News | Page 6 | Tomorrow's World

News

Catholic and Orthodox Churches Reuniting on Easter Date?



Tomorrow’s World watches ecumenical developments in Christendom and has done so for decades. What is ecumenism?

Weeds Are Taking Over!



Continuing research is demonstrating that farmers in the Great Plains of the United States—America’s “bread basket”—are losing the battle against weeds (Reuters, January 16, 2024). Once-powerful herbicides are increasingly less effective. Twenty-one weed species globally are already “showing resistance to dicamba, the most recent major U.S.

When Wars Will Cease



What would happen if nations of the globe stopped fighting wars? How would this change the world, economies, and societies? Most people on earth long for a time when there will be no more war, but will that ever happen? The biblical prophet Isaiah wrote about such a future: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). According to the Bible, a time of no more war will eventually come.

Your Questions, the Bible’s Answers! Part 3

With hard questions about Cain, the commandments, Enoch and Elijah, Wallace Smith answers using these Bible study principles: looking at clear verses to explain hard Bible verses, context, and all scriptures on a topic.

[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]

Three Hard Questions About Scripture

We live in an amazing time where the Bible, God’s word, is one of the most widely available books on the planet. Whether on a bookshelf in your home or on an app on your phone, most of us have a Bible easily within reach.

But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to understand. The truths of the Bible are simple, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still have questions.

The good news is that God has answers! Join us on this episode of Tomorrow’s World for another installment of “Your Questions, the Bible’s Answers!” as we tackle three common and challenging questions and answer them directly from the pages of your Bible!

Who Was Cain’s Wife?

Greetings! Welcome to Tomorrow’s World, where we help you make sense of your world through the pages of the Bible.

You know, the Bible isn’t just a book—it’s the inspired word of God. The night before He was crucified, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, told His Father in prayer, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

However, that doesn’t mean it is always easy to understand. And—when you think about it—why should the Bible always be easy to understand? Its words are intended to convey to us the mind of God! And as our Creator tells us in Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.”

Yet the Bible can be understood with God’s help and a little effort. And comprehending God’s word is worth that effort!

But today, we’re going to focus on three specific Bible questions and, in each case, not only explain the Bible’s answer, but also highlight the broader principles you can use in the future to answer Bible questions for yourself.

Our three questions today are:

  1. Where did Cain get his wife?
  2. Which are the right “Ten Commandments”?
  3. (And) Are Enoch and Elijah in heaven?

So, let’s get started!

Our first question is a favorite of atheists who seek to discredit the Bible, but also a legitimate question sometimes asked by sincere people simply trying to understand.

Genesis 1 and 2 are plain that the first human beings God created were Adam and Eve. And Genesis 4 speaks of their sons, Cain and Abel: “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, ‘I have acquired a man from the LORD.’ Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground” (Genesis 4:1–2).

You may know the story of Cain and Abel. Both brothers made offerings to God, but Cain’s offering was not as worthy as Abel’s. Instead of seeking to learn and improve, Cain became filled with anger, and, eventually, he killed his brother, Abel. Murder started early for the human race!

After God curses Cain for his sin, we read in Genesis 416–17, “Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch” (Genesis 4:16–17).

And THIS brings us to our first question! Many ask, “Where did Cain get his wife?” After all, Adam and Eve were the first humans, and the only two children mentioned here are Cain and Abel—two boys, one of which is dead. So, just whom did Cain eventually marry? Surely not a giraffe, or an oak tree! People marry people! And who was there for Cain to marry?

To answer this question, we need to consider the first principle we will apply for answering Bible questions: Examine the context around the verse or passage.

So, let’s examine additional verses near this tale in Genesis 4 to see if we can get more details. And, indeed, we can—right next door in Genesis 5! Beginning in verse one of Genesis 5, we read,

“This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:1–4).

Now note that: Adam lived another eight hundred years and continued conceiving sons and daughters. Yes, Adam and Eve’s family did not just consist of Cain, Abel, and Seth. Instead, when God commanded them in Genesis 1:28 to “be fruitful and multiply,” they did exactly that! And for how long? Notice that Genesis 5:5 says that “all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years”—that is a long life! Given that the events of Genesis 1, 2, and 3 were about 6,000 years ago, Adam lived almost one-sixth of that time! And that is plenty of time to have many children.

So, the answer to “Where did Cain get his wife?” is plain: Cain married one of his sisters.

Now, of course, today no one should marry his sister! But remember, we’re talking about the very beginning of humanity! God directly created Adam and Eve, personally designing every feature of their bodies and biology. The genetic problems that plague children of close kin today would not have been a problem in the beginning. And while God later forbids such relationships in His law, as seen, for example, in Leviticus 18:9, it simply wasn’t necessary at the beginning. In fact, after Adam and Eve, but before the laws of Leviticus, the patriarch Abraham was married to his half-sister (Genesis 20:12).

