Many of us have heard the story in Acts 6 before. Some of us have read it, some of us even multiple times. Some of us may have even giving sermons or teachings or led discussions on this passage.
Yet, I believe that today I will share something with you that will blow your mind.
Let’s begin with the passage:
8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.”
Did you catch why it is so incredible?
Read again the following highlighted section:
“…they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.”
Do you see it now?
These FALSE witnesses claimed that Jesus had changed the customs (or abolished the Law) of Moses!
If these allegations had been true, then there would never have been any need to bring up false witnesses against Stephen.
Isn’t this incredible? Does it make you rethink the way you perceive your Bible?
Let me end with Jesus’ words from Mathew 5:17-20,
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolishthem but to fulfil them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
“Of all the celestial objects with which we are acquainted, none make so strong and universal an impression upon our globe as does the Sun. He is that very light, ‘the greater light to rule the day,’ as stated in the first chapter of the book of Genesis; a vast and fiery orb, kindled by the Almighty on the morn of creation, to cheer the dark abyss, and to pour his radiance upon surrounding worlds. Compared with him, all the other solar bodies are of inconsiderable dimensions; and without him, they would be wrapped in the gloom of interminable night.”
We are often amazed by the complexity of our planet: Earth. However, it would be impossible to perceive this complexity without yet one more amazing planet: The Sun.
The Sun provides the necessary light and heat required for humans, animals, insects, and plants. It is exponentially larger than all the planets in our Solar system. Let me put the Sun into perspective for you:
It would take 300,30,000 Earth sized objects to equal the mass of the Sun
Our Solar system is approximately 99% composed of the Sun.
The Sun isn’t just big, as everyone knows, it is incredibly hot as well. At its core, the sun is 15 million degrees Celsius or 28 million degrees Fahrenheit! To protect us from this super-hot light, we are (Earth is) positioned 93 million miles away from the Sun.3Many are aware how fast sound and light can travel (known as the speed of sound and the speed of light); but believe it or not, if there was a sound that could travel the necessary distance from the Sun to the Earth, it would take at least 14 years, and Sunlight coming to Earth at a rate of 186,262 miles per second takes over eight minutes to reach us!1
You might say, “If the sun is just a swirling mass of hot flaming gas, what is the Sun made of? How does it burn being that there is not oxygen in space? And if it does burn, how come it doesn’t burn up?”
Well, the sun is 98% composed of Hydrogen and Helium. To answer the second two questions, it is important to understand that the sun doesn’t really “burn.” It creates its light from a process called Nuclear Fusion which happens when protons collide and release energy (in the form of light) in the process.2
Here is a super cool illustration/explanation of how the sun operates:
“As for its energy production, it is believed that the sunlight we see every day is made of units of radiant energy called photons which originate in the inferno of the Sun’s core. They may take many years slowly wandering up to the surface, then in a little more than eight minutes they speed across the 93,000,000 miles of space to the Earth, if they happen to be headed our way. Depending upon the wavelength or amount of energy a photon has, it may be absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, reflected back into space, or it may zip down to the Earth’s surface to warm a flea or a blade of grass for an instant.”
You can see why the sun has to be so big for such a large consumption of photons every second (with such a small production rate) to be possible!
Important Note: The above information was from a view taught by the conventional educational facilities. It is not necessarily right. The following provides reason (for Bible believers) for doubt and question as to the validity of what we have been told.
Something that is important to remember is the sequence of creation as recorded in Genesis. Many may not realize that the first light God created (Genesis 1:3-5) was not the Sun. Actually, Genesis 1:16 shows that the creation of the Sun, Moon, and stars only happened on Day Four.
As you saw, I bolded “stars” for a reason. Genesis doesn’t say the Sun is a star, on the contrary, it says that the Moon (a light to rule the night) and the Sun (a light to rule the day) are lights – not planets or stars. This also implies that the moon does nor reflect the sun’s, but rather, gives its own light.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, throughfaith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
In Acts 15, there are four groups that are identified:
The first century leadership (Acts 15:4. Apostles and elders in Jerusalem)
The legalists (Acts 15:1. This group is NOT defined as believers, and they taught that salvation is by the observance of the law)
The believing Pharisees (Acts 15:5. This group IS specifically defined as believers, they are saved. Thus, they must know that salvation is by faith. BUT, they still keep the Law (as Paul does))
Gentile converts (Acts 15:20 (and obviously, other places). This group consists of the new converts; however, they are still practicing that which is ungodly (idolatry, temple prostitution, the drinking of blood, etc).
