Sunday, November 30, 2008

What Can We Learn About Balaam's Story?

Dr. Couch, Balaam is mentioned often in the NT. What can we learn about the story of him from the OT?
ANSWER:  The story of Balaam is long and complicated as an OT event. The details are given in Numbers 22-31. Israel was on the journey from Egypt going towards the promised land when they came to the country of Moab. Balaam was a hired evil prophet and false teacher. The teaching of Balaam refers to his teaching the king, Balak, to corrupt the Jewish people whom he could not curse.
  Three things are said of Balaam in the NT. There is (1) the way of Balaam (2 Pet. 2:15); (2) the error of Balaam (Jude 11); and (3) the doctrine of Balaam (Rev. 2:14). It could be said of him that he was virtually a warlock, used of Satan to trip up the morals of Israel. The "ways" would refer to his deceptive patterns.
  Peter writes about the Jews who in the wilderness sojourn "indulged" the flesh when tempted by Balaam. Many today are (1) "forsaking the right way, having gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness" (2 Pet. 2:15).
  The (2) "error" of Balaam is a reference to those who live absolutely contrary to what is right. Their sins are outright errors that disdain the righteous directives of the Lord. "Woe to them! They rush headlong into the error of Balaam" (Jude 11).
  Finally, (3) there is a whole pattern of evil doctrinal teaching that is just the opposite of what God demands. In the church at Pergamum, there were those who "held the teaching (doctrine) of Balaam, who kept teaching (king) Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality" (Rev. 2:14).
  Satan uses the evil intentions of such men and works his strategies against human beings. His patterns can destroy both the lost and the righteous.
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What is the Shortest Chapter in the Bible?

 Dr. Couch, what is the shortest chapter in the Bible?
ANSWER:  I think it would be Psalm 117. There are only two verses in this Psalm and they speak about the nations of the earth praising God in the millennial reign of Christ. They read:
Praise the Lord, all nations; laud Him, all peoples!
For His lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth
  of the Lord is everlasting.
Praise the Lord!
Unger has it right on:
"This psalm is prophetic of the Kingdom age, when all nations and races will praise the Lord for His redemptive grace, and through Israel, He will bring salvation to the entire world. This psalm cannot be applied to any period of the Old Testament or the New Testament church period and will only be realized when Christ returns to the earth and sets up His Kingdom over Israel and (then) 'the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:9).'
"It is Israel's call to the whole millennial earth. It confirms the promises given to the patriarchs and makes possible the salvation of the Gentiles not only in the church period, but as in this psalm, in the Kingdom age. After Israel has been regathered, converted and established in the Kingdom blessing, she—with missionary zeal—can offer all nations the same salvation that God worked in her, for it is the salvation of the world. Thus, the words of Jesus to the Samaritan woman will be fulfilled, 'Salvation is of the Jews' (John 4:22)."
Great question! Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Hebrews 6:1-9 - Impossible to Renew Again To Repentance

Dr. Couch, what is happening in Hebrews 6:1-9, the old "It is impossible to renew them again to repentance" passage?
ANSWER:  There are many interpretations of this passage but I believe, along with Dr. Kenneth Weist (one of the greatest Greek scholars of the last century), that I have it right. The prominent flow of Hebrews is a warning to the Jews who have not as yet trusted their own Messiah as Savior, though it is clear that the book, as indicated in the last chapter, was handed over to the church as an apologetic or as a polemic to be used in witnessing to the Jews.
  With all of the testimony to the Jews about Christ, those who hardened their hearts against all of the evidence, would be cut off. This explains the "warning passages" throughout the book. And, this explains the book of Acts. The first part of Acts was about the testimony to Israel while the last half mainly was the witness to the Gentiles. There is a transition going on in the book! The last of Acts shows God's judgment against the Jews and how the Lord turned to the Gentiles and rejected Israel.
  This would explain why Peter's two epistles were written to the believing Jewish community, but also gives warnings to the Jews who would be rejecting the testimony about their own Messiah. Peter says that, temporarily the disbelieving Jews escaped the defilement of the world "by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," but they again were entangled in sin and rejection of Christ. Their last state would be worse than their first state. "For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them" (2 Pet. 2:20-21).
 Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, November 28, 2008

Who or What is the Morning Star?

