Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 16 No. 9 September 2014
Page 10

Questions and Answers

Send your religious questions to editor@gospelgazette.com

Dinosaurs Revisited

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Louis RushmoreBrother Rushmore, I just read the article in Voice of Truth, “Did Dinosaurs Really Exist?” I noticed two conclusions that I cannot reconcile with the Job passage. Please know that my intent in writing you is not to be argumentative! And I certainly am not trying to say what this creature may or may not be. Just trying to be careful. It is my habit to look up scriptures that are cited in an especially interesting article as I study it more. Then I also see what other translations say, in case the conclusions from the article’s author were drawn from a particular translation. In doing this today, in paragraph three each verse has quotes about the animal’s descriptions. But verse 17 has no quote - just a comment. When I read it from three translations (KJV, NASB, NIV), they all speak of the movement of the tail, not the size. The picture developing from verse 16, where it speaks of his strength being in his hips and stomach (with thighs that are knit together) seems to show how this movement is strongly caused - as if a cedar tree were back there being swung about. The second place in question is in verse 19. The Bible says the animal is “chief of the ways of God” (KJV), “ranks first among the works” (NIV) and “first of the way” (NAS). There is no mention of mass or size that I can see. I guess my point is really this: As an older adult who has “grown up in the church,” I want us to not overstate our case when trying to convince. Please know that my comments are given with the simple intention of raising your awareness of this principle - which I am confident you already practice. Thank you for your time. I know you are a busy minister. Sincerely, Zoe Baxter (emphasis added)

First, I want to express my appreciation for interest in and scrutiny of my article, “Did Dinosaurs Really Exist?,” that appears in past issues of Gospel Gazette Online and The Voice of Truth International, and which is also now in tract form. I certainly share with my correspondent the desire not to overstate biblical evidence – on any subject – and to handle the Word of God aright (1 Peter 4:11; 2 Timothy 2:15 ASV).

Job 40:17 reads, “He moves his tail like a cedar…” The literal reading of that phrase in a Hebrew interlinear Bible reads, “a cedar like a tail he moveth.” Further, if it were the case that the reference to the tail only has reference to movement, then, usage of the word “cedar” – or any other noun is pointless and would be unnecessary to convey just movement. Using the word for a cedar tree produces an image in one’s mind regarding the tail being moved. The cedars of Lebanon attained girths of up to 52 feet, and they reached heights of up to 152 feet. Adam Clarke concluded on this phrase, “Therefore it was neither the elephant, who has a tail like that of the hog, nor the hippopotamus, whose tail is only about a foot long.” The only creatures to have walked this earth that fit the description of the behemoth were dinosaur-like.

Job 40:19 reads, “He is the first of the ways of God” (NKJV), “chief” (KJV, ASV), “He ranks first among the works of God” (NIV). The Hebrew word translated “first,” “chief” or “ranks first” means, “‎the first, in place, time, order or rank” (Biblesoft’s). From that and in the context of the additional attributes, Clarke concluded, “The largest, strongest, and swiftest quadruped that God has formed.” Albert Barnes likewise concluded, “In size and strength.” Keil and Delitzsch observes, “…Behemoth, not as one of the first in point of time, but one of the hugest creatures…” The very dictionary definition of the word “behemoth” and common usage betrays the usual and widespread understanding of the overall description of this creature relates to its humongous size – “something of monstrous size, power, or appearance” (“Behemoth”).

Being “chief,” “first” or “ranks first” “of the ways of God” refers to God’s creative activity. Behemoth in some way was different from everything else God created. It was the size of the creature, not the first thing God created; the angels and the universe preceded the creation of creatures.

Works Cited

Adam Clarke’s Commentary. CD-ROM. Seattle:  Biblesoft, 2006.

Barnes’ Notes. CD-ROM. Seattle:  Biblesoft, 2006.

Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle:  Biblesoft, 2006.

Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament. New Updated Edition. CD-ROM. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996.

“Behemoth.” Merriam-Webster. 2 Sep. 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/behemoth>.

Female Soloist at a Funeral

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Someone inquired whether it was proper for there to be a female soloist at a funeral. Presumably, the question implies the singing of a religious song at a funeral of a Christian and attended by church members, perhaps in the auditorium of the church’s meetinghouse. It is impossible to know all of the particulars that the one posing the question had in mind from the brief information provided.

First, a funeral is not precisely a worship service such as we experience upon the first day of each week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Prayers and singing hymns are worshipful activities, but a funeral is no more a worship service than is each of the meals that we eat daily because we preface them with prayers. Therefore, strictly speaking, strictures for congregational singing that are applicable to Sunday worship may not apply with the same force for a funeral, irrespective of the location or in what building it transpires.

However, to avoid confusing non-Christians who may be aware that we religiously refrain from instrumental music, solos, etc. in our worship periods, it may be prudent to abstain from any of those things in funerals. This may be especially true when the general public may construe it as a religious activity of the local church due to the number of members present, those officiating or the funeral commemoration occurring in the church’s meetinghouse. Even Christians may register a complaint through doubts or strongly held opinions.

Similarly, weddings, strictly speaking, are not equivalent to worship assemblies either, though sermons may be preached, Scriptures read, prayers offered and religious songs sung. Since the public may view it as incongruent with our firmly held beliefs, usually churches of Christ do not permit the use of instrumental music in their church buildings for weddings, though the leaders recognize that the proceeding is not worship. However, solos (e.g., bride or groom) are more likely to be sung at weddings than at funerals. Yet, there is materially no difference (i.e., other than sorrow on one hand and joy on the other hand) between the funeral and the wedding.

Some things are not wrong, but they may not be advisable. “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient…” (1 Corinthians 6:12 KJV). Yet, some things are a matter of judgment. For instance, there are some things that I might not do and that I do not like, but it may be a different matter of whether that thing I would not do is right or wrong according to the Word of God.

You Believe that You Are
the Only Ones Going to Heaven

I stopped at a fast-food joint following an evening preaching appointment many miles from home. Though I had dispensed already with my jacket and tie, perhaps my long-sleeved white shirt betrayed me as a preacher. A fellow diner in line ahead of me at the counter asked if I was a preacher, and I acknowledged that I was. Then, he asked for what church I preached. When I mentioned the church of Christ, he said, “So you’re one of those fellows who thinks that only the church of Christ is going to heaven!”

Sometimes the joke is told of new arrivals in heaven being given the grand tour by the apostle Peter. Upon approaching one chamber, Peter puts his finger to his lips and whispers, “Be very, very quiet because over there are members of the church of Christ, and they think that they are the only ones up here.”

Both the statement uttered by a fellow fast-food consumer and the little joke are attempts to ridicule and mock Christians. Spontaneously, I answered my new acquaintance at the restaurant, “Why would you say something so prejudicial and unkind?” He was taken aback and said, “What do you mean?”

I asked him, “Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?” He said, “Yes.” “I do, too!” I responded. “Do you have religious conviction based on what you read in the Bible?” I blurted out, which he also affirmed.

We must not be ashamed (Romans 1:16) to affirm and stand by the religious convictions that we have as a result of appreciating the Holy, inspired, inerrant Word of God and applying what it teaches to our lives. It is not our job to consign anyone else to a devil’s hell (James 4:11-12), but it is our job as Christians to save ourselves (Acts 2:40; Philippians 2:12) and take as many others with us (Mark 16:15-16; James 5:19-20) to heaven as we can persuade (2 Corinthians 5:10-11).

Understand, though, despite not being responsible for sentencing any soul to his or her eternal destiny, we may well teach truth seekers the difference between what is sinful (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) and what is truth (John 8:32). No, I don’t even think that all members of the churches of Christ are going to heaven (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23).

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