Bible Questions of Russell W. Sanders

Answers by Steve Amato

The answers aren't meant to be comprehensive, as volumes could be written on some of these questions, but I hope to provide some insight that may point one in the right direction.
 
1. Let "us" make man?
2. The death of Adam and Eve?
3. The serpent told the truth?
4. Foreknowledge nullifies free-will?
5. God lacks foreknowledge?
6. Punishment and predestination?
7. "Who told you that you were naked?"
8. The sacrifices of Abel vs Cain?
9. To Cain - "What have you done?"
10. No real consequences for Cain?
11. Was Adam the first human?
12. The Nephilim?
13. God destroys innocent animals?
14. If Noah not perfect, would God have destroyed all?
15. Why the flood?
16. God likes the smell of animal sacrifice?
17. Why God pleased with animal sacrifice?
18. God wanted man to remain nomadic and undeveloped?
19. Lot's wife killed - angels screwed up?
20. Lot got in the way of Sodom's destruction?
21. God hardened Pharaoh's heart?
22. God told Israel to kill innocent people in Canaan?
23. What did Ezekiel see?
24. Joseph unhappy about digging up his bones?
25. Jesus preached love, but Yahweh demanded murder?
26. Why did Jesus have to die?
27. God's love and justice inherently contradictory?
28. What relevant is Christ's death?
29. "You shall not kill" - but many commands to kill?

 

 

1. In Genesis 1:26, why does God say "Let us make man in our image"? Who was he talking to? Is this a reference to Jesus, the Pagan Gods, whom? Why, if he proposed that they made man in their image did he do it all alone? What did the other "us's" do, sit and watch?

This could be very well a reference to the trinity relationship as revealed in the New Testament between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

2. The God Yahweh warned Adam, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die". (Genesis 2:16-17). Obviously, after Adam and Eve's defiance of the Lord's commandment, neither of them died that day, but in fact, lived for hundreds of years afterwards. Was God referring to the punishment that he intended to inflict if they defied his word?

Or did they die? Consider, for example, how life is defined in the New Testament: "This is the testimony that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the Son of God does not have life" I John 5:11,12. Eternal life is a relationship with God (John 17:3). Having broken their relationship with God, they were then dead. Such is the condition of all unsaved "As for you, you were dead in your trespasses and sin" Eph 2:1

3. Why, did he curse the serpent for telling Eve the truth about the apple not being poisonous?

God never said the apple was poisonous. It was not the eating of the apple that killed them, but their disobedience to God's command.

4. Yahweh is portrayed as the all-knowing, all-seeing God. Among his powers are the ability to foresee future events, which is why the Book of Revelations is a significant warning to all Christians. It represents something that is going to happen, and when it does occur the faithful must be ready for it. However, if the future is already foreseen, why does God inflict punishment upon his "children" when he knows that they were bound to conduct their sins anyway?

Foreknowledge does not logically preclude free-will. Knowing that people will sin does not mean that God forces them to sin.

5. He is surprised that Adam and Eve ate the apple and angered that the serpent, whom he let wander around the Garden of Eden, beguiled his creations. Shouldn't he have foreseen this?

You are inferring things which are not actually there. Of course He foresaw these things. His reaction was to demonstrate how He wanted people to realize how he felt about them.

6. God punishes them for something they were unable to avoid, because the future was already pre-destined. If they had not sinned, they would have changed the future. Thus, the Book of Revelations is irrelevant because it does not reflect a future that will happen. Either the future is pre-destined and nothing we do will change it, or it is undefined, in which case God's and Jesus' foresight is flawed. If it is unchangeable, then why does God inflict punishment for things that are going to happen anyway?

As I mentioned foreknowledge does not logically preclude free-will, as you propose.

7. In Genesis 3:9 the Lord is looking for Adam and calls "Where art thou?". Adam replies "I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." God then questions "Who told thee that thee were naked? Have you eaten of the tree which I commanded you not to eat?" These acts don't seem consistent with an all-powerful God. What is Adam hadn't spoken up? Would the Lord be able to find him? If he is all-knowing, why did he have to interrogate Adam to discover what occurred. Adam blames Eve who then blames the serpent. If Eve would have lied and blamed the camel, would God have known any differently?

