January 2021 Bible Questions & Answers

1. Washington dedicated the United States to the worship of God, as Israel was so dedicated. The blessings of God came to the United States, as they did to Israel. Yet as Israel turned away from God, His blessings were withdrawn and their enemies prevailed. Is the United States nearing the same punishment for its apostasy?

2. Is there life on another planet?

3. In Luke 16 Jesus tells the parable of the shrewd manager. It seems like Jesus is excusing away the manager’s theft of the owner. Is it okay to steal if the ends justify the means?

4. Why did God make the son of man a little lower than the angels? How is man lower than the angels if we are made in the image of God?

5. Hebrews 2:7-8 seems contradictory. Does it mean that while Christ was on earth he was lower than the angels, but now there is coming a time when all will be under His feet? Or did that occur as soon as He died?

Washington dedicated the United States to the worship of God, as Israel was so dedicated. The blessings of God came to the United States, as they did to Israel. Yet as Israel turned away from God, His blessings were withdrawn and their enemies prevailed. Is the United States nearing the same punishment for its apostasy?

The Bible’s records of God’s dealings with Israel and other nations serve as an example for us who live under the new covenant today who wonder about the nature of God’s dealings with nations today, including the United States (cf. 1 Cor. 10:11).  A study of the biblical accounts of how God blessed and punished various nations and his reasons for doing so can give us much information which we can use to surmise how God views America and other nations today.  However, today we do not have direct revelation from God concerning his views and plans for any modern country as the prophets and writers of Scripture had during biblical times.  The Lord had informed Samuel and Saul directly and specifically of the reasons why the nation of Amalek was about to be wiped out by Israel (1 Sam. 15:1-3).  He had also let Abram know in advance of his upcoming judgment against the Egyptians and Amorites and the reasons behind it (Gen. 15:13-16).  Yet while we can learn lessons from that and similar episodes in the Bible, the Lord will not directly inform us today of his plans for the United States and the reasons behind them.  That must always be kept in mind.

With that in mind, while contemplating whether God will soon punish the United States by complete annihilation or conquest as he had punished Israel for her apostasies as described in Judges, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, let us draw comparison with another city/state in the Bible to whom the Almighty condemned and punished severely: Sodom.  In comparing Sodom with the United States, several things are worthy of note:

  1. Sodom was punished because of ungodliness (2 Pet. 2:6), fornication in the form of homosexuality (Jude 7), and selfish, prideful lack of benevolence to the needy in spite of excess of food and prosperous ease (Ezek. 16:49).
  2. Cities who unrepentantly rejected Christ would be in a worse predicament than Sodom on Judgment (Matt. 10:15; 11:23-24).
  3. God was willing to spare Sodom if 10-50 righteous people were found within it, possibly .5% of its population at most.
  4. The entire male population of the city was willing to commit homosexual rape of strangers (Gen. 19:4-5).

It is clear that the overall ungodliness of America is headed towards the same levels of Sodom…but are we there yet?  Let’s compare:

  1. Homosexuality is embraced by many, even the majority, of our nation with signs that pedophilia and transgenderism are likewise soon to be accepted by many…but are all or even most of the population of the United States in favor of the homosexual rape of strangers?
  2. It is probable that more than .5% of the population of the United States are righteous or at the very least sincerely desiring to be righteous in the sight of God.
  3. Christ is generally accepted far more in the United States than could have been said of the Galilean cities of his day, of whom it was said were in worse shape than Sodom because of their rejection of him.
  4. The United States is prosperous, and we are pridefully selfish with our excess to a degree…but we are also well known for our benevolence toward many domestically and abroad.

If we continue down the road we’re on, we will likely arrive to where Sodom was within a few generations.  Yet even now there is still much positive good in America, and we as Christians can make an impact for even more good.  However, that will only happen if we are far more evangelistic than we currently are.

It should also be pointed out that God continually punished Israel for her sins without necessarily completely wiping her from existence as he did with Sodom.  He punished her in various ways in addition to foreign conquest, such as with plague (Ex. 32:35; Joel 1:4ff) and economic and political hardship (Is. 1:21ff), and it is noteworthy that she continued to exist as a nation even after these punishments, sometimes with renewed prosperity.  Even after Babylonian conquest and captivity, she eventually came back and lived as a nation in her homeland, yet never again with the same degree of national might that she had possessed before.

The United States has also experienced repeated instances of war, plague, economic hardship, and other types of hardship in addition to repeated times of prosperity.  God’s providential hand is behind all of it.  What plans does God have for us in the future?  Only he knows.  As American Christians, all we know is that by living faithfully and letting our light shine through good works and the spreading of the gospel, we are “the salt of the earth” that makes this country continue to be “tasteful” to God in spite of all her shortcomings.  Should we as Christians become more worldly and less spiritual as a whole in this country, then we join with the ungodly in hastening whatever judgment and punishment God has stored up for her.

Is there life on another planet?

God inspired Isaiah to write, “For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other’” (Is. 45:18).  Notice that the prophet says that when God formed and made the earth, he “formed it to be inhabited.”  There is a reason that all which mankind has found thus far in this universe is devoid of life or even the capacity to sustain life.  When comparing “the heavens” (shamayim in Hebrew, the sky, the abode of the stars, the universe) to “the earth” (erets in Hebrew, the whole earth as opposed to heaven), God through Isaiah said it was the earth which was “formed…to be inhabited.”  As the Psalmist was inspired to write, “The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man” (Ps. 115:16).

