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Lot, Esau, and Cain:

Learning through Negative Examples

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Question #1:  Hi.  Am enjoying your website immensely. I belong to a number of chat-lists, and have often wondered the same question myself: we were talking about the account of when the "strangers" sent by God to investigate the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorra after leaving Abraham's presence and Lot took them into his home for the night.  Anyway, when the men of the city wanted to sodomize the strangers, Lot was willing to send his virgin daughters out to "entertain" them instead of letting them have their way with perfect strangers.

I guess to our "western/modern/whatever" way of thinking about things, doing something like that would seem reprehensible to us, but I suppose that shows the low regard that people had for women in the middle eastern culture of the time.

As the father of a daughter, I don't know that I've ever considered that to be a good enough explanation, or that in my "darkest hours" I could ever bring myself to do something like that, but in this account, Lot seemed perfectly willing, if almost eager to "sacrifice" his own children for the safety of strangers.

I'm curious if you have any thoughts on this text.

Faithfully, in the Lord's service,

Response #1:  Good to make your acquaintance. I am very happy to hear that you are enjoying the site. As to your questions, this is indeed one of those very troubling passages of scripture. One of the principles of biblical interpretation which many Christians seem to understand intuitively but may not have fully articulated is that the Bible - which is infallible and completely accurate in everything it relates - is not always recommending behavior when it reports something that actually, historically happened. For example, the Bible relates in great detail how Judas betrayed Jesus and how Peter denied Him. Clearly, just because they did these things - and we know from the Bible without question that they did - that doesn't mean that we should copy the reported behavior. This becomes a bit more of a subtle point in books such as Genesis and Acts where otherwise godly people do things that we wonder about. For example, we are told in Acts that Paul on the way to Jerusalem was urged "through the Spirit" by Christians he met not to go (Acts 21:4; cf. Acts 21:11-13). But he went any way. Was he right or wrong? In light of Acts 23:11, this is not an easy question to answer. In my view, it was a mistake. Though motivated by love for his own people, his charitable trip soon turned into full-blown involvement with the superceded temple worship, the very sort of thing that the apostle to the gentiles spent much of his time warning against. Nevertheless, God worked it out for good in the end (consider the "prison epistles" which might otherwise never have been written). I could only wish that my only mistakes/sins were based upon such noble and self-sacrificial motivation! And I can certainly see how other interpreters might take a different view.

In Genesis 19 we are much firmer ground it seems to me. Lot's conduct in this instance about which you ask demonstrates, in my view, two very important principles of scripture:

1) When we get into spiritually questionable situations, often we leave ourselves with choices which are only bad or worse.

2) The more we assimilate to the world, the more the world perverts and corrupts our otherwise previously good conscience and thinking processes.

I believe that Lot made a big mistake by heading to Sodom in the first place. Here is what Peter under divine inspiration has to say about this:

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but plunged them into Tartarus with its gloomy pits (i.e., the Abyss), preserving them for the [day of] judgment, and did not spare the antediluvian world, but kept safe Noah as a proclaimer of righteousness and the seven with him when He brought the flood upon the ungodly inhabitants of the world, and condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction, reducing them to ashes and making them an example to those bent on similar ungodly behavior, and rescued righteous Lot who was tormented by the depraved lifestyle of those lawless men - for through the things he saw and heard just by dwelling among them this righteous man was damaging his righteous way of life day by day on account of their lawless deeds. For the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment - especially those who in their lust pursue the polluting of the flesh and so despise [God's] divine authority.
2nd Peter 2:4-10a

