Why has God allowed us to discover vaccines and antibiotics if He wanted to use disease to punish us?

Question:  Why God has allowed the discovery of vaccines and antibiotics to cure illness? If diseases are punishment from God then if we cure them we go against the will of God who wants to punish us. If vaccines and antibiotics are discovered because God wants to bless us why did God contradict Himself by sending diseases and then sending the cures of the same diseases he has sent? And if vaccines and antibiotics are a blessing from God why has God delivered these blessing after millions of people are already dead?

Answer:  I am reading a science fiction book called The Final Enemy by Dan Petrosini.  The plot is that a meteor falls to earth in the U.S. and it is discovered that wherever the meteorite goes natural deaths stop occurring.  After much testing the government sends the meteorite on a tour of the United States and then eventually all countries that sign a treaty with the United States and natural deaths basically cease around the world.  But with that comes other problems.  Overpopulation is the main problem, it seems, causing a major food shortage that threatens the entire world.  But the other problem is the ceasing of religious observance.  People don’t need God anymore, or so they think.

In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve sin, God imposes what I’ll call “futilities” upon mankind.  In birth the woman’s pain will be greatly increased.  What should be an unadulterated experience of joy and meaning will be fraught with pain and suffering.  For the man, the work he does and must do to grow food will be met with plants or weeds that will threaten to choke out what it is edible and make his work frustrating.
God is not telling Adam and Eve or us that we shouldn’t seek to deal with the pain of childbirth or just let the weeds grow.  On the contrary, we will need to fight against these futilities but there will be that futile or useless aspect to them because we will never be able to completely eliminate them.  This level of frustration, however, is essential to our well-being.  God prohibits Adam and Eve from eating from the tree of life and living forever.  Paul says (Romans 8:18-21) that God purposely subjected the world to futility in hope of its future redemption.
Mankind’s greatest temptation is to seek life and peace and joy apart from God and in what He created for us, the world.  And without a doubt there is much the world offers that seems to bid us find our life/joy/peace in it (beauty, relationships, accomplishments) except that this frustrating aspect to life, the futility of it, keeps us from fully finding life there.  And this is a blessing, because were the world to work the way God made it to work originally, if we didn’t die (the ultimate futility) and if our efforts were always rewarded with success and our relationships work out the way we wanted, etc., we would be tempted to think that we were fine without God.  But we are not fine without Him.  We desperately need Him.  Futility built into the system helps us see that.
So God’s purpose in bringing illness and death and frustration and weeds and pain, is not entirely a punishment, as you characterized it, but a necessary consequence of trying to find life apart from Him, as Adam and Eve did and as every subsequent generation has.  These frustrating aspects to life are actually a mercy, helping us move toward Him and find the true source of our life/joy/peace.
He has also made us in His image and that makes us creators and innovators and doers and workers.  We are made to overcome problems and so we have developed ways to kill weeds and minimize pain and overcome illnesses, and yet each of these has also brought with them frustrating problems.  Weed killers poison our foods, pain relievers can become addictive or affect the child in the womb, and antibiotics can serve to strengthen the very bacteria they were meant to destroy resulting in super bugs that are not responsive to antibiotics.  We are not to quit seeking solutions, but we are reminded again and again that the ultimate solution is not in our intellect or abilities but in God and a relationship to Him.
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Can Animals Have Compassion?

Question:  Why does the Bible give so little information about the differences between human and animals. Do animals run on instinct or do they have souls. For an animal, the instinct for self preservation has nothing to do with saving another species, sometime putting its own life at risk. Is love an instinct? There are a countless numbers of stories, but the last one I heard was of a whale saving a diver from a shark. Is that not compassion? I’m confused and torn.

Answer:  I suppose the simplest answer is that the Bible was not written to give us knowledge about everything having to do with our existence, but rather about our relationship with God.

It does mention that animals have spirits (Ecclesiastes 3:21–22, Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?).  It reports an incident with Balaam in which his donkey talks to him after being enabled by God to communicate that way to his master (Numbers 22:22-30).

I believe that God gave us the responsibility of “subduing the earth” (Genesis 1:28) and part of that responsibility includes learning what we can about our fellow inhabitants.  Adam seemed to have studied the animals he saw in the garden in order to give them names (Genesis 2:18-20).  You have been learning about animals and their sometimes sacrificial acts on behalf of humans.  That may be an indication that animals can have something more than instinct at work in them.  We’re told in Genesis 3 that the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field.  So perhaps certain animals have abilities that others do not.  Adam and Eve didn’t seem too taken aback by the serpent speaking to them.

What Does Jesus Mean By Hating Father and Mother?

