Category: Bible: Q & A

Throughout the early history of Israel, we find references to the Ammonite  people. Who were they, where did they come from, and what happened to them? The  Ammonites were a Semitic people, closely related to the Israelites. Despite that  relationship, they were more often counted enemies than friends.

Lot,  Abraham’s nephew, was the progenitor of the Ammonites. After Abraham and Lot  separated (Genesis 13), Lot settled in the city of Sodom. When God destroyed  Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness, Lot and his daughters fled to  the hill country on the southern end of the Dead Sea. Probably thinking they  were the only people left on the earth, Lot’s daughters got him drunk and had  incestuous relations with him to produce children (Genesis  19:37-38). The older daughter had a son named Moab (“from father”), and the  younger gave birth to Ben-Ammi (“son of my people”).  The Ammonites, descendants  of Ben-Ammi, were a nomadic people who lived in the territory of modern-day  Jordan, and the name of the capital city, Amman, reflects the name of those  ancient inhabitants.

In the time of Moses, the fertile plains of the  Jordan River valley were occupied by the Amorites, Ammonites and Moabites. When  Israel left Egypt, the Ammonites refused to assist them in any way, and God  punished them for their lack of support (Deuteronomy 23:3-4). Later, however, as the Israelites  entered the Promised Land, God instructed them, “When you approach the territory  of the people of Ammon, do not harass them or contend with them, for I will not  give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession, because I have  given it to the sons of Lot for a possession” (Deuteronomy  2:19). The Israelite tribes of Gad, Reuben, and half of Manasseh claimed the  Amorite territory bordering that of the Ammonites.

The Ammonites were a  pagan people who worshiped the gods Milcom and  Molech. God commanded the  Israelites not to marry these pagans, because intermarriage would lead the  Israelites to worship false gods. Solomon disobeyed and married Naamah the  Ammonite (1 Kings  14:21), and, as God had warned, he was drawn into idolatry (1 Kings 11:1-8). Molech  was a fire-god with the face of a calf; his images had arms outstretched to  receive the babies who were sacrificed to him. Like their god, the Ammonites  were cruel. When Nahash the Ammonite was asked for terms of a treaty (1 Samuel 11:2), he  proposed gouging out the right eye of each Israelite man. Amos 1:13 says that the Ammonites would rip open pregnant  women in the territories they conquered.

Under King Saul’s leadership,  Israel defeated the Ammonites and made them vassals. David continued that  sovereignty over Ammon and later besieged the capital city to solidify his  control. After the split of Israel and Judah, the Ammonites began to ally  themselves with the enemies of Israel. Ammon regained some sovereignty in the  seventh century B.C., until Nebuchadnezzar conquered them about a hundred years  later.  Tobiah the Ammonite (Nehemiah  2:19) was possibly a governor of the region under Persian rule, but the  inhabitants were a mix of Ammonites, Arabs, and others. By New Testament times,  Jews had settled in the area, and it was known as Perea. The last mention of  Ammonites as a separate people was in the second century by Justin Martyr, who  said they were very numerous. Sometime during the Roman period, the Ammonites  seem to have been absorbed into Arab society.

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The word “Bible” comes from the Latin and Greek words meaning “book,” a fitting  name, since the Bible is the book for all people, for all time. It’s a book like  no other, in a class by itself.

Sixty-six different books comprise the  Bible. They include books of law, such as Leviticus and Deuteronomy; historical  books, such as Ezra and Acts; books of poetry, such as Psalms and Ecclesiastes;  books of prophecy, such as Isaiah and Revelation; biographies, such as Matthew  and John; and epistles (formal letters) such as Titus and Hebrews.

What is the Bible? – The Authors
About 40 different  human authors contributed to the Bible, which was written over a period of about  1500 years. The authors were kings, fishermen, priests, government officials,  farmers, shepherds, and doctors. From all this diversity comes an incredible  unity, with common themes woven throughout.

