Speak Your Mind

It has been about three months since I launched my blog and now I want to hear from all of you. I have made a few changes to some things on my blog—like adding the option to subscribe by email.

I want to ask all of you, what would you like to see different on my blog?
Would you like there to be a new background and/or text color? Would you like to see a different layout in my sidebar on the right (maybe even move it to the left)? Have at it, let me know anything and everything that would make my blog better for you.

I would also love to hear of topics you might like for me to address. I am about to complete my chapter-by-chapter review of Shocked by the Bible, so I am going to be needing topics to cover in my posts.

Would any of you even find a “how to” post about commenting, subscribing, or emailing my posts interesting?

Like I said, this is all about you and what you want…so speak up and let me know.
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Daze of Our Wives: Chapter 25, Shocked by the Bible

That is a pretty witty title, but it had almost nothing to do with this chapter (other than the wife part) in Shocked by the Bible. Joe Kovacs covers three big areas in this chapter. He briefly covers the topic that the Bible walks about wives in the Scriptures a lot—good and bad. Then he seems to go into something completely different by discussing that “God commanded” 111 men to divorce their wives even if they had children together. He then closed the chapter by pointing out that the apostle Peter was in fact married.

Kovacs is completely right that the Bible has a lot of good and bad things to say about wives. On the other hand, it has a lot to say about husbands as well. It doesn’t mention these things about wives at the expense or exclusion of addressing husbands. I will admit, however, that some of the things the Bible says about wives is a little surprising at first. Nonetheless, simply that the Bible addresses wives is not shocking.

The story that Kovacs gives about the 111 men divorcing their wives needs a little deeper examination. Kovacs made the statement on page 182, “After three days of continued prayer and complete fasting (no food or water), Ezra issued the order to split the families, saying it came from God.” The way he frames his statement, he makes it sound as though Ezra was putting things in the mouth of God. What Ezra was saying is that the people were not being obedient to the will of God, which he had revealed to them in the Law. His will was for them not to intermarry with foreign nations. Not because they were a superior race or anything of the like, but because by doing so they would succumb to idol worship. So, when Kovacs wrote earlier in the same chapter that “God once ordered more than one hundred of His people to end their marriages” he was not completely correct. The Scriptures do not record anywhere that God had ordered them to do so nor does it record that God approved of their actions. God’s desire was for them to never enter into those marriages in the first place.

It is interesting that there is a popular stereotype that supposes that none of the apostles were married. I don’t really know where it came from, but it certainly is alive and well—and not just in Catholicism. But Kovacs is absolutely correct that the apostle Peter was married. In fact, it was Jesus who would have not fit the Jewish mold of his time period when he remained single. It was expected that Jewish men would be married. There is also a lot of evidence outside of the Bible that Rabbis were required to be married.

I think Kovacs brings out one last interesting point about this. He wrote, “Perhaps part of the reason the legend of Peter’s eternal bachelorhood has survived over the years is that Jesus Himself was never married. For those in the Roman Catholic faith especially, Peter is regarded as the first pope. Since Catholic priests and pops take vows of celibacy today, it’s easy to see why some may assume Peter was also celibate.”

I would especially love to hear from some Catholics on this topic—were you ever taught that Peter was married, single?

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To Tithe or Not to Tithe (When Visiting Another Church)?

My wife and I went on vacation this past weekend and worshiped at a church in that area. I always love the opportunity to worship at other churches because it allows me to see other ways of accomplishing the same goal. I tried to put myself in the shoes of someone going to a church for the very first time. While doing so, I found that I was worried about the welcome and if they were going to make me stand up or something like that. Along with this experience, I thought about something I think a lot of Christians wonder when they worship at another church—should we tithe at the church we visit? This is not a post about whether or not tithing is biblical, so please don’t comment on this post that we shouldn’t be tithing in the first place.

The answer for me is very simple: I do not tithe at churches I am visiting. It is not because I don’t want to support their ministry. The reason I do not tithe at churches I am visiting is because I am not connected to that church with my membership. My home church is where I am connected and involved in the ministries that take place there.

By no means am I saying that I am committed to the church over Jesus Christ. I understand that tithing is giving to the Lord and that I can tithe at any church and still be honoring to the Lord with my money. However, I also think that people should be committed to tithing at their home church, even when they are visiting another church, because they are committed to serving at their home church in every other aspect of worship and ministry.

Neither am I saying that if you decide to tithe at the church you visit that you are committing a sin. I simply think that I am honoring God if I tithe at my home church just as I think we honor God when we commit to join with and serve in one church—our home church.

What about you, do you tithe at a church you visit or do you wait until you return home and tithe at your home church?
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For Sale: The Holy Spirit?: Chapter 24, Shocked by the Bible

The book of Acts is often called a history book because it details a lot of the early church’s history—the formation of the church at Jerusalem, the start of the church in Antioch, the gospel going to the Gentiles, etc. One of the narratives in the book of Acts records a peculiar incident. It comes from Acts 8:9-24. There was a gentleman by the name of Simon (not the apostle also known as Peter) who was a sorcerer. After witnessing the giving of the Holy Spirit following the laying on of hands, he asked to buy this ability from the apostles. He was confronted and rebuked by the apostles for making such a suggestion.

