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I received the following question:

INSTITUTIONS COMMONLY CALLED CHURCH – SELLERS

This fact, that the “churches” we see today and the ecclesias of the New Testament are not in any way the same thing, is a truth that very few want to consider for fear that it may shout at them still louder. I seriously doubt if any actual objective study of the Greek word ekklesia has ever been made by them. If it were, it would be found that the institutions commonly called “churches” cannot be identified with and have no connection with the ecclesia of the New Testament. Many who recognize this try to resolve the difficulty by appealing for a distinction between “the visible church” and “an invisible church,” but all who do this must remember that these ideas are foreign to the New Testament.
Otis Q. Sellers (1901-1992)
Christian Individualism: A Way of Life for the Active Believer in Jesus Christ

I checked out many of the passages and would like to know why Mr. Sellers had difficulty with the term “invisible church”?????????

Having studied out the occurrences of both qahal in the Hebrew and ekklesia in the Greek, I can say that I agree fully with Mr. Sellers that the distinction between a “visible church” and an “invisible church” is not a Biblical one. The point of being ekklesia is that you are marked or positioned out. More often than not it refers to a governmental, representative positioning. Israel’s governmental rulers were their ekklesia, their qahal. Read the rest of this entry »

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I received the following question:

Genesis 38:7. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD killed him.

Genesis 38:10. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD; therefore He killed him also.

Do we see this often in the O.T. that the Lord just kills because wicked? Or is this because they were Canaanites (part Nephilim) which would’ve stopped the seed being born?

We certainly see it in the case of the flood, or in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, that the LORD kills men because they are wicked. God destroyed the Egyptians in the Red Sea. He helped Israel destroy the Canaanites. He helped Israel time and again against their enemies. Even in the book of Acts He struck Herod dead for taking the glory that belongs to God alone. Yet we might doubt that this activity continued to the same extent throughout Old Testament times. Once God’s focus was on Israel He may have done this less outside of Israel unless men came in contact with Israel. Yet that is not to say He didn’t do it at all. It is only in the dispensation of grace that we can say with certainty that God does not kill the wicked. Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following question:

Genesis 19:8. “See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.”

Why would Lot give/offer his two daughters like this so disgusting and degrading?

This is a truly vile act that we marvel that any father could do. I would note that he offered it but did not actually follow through with it. Of course, he may not have had a chance to, so we cannot say if he would have or not. The old man in Judges 19:24 makes this offer with his daughter, but he never follows through on it. Instead, the despicable Levite of the story throws his concubine out alone for them to rape. So we do not know that Lot would have actually done this any more than the old man did. Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following question:

Genesis 25:1. Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah.

Was Keturah Abraham’s wife before Sarah died or after? Did he have other concubines than Hagar and Keturah?

I would say that he married Keturah only after Sarah’s death. That seems to be the implication in the start of the verse, “Then again.” That is, he remarried after Sarah’s death. I do not think he would have taken Hagar as a concubine before Sarah’s death if Sarah had not requested it and given her to him. Abraham seemed quite satisfied with Sarah. I think he only looked for another wife after she was dead. He seems to be a clear Biblical example of a man who truly loved his wife. By the way, since Abraham had apparently lost it before Isaac was born, it was clear that the Lord’s gift of regeneration of his powers was not just for the birth of Isaac but permanent. Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following question:

Genesis 28:10-22. Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. 12. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
13. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
16. Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17. And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
18. Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. 19. And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. 20. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21. so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. 22. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

Is Jacob’s interpretation of ladder with angles ascending/descending correct? “House of God” “Gate of heaven”

That is a great question and something I cannot really give an informed answer to. Read the rest of this entry »

I receive the following question:

Genesis 29:9 Now while he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. How old is Rachel when Jacob first sees/meets her? Were women shepherdesses common? How’d they dress/act differently than “normal” woman or shepherds?