So, WHAT IS THE DEBATE ABOUT?
We have 2 groups each having their own position:
The first group believes that the Law is NECESSARY for salvation (Acts 15:1)
The second group believes that salvation is through faith, but that the Law should be obeyed out of a love for God. (Acts 15:5)
These are TWO groups from TWO geographical locations with TWO different doctrines. They both want their position to be projected upon the Gentile converts; the debate decides who is right. The answer to this debate will show clearly who is wrong and who is correct.
There are several parties at the Jerusalem Council:
It is ESSENTIAL to realize that the Legalists were NOT believers (Acts 15:1). It is ESSENTIAL to realize the Believers WERE TRUE BELIEVERS (Acts 15:5), AND they kept the Law.
Unfortunately, too often, people glance at this passage and think that it is about whether the Law is to be kept. This is clearly not the meaning of the passage. From the positions of the parties above, it is obvious that the meaning of this passage/debate is about whether the Gentile converts need to keep the Law for salvation.
In other words, people try to create a new debate with new context.
Nowhere in this passage does it present the position that the Law of God (which is clearly synonymous with the Law of Moses (see Luke 2:22-24)) is abolished!
Evidently, the Greek converts weren’t keeping the Law very well OR AT ALL, because otherwise, there would have been no need for the debate.
So what happens in the rest of the passage?
Peter stands up and gives testimony that the Gentiles were able to be saved ONLY by FAITH!
POINT 1 AGAINST THE LEGALISTS!!!!
Peter stands up and says that people were never able to be saved through works. It’s impossible – a yoke. Thus, salvation must be by some other means.
We know that the “yoke” referred to in this verse is NOT the Law, because GOD HIMSELF SAID that the Law was easy and light (Deuteronomy 30:11-16 and John 5:3). We know that Peter cannot be contradicting God.
POINT 2 AGAINST THE LEGALISTS!!!!
Peter blows up Position number 1’s view (the Legalistic view). He just shreds it. However, he says nothing against Position number 2. Peter clearly supports the view that the Believers in the faith should still keep the Law of Moses in obedience, but not for salvation, but BECAUSE of their salvation.
NO NEW DEBATE HAS BEEN INTRODUCED! ALL HAS SO FAR BEEN CONSISTENT WITH THE DEBATE IN ACTS 15:1, AND ACTS 15:5.
What happens next?
Paul and Barnabas share stories of miracles among the Gentiles.
James suggests a solution:
“It is my judgment…that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the Law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
Now, the Law is not a yoke. We have already established that. The Law ONLY becomes a yoke when one thinks they can keep it for salvation. So why does James think that we should go easy on the Gentiles?
James is saying that it would be difficult to force the Gentiles to keep, and understand, the Law right away. No one can understand all of God’s ways right away. Thus, he says that they should stop doing those acts which are linked with pagan idolatry, and over time, they will learn about the other Laws because God’s Law is “preached in every city and is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”
James proposes that, to make it easier on the Gentile converts, they should encourage the new believers to stop engaging in pagan cultic worship practices. He states that over time, the Gentiles will eventually come to understand other ways that God wants to be loved.
Unfortunately, many Christians think that James was saying that those four things (to abstain from food polluted by idols, to abstain from sexual immorality, to abstain from the meat of strangled animals, and to abstain from blood) are all that Gentile Christians are required to keep. However, this is certainly not what James was saying:
Because of context
Because it would make no sense
I would have to abstain from those four things, but I can go murder and steal?! No!
Are we to assume that James directly quoted Laws out of the Law, to go and state that we do not need to keep the Law?! No!
It’s obvious that the last sentence “For Moses is read…” was part of their plan for the gentiles! It’s the, “Do this now, then come and learn,” idea.
