1. Since Jesus said that no one comes to the Father but through him (John 14:6), why do we not pray to Jesus?
2. Please explain Proverbs 25:2.
3. Who are the Nephilim and do they still exist? Could they have been angelic beings, descendants of fallen angels?
4. Does God know everything?
5. Is Jeremiah 25:32-33 a prophesy of the end times?
6. The Bible records many examples of supernatural occurrences done by angels, such as angels being at Jesus’ tomb at his resurrection or striking people blind at Sodom. Are there supernatural events involving demons?
7. Should Christians be involved in politics, such as campaigning for a candidate?
Since Jesus said that no one comes to the Father but through him (John 14:6), why do we not pray to Jesus?
Jesus is our high priest and intercessor (Heb. 4:14-16; 1 Tim. 2:5), and as such it is through him that we approach God’s throne in prayer (John 14:6). We address “our Father in heaven” in prayer rather than Jesus because Jesus himself directed us to do so (Matt. 6:9; Lk. 11:2).
Some point to situations in the New Testament such as Stephen’s address to Jesus during his martyrdom (Acts 7:54-60), Paul’s address to Jesus on the Damascus road (Acts 9:3-5), and Paul’s prayer to the Lord concerning his thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7-9) as scriptural precedent of Christians praying to Jesus. However, it needs to be pointed out that in Acts both Stephen and Paul were experiencing miraculous visions in which they had direct contact with Jesus. That is not the same thing as Christians praying to a God whom they cannot see and who does not converse with them directly. This miraculous interaction could also apply to the interaction between Paul and “the Lord” in 2 Corinthians. Another possibility concerning the 2 Corinthians example is seen when we remember that the term “Lord” is used in the New Testament not only in reference to Jesus, but at times to his Father also (2 Cor. 5:10-11; 6:17-18). Thus, it is possible that Paul was addressing the Father in 2 Corinthians 12. Even if he was conversing with Christ in that instance, it still would fall under the category of miraculous interaction which would not apply to us today. Jesus told his disciples to address their prayers to their Father in heaven, so that is what we must do.
Please explain Proverbs 25:2.
Kings, governmental leaders, and leaders in general are expected to make right decisions (Prov. 16:10), especially since those decisions are most often final. Oftentimes a decision made by a king would be considered by some nations and cultures to be a statement from God himself. Thus, it is very important for leaders to be sound in their judgments.
Yet what should happen when a king or leader does not know the right answer? In such cases, he needs to determine to obtain the knowledge he needs so he can find a solution to any problem facing him. Such is the scenario under discussion in Proverbs 25:2: “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” We rightly look at God as all-knowing, so we expect him to know things which are concealed to us. Yet we also rightly look to our leaders as those who “have the answers.” When they do not have the answers, we expect them to “search things out” and grow in the knowledge they need to provide for the welfare of their followers.
Who are the Nephilim and do they still exist? Could they have been angelic beings, descendants of fallen angels?
“Nephilim” is the transliteration of a Hebrew word which is defined in several ways. It’s translated as “giants” (Gen. 6:4; Num. 13:33), but several lexicons also list “fallen ones” (i.e., rebels, apostates), bullies or tyrants, or even constellations in the sky. The term is used only twice in the Old Testament in Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33.
In Numbers 13:33, the unfaithful spies while describing the seemingly insurmountable obstacles to conquering the land of Canaan, spoke of “the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” The way in which the Nephilim are described make them out to be literal giants, possibly along the lines of Goliath who was around nine feet tall. They are described as human (“the sons of Anak”) who are descended from other “Nephilim” (giants). Thus, the Nephilim in Numbers seem to be humans who were large in stature and were descended from other humans large in stature.
Genesis 6:4 also mentions them during a time which took place centuries before Numbers. Moses wrote that in the time before the flood, “the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any 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 man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown” (Gen. 6:2, 4). Since the term “sons of God” was used elsewhere to describe angelic beings (cf. Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7), a popular view is that these angels had intercourse with human females and impregnated them, with the Nephilim being their offspring. Remembering that “Nephilim” in Hebrew refers to giants and/or “the fallen,” this view would cite the coupling of angels with human females as the reason behind their offspring being giants and/or “fallen” (i.e., fallen angels).