Once again though, I don’t see what is shocking or surprising about this account. It may be true that a lot of people don’t realize the story is in the Bible, but does that constitute it as “shocking.” Maybe it’s just me here, but I think Joe Kovacs could have left this chapter out of his book.

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Harry Potter and the Wrath of God: Chapter 23, Shocked by the Bible

I think this chapter would have been more interesting if Joe Kovacs would have launched into a full explanation about why Christians should not watch or read any of the Harry Potter stuff. However, he just used Harry as a lead in to his topic in this chapter, which is that God condemns witches, fortune telling, sorcery, the occult, etc.

What is surprising to me about this is that Kovacs think this is going to be shocking to people. I could be way wrong here, but I think both Christians all the way down the spectrum to those who know very little about Christianity have the understanding that Christians are opposed to those sorts of things. Even Hollywood knows this—and they get very little right about anything.

Do you think this information is shocking?

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Simple Student Ministry

Everyone who knows me in person, knows that I am very involved in student ministry. I was recently given the opportunity to review a book about student ministry. The book is entitled Simple Student Ministry. This great privilege was offered to me by the wonderful people over at sbcIMPACT. My complete review is available at their site by clicking here or on the image to the left. I would love for all of you to head over there and give them some visits.
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Everything You Always Wanted to Ask About the Devil but Were Afraid to Ask: Chapter 22, Shocked by the Bible

There is not a lot of clearing up what is foggy about the Bible in this chapter by Joe Kovacs. He simply lists several items of information about the devil, such as: he was a guardian cherub, is called the “god of this world,” can appear as an “angel of light,” etc.

There was one interesting point Kovacs mentioned. He noted that Satan sold something that was part of his sin in heaven. Kovacs’ proposition is that Satan’s “dishonest trade” was perhaps an idea—rebellion against God. This is an interesting possibility. I have not noticed this reference before, so I am going to have to give some thought and looking into the Scriptures before I make my own conclusion.

There was one other thing Kovacs mentioned that I felt needed some clarification. He wrote on page 166, “He [Satan] and other rebellious angels have the ability to inhabit the minds of people on Earth.” Do I also believe that Satan can inhabit the minds of people on earth? Yes, but I don’t believe he has the ability to inhabit the mind of any person he wishes. I don’t think Satan has the ability to inhabit the minds of those who are faithful and obedient believers in God.

I think Kovacs missed this when he wrote on page 171, “God then granted Satan permission to test Job, allowing the devil to strike the man with a series of personal calamities that made his life miserable.” In fact, in the interchange between Satan and God concerning Job, we read: “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?” Satan recognized that God had prevented him from afflicting Job.

Jesus also pointed out this fact in Matthew 12 when he said that in order to rob a strong man you first had to tie him up. He also said that he guards his sheep and that no one snatches them out of his hand (John 10).

The Bible, I think, makes it clear that Satan doesn’t just willy-nilly inhabit people’s minds. I personally see in the Scriptures that he isn’t even able to willy-nilly inhabit the minds of people who are not faithful and obedient believers in God.

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Another Reason Some People Oppose Same-Sex Marriage...

...including me. The story Reuters ran yesterday concerning legislation in New Hampshire to legalize same-sex marriage displays one of the reasons I oppose same-sex marriage. I have a number of other reasons, but this is one of those reasons that is not founded upon biblical principles. Because of that, I choose to use this to explain why same-sex marriage is a bad idea to people who are not Christians.

New Hampshire is trying to pass legislation that would specifically allow churches and ministers to be held legally liable for refusing to perform marriages of same-sex couples and/or that refuses to offer them other services such as counseling. You can read the full story here. What this makes me want to scream is "Have we all forgotten the first amendment!?" It makes it clear that this law would and should be considered unconstitutional: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." If this law imposed upon churches and ministers requiring them to perform services that are in conflict with their beliefs, then congress (or state legislatures) is making a law that is prohibiting the free exercise of those beliefs.

I think what is most amazing is that some of the New Hampshire representatives are actually upset that the Governor would require them to include language to give legal protection to churches and minister that refuse services to same-sex couples.

What do you think, is this an infringement upon religious freedom? (I am not pursuing biblical reasons opposing same-sex marriage at this point, just whether or not this infringes upon religious liberty)
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What can we gain from Obama’s speech at Notre Dame?

There appeared to be one underlying theme in Obama’s speech at the graduation of Notre Dame—common ground. He advocated that the two opposing viewpoints needed to come together to find common ground. To illustrate this point, he told a story about a doctor who had written him during the campaign and that was concerned Obama may not treat abortion with fairness, but that he would treat all those who oppose abortion as “ideologues.” Obama concluded that he changed the statement on his website that prompted the doctor to write him and then followed up with this statement about why he did so, “That I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the Doctor had extended to me. Because when we do that, when we open up our hearts and our minds to those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we believe, that’s when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.”