Acts 15 is a debate. There are two parties in the debate:
The Legalists (Acts 15:1)
The Believers (Acts 15:5)
The first party believes that you need to keep the Law for salvation. The second party, specifically noted as believers, believes that one should keep the Law after salvation. These are the ONLY two points addressed in this passage.
In the end, the leadership sides with party number 2: The Believers. They say that all are saved through faith, but that one should keep the Law in obedience.
Here are the steps discussed as the proper road of salvation:
Step 1: Faith in God (Acts 15:7)
After you have faith…
Step 2: Leave Cultic False God Worship (Acts 15:20)
Step 3: Learn the Law (Acts 15:21)
Step 4: Obey God’s Law (Acts 15:5)
Despite the clear stating of these points, many Christians refuse to realize their presence, and instead, choose to believe that Acts 15 abolished the Law.
However, to reach such a conclusion, they have to do the following:
Ignore the purpose and the positions in the debate (Acts 15:1 and Acts 15:5)
Create a new debate by interjecting a made-up new position.
Ignore the fact that valid believers existed that taught and believed that, after salvation in faith, one should keep the Law.
Ignore the fact that NOBODY corrected the Believers in the Acts debate, but instead, supported them!
Ignore that the commands that James presented to give to the Gentiles came directly out of the Law.
Ignore that Acts 15:21 is part of the decision for the Gentiles to follow.
Ignore that Jesus said that, until heaven and earth pass away, the Law will NOT be abolished (Mathew 5:17).
Ignore that Jesus said that those who teach that the Law has been abolished will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven (Mathew 5:17-20).
Ignore that Jesus said that those who teach – and practice – the Law will be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven (Mathew 5:17-20).
Ignore that Scripture calls the Law:
Perfect (Psalm 19:7)
Just (Nehemiah 9:13)
Good (Proverbs 4:2)
Life (Proverbs 6:23)
Truth (Psalm 119:142)
Light (Isaiah 8:20)
The Way (Malachi 2:8)
Freedom (Psalm 119:45)
Holy (Romans 7:12)
Thus, it would be a VERY bad thing to abolish God’s Law. Taking Laws from a PERFECT Law, would only render it un-perfect, and incomplete.
Finally, check this out!
Immediately after the Jerusalem Council, Paul, Silas and Timothy take the decision of the Jerusalem Council to the churches in Galatia.
“Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.”
Okay, let’s just think this though:
IF the Jerusalem Council DID in fact meet to discuss whether the Law should be kept
And IF the Jerusalem Council DID in fact decide that the Law should not be kept
Then why in the world did Paul CIRCUMCISE Timothy…to go and deliver the message that you don’t need to be circumcised?
Doesn’t make sense right?
Let me know what you think. Please keep your comments relative to the subject matter presented.
The other day, I was talking with one of my friends when his Mom called him. But before he left me to my mental solitude, he asked me a deep question which I wasn’t really prepared to answer: “What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.” I was like, “Whoa…” (but I didn’t tell him that, lol).
In this post I will touch on the history of this question, offer my opinions on it, and leave you to decide your answer.
Before you continue, please take a brief moment to reflect and consider what you currently believe to be the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.
So from where did this deep question originate?
Douglas Noel Adams wrote the science fiction novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and published it on October 12, 1979. It was very popular and sold 250, 000 copies in the first three months.1 It was in the book that the famous question was introduced. Here is how Wikipedia says that the question is introduced:
“In…the first novel, a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings demand to learn the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer Deep Thought, specially built for this purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7 1⁄2 million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be 42. Deep Thought points out that the answer seems meaningless because the beings who instructed it never knew what the question was.”
Here is what the book adds to the question:
“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory mentioned, which states that this has already happened.”
Thus, the question and the answer may never be known together. You may have the answer, or you may have the question. If you discover them both, then the universe disappears.
Here is something crazy to consider: If people find the answer, then all that is involved and contained in the question (life, the universe, and everything) disappears. This would indicate that the answer to the question might, in fact, be the question itself. 🤨
I find this interesting because it makes no sense. 42 makes no sense and there is a reason it makes no sense. People have tried to theorize on why the number 42 was chosen…and theorize they have! People have come up with the craziest of explanations. Here is one of them:
“…When using base 13; 613 × 913is actually 4213 (as (4 × 13) + 2 = 54, i.e. 54 in decimal is equal to 42 expressed in base-13).”2
This “answer” is almost as shocking as the unexpected question! Just for the record, the author admits to having randomly picked the number. It holds no significance.