The Bible’s unity is due to  the fact that, ultimately, it has one Author—God Himself. The Bible is  “God-breathed” (2 Timothy  3:16). The human authors wrote exactly what God wanted them to write, and  the result was the perfect and holy Word of God (Psalm 12:62 Peter  1:21).

What is the Bible? – The Divisions
The  Bible is divided into two main parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament.  In short, the Old Testament is the story of a nation, and the New Testament is  the story of a Man. The nation was God’s way of bringing the Man—Jesus  Christ—into the world.

The Old Testament describes the founding and  preservation of the nation of Israel. God promised to use Israel to bless the  whole world (Genesis  12:2-3). Once Israel was established as a nation, God raised up a family  within that nation through whom the blessing would come: the family of David (Psalm 89:3-4). Then, from  the family of David was promised one Man who would bring the promised blessing  (Isaiah  11:1-10).

The New Testament details the coming of that promised Man.  His name was Jesus, and He fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament as He  lived a perfect life, died to become the Savior, and rose from the dead.

What is the Bible? – The Central Character
Jesus is  the central character in the Bible—the whole book is really about Him. The Old  Testament predicts His coming and sets the stage for His entrance into the  world. The New Testament describes His coming and His work to bring salvation to  our sinful world.

Jesus is more than a historical figure; in fact, He  is more than a man. He is God in the flesh, and His coming was the most  important event in the history of the world. God Himself became a man in order  to give us a clear, understandable picture of who He is. What is God like? He is  like Jesus; Jesus is God in human form (John 1:14, 14:9).

What is  the Bible? – A Brief Summary
God created man and placed him in a  perfect environment; however, man rebelled against God and fell from what God  intended him to be. God placed the world under a curse because of sin but  immediately set in motion a plan to restore humanity and all creation to its  original glory.

As part of His plan of redemption, God called Abraham  out of Babylonia into Canaan (about 2000 B.C.). God promised Abraham, his son  Isaac, and his grandson Jacob (also called Israel) that He would bless the world  through a descendant of theirs. Israel’s family emigrated from Canaan to Egypt,  where they grew to be a nation.

About 1400 B.C., God led Israel’s  descendants out of Egypt under the direction of Moses and gave them the Promised  Land, Canaan, as their own. Through Moses, God gave the people of Israel the Law  and made a covenant (testament) with them. If they would remain faithful to God  and not follow the idolatry of the surrounding nations, then they would prosper.  If they forsook God and followed idols, then God would destroy their  nation.

About 400 years later, during the reigns of David and his son  Solomon, Israel was solidified into a great and powerful kingdom. God promised  David and Solomon that a descendant of theirs would rule as an everlasting  king.

After Solomon’s reign, the nation of Israel was divided. The ten  tribes to the north were called “Israel,” and they lasted about 200 years before  God judged them for their idolatry. Assyria took Israel captive about 721 B.C.  The two tribes in the south were called “Judah,” and they lasted a little  longer, but eventually they, too, turned from God. Babylon took them captive  about 600 B.C.

About 70 years later, God graciously brought a remnant of  the captives back into their own land. Jerusalem, the capital, was rebuilt about  444 B.C., and Israel once again established a national identity. Thus, the Old  Testament closes.

The New Testament opens about 400 years later with the  birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Jesus was the descendant promised to Abraham  and David, the One to fulfill God’s plan to redeem mankind and restore creation.  Jesus faithfully completed His work—He died for sin and rose from the dead. The  death of Christ is the basis for a new covenant (testament) with the world. All  who have faith in Jesus will be saved from sin and live eternally.

After  His resurrection, Jesus sent His disciples to spread the news everywhere of His  life and His power to save. Jesus’ disciples went in every direction spreading  the good news of Jesus and salvation. They traveled through Asia Minor, Greece,  and all the Roman Empire. The New Testament closes with a prediction of Jesus’  return to judge the unbelieving world and free creation from the curse.