I think that this has now opened up the great possibility for the debate concerning abortion to move forward as Christians can now capitalize on the theme of “common ground.” For those who may not be sure about how to address abortion in a manner that promotes common ground, I encourage you to read a book entitled Common Ground. I wrote a review of the book some time ago, which you can read here.

This is an opportunity to advance the conversation concerning abortion that we, as Christians, should not allow to pass by. President Obama has injected the concept of common ground into the liberal atmosphere like never before and considering that there is no way of knowing how long it will remain in the atmosphere or if it will ever be promoted like this again, it is an opportunity that Christians simply cannot afford to let go by the wayside.

Below is a clip of Obama’s speech where he brings out the theme of common ground (click here if video does not appear).

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One reason many people oppose same-sex marriage

Over the weekend, there was an article posted on the Wintery Knight Blog, another blog I regularly read. The post concerned same-sex marriage. Now, what was really interesting is that the post didn't argue that same-sex marriage is wrong "because God says so." In fact, it isn't offering any arguments at all; the post is simply addressing one reason many people do oppose same-sex marriage. It is a really interesting post with some great links (especially the link to the research paper that prompted this post). I encourage all of you to head on over and read the post here.
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Test Post

Just making a post since I said that I would make one today. Been a crazy day, so sorry this is not a real post. Be another regular post by Monday.
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Changing my RSS feed...

I am moving over to feedburner for my RSS feeds subscription. This is not supposed to affect any current readers (like I really believe everything I read). If, however, you lose the feed in your aggregator, please come back to the site and you will be able to easily subscribe to the new feed. Hopefully it works like it's supposed to and no one looses the feed, but thank you for your patience if you do.

I will be changing the feed late tonight, so if you don't get a post in your aggregator by tomorrow night check back at the homepage and update your subscription. Again, this is not supposed to affect anyone who subscribes.
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Was it only 10 Commandments on the tablets of stone?

Something that has crossed my mind more than one time about the traditional understanding of the two stone tablets is whether or not it was just the ten commandments on these or was there more? I have a little speculation that the entire covenantal law was recorded on these two stone tablets. I am not proclaiming this dogmatically, just putting forth a possibility. Now I know there are going to be more than a few people reading this who think I have fallen off my rocker, but hear me out.

The Bible does make it clear that the Ten Commandments were written on the two stone tablets. This is mentioned in three places in Scripture—Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 4:13, and Deuteronomy 10:4. There is no other specific mention of the Ten Commandments and the stone tablets together anywhere else.

The next important thing to note is that nowhere in the Bible does it specifically state that it was only the Ten Commandments written on the two tablets. There is one verse that people may cite as stating this, but it actually does not. Here is that verse, “These are the commandments the LORD proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me” (Deuteronomy 5:22, NIV). It does not say the “Ten Commandments,” it simply says the commandments (or words/utterances) the LORD proclaimed. This is referring to those God gave them at the foot of Sinai as recorded in Exodus 20:1-23:33. If you go and read those chapters, you will quickly realize that the commands God gave that day were more than the Big 10.

In fact, several places in Scripture allude to the fact that there were more than the Ten Commandments on the two tablets. Exodus 24:4, “Moses wrote down everythingthe Lord had said” (emphasis added). Exodus 24:12, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction’” (emphasis added). Elsewhere they were referred to as the “tablets of the Testimony” (Exodus 31:18), the tablets containing the “words of the covenant” (Exodus 34:28), “the tablets of the covenant” (Deuteronomy 9:9), etc. The entire context of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy make it clear that the covenant was more than just the Ten Commandments. Otherwise there was no basis for God to be angry with the Israelites about not bringing proper sacrifices, because that is not contained in the Ten Commandments.

Moreover, there was writing on both sides of the tablets (Exodus 32:15). What we always see today regarding the Ten Commandments is two tablets with five commands on each tablet and only on one side, which simply is not what the Bible describes. Also, the tablets were to be placed into the Ark of the Covenant, which was to be two and a half cubits long by a cubit and a half wide. Depending on what one considers the length of the cubit to be (the shorter cubit of 18 inches or the longer cubit of 21 inches) the Ark of the Covenant would have been either 3 3/4 ft x 2 1/4 ft or 4 1/3 ft x 2 2/3 ft. The Ark was designed to hold the two stone tablets. So those tablets were pretty big. God would have had to write in extra large print to fill up two tablets front and back with just ten commandments.

All of these things together have led me to the speculation that I mentioned at the beginning of this post—that there was more than just the Ten Commandments on the stone tablets. I think the entire covenantal law was inscribed on these tablets (probably written like you see on the tablet in the picture to the right). I think this is why the law was able to withstand the test of time, as parchment would have easily decayed. Because if the Law had only been written on parchment and then subject to suffer from decay, this would have most assuredly prevented its “rediscovery” in 2 Kings 22:8 after it was lost, misplaced, or whatever else you want to call it (no matter what you call it, the law was neglected for some time).

But enough about what I think, what do you think? Do you think I am completely off my rocker or that I might be on to something here?
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Would E.T. destroy the Christian faith?