God didn't need to ask questions to get information, but prehaps rather to teach, (as God may often speak in our conscience). Jesus very often asked questions in order to teach, even though it is clear He already knew the answers.

8. In Genesis 4:5, God had no regard for the sacrifice of Cain, but in Genesis 4:4, the Lord had regard for the sacrifice of Abel. Why did he accept one and scorn another? Is it because Abel was a keeper of the sheep and Cain a tiller of the ground? If so, doesn't that one of two things: (1) The God Yahweh disliked the idea of man developing agriculture and forming cities, preferring him to have a nomadic lifestyle and not progress technologically, or (2) The God Yahweh prefers animal sacrifices.

Inferring truth from an historical event alone can get you into trouble if you try to take it too far without checking cross references. When He sent His Son into the world, He sent Him as a carpenter who often told parables using agriculture, for example. In the Law, God instructs the people of Israel on the developement of their society and there's no implication that He is offended by forming cities or agriculture. So that is an incorrect inference

More likely, after Adam and Eve sinned, God killed some animals to cloth them with animal skins, rather than the vegetation that Adam and Eve chose. He probably expected others to infer from this that animal sacrifice rather then vegetation is what He chose to be an acceptable "clothing" for their sins. The book of Hebrews elaborates on this revealing that animal sacrifices were only symbolic of the sacrifice to come - that of the Christ, and that they did not remove sin, but rather temporarily cover it up.

9. After Cain slew Abel, the Lord questioned him saying "Where is Abel, thy brother?" (Genesis 4:8). When Cain replies "Am I my brother's keeper?" The Lord then asks "What have you done?" (Genesis 4:10). Isn't this a rather ignorant question for an all-knowing, all-seeing God?

As I mentioned above, this is often how God speaks to our conscience. If a parent walks into a room where their child just made a mess, might they also not respond with a rather rhetorical question?

10. For his act, God curses Cain but also curses the ground he tills and forces Cain to become a "wanderer and a vagabond". Cain instead leaves Eden and builds the city Enoch in the land of Nod, east of Eden. This seems to defy Yahweh's command that he wander, yet nothing happens to him. Either Yahweh cursed Cain out of anger and later reconsidered or he doesn't expect his commandments to be enforced. This also doesn't seem consistent with the common concept of a Supreme Being.

He was nonetheless considered a wanderer and vagabond by those who knew his murderous ways, much as OJ Simpson has a residence, yet wherever he goes he will be reckoned a murderer by those who recognize him as such. In this way, he has no real home.

11. When Cain slew Abel he feared that others would see him and kill him. Who were these others and where did they come from? Cain took to him a wife? Where did she come from? The bible explains that God created Adam and Eve and that Eve then had Cain and Abel. That should mean that there were only four people on the Earth. Within the span of Cain and Abel growing to manhood, suddenly an entire population of strangers appeared. Did God create them as well?

I don't think Adam was the first human. From the geneology list, he was created about 4000 bc, yet there is plenty of evidence that people existed before that. But the focus of God's attention in the early chapters of Genesis was on Adam and his descendants, just as he focused on the Jewish nation later, as real people, yet symbolic or representative of the general population.

12. In Genesis 6:1-7, the Bible explains that the "Sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose."..The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown"..

I suspect that the Nephilim were the descendants of Adam, considered by the general population as gods in that they lived so long and the mixing of their genes with those of the general population would often result in giants, which may account for the myths of such in many cultures.

13. The passages go on to say that the "Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great" and so he decided to "blot out man whom I have created, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them". There are a few issues here. Foremost, what did the little birdies do? After all, they were just flying around. What about the sheep and cattle? They simple wandered about getting slaughtered and sacrificed.

The consequences of sin not only affect the sinner, but also everything which is in his realm. Remember that man was given authority over the animals. If God had punished someone by burning his house down, would you object by saying, "what sin did the innocent house commit that it should be destroyed?" Animals are not people. There is nonetheless an appropriate way to treat them.

