RUSS HOBBS MINISTRIES
“JOIN US FOR A GREAT DISCUSSION!”
Join us for a Russ Hobbs Ministries discussion the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month! WE meet at the Mt. Hope United Christian Church located at 206 Cider Press Rd. Manheim at 2PM
Check us out on the web at www.russhobbs.org to learn more about upcoming programs! Click on EVENTS for more information. Our discussions are challenging, inspirational and Biblically centered. Here is a sample of some of our discussion topics and the questions we raise.
“Does God cause suffering?”
Human suffering exists because sin exists. When Adam and Eve disregarded God’s command and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “the eyes of both of them were opened” (Genesis 3:7), and death, along with all the suffering the reality of death implies, came into the world (Genesis 2:16–17). The results of sin are explained in Genesis 3:14–19. Sin affected humanity’s relationship with God, with each other, and with the animals. Even the ground was cursed (see also Romans 8:20–21). Sin would specifically result in increased pain in childbearing, laborious toil in work, and contentiousness in human relationships. Ultimately, sin would result in physical death. In broader terms, sin opened the door for all kinds of suffering throughout all of creation.
Since God is the “First Cause,” He is responsible for the fact that suffering can exist. God created Adam and Eve knowing that they would sin. He knew the suffering that would exist in the world as a result. However, He also made redemption possible. God’s ultimate plan was for God the Son (Jesus Christ) to take on human flesh, live a human life complete with all the suffering of a fallen world, be crucified though He had not sinned, and rise again to life, having defeated sin and death. All who put their faith in Jesus will be saved. God’s gift of grace to us cost Him greatly. God knows the fullness of human suffering in ways we do not. And yet He also knows the fullness of joy that redemption brings. God certainly allows suffering; ultimately, He does so for His good purposes (Romans 1:18–32; 8:18–39).
God is good, and everything He does is good (1 John 1:5). God can never be the author of evil (James 1:13–17). Suffering is a direct result of sin running rampant. Humanity’s sin opened the door to Satan’s limited rule as god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). We suffer due to our own sins, the sins of other people, and the general fact of living in a fallen world. Often, God allows the natural consequences of sin to play out.
“What was the Garden of Eden like?”
Eden was the name of a region of the earth when God first created the world. The Hebrew word translated “Eden” is taken to mean “pleasure” or “delight.” In this area God planted a garden:
“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters” (Genesis 2:8–10).
From this brief description, we note several things about the Garden of Eden: 1) it was planned and planted by God Himself; 2) it was mankind’s first home; 3) it contained incredible variety, with “all kinds of trees”; 4) it was a beautiful place, as the trees were “pleasing to the eye”; 5) it was a fertile, fruitful place; 6) it provided nourishment and nutrition, as the trees were “good for food”; and 7) it was naturally well-watered. Later, we read that there were all kinds of animals in the garden (Genesis 2:19–20). We also have the note that Adam and Eve were unclothed in the garden (Genesis 2:25), indicating that they needed no protection whatsoever—the environment, including the climate, was perfectly suited for humanity.
We do not know the exact location of the Garden of Eden, but the Bible’s description of the area associates it with four rivers and an abundance of resources, including fine gold and gemstones (Genesis 2:11–14). We also know these things about Eden:
The Garden of Eden was a place where man could meet God. The Creator “was walking in the garden in the cool of the day” in Genesis 3:8, and Adam and Eve could be with Him and converse with Him.
The Garden of Eden was a place of total provision. God had seen to every detail in designing a home for humanity, created in His own image.
“What does it mean that the coming of the Son of Man will be as it was in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37)?”
After Jesus explained to His disciples what would take place at the end of the age, during the tribulation, and at His second coming, He gives several illustrations of what the end of the age and His coming will be like. In one of those illustrations, Jesus says that the coming of the Son of Man will be “as it was in the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37).
Before Jesus compares His coming to the days of Noah, He illustrates His coming with a parable of the fig tree. By observing the growth of the fig tree one can determine that summer is near (Matthew 24:32). In the same way, by observing the signs (the things Jesus mentioned in the earlier part of the chapter), one can recognize that His coming is near (Matthew 24:33). The generation of people who are alive when these things begin to happen will see them completed (Matthew 24:34), as they will happen swiftly. And, while Jesus’ words are totally reliable (Matthew 24:35), He said at that time that no one knows exactly when the events will take place except for His Father (Matthew 24:36).
Against the backdrop of the fig tree illustration, Jesus says that the coming of the Son of Man will be “as the days of Noah were” (Matthew 24:37, NKJV). This is an important statement for several reasons. First, Jesus identifies Himself as the “Son of Man,” the one in Daniel 7:13–14 who is given an eternal kingdom. With that identification Jesus is claiming to be the rightful King over all. When the King—the Son of Man—comes, it will be as in the days of Noah. In those days, the people were going about their lives, eating, drinking, and marrying, until the flood came swiftly (Matthew 24:38). They were ignorant about what was coming until it came upon them and took them away (Matthew 24:39). In the same way, when Christ returns to earth as the Son of Man—the King—He will bring judgment with Him. Even though the signs of His coming will be obvious to anyone who is paying attention, apparently few will be looking.
It is worth noting that, while there are some similarities between the event Jesus describes in Matthew 24 and the event we call the “rapture” (1 Thessalonians 4:13–17),
“Can Satan read our minds or know our thoughts?”
First, it is important for us to remember that Satan is not omnipresent—he cannot be in more than one place at a time. Only God is everywhere, and only God knows everything, while Satan must rely on his army of demons to do his bidding.
Can Satan and/or his demons read our minds? No. First Kings 8:39 says that God alone knows every human heart. There is no one else who has that ability. God knows what we will say before we can say it, while the thought is still formulating (Psalm 139:4). Jesus, being God incarnate, exhibited the divine quality of knowing men’s thoughts: “He knew what was in each person” (John 2:25; cf. Matthew 9:4; John 6:64).
The Bible does teach us that Satan is powerful. Likely he was the highest of all the fallen angels, as he was persuasive enough to convince one third of the angels to join him in his rebellion (Revelation 12:4).
Some great discussion and fellowship awaits you at the next RHM Discussion! For more information E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org