The Bible Answers Short Questions From Our Readers
Plain Truth Staff
Why didn't God reprove Abraham for having a child by Hagar? Wasn't that adultery?
The Creator of the Universe set in motion a living, dynamic, active law! That law when violated brings on misery, heartache, and death unless repented of. Abraham violated that law! And, he suffered the penalty. Since creation, human nature has not changed one "iota." Abraham (Abram then), just as Adam, listened to his wife. Sarai, the "weaker vessel," for the moment lacked faith in God's promise to provide them with an heir (Gen. 15:1-6). She, therefore, goaded and tempted Abraham by insisting that he have an heir through Hagar, her maid (Gen. 16:2). But why wasn't Abraham punished? Or was he? Let's notice the result. "And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she [Hagar] saw that she had conceived, I was DESPISED in her eyes" (Gen. 16:5). Yes, they KNEW they had sinned. Not only did their conscience trouble them, but their deeds resulted in family problems, animosity, resentment, and contempt. The rest of their physical life was not to be the same. Abraham learned an important lesson. Many people, too many, have the idea that God is a harsh MONSTER who fiendishly punishes human beings the moment they step out of line. No such thing God set a law in motion to bring us peace and happiness. When we break that law we bring on ourselves the penalty of sin and suffering. God designed human beings as "free moral agents" with capability of making decisions, thereby developing character through experience. God gave mankind his law to help guide and direct him in living a happy, abundant life. David said, "O how I love thy law!... Thy word is a lamp unto my feet" (Psa. 119:97, 105). Yes, Abraham did break God's law. And, it was a bitter lesson but not soon forgotten. As a result, Abraham did repent and was blessed by God. But that mistake of Sarah's and Abraham's is with us yet in the animosity between Jew and Arab today!
There doesn't seem to be any reference to baptism in the Old Testament. Where did John the Baptist get the authority or example of baptism? Was this a specific revelation to him?
One of the greatest miracles of the Old Testament is a forerunner and type of what true baptism pictures today. It is the exodus of Israel out of Egypt! Much of the confusion concerning baptism, its meaning and method, comes as a direct result of the ignorance of this Old Testament example and what it represents. In I Corinthians 10:11, God reveals why these Old Testament events occurred. Notice, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples [examples] and they are written for our admonition! upon whom the ends of the world are come." That includes us! Now read I Corinthians 10:1-2, "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all BAPTIZED unto Moses in the cloud and IN THE SEA." Now the word used here for "baptized" means "dipped in," "immersed," "plunged into." So let's turn now to the Old Testament example in Exodus 14 and under stand the full meaning of this event. Israel had just come out of captivity in Egypt. God said that He was going to bring them up out of that land of oppression that pagan land with strange customs and evil ways. So God sent Moses to deliver them from their bondage. To bring them up out of that land of SIN. Israel was in sin, living the wrong way. And God set his hand to deliver them. Now after Israel's exodus from Egypt, God brought them to encamp "beside Pi-hahiroth, before Baal-zephon" (Ex. 14:9). Much to Israel's amazement, they found themselves in a box-canyon. The only way of escape was through the Red Sea. When Israel saw Pharaoh's army pursuing them, they became filled with fear (verse 10). But Moses assured them, saying, "Fear ye not, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.... And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back... and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the MIDST of the sea" (Ex. 14:13, 21-22). God had purposely led Israel to this situation for a special reason to fulfill a phase of His plan. Israel was plunged into the Red Sea. Its waters were a wall on either side. Except for the mercy and grace of God, they all would have perished. This type of "immersion" was a veritable GRAVE! Pharaoh and his men all perished in that grave! For Pharaoh was still in sin and therefore his escape was doomed (Rom. 6:23). Israel went through the Red Sea symbolically picturing the DEATH of that former way of life then, coming up out of that grave by the grace of God, they were to enter a new way of life a promised land. And so in the New Testament God also requires Christians in LIKE MANNER to crucify the old man the former way, to bury that way, and to come up out of a watery grave on to a better way of life. (Col. 2:12.) The example of the baptism of Israel was only a type and forerunner. That baptism was under the Old Covenant a physical covenant with physical ordinances and material rewards. But notice what God says about the New Covenant: "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my LAWS INTO THEIR HEARTS, and IN THEIR MINDS will I write them" (Heb. 10:16). But what about John? Where did he get his authority? How did he know and understand the principle of baptism? Answer: John had been taught those examples from childhood, for his parents were righteous before God (Luke 1:6). God, through the power of His Spirit, revealed to John the principle of baptism that a people had to be prepared to hear the message of the soon-coming Messiah. Any people that had to repent as the Jews did, needed to prove that repentance by an outward sign as Israel did under Moses. That's why John saw in scripture that the original crossing of the Red Sea by a whole nation is a type of what each individual ought to do be immersed, Or baptized, in water "unto repentance." All through the Old Testament many "diverse washings" are recorded as types of baptism to wash away, figuratively, our past sins.