In a previous post, I asked the question—Would the discovery of Extraterrestrials invalidate Christianity? I still don’t feel like I need to pontificate as to why or why not ET would invalidate Christianity. What I would like to do is pose a question back at those who do think the discovery of ET would prove Christianity false. What would you do if we did discovery alien life, we figured out how to communicate with them, and they told you they believed in the same God as the Christians do? Would that be a wrench in your whole theory? I guess this might go along with Anonymous’ comment about God possibly giving them their own book.

Feel free to weigh in on new aspects of the "what if alien life is discovered" topic. Would it shake your faith, would it prove Christianity false, etc.? If you didn't read the original post, I encourage you to go back and read it.
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What about E.T.?

I was recently reading an article that addressed the question, “Would the discovery of Extraterrestrials invalidate Christianity?” Rather than making a long case as to why E.T.’s would or would not invalidate Christianity, the article simply quoted several different people to whom the question had been posed. The responses were very interesting.

I would like to ask you all the same question, would the discovery of Extraterrestrials invalidate Christianity? Please respond in the comments section below. If you have never posted a comment before and are not sure how to do it, you simply click on the link below (# comments) with the little envelope next to it, it will then expand the page so you can compose your answer and then click on “post comment.” It’s that easy. So please tell me, would E.T. destroy your faith?
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God ran the Lottery: Chapter 21, Shocked by the Bible

In this chapter, Joe Kovacs brings up to controversial topic of gambling. What he points out is that there was gambling throughout the Bible. This gambling came in the form of casting lots. What Kovacs does a great job of point out though, is that nearly every place we see the lot used it is being cast to determine a decision or the will of God about a specific matter. The only place in Scripture, as he noted, where we see the lot being cast to gain something of monetary value is at the cross when the Roman soldiers cast lots to determine who would get Jesus’ tunic.

Kovacs even wrote, “While the Bible contains instances of God’s people casting lots, there is no account of a modern lottery with a large cash jackpot.” On this point Kovacs is absolutely correct. There is no direct condemnation of gambling in the Scriptures. However, any argue that the Scripture contains principles that would preclude Christians from partaking in gambling.

The first question that needs to be answered is what motivates people to gamble? The answer most people give and the most obvious answer is to win. That is the whole object in gambling is it not? You wager a bet that you can accomplish something and win the wager. It doesn’t matter what the “game” is, that is what it’s about. Whether it be poker (wagering you have the best hand), the lottery (wagering you can pick the numbers that will be drawn), or whatever else—you are playing to win. The rules are determined and the wager set—then you play.

There is an example of this type of gambling in the Old Testament and it reveals a lot about why Christians should or should not be involved in gambling. Judges 14 records a “bet” that Samuel made with the Philistines. What was the bet? Samson wagered that the Philistines could not solve his riddle within seven days. The rules were determined and the wager set. What was the result? The Philistines could not solve the riddle on their own so they asked Samson’s wife to find out the answer. She got the answer from Samson and told the Philistines and so they won the bet against Samson. But the story doesn’t end there. Samson gets angry with the Philistines because he basically felt like they cheated. Rather than fulfill the wager out of his own pocket and provide the prize of thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes (because he felt cheated), he went down to a Philistine city and killed thirty of their countrymen to provide the prize. Sound like it was all fun and games?

This motivating factor to win in gambling is the problem. It is the driving force of greed. This is what the Bible was condemning in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

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Stick it to the Man: Chapter 20, Shocked by the Bible

Numbers 15:32-36 records a man who was put to death for gathering wood on the Sabbath and is the focus of this chapter in Shocked by the Bible. In this chapter, Kovacs wrote, “The loving God of all eternity, Jesus Christ, had no problem killing a man simply for picking up sticks on the day of rest, and He had everyone take part in the execution.” I have several problems with this statement by Joe Kovacs.

Kovacs’ statement contains the implication that God is not really a loving God if he executed this guy just for picking up sticks on the Sabbath day. The issue is not about God’s love, the issue was about God’s command. God entered into a covenant agreement with the Israelites, which means this guy knew the rules and still broke them. This guy knew what the punishment was to be, yet he still disobeyed. It is no different than Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God gave them one rule. They knew the rule, they knew the consequences of breaking the rule, and they still chose to break the only rule they were given. God is a God of love, but he is also a God of justice. His love does not require that he no longer dispense justice or that he consistently show mercy. If mercy is all that is given, then where is justice? There has to be a measure of justice before mercy can be appreciated or understood.
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The Bald and the Mauled: Chapter 19, Shocked by the Bible

This chapter seems to just be a point of information, a passage of Scripture that apparently stuck out to Joe Kovacs. The passage that presents itself as noteworthy to Kovacs is 2 Kings 2:23-24. Just two little verses that read, “From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you baldhead!” they said. “Go on up, you baldhead!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.”

Kovacs doesn’t offer any correction about misunderstanding or “misinformation and confusion” as he so prominently proclaimed was the purpose of his book. There is one point I would like to point out, though. If it was just two bears and forty-two children were mauled, then it only makes sense that there must have been many more children than just the forty-two that were mauled. Perhaps it was nearly all of the children in the town. Can you imagine around one hundred children running around you making fun of you? Not sure that I understand the full significance of being called “baldhead.” Perhaps it was something that marked him as a prophet?