We have a few basic ways of knowing when the individual books of the Bible were written: a combination of internal and external evidence and, particularly in the Old Testament, traditional accounts.
Internal evidence might consist of the style of writing and mentions of people or places who can be more precisely dated. For example, while the book of Ruth is set during the time of the judges, scholars place the literary style as that of the time of the Israelite monarchy—the Kings—based on other writings more accurately dated to that time. The mention of David (Ruth 4:17, 22) also implies a date some time after David’s reign.
Another example: the book of Daniel uses a literary style and specific Persian and Greek words that place it around the time of Cyrus the Great (ca. 530 B.C.). Linguistic evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls gives us authentically dated examples of Hebrew and Aramaic writing from the second and third centuries B.C., when some claim Daniel was written, and it does not match that found in Daniel, which was written in the sixth century B.C.
Other internal evidence might be the concerns the author is addressing. For example, the two books of Chronicles tell the history of the Jewish people and how they came under God’s judgment in the form of the exile to Babylon. Traditionally, scholars have believed Ezra to be the author of these books, because the following two books, Ezra and Nehemiah (also written by Ezra), deal with the return from exile and the need to be obedient to God’s law, and they are written in nearly the same literary style.
The date of that return, which began under Cyrus the Great, can be correlated to historical records outside the Bible that place his reign from approximately 559 to 530 B.C. The dedication of the new temple in Jerusalem, in 516 B.C., is corroborated by the records of Darius I, and a second return of exiles was allowed under Artaxerxes I, whom we know ruled Babylon from 465 to 424 B.C. All these things help us to closely place the writings of those particular books of the Old Testament. Biblical scholars use similar cross-referencing to date other books of the Old Testament.
In the New Testament, books are generally dated by the concerns being addressed, e.g., the growing Gnostic heresy, and how much they quote from other New Testament writings and a cross-referencing of events such as the collection for the needy in Jerusalem discussed in Romans and 1 and 2 Corinthians. We also have historical, extra-biblical accounts such as that by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus to corroborate events described in the Bible.
The Gospels are often dated by something that is not mentioned: Jesus predicted the fall of Jerusalem in Matthew 24:1-2, and we know from historians such as Josephus that the city fell in A.D. 70. It seems logical that if such a prominent prophecy had been fulfilled before the writing of the Gospels that it would have been mentioned, as is the fulfilled prophecy of Christ’s resurrection as found in John 2:19, 22.
It’s important to note that even among scholars who believe the Bible to be God’s inspired, inerrant Word there is some disagreement as to the exact dating of the biblical books. A good study Bible such as The NIV Study Bible or a commentary will lay out the various lines of evidence for the dating of the books.

This is a two-part question. The first part is “Did God know Satan would rebel and Adam and Eve would sin?” The answer lies in what the Bible teaches about God’s knowledge. We know from Scripture that God is omniscient, which literally means “all-knowing.” Job 37:16; Psalm 139:2-4, 147:5; Proverbs 5:21; Isaiah 46:9-10; and 1 John 3:19-20 leave no doubt that God’s knowledge is infinite and that He knows everything that has happened in the past, is happening now, and will happen in the future.

Looking at some of the superlatives in these verses—“perfect in knowledge”; “his understanding has no limit”; “he knows everything”—it is clear that God’s knowledge is not merely greater than our own, but it is infinitely greater. He knows all things in totality. Isaiah 46:10 declares He not only knows everything, but He controls everything as well. How else could He “make known” to us what would happen in the future and state unequivocally that His plans will come to pass? So, did God know that Adam and Eve were going to sin? Did He know Lucifer would rebel against Him and become Satan? Yes! Absolutely! Were they out of His control at any time? Absolutely not. If God’s knowledge is not perfect, then there is a deficiency in His nature. Any deficiency in God’s nature means He cannot be God, for God’s very essence requires the perfection of all His attributes. Therefore, the answer to the first question must, by necessity, be “yes.”

Moving on to the second part of the question, “Why did God create Satan and Adam and Eve knowing ahead of time they were going to sin?” This question is a little trickier because we are asking a “why” question to which the Bible does not usually provide comprehensive answers. Despite that, we should be able to come to a limited understanding if we examine some biblical passages. To begin, we have already seen that God is omniscient and nothing can happen outside of His knowledge. So, if God knew that Satan would rebel and fall from heaven and that Adam and Eve would sin, yet He created them anyway, it must mean that the fall of mankind was part of God’s sovereign plan from the beginning. No other answer makes sense given what we have been saying thus far.