The point is that there need be no difficulty at all in understanding the Bible’s statement. Yes, Cain had a wife, and that wife was his sister—another descendant of Adam and Eve. Simply reading a little more of the context around the passage immediately clears up the question.

Which Ten Commandments are the Right Ones?

Our next question has not only been used by some in attempts to discredit the Bible, but has also been a source of confusion in different denominations claiming to be Christian. It might be called “The Case of the Battling Commandments.”

If you’re a longtime viewer of Tomorrow’s World, you’ve heard us teach about the vital importance of the Ten Commandments numerous times in the program. Jesus Christ loved the commandments, and Christians everywhere are commanded to live by them.

Yet, just what are the Ten Commandments?

Well, the answer you get will vary depending on whom you ask! The list of ten commandments given in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 is parsed differently by different groups. Here are the two main approaches:

For example, many would give the following summarized list of the Ten Commandments:

  1. You shall have no other gods.
  2. You shall make no graven images.
  3. You shall not take God’s name in vain.
  4. You shall remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
  5. You shall honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness.
  10. [And] You shall not covet.

Yet, if you ask a Roman Catholic, you might get this list of summarized commandments:

  1. You shall have no other gods.
  2. You shall not take God’s name in vain.
  3. You shall remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
  4. You shall honor your father and your mother.
  5. You shall not murder.
  6. You shall not commit adultery.
  7. You shall not steal.
  8. You shall not bear false witness.
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
  10. [And] You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

You’ll surely notice that those two lists are not the same. The first one has a commandment against the use of idols, the Second Commandment. But that commandment doesn’t show up at all in the second list, the Roman Catholic one. And, in the first list, the last commandment is against coveting. But in the second list, the Roman Catholic one, that command is split into two commands: not coveting your neighbor’s wife and not coveting your neighbor’s goods.

So, that brings us to today’s second Bible question: “Which are the right ‘Ten Commandments’?”

We know that there are ten because the Bible says so, itself. We see this in Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 4:13, and Deuteronomy 10:4.

But which are the Ten?

To find the answer, you might look at Deuteronomy 5, which lists all ten commandments. There we see the final passage stated this way in verse 21: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

But should “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” be broken out as a separate commandment from “you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, etc.”? The verse numbering was added by scholars later, so that doesn’t help.

Looking at the verse, it seems that there is no way to tell—so is the answer to the question, “Which are the right ‘Ten Commandments’?,” “It depends on whom you ask”?

Nonsense! Because the truth is not determined by Roman Catholic councils or Lutheran synods or Evangelical conferences. The truth is determined by the word of God, and when it comes to His commandments, He makes the answer plain.

To discover it, we just need to use another helpful principle for understanding the Bible: Examine other scriptures that cover the same topic.

Jesus Christ said in John 10:35 that “the Scripture cannot be broken”—meaning God’s word does not contradict itself. So, if two passages of the Bible speak about the same subject, including the Ten Commandments, they must both be true.

In this case, we should ask ourselves: Is there any other passage that also lists the Ten Commandments, other than Deuteronomy 5?

And, yes, there is! The Ten Commandments are also listed in Exodus 20. In fact, that chapter comes before Deuteronomy 5, and is the chapter most would turn to first to read the Ten Commandments in the Bible. There, we can read the end of the commandments in verse 17: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Notice one very important difference from the way Moses worded the ending in Deuteronomy 5: When God spoke these words in Exodus 20, the part about not covering your neighbor’s wife is placed inside the rest—after the part about your neighbor’s house!

So, when God spoke the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, did He accidentally mix them up? Did He start by going from the eighth commandment and skipping the ninth to give part of the tenth commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house,” then jump back to the ninth commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,” only to suddenly jump forward again to finish the tenth? That’s ridiculous! If anyone understands the Ten Commandments, it’s the divine One who spoke them aloud at Mount Sinai!

And these two passages, Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, cannot both be right if the commandment against coveting is split into two pieces—coveting your neighbor’s wife and then coveting everything else. They only work if there is only one commandment—the tenth commandment—against coveting anything that is your neighbor’s!

So, which Ten Commandments is the real Ten Commandments? The one that includes an explicit second commandment against making and worshiping idols and that has one unified tenth commandment against coveting.

And you don’t have to take my word for it. Take the Apostle Paul’s, who summarized the single tenth commandment himself as, simply, “You shall not covet.”

So, if you are wondering who gets the Ten Commandments right—your local clergyman or the Creator of the Universe who thundered them to His people at Mount Sinai—I’d stick with your Creator!

What Happened to Enoch and Elijah?

Our third question involves two famous individuals in the Bible: Enoch and Elijah the prophet.

Now in the case of Enoch, Genesis 5 gives us an interesting tale concerning this ancient patriarch. Amidst many who were sinning and living unrighteously, we read of him beginning in verse 21: “Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:21–24).