Dr. Couch, who or what is the morning star that will arise in the hearts of believers in 2 Peter 1:19?
ANSWER:  This is a clear reference to the shining of the Lord Jesus in the hearts of the believers when all sin is vanquished and He has full control of His universe. The verse reads "We have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day down and the morning star arises in your hearts."
  For now, in this dark world, we only see darkness and evil, but we also have the promises of prophecy that the day will arrive when Christ will bring gladness, as the early morning star, to shine in our hearts. That Christ is the morning star is made clear in what He says in Revelation 22:16: "I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star." This idea is also spoken of in Revelation 2:28: "I will give to the believing overcomer 'the morning star.'"
  Christ is the true morning star, the bright One from God the Father who will illumine all creation with His Son. However, temporarily, Satan appears to the world as the "shining one," or Lucifer, "the son of the morning" as seen at the time of his fall in Isaiah 14:12. The name "shining one" is translated as Lucifer in the Latin Vulgate.
  The idea of the morning brightness of the Messiah is seen in the prophecy of the father of John the Baptist, about the advent of his son as the herald of the Messiah. He said that by the tender mercies of God, "the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death" (Luke 1:78-79; Malachi 4:2). Thus, Christ is the Light of the world (John 1:4, 5; 8:12; 9:5), the One who would bring light to the Gentiles (Isa. 42:6; Acts 13:47). 
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Bottom Line in the Recent Election

Dr. Couch, what is the bottom line about what happened in the recent election?

ANSWER:  The bottom line is that we now have a younger generation who has come up through the ranks of the government school system, and up through the ranks of the very liberal university system. They are driven by psychology, liberalism, socialism, and amoral thinking. To be amoral means that morality has nothing to do with their decisions. Everything should be determined simply on the basis of politics, pragmatism, economics, but certainly not be biblical right and wrong! The younger generation has repudiated biblical morality, experience and wisdom. They do not look for those who have had experience. They want someone who has "TV" charisma and who can turn a nifty phrase or two.

   The Bible speaks loud and clear about their ignorance. The story of Rehoboam is a classic example of what I mean. Rehoboam took over the Southern Kingdom of Judah after the death of his father, Solomon. Even though Rehoboam would be a terrible sinner, it was God's sovereignty that was at work behind the scenes in all of the intrigue that was going on. Jeroboam took over the Northern Kingdom. The Lord said to him "Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes" (I Kings 11:31). The reason: the people had forsaken the Lord, and were worshipping Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the sons of Ammon. "And they have not walked in My ways, doing what is right in My sight and observing My statutes and My ordinances, as [Solomon's] father David did" (v. 33).

   As the young crowd in America, Rehoboam did not want the wisdom of the elders, those with experience. The young American voters have jettisoned experience. Experience and wisdom are not part of the criteria for leadership. Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had advised his father Solomon and said: "How do you counsel me to answer this people?" (I Kings12:6). They answered that he must speak good words to them (v. 7). "But he forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted WITH THE YOUNG MEN WHO GREW UP WITH HIM AND SERVED HIM" (v. 8).

   Rehoboam took their advice and added to the burden of the people. He said, "Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions" (v. 11).

   Rehoboam began to reign at about the same age as Barack Obama, age 41. Rehoboam reigned for seventeen years and died at 58! (14:21).

   The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the lack of practical wisdom and experience. For example, "The honor of old men is their gray hair" (20:29). And, "A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead" (21:16).

   Also, "My son, fear the Lord and the king; do not associate with those who are given TO CHANGE" (24:21).

   Question: Why did Obama meet three times with the homosexual New Hampshire Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson? What is he planning to put in place in regard to homosexual rights? We will all probably find out soon!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nationality of the Antichrist

Dr. Couch, what will be the nationality of the antichrist? There seems to be some confusion on this issue.