Why will Satan be loosed at the end of 1000 years of Christ's rule on earth? (Rev. 20:7-9.)
God has a great purpose that He is working out here on earth. And He has a Plan! First of all, God is allowing man to go his own way for 6,000 years. Men have chosen to follow the way of Satan, the god of this world. God is allowing men to try every conceivable way to solve world problems find peace and happiness. When men are at their wits' end, facing utter annihilation, God will intervene to save man from himself. Then, there will be 1,000 years of utopia on this earth! Satan will be restrained from deceiving the world. Men will be taught to follow God's law the way to true happiness. But familiarity breeds contempt. After 1,000 years of such happiness, some will forget how miserable it was when Satan was ruling. Some few just won't agree with God they will want to have their own way. God will therefore allow Satan to be released for a very short time to demonstrate to these minds the fact that God rules supreme that His ways alone bring happiness. In Revelation 20:8 Satan uses Gog and Magog [the Oriental hordes] as ringleaders of the people whom he will deceive after the 1,000 years. Ezekiel 38:8-13 shows these same people, 1,000 years earlier, trying to take for themselves. But there is yet another purpose. Those who knowingly refuse eternal life can't be allowed to be around when the next part of God's plan occurs. This is not the place to explain it but you can read it in full in the surprising article: "Is This The Only Day of Salvation?" It's free.
I have beard that the two witnesses of Revelation 11 are the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. And that this prophecy was fulfilled in the French Revolution 170 years ago. Could this be true?
For the answer turn to Revelation 11. Read what it says with your own eyes. But who or what are the two witnesses? Verse 4 of Revelation 11 reveals, "These ARE the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth." These are symbols. The prophet Zechariah had a vision of these two mysterious olive trees. But he was confused perplexed. He asked, "What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?" The angel answered, "Knowest thou not what these be? These are the TWO ANOINTED ONES, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth" (Zech. 4:11-14). Now let's put these explanations together. First, these two witnesses prophesy or preach (Rev. 11:3, 6 and 10). Their prophesying lasts for three and one-half years. They are "anointed ones" that is, they have been anointed by the Holy Spirit of God (II Cor. 1:21-22; I John 2:20, 27). Therefore, they are God's PROPHETS two prophets to arise and to prophesy in the streets of Jerusalem! Notice, now, the power God will put in the hands of these two witnesses. If any man attempts to hurt or kill them, "... fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies ... " (Rev. 11:5). How similar this is to what the prophet Elijah did when King Ahaziah sent troops to capture him (II Kings 1:9-15). God further says, "These [two witnesses) have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy..." (Rev. 11:6). Again, how similar to Elijah, who prayed, and the heavens were shut up for three and one-half years a great drought struck, and famine (Luke 4:25). But these two witnesses will have more power! God will give them power to "smite the earth with ALL PLAGUES, as often as they will" (Rev. 11:6). Many of the plagues foretold in Revelation 8-9 will be directly prophesied IN ADVANCE by these two anointed witnesses! But that is not all. After they have fulfilled the days of their prophecy, they will be KILLED. "And their dead bodies," John was told, "shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was CRUCIFIED" (v. 8). For three days and a half, the world will rejoice at the death of God's two witnesses, seeing their dead bodies lying in the streets of Jerusalem (Rev. 11:10, 9). Now, let's be honest with God's Word. Let's not twist the Scripture to say what God never intended! Surely, God means exactly what He SAYS! Ask yourself, candidly: Does this description in Revelation 11 sound like the "two witnesses" are the Old and New Testaments of the BIBLE? Does the Bible only prophesy for a period of three and one-half years? Is the Bible clothed in sackcloth? Does the Bible itself devour those who attempt to hurt it, shut heaven that it rain not, smite the earth with plagues? Has the Bible ever been "KILLED" put to death, the "dead bodies" of the Old and New Testaments lying in the streets? Sounds absurd, doesn't it? After the two witnesses have been dead three and one-half days, God will resurrect them. They will hear a great voice from heaven and will RISE up to heaven in a cloud, in the sight of their enemies (compare I Thes. 4:16-17). Does that sound like the Bible? being resurrected, standing on it feet, then rising into the clouds to meet Christ? Absurd! No, Revelation 11 is a PROPHECY FOR THE FUTURE, climaxing at the second coming of Jesus Christ! This detailed prophecy does not refer, as some claim, to the First French Republic, in the days just before Napoleon Bonaparte, when atheistic France made war on religion. The "great city... where also our Lord was crucified" does NOT, by any fantastic stretch of the imagination, refer to Paris, France. The three and one-half days the two witnesses are DEAD does not refer to the years of "Bible-burning" during the French Revolution! What this prophecy does mean is made plain in our free booklets Key to Revelation, Revelation Unveiled at Last, and the very important booklet entitled Who Is the Beast?