It is very difficult to live in Sodom and not be influenced by the Sodomites (and that is certainly something that any person living in our modern world can affirm!). It really challenges one's Christian principles at times when everything that bombards us is wickedness. One main difference here is the principle of choice. We can't go out of the world, and we did not choose to born where we were born, but Lot chose to live in Sodom. He had originally gone down into the valley for the sake of his extensive herd, but here in Genesis 19 we see him living in a house, no sign of his herdsmen or herd. Clearly, he must have cashed in his entire pastoral way of life for the sake of "fitting in" in Sodom. That desire to assimilate and willingness to compromise while at the same time not being willing to depart entirely from the Lord in his heart caused the intense torment of spirit we see reflected in the quote from Peter above. It also undoubtedly put him in many situations where the compromises he made were wrong and sinful. This sort of process inevitably corrupts a person spiritually, at least to some degree, especially if God has somehow signaled that what the person is doing is a big mistake. Lot had his chance to get out when Sodom was captured and its population deported. At that time, he and his new neighbors were only just rescued by God's man, Abraham. Yet Lot stayed in Sodom even after this jarring event which certainly was at least in part meant to get his attention.

So to return to the specifics of your question, Lot, though "righteous" (i.e., a genuine believer in the Lord), was clearly not of the same spiritual stuff as Abraham (few of us are), and had made a series of bad decisions in the past which had culminated in 1) putting him into this position where no good choices remained, and 2) having taken his spirituality down from its previous level through assimilating his godly view to the worldly view of Sodom.

I believe that there is much truth in what you say here. No doubt Lot's decision to sacrifice the daughters which were "his" in a proprietary way that is foreign to our thinking may perhaps fall easier on some middle eastern ears then and now than it does on ours. Nevertheless, I still see Lot's decision as both 1) constrained by previous bad decisions and 2) the product of the compromise of his thinking resulting from bad associations through choice. He wanted God (i.e., he didn't want to hand over God's emissaries), but he also wanted Sodom (i.e., he was desperate to find a way to placate these people with whom he had so decisively thrown in his lot [no pun intended]). A man in good spiritual shape would never, I believe, have handed over his daughters for such abuse. And a man in good spiritual shape would have had the faith insight to understand that God was not going to allow to happen what with human eyes seemed impossible to avert. This was a major "spiritual test", and we are allowed to see Lot failing it miserably. But it is good to reflect that in our own day there are plenty of temptations and opportunities to do exactly what Lot did, namely, to assume that we can have both God and the world, and to fail to understand and appreciate to what degree subtle compromise with the standards and values of the world can harm us spiritually, not to mention what potential they have to throw us into circumstances where we have long since forfeited any "good" choice. One thing we can take comfort in, however, is that in spite of all this, Lot did not "give up God", and God did not "give up Lot". For God "knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment".

Every indication I have from scripture suggests that in the decades to come there are some very hard times ahead. But even without the Tribulation, no Christian life will ever be free of its own unique personal tribulation. Godly men and women who are growing in the faith day by day through the nurturing power of the Word of God can have confidence that the Lord will ever be at their right hand to deliver them from any manner of impossible situations. For as long as we are confident that what we are doing is what our Lord Jesus wants us to do, we never need to be afraid of doing the right thing, no matter how impossible the consequences of what we choose may seem to fleshly eyes.

The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
Proverbs 28:1  NIV

[A righteous man] will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. He heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.
Psalm 112:7-8

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

Question #2: 

Thank you very much for your help in with our Bible study. We are now coming to Genesis chapter 19 and I have some questions:

1) Why would Lot offer his daughters to be abused in order to save strangers? (He had not yet known they were angels)

2) After being saved from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah why did Lot move into a cave with his two daughters?

3) In the cave why is it that the two daughters have relations with their father? Was it God's plan to have things this way?

4) What happened in the cave was not condemned in any passage in the Holy Book and does this mean that at times people can sin to save a race?

5) Considering that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for the inhabitant's wickedness, why was Lot then saved if his daughters continue with the same sort of sin of Sodom and Gomorrah?

6) What comparisons and lessons can we draw from Lot and Noah?

As always I would appreciate your input.

