Yes, it’s time to take another look into the ‘ol mailbag and see what kind of questions have been landing in The Doctor’s mailbox recently. And here’s our first lucky e-mailer…
I often see pictures of Jesus- how do we know what He looks like?
Well, the answer is… we don’t. Would you believe that there is no physical description of Jesus found anywhere in the Bible? This means that every painting, sketch or illustration of Jesus ever made is simply an artist’s interpretation of what He really looked like. In fact, portrayals of Jesus’ appearance have changed a lot over the centuries depending on the artist’s spiritual beliefs, cultural background and personal style. That being said, it’s probably safe to say that Jesus looked very much like an average man living in Israel during the first century.
Who created God? Is that mentioned in the Bible and where?
Hey, great question. After all, everyone on earth has a beginning, right? So it seems perfectly natural to ask “who created God?”
The answer to this question lies in the fact that there is a fundamental difference between human beings and God. As human beings, we are finite- that means that each of us had a beginning. For instance, if you are reading this sentence then it means that you exist today, right? But that wasn’t always so, was it? There was a time when you did not exist but then your parents got together and “you” began. This, of course is true for every human being who has ever lived.
God on the other hand, is infinite. That is, God has always “been.” Unlike human beings, there was never a time when God did not exist. Because God has always existed, He did not need a beginning. Because of this, scholar-types like to say that God is “uncaused.” In other words, God did not need anyone else to cause His existence like human beings do.
Think of it this way- if you are reading a book, it’s impossible to go “back” any further in the story than page one, right? That’s because page one is the beginning. Since God is also “the beginning,” it’s impossible to go back and ask, “who created God?” It’s like asking, “what number comes before the first number?” God is eternal and has always existed.
What can I do to help my faith continue to grow?
Perhaps the single best suggestion that The Doctor can offer is to read your Bible every day. One of the best things you can do to help yourself spiritually is spend time in God’s Word each day. So what’s the best way to start reading the Bible? Well, one good recommendation would be to start at the beginning of a book (say, Matthew, Esther, Acts, Psalms or whatever) and then read a little each day until you finish the book. Then go to another book and read through it until you finish that one. Then start another. You could even alternate between Old and New Testaments if you wanted to.
If you read the Bible in this way, you can get a good understanding of all of God’s Word and it usually takes less than 15 minutes a day. Of course, you can change or adapt your own personal reading schedule to fit your needs; just do whatever works best for you. When it comes to reading God’s Word, the important things are to…
- Get a Bible that you can understand.
- Before you start reading, pray that God would help you to understand his Word
- Set aside a time to read it every day
How many years has it been since Jesus was on Earth?
Well, most scholars now believe that Jesus was born around 5 BC. This puts us in the somewhat weird position of having to say that Christ was born “before Christ” but that’s the way it is.- So to answer your question, it has been a little over 2000 years since Jesus was first on Earth (give or take a few years).
Why is there a need for eternal life? I had a friend ask why we need eternal life and what's wrong with just being dead?
OK, your friend’s question is understandable because of the way we often use the term “eternal life.” By eternal life, we don’t mean that Christians live forever and everybody else goes off into nothingness. “Eternal life” doesn’t just mean “unending life” -it means “unending life in all it’s fullness.” It means being everything that God created you to be. It means life without any built-in limitations or restrictions.
Think about it like this: everyone has dreams of what they would like to become, right? But very few people ever realize those dreams because we all have limitations that prevent us from achieving them. There are physical limitations, financial limitations and time limitations that we all have to deal with. If we’re honest, we’d probably have to say that most people lack the talent, skill or ability to do what they would really like to do.
But here’s the good news- for those who accept Christ, the time will come when there will be no limitations and we will be free to express ourselves without any restrictions to the honor of God. This is one reason why Jesus came for as He says in John 10:10, “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (NIV). But don’t forget that those who reject God’s offer of reconciliation through Jesus’ sacrifice also receive eternal life- but that life is an eternity of punishment and separation from God.
Why was Rahab saved for hiding the Israelite spies when she lied?
Before answering your question, let’s take a quick look at the story…
“Then Joshua sent two spies from the Israeli camp at Acacia to cross the river and check out the situation on the other side, especially at Jericho. They arrived an inn operated by a woman named Rahab, who was a prostitute. They were planning to spend the night there, but someone informed the king of Jericho that two Israelis who were suspected of being spies had arrived in the city that evening. He dispatched a police squadron to Rahab’s home, demanding that she surrender them. ‘They are spies,’ he explained. They have been sent by the Israeli leaders to discover the best way to attack us.’
But she had hidden them, so she told the officer in charge, ‘The men were here earlier, but I didn’t know they were spies. They left the city at dusk as the city gates were about to close, and I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them!’ But actually she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath piles of flax that were drying there. So the constable and his men went all the way to the Jordan River looking for them…” (Joshua 2:1-7a).).
The short answer to your question is that Rahab was saved because that was the specific agreement that she made with the spies. In return for hiding these spies on the roof, Rahab made them swear that she and her family would be protected when the people of Israel came in and took over. They agreed to this, providing that she hang a scarlet rope in the window and that no one from her house went outside during the invasion (see Joshua 2:18-19).
However, The Doctor suspects that your real question is, “How could God bless and approve of Rahab when she obviously lied” right? If so, then read on.
The first thing to consider was that Rahab was a not an Israelite. She had heard of Israel’s God (Joshua 2:10) and it seems that she was convinced of His power and ability but she didn’t really know Him. Although we might say that Rahab’s conscience should have told her that it was wrong to lie, it’s also true that she didn’t access to the Law that God had given to Moses (which specifically tells people not to lie) or any of the detailed standards of right and wrong that God had given to the people of Israel.
Also keep in mind that Rahab may have been faced with a problem that was really unavoidable. You see, it may not have been possible to hide the spies and tell the truth to the King of Jericho’s police force at the same time. Finally, we must take notice that Rahab risked her life to do what she did. If she was found to be hiding the very people that the government was looking for (and foreign spies besides that) it certainly would have cost her life. So Rahab was certainly taking a big chance in doing what she did.
Now all this does not excuse Rahab for not telling the truth (which was wrong) but it did save the Israelite spies from death (which was even more wrong). Although we’re told in the Bible to obey the government (Romans 13:1), there are times when it may be OK to be disobedient to the authorities if they ask us to do something wrong (see Daniel 3:1-18 and Daniel 6:3-23 [especially verses 9-10] for some examples). You can also take a look over here for more about when it’s right and wrong to disobey the government
Even though Rahab lied to protect the spies, giving them up to the king’s men would have been a greater wrong. Another example of lying to prevent a greater wrong is found in Exodus 1:15-21. Again, this does not excuse lying (which is clearly wrong) but it’s also clear that the Bible allows for the consideration of the circumstances that existed at the time.
One last thing: keep in mind that the Bible does not say that Rahab was honored for lying. On the contrary, what Rahab did showed her faith in the one true God. She really believed that God was going to give her city to the people of Israel (Joshua 2:9) and she acted on that belief by hiding those spies. Check out Hebrews 11:31— you’ll see that Rahab wasn’t praised for lying, but she was honored for her faith.
Not only that, but did you know that Rahab later married a man named Salmon? That may not sound like such a big deal until you find out that Rahab and Salmon had a child who later turned out to be the great-grandfather of Israel’s King David! So not only is this woman praised for her great faith, she is also an ancestor of David and of Jesus Himself. Not too bad, huh?
Do you have a question for The Doctor? Just send it to the email address below- you’ll get a personal reply and you just might see it answered here.