Now we must be careful to note that Adam and Eve falling into sin does not mean that God is the author of sin, nor that he tempted Adam and Eve to sin (James 1:13). The fall serves the purpose of God’s overall plan for creation and mankind. This, again, must be the case, or else the fall of mankind would never have happened.

If we consider what some theologians call the “meta-narrative” (or overarching story line) of Scripture, we see that biblical history can be roughly divided into three main sections: 1) paradise (Genesis 1–2); 2) paradise lost (Genesis 3 – Revelation 20); and 3) paradise regained (Revelation 21–22). By far the largest part of the narrative is devoted to moving from paradise lost to paradise regained. At the center of this meta-narrative is the cross. The cross was planned from the very beginning (Acts 2:23). It was foreknown and foreordained that Christ would go to the cross and give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28)—those chosen by God’s foreknowledge and predestined to be His people (Ephesians 1:4-5).

Reading Scripture very carefully and taking what has been said so far, we are led to the following conclusions:

1. The rebellion of Satan and the fall of mankind were foreknown and foreordained by God.

2. Those who would become the people of God, the elect, were foreknown and foreordained by God.

3. The crucifixion of Christ, as atonement for God’s people, was foreknown and foreordained by God.

So, we are left with the following questions: Why create mankind with the knowledge of the fall? Why create mankind knowing that only some would be “saved?” Why send Jesus knowingly to die for a people that knowingly fell into sin? From man’s perspective, it does not make sense. If the meta-narrative moves from paradise, to paradise lost, to paradise regained, why not just go straight to paradise regained and avoid the whole paradise lost interlude?

The only conclusion we can come to, in view of the above assertions, is that God’s purpose was to create a world in which His glory could be manifest in all its fullness. The glory of God is the overarching goal of creation. In fact, it is the overarching goal of everything He does. The universe was created to display God’s glory (Psalm 19:1), and the wrath of God is revealed against those who fail to glorify God (Romans 1:23). Our sin causes us to fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), and in the new heaven and new earth, the glory of God is what will provide light (Revelation 21:23). The glory of God is manifest when His attributes are on perfect display, and the story of redemption is part of that.

The best place to see this in Scripture is Romans 9:19-24. Wrath and mercy display the riches of God’s glory, and you cannot get either without the fall of mankind. Therefore, all of these actions—fall, election, redemption, atonement—serve the purpose of glorifying God. When man fell into sin, God’s mercy was immediately displayed in not killing him on the spot. God’s patience and forbearance were also on display as mankind fell deeper into sin prior to the flood. God’s justice and wrath were on display as He executed judgment during the flood, and God’s mercy and grace were demonstrated as He saved Noah and his family. God’s wrath and justice will be revealed in the future when He deals with Satan once and for all (Revelation 20:7-10).

The ultimate exhibition of God’s glory was at the cross where His wrath, justice, and mercy met. The righteous judgment of all sin was executed at the cross, and God’s grace was on display in pouring His wrath for sin on His Son, Jesus, instead of on us. God’s love and grace are on display in those whom He has saved (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). In the end, God will be glorified as His chosen people worship Him for all eternity with the angels, and the wicked will also glorify God as His justice and righteousness will finally be vindicated by the eternal punishment of all unrepentant sinners (Philippians 2:11). None of this could have come to pass without the rebellion of Satan and the fall of Adam and Eve.

The classic objection to this position is that God’s foreknowledge and foreordination of the fall damages man’s freedom. In other words, if God created mankind with full knowledge of the impending fall into sin, how can man be responsible for his sin? The best answer to this question can be found in the Westminster Confession of Faith chapter III:

“God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established” (WFC, III.1)

What this is saying is that God ordains future events in such a way that our freedom and the working of secondary causes (e.g., laws of nature) are preserved. Theologians call this “concurrence.” God’s sovereign will flows concurrently with our free choices in such a way that our free choices always result in the carrying out of God’s will (by “free choices” we mean that our choices are not coerced by outside influences).