To get really picky, “everything” includes life and the universe. Thus, the question is rather redundant and could instead be phrased, “What is the answer to everything” which just intensifies the ridiculousness of the question.
Finally, the so called “question” makes no sense because the “question” is not even technically a question! It is like saying, “What is the answer to your bed?” and then expecting people to be able to find an answer to a question that doesn’t exist.
So what is the answer to the “Ultimate question of life, the Universe, and Everything?” You could argue that the answer is 42, the question itself, or even nothing. But what if one was to slightly rephrase the question so that it said, “What is the purpose of life, the universe and everything?” Now you open a whole new kettle of fish.
My friend said that the answer to this question was choice. What choice? He didn’t mention. But to each of us the answer to this question will differ.
In the New England Primer, there are catechism questions; one of which is, “What is the chief end of man?” I memorized this question and its answer in my early childhood. The answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” To me, this is the purpose of life, the universe, and everything.
“So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.”
Numbers 21:9 (NIV)
In this verse, the people of Israel traveling from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea to go around Edom (Numbers 21:4). Unfortunately, they started to speak against Moses, God, and the miracle food which God had supplied them and then said,
“Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
Numbers 21:5 (NIV)
Then God sends venomous snakes among the people and many Israelites got bitten and died. The people then confessed their sins to Moses (as he was their mediator) and God responded with,
“The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”
Numbers 21:8 (NIV)
So here is the problem: To some, this seems like idol worship (which is many times found in Scripture to be very detestable to God).
There is another verse that mentions the bronze snake in John 3:14,
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,”
The problem to some is why would our Savior be compared to a snake when he is the lamb? And also, weren’t snakes considered devil-like creatures?
Okay, so let’s first deal with the first issue – idol worship. So, the bronze snake was not at all meant for idol worship. After all, God was the One who told Moses to make the snake…why would He force them to sin? What is more, in 2 Kings 18:4, King Hezekiah destroys the bronze serpent because it had become an object of worship. So no, it wasn’t idol worship.
So what was it?
In John 3:14 our Savior is speaking to Nicodemus (Nicodemus was a Pharisee) and is telling him how He knows about the heavenly things and how, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.” Think about the similarities between the bronze snake and Jesus (His Aramaic name being Yeshua). For one, the snake was lifted up on a pole – so was Jesus. For another, anyone who looked at the snake would live – and anyone who believes in Jesus will not die and instead has eternal life through Him (John 3:16).
Alright, to answer the question about why God used a snake instead of a lamb; well, it was snakes that bit them. And as far as them being devil-like creatures; God made them too. Just because the serpent is the one who deceived Eve, it doesn’t mean that they no longer should be considered an animal made by God; interesting and beautiful in its own way.
“And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you.” ~Leviticus 11:7
Today, many people (who if asked would claim to be believers) consume pork and pork products. However, does the Bible endorse the idea of the consumption of pork?
The verse already listed above, Leviticus 11:7, is part of a whole chapter which defines for us clean animals which may be eaten, and unclean animals from which we are to abstain. Among those listed as unclean animals include rats, camels, owls, and pigs.
What does God say about the consumption of pork? Well, another verse, Isaiah 66:17, states;
“Those who consecrate themselves in a sacred garden with its idol in the center-feasting on pork and rats and other detestable meats will come to a terrible end.” says the LORD.”
This verse shows that God says that He does not like us to eat pork – or rats – or any of the other detestable creatures. Note: Detestable to Him.
Now, many may say, “Those are both Old Testament passages. Give me some New Testament verses.” While I will provide some “New Testament” passages, what constitutes as a “New Testament” passage? That is a man-made separation between the first half of our Bibles and our second half. Because I don’t like that man-made term, I will be referring to the “New Testament” as the Messianic Writings. This is because the “New Testament” consists of writings about our Messiah; hence, Messianic Writings.
One verse in the Messianic Writings is Acts 24:14. In this verse Paul states his beliefs,
“…I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets.”