There are two problems with this view, however. First, Jesus compared the lack of being in a marital relationship in the afterlife as being similar to how angels are (Matt. 22:30). Since one of the purposes of the marital relationship is sexual intimacy (1 Cor. 7:1-2), it’s reasonable to conclude that by saying angels do not marry Jesus is also saying that angels do not have carnal relations. Thus, angels would not have the desire to have intimate relations with beings are “lower” than them (cf. Heb. 2:7). Secondly, a careful reading of Genesis 6:4 shows that the Nephilim existed both before AND AFTER “the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them.” Thus, the Nephilim could not have been the offspring of couplings between angels and human women.
A healthier view of Genesis 6:4 is obtained when one remembers that the term “sons of God” also at times refers to righteous followers of God (cf. Gal. 3:26). With that in mind, the context of Genesis 6 (chapters 4-5) describe the descendants of Cain (4:17-24) and the descendants of his brother Seth (4:25-26; 5:1-32). The descendants of Cain are described as engaging in wickedness (4:23-24), whereas the descendants of Seth are described in more righteous terms. For example, Moses writes that “people began to call upon the name of the Lord” during the time of Seth’s son Enosh (4:26). Several of the names Seth’s descendants gave to their children praise God in various ways by definition. “Mahalaleel” literally means “praise of God” (5:12). Enoch, who is said to have “walked with God,” literally means “dedicated” (5:18-24). His great-grandson was Noah, whom the Lord considered righteous. Thus, the implication seems to be that Seth’s family seemed to follow God, while Cain’s family did not follow God.
Thus, it is possible that “sons of God” refers to Seth’s descendants and “daughters of men” refer to Cain’s descendants. Moses could be describing that in the time before the flood, Seth’s family and Cain’s family intermarried, with the result being that their offspring were “the Nephilim,” human beings who were either large in stature (which would be why they were also described as “the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown”), “fallen” in nature (possibly an indication of how after marriage Cain’s sinful descendants began to influence Seth’s godly descendants to sin, resulting in their offspring becoming more sinful in nature and thus “fallen,” which in turn would bring about the depraved state of the world that would motivate God to bring the flood), or both. I find this view more likely.
Does God know everything?
Yes. He knows everything that has happened, everything which is currently happening, and everything that will happen (Is. 46:9-10). He knows our thoughts and what we will say before we say it (Ps. 139:1-4). He knows how many stars exist and “his understanding has no limit” (Ps. 147:4-5). Sometimes we unjustly judge ourselves, but God “is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20).
Is Jeremiah 25:32-33 a prophesy of the end times?
Contextually, God is pronouncing judgment on several nations (Jer. 25:15ff). Included among them are Jerusalem and the cities of Judah (v. 18), Egypt (v. 19), Uz and the land of the Philistines (v. 20), Edom, Moab, and the Ammonites (v. 21), Tyre and Sidon and the coastlands (v. 22), the nations of Dedan, Tema, and Buz (v. 23), the Arabian and desert kings (v. 24), Zimri, Elam, Media (v. 25), “all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth. And after them the king of Babylon…” (v. 26). Since Babylon would face judgment after all of these nations, and since Babylon’s judgment took place thousands of years ago, then it would seem this is not a prophecy about the end of the world. Granted, the imagery depicted in this passage is similar to other passages that depict the destruction of everything at the end of time. Because of this some commentators ascribe a double application of destruction to these nations in Jeremiah’s day as well as universal destruction when Jesus comes back. Yet the immediate context would show that it is not referring directly to the end times.
The Bible records many examples of supernatural occurrences done by angels, such as angels being at Jesus’ tomb at his resurrection or striking people blind at Sodom. Are there supernatural events involving demons?
The terms “demon” and “spirit” are used interchangeably (Matt. 8:16; Luke 8:2), proving that demons are spirits, particularly evil spirits. In fact, the term “demon” itself comes a Greek term (dimonion) which literally means “a person of intelligence, a ‘knowing one.” In biblical times this term was applied to spirits of those who have passed away because they had let their human bodies and had gone on into the next world, thus being “knowing ones” about what happens after death. Josephus said, “Demons are the spirits of wicked men, who enter into living men and destroy them, unless they are so happy as to meet with speedy relief.” Philo said, “The souls of dead men are called demons.” Therefore, a demon would have been understood in New Testament times to refer to the departed, disembodied spirits of the dead. Thus, by their very existence demons are involved in the supernatural.
Additionally, demon possession had a clear supernatural aspect. Illnesses came about as a direct result of being possessed by a demon, such as muteness (Lk. 11:14) and epilepsy (Matt. 17:14-18). Demons would compel those under their power to cut themselves with stones (Mk. 5:5), be naked and expose themselves to the elements (Lk. 8:27), and try to burn or drown themselves (Matt. 17:14-18; cf. Mk. 5:11-13). They would also give those under their power superhuman strength (Acts 19:15-16).