14. Yahweh did find Noah as "perfect in his generations" and decided to spare him and instructed him to build an ark that would save the animals. What if Noah wasn't "perfect in his generations"? Would everything have been exterminated?

If you take a global perspective of the flood, then yes! Similarly when Moses was on Mt. Sinai and God expressed His desire to destroy the people of Israel because of their sin. Would He have carried it out if Moses hadn't interceded? Most likely! Why is this a problem?

15. Secondly, why was God pleased with Noah for being "perfect in his generations"? Given the previous passages this indicates that Yahweh was displeased with the intermarrying of the "sons of God and the daughters of men". Were the "men of renown" the wicked ones that God wished to eliminate. If so, this also indicates that God didn't want man to progress. The heightening of the bloodline with the "sons of God" seemed to be a direct threat to Gods plans for mankind so he eliminated the problem.

You are again seeing things which are not there. It doesn't say that He was displeased with the intermarrying. It doesn't say that the "men of renown" were the wicked ones. So you conclusions are presumptuous. He simply says that wickedness increased without making reference to particulars.

16. In Genesis 8:20-21, after surviving the flood, Noah built an altar and "took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor, the Lord said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of man". Why does Yahweh like the smell of burning animal flesh?

In the New Testament, the prayers of the saints are an sweet smelling aroma to God. Does that mean that the saints exude a physical oroma? It was the fact that the offerings were made in faith that pleased God, not their physical smell.

17. Why was he displeased with the wickedness of man living before the flood but pleased with Noah's burning of the few animals left alive? Did God consume the animals and was pleased because Noah was offering him a fine meal?

I think rather that God was pleased with Noah's faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" Heb 11:6

18. In Genesis 11:1-9, (Nimrod) and his people constructed a tower in the land of Shinar to rise to the heavens. God was concerned by this act and told the undefined "us" entities, "This is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and left off building the city". This passage definitely indicates that God dislike man progressing and wanted him to remain a nomadic, undeveloped creature. He disliked the idea of a centralized government and coordinated architectural projects. Why was this a problem?

I notice you use the phrase "definitely indicates". I infer from this that you can't imagine or accept any other interpretation. Yet there are other interpretations that others find reasonable. In pride and arrogance, men unite together against God. They may develop cultures and institutions that completely reject God. So it becomes difficult in growing up in such an environment to know the truth. Man needs to be humilitated and isolated at times for his own good. Unity should be based on truth and love, not in defiance of God.

19. In Genesis 19:24, the Bible states "Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomor'rah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities and what grew on the ground". In itself, this seems to be just punishment for the worst of sinners, but this also re-introduces the question of whether or not Yahweh is the all-knowing, all-seeing God. A bit later, in Genesis 19:26, Lot's wife looks back upon the destruction and is turned into a "pillar of salt" (although some translations interpret this as a "pillar of ash"). Doesn't that make the angels of the Lord that were tasked with ensuring the safety of Lot and his family a bit incompetent. Knowing the flawed make-up of humans from past experiences, should they have been ensuring that their instructions were being heeded.

The angels did their job, without violating the principle of free will. Lot's wife exercised her free will to do what she wanted in defiance of what God told her to do.

20. In Genesis 19:21 they opted not to destroy the city of Zo'ar until after the family had passed. This is a substantial precaution to ensure that Lot's family comes to no harm given he was a small element interfering with a large-scale operation of destruction. It really seems like they botched the job.

He was not a small element, he was the major element. He was the major focus of God's attention. To hell with Sodom and Gommorah.

21. In Exodus 10:1-2, the Bible states "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your son's son how I have made sport of the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord". Just prior to this passage, in Exodus 9, Pharaoh recognized his sins and repented, but the Lord "hardened" his heart because it didn't suit his purposes of demonstration. Therefor Yahweh continued to inflict his plagues on the Egyptians for their sins against the People of Israel. In other words, God made Pharaoh act in a certain way so he could punish him for it. Does this seem a proper act for a "God of Mercy and Justice"?

