Thursday, May 26, 2011

To Sanctify in Truth

Dr. Couch, what did Christ mean when He said "For the sake of [the disciples] I sanctified Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth" (John 17:19).

ANSWER: "To sanctify" means "to make holy, special, unique." By presenting Himself as sanctified, He is making them sanctified "in truth." By making Himself special He is then sanctifying them in truth. One's witness about oneself in court is valid as a testimony. Christ is speaking for Himself in order to set Himself out as one who is to be heard.

All believers are tied together, believers of all generations. We are tied to those who came before us. This is what is said in the following verses. Christ had concern for those who came along after the disciples, "through their word." Someone told us what they had said, etc., etc. "that they all may be one; even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they may be one, just as We are one" (vv. 20-21).

Thanks for asking,
-- Dr. Mal Couch (5/11)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

An Early Reference to the Church

Dr. Couch, is John 10:16 an early reference to the church?

ANSWER: The passage reads: "I have other sheep which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they shall hear My voice; and they shall become one flock with one shepherd."

This is very possibly a beginning reference to the church which consists of Jew and Gentile together in one body. See Ephesians 2:11-3:21. However, Christ could be talking about the Jews who were standing around Him at the time. In other words, the "other sheep" are Jews who were not there at that moment. I lean toward this for the following reason:

The "Good Shepherd" reference is about God and is found in Ezekiel 34:11-24. In this passage the Lord God is the Shepherd and Israel is the Flock (v. 12). Christ is therefore claiming to be the Good Shepherd of Ezekiel 34! There is no other "outside" flock in the passage that could be referring to Gentiles. And, king David will be the shepherd (God's servant) over them (vv. 23-24). Too, David will be the Prince among them, that is, among the Jews (v. 24). Read thoroughly the Ezekiel passage.

When we read the Word of God we must read carefully and slowly. Observe, observe, observe!

Thanks for asking.
—Dr. Mal Couch (5/11)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Rapture in Hebrews 9

Dr. Couch, is Hebrews 9:28 a rapture passage? It seems that it is. Seems the same here as He delivers us from the coming wrath.

ANSWER: Hebrews 9:28 reads: "So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him."

Remember, context is important, and I'm convinced that the book of Hebrews is written mainly to the Jews who have not accepted Him as Savior; it is not written to the church but to the Jews. Note that the passage does not say "to us who await" but to "those who await." Also, the passage is about the two comings. Technically, the rapture is not a coming. We go up to Him; His feet do not touch the ground. We are caught up to Him in the clouds.

The verse is parallel to Luke 1 where it speaks of "two" salvations, one which is His death for sins and the other is a salvation from Israel's enemies, that is, it is the kingdom salvation, which kingdom He will reign and rule over.

First coming: "To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins" (Luke 1:77).

Second coming: "God has raised up for us (the Jews) a horn of salvation in the house of David His servant … [Kingdom] Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of those who hate us" (Luke 1:69-71).

This is why the passage was not used as a rapture passage. But too, we did not give all the rapture verses in the book Perhaps Today. That was not our purpose even if Hebrews 9:28 was a rapture passage, which it is not. It is a Kingdom [Second Coming] passage!

Thanks for asking.
—Dr. Mal Couch (5/11)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Kaaba Stone

Dr. Couch, what is the Kaaba stone in Mecca?

ANSWER: The word Kaaba means "a cube." It is a huge black box that has been rebuilt ten times. According to Muslims it was handed down at the dawn of history by angels from heaven, to Adam, Seth, Abraham, and to Ishmael, Hagar's son. The "black box" is over a rectangular stone which is forty feet long by thirty-five feet wide, by fifty feet. This is a black stone of dark red material, oval in shape, which is kissed by the faithful.

Within the Kaaba, in pre-Muslim days, it contained several gods, one of which was called Allah, who was probably a tribal god, but also included three others who were the daughters of Allah: Uzza, al-Lar, and Manah. The historian Herodotus says al-Lar was a major Arabian deity. Allah was pushed forward and worshiped as a chief god.

No unbeliever shall ever put his foot in Mecca. In 629 Muslims from Medina came to Mecca and circled the Kaaba seven times shouting "There is no god but Allah alone!"

Thanks for asking,
-- Dr. Mal Couch (5/11)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Size of the Temple Area

Dr. Couch, what is the size of the temple area as described in Ezekiel 45:1-6?

