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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Would God listen to the prayer of someone else on a person's behalf more, or would it be the same as if the person prayed for themselves?

The Bible encourages us to offer prayers in behalf of others. The disciple James even wrote: "Pray for one another." - James 5:16.

The apostle Paul set a good example of this:

"To that very end indeed we always pray for YOU, that our God may count YOU worthy of [his] calling and perform completely all he pleases of goodness and the work of faith with power." - 2 Thess. 1:11

But the question is: "Would God listen to the prayer of someone else on a person's behalf more, or would it be the same as if the person prayed for themselves?"

Psalm 65:2 tells us that Jehovah is the "Hearer of prayer" and from the Scriptures above, we can be sure that he listens when prayers of those wholeheartedly devoted to Him pray for one another. Jehovah hears "the prayer of the righteous ones." - Proverbs 15:29. (See: The Bible's Viewpoint - Prayers That Are Heard by God)

So there are some questions that need to be asked about the person praying on behalf of another:

Are they "righteous" in God's eyes? Do they really know who they are praying to? Do they incorrectly believe that God is a Trinity? Do they incorrectly believe that Jesus is God instead of his Father? Do they incorrectly believe that God inhumanely allows eternal torment for unbelievers? Do they even know that God's name is (Jehovah)? And on and on. (See: What could make a person's prayers unacceptable to God?)

Which prayer would Jehovah logically be more receptive to: The one who really knows who God is and who has a personal relationship with, or the one who is praying for the "righteous" one but doesn't even know who they are praying to?

For more, see:
Prayer - Links to Information (Search For Bible Truths)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Extraterrestrials - What Does the Bible Indicate?

Astronomers have not discovered life of any kind in our solar system or in the cosmos beyond. Yet after considering the overwhelming size of the Universe, some have concluded that the odds are great that we are not alone. Also, some influential religious figures have insisted that God would not create any world without purpose and that all habitable worlds must therefore be inhabited.

But since no life has been discovered beyond our world thus far, are astronomers on solid ground when they assert that the universe is teeming with populated worlds? What does the Bible indicate on this matter? According to the Bible, is anyone out there? 

Spirit Creatures

According to the Bible, extraterrestrial life not only exists but exists in abundance. (Rev. 5:11; Matt. 26:53) It is more complex, more interesting, and more believable than anything that evolutionists, science-fiction writers, and moviemakers have dreamed up. After all, an extraterrestrial is simply a being who originates outside this earth and its atmosphere.

Scientists wonder if there might be life-forms beyond our ability to detect. The Bible assures us that such beings do indeed exist. But they are not the products of evolution. Like all life in the universe, in whatever form, they came from the Source of life, Jehovah God. He is a spirit Being, and he has created myriads of other spirit beings of different types: angels, cherubs, and seraphs. They perform different work and functions in his intricate heavenly organization. (Psalm 104:4; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 19:14)

What About Extraterrestrial Intelligent Physical Beings on Other Planets?

The Bible also gives us some indication as to whether or not other intelligent physical beings exist beyond the Earth. The Bible indicates that it is very unlikely that God at this point has created intelligent physical creatures on any planets other than our own. How so?

If God did create such intelligent physical beings, He most likely did so before He created Adam and Eve. Such beings either remained faithful to their Creator, or like Adam and Eve, they sinned and fell into imperfection.

But if they became imperfect, they needed a redeemer. One essayist put it: “One has this dreadful thought that on Friday [the day Jesus Christ was executed], every Friday, somewhere in the universe Jesus is being hanged high for someone’s sins.” But that is not Scriptural. The Bible tells us that Jesus “died with reference to sin once for all time.” (Romans 6:10)

But what if these beings had remained perfect? Well, when Adam and Eve sinned, they were, in effect, questioning God’s right to rule over a world of intelligent physical beings. If another planet existed at that time, a world full of intelligent physical beings who were living harmoniously and loyally under God’s rule, it would be reasonable for them to have been called in as witnesses to testify that God’s rule does indeed work.

So in this context, the Bible indicates that, considering the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, Earth is the only planet to which the Creator sent his only-begotten Son to become a man and die sacrificially to recover the planet’s inhabitants from sin and its penalty death. The Bible also shows that the Earth will be the only planet on which God, by means of his Son Jesus Christ, will have fought the ‘war of the great day of God the Almighty’ to show his power over all his enemies in heaven and on earth and to vindicate himself as the Universal Sovereign. (Rev. 16:14)

What About Non-intelligent Life on other Planets?

The Bible gives us no indication as to whether God created any non-intelligent life (i.e. animals, insects, vegetation, microbes) on other planets. Some subscribe to the theory of Abiogenesis which is defined as "living organisms (that) can arise spontaneously from inanimate matter". It is the idea that life arose naturally - by itself - from chemical compounds. However, if one truly considers the enormous odds of life spontaneously arising even under the most favorable of circumstances, it should give one pause to this theory. Scientists Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe estimate that the odds against life’s vital enzymes forming by chance is 1 in 10 to the 40,000th power (1 with 40,000 zeros after it). Scientists Feinberg and Shapiro go still further. In their book Life Beyond Earth, they put the odds against the material in an organic soup ever taking the first rudimentary steps toward life at 1 1 in 10 to the 1,000,000th power (1 with a million zeros after it). It also should be noted that Science, with even the best labs and equipment cannot even replicate on purpose what they claim happened by accident on Earth long ago. Certainly if there is any non-intelligent extraterrestrial life out there it is because God originally created it and not through the process of abiogenesis.

Would God Create The Universe Just to Accommodate Humans?

But if we are the only intelligent physical beings in the known Universe, does that mean, then, that God created all those countless billions of suns (and presumably billions of planets) for no purpose? Why, one may ask, would God create the entire Universe seemingly just to accommodate humans on Earth?