One other thing important to remember in the history of Israel is the town the children were from—Bethel. This town was home to one of the two calf idols Jeroboam had fashioned for the Israelites to worship. This town was a center of idol worship. It may even be possible that the boys who were making fun of Elisha were in training to become priests of Baal.
Kovacs, however, does not mention any of this. It seems he was not concerned with correcting any misinformation, confusion, or the like with this chapter, just to point out this passage of Scripture.
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What are stem cell researchers doing?

That seems to be the question our politicians want answered. A story released by news-journal.com reported a proposed bill passed by the Health and Human Services Committee, which means it will now go before the entire Senate for final approval. What is the bill? The bill would simply require all research being conducted in the stem cell arena and any funding associated with that research to be reported to the Senate at the conclusion of each year.

I am not going to address the politics of whether this is right or not because my blog isn’t a political blog; however, it will be interesting to see what areas of stem cell research are actually receiving the most funding and in which area most researchers are concentrating. I would venture to guess that more research is being conducted on adult stem cells (iPS) than on embryonic stem cells, but that is something we will have to wait for if/when the government releases that information. The other reason I think this is interesting is because what if the reports reveal that the vast majority of research and funding is on adult stem cells and not in the field of embryonic stem cells. Would the White House then change its stance on embryonic stem cell research? Would the government admit it got it wrong on this matter? Would the government admit that there were better alternatives to embryonic stem cell research and that they have forced upon the American people?
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Image is Everything: Chapter 18, Shocked by the Bible

Wow! Joe Kovacs makes some pretty hefty claims in this chapter of his book. He presents the notion that God “looks like us” and that God has body features that “happen to look like the parts of the human body.” So does the Bible make it clear that we look like God and that God looks like us? Does the Bible really describe God’s body parts that look like our human body parts?

To answer the first question, Kovacs uses Genesis 1:26 as his foundation. He wrote on page 145, “Additionally, the phrase ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’ makes it clear that human beings actually look like God, and God look like us.” This is not as cut and dry as Kovacs would like for this to appear. The Bible does not make it absolutely 100% clear that humans look like God and vise-versa. There has been a question about the meaning of the words “image” and “likeness” for thousands of years.

It would appear that the context of Genesis 1:26 suggests that the meaning was to “let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” This statement comes from God himself in the same thought as “let us create man in our own image and likeness.” There is nothing in the surrounding context of creation that suggests that man was created to “look” like God. Along those same lines, many biblical scholars believe that being created in the image of God follows along the same lines as having dominion over creation, for example—God loves, so we too can love; God administers justice, so we too can administer justice; God experiences emotions, so we too experience emotions; etc.

Kovacs also suggested that God had body parts that just “happened” to look like human body parts. The problem with this suggestion is that Kovacs is reading passages describing God with the same words that are the names of different human body parts. In other words, there is never a description of what God looks like that then equates that to human body parts; it simply uses the same terminology. For example, the “hand of the Lord.” There is never a description of God’s appearance that says, “God used some part of his body to inflict wrath that looks like the hands of a human.” It simply states something like falling into the “hands of the Lord and he inflicted his wrath upon them.”

Another problem with the passages Kovacs cited is that they are speaking figuratively in terms of the human body. Like the modern day saying, “He’s my right hand man.” One passage Kovacs cited was Psalm 60:7—Ephraim also is the strength of mine head. One of the tribes of Israel was not literally the head of God; it was a figure of speech. Likewise, Kovacs cited Ezekiel 1:26-28 as proof that God looks like a human being. The biggest problem with this is that Ezekiel made it clear exactly what he saw, and Kovacs cites it in his reference. This is what Ezekiel 1:26-28 says, “Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking” (Emphasis added). Ezekiel made it clear that he did not see God exactly as he normally appears, but that he only saw an “appearance of the likeness” of God. This means Ezekiel did not actually see God in his true form and he wanted to make that clear. Furthermore, the description of the events and what the “voice” says is much like John’s description of Jesus Christ in Revelation.

I really don’t want to sound too harsh at this point, but Kovacs seems only interested in pushing his idea that God looks like a human and not considering the context of any passage of Scripture that he cites in this chapter. Kovacs quotes Acts 17:28 to support his point that we are “literally God’s children.” The problem is that this verse is not teaching what Kovacs is claiming, but Paul was quoting poets of his time period to further the point he was proposing at the Areopagus. In fact, Paul was chastising them for worshiping idols (many of which looked like humans). The problem I have is not that he is proposing that we are children of God, because those who have accepted Jesus Christ are in fact children of God. However, Kovacs makes the assumption that we are children of God because we “look” like him and he looks like us.

The last big claim the he made in this chapter is that we will receive a “spirit body” when we die. He seems to imply that we cannot enter into heaven with a body of flesh and blood because they are mortal bodies, but he proposes that the spiritual bodies we will receive will then allow us to “be on the same immortal plane” as God (Pg. 151). Besides the Scriptures which he quotes out of context (such as John 3:5-6), I have a few problems with this position. I also feel it necessary to say that I am not completely opposed to the notion that we will receive spiritual bodies, but I don’t think the Bible teaches that in the sense of excluding physical flesh and blood bodies.