Response #2:

I'm very pleased to hear that the response was of use. As to your questions on the book of Genesis, this illustrates quite well a point I often have to make for people doing self-directed Bible study, namely, that the historical books of the Bible accurately record "what happened", and they often do so without implying or meaning to imply that because something is recorded to have happened that therefore God approves of it. The book of Judges is a premier example of this and no doubt for that reason includes the famous divine disclaimer of the last verse "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit" (Judg.21:25; cf. Judg.17:6). Consider also in the book of Genesis the case of Abraham. Abraham is one of the greatest (if not possibly even the single greatest) believer in world history. Yet he was not perfect. When he is correctly and historically related to have taken Hagar to wife at Sarah's behest in his attempt to produce an heir, we are certainly right to think, "Abraham, God promised you offspring without suggesting that you resort to another woman; is this really an act of faith or isn't really an act of rationalization?" I think beyond all question that we (who would certainly have done even worse than Abraham were we in his place) with the great benefit of hindsight and the rest of the Bible story can say without equivocation that, yes, Abraham made a mistake here. So even though Genesis records the story accurately, this is an historically correct account, not a divine endorsement (after all, after "operation Hagar" Abraham had to wait a long, long time for Isaac, the delay coming no doubt at least partially as a result of this error). If this principle (i.e., of the Bible's historical books relating the facts without necessarily thereby suggesting divine approval of every human action they relate) can be true even of Abraham, how much more would it not be true of someone of lower spiritual status (like Lot and his daughters)? What we as students of scripture must do is to consider all the facts and the whole context of a story in a historical book in the broader context of everything else the Bible has to say, and then we may be in a position to say whether or not something was justified (or make other interpretative deductions). Failure to observe this very basic and, I believe, common sense principle has resulted in many fallacious interpretations of scripture. This is especially so in the book of Acts where the early actions of the apostles and believers who were, after all, in the process of being educated by the Spirit as to the true dynamics of the new era of the Church into which they were entering, made a number of mistakes and faulty assumptions in the things they did and said (cf. Peter having to be educated about the salvation of the gentiles: Acts chapter 10). If we assume that because Peter was a famous believer that therefore everything he did was correct, then we miss this important hermeneutic principle: historical books relate what happened; that may sometimes mean that a great believer does something less than perfect and that this is recorded as a fact.

Abraham's miscalculation on the number of the "righteous" in Sodom illustrates this point. Though we are told nothing about it, it stands to reason that Abraham would have met Lot's new family, i.e., his prospective sons in laws and their families. No doubt they made a good impression on him – as well they should, since he had only just recently delivered them along with all of the other inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah whom Kedorlaomer and his allies had kidnaped (Gen.14), and like all of their other fellow citizens would and should have held Abraham in the highest honor (at least with proper lip-service) – he didn't even take any of the plunder for himself. This honor in which Abraham was held would have meant paying a certain amount of respect to his nephew Lot as well (at least at first – we don't have the precise chronology but the destruction of these cities seems to occur some years after their deliverance at Abraham's hand, and, clearly, by the end this respect had completely dissipated). Now under the circumstances of just having been saved by someone who clearly honored the Lord (compare both Abraham's offering to God through Melchizedek, and also his statements to the king of Sodom whereby he was unwilling to leave any doubt about the fact that it was the Lord who made him wealthy), it is understandable that Lot's sons in law and their families would have been saying all of the right things, imitating Lot and Abraham, "praise God!" and all that sort of thing, giving Abraham the impression that they were believers when in truth they couldn't care less about the Lord but were just reacting like typical unbelievers of little character under the relief of the moment.

To return to Lot's situation, the problem, of course, and the issue you are bumping into as reflected in these questions is that very often when it is the case that the Bible does not come right out and say that the thing done was wrong, and this sometimes leads to confusion. Lot was not perfect, by a long shot, and much of what he did was imperfect in the extreme. We find a clue to all this in the book of 2nd Peter:

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but plunged them into Tartarus with its gloomy pits (i.e., the Abyss), preserving them for the [day of] judgment, and did not spare the antediluvian world, but kept safe Noah and the seven with him when He brought the flood upon the ungodly inhabitants of the world, and condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction, reducing them to ashes and making them an example to those bent on similar ungodly behavior, and rescued righteous Lot who was tormented by the depraved lifestyle of those lawless men - for through the things he saw and heard just by dwelling among them this righteous man was damaging his righteous way of life day by day on account of their lawless deeds. For the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment - especially those who in their lust pursue the polluting of the flesh and so despise [God's] divine authority.
2nd Peter 2:4-10a