But consider, is it really so difficult to believe that God created the entire universe just for our benefit and wonder? After all, despite the enormity of the universe, it is still 'just' the mere "works of [His] fingers"! (Ps. 8:1) His vast power is so staggering to the imagination that His physical creation is but "the fringes of his ways". (Job 26:14) Putting it in this perspective, creating the entire universe just for us is comparatively insignificant when compared to how much God gave us in another way by means of allowing His own Son to die because of His love for us. (John 3:16,17)

But what would be the point of creating all of those countless billions of suns and planets if humans aren't even able to visit, explore or utilize them? First, while we understand that, considering the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, the earth is the only inhabited planet in the universe right now, what the future holds for us we do not know.

Another thing to consider is that the Bible points out that God "has put a sense of eternity in people's minds." (Ecclesiastes 3:11) - God's Word Translation. Because of this, God’s creation is so rich and complex that it constantly intrigues us and fills us with awe of Him. The universe is so grand that it serves as a constant reminder of how much there is to be learned from the One who created it and a desire to do so. It serves as a testament of "His eternal power and Godship" and gives us a glimpse of His "invisible [qualities]". (Rom. 1:20) NWT. Trying to grasp the sheer immensity of the Universe can, when seriously pondered, promote an overwhelming admiration and gratitude toward the One who has also given so much in another way by means of His Son on our behalf. (John 3:16,17) No doubt we could begin to feel as did the psalmist who wrote: “Many things you yourself have done, O Jehovah my God, even your wonderful works and your thoughts toward us; there is none to be compared to you. . . . They have become more numerous than I can recount.” (Psalm 40:5) NWT

For much more concerning Extraterrestrials, see the 4/8/90 Awake!

Also see: Life on Other Planets? (Jimspace)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Why Did David and Bath-sheba's Son Have to Die?

After David and Bath-sheba sinned, why did their son have to die, since Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:20 say that a son is not to die for his father's error?

David and Bath-sheba were both married persons when they committed adultery and she became pregnant. Their adultery was a grave sin punishable by death under God's law. (2 Samuel 11:1-5; Deuteronomy 5:18; 22:22) So if God had permitted them to be dealt with by humans under the Law, the son developing in her womb would have died with its mother. But Jehovah chose to handle their case differently, which "the Judge of all the earth" certainly had a right to do.—Genesis 18:25.

When confronted with his guilt, David acknowledged: "I have sinned against Jehovah." Then God's spokesman told David: "Jehovah, in turn, does let your sin pass by. You will not die." (2 Samuel 12:13) David was shown mercy because of the Kingdom covenant. Moreover, since God is able to read hearts, he must have evaluated the genuineness of David's repentance and concluded that there was a basis for extending mercy to David and Bath-sheba. Yet they would not escape all the deserts of their error. They were told: "Notwithstanding this, because you have unquestionably treated Jehovah with disrespect by this thing, also the son himself, just born to you, will positively die."—2 Samuel 12:14.

God `dealt a blow' involving their child to whom they were not entitled; the boy became sick and died. A person today might tend to focus on the child's death and feel that a harsh judgment was executed. However, it is good to bear in mind that had the adultery been handled by and proved before human judges under the Law, all three (David, Bath-sheba, and the son in her womb) would have lost their lives. Viewed in that light, God's permitting two of them to survive was merciful. Furthermore, at this late date we do not have all the facts, such as information about the health of the infant immediately after birth. We can, nonetheless, accept God's handling of the matter, confident that what he did was impartial, wise, and righteous. Even David later acknowledged: "As for the true God, perfect is his way."—2 Samuel 22:31; compare Job 34:12; Isaiah 55:11.

That is consistent with David's reaction after he heard God's judgment. While the child was sick, David grieved and fasted. But once death occurred, David appreciated that the matter had ended. (2 Samuel 12:22, 23) So, trusting God's judgment, David proceeded to comfort Bath-sheba (now his legal wife), assuring her that their marriage relationship would continue. Later Solomon was born to them and became David's successor." -Watchtower 3/15/86


(Because the Bible does not fully inform us as to who God will definitely provide the hope of a resurrection to, the following additional comments have certain words that are highlighted in bold to emphasize that this is what the Bible indicates on the matter.)

Highlighted above (in blue) are the passages where it stated that if humans dealt with this matter, not only would Bath-sheba and David be killed, but the unborn child would have been as well. If that happened, would the unborn child have had the possibility of a resurrection?

Resurrection implies a raising to life again. The examples in the Bible of persons raised to human life again indicate that the person comes back to life with the same degree of physical and mental growth possessed at death. (2 Ki. 4:17-36; Acts 20:9-12) Applying that to miscarriages and stillborn deliveries, is it reasonable that in the future Jehovah will insert back into the womb of a woman a partially developed embryo, or possibly a number of them? No, that does not seem so, nor is it likely that women who have had this sad experience actually expect that.

Also, resurrection is for persons who have lived as individuals before Jehovah. Even a child who lives for only a short time after birth has existed as a separate person. But a miscarried fetus or stillborn child, though from a Biblical standpoint considered a "soul" while it was developing, never actually lived as a separate and distinct individual. So it would appear that such situations do not fall under the resurrection provision outlined in the Bible.—Acts 24:15.

With this mentioned, it is interesting that God, in the case of David and Bath-sheba, allowed the child to have been born first before the child died thus perhaps providing the hope of a resurrection. We cannot comprehend fully the mind of Jehovah because His thoughts are higher than ours, but we do know that "We can, nonetheless, accept God's handling of the matter, confident that what He did was impartial, wise, and righteous. Even David later acknowledged: "As for the true God, perfect is his way."—2 Samuel 22:31"