Thus, as far as the Bible has revealed, the earth is the only place which God has formed to be inhabited with life.  Should we some day discover life on another planet, then we will know that among the secret things of God (Deut. 29:29) is the knowledge that he had formed another planet somewhere else to also be inhabited with life.  Based on what the Bible reveals and what we ourselves have been able to ascertain, there is no life on other planets.

In Luke 16 Jesus tells the parable of the shrewd manager. It seems like Jesus is excusing away the manager’s theft of the owner. Is it okay to steal if the ends justify the means?

Stealing is sinful and will keep one out of heaven without repentance (1 Cor. 6:9-11).  So Jesus is not excusing or commending the manager’s dishonest theft of what was owed to the rich man in the parable (Lk. 16:1-13), and from this we know that he is not teaching that “the ends justify the means.”  If God considered it right that “the ends justify the means,” he would not have inspired Paul to express outrage over people slanderously claiming that he had taught them to “do evil that good may come” (Rom. 3:8).

In actuality, Jesus is commending the “shrewdness” of the dishonest manager (Lk. 16:8).  To be shrewd means to have or show “sharp powers of judgment” (Oxford Languages).   Upon being told that he would soon be unemployed and recognizing the limitations facing him of finding other work, the manager was practical enough to understand that he could still survive off of the hospitality of the ones who owed his master money, but only if he got in their good graces by dishonestly reducing their debts while he still had the power to do so (vs. 3-7). 

Making application, Jesus said, “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light” (Lk. 16:8).  Generally speaking, the ungodly tend to have better judgment in how they interact with their fellow man than do most Christians.  Jesus is teaching his followers to have “sharper powers of judgment” in their interactions with their fellow man, to be more shrewd, alert, astute, and intelligent in how we deal with other people.  He doesn’t want us to do this to the point of being dishonest, of course.  Rather, he wants us to have enough foresight to see how working in the present to influence others to view us favorably can work to our advantage with them in the future. 

This applies in so many areas of life.  As seen with the manager, it caused him to have others willing to help him in his time of need.  Additionally, doing good to others and being kind to them can help them to be more open-minded in the future when we share the gospel with them (Matt. 5:16).  Jesus wants us to have this astute, shrewd foresight.  This is the meaning behind Jesus’ statement, “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings” (Lk. 16:9).  Wealth, while not inherently evil, is called “unrighteous” here because it is often used for evil purposes (such as was done by the manager in the parable).  By telling us to use the wealth we have to “make friends for ourselves,” Jesus is basically telling us to have the foresight necessary to conclude that using our money to help others who are in need (cf. Gal. 6:10; Matt. 25:31-46) makes it more likely that when we are in need (“when it fails”), they will help us and, from an eternal perspective, “receive you into the eternal dwellings” because our kindness helped influence and motivate them to become a Christian and thus be saved.

This is further seen in Jesus’ following statements:  “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.  If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?  And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?  No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money” (Lk. 16:10-13).  Our wealth is the “very little” spoken of verse 10.  Compared to the “treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:19-20) waiting for us in eternity, our wealth here on earth is indeed “very little” (Lk. 16:10).  It also does not ultimately belong to us in the first place, but rather belongs to God, the One referred to when Jesus says “that which is another’s” (Lk. 16:12; cf. Mal. 3:8).  If we haven’t been faithful and shrewd (acting with foresight, making spiritually astute judgments) enough with our wealth here on earth to use it to further the cause of the One to whom it actually belongs, why should we expect God to “entrust to you the true riches” and “give you that which is your own” (Lk. 16:11-12), i.e., your eternal reward in heaven?  Indeed, we must choose God over money (Lk. 16:13) by having the wisdom and foresight to use what he has given us in this life to do good to others and thus curry their favor so they will be more open to the gospel he wishes us to share with them.

Why did God make the son of man a little lower than the angels? How is man lower than the angels if we are made in the image of God?

Humanity, while being made in God’s image, is also flesh and blood with all the limitations that come with that such as limited age span, wisdom, and strength, as well as lacking any inherent supernatural ability.  Celestial angels are also created beings, but the Scriptures show them to be of a different nature than humanity with different attributes.  For example, they are spirit beings (Heb. 1:14) who are incapable of death (Lk. 20:36) with implied greater wisdom and power than mankind (2 Sam. 14:20; Matt. 24:36; 28:2).  In those ways we are “lower” than the angels (cf. Heb. 2:6-7).

Hebrews 2:7-8 seems contradictory. Does it mean that while Christ was on earth He was lower than the angels, but now there is coming a time when all will be under His feet? Or did that occur as soon as He died?

Jesus is described as “the Word” who “was with God” and “was God” and yet “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14).  As Paul described it, Jesus “was in the form of God, (and) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7).  By making himself human, Jesus was “made…lower than the angels” (Heb. 2:7) for the reasons described in the last question.  This took place “for a little while” (v. 7), specifically the 33 years of life he spent here on earth as human. 

At the end of that period of time in which he lived, died, and was resurrected from the dead, he then ascended back to the throne of God (Mk. 16:19; Dan. 7:13-14, who at that time “crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet” (Heb. 2:7-8; cf. Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-22).