Did God Really Live in the Tabernacle/Temple?

Question:  In 2 Chronicles 5:14 what does “the glory of the Lord” really mean?  I’ve always taken it to mean God physically manifested Himself in the Temple.  But in 6:18 Solomon asks, “will God really dwell on Earth with men?” and later seems to answer no in 6:21, “Hear from Heaven, your dwelling place.”  At this point, I am confused.  Is God in the Temple or in Heaven?  Or is it both because He is omnipresent?  But if He’s omnipresent, what’s the point of having a Temple in which He can dwell?

Answer:  I understand the glory of Yahweh to mean anything that displays His character.  In the temple the fiery cloud displayed His character as the holy One and gave a visible evidence of His presence.  Of course He is omnipresent, but He often makes known His presence in particular ways like this to show His people that He is with them.  His dwelling place is in heaven and it was in the Tabernacle and Temple, but it was understood by Solomon that no earthly temple could contain Him.  The earthly temple was a replica of sorts of the heavenly temple and was designed to be the symbol of God’s presence here.  The temple served as a tangible sign of God’s desire to be among His people and a place to which they could bring sacrifices, prayers and worship to give locality to their expression of relationship with Him.

Randall Johnson

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Was David and Ephrathite or a Judahite?

Question:  In 1 Samuel 17:12 David is said to be an Ephrathite. I thought he was a Judahite?  Is that mixed lineage? or are those two lineages connected in some way I don’t understand?  David is the first king in the line of Judah, right?  the beginning of the fulfillment of Genesis 49?

Answer:  Doing a word search of Ephrath I found that it was an alternate name for Bethelehem (Gen 35:19) but also distinguished in some way from Bethlehem (Ruth 1:2; 4:11).  It is often the case that a town or area is named for a person of honor.  Perhaps there was an Ephrath who founded Bethelehem, or part of the town was considered populated by his lineage.  It became a title for people like David’s anscestor Naomi and thus attached to him.  The name seems to have been attached to Bethlehem before Judah was born (Genesis 35:19) or else it is a name that came to be associated with Bethlehem afterwards that was being read back into the text in Genesis to identify it for current readers.  If the latter is true, then it could have been a descendent of Judah for which it was named.  If not, then it is unclear what it designates as far as literal genealogy, for it is apparent that David was descended from Judah.

Randall Johnson

Did Samuel Lie to Saul?

Question:  In 1 Samuel 13:13 Samuel tells king Saul that if he had obeyed Yahweh, Yahweh would have established his kingdom forever.  But this can’t be true.  Saul was a Benjamite, and the prophecy of Jacob in Genesis 49:10 is that the kingship will not depart from the line of Judah, a prophecy that came hundreds of years before Samuel and Saul.  Didn’t Samuel know the prophecy that the kingship would go through Judah?  It seems the only possibilities are that Samuel either a) believes Saul would have kept the kingship if he had trusted God, which means Samuel didn’t know the prophecy, or b) knows the prophecy and lies or just gives an inaccurate statement or even guilt trip.

Answer:  Let’s suppose that Samuel did not know the prophecy of Genesis 49.  We must still answer the question of whether Samuel is speaking to Saul out of his own wisdom or prophetically as he has heard from God?  We might wonder about the first statement, that God would have established Saul’s kingdom forever, but we would certainly see his next statement as coming from God and true, that God was looking for someone after His own heart.  This suggests that Samuel was speaking for God and not out of his own knowledge (or lack thereof).  This would mean that if anyone was wrong about anything it was God who was wrong to tell Samuel that He would have established Saul’s kingdom forever had Saul obeyed.  So it doesn’t matter if Samuel knew of Genesis 49 or not.  He was repeating Yahweh, and certainly Yahweh knew the prophecy of Genesis 49.

So how do we resolve this?  God knew that Saul was not going to succeed at obeying, yet nevertheless was willing to offer him the kingdom forever if he did.  There had to be a genuine option for Saul to have the kingdom if he obeyed.  It wasn’t a guilt trip but necessary knowledge to have for himself and for subsequent contenders for the throne.  But God was also wanting to show Israel that the character of their king was crucial to their welfare as a nation.  In His decree He purposed to remove Saul and install David, thus fulfilling the prophetic word He gave to Jacob/Israel.

