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THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BIBLE SECRETS AND MYSTERIES
By J. STEPHEN LANG
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 J. Stephen Lang
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSOME TRULY PUZZLING THINGS
BIBLE MYSTERIES: THE TOP TEN
The book you are now reading explores the Bible's mysteries and secrets-and tests your knowledge of them. To begin, let's see how familiar you are with ten of the most puzzling things in the Bible, things that leave even the best-read Bible scholars scratching their heads in bewilderment.
1. One of the great puzzles of Genesis is this: Where did _____ get his wife?
2. In Revelation, what is the number of the "beast" who persecutes the saints?
3. What heroic Old Testament saint did God almost kill-just after calling him into service? 4. What book of the Bible refers to a mysterious race known as the Nephilim?
5. According to 1 Peter, where did Jesus go between his burial and resurrection?
6. According to Paul, women will be saved through what?
7. In Genesis 6, who do the "daughters of men" marry and bear children by?
8. What were the "sacred dice" used by Israel's leaders in decision making?
9. According to Jesus, what is the one sin that can never be forgiven?
10. What organ, according to Jesus, is the "lamp of the body"?
BIBLE MYSTERIES: THE TOP TEN (ANSWERS)
1. Cain, son of Adam and Eve, murderer ofhis only brother, Abel. Genesis 4:17 refers to Cain's wife, but readers wonder where she came from, seeing that the only people on earth (or at least the only ones mentioned in Genesis) were Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel. The usual explanation-not that it satisfies everyone-is that Cain's wife was also his sister, a daughter (whose name is not disclosed) of Adam and Eve.
2. The number 666, of course. Revelation 13:18 invites readers to "calculate" the number-meaning (we think) decipher the number so as to connect it with a particular person. No one has ever done this satisfactorily. See pages 78-80 for much more about the Beast and his number.
3. Moses (Exodus 4:24-26). God has just called Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, and suddenly, for reasons that are not immediately apparent, the Lord "was about to kill him." Exodus 4:25-26 reveals that God was angry with Moses for not circumcising his son in accordance with God's covenant with Abraham. 4. Genesis 6:4. Some translations refer to giants instead of Nephilim. They are called "heroes of old, men of renown," but who or what they were still puzzles readers. 5. He "preached to the spirits in prison" (1 Peter 3:19), a phrase that gives Bible interpreters fits. Who were these "spirits," and what "prison" is meant? First Peter 3:20 connects the "spirits" to the time of Noah and the Flood, but this only serves to deepen the mystery for Bible scholars.
6. Childbearing, as recorded in 1 Timothy 2:15. This occurs in a passage that says women should be submissive and not have authority over a man, but we really aren't sure what Paul meant by "women will be saved through childbearing," since Christian women, like Christian men, are saved by faith.
7. The "sons of God" (Genesis 6:1-2). The identity of these "sons" is as puzzling as the identity of the Nephilim (see question 4). Some Bible scholars say that the passage refers to angels fathering children by human women, although this explanation doesn't satisfy everyone.
8. The Urim and Thummim, mysterious objects that were in (or on) the breastplate of Israel's high priest and involved (we don't know how) in decision making (Exodus 28:30). Their use is mentioned in Ezra 2:63 and Nehemiah 7:65, but these verses shed no clear light on what Urim and Thummim looked like or how they were used.
9. Blaspheming against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31; Luke 12:10), though no one is absolutely certain what this means. One reasonable guess is that it means attributing the work of God to the work of Satan and demons.
10. The eye (Matthew 6:22), and after many centuries, no one is still quite sure what he meant by the phrase.
LEVIATHAN, UNICORNS, AND SUCH
Be glad the Old Testament has been translated into English, because the original language, Hebrew, is notoriously difficult to learn and translate. Even after centuries of study, there are certain Hebrew words that puzzle scholars. This is particularly true of words referring to plants and animals. In some cases, translating is made even more of a mystery by the fact that the words may be referring to mythical animals, not real ones. See how much you know about these real-but possibly unreal-beasts of the Bible.
1. What beast, mentioned in Job 40:15, lives in the water and feeds on grass?
2. What sea beast is described in fearsome detail in Job 41?
3. What shaggy creatures of Greek mythology are mentioned by the prophet Isaiah?
4. What mythical horned creature, popular in art, may be referred to in Job 39:9 and Isaiah 34:7?
5. According to Psalm 104, what sea creature was formed to frolic in the sea?
6. What mythical beasts, mentioned many times in Psalms, are called "serpents" or "jackals" in most modern translations?
LEVIATHAN, UNICORNS, AND SUCH (ANSWERS)
1. The Behemoth-which may refer to a mythical water beast, or to a real beast such as a hippo or elephant 2. The leviathan, which, like the Behemoth, may be mythical or may be a real creature (possibly a crocodile or whale) 3. Satyrs, usually thought to be half-goat, half-man. Mentioned in Isaiah 13:21 and 34:14, they were probably (as modern versions have it) wild goats.
4. The unicorn. Translators struggle over a Hebrew word that refers to some type of horned beast. Many modern versions have "wild ox" instead of "unicorn."
5. The leviathan, again. This may be referring to a whale, but since translators aren't sure, many versions just use the word leviathan, which is a direct transliteration from the original Hebrew.
6. Dragons (as in the King James Version). Because there are no real dragons, modern versions do their best to connect the Hebrew words with an actual living creature.
"INSPIRED," YES, BUT HOW?