~Acts 14:14 (NIV)
Eating pork does not agree with the Law (Leviticus 11) or the Prophets (Isaiah 66), therefore, Paul is against the consumption of pork and cannot agree with the idea nor can he condone it.
One verse that may be cited to prove that the Bible condones that idea of the consumption of pork is 1 Timothy 4:1-7 which says,
“ The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”
1 Timothy 4:1-7 (NIV)
Now, first of all, it is important to realize the meaning of the word “foods.” The Greek word for “foods” in this case is brōmatōn. According to Strongs this means:
that which is eaten, food
Now, think about this. This is Paul, a Jew, writing a letter to Timothy, a Greek/Jew (Greek Father and Jewish Mother). Paul would never have considered pork to be food. It wasn’t considered food for the people of Israel a couple thousand years before that, and it still was not considered food by those who taught and kept God’s word.
I know how this could be misunderstood. Even Peter the Disciple said that Paul was hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16), and he was even living in the same time frame, spoke the same language, and was brought up in the same culture; unlike us who are so far removed from that time frame and who tend to have a Greek mindset rather than a Hebrew one.
If Paul isn’t talking about pork, what is he talking about then?
“…let’s ask ourselves some questions that we will all have to answer in light of 1 Timothy chapter 4. Does 1 Timothy 4:4 teach that all animals are clean and therefore acceptable for food? Are those teaching obedience to God’s commandments such as Leviticus 11 (God’s dietary instructions) ‘giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1)?’ Would such teaching be speaking lies in hypocrisy (1 Timothy 4:2)? Are the same teaching others to not marry (1 Timothy 4:3)? What things are stated to be consecrated by the Word of God and declared to be food and to be received in thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:4-5)? Isn’t that the context here? Are God’s commandments old wives ‘fables (1 Timothy 4:7)? Are God’s commandments profane (1 Timothy 4:7)? Is keeping God’s commandments in Leviticus 11 no longer Godliness (1 Timothy 4:7)? Is Leviticus 11 no longer good doctrine (1 Timothy 4:6)? Is obeying God departing from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1)? Is Leviticus 11 no longer scripture and thus no longer instructions in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16)? Is Leviticus 11 no longer valid as a basis of rebuking and correcting (2 Timothy 3:16)?”
Do the answers to these questions seem obvious?
Let’s go back to 1 Timothy 4:3-5,
“They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”
~1 Timothy 4:3-5 (NIV)
What is the “truth” which such people believe? Psalm 119:142 says,
“Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.”
~Psalm 119:142 (KJV)
Since Leviticus 11 is still part of the Law of God, then it is still truth. This means that it is not false or abolished. Obviously, something cannot be both true and false.
How about the verse, “consecrated by the word of God and prayer”? Well, what does it mean when something is consecrated? It means “holy” or “set-apart.” This leads us to a problem. If one was to twist Paul’s words to say that all foods have now been made as holy and set-apart as the clean, then there would no longer be any set-apart!
Another commonly misunderstood passage is Acts 10. In summary, Peter was hungry, and while he was hungry, he had a vision. In that vision a sheet came down with all kinds of creatures, like sheep, zebras, cows, and pigs. So they were likely touching each other. And God said to Peter, “Peter, kill and eat.” And Peter responded, “No Lord, never have I eaten anything common or unclean.” And the sheet went back into heaven. And this happened again, exactly like the first. And then it happened a third time, “Peter, kill and eat.” And Peter responded, “No Lord, never have I eaten anything common or unclean.” But this time God answered, “Do not call common what I have made clean.”
Now, there were two laws in Judaism: The oral law, and the Written Law. The oral law was a bunch of fence laws made to help keep people within the boundaries of God’s law, the Written Law. But the oral law did not need to be kept; only the written or spoken Law of God needs to be kept.
This is because only the Written Law is from God. The oral law is man-made; the laws are laws they made up for themselves, to restrain themselves.