ANSWER: I believe the antichrist could be around today but he will not be revealed as to who he is until the seven year tribulation begins. In Daniel 9:27 we read: he is the prince who "will make a firm covenant with the many for one week (a seven year period—the tribulation and wrath). Actually, it best reads "He will confirm (higbir), make a strong agreement (make a covenant to prevail) with many …" Benware writes: "The covenant made between the Roman Prince (Antichrist) and the people of Israel requires that Israel will be at least partially restored to the land."

11:37 says "he will show no regard for the gods (Elohim) of his fathers …" Most translate this as gods but if it should read "God" then there would be an indication that he could be Jewish. I lean this way because he will convince the orthodox Jews that he is the Messiah, and they somehow buy into that, maybe on the evidence that he is Jewish.

No one can say for sure.

You need to get Dr. Paul Benware's commentary on Daniel produced by Scofield Ministries. Great commentary!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What Happened in the Elections?

Dr. Couch, what happened in the elections?

ANSWER: First of all God is in charge. There were no accidents. He is in command of all of history. And, beside, America, and the entire world, is receiving the judgment due for its gross sins. We are moving rapidly into the apostasy. Now as to what happened from the human level, it is really very simple.

Our nation is divided between, say, (1) those who are thirty and under, and (2) those who are older. The older ones were looking for

A. Wisdom
B. Experience
C. Morality in leadership
D. Conservative and sound principles that can be found in Scripture

The younger crowd was looking for

A. One with charisma
B. One with socialistic and psychological leanings
C. One who would advocate and be for same-sex marriage, abortion, and feminism
D. One who does not understand history and what America is really all about

The younger will dominate. We will never go back to common sense. The younger, three out of four, voted for liberalism and against common sense. There is no turning back! You need my book: For The Cause of Zion.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, November 10, 2008

Christ's Sacrifice for Sins in the Old Testament

Dr. Couch, thank you for sharing the fact that Christ's sacrifice was applied back to the sins of those in the OT, as you pointed out in Romans 3:25b. Are there any other verses that would show this same point as well?

ANSWER: Yes, and that would be Hebrews 9:15b. The author of Hebrews writes: Christ "died for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant (the Law), [that] those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance."

Kenneth Wuest rightly notes:

The Messiah became the Mediator not only in order that He might pay the penalty of sinners who live since the Cross, but also that He might do so for those who lived before the Cross. Sinners who were saved under the First Covenant were actually saved, not by it or by any sacrifice offered under its jurisdiction, but through the atoning work of Messiah under the New Testament.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What is the Shekinah Glory?

Dr. Couch, what is the Shekinah glory?

ANSWER: The Hebrew word Shekinah means the presence, as in the presence of God in His glory with His people Israel. It is described in Ezekiel as the abiding presence of God with the Jews. Chapters 10-11 described the presence of God by the Jewish Rabbis as the merkavah, or the presence of God in His "chariot." The Israelis have manufactured their own military tank and have named it "the chariot," the Merkavah.

The Shekinah, or the glory of God (His presence), is seen at the threshold of the temple in 10:4. Then, the glory of God departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the angels, the cherubim (v. 18). Then His glory hovered over the entrance of the east gate of the Lord's house (v. 19). The presence of God is seen as leaving the temple area because of the sins of the people.

As the presence of God is leaving Jerusalem, the Lord God says the Jewish people will be scattered throughout the nations, but in that scattering, God will be a sanctuary for them in that scattering, in that "dispersion" or in the Diaspora. "Though I will remove them far away among the nations, and though I will scatter them among the countries, yet I will be a sanctuary for them a little while in the countries where they have gone" (11:16). But, "I shall gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I shall give you the land of Israel" (v. 17).

How foolish of the amil guys to say that God will not restore the Jewish people back to their own land. When their King comes and restores them to the Holy Land, the New Covenant will be applied to their hearts and they will be converted. "I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh" (v. 19).

As the narration goes on in Ezekiel 11, the presence and the glory of the Lord continues to depart from the city of Jerusalem. "And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood over the mountain which is east of the city" (v. 23).