To summarize, God knew that Satan would rebel and that Adam and Eve would sin in the Garden of Eden. With that knowledge, God still created Lucifer and Adam and Eve because creating them and ordaining the fall was part of His sovereign plan to manifest His glory in all its fullness. Even though the fall was foreknown and foreordained, our freedom in making choices is not violated because our free choices are the means by which God’s will is carried out.

If “free will” means that God gives humans the opportunity to make choices that genuinely affect their destiny, then yes, human beings do have a free will. The world’s current sinful state is directly linked to choices made by Adam and Eve. God created mankind in His own image, and that included the ability to choose.

However, free will does not mean that mankind can do anything he pleases. Our choices are limited to what is in keeping with our nature. For example, a man may choose to walk across a bridge or not to walk across it; what he may not choose is to fly over the bridge—his nature prevents him from flying. In a similar way, a man cannot choose to make himself righteous—his (sin) nature prevents him from canceling his guilt (Romans 3:23). So, free will is limited by nature.

This limitation does not mitigate our accountability. The Bible is clear that we not only have the ability to choose, we also have the responsibility to choose wisely. In the Old Testament, God chose a nation (Israel), but individuals within that nation still bore an obligation to choose obedience to God. And individuals outside of Israel were able to choose to believe and follow God as well (e.g., Ruth and Rahab).

In the New Testament, sinners are commanded over and over to “repent” and “believe” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Acts 3:19; 1 John 3:23). Every call to repent is a call to choose. The command to believe assumes that the hearer can choose to obey the command.

Jesus identified the problem of some unbelievers when He told them, “You refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:40). Clearly, they could have come if they wanted to; their problem was they chose not to. “A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7), and those who are outside of salvation are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20-21).

But how can man, limited by a sin nature, ever choose what is good? It is only through the grace and power of God that free will truly becomes “free” in the sense of being able to choose salvation (John 15:16). It is the Holy Spirit who works in and through a person’s will to regenerate that person (John 1:12-13) and give him/her a new nature “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Salvation is God’s work. At the same time, our motives, desires, and actions are voluntary, and we are rightly held responsible for them.

Genesis chapter 10, commonly known as the Table of Nations, is a list of the patriarchal founders of seventy nations which descended from Noah through his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. Twenty-six of the seventy descended from Shem, thirty from Ham and fourteen from Japheth. The 32nd verse sums up the chapter succinctly: “These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations; and out of these the nations were separated on the earth after the flood.” Chapter 11 recounts their division at Babel.

The text seems to imply, though it never explicitly states, that the list was intended to be an exhaustive account. It has traditionally been interpreted as such. Nevertheless, this interpretation is speculative.

All of the Biblical genealogies are abridged. Key historical figures are included while “lesser,” or less culturally relevant, siblings are left out. It is possible that such is the case for the Table of Nations. The compiler of the Table may have focused his ethnology on the nations most significant to his own nation at the time of the Table’s compilation, while neglecting the founders of other far-flung, perhaps even long-forgotten nations. While every nation is ultimately related to every other nation through Noah, this ancestral tie does not indefinitely perpetuate mutual cultural significance among his descendants. As the old adage goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

While some of the nations listed are easily identifiable, some remain obscure. Numerous scholars have attempted to identify these unknown nations with varying degrees of success. Due to the archaic nature of the source material, there remains considerable ambiguity.

The accuracy of the Table has been called into question by the fact that some of the relationships described do not match up with modern comparative linguistics. For example, the Elamites are said to have descended from Shem, yet their language was not Semitic. The Canaanites are said to have descended from Ham, yet their language was Semitic.

This objection assumes that these languages never experienced any dramatic change. The region’s history seems to suggest that this is a dubious assumption. The cultures of the region were constantly subject to migrations and invasions by foreign powers. The conquering empires often imposed their language and culture upon the vanquished.