Why do I say that? For starters, following his resurrection, Jesus was not in a “spiritual” body in the sense that Kovacs suggests. Jesus had a real physical flesh and blood body. Jesus told Thomas to put his finger in the holes in his hands and in his side (John 20:24-31). Jesus also ate after his resurrection (John 21:12-15). There is every indication that Jesus had a physical flesh and blood body following his resurrection. Now, it obviously was a glorified body as Kovacs addressed.

The major text Kovacs relies upon to form his position about this was from 1 Corinthians 15:40-53. Here Paul addresses what happens to our bodies when we die. He explains that we will be transformed and leave behind the perishable and be clothed with the imperishable. Paul’s whole point leading up to this passage is that Christians are to be different. We “change” when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior we no longer live in sin, we live in righteousness. He is presenting this dichotomy of sin and righteousness. There is flesh/sinfulness and spiritual/righteousness, but there cannot be both in the life of a Christian. So he builds this point and explains how it applies to different area of life, even death. This is why he says in verse 50, “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” He was making it clear that those who live in sin cannot enter heaven, only those who live in righteousness, and the only people who can live in righteousness are those who are saved by Jesus Christ (vv. 57-58).

Joe Kovacs just didn’t seem to be interested in finding out exactly what the Bible had to say about being made in the image of God, being a member of the family of God, and what kind of body we will have after the final judgment. He quoted a lot of Scriptures out of context in this chapter, to a degree he has not in any other place in his book at his point. We will receive physical bodies one day that will not be perishable, corrupted, or the like. What is more important is whether or not you will spend eternity in that body in hell or in heaven.
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Where is the Garden of Eden now?

The Garden of Eden has been a place of intrigue and mystery. It is mysterious because we have never been there and it is intriguing because of what is there—the tree of life (and possibly the tree of knowledge). Many adventurers have made it their quest to locate the Garden of Eden, all without success. Is this a task that can be accomplished? I think the answer is yes and no. No I don’t think that it will be accomplished because of many reasons I will discuss below; but yes I think it is a possibility as I believe the Garden of Eden is still on the earth.

Now I know there are some Christians who would say at this point that I am crazy. This is because they believe that the Garden of Eden is no longer on the earth, but that it is in heaven. They believe that this is the case because of the account of heaven in Revelation 22. In this chapter, there is a very detailed description of heaven and in this description the tree of life appears. However, there is not one tree of life, but several—perhaps two dozen. Revelation 22:1-2—“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.” There are at least two trees, one on each side of the river. If a different tree yields one of the twelve crops of fruit each month, that would mean there are twelve trees. If it is each pair of trees that yields a different crop each month, then there would be twenty-four trees of life. They point to the tree(s) of life being in heaven as is recorded in Revelation. The problem here, however, is that this is the description of the “new heaven and the new earth. Along with this, the original Garden only had one tree of life and the account in Revelation contains more than one tree. Therefore, I do not believe that Revelation describes the Garden of Eden as now existing in heaven and not on the earth.

One reason I believe that the Garden of Eden is still on the earth is that we read in Genesis 3 that God stationed guardian cherubim or angels. When reading Revelation 9, there is mention made of releasing the four angels who were stationed “at the great river Euphrates.” I think this is a reference to the guardian cherubim stationed at the Garden of Eden. Along with this passage, I would refer to Joel 2 where a similar understanding is given. In Joel, it speaks of blowing a trumpet to announce the coming wrath of God’s army that is mounted on horses and that “Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste—nothing escapes them.” Joel and Revelation are very similar and I believe both of them point to the release of the angels stationed at the Garden of Eden. The angels were to execute God’s judgment—death—upon any who tried to gain access to the Garden and the tree of life. It appears that they will also have a hand in executing God’s final judgment in the “day of the Lord.” There is also no mention anywhere in Scripture of the Garden ever being destroyed or “moved” to heaven.

Now, why don’t I think we will actually ever find the Garden of Eden? I think that the flood described in Genesis 6 drastically changed the face of the earth from the way it appeared before the flood. I live in Florida and have been through many hurricanes—at least six. After two of these hurricanes, the coastal area around where I live was completely altered. After hurricane Opal, for example, the beaches that had huge sand dunes before the storm was almost completely flat for miles. That was just from the first couple hundred feet of land being under a few feet of water. The Bible makes it clear that every inch of the earth’s surface was completely covered with more than just a few feet of water.

Where am I going with all of this? I think that the flood has now “hidden” the Garden of Eden from us. No, I don’t mean like the city of gold in National Treasure. I don’t think God has hidden the Garden of Eden inside of a mountain, although that would be cool. :) I think it is in the ocean somewhere. I am not proposing that the Garden of Eden is like the city of Atlantis. I don’t think people are swimming down to the bottom of the ocean and living in a submerged city. But there has been a city discovered off the coast of Japan that is completely submerged, but was obviously above the surface of the ocean and habitated at one point in time (see picture at right). National Geographic even wrote an article about this city which you can read here. There are many other underwater cities around the globe. I think the Garden of Eden suffered the same fate as many of these cities; I think it is beneath the surface of the oceans. That is why I believe it is possible to find the Garden of Eden, although I do not think anyone will accomplish it.
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The tree of life: righteous creation or holy temptation?