The Lord's Shekinah will return to the temple in the Kingdom period. Ezekiel witnessed this. "And the glory of the Lord came into the house by way of the gate facing toward the east" (43:4), and "the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house" (v. 5). The Lord here is the Messiah who prophetically says, "This is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever. And the house of Israel will not again defile My holy name …" (v. 7).

Matthew 17:1-7, and the transfiguration of Christ, is a dress rehearsal of the Lord's messianic glory and His coming to reign and rule in Jerusalem. "He was transfigured before [His disciples—Peter, James, John]; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light" (v. 2).

In his Ezekiel commentary, my old Hebrew professor, Charles Feinberg wrote, "The Jewish commentary, the Midrash reads, 'Rabbi Jonathan said, Three years and a half the Shekinah stayed upon the Mount of Olives, in the hope that Israel would do penance, but they did none.' All readers of the New Testament know this was the length of the earthly ministry of our Lord to the lost sheep of Israel. Sadly enough, they did not repent and He did depart from them (cf. Hosea 5:15 with Matt. 23:37-39). The rabbis have enumerated ten stages whereby the Shekinah withdrew. … Before He departed, however, He set forth the consoling promise of restoration for the remnant …"

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Those Covenant Guys

Dr. Couch, I have been told that the covenant guys hold strongly to the fact that God is glorified by salvation, and that dispensationalists do not hold to such a position. What do you say?

ANSWER:  You've been listening to the wrong crowd. Dispensationalists certainly believe that the Lord is glorified in His salvation work for lost humanity. But dispensationalists are more biblical in that we believe that all things bring glory to the Father, not simply the work of salvation.

   God the Father of course receives glory (1) for our salvation, as well as the Son (John 13:31). "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him" (vv. 31-32). The context has to do with the work of salvation Christ is about to initiate for the world.

   It is also true that (2) "the heavens declare the glory of God" (Psa. 19:1). (3) Christ as the messianic King will also receive the glory due Him (Psa. 24:7-10), as well as (3) the Kingdom itself is seen as glorious (Psa. 145:11-13). And with the destruction of Gog and Magog, (4) the Lord will receive glory among all the nations (Ezek. 39:21).  

   I could go on and on demonstrating that God receives glory in so many things, not simply in salvation.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, November 3, 2008

Does the Holy Spirit Only Convict Believers?

Dr. Couch, someone told me recently that the Holy Spirit does not work in conviction except through a believer. Is this biblically accurate?

ANSWER:  I do not know of a passage of Scripture that would verify that view. I did a run through the NT and could not find a passage that would confirm that. Many passages simply mention the work of the Spirit but do not refer to a believer standing by who becomes a kind of "agent" for His convicting work.

   I personally think that such a view is an overstatement. There is no doubt that the Spirit of God uses means such as the Bible, and of course often the witness of a believer. But to say that He never works without a child of God present cannot be confirmed by Scripture.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Women in the Church and Feminism

Dr. Couch, what's going on with women in the church? They seem to be buying into the feminist culture.

ANSWER:  You have it right! That is exactly what they are doing. Peter and Paul's injunctions about the blessedness of women and the important roles of woman has not changed. And, Paul's orders are not simply given in a cultural context. Paul argues for the importance and the limitations of woman from a doctrinal position not from simply a cultural position that was only applicable to his day.

   What is amazing to me is that many older Evangelical women in our churches have been infected by the culture and have joined their feminist sisters in trying to resist what the Bible is saying to them. What Peter and Paul have said is authoritative and is part of the Word of God. If Christian women are resisting, they are resisting the Lord's injunctions not simply the words of their husbands or of a pastor. On Jeremiah 44:19, Dr. Unger makes this statement about the sinful women of Israel: "When women lead, the day of doom is near."