One of the oral laws was to not eat anything common. In the oral law, an animal was common when a clean animal, like a sheep, touched an unclean animal, like a pig. The sheep was then considered to be common. However, according to God’s law, if the sheep touched the pig it was still clean, but the pig, is always unclean. Now, while the dream used animals to help portray or illustrate a point, the meaning had nothing to do with taking away a part of God’s law. We later find out what it meant. Three times the sheet came down, three men show up at his door. These three men were, according to the oral law (the fence law), unclean. Because of this, the Jews did not like to socialize with men like the men that showed up at Peter’s door. So when God says, “Do not call common what I have made clean” He is saying don’t call the men common whom I have made clean (you see this interpretation in Acts 10, specifically verse 28). You see, God’s law does not change – ever! (Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 13:8, Malachi 3:6, Isaiah 40:8, James 1:17, Psalm 102:25-27, 2 Timothy 2:13, Psalm 119:89, etc).
So why do Christians eat pork today?
I believe they do this because they have been mislead and lied to; whether it be unintentional or intentional. People aren’t reading their Bibles for themselves. Because of this, the populace relies on their pastors; who rely on their particular denomination; who rely on the seminary; who rely on their “experts.” Lies can be handed down through the generations, and with no one to stop them, they can go on unchecked. As Peter said in 2 Peter 3:16 Paul is hard to understand, but so are others. If enough of these misunderstandings pile up with no answer, these problems can weaken certain members of the Faith and cause those who follow (as Paul said) The Way to stumble. We must not let that happen. If Jesus, Paul, Peter and the other disciples thought it absolutely necessary to follow the whole Bible, then we must too.
First of all, we are commanded in Leviticus 18:9 not to have sexual relations with one’s sister; this is where I suspect the basis for the question is coming from. However, since the world began with only one male and one female, and since common Biblical thought is that all came through them, then there is a fundamental problem. The problem is: How does God expect humans to increase and multiply on the earth without breaking His command not to have sexual relations with one’s sister (Leviticus 18:9) or Father or Mother (Leviticus 18:6-7).
While the written Law does not seem to be recorded until Moses’ time, there was probably an oral giving of the Law (this is important because it is in the law that we are told not to marry our sister; AKA: commit incest). This is because there are instances before the giving of the written law that show obedience to it. For example, several verses prior to the murder of Abel, Cain and Abel offered sacrifices. Abel’s sacrifice of meat was accepted (by God), however, Cain’s offering of vegetables and/or fruit was not (this was most likely because Abel offered blood as he was supposed to whereas Cain offered veggies and/or fruit…not much blood in those). Cain was very angry and God then asked Cain why he was angry and said that if he had done what was right he would have been accepted. Therefore, since Abel knew how to do sacrifices, and since there was a right thing for Cain to do, there must have been a giving of the Law prior to when it was written down by Moses.
This instance is not alone; there are more instances of keeping the Law elsewhere.
It is, however, debatable as to whether Cain married his sister. This is because we are not told the time frame for which Cain killed Abel. Therefore, Abel, Seth, or other sons that Adam and Eve may have had, may have married one of their sisters and then continued marrying and having kids until Cain picks his wife. Therefore, Cain could have married a cousin or some other Biblically appropriate relative. People may argue this in an effort to say that Cain did not commit incest. This, however, would mean that one of Adam and Eve’s other children would have married their sibling. Therefore this idea does not solve the problem.
“The Bible says Adam was one hundred and thirty years old when Seth was born. He then lived another eight hundred years. God had promised Eve that he would greatly multiply her conception (Genesis 3:16). In fact Jewish tradition states that Adam had 33 sons and 23 daughters! Therefore many people could have existed at the time when Cain killed Abel. It has been conservatively estimated that 32,000 people could have been alive at that time this event occurred.”
Even if Jewish tradition is correct and the previous point was true, it doesn’t change the fact that according to what was recorded in Scripture; at least two of the children of Adam and Eve – or one of the children with their parent – must have committed incest.
While the Bible does not specifically say who she (Cain’s wife) was, an extra-biblical book called the Book of Jubilees says, “And Cain took ’Âwân his sister to be his wife…” This text states that Cain married his sister. Therefore according to the Book of Jubilees Cain married his sister.
You may have seen the argument addressing this topic that states that since Adam, Eve, Cain, and people of that time frame were so close to creation, there were little or no mutations. That is to say, that the blood lines were so clean, new, fresh, and unpolluted that there was no reason not to marry your sister. However, this by no means solves the problem.
