Gospel, Salvation, and Other Religions - Lesson 4

The Old Testament and Religions

This lesson examines the similarities and differences between the religions of the Ancient Near East and the religions as presented in the Bible. It looks at the concept of Hebrew monotheism, the biblical theology of salvation, and the biblical theology of creation. It also examines how mythology and evil are portrayed in both the Ancient Near East religions and the Bible. Finally, it looks at how the Bible incorporates cultural elements from the Ancient Near East religions.

Todd Miles
Gospel, Salvation, and Other Religions
Lesson 4
Watching Now
The Old Testament and Religions

I. Religions of the Ancient Near East

A. Mesopotamian Religions

B. Canaanite Religions

C. Egyptian Religions

II. Biblical Religions and the Ancient Near East

A. Hebrew Monotheism

B. Biblical Theology of Salvation

C. Biblical Theology of Creation

III. Concepts from Ancient Near East Religions and the Bible

A. Mythology and the Bible

B. Evil in Ancient Near East Religions and the Bible

C. Cultural Elements in Ancient Near East Religions and the Bible

  • This lesson provides an overview of the various aspects of Theology of Religion, and explores the complexities of engaging in dialogue with other religions.
  • You will gain an understanding of the exclusivity of Christ and its implications for other religions, as well as the challenges to exclusivity presented by atheism, theological pluralism, and other religions. You'll also learn how to engage other religions and live out Christian witness in a pluralistic world.
  • This lesson will provide you a deeper understanding of how Jesus is the central figure of Scripture, and how Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in the New Testament.
  • You will gain insight into the similarities and differences between the religions of the Ancient Near East and the religions of the Bible, looking at concepts such as Hebrew monotheism, the theology of salvation, and the theology of creation. You'll also explore how mythology and evil are portrayed in both the Ancient Near East religions and the Bible, as well as how the Bible incorporates cultural elements from the Ancient Near East religions.
  • You will gain insight into the implications of polytheism from a biblical perspective and understand the nature of God and the roles of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
  • In this lesson, you will gain a better understanding of the New Testament and its relationship to other religions. You will gain insight into the theological messages found in the various books of the New Testament, and learn how the New Testament relates to other religions in terms of Jesus, salvation, evangelism, and relationships.
  • This lesson you will receive an overview of universalism, its historical context, and its implications for the Bible and theology. You will learn the different types of universalism and examine the biblical passages related to universalism, as well as the theological perspectives on universalism.
  • You will gain an understanding of what pluralism is and how it has evolved over time. You will also explore the challenges to pluralism and the implications it has for religious dialogue and multiculturalism.
  • In this lesson, you will gain an understanding of inclusivism, its history and theology, as well as its application in missions. You will learn that inclusivism is an approach to theology that respects and works with different religious paths, and offers a robust theology of salvation that is both inclusive and faithful to the biblical message
  • This lesson will teach you about the presence and role of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, including Ancient Near Eastern Religion, the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, Wisdom Literature, and Prophets.
  • You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the person and nature of the Holy Spirit, the role and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, the process of receiving the Holy Spirit, and the gifts and fruit of the Spirit.
  • This lesson provides an overview of the critical questions related to the gospel, salvation and other religions, and the importance of asking them. It explores questions of homogeneity, essentialism and pluralism with definitions and examples.

With Todd Miles, Ph.D. Western Christianity’s interaction with world religions used to be, for the most part, overseas. Today, “religious others” often live next door. At a changing time when one public prayer spoken during the 2009 U.S. presidential inauguration festivities was addressed to “O god of our many understandings,” the evangelical Christian church should do more than simply dismiss non-Christian religions as pagan without argument or comment. The Church needs a theology of religions that is Christ-honoring, biblically faithful, intellectually satisfying, compassionate, and that will encourage Spirit-powered mission.



Dr. Todd Miles
Gospel, Salvation, and Other Religions
The Old Testament and Religions
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:10] Okay. In our previous sessions, we had been looking at the exclusivity of Christ and some of the biblical arguments, the biblical logic, the explicit statements in Scripture that speak to the necessity of a faith in Christ for salvation. We looked last session at the central city of Jesus in the biblical story, and I argued that that points towards the necessity for a Christ, glorifying faith in Jesus in order to be saved. Now we're going to transition into looking at the whole concept of religious others. What is the Bible saying? I've been arguing from the beginning that as Christians we hold up Scripture as authoritative. It is sufficient for us, and I believe it gives us the proper foundation for understanding where religions come from, where other religions come from, and what the Lord's response is to those religions. So what does the Bible say about other religions? And so when I speak of it, when I use the word religion here, essentially I'm going to be using that in reference to non-Christian religions, anything other than Christianity. So what does the Bible say about religions? And this is a more difficult question to answer than you might initially think. After all the common criticism that we will find leveled by religious pluralism at those who defend the Christian centricity of of of satiric ology, of salvation, the necessity for faith in Jesus to be saved is that their argument works something like this. Well, of course, the Bible speaks about the uniqueness of Jesus. The Bible is a Christian book. It doesn't speak to the concept of religious others. It doesn't know of religious others. Of course, I'm not certain that that's true. As a matter of fact, I'm positive that it is not true.

