1. Knowing that our God is unchanging, the same yesterday, today and forever, how do we interpret His disciplinary actions in the history of His people, the Israelites, and recognize that same disciplinary action in our own lives individually or in our own nation?

God’s nature is consistent 

The God of the New Testament is clearly a God of love 1 John 4:8. No doubt about it. But does that mean He’s only a kind, permissive, doting, grandfatherly figure? Hardly.

  •  Ananias and Sapphira Acts 5:1-11. (it doesn’t mean they didn’t go to heaven)
  • And remember the words of Jesus: “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” Luke 12:5 .
  • The author of Hebrews agrees: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” Hebrews 10:31. Why? Because “our God is a consuming fire” Hebrews 12:29.
  • As far as discipline goes, Hebrews 12:5,6 My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”….”For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:12

On the other hand, the God of the Old Testament isn’t the relentlessly bad-tempered taskmaster some people make Him out to be.

  • The Old Testament scriptures describe Him more than once as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” They refer to Him as a God who “does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” Psalm 103:8-10 and Exodus 34:6-7.
  • Paul’s emphasis on grace and faith in the New Testament (as opposed to works of the law) didn’t start with him. This central biblical theme can be traced all the way back to Genesis: Abraham “believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” Genesis 15:6 and Romans 4:3 and Galatians 3:6.
  • The same idea appears in Habakkuk 2:4, where the prophet writes, “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith”. In other words, grace isn’t just a New Testament idea; it’s a biblical idea.

Many think He has changed because of the way he treats the enemies of Israel but we need to understand God gave them years to repent. Think about Noah preaching for over 100 years to bring people to repentance and they refused. Think about Revelation,  the same, the wrath of God being poured out only after God had called them to repentance and they refused.

God is love! He always loved from before time began. His nature is love, His discipline is based on love. If there are those that would hurt his children that refuse to repent so he has no choice out of love but to pour out his wrath….he always loves first, he always calls to repentance first, he always works to draw us to repentance first (His kindness leads us to repentance Romans 2:4), then and only then does he pour out wrath when there is nothing left that people will respond to

2) Should we always expect good only from God and reject difficult circumstances as unacceptable for the one that follows God? (Job 2:10) I often feel this is the belief of my fellow Christians but i struggle to align that with the Biblical record of Joseph, Daniel, Job, and many many others.

Job 2:10 is that exact question, “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”

First, we must understand the nature of this fallen world is evil, until all of mankind accepts redemption…the old adage you do not have to teach a child to be bad

Jesus said “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Paul said it this way “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5

Whoever asked the question is absolutely right, look at the life of Daniel, Joseph, David, pretty much anyone and in scripture and you will see great struggles Paul called them light afflictions

We walk through things because 

  • The world is evil and that is its nature as long as we are in the world there  will be bullies, jerks, storms, floods fires Isaiah reminds us we will walk through fires and floods and they will not overcome us but instead we will overcome them. 

Isaiah 43:2 When you go through deep waters,

I will be with you.

When you go through rivers of difficulty,

you will not drown.

When you walk through the fire of oppression,

you will not be burned up;

the flames will not consume you.

  • Our faith is built by overcoming stuff, we learn to trust God and not be afraid by overcoming the stuff we face
    • It is a witness to others that God is real and real in us as they see us living out all of the stuff
    • As Paul said it builds our character so we can do all the things God calls us to do
  • The bottom line is we have to choose to trust that God is always in control, that “he has this” whatever it is you are facing as long as your life is in His hands…he knows everything, sees everything and our job is to keep placing our concerns fears, worries, doubts, our families, jobs, nation, finances, everything daily into His trust…it is ok to not understand as we are walking through things what I do as I pray God I don’t understand why I’m going through this but I trust you, so me what you want me to do

3) When the apostles watch Jesus ascend into heaven, it says that He was “taken” . What does “taken” mean? It doesn’t say (where) he went?

Acts 1:9-11

After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

Luke 24:50,51

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.

Mark 16:19

So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.

Revelation 1:7, Zechariah 14:4 and the early church Fathers point to this as Jesus being taken in not just a regular cloud but the cloud of the Shekinah glory of God….the two men answer the question as to where Jesus went…heaven.

Couple of interesting things here to note

–       The actual translation says it was two men who were right there with the disciples, could these two men have been Moses and Elijah as they appeared in the transfiguration

–       Jesus is “taken” (the word could be translated taken, lifted up, raised, cause to move up) The glory cloud itself lifts him

–       Jesus was lifted up into heaven in the glorified body that the disciples could touch, he ate, if you are wondering what we are going to look like in heaven, if Jesus looks like this why would we look different?

4) What is the best interpretation of the Bible for studying and why?

Quick answer….the best interpretation of the Bible is the one you will read!

The study of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek in light of the scripture is always developing 

Certain translations are phrase to phrase, some word for word. There are glaring failures in some translations for example

KJV was translated in 1611 even the way we produce thoughts are different than those of the people of 1611 one example is this…many like to share this verse but it is translated exactly wrong

Isaiah 59:19 So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.

The actual translation says this…New Living Translation

In the west, people will respect the name of the LORD;

in the east, they will glorify him.

For He will come like a raging flood tide

driven by the breath of the LORD.

Translation goes from saying when the enemy causes a flood to when God allows the flood to come in your life He will protect you….the enemy is given too much glory…everything in our lives is in God’s hands.

I would recommend for our purposes here the 

The new Spirit filled Life study Bible New Living Translation

Overall the translations I like right now are…New Living Translation, English Standard Version, Amplified Bible, New American Standard or NKJV….for easy reading far from the best translation but adequate not for study just reading The Message, The Passion (NT, Psalms, Proverbs, and song of Solomon)

I would also recommend along with a study bible a translation with an interlinear of both Greek and Hebrew so you can see an exact word for word translation