Because I am stating opinions, I might as well point out a rabbit hole. If we go to Genesis 4:14, we see that Cain was afraid of others killing him. Here is the verse (he is talking to God after being cursed),
“Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
God protects Cain with a mark so that when people found him they would not kill him.
But who was Cain afraid of?
Some have suggested that as God created Eve from Adam (using Adams rib) He also had created others. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that perhaps God created another “pair” of humans. If so, this could solve our problem with incest. Moses wrote (recorded) the first five books of the Bible, maybe he just decided, neglected, didn’t know about them, or forgot to record the alleged other humans. However, I can see no Biblical evidence for the creation of other humans.
There is another way to explain Cain’s fear. It is not recorded that Cain was the first child, it also does not say that Abel came right after Cain, and it is not recorded that Seth came directly after Abel. If Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters not mentioned by Moses, then Cain could have been afraid of his siblings taking revenge upon him (though it may not have been recorded by Moses, Josephus who lived around the time of Christ claimed that Adam and Eve had twenty-three sons and twenty-three daughters).
Therefore, with what is written in our Bibles and/or the Book of Jubilees, is appears that Cain married his sister. In reference to the idea that God created new humans (both the brand-new idea and the rib idea), there is very little (if any) scripture to support this. In fact, there may even be less scripture agreement for this than for Cain marring his sister. That rabbit hole presents a whole host of hermeneutical issues and it seems to create more problems than it solves.
In this post I have addressed the conundrum that though the Law had been given, man was forced to break the Law in order to increase and multiply. Therefore, I should like to do a Part 2 for this study in which I would present a theologically sound answer to this problem.
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.”
~ William Faulkner
Is it always essential to tell the truth, or are there circumstances in which it is better to lie? That is the question.
The Bible, our rule book for life, tells us not to bear false witness (Leviticus 19:11). However, it includes instances when people have lied. Sometimes, these people were even seem to be rewarded for telling lies. Such a case was with the prostitute Rahab when she hid the spies, defied her leaders, and lied that she did not have them. This done, her life was spared. Not only this, but she had the honor of being the great-great-great-(so-on)-grandmother of Christ (please note that I am saying the grandmother of Christ’s body, so that he could be fully man as well as fully God).
The Bible also has instances where people were punished for lying or trying to pass things off as something they were not. Such an instance is recorded in Acts 5 in the situation of Ananias and Sapphira. Ananias tried to pass it off as giving all his profits (from a property he had sold) to the apostles. Ananias soon no longer existed. Later his wife also lied about the profits. Now both he and his wife were dead.
With this in mind, let’s proceed.
It has been my experience, that over all, the Bible is pro-life. What I mean by this is that if your sheep falls in a well on the Sabbath, you should pull it out; therefore doing work. However, this preserves life. With Rahab, when she hid the spies, her lie preserved life. When the great assassination of the Jews was taking place, people like the famed Ten Booms, took them in. This not only defied evil government authority (which is a conversation for another time), but also made them pass off a lie. This situation, however, also preserved the lives of the Jews.
Now, you may be saying, “But the Bible talks about killing people in verses like: ‘Kill the Canaanites, Perizzites, (and a bunch of the other ‘ites’), etc.’ How is this pro life?” I believe that these people were disobeying God. Whether that is idolatry, thievery, murder, or any other sin. It seems that God wanted to destroy them; to wipe evil off the face of the earth. I also believe that there was a certain DNA with some of these people that was not supposed to be mixed or mingled with the human blood-lines (but that too is a conversation for another time). But you can see how because of this disobedience it could cause God to want to keep only the people on earth who will respect Him and also His chosen people.
Truth telling is also important because it helps make people trust you. If you deceive people, or even just joke around too much, people won’t know when they can trust you. If you want people to take you seriously, enjoy being around you, and think of you as a person they could trust with their life, telling the truth is pretty much always the best way to go. Remember the saying that goes, “Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.”
In conclusion, it is always important to tell the truth if you want people to trust you. However, when you come into a situation when lie meets life, read the Bible, listen to see what God is telling you to do in the situation.