Sarah is actually the only woman in the whole Bible whose age is mentioned by number…of course Ruth is younger than Boaz, but that doesn’t tell us how old she is, etc. Our guess can only be based on typical marriage ages. Yet in these early days, when the lifespan was still dropping and had not yet stabilized, it is really hard to say how old a woman typically was when she got married. It does appear that during the dropping ages after the flood that women’s ages might have dropped slightly faster than men’s did, at least from our sampling from Scripture. But that does not tell us when they married. Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following question:

Genesis 29:17 Leah’s eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance. Are Leah’s eyes ugly or only part beautiful?

I have not personally been able to satisfy myself on this. It could mean that she had weak eyes. While they did not have thick glasses at the time (which are generally less than attractive), a woman who was squinting, who couldn’t see far in front of her face, or even who had sick or runny eyes might be less than attractive. It could mean her eyes were unattractive, but unless they were diseased I don’t know how that could be. I don’t know that I have ever seen eyes that were unattractive, though some certainly are more beautiful than others. Yet I also wonder if the meaning is more along the line of not good to look at. There is the modern expression “easy on the eyes” for someone who is attractive. Could this be the opposite? In other words, she was hard on the eyes…unattractive. That would make the most sense to me, though I don’t know if the Hebrew justifies it.

I received the following question:

Genesis 30:37-43. Now Jacob took for himself rods of green poplar and of the almond and chestnut trees, peeled white strips in them, and exposed the white which was in the rods. 38. And the rods which he had peeled, he set before the flocks in the gutters, in the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink, so that they should conceive when they came to drink. 39. So the flocks conceived before the rods, and the flocks brought forth streaked, speckled, and spotted. 40. Then Jacob separated the lambs, and made the flocks face toward the streaked and all the brown in the flock of Laban; but he put his own flocks by themselves and did not put them with Laban’s flock.
41. And it came to pass, whenever the stronger livestock conceived, that Jacob placed the rods before the eyes of the livestock in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods. 42. But when the flocks were feeble, he did not put them in; so the feebler were Laban’s and the stronger Jacob’s. 43. Thus the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks, female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

What’s with the witchcraft of poplar sticks to make animals conceive if God would prosper Jacob anyway?

I do not know if this was really witchcraft. Perhaps these poplar sticks just enticed the animals to start mating. He entices the strong animals to mate with the animals having the coat he wants to perpetuate, but does not encourage mating with the other animals. This could be as much about animal behavior as witchcraft. Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following question:

Genesis 31:34 Now Rachel had taken the household idols, put them in the camel’s saddle, and sat on them. And Laban searched all about the tent but did not find them. Why would Laban have idols in his home in the first place and why then would Rachel want them? Do we see her again with these idols?

It is fairly clear from this passage that Laban was an idolator, worshiping gods other than the LORD. He speaks of the LORD Jehovah in Genesis 30:27, but says that he learned from divination that the LORD was blessing him because of Jacob! And divination is a questionable practice for sure. When God met him when he was chasing Jacob in order to warn him not to speak to him good or bad (he was probably planning bad!), He meets him by His name ‘Elohim, rather than Jehovah, the name He uses for those He is in relationship with. Laban mentions Jehovah again in setting up the witness heap with Jacob, but he seems to do it as much because he was Jacob’s God than his own. Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following question:

Genesis 32:1. So Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2. When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is God’s camp.” And he called the name of that place Mahanaim. Why and who are these angles that meet with Jacob on his way back home to Esau?

This is indeed a great question, and it is a mysterious reference indeed. One would think that Jacob running into a camp full of God’s angels would color the story that follows a lot more than it appears to do! Yet after mentioning this camp of angels in the first two verses, we never hear of them again. What we do hear of again is a Man, clearly Jesus Christ in a pre-incarnate form, I believe, who wrestled with Jacob all night. This Man probably came out from the camp of angels, though we do not know that for sure. Read the rest of this entry »