There are a lot of scholars, pastors, and Christians who believe that God created man “to live forever.” That is to say when God created Adam and Eve he intended for them to live for all eternity with Him in the garden. But is this really the truth? Did God originally create mankind to live forever? It would appear that God did not create mankind to live forever, at least no without eating the fruit of the tree of life.

My question in this post is why did God create the tree of life? What was its purpose? If God had created man to live for eternity, then what was the need for the tree of life? What is important to remember is that God did not only create the tree of life, but he also created the tree of knowledge of good and evil. These two trees were placed alongside each other in the center of the garden. Both of these trees were important; they were both in the center of the garden. There placement in the garden demonstrates the central role they were to play in Adam and Eve’s lives.

After God had placed Adam and Eve in the garden, he gave them one restriction. He told them, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17, NIV). They were allowed to eat from any tree but one. God made it clear that eating from this tree had dire consequences—death. So from the very beginning of creation, there was the possibility of eternal life or death. The choice, however, was up to Adam and Eve. They could choose to be obedient and eat from any tree in the garden or they could choose to be disobedient and eat from the “forbidden” tree and suffer death. What is interesting to note is that God did not command to eat from the tree of life. Perhaps it was expected. Or does this mean my statement that God did not create man to live for eternity was wrong. Did God know they would live forever if they didn’t eat from the tree of life?

I think the tree of life was necessary. This is because of what God spoke in Genesis 3:22—The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever. God had made it clear that to choose disobedience would result in death. We read this account thousands of years removed and often times just gloss over it without thinking a whole lot about what happened. It would appear that God did not just give the restriction on the tree of knowledge and then Adam and Eve went out, encountered the Serpent, and ate from the tree. However, the Scriptures do not give us any indication as to how long of a time period there is between the end of chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3, where the serpent appears. It also does not tell us if Adam and Eve ever ate from the tree of life. Before the serpent appears, the Scripture seems to indicate that perhaps Adam and Eve had not only been obedient in not eating from the tree of knowledge, but that they had not even touched it (Gen. 3:3). I think Adam and Eve understood that the tree of life was necessary for them to live forever. If they didn’t, then why would God post angels to prevent them from gaining access to its fruit? It only makes sense that they knew what it did and had eaten from it.

Ultimately though, I think that God created the tree of life with the tree of knowledge of good and evil in mind. Placing them both in the center of the garden would force Adam and Eve to daily (or however often they ate from the tree of life) make a choice to choose obedience and life or disobedience and death.
I could probably write an entire book about the tree of life. What about you, why do you think that God created the tree of life?
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Jesus' Other Apostles: Chapter 17, Shocked by the Bible

Jesus had twelve disciples, right? Well, not exactly. Joe Kovacs points out that Jesus had more than just twelve disciples. In fact, he had at least seventy-two other disciples (Luke 10:1). I don’t think that there are a lot of Christians who would be surprised by this “revelation” Joe Kovacs made. It is clear in many places in the gospels that Jesus had disciples other than the Twelve (John 6:66-67, Matthew 8:21, Mark 2:15, Luke 6:13, etc.).

Kovacs closed this chapter with the statement, “But the point is that up to six dozen other disciples—that is to say students or followers of Jesus—were specifically assigned by Him to preach the gospel of the kingdom while Jesus was still on Earth. The famous twelve apostles were only the beginning.” The Twelve were not “only the beginning.” In fact, it is clear that Jesus chose them from among a large group of disciple he already had (Luke 6:13). The Twelve, however, were the ones he would spend the most time investing his time and teaching. They were the ones he would charge with carrying forth the message he had given them.
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Da Jesus Code: Chapter 16, Shocked by the Bible

Jesus is a very controversial figure in the Bible. There have been a lot of attempts to demonstrate that Jesus wasn’t God, as the Bible claims. One of the more recent attempts at this was the best-selling book the Da Vinci Code. Kovacs seems to be jumping in the arena, not to show Jesus wasn’t God, but that Jesus didn’t want people to understand the message he was proclaiming. His entire point in this chapter is to demonstrate that Jesus spoke in code so that people wouldn’t understand what he was saying. The first question I would ask is if Jesus didn’t want people to understand his message, then why did he speak to the thousands of people as he did?

It would make no sense for Jesus to stand up and publicly teach numerous times if he didn’t desire for his message to be understood. What Jesus did make clear is that he taught in parable so that only those who truly cared to learn about the things of God would understand. Kovacs makes it sound as though Jesus actually taught parable so that people would not “see, convert, and become healed and forgiven.” The whole whopping three passages that he references are all surrounding the same scenario. Jesus’ disciples had asked him why he taught the people in parables. Jesus answered them by quoting the Old Testament; specifically he quoted Isaiah 6:9-10. This prophecy is about the nation of Israel, which would soon hear the prophecies of Isaiah about the coming destruction of their country who would reject the message. When Jesus quoted this passage he was likening himself to Isaiah the prophet; he was essentially saying that the nation of Israel was in the same condition as when Isaiah the prophet was living. Jesus was bringing a message to repent, just as Isaiah was. Just as the people refused to listen to Isaiah’s message, they would refuse to listen to Jesus’ message. His point was not that he didn’t want people to understand.