For hundreds of years people have agreed that the Bible was "inspired." But just what does that mean? The theory that God actually dictated the words doesn't hold water because it is obvious in the different books that the personalities of the authors show through clearly. They weren't just channeling God's words; and yet, in some mysterious way, the Bible's words really are "God's words." Somehow, rather beyond our comprehension, God "moved" the prophets, poets, apostles, and wise men to write, just as he "moved" kings and military leaders to act. Incidentally, the word inspire comes from the Latin inspiratio, meaning "to breathe into"-the "breath" coming from God, of course.
1. Which apostle stated that all Scripture is "inspired by God"?
2. According to 2 Peter, prophecy came because men were moved by what?
3. In the Gospels, which nuclear family was filled with the Holy Spirit?
4. What reluctant prophet was told by God, "Go, and I will be with thy mouth"?
5. Which prophet claimed that God "carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers"?
6. What pagan prophet assured his employer that he could only speak what God put into his mouth?
7. Which aide and successor of Moses was "full of the spirit of wisdom"?
8. What military man had the Spirit of the Lord come upon him before battling the pagan Ammonites?
9. Which king of Israel was told he would be "changed into a different person" when the Spirit came upon him?
10. What ritual marked the time when the Spirit came upon David?
11. Which prophet in David's court received a message from God, saying that David's dynasty would last forever?
12. What blind prophet was inspired by God to see through the disguise of a woman?
13. What fiery prophet, empowered by God, outran the horses of King Ahab?
14. Which prophet was moved by the power of God while listening to a harpist?
15. To whom did God give the plans for building the Temple in Jerusalem?
16. Where were the people gathered when the Spirit moved the prophet Jahaziel to speak?
17. Which king was considered evil for not recognizing that Jeremiah the prophet was inspired by God?
18. Which of Job's friends told him that the Spirit of God gives man understanding?
19. Which prophet foretold a leader who would bring justice to the nations with the power of the Spirit?
20. What young (and reluctant) prophet had his mouth touched by God, with the assurance he would speak on God's behalf?
21. What later prophet claimed the Lord's power enabled him to interpret the words of Jeremiah?
22. Which prophet stated he was filled with the Spirit and "with justice and might"?
23. In Genesis, who attributed his dream-interpreting ability to the Spirit of God?
24. What was the vocation of Bezalel, said to be filled with the Spirit of God?
25. What man had learned through the Holy Spirit that he would see the Christ before he died?
26. In chapter 1 of John's Gospel, who is the "man sent from God"?
27. What man, "full of the Holy Spirit," had a vision of Jesus standing at the right hand of God?
28. What man was led by the Spirit to preach the gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch?
29. What Christian, inspired by the Spirit, predicted a famine over the Roman Empire?
30. Which of Paul's letters begins with an announcement that the gospel had been promised long ago in the Holy Scriptures?
31. According to the Letter to the Hebrews, God in the past spoke through his prophets but has now spoken through whom?
32. In which New Testament book is the author continually given the command "Write"?
"INSPIRED," YES, BUT HOW? (ANSWERS)
1. Paul, in 2 Timothy 3:16. Some modern versions have "God-breathed" (which is really more accurate) instead of "inspired."
2. The Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). This passage emphasizes that God, not man, took the initiative in prophecy.
3. John the Baptist (Luke 1:15) and his parents, Elizabeth (1:41) and Zechariah (1:67)
4. Moses (Exodus 4:12)
5. Isaiah (44:26)
6. Balaam, the Moabite prophet that had been sent to curse Israel (Numbers 22:38; 23:26)
7. Joshua (Deuteronomy 34:9)
8. The judge Gideon (Judges 11:29)
9. Saul (1 Samuel 10:6)
10. His anointing by the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16:13)
11. Nathan (2 Samuel 7:4)
12. Ahijah (1 Kings 14), who was visited by the wife of King Jeroboam
13. Elijah (1 Kings 18:46)
14. Elisha (2 Kings 3:15)
15. David (1 Chronicles 28:19). The task of actually building the Temple fell to his son Solomon.
16. The Temple courts (2 Chronicles 20:14)
17. Zedekiah (2 Chronicles 36:12)
18. Elihu (Job 32:8)
19. Isaiah (42:1), in a passage that is known as one of the "Servant Songs," prophecies of a divine servant. Christians believe that Jesus fulfilled those prophecies.
20. Jeremiah (1:9)
21. Daniel (9:2)
22. Micah (3:8)
23. Joseph (Genesis 40:8; 41:16)
24. An artist involved in making the Tabernacle and its worship furnishings (Exodus 35:30-31). This is the rare case in Scripture of an "inspired artist."
25. Simeon, who did indeed see the infant Jesus (Luke 2:25)
26. John-not the author of the Gospel, but John the Baptist
27. Stephen, the first martyr (Acts 7:55)
28. Philip (Acts 8:29)
29. Agabus (Acts 11:28). Acts notes that the famine did indeed occur in the reign of Emperor Claudius.
30. Romans (1:2). By "scriptures," Paul was referring to what we now call the Old Testament.
31. His Son-that is, Christ
32. Revelation, where John is repeatedly told by Christ or an angel to write (1:11,19; 2:1,8,12,18; 3:1, 7, 14; 14:13; 19:9; 21:5). In no other book of the Bible are we so aware of the author being divinely compelled to write.
Excerpted from THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BIBLE SECRETS AND MYSTERIES by J. STEPHEN LANG Copyright © 2005 by J. Stephen Lang. Excerpted by permission.
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