-39). Only those who are yielded to God and obeying HIS instructions will know that Christ's return is imminent (Luke 21:34-36). When the saints rise to meet Christ in the air (I Thess. 4:13-17), they will have been changed into spirit beings (I Cor. 15:52-53). They will then descend with Christ to the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4) where they will begin to rule the entire world with Him (Rev. 5:9-10). Those who are not "taken" and made immortal will live on into the Millennium as physical human beings, awaiting their "change" at a later time. Our free reprint, "The Secret Rapture," shows that Matthew 24:40-41 and Luke 17:34-36 do not refer to a secret rapture as some teach. Why not write for this reprint as well as our free book, Tomorrow... What It Will Be Like?
In John 9:3, Jesus told His disciples that the blindness of a particular man resulted from neither his sins nor the sins of his parents. Was this man predestined to be blind from birth?
Let the Bible itself give us the answer. The man was blind from birth so that "the works of God should be made manifest in him" (verse 3). Notice verse 4. Jesus said, "I must work the works of him that sent me." God provided certain works for Jesus to fulfill in the sight of the people. Yes, this man was predestined to be blind from birth. This was a carefully planned situation created by God to make known to the world that Jesus Christ was His Son! This was one of Christ's greatest miracles. Verse 32 tells us that "Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind." The Jews knew that no man could perform such a miracle without the help of God. Upon recognizing this, the Jews knew that Jesus was sent from the Father. Yet they denied Him leaving themselves without excuse.
Would you explain the meaning of Revelation 14:11, "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever..."?
Notice that verse 8 places the time in the future, for "Babylon," the great religious and political system that will dominate the world for a short period, has not yet fallen. Verses 9 and 10 state: "If any man worship the beast [the coming Babylonish system] and his image and receive his mark … he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone...in the presence of the Lamb [that is, after Christ's Second Coming]." There IS no hell fire burning today. Those who have a part in this church state system of "Babylon" receive this frightful punishment for being part of that system that has fallen under God's wrath! This passage does not mean these individuals are tormented forever in an ever-burning hell. Verse 11 says "The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever." It does not say the fire burns forever, but that the smoke continues to ascend. This happens when a fire burns out — its smoke is still in the air.
Since the soul is not immortal, would you explain the appearing of Samuel to Saul after Samuel's death?
Notice the account. Saul inquired of God about the outcome of the battle against the Philistines. But God gave him no answer, neither by any dream nor by a prophet (I Sam. 28:6). Saul then went to the witch at Endor — a woman who had contact with familiar spirits or demons! "Then said the woman, whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel" (verse 11). Saul wanted to speak to Samuel to find out how the battle the next day would go for him. He was desperate and frightened. So the woman complied with Saul 's request. "And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice … And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw a god-like being coming up out of the earth" (verses 12-13, Jewish translation). The account continues in verse 14, where Saul asked the woman: "What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived [or thought] that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself." When Saul asked the woman what she saw, she used these words: "a god-like being," "an old man," "he is covered with a mantle." Not one word that it was Samuel! What did the witch see? She saw an apparition and thought it was Samuel. The Bible reveals that Satan is the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2). Satan is the god of this world and can transform himself into an angel of light (II Cor. 4:4, 11:14). Satan and his demons have the power to produce visions and to appear in human or animal forms. The next question in I Samuel 28 arises over verse 15: "And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?" Why does the account read as though Samuel were speaking to Saul? It is merely a matter of what Saul wanted to see and hear. Demons enjoy fooling people. This demon impersonating Samuel apparently knew the outcome of the battle. He said that Saul would die the following day and his army would be beaten by the Philistines. We read in Genesis 3:4 that Satan deceived Eve: "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die." But we know this was not a serpent speaking, but Satan the devil himself. Yet the account says, "the serpent said." In like manner I Samuel 28 records "Samuel" speaking, although it was actually a demon speaking through what looked like a human. Thus, it was a demon who appeared to the witch of Endor and Saul. This scripture in no way contradicts the multitude of clear scriptures proving that the soul is not immortal. For an explanation of these scriptures, write for the free reprint entitled "What Is Man?"
Why are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John called "the four gospels"?
The first four books of the New Testament are set apart from the other 62 books of the Bible in that they are each biographies of Jesus. They deal directly with His birth, life, death, resurrection and the message or announcement He brought about the Kingdom of God. The word gospel comes from the Anglo-Saxon godspel, which means "good tidings" or "good news." The word in the original Greek, the language in which the New Testament was written, is euaggelion, from which, through the Latin evangelium, comes our word evangel and its derivatives. It means "bearing or bringing good news." An evangelist is one who brings good news about the coming Kingdom of God. That which Jesus Himself spoke — the message He brought from God the Father — was and is good news. It is, in our language today, the Gospel. Since Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each contain an account of what Jesus spoke, these books collectively are often referred to as "the four gospels."
Does Malachi 4:5-6 mean that the prophet Elijah will reappear on earth before Christ's Second Coming?
Malachi 4:5-6 is a dual prophecy, having two fulfillments. It was first fulfilled by John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Christ's first coming. In Luke 1:17 we read: "And he [John the Baptist] shall go before him [Christ] in the spirit and power of Elias [Elijah], to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." The prophecy does not mean that Elijah will be resurrected before Christ returns. Rather it is speaking of someone who has the same spiritual calling and office as the prophet Elijah, the man of God who witnessed with power to a rebellious nation and commanded them to obey God ("if the Lord be God, follow him" — I Kings 18:21). When John the Baptist began preaching repentance and baptizing in the wilderness, the priests and Levites came from Jerusalem to ask if he was the prophesied "Elijah." John said no (John 1:19-23). But Jesus said that John was indeed the prophesied "Elijah" of that day (Matt. 11:7-15). John was the "Elijah" who came to restore all things in preparation for Christ's ministry (Matt. 17:10-13). But the second stage of this prophecy was to be fulfilled in the last days — "before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." This is speaking of our time now. At the close of this present evil age, another "Elijah" is to thunder a warning message to disobedient Israel and prepare a people for Christ's glorious return to reestablish God's government on earth. Yes, just before the end of this present evil world the Gospel of the Kingdom must be preached as a witness to all the world (Matt. 24:14). An "open door" of the mass media has been provided (Rev. 3:8). Jesus said that only those who had "ears to hear" — who were tuned in to God's truth — would recognize the second "Elijah," John the Baptist (Matt. 11:14-15). Likewise, only those who are obedient to God and led by His Spirit will recognize the end-time "Elijah." Those who do, and who are heeding the message, will be protected by God when the world erupts in the flames of the Great Tribulation (Rev. 3:10).