The Hellenizing of the Persian Empire following Alexander the Great’s conquest is a classic example. Or consider the Israelites, who primarily spoke ancient Hebrew up until the Babylonian captivity and the Persian conquest. Then they adopted Aramaic, the official language of the Persian Empire. The Jewish Talmud was written in Aramaic, as were large portions of the books of Daniel and Ezra. Aramaic is thought to have been Jesus’ native language. Following Alexander’s conquest of Persia, the Jews adopted Greek as a second language. As a result, all of the New Testament was written in Greek. The languages of the region were not static.

The Hebrews invaded and conquered Canaan long before the Greeks, Persians and Babylonians. Is it any wonder that the Canaanites of the region adopted a Semitic language almost identical to ancient Hebrew? As for the Elamites, if we want to make a case from Elamite we have to start with proto-Elamite. Proto-Elamite remains undeciphered, so it cannot form the basis for a polemic against the Table of Nations. There is no evidence that the later, non-Semitic Elamite underlies proto-Elamite, and we do not know what influences may have altered the language at any time.

Another objection to the Table of Nations is that several of the nations listed do not appear in the historical record (as we have it today) until as late as the first millennium B.C. This has led some critical scholars to date the Table no earlier than 7th century B.C.

This is a recurring criticism of the Bible. Rather than give the Bible the benefit of the doubt whenever it mentions a city or culture that doesn’t appear anywhere else in the historical record, or whenever it places a culture in an era that antedates any other record we have from our other limited sources, critics generally assume that the biblical authors were either disingenuous or ignorant. Such was the case for the ancient metropolis of Nineveh and the ancient Hittite civilization of the Levant, both of which were rediscovered in modern times, in the 19th and 20th centuries, respectively, in a remarkable vindication of the Bible’s historical witness. The fact of the matter is our knowledge of ancient cultures is extremely fragmented and often dependent upon key assumptions. It is therefore speculative to argue that the Table of Nations was written so late based solely on the fact that some of the nations mentioned appear nowhere else than in later historical records.

One final objection concerns the fact that Nimrod is said to have been a son of Cush (10:8), who is believed to have founded Nubia just south of Egypt. Yet Nimrod established several cities in Mesopotamia that show no sign of Nubian origin (10:8-12). Does this mean, as some critics claim, that the Table is therefore manifestly wrong, either about Nimrod’s lineage or his role in establishing the Mesopotamian cities?

Skeptics who make this argument overlook the fact that Cush also fathered the founders of at least six Arabian nations (10:7), none of which show signs of Nubian origin. This is because Nubia developed along its own cultural path over many generations. Nimrod was an immediate son of Cush. We have no reason to expect him or the cities he helped establish to show any sign of Nubian origin.

In summary, the Table of Nations presents the biblical, ethnological view that all nations descend from Noah through three of his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. It is not known whether the list of seventy was meant to be exhaustive or if there were some nations left out, intentionally or accidentally. The accuracy of what we do know about the Table has been called into question by skeptics whose polemical objections tend to be defective and insubstantial. Due to the archaic nature of the source material, the veracity of the Table ultimately remains undeterminable. In the end, those who accept it do so by faith, taking it for granted as part of a larger, justifiable perspective. Those who reject it essentially do so for the same reasons.

The Bible does not explicitly give us the origin of the different “races” or skin colors in humanity. In actuality, there is only one race—the human race. Within the human race is diversity in skin color and other physical characteristics. Some speculate that when God confused the languages at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), He also created racial diversity. It is possible that God made genetic changes to humanity to better enable people to survive in different ecologies, such as the darker skin of Africans being better equipped genetically to survive the excessive heat in Africa. According to this view, God confused the languages, causing humanity to segregate linguistically, and then created genetic racial differences based on where each racial group would eventually settle. While possible, there is no explicit biblical basis for this view. The races/skin colors of humanity are nowhere mentioned in connection with the tower of Babel.

