We always hear about the animals on the arK in pairs: "two by two", but in genesis 7:2-3 it reads 7 of every clean animal and bird. Were the others of each for sacrifice?



  In Genesis 6 and 7, the author of Genesis using a similar stylistic technique to the description of creation in Genesis 1 and 2.  The author begins with a general description of the event and then in the next chapter, goes into more specific detail. 

So, in Genesis 6:18-19 we read: "19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive." 

Then, in Genesis 7:2-3 we are given more detail about the way the animals boarded the ark: 2 Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.

The "clean" animals are those that were fit for people to eat and those that were to be used for sacrifices to God.  So, yes, these additional pairs of animals would be able to repopulate more quickly and would be available for food and for sacrifice.  Many commentators believe that 6 pairs would be for use for food and that the seventh for sacrifice, mimicking the importance of the 7th day of creation as being set apart for the Lord.  God will explain the concepts of clean and unclean in much more detail in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.



when reading I get hung up on the pronunciation of some of the names.  I want to pronounce them correctly.  Is there an app or a resource that might help?

Yes, there are apps that give audio pronunciation of biblical names of people and places.  Check out Bible Audio Pronunciations.

if Adam and Eve were the beginning of creation, does that mean that when their children married they married within their family?

In Genesis 4:1-2, we read about the births of Cain and Abel to Adam and Eve.  By verse 17, Cain and Abel have grown into men and Cain has a wife.  By verse 26, people are beginning to call on the name of the LORD.  While Genesis actually does not answer your question, Genesis is indeed addressing the “who” of Creation and God’s redemptive work! One common belief is that yes, brothers and sisters would have married each other. This is difficult to think of outside of our current context but it could have been how God began populating the earth, but the Bible does not say for sure. Another belief is that God could have created other people in other places, but again, the Bible does not say. We can hypothesize, but the main message of the creation account of Genesis is that God was in charge of creation, but the Bible does not address many of the question that we ask with our 21st century minds.

do you have a recommendation for a resource to look up definitions of words that I come across that I don't understand or is google ok?

For some words, a regular dictionary will be all that you will need.  For theological words, I recommend a Bible dictionary. There are many free Online Bible Dictionaries or your local Christian store will have several different Bible dictionaries, so you can find one that best fits what you are looking for.  It will bring Scripture to life!  Also read Scripture in more than one translation, including the New International Version (NIV) or New Living Translation (NLT). If you get cught up on a specific word or theological concept, email it in and we will do our best to help explain it.

in Genesis, people appear to live for a very long time. Did they measure time differently than they do now or is there another explanation for their longevity?

Great question.  This is one of those things in the book of Genesis that make us go hmmmm, since the lifespans described in Genesis 5 are significantly longer than those we experience today.  Methuselah, for instance, is said to have lived 969 years in Genesis 5:27.  One possible explanation for this is that the years described in Genesis are shorter than how we currently measure a calendar year.  Another possibility is that the living environment was different in that pre-flood world and this allowed for much longer life. 

The important point being made by the author of Genesis is a theological one.  After creation, God declared that all was good.  With the fall, sin entered into the picture, and with sin came death.  The author of Genesis is telling us that sin and death also played a roll in the lifespans of human beings.  Immediately after the list of incredibly long lifespans in Chapter 5, God describes his frustration with humanity in Genesis 6:3, declaring that our "days will be a hundred and twenty years."  God's frustration with sinful humanity is further expressed in the narratives of the flood and the Tower of Babel in Genesis 6-8 and 11.  After these incidents, the lifespans of the biblical characters begin to decrease.  Deuteronomy 34:7 tells us that Moses lived 120 years, a lifespan much more in line with ours today.  So to summarize, based on the biblical text, a shorter lifespan is part of the consequences for sin.  The author of Genesis wants us to understand that prior to those consequences, humanity lived significantly longer.

My question is for Romans 16:1-2, it says Phoebe was a deacon in the church. What exactly is a deacon and what would her responsibilities include?

The word “deacon” is an English version of the Greek word diakonos.  It describes a person who serves, a servant.  Over time, diakonos began to be used for a formal position in the church.  In various verses of Scripture and various translations, diakonos is translated servant, deacon, and minister.  Here are some examples, including Romans 16:1, from the NIV 2011:
 
·      Matthew 23:11:  The greatest among you will be your servant (diakonos).
·      Romans 16:1:  I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon (diakonos) of the church in Cenchrea.
·      Ephesians 3:7:  I became a servant (diakonos) of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.
·      Philippians 1:1:  Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons (diakonois):
·      Colossians 4:7:  Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister (diakonos) and fellow servant in the Lord.
 
Some translations call Phoebe a deacon and some call her a servant.  Since leaders in the church are servants of God and people, ultimately Phoebe’s title is less important than her character and her service.  We do not know exactly what form her service and leadership took, but we know that Paul had tremendous respect for her.  In Romans 16:2, Paul honors Phoebe, making it clear that she is a woman who serves God well and has been a benefactor of many people including Paul himself.
 