This passage is generally mistranslated in the versions, probably precisely because of the problem of failing to understand the very principle we are discussing. But the point is that Lot made a big mistake by deciding to give up his pastoral way of life and take up residence in Sodom. The outrageous conduct of the inhabitants could hardly have been entirely unknown to him even at first, and as the verses above show he certainly was tortured by his association with them over time. He should have understood that such close contact with such unbridled sin and evil could never come to any good. But no doubt he craved security and the good life (cf. his desire to have a city to go to even as he was being evacuated from Sodom: Gen.19:18-21 – that clearly didn't work out for him either for reasons the Bible leaves us only to guess at). Perhaps he was listening to his wife against his own better judgment (cf. Gen.19:26). One thing is clear: the chain of events that led to his sick offer to the depraved citizens of Sodom was a case of being in a very bad situation for which there was no good solution because of prior bad decisions which left him no other out, as he say it. Why did he do it? The protection of strangers who have come under your roof carried a matter of extremely high value in the ancient world, and, on the other hand, one's family was seen as one's possession in that world-view much more than is the case today. So Lot clearly thought of this as a necessary sacrifice on his part, even if though it was entirely wrong and sick behavior. He is trying to do "the right thing" in a situation where because of his past actions which were at least weak in faith and very probably sinfully so have left him with no good choices. We like to think that he would have put the protection of his own daughters over that of these two strangers, but without God's help he was really not in a position to defend anyone as a result of his prior bad decisions. We have all "painted ourselves into a corner" from time to time in terms of our behavior, and that is certainly a main lesson to derive from all this.

As to the cave, we aren't told how Lot came to leave Zoar after making such a fuss about it, but it is worth mentioning that the angels, God's representatives, had to told him to flee to the mountains in the first place and only relented in order to get him to move of his own free will. So it was surely not in God's plan for him to hold onto this dream of living in an urban setting in the plain of the Kikhar. And whenever we fight against God's plan for our lives we only end up causing ourselves problems, pain, and regret, even as we delay the inevitable (cf. Abraham and his heir, Isaac not coming until he was nearly 100). If I were to speculate, I would guess that the man who was the only survivor of Sodom and Gomorrah would certainly be viewed with suspicion by the last surviving group of this civilization in Zoar, especially since he was an outsider in the first place, and even more especially when they began to ask him and his daughters precisely what had happened, and then got his story.

As to points #3 and #4, while the Bible doesn't condemn it, I don't think it is any great stretch of interpretation to say that what these daughters did was wrong and sinful and evil in the extreme (e.g., Lev.18:7). The fact that Lot was drunk to the point of being passed out certainly is also not a recommendation of the behavior. Even if we put this aside, the notion of these two that God could not have raised up legitimate seed for Lot apart from this outrageous conduct shows clearly that his daughters were thinking according to worldly logic and calculation with nary a thought for the power and grace of the Almighty – the very One who had just miraculously delivered them from Sodom! And, indeed, as the passage quoted above, 2nd Peter 2:4-10a, makes clear, Sodom was destroyed with the express purpose of delivering Lot from further association with evil ("For the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation"). One only has to consider the fact, moreover, that the offspring of these foul unions, the Ammonites and the Moabites, were with rare exceptions idol worshiping unbelievers and inveterate enemies of Israel to the end to conclude that nothing truly good came out of this sinful human effort.

On point #5, I think it was the other way around. Lot's daughters were saved for his sake. Everyone stands or falls on their own merits in the plan of God, but God is often gracious to the relatives and friends of believers, and the more so the more closely they walk with Him, for the sake of those who truly love Him (cf. 1Cor.7:14). In this regard we may see Ruth, that rare exception of a godly Moabite woman who is in genealogy of our Lord Jesus, as an example of God preserving some seed for Lot because of his righteousness. And by that I mean the true righteousness which comes from faith: we can safely assume from the whole picture that scripture gives of him that Lot was solid in his overall faith even if he was weak and erred dramatically in some of his behavioral applications.