ANSWER: I'm rather bad with math figures but using the Jewish Soncino commentary on Ezekiel, and Dr. Merrill Unger's calculations, the temple area seems to be about 8 miles square. It is described by cubits which are still calculated at 18 inches a cubit, or 25,000 x 10,000 cubits. This is the "sacred area" for the temple plus the area for the priests, its personnel. A similar area designated, on the south, a rectangle, for [a large company of] the Levites is 25,000 x 5,000 cubits. Unger says this is for the city of Jerusalem itself. Unger writes: "The apportionment will be an 'oblation unto the Lord' (a lifting up), an offering in which the offerer raises his hand to present the gift [a sacrificial gift] to God."

All of this is for worship in the Kingdom! Unger concludes: "The Lord's temple and the priestly service are to be given top priority" in the Kingdom! And he says, "In the millennial day of the triumph of righteousness, it must be remembered that all blessing and salvation flow from the death of Christ, which makes the Kingdom age possible."

Thanks for asking.
—Dr. Mal Couch (5/11)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fires of Gehenna

Dr. Couch, do you believe the fires of Gehenna are literal or not?

ANSWER: I believe they are worse than described in Scripture. The Bible uses the concept of fire to describe the terror and pain of hell. This is a physical description. Those who suffer the fires of hell will actually be in an eternal body. Their sins must be punished as required by the righteousness and holiness of a perfect God.

All men have had an opportunity to turn to God, repent, and find the way to salvation through Christ, but none will accept this opportunity of salvation. They repudiate God and defy Him. There is no doubt that they must face an eternity of suffering. We don't fully understand how the flames continue forever but the Bible is certain on that issue. This is a terrible picture but it is verified by the prophets and by Christ Himself.

Man is responsible but he also hates God and refuses to accept His provision for deliverance. I like 1 Corinthians 2:14 because it explains the total depravity of the human race. Paul says the natural man ACCEPTS NOT the things of the Spirit of God. Those things are FOOLISHNESS to him. And he CANNOT UNDERSTAND them, because those things are SPIRITUALLY UNDERSTANDABLE!

Man just does not want what God offers in Christ!

Graphically and poetically, but with accuracy of fact, the lost are cast into hell "where their worm does not die, and the ire is not quenched" (Mark 9:48). This comes from Isaiah 66:24: "For the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me, for their worm shall not die, and their fire shall be quenched; and they shall be an abhorrence to all mankind." The lost will face "disgrace and everlasting contempt" (Dan. 12:2). Notice, it is "everlasting."

Christ added that the lost will "go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matt. 25:46). Whatever the physical state, it is an eternal state!

Thanks for asking.
—Dr. Mal Couch (5/11)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Jewish Believers in the Gospels

Dr. Couch, what happened to the Jews who accepted Christ as their Messiah in the Gospels?

ANSWER: Good question. You're right. They did not know fully of the fact of His work as the Savior, though they may have known more than we imagine. But if they accepted Him as their Messiah I take it they were acting on all the revelation they had and they were saved! Apparently, the Jews were saved by having faith in what God was revealing, like Abraham as seen in Genesis 15:6. He just believed God and that was sufficient at that point.

However, they knew that the Messiah would justify many (Isa. 53:12). And, "they would be given the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins" (Luke 1:77). In the book of John the verb "to believe" in Christ is used some 90 times. The Jews believed in Him by what He said or by what He did. Surprisingly, the noun "to believe" is not used at all in John! So "to believe" according to John is an active idea! The Jews were holding on to the Lord then by faith. He was the object of that faith but it was not fully understood theologically by all the people.

They would then be added to the church in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit was poured out.

I hope this helps. Thanks for asking.
—Dr Mal Couch (5/11)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Abrahamic Covenant for Today

Dr. Couch, is the Abrahamic covenant still applicable for the Jews today?

ANSWER: Yes, indeed, it is, because first of all, it is called an eternal covenant that is still in operation. Note Psalm 105:8-11. There it states that the covenant was made with Abraham and passed down to Isaac and then Jacob as "an everlasting covenant, saying, 'To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance.'" See also verses 42-45. As well: Isaiah 41:8-11.

Christ said that God made a promise to the Jewish people, and, do they not know, He is (Present tense, exists as) "the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living" (Matt. 22:31-32). And they are alive in glory! These fathers still exist and the Lord has not forgotten His promises to them.