The phrases “he was not” and “God took him” have led many to believe that Enoch was removed from earth and taken into heaven. In fact, when I was a child, I had a popular children’s Bible that told its version of the story of Enoch and titled it “The Man Who Walked into Heaven”! This understanding is bolstered in the eyes of many by the fact that the passage does not mention his death explicitly, and the Apostle Paul, writing in Hebrews, said that Enoch was “taken away so that he did not see death.”

Like Enoch, another biblical figure is thought by many to be in heaven: The prophet Elijah. In chapter 2 of the book of 2 Kings, we read how the time came for the mantle of prophetic leadership to be passed from Elijah to his protégé Elisha: “Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11).

Part of the challenge in these passages is that the language is ambiguous and open to interpretation. Nowhere in the story of Enoch are we told where he was taken, and nothing explicitly and clearly says that he did not die. And in the case of Elijah, the Bible speaks of three heavens: the air above us where birds fly and clouds move, the space above that in which the stars shine, and then what Paul calls “the third heaven” in which God dwells. Whenever “heaven” is mentioned in the pages of your Bible, it’s vital to keep in mind these three different possibilities and determine from the context which one applies to the passage. Which one applies here to Elijah’s chariot ride is not immediately clear.

All of this brings us to the common question: “Are Enoch and Elijah in heaven?”

That is, are Enoch and Elijah still living up in heaven, in the presence of God and the angels?

The details of what happened to Enoch and Elijah after their disappearance is a larger topic than we have time for, but the answer to the question itself is actually very easy—and it involves a third fundamental principle that is eminently helpful for anyone trying to understand the Bible: Use plain scriptures to help explain those that are more ambiguous.

In this case, the tales of Enoch and Elijah have ambiguities that we need to resolve. Yet, there are very plain passages that are far easier to understand. And these passages leave us no doubt as to whether or not Enoch and Elijah are alive in heaven.

Let’s look at one—spoken by none other than the Son of God, Himself: Jesus Christ! Speaking to a Pharisee named Nicodemus, who himself may have believed Enoch or Elijah were in heaven, Jesus is very plain, saying in John 3:13, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”

There you have it from Jesus’ own mouth: no one has ascended into heaven. Jesus Christ, the Son of Man and the Son of God, is the only man to have traversed both heaven and earth. He didn’t say “No one but two…” or “No one but Enoch and Elijah….” He said “No one.” And that leaves no room for our two Old Testament friends.

In fact, we can go further. We mentioned earlier that Enoch is mentioned in Hebrews. That passage, Hebrews 11, is called by some the “Heroes of Faith” chapter, and Enoch is mentioned in verse 5. But later, in verse 13, we are told very plainly what has happened to all of these “heroes of faith”: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises….”

“These all” would include Enoch, eight verses earlier. In fact, of course Enoch and Elijah have died. Romans 3:23 promises us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death.”

More could be said, but no matter what tale we might speculate about concerning Enoch and Elijah, these plain verses limit us to what must be true: That Enoch and Elijah are now dead, awaiting their reward, and are not in heaven. To claim otherwise would be to disagree with the declaration of Jesus Christ Himself. In this case, the plain verses of the Bible add clarity to those that are more open to misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

How to Study the Bible

Concerning where Cain could have gotten his wife, we’ve seen that Adam and Eve had many children, including daughters, easily providing a wife for Cain.

Concerning which collection are the right “Ten Commandments,” we’ve seen that skipping the second commandment about idols and splitting the tenth commandment about coveting into two different commandments violates the word of God.

And as for Enoch and Elijah, we have determined that, no, they are not in heaven—trusting Jesus Christ when He says that He is the only man to have trod both heaven and earth at this time.

But more than simply answering three questions, we’ve also illustrated three solid principles that you can use in your own Bible study:

  • Examine the context around the verse or passage.
  • Examine other scriptures that cover the same topic.
  • [And] Use plain scriptures to help explain those that are more ambiguous.

And studying your Bible is worth the time you invest. As the Apostle Peter told Jesus Christ after His Master had just delivered a challenging message that was difficult to understand, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

And the inspired words of the Bible are just that: the words of eternal life. Your effort to understand them will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams!

Thanks so much for watching. If you’re interested in the first four lessons of our free 24-lesson Bible Study Course, I hope you’ll go out to TWTV.org/study and request those four lessons yourself. Or, of course, you can click on the link that we’ve provided in the description below.

And we hope that you enjoy what we make here at Tomorrow’s World, we really do want to help you understand your world through the pages of your Bible.

If you did enjoy it, we hope you’ll consider clicking on subscribe, and if you want to be notified when something comes out, just click that bell!

Thanks so much.


Religion in Decline

What are the religious beliefs of Canadians and how are they changing from previous generations? The decline of religion is a favourite topic of many. Some see it as a sign of turbulent times and mourn the loss; while others view it as a monumental step forward, a necessary separation from an unpleasant past. What does it really mean for our nation.

 

Pages