That is not the only way to read it. God did harded his heart, but Pharaoh was willing to have his heart hardened. Romans 1:18+ talks about this process of the hardening of the heart and the mind, and they all start off with the individuals free will to sin. In Romans, sin can affect the mind so that we don't think about things the way we should, and it affects the heart in that we don't feel the way we should about things, which leads to more grotesque sins like homosexuality and such. Pharoah had not really repented, just as many who at some point repent of their sins and then turn back out of their own free will.

22. After the People of Israel left Egypt, God granted them "The Promised Land", a region that scores of other people already lived in? If this really was the place where People of Israel should have been then why didn't God tell the heathens that they had to move? Instead, he directed the People of Israel to kill them because they were "an abomination unto the Lord".

According to Deut 9:4, God was using the people of Israel to bring judgment on the nations in Canaan "because of the wickedness of these nations". Perhaps that's why he didn't give allow Abraham to possess it at the start. He waited until wickedness had dominated the are before he brought justice.

23. What was the vision that Ezekiel saw? Was it really a spaceship of some kind?

Where did you get the idea it was a spaceship?

24. Was Joseph really happy about having his bones dug up and carted around the desert for 40 years? During his lifetime his own land didn't treat him all that well.

I don't think he minded since he was dead at the time. Furthermore when he was alive, he requested it be done. (Genesis 47:30 " but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.")
 

25. Why did Jesus preach to love thy neighbor and turn the other cheek when Yahweh insisted that the heathens had to die. Was Yahweh usurped?

I assume you mean that Yahweh insists that all heathens must be put to death. I can't find that in the Bible. Perhaps you should clarify where in the Bible you're talking about. Unless you think that God sent Israel to kill a bunch of innocent people, which was not the case.

26. If so, why did Jesus have to die on the cross to wash away man's sins?

Jesus' death fulfilled God's justice in that it is unjust for God to forgive sin without the payment of the penalty. Jesus provided such a payment.

27. If he didn't take over for Yahweh, then who did and why didn't Jesus say anything about "the new guy" in his ministry. His statements in the Bible, calling upon his "father" certainly indicate that Yahweh is still the being in charge. If Yahweh is in charge, did he have a change of heart? If he did, then doesn't that indicate a major flaw in the makeup of God and at least wrap it up for most of the Old Testament?

You seem to think that it is not possible to be both loving and just. The cross demonstrates both these characteristics of God without contradiction.

28. What was really accomplished by Jesus dying on the cross? If it was required to demonstrate that he could rise again, how did it wash away man's sins? If not, what's the sacrifice? Dying and being resurrected again three days later is little more than an inconvenience for an immortal being, albeit a painful one. What was really sacrificed by the act and why was such a sacrifice necessary in the first place. If forgiving man for his sins was the right thing to do, what does it matter if Jesus died on the cross or not?

As I mentioned, His death was in payment for the penalty of our sins which was necessary to satisfy God's justice. It was not so much what he went though to accomplish it, for many people have been crucified before, but rather what was important was who it was that went through it. Whether you realize it or not, Jesus is part of that "Us" you refer to in your questions in Genesis. "Though Him all things were made and without Him nothing was made that has been made" John 1:3

29. The Laws of Moses (Exodus 20), state that "You shall not kill". This is an unconditional commandment, one of the foremost of the Ten Commandments. However, Exodus 21-23 is full of commandments stating that sinners should be "put to death" for certain sins, including cursing their parents and sorcery. In Leviticus 20:13, the Lord commands to Moses "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them shall be put to death". Why the contradiction? It seems that Yahweh likes to do a lot of "weeding" among mankind.

There are 5 differenent Hebrew words for "kill". Ex 20 refers to murder. Lev 20:13 refers to a legal putting to death. Must people realize there is a difference between murder and the state putting a murderer to death, although recently this concept is becoming foreign as is the whole concept of justice.

God's attitude towards justice and love are neither contradictory nor inconsistent throughout the whole Bible, if we interpret it correctly. However, some people may disagree with them. In fact if God became a man and walked among us, we would probably end up crucifying Him. God defines Himself in the Bible and as a believer I find no reason to be ashamed of His character or attitudes. Best to accept God for who He is in reverence and fear.



The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Feb 14, 1997


Jul 29,2015