Mary was promised a fulfillment "of what had been spoken to her by the Lord. And Mary said, 'He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his offspring (future Jewish generation) forever'" (Luke 1:54-55).

Zacharias added: God determined "to show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant us that we being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days" (vv. 72-75).

These promises are given to the Jews and they have not been canceled.

Luke 1:31-33 is also important. Christ, the Son of David will establish His rule, throne, and kingdom, and it will have no end, it will be eternal. This is the house of Jacob, the Jewish people. It is not the church.

Thanks for asking.
—Dr. Mal Couch (5/11)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Zephaniah 1

Dr. Couch, is Zephaniah 1 about judgment events in Zephaniah's day or is it about the future coming tribulation, the Day of the Lord?

ANSWER: Many are confused with this issue in the book. You got it right in that "the Day of the Lord" is indeed the tribulation. The apostle makes this clear. He writes: "You yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night" (1 Thess. 5:2). For the world, THEY, will say "Peace and safety! Then sudden destruction will come upon THEM (not us, the church saints) suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and THEY (the lost) shall not escape."

But back to Zephaniah 1, there is something important to notice. 1:2-4a. The Lord will bring universal judgment upon the world: "I will remove all things from the face of the earth," and "I will remove man and animal, and birds of the sky, and the fish, and I will cut off man from the face of the earth."

But then Zephaniah comes back to the context of his day. God will stretch out His hand against Judah and Jerusalem (v. 4a), and, He will judge the pagans (Baal), "the remnant from this place (the holy land)." Thus, "the day of the Lord is near … it is against 'all the people of Canaan'" (v. 7). This is "a punishment on that day" (v. 10a); it "will come about at that time" (v. 12a).

However, note the change in 1:14. "Near is the GREAT day of the Lord." Having translated the passage from Hebrew I noted that it should best read:

"Imminent (in duration) [is] the Day of the Lord, the GREAT (Ha'Ga'Dol)."

This is the only place in Zephaniah where GREAT is used. The other references to "the Day of the Lord" probably are referring to what happened in time past, but then, "the GREAT DAY" would be the terrible tribulation of the end times. But look what is said in verses 15-16:

"A day of wrath is that day, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet and battle cry" (vv. 15-16).

Compare this with Jeremiah 30:3-8: "For the days are coming" … a sound of terror, of dread, and there is no peace, a woman in childbirth (the birth pangs), all faces turn pale, Alas! For that day is GREAT, there is none like it; it is the time of Jacob's (Israel's) distress (or tribulation), it shall come about in that day ..."

The BIRTH PANGS are clearly about the tribulation just as Christ and Paul say: "It is the beginning of the birth pangs, there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall be" (Matt. 24:8, 21). And Paul adds, "The day of the Lord will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they (the lost in the world) shall not escape" (1 Thess. 5:3).

So, Zephaniah has several stages. But the Great Day of the Lord would specifically be the future tribulation. Zephaniah concludes:

"On the day of the Lord's wrath; and all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy, for He will make a complete end. Indeed a terrifying one, of all the inhabitants of the earth" (1:18).

Thanks for asking.
—Dr. Mal Couch (5/11)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

God Hates Sinner but Loves the World

Dr. Couch, is there a contradiction between the fact that God hates sin and sinners but still loves the world (John 3:16)?

ANSWER: Absolutely not. God is a righteous God who hates sin and sinners but still loves men and provides a way of escape from their sins in the work of Christ on the cross. You referred to Psalm 5:5 where David said "You hate all who do iniquity." God's attributes of holiness and righteousness demand that He must hate the sinner for his evil work. The Jewish Rabbis write: "The evil man shall not sojourn with You; God does not tolerate their presence. God cannot be bribed with offerings to overlook the evil of their lives."

The Imprecatory Psalms are those where a judgment, a curse, and hatred comes upon the evil. God does not tolerate sin. Note Proverbs 6:16-19. God hates seven things: "Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed blood, a heart that devices wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness, one who spreads strife between brother." There is no contradiction between hating the sinner for his sin and then providing salvation be loving him. There are two different issues. The "hate" goes away when one turns to Christ, and when that one experiences God's love in the provision of His Son!

Thanks for asking.
—Dr. Mal Couch(5/11)