   How much more clear can you get with 1 Peter 3:1-7 where Peter says, "Wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives" (v. 1). He calls women "the weaker vessels" which they are (v. 7), even though the cop-er-ettes and soldier-ettes think they can beat up the bad guys on the streets, or be soldiers in the trenches, which they cannot! But how dare the men who allow women and mothers in hazardous situations or combat roles just because that is what they want! My counselor wife, Dr. Lacy Couch, says the problem is that women want the authority they see men having. And, they do not like themselves as women! (Sounds something like Eve to me!)

   Husbands are to be kind to their wives "and grant them honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life" (v. 7b). They are to protect their wives. They are not to mistreat their wives, or any other believer, and "not return evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing" (v. 8). Paul wants women to dress modestly and "wear" before others good works, "as befits women making a claim to godliness" (1 Tim. 2:9-11) and receive "instruction with entire submissiveness" (v. 11). He bans women from teaching or exercising authority over men and, they are to remain in quietness (v. 12). The reason: Adam has the primacy and Eve was very much deceived though Adam was not, as described in the temptation account in Genesis. Adam is the greatest sinner but Eve was emotionally deceived, thus Paul does not want women to be in a leadership position! (vv. 13-14).

   Period, period, period! There is nothing more to say!

   Believers can be seduced by the world; they can buy into the culture, and be fooled into being politically correct. (I need to make a correction on that statement.) Women are not fooled as with blindness. Their will is captured by the culture and they know exactly what they are doing. They want what they want when they want it!

   Women today are ruling in many of their churches by the yak, yak, through their elder or deacon husbands at home. And the men come to church and make decisions based on what their wives want. "Yes, dear, yes dear!"

   For a woman to obey her husband as Sarah did (1 Pet. 3:6), is not slavery, it actually is protection! And it is following the instructions of the Lord not her husband! This entire subject is a spiritual issue not simply doing something because this is what the husband wants! On the flip side, men are also to be kind and loving to their wives. They are to lift them up and be honoring. A cruel or thoughtless husband brings woe upon his family! Men are to be leaders and not wimps at home, at church, and elsewhere.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Studying Heresy

Dr. Couch, I'm convinced. From much that you've been writing I see the error of amillennialism and covenant theology. Where can I read more on how all that heresy began?
ANSWER:  I suggest three sources, or study the teaching of three individuals in church history. (1) Philo, (2) Origen, and (3) Augustine. They are the ones who influenced the church the most by their writings on allegorical interpretation.
  The sources would be Bernard Ramm in his book Protestant Biblical Interpretation. Read pages 24-38. Read also on Catholic Allegorism (pp. 38-45). Also study the section on the Syrian School of Antioch (pp. 48-50). Antioch was most influenced by the early prophets and probably Paul as mentioned in the book of Acts. They maintained and taught the literal approach to Scripture for generations. Ramm writes "The result of these principles [developed in Antioch] was some of the finest exegetical literature of ancient times." And the literal interpretative school at Antioch, especially in "The commentary of Theodore [of Mopsuestia] on the minor epistles of Paul is the first and almost the last exegetical work produced in the ancient Church which will bear any comparison with modern commentaries."
  Check out the three names of the men mentioned above in my Dictionary of Premillennial Theology (Kregel). I also wrote a chapter on the Antiochian School as well.
  Read also what I wrote on these men in my interpretation book Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics (Kregel). The allegory and destructive hermeneutics of these men greatly influenced Catholic and then Reformation thinking in their spiritualizing especially biblical prophecy. I really do not think most allegory and amillennial guys know the origin of their own system. They are great quoters but terrible interpreters. They are unable to think textually and biblically.
  I quote Trigg who shows the foolishness of Origen in his interpretation on Matthew 24 and the issue of the return of Christ. Trigg points out that Origen, on the two men laboring in the field, believes this "represents good and bad influences on a person's will." How dumb!
And I quote on Origen the great church historian and Lutheran amillennialist, Philip Schaff, when he has to admit that "His allegorical interpretation is ingenious, but often runs far away from the text and degenerates into the merest caprice." I conclude in my book, "amillennialists continue to utilize a system of interpretation that is textually and historically at odds with the normal reading [even] understood by the early church."

Thanks for asking,
Dr. Mal Couch