On point #6, I think there is plenty on Lot above. For Noah please see the following link:

Noah (in SR #5)

Hope this helps,

In our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

In addition to your online studies, I get a good deal of learning from your email replies to questions that have been submitted to you. I do not know of anyplace in the Bible that answers this question although I have often seen it stated as fact. Are the modern day Arab people descendants of Ishmael and Esau? Thank you for the blessing of your site and I look forward to your response.

Response #3:

Thank you for your kind words. As to your question, the word "Arab" occurs somewhat frequently in biblical Hebrew and its cognates are found in a variety of ancient Semitic languages (including in cuneiform inscriptions). Etymologically, it seems to mean "wanderer" (that is the scholarly consensus), but it is worth noting that the word is essentially indistinguishable from the root meaning "mixed people". Since the word "Arab" is applied indiscriminately in scripture to a variety of peoples including Ishmaelites, Dedanites Midianites, Sabeans, etc., we have to think of it as a generic term instead of referring very specifically to any particular group or groups of people, at least in terms of its biblical application. Arabia, as a biblical term, means, essentially, the entire area not covered by Palestine and Mesopotamia lying in between them (and that is a lot of ground). The closest I can come to its meaning in the Old Testament is "all those people who live (as wanderers) in between the two major concentrations of settled civilization". Of course today, by "Arab" we mean something quite different, namely, a very particular linguistically defined group set off also in cultural terms by, among other things, what it is not (i.e., not Kurdish, not Persian, not Jewish, etc.). From biblical accounts, we can say very clearly that even in antiquity from the days of Abraham to the days of the close of the canon of scripture with the passing of the apostles -- 2000 years -- the amount of mixing up of the peoples of the Middle East was immense, and of course we have to add to that the additional 2000 years since. When we consider that in a mere 800 years or so the entire demographic and linguistic map of Europe was turned upside down (following the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire), it should be an easy thesis to maintain that in the interim of four millennia the entire area of present Arab populations has probably been, for all practical purposes, "homogenized" (especially in light of all of the movements and invasions and rises and falls of empires on that crossroads of the world). That is of course an oversimplification. There are, for example, pockets of people who speak Syriac or who claim to be Assyrian, etc. But as far as Ishmaelites or Edomites as either discernible separate entities or clear ancestors of any other group is concerned, that would be difficult either to discern or to prove. And of course scripture doesn't make that claim. It is almost certain that the genetic lines have survived, mixed with other indigenous populations including what we call the Arabs, but not limited to the Arabs. King Herod was, after all, and "Idumean" (i.e., Edomite), and we must remember that in addition to four millennia of trade, wandering, and intermarriage, there were also many forcible movements of populations from and to Palestine (by the Assyrians and the Babylonians in particular), even to areas not today considered "Arab".

So while it may be an unsatisfying answer, the best I can do is "maybe yes, maybe no, qualified and to a degree". One final point: it would also be a mistake to leave you with the impression that the Arabs are anything approaching a genetically homogeneous "people". We have a tendency to call people who speak Arabic as their native language "Arabs", but Arabic displaced many older languages in the Middle East and North Africa in the wake of the Islamic conquests, and in a variety of places did so without significantly changing the demographics. In Egypt for example, we have a population which, genetically speaking, has little to do with the nomadic inhabitants of northern and central Arabia -- even though they speak Arabic (the same goes for the rest of North Africa, just as an example).

Hope this helps.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:

What type of mark (what did it look like) did God place upon Cain?