At the Tower of Babel, when the different languages came into existence, groups that spoke one language moved away with others of the same language. In doing so, the gene pool for a specific group shrank dramatically as the group no longer had the entire human population to mix with. Closer inbreeding took place, and in time certain features were emphasized in these different groups (all of which were present as a possibility in the genetic code). As further inbreeding occurred through the generations, the gene pool grew smaller and smaller, to the point that people of one language family all had the same or similar features.

Another explanation is that Adam and Eve possessed the genes to produce black, brown, and white offspring (and everything else in between). This would be similar to how a mixed-race couple sometimes has children that vary in color. Since God obviously desired humanity to be diverse in appearance, it makes sense that God would have given Adam and Eve the ability to produce children of different skin tones. Later, the only survivors of the flood were Noah and his wife, Noah’s three sons and their wives—eight people in all (Genesis 7:13). Perhaps Noah’s daughters-in-law were of different races. It is also possible that Noah’s wife was of a different race than Noah. Maybe all eight of them were of mixed race, which would mean they possessed the genetics to produce children of different races. Whatever the explanation, the most important aspect of this question is that we are all the same race, all created by the same God, all created for the same purpose—to glorify Him.

The Tower of Babel is described in Genesis 11:1-9. After the Flood, God commanded humanity to “increase in number and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). Humanity decided to do the exact opposite, “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth’” (Genesis 11:4). Humanity decided to build a great city and all congregate there. They decided to build a gigantic tower as a symbol of their power, to make a name for themselves (Genesis 11:4). This tower is remembered as the Tower of Babel.

In response, God confused the languages of humanity so that they could no longer communicate with each other (Genesis 11:7). The result was that people congregated with other people who spoke the same language, and then went together and settled in other parts of the world (Genesis 11:8-9). God confused the languages at the Tower of Babel to enforce His command for humanity to spread throughout the entire world.

Some Bible teachers also believe that God created the different races of humanity at the Tower of Babel. This is possible, but it is not taught in the biblical text. On the origin of the races, please read What is the origin of Different-Races and also What is the Table of Nations. It seems more likely that the different races existed prior to the Tower of Babel and that God confused the languages at least partially based on the different races. From the Tower of Babel, humanity divided based on language (and possibly race) and settled in various parts of the world.

Genesis 10:5, 20 and 31 describe Noah’s descendants spreading out over the earth “by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.” How is this possible since God did not confuse the languages until the Tower of Babel in Genesis chapter 11? Genesis 10 lists the descendants of Noah’s three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. It lists their descendants for several generations. With the long life spans of that time (see Genesis 11:10-25), the genealogies in Genesis 10 likely cover several hundreds of years. The Tower of Babel account, told in Genesis 11:1-9, is a “flashback” to the point in Genesis 10 when the languages were confused. Genesis 10 tells us of different languages. Genesis 11 tells us how the different languages originated.

Before we explore the difference between religion and spirituality, we must first define the two terms. Religion can be defined as “belief in God or gods to be worshipped, usually expressed in conduct and ritual” or “any specific system of belief, worship, etc., often involving a code of ethics.” Spirituality can be defined as “the quality or fact of being spiritual, non-physical” or  “predominantly spiritual character as shown in thought, life, etc.; spiritual tendency or tone.” To put it briefly, religion is a set of beliefs and rituals that claim to get a person in a right relationship with God, and spirituality is a focus on spiritual things and the spiritual world instead of physical/earthly

The most common misconception about religion is that Christianity is just another religion like Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. Sadly, many who claim to be adherents of Christianity do practice Christianity as if it were a religion. To many, Christianity is nothing more than a set of rules and rituals that a person has to observe in order to go to heaven after death. That is not true Christianity. True Christianity is not a religion; rather, it is having a right relationship with God by receiving Jesus Christ as the Savior-Messiah, by grace through faith. Yes, Christianity does have “rituals” to observe (e.g., baptism and communion). Yes, Christianity does have “rules” to follow (e.g., do not murder, love one another, etc.). However, these rituals and rules are not the essence of Christianity. The rituals and rules of Christianity are the result of salvation. When we receive salvation through Jesus Christ, we are baptized as a proclamation of that faith. We observe communion in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice. We follow a list of do’s and don’ts out of love for God and gratitude for what He has done.