Kovacs even seems to degrade Jesus’ method of communication. He wrote, “Of course, since nothing is too hard for God, He could have been the greatest communicator in history. He could have clearly explained everything He said. Instead, He chose to speak in coded fashion to confound the mysteries of the kingdom for those at that time. He prevented the information from being crystal clear, the direct opposite of what many people today claim is the reason He spoke in parables.” I agree with Kovacs that Jesus didn’t proclaim his message with extreme clarity, but Jesus also didn’t speak it in terms that people would never understand. The whole scenario the Kovacs references in Matthew and Mark is also recorded in Luke. However, he chose not to include this in his chapter. The passage in Luke records that Jesus spoke in a parable, his disciples asked him about its meaning, he quoted the same thing mentioned above, told them the meaning of the parable, and then Jesus said, “Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.” Jesus intention was to make his message difficult for those who were not truly seeking the kingdom of heaven. However, for those who truly wanted to understand his message, it would be revealed to them.
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The Biggest Killer in the Bible: Chapter 15, Shocked by the Bible

Joe Kovacs is trying really hard to bring the shock factor in this chapter. He reveals that the biggest killer in the Bible is—God. He points out that God wiped out the earth’s entire population with the flood, save Noah and his family.

Several places in this chapter, however, Kovacs made some unfounded and unbiblical claims. For example, he wrote on page 125-126, “When Israelite men began having sex with the pagan Moabite women and adopted heathen practices such as bowing down and sacrificing to false gods, God became angry enough to slay some twenty-four thousand of His own people, most of whom were executed by hanging.” He then references Numbers 25:4, 9. What is ridiculous about this claim is not that God slew 24,000 Israelites, but that Kovacs stated he did so by hanging. Nowhere in that passage does it reference hanging. It references a plague and that a certain Israelite man and his “Midianite woman” were impaled with a spear. I understand why he would make this claim. It is because the King James and a few other translations use the word “hang” in Numbers 25:4. However, the Hebrew word does not indicate hanging as we would think of the word—hanging to death. There is another Hebrew word that indicates that. God did not hang any Israelites, nor did he command Moses to do so. What is more likely, is that those who committed the sin described in 25:1-3 were impaled with spears and then displayed before the entire community as the man and his “Midianite woman” were in 25:8.

The next amazing statement Kovacs made came on page 130. He wrote, “One thing is certain: if we refuse to change our lives and live according to God’s instructions, we shall also be killed by the Creator. Jesus said so Himself, twice. ‘Except ye repent, ye shall likewise perish’ (Luke 13:3, 5).” Wow! Sounds like Joe Kovacs is saying that if someone doesn’t repent of their sin that God is gonna get them. First, I want to say that God doesn’t go around looking for people who refuse to repent so that he can smite them from the face of the earth. In fact, 2 Peter 3:9 makes it clear that God desire to see everyone come to repentance and that he patiently waits for them to do so. Furthermore, the quote Kovacs used from Luke 13 is not supporting his point. Jesus wasn’t threatening that if you refused to repent, then he would kill you. He followed the statement with a parable that spoke about God’s judgment. In fact, the parable made it clear that God gave another chance to repent before executing judgment. God has made it clear that by refusing to repent and believe in Jesus Christ that individual will find themselves in hell, but in no way does the Bible suggest that you have to repent this minute or risk being killed by the Creator. And as if making this claim one time wasn’t enough, Kovacs closes this entire chapter with the statement, “Remember, it was Jesus Christ who said unless we all repent and follow God, we will all likewise perish.”
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Your Wish is My Commandment: Chapter 14, Shocked by the Bible

The Ten Commandments has received much fanfare in recent years, whether good or bad. Joe Kovacs brings up some of the truths about the Ten Commandments in this chapter. His first point, however, is that there were twenty commandments rather than ten. On page 117 he wrote, “So, the Ten Commandments were actually written twice, for a grand total of twenty.” There were not twenty commandments. It was the same Ten Commandments written down two different times. I think Kovacs is stretching a little here for the sake of “shocking” people. I am sure he doesn’t say he’s written thousands of books because Shocked by the Bible has been copied thousands of times.

Kovacs does point out some other interesting things a lot of people just gloss over when reading about the Ten Commandments. He pointed out that they were written on both sides of the stones tablets and that God personally wrote them. One truly interesting point he made, and I have never really thought about, is that Moses may have gone 80 days without any food. The Scriptures do not specifically address this, but it is interesting to think about. The last thin he pointed out was that Moses’ face glowed after being in the presence of God. In fact, it disturbed the Israelites so badly that Moses would cover his face with a veil.

Overall, I think Kovacs did a good job of putting forth some things the Bible says about the Ten Commandments that most people don’t know or just gloss over when reading the Bible.
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