Response #4: 

The word generally translated "mark" in Genesis 4:15 is the Hebrew 'oth.  Many people cite the parallel of Ezekiel 9:4 and 9:6, but the angelic (and invisible) mark placed on the righteous for quite the opposite sort of behavior in that passage is not an 'oth but a tav, the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet.  The tav, in the pre-Aramaic script, has the appearance of two intersecting lines, like an "x" or a cross.  Thus what we have in Ezekiel is a definite mark definitely placed on the forehead in the shape of the sign of redemption -- and as I say, it was invisible to human beings.  There is nothing of the like in Genesis 4:15.  For one thing, if 'oth, a very common word in scripture, were to mean "mark", it would do so only in this passage (it usually means "sign" or "symbol" or "pledge").  Secondly and of equal importance is the preposition used here, le.  This preposition generally means "to/for", not "upon", and in conjunction the verb sum, we almost always find a different preposition, 'al, when placing something "upon something else", and not le (e.g., when we have cases of "marking" in scripture, the preposition is invariably 'al:  Ex.13:9; Deut.6:8; 11:18).  I was unable to find any instance where sum can mean this with le.  So in order to understand this passage in the "traditional" way, we have to torture the Hebrew language in several respects beyond what it will bear.  On the other hand, if we understand both the word 'oth and verb-preposition combination used here in their normal meanings, we do come up with a very understandable result:  "The Lord gave Cain a sign/symbol/pledge [to reassure him] that no one would kill him".  We don't know what sort of sign Cain was given (compare Gideon and the fleece), but it was apparently sufficiently miraculous to assuage his desperation and so get on with his life.  But of a "mark on the forehead" here I find no trace.  The only person I have found who has grasped all of the issues involved in this question correctly is H.C. Leupold in his Exposition of Genesis (but then I'm not much on commentaries). 

Hope this is helpful

Question #5:

While writing on the curse in Genesis Chapter 9 you insinuated that Canaanites are virtually gone from the face of the earth. Can you qualify this for me? I also know that there is an attempt in some quarters to link Africa to Cush, Nimrod and Canaan. What is your position on that link and curse?

Response #5:

The question is essentially whether or not the "curse of Canaan" is also somehow a "curse of Ham". Canaan and Cush were brothers, both being sons of Ham. But while it is true that Noah cursed Canaan and his offspring at the end of Genesis chapter nine, and that he blessed Shem and Japheth, nowhere does it say in scripture that Ham himself was cursed or that the curse was to extend to the entirety of the rest of his progeny (even though some people do speak of a "curse of Ham", it isn't in the Bible). It seems to me very strange that the Bible would single out Canaan if the curse were meant to apply to all of Ham's sons.

For this reason, the question "who are the Hamites today?" doesn't have any biblical significance, even if it may be a matter of personal curiosity. On the other hand, scripture is very clear about the need to avoid "endless quarrels about genealogies" (1Tim.1:4; Tit.3:9), and makes the point very clearly as well that all of us in Jesus Christ are equals, regardless of nationality, race, sex, or any other earthly, human factor (Gal.3:28; Col.3:11; cf. Rom.10:12; 1Cor.12:13).

Anyone with even a general knowledge of history knows that trying to decipher the movements and the mixings of the peoples, nations, and races of the world over the past six millennia is a nigh on hopeless task. But it is fairly safe to say that by this point the human gene pool has become, if not completely homogeneous, at least so thoroughly and completely scrambled that I seriously doubt if there could possibly be even a single "pure-bred" person on the planet in terms of the three original branches of Noah's family. Recent DNA investigations (for all my problems and skepticism with this field of science) seem to indicate the same thing.

So in terms of Canaanites, it is not just the fact that most of the largest subdivisions of them were largely exterminated (e.g., the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah: Gen.19), or made to disappear through a combination of destruction and assimilation (i.e., the inhabitants of the land of Israel following the post-Exodus conquest of Palestine: Joshua through Judges). It is also the fact that even by Roman times no one, as far as I know, would still be able to identify themselves as a "Sidonite, Hittite, Jebusite, Amorite, Girgashite, Hivite, Zemarite, or Hamathite" (Gen.10:15-18). How much more is that not the case today, nearly two thousand years latter? If any of that gene pool has survived, it is entirely an academic question, since it is impossible that anyone could know who might be partially of that group, and there is very little doubt about the fact that no collection of people of which we are today aware could be predominately of any of those groups. Given what scripture says about steering clear of genealogical disputes, in my view it is best to move on to more spiritually edifying matters, especially since people who want to beat this dead horse incessantly usually have some other heretical or racist agenda in mind for which the non-biblical "curse of Ham" is merely a stalking horse.