The most common misconception about spirituality is that there are many forms of spirituality, and all are equally valid. Meditating in unusual physical positions, communing with nature, seeking conversation with the spirit world, etc., may seem to be “spiritual,” but they are in fact false spirituality. True spirituality is possessing the Holy Spirit of God as a result of receiving salvation through Jesus Christ. True spirituality is the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in a person’s life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  Spirituality is all about becoming more like God, who is spirit (John 4:24) and having our character conformed to His image (Romans 12:1-2).

What religion and spirituality have in common is that they both can be false methods of having a relationship with God. Religion tends to substitute the heartless observance of rituals for a genuine relationship with God. Spirituality tends to substitute connection with the spirit world for a genuine relationship with God. Both can be, and often are, false paths to God.
At the same time, religion can be valuable in the sense that it points to the fact that there is a God and that we are somehow accountable to Him. The only true value of religion is its ability to point out that we have fallen short and are in need of a Savior. Spirituality can be valuable in that it points out that the physical world is not all there is. Human beings are not only material, but also possess a soul-spirit. There is a spiritual world around us of which we should be aware. The true value of spirituality is that it points to the fact that there is something and someone beyond this physical world to which we need to connect.

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of both religion and spirituality. Jesus is the One to whom we are accountable and to whom true religion points. Jesus is the One to whom we need to connect and the One to whom true spirituality points. Are you interested in discovering true religion and true spirituality? Then ask our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to come into your life today.

The  phrase “the time of Jacob’s trouble” is a quote from Jeremiah 30:7 which says,  “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of  Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it” (KJV).

In the previous  verses of Jeremiah 30, we find that the Lord is speaking to Jeremiah the prophet  about Judah and Israel (30:3-4). In verse 3, the Lord promises that one day in  the future, He will bring both Judah and Israel back to the land that He had  promised their forefathers. Verse 5 describes a time of great fear and  trembling. Verse 6 describes this time in a way that pictures men going through  the pains of childbirth, again indicating a time of agony. But there is hope for  Judah and Israel, for though this is called “the time of Jacob’s distress”  (NASB), the Lord promises He will save Jacob (referring to Judah and Israel) out  of this time of great trouble (verse 7).

In Jeremiah  30:10-11 the Lord says, “‘I will surely save you out of a distant place,  your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and  security, and no one will make him afraid. I am with you and will save you,’  declares the LORD.”

Also, the Lord says He will destroy the nations who  held Judah and Israel in captivity, and He will never allow Jacob to be  completely destroyed. However, it should be noted that the Lord describes this  as a time of discipline for His people. He says of Jacob, “Though I completely  destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy  you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely  unpunished.”

Jeremiah  30:7 says, “That day is great, so that none is like it.” The only time  period that fits this description is the period of the Tribulation. This time is  unparalleled in history.

Jesus described the Tribulation using some of  the same imagery as Jeremiah. In Matthew  24:6-8, He stated that the appearance of false christs, wars and rumors of  wars, famines, and earthquakes are “the beginning of birth pains.”

Paul, too, described the Tribulation as birth pains. First Thessalonians  5:3 says, “While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will  come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not  escape.” This event follows the Rapture and the removal of the Church, in  4:13-18. In 5:9, Paul reemphasizes the absence of the Church from this time  period by saying, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining  salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The wrath spoken of here is God’s  judgment on the unbelieving world and His discipline of Israel during the  Tribulation.

These “birth pains” are described in detail in Revelation  6-12 Part of the purpose of the Tribulation is to bring Israel back to the  Lord.

For those who have received Christ as Savior from sin, the time of  Jacob’s trouble is something for which we should praise the Lord, for it  demonstrates that God keeps His promises. He has promised us eternal life  through Christ our Lord, and He has promised land, seed, and blessing to Abraham  and his physical descendants. However, before He fulfills those promises, He  will lovingly but firmly discipline the nation of Israel so that they return to  Him.