Question:  Luke 18:26 ….please explain what Jesus said about if we do not hate our mothers, fathers etc. This saying from the Jesus I do not understand.

Answer:  The passage you mention is Luke 18:29–30, And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (ESV).  In Luke 14:26, Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

Jesus did not hate his mother but provided for her at his death by committing her to John’s care.  Jesus’ is talking here about our priorities.  Our first priority as Jesus’ disciples must be to follow and love him above all else.  He could not say this if he were not God.  Jesus is calling us to love God above all others because only then will we be able to love our loved ones in the truest way.  So Jesus is speaking in heightened terms here to make the point.  It is intended to shock us into thinking deeply about our most prior commitments.  But he also promises that such commitments will yield reward in the kingdom.

What Does It Mean That a Husband’s Prayers Will Be Hindered?

Question:  Please explain what the bible says about husbands prayers being hindered.

Answer:  The passage in question is 1 Peter 3:7, Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (ESV)

There are many things that can hinder the prayers of both men and women. James talks about our prayers being hindered by wanting what we ask for to “spend it on our passions” (James 4:3).  Sometimes our prayers are hindered by our lack of faith (James 1:5-8) and other times because we are actually using God to get what we want without really seeing Him as the true and only God and Sovereign (Ezekiel 14:1-8).  And sometimes our prayers are hindered because we are dishonoring what God honors.
That is the case when husbands mistreat their wives, when they fail to see their wives as fellow heirs of eternal life and treat them disrespectfully.  This, Peter says, will definitely put a barrier between them and God.  They are treating someone He values and honors in a dishonorable way, and He will discipline them for that.

 

Of course, if a wife treats her husband in a dishonorable way her prayers would also be hindered.  Peter is only focusing on the husband in this way, however, in this letter.

What if God’s plan doesn’t want something important to me to go right?

Question: The Bible always says that God will make everything all right in the end, and if something doesn’t go right, it’s because God’s plan says it’s not supposed to go right. I know that’s supposed to make you feel better, but it does the opposite for me. What if God’s plan doesn’t want something important to me to go right? Please help, because this is one of the main reasons why I feel my faith is weak. For some reason, just “trusting the plan” doesn’t make me feel any better.

Answer:  There is an entire book in the Bible devoted to the search for some guarantee that our lives will go right.  It is the book of Ecclesiastes.  The author sought to “gain” a bright future through various means including wisdom and folly.  He discovered that folly is sure to bring pain and misery, but that even wisdom and behaving wisely cannot keep things going right.  And the ultimate proof of that is death.  We’re all going to die.  God will not rescue us from that negative future.  What he finally counsels is to enjoy the happy moments of life but prepare for the unhappy ones, especially death.  And above all, keep God’s commands.
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Is It Okay to Re-Imagine Bible Stories in a Fictionalized Manner?

Question:  Is it okay to retell Bible stories? I know there are many stories inspired by the Bible; it’s such a powerful book full of wonderful stories, so it’s kind of difficult to be a writer and not be inspired by biblical themes and lessons. However, I’m wondering if it’s alright to re-imagine Bible stories in a modern or fictionalized manner, and if so, what sort of rules should a writer follow when doing so?

Furthermore, I read somewhere that writers have rewritten the entire Bible to read and flow more like a continuous story. Is it acceptable as long as they give it a different title and keep it separate from the actual Bible? What do you make of that?

Answer:  Every time we preach or teach the Bible we are re-telling it.  We re-imagine it in the sense of seeking to understand how it applies to us today.  If you do a fictionalized version of a Bible story that is true to the intent of the original author and seeks to be accurate in regard to the cultural setting I think you do us a service.  You are creating a sermon on Scripture for us.

Yes, a continuous story Bible should identify itself as such.  That’s a helpful tool for understanding the Bible.

Why Do Good Things Happen to Bad People?

Question: Why do Good Things Happen to Bad People?

Answer:  There are several reasons good things happen to bad people:

  1. God loves bad people.  Jesus taught us to love our enemies and that this is loving like God the Father loves.  He sends life-giving rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45-48).  We sometimes call this “common grace.”  God gives grace, undeserved favor, to people who are spitting in His face.  He still loves them.  They are made in His image and matter to Him.
  2. The image of God in us expresses itself in doing powerful and good things for others.  God created and so do we (in our limited way, of course).  We are driven to make a positive difference in our world and the benefits of that coming from all those who use their gifts from God for good are that good and bad people experience good things.
  3. God shows kindness to bad people to lead them to repentance (Romans 2:4).  Gratitude is a pathway to repentance.  If they resist such kindness they will experience His judgment in the end.  He compassionately reaches out to those who may yet reject Him.