I appreciate your efforts in warding off from those entrusted to your care everything that might be spiritually destructive. This is an essential part of caring for the flock of Jesus Christ. Keep up your good work in the Lord!

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who died for all mankind.

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hello Brother Bob,

I don't know how you keep up with the many questions from people like me, but I am grateful! Since Islam believes in the killing of infidels as their divine direction, do they reject the ten commandments?

Thanks & God bless

Response #6:


I'm happy to respond - but on this one, don't know how much help I can offer, not being anything near an expert in Islam. From what I can tell, Islamic theology is "fuzzy" in a way that makes the doctrinal controversies of the early church look positively simple and straightforward. Actually, there are apologists for that religion who argue that the Quran does support and affirm the ten commandments. They do, after all, claim Abraham and also Moses as some of their own. But as far as buying into the true meaning and teaching of the Bible, that seems to me to be clearly a different story. The way I look at it (personal opinion only), Islam is more of a cultural identity than it is a religion for most of its adherents, especially when it comes to talking politics. We have seen this sort of thing in organized "Christianity" in the past as well. People love a good cause, especially when they are disaffected for any reason (that is largely the story of western totalitarianism in the 20th century). Trying to change the world via politics, especially when violence is a major element, has nothing at all to do with God, and that is such an obvious principle that I would suggest that theological Islam is probably, if anything, providing a brake on the specter of unified global Jihad. That is because in purely theological terms there is still so much bad blood and unwillingness to compromise between the various sects (and within sects), that this factionalism has prevented unity of command and unity of effort of the sort one has seen in other totalitarian political movements. That could change, of course, especially since as I say disaffection and love of cause at some point have transformative properties. So while I am sure that it wouldn't be any real problem to delve into this religion's tenets and find major inconsistencies, that seems to me to be a bit of a sideshow inasmuch as anyone who has bought into the political violent aspects of this movement is really not interested in God at all in the first place (at least in my view). Now of course there is a role for evangelists to play here, and in this regard the use of apologetics (not my forte as is no doubt obvious) is key. The best place I know of to go to find information about other religions/cults from an orthodox Christian perspective is the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (see the link). This site has more good info on Islam than you can shake a stick at, I highly recommend it as a place you can get much more info than I am able to provide on this subject.

Always good to hear from you. Thanks for your supportive comments!

In our Lord Jesus, the only true way to eternal life.

Bob L.


Question #7:

So are there any simple resources to use to find how other religions view Eternity, and heaven and hell? I know this can't be simple. Is man an eternal being to them?

Response #7:

There has in the history of mankind never been a lack of satanically inspired false views of eternity, and they all have a slightly different (or vastly different) take on such things. For example, in the ancient Greek and Roman world there was never what one would call a systematic view of the after-life, but rather only a variegated picture that depended upon which source one consulted. This did concern some people, and to answer this question the result was the development of a number of philosophical views on the one hand (like Epicureanism and Stoicism), and mystery cults on the other (like the Eleusian mysteries, Cybele, Mithraism etc.). And of course this is only a part of the Mediterranean world. Adding the far east, Persia, Assyria-Babylonia, the Americas, Africa etc., etc., the detailed answer to your question would involve essentially an explication of the history of world religions. Knowing as I do that all of that is just so much anti-God nonsense, and, further, that no human being has ever bought into such a system without first rejecting any true desire to know the One true God, my own personal interest has tended to be limited to clinical generalities about the way Satanism (i.e., world religions) operates.

As I may have mentioned before, the best site of which I know which treats contemporary cults/religions in this way is the CARM Ministry (http://www.carm.org/). They can either answer most of what you would like to know with specifics, or at least point you in the right direction.

Yours in Jesus Christ, the one true way.

Bob L.

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