 
Digging Deeper:
It is interesting to read Acts 6, which tradition takes as the choosing of the first deacons to help with the distribution of food to widows in need.
 

·      Acts 6:1:  In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution (diakonia) of food.
·      Acts 6:3-4:  Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry (diakonia) of the word.
 
Again, the most important thing seems to be that someone who ministers as a deacon is someone who serves!

In Isaiah 7 verse 14-16, it foretells the coming of Jesus. I was wondering what the approximate time difference of when this was foretold and when it happened? 

Ahaz (mentioned in 7:1) was the king from 735-715 B.C. and the prophecy of this chapter is believed to have occurred around 734 B.C. We don’t know the exact year of the birth of Jesus, but dating this prophecy around 700 years before Jesus is a commonly accepted estimation.

Super vague question but I am a little confused over 9 & 10. Not sure what is really happening relative to Isaiah's time and what is prophecy relating now? Specifically does 10:22-25 correlate to what is happening now in Isreal? Maybe a readers digest version would help. 

Not a vague question at all...actually a very insightful one. One of the challenges of interpreting biblical prophecy, particularly it's fulfillment, is determining the time period to which it applies. Particularly because it would appear that prophecy often has multiple fulfillments during multiple time periods. The prophecies of Isaiah 9 and 10 are some of the most beloved prophecies of the OT because of their promise of the coming Messiah. Chapter 9 in particular is fulfilled in the birth and ministry of Jesus, which took place more than 700 years after the book of Isaiah was written. Chapter 10 seems to apply most specifically to events that took place during the lifetime of Isaiah, specifically during the reign of Hezekiah. But there is also a sense in which these events are yet to be fulfilled, as addressed by the Apostle Paul when he applies the words to the promise of a future remnant of Israel that will be saved in the end (Romans 9:27-28). In this sense, Isaiah's prophecy has everything to do with what is happening now in Israel. This is what makes Biblical prophecy so rich and beautiful. It applies and brings hope to the people of God in the midst of their struggles throughout the generations. 

1 Corinthians 14:34&35


Can you speak to this in relationship to the Freedoms we believe? I get asked/challenged about this often. 

Thanks!


These verses say “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”

 

First, the bad news for anyone who is looking for a final, conclusive answer: No one knows for sure exactly what Paul meant in these two verses. Virtually everyone recognizes that Paul is not saying that women are not allowed to speak at all in church. And so, churches come to a conclusion, saying “We allow women to _____ in the church, but we do not allow women to _____ in the church.” Sometimes the second blank is filled with “preach,” or “serve as a lead pastor,” or “serve on the Board.” It should be clear that filling in these blanks has very little connection with the words of this Scripture. In the Free Methodist Church, the second blank is empty as we welcome both men and women to fully serve God according to His call!

 

Some thoughts:

· There are cultural things to understand that are important in interpreting Paul’s words for his original hearers and for us today. We get off track when we think we can completely ignore the cultural context.


· God gives spiritual gifts to Christians (Romans 12, 1 Cor. 12) and He calls Christians to various leadership roles to equip the Church (Ephesians 4). God does not only gift and call half of the church!


· In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul gives guidance for how members of the congregation should share with the congregation words that God gives them. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul gives guidance about how men and women should pray and prophesy. These activities involve speaking, and Paul assumes that these activities will be taking place.


· If we view these verses in their place as part of the full Biblical picture, we see an Old Testament and New Testament tapestry of God’s salvation story advanced through the faithful and bold leadership and witness of both men and women of God!


 

Still today God invites all of us, both men and women, to serve Him with faithfulness and boldness following His call! Let’s not hold back from fully serving God while we wait for the discussion of these verses to end!

 

To dig deeper into these issues: 

· In our Free Methodist family, we value the use of tradition, reason, and experience to help us understand Scripture. What insights do tradition, reason, and experience give to help us understand 1 Corinthians 14:34-35?


Look at “Paul, Women, and Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul,” by Craig Keener. His conclusion as to the most likely interpretation of these verses? “Paul was addressing relatively uneducated women who were disrupting the service with irrelevant questions. The immediate remedy for this situation was for them to stop asking questions; the long-term solution was to educate them.”    

Can you explain to me how all of the talk about the old and new covenant and Jesus being the forever high priest (order of Mel.) vs. the high priests from the line of Aaron in Hebrews is different then the dangerous road of dispensationalism? 

Great question. The danger of dispensationalism is that it suggests that God is somehow altering the plan of salvation over time. It suggests he had one plan for Israel and then another for the gentile church. The author of the Book of Hebrews has another perspective.

 

The author of Hebrews is expounding on Jesus’ statement that he came to fulfill the law. God always intended the high priests of the line of Aaron to find their fulfillment and culmination in the person of the forever high priest. The author’s purpose is to help his Jewish readers understand the superiority of Christ as the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies and promises. For the author of Hebrews, God has not altered his plan of salvation, rather his plan for redemption always depended on the coming of Christ and the New Covenant. The Old and the New Covenant are both integral parts of God’s redemptive action.