Should Christians be involved in politics, such as campaigning for a candidate?
There’s nothing in Scripture that directly promotes or condemns being involved in politics, so determining whether one should be involved in politics in any fashion, whether it be campaigning for a candidate or any other kind of support, is a liberty or freedom we have. Yet there are scriptural precepts concerning the freedoms we have which one must keep in mind so we will exercise our freedoms in ways which please God.
For example, to use an analogy that in some ways is related to politics, there is nothing in Scripture that says, “Thou shalt not watch the news,” or, “Thus says the Lord: watch the news.” Therefore, we have the freedom to watch the news if we choose. Yet, what if I love watching the news so much that almost every free moment I have is spent watching the news to the detriment of focusing on the spiritual? While I’m driving to work or home from work, I’m listening to the news. While I’m at home, I’m constantly watching the news. When I’m on social media, the only thing I’ll read or talk about is the news. When I talk to anyone, it’s almost a guarantee that it’ll be about the news. Meanwhile, my prayer life is either non-existent or limited to a few seconds of thanking God for the food…even though God tells me to “Continue steadfastly in prayer” (Col. 4:2) and “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). The only time I’ll open the pages of my Bible is during the sermon at church…even though God says the righteous man’s “delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:2). I won’t hesitate to talk to anyone and everyone about the news, but it’s been a very long time since I’ve brought up Jesus and the gospel to the people I know…even though Jesus himself said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mk. 16:15). I care very, very much about whether my political goals are achieved and what is said on the news about my candidate or the opposing candidate…but I don’t really think all that often about my spiritual or evangelistic goals. Whether it be news, politics, or anything else we have the freedom to do, something can be inherently without sin and yet become sinful if we allow it to take precedence over our spiritual priorities (Matt. 6:33; Col. 3:1-2). It can be very easy for politics to put God and Christian responsibilities on the back burner.
Along these lines, Christians should remember that the political world can very easily be an ugly world. Discussing the pros and cons of candidates and one’s support or dislike of candidates can very easily turn into arguments in which ungodly things are said and done, all in the name of defending the political candidate of one’s choice. Sometimes candidates’ personal character and/or their policies can be completely above board…and sometimes a candidate’s personal character or policies, or both, can be abhorrent and against what Christians are supposed to stand behind. So while Christians inherently have the freedom to support political candidates, in some cases exercising that freedom in certain ways would be detrimental to the cause of Christ.
In the context of discussing how we should use what we have the freedom to do in ways which please God, Paul wrote: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” (1 Cor. 10:31-33).” He also wrote in the context of discussing one’s personal freedoms: “The faith that you have (contextually, the personal belief which you have the freedom to hold), keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves” (Rom. 14:22). Both Paul and Peter commanded that honor and respect are to be shown to those in positions of political authority at all times, regardless of who they are or how they govern (Rom. 13:7; Tit. 3:1-11; 1 Pet. 2:11-17). The Titus and Peter commands directly tie showing respect to those in power with the influence one has in converting the lost to Christ.
To apply all of these commands to one’s involvement in politics, ask yourself this. Would my support of this candidate’s policies go against clear scriptural principles? Perhaps my support of this candidate’s policies would not violate any scriptural principles, but if the candidate is personally reprehensible then would my public, advertised support of an openly immoral candidate hurt my influence as a Christian in the eyes of the lost and thus possibly turn them off to the gospel which can save them eternally? When I discuss with others my support for the candidate, do I find myself getting into arguments more times than not? Is it easier to give into the temptation to speak to others with biting sarcasm, insult them or the candidate, show biased judgment that ignores or downplays facts which would be inconvenient to my position, and thus exercise degrees of hypocrisy…all in the name of showing support for my candidate? Because I am so easily inclined to talk to others about my political views, has it been a while since I decided it would be better for my influence as a Christian if I decided to keep to myself my political opinions and determinations about who I will support? If one answers “Yes” to any of these questions, then God would want you to re-assess how you could apply all of the above scriptural commands to the aspects of your life which involve politics.
While discussing how to use personal freedoms to the glory of God, Paul also wrote: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:24-27). It takes self-control, a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), to properly use the freedoms we have to further the cause of Christ rather than hinder it, and that includes our freedom to involve ourselves in the political process. Let us examine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5), and exercise self-control as God would have us.