Samuel is not a liar because he is simply telling Saul what God told him to tell him.  Even if Samuel knows the prophecy of Genesis 49, which I would suppose he did, he also knows that God is looking at things from His eternal perspective and making a genuine offer to Saul (which I am also assuming was clear on the front end), nevertheless knowing that Saul would not/could not make good on it.  His prophecy through Jacob came true in a circuitous route.  The reason ultimately for this route is known only to God, but we can see the fringes of His purposes as described above.

We see something similar in Acts 27 with Paul on the ship to Rome.  God tells him that not a life will be lost during the storm, only the ship.  But when the sailors try to escape the ship he tells the Centurion that unless they are stopped those on board will be lost.  God knew that Paul’s warning would be heeded and predicted that none would perish.

Follow up question:  If Samuel is speaking prophetically in 13:13-14, in order to preserve God and Samuel’s integrity, I am forced to say God must’ve offered a real possible outcome to Saul – obey and have the kingship for all time.  As for how He would have dealt with fulfilling the Genesis 49 prophecy WHILE Saul’s lineage retained the kingdom, God would’ve had to get creative.  Perhaps Saul’s daughter would’ve married a Judahite, producing a son in both Saul’s lineage and Judah’s lineage to become king.  Who knows?  But I am satisfied in believing that God could have, and WOULD have, found a creative solution to fulfill both prophecies.   What do you think of that possibility?
 
Follow up answer:  I think it is an admirable possibility.

Randall Johnson

Can Brain Damage Make Me Lose My Salvation?

Question:  I have a question concerning senility in older believers, or amnesia in any other age. I suppose the root of this question pertains to the nature of the soul, but what is the state of a believer who begins to lose his or her mind because of his or her age, that is when memories begin to fade and recollections do not exist anymore? Along the same lines, what would be the state of a person who professed true faith but, due to some accident, has lost that memory and, in essence, has become another person?

Answer:  There are three ways to answer this question.

(1) I am assuming that by “state of a believer” and “state of a person who professed true faith” that you are ultimately asking whether this would affect the person’s salvation.  Could a person’s personality be so changed that they might deny the truth of the gospel and of their relationship with God?  It is possible, I suppose, that they could so change, but it is not possible that this would cause them to lose a salvation they already possessed.  Jesus says of his sheep, believers, in John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”  The phrase “no one” seems to mean no one, including the believer.  I’ll refer you to several articles on this blog about the impossibility of losing one’s salvation (backsliding, fall from grace, suicide, breaking promise not to sin).

(2) It is very possible, given the nature of human beings as both spirit and body, that the body can affect the spirit and the spirit can affect the body.  If someone was paralyzed we would not expect them to kneel in prayer, stand in worship, or walk door to door in evangelism.  They’re not accountable for those things given their physical limitations.  Why would we expect someone to exhibit strong mental and spiritual capacity if their brain is injured or diseased?  If we can’t do  something, we are not responsible for doing it.  This is why in God’s new covenant message Jeremiah quotes the proverb, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge,’ but then reverses it.  The children cannot be responsible for their parents’ actions.

(3) There will be many situations in our lives when we will be called upon to love those who cannot seem to give anything back.  This might be especially true of those who suffer Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia.  Like the man who was paralyzed we may need to carry them to Jesus because they cannot get to him themselves.  The state of their soul is that they are still precious in the eyes of the Lord.  Unconditional love cannot be more effectively demonstrated than when someone cannot give us anything back.  As Jesus taught, “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:13, 14)

Randall Johnson

How Does World History Fit into the Biblical History?

Question:  I’m curious to know what other civilations were doing during the time of Genesis and Exodus.  We know something about the Romans and the Near East, but what about European countries etc.  I have a difficult time following the tie between the ancestors of  the children of Noah and the gentiles who populated the rest of the world.

Answer:  I found this site online: http://agards-bible-timeline.com/bible_timeline_online_30BC.html.  There is a link at the top of each segment of the timeline that allows you to forward or backward in time.  Check it out.

Randall Johnson