[00:02:08] The presence of challenging worldviews is presupposed by the authors of Scripture and the presence of other religions is the context for all of the biblical writings. I mean, think about it. How much of the Old Testament was written in the context of a thriving and faithful theocracy where where all the people of Israel were were united in steadfast devotion to the Lord God who had revealed himself to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses. Maybe one or two pages, maybe a short stint in the life of David. Really, the the Old Testament books, if you think about it, especially the penalty, if it would be looking at today, the Old Testament books were written to prepare the children of Israel to take possession of the land. They were going into the promised land. But who was in the promised Land at that point in time? Pagan religions. They were going to go into a place where they would be surrounded by people of other beliefs. And so the the Pentateuch in particular, I believe, was written to guide the children of Israel as they lived in the context of being surrounded by religious others. You think about the New Testament. Even the New Testament was not written in the context of some sort of dominant Christian world empire that didn't know of religious others. The contrary, It was written during a time when the Christian church was a persecuted minority and it was actively involved in the beginning steps of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. To who? To the nations who weren't following the law, and they were involved in other religions. So for this reason, I think the Bible provides the people, the Lord with the absolutely necess necessary revelation to live obediently and missionary in the world, especially in a pluralistic context.

[00:04:04] The Bible was written in a pluralistic context, and so it certainly knows of religious fathers. If we're going to look at what the Bible has to say and here's how the next three sessions work today, we're going to look mainly at the penalty and we're going to look at the origins of religions. How does the Bible describe other religions? And then in the next section session, we're going to stay in the Old Testament. We're going to look at the whole concept of monotheism. Do other gods exist? What's behind those other gods? How much power do they have? How unique is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? And then we'll look at the concept of idolatry. What does the Lord consider idolatry to be? And what is the nature of the criticism or the polemic against idolatry? And then the third session from now, we're going to be looking at the New Testament, and we're going to follow the cues of Jesus and the Apostle Paul as they interact with religious ideas. And that's going to set the agenda for the rest of the. The rest of these sessions. Okay. So we begin at the beginning. That's the very best place to start. And if you want to understand the Bible, it's absolutely necessary. And after all, when the creation narrative, Genesis one and two and in the fall, Genesis three, when those narratives are ignored, our ability to answer life's ultimate questions is severely diminished. It is, after all, the very first part of the story of redemptive history. Everything that follows in the Bible makes sense only insofar as the beginning is understood and affirmed. So I'm going to assume mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Genesis three Deuteronomy. If this is the case.

[00:05:59] Moses is writing the Pentateuch to prepare the children of Israel to go in and occupy the land where they're going to be surrounded by pagan nations, by religious others, and by religious practices that the Lord condemns and says are distasteful, they're an abomination to him. So from the opening lines of Genesis, Moses Burden was to prepare the children of Israel to go in and occupy this land. It was to differentiate the children of Israel from those surrounding peoples and all of their religious practices. In fact, I think there's much to suggest The Genesis one was was written in part to refute pagan ideas of the creation of the universe and the perceptions of God that attended those different ideas. The tribes of Israel going into the land where they would be surrounded by religious others, they were instructed that their God, their God was the creator of everything, and as such that God enjoys authoritative rights over all of His creation, over all of Israel. Indeed, over all the other nations as well. The Lord who had made a covenant with the children of Israel at Mount Sinai was not only distinct from his creation, but he was supremely greater than all the so-called gods of the pagan nations that would surround Israel for the very first verse of the Bible. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. I believe this is a mere ism. God created the heavens. God created the earth. He created everything from A to Z. Everything that is God created. And this establishes what in theology we call the creator creature distinction. And I think this is perhaps the most critical and foundational tenet to a biblical worldview. After all, when we begin to think that the lines between creator and creation are blurred, then we go sideways really quickly.

[00:07:58] And you've probably noticed that as you encounter others who have ideas about the nature of God and maybe God, God is in the trees, or maybe God is in people. The Creator creature distinction is basically this God is God and you are not. God is God and I am not. There is nothing that exists. Genesis one tells us, visible or invisible, that God did not make God initially created all the cosmos ex nihilo that is, He created the cosmos out of nothing. He created by divine fiat. He spoke it into existence and he didn't use preexisting or primeval matter. Now, this contrasts with pagan myths. We're divine beings in different sorts of powers where they required some sort of derivation, usually from the primordial realm. No. Genesis one tells us that there are no rivals. There are no legitimate antagonists to the Lord who could ever be equal with him. Whatever demons are, whatever the heavenly powers are, whatever the principalities may be, whatever the heavenly host is. It is clear from Genesis one that they are qualitatively and quantitatively different from the Creator, and they are different in this way. They are inferior. They are inferior. Differentiation between the Lord and and pagan deities, which we haven't even encountered by name. I mean, they're not even mentioned. Why? Because they're part of the creation. They are part of creation. Whatever they are, they're not God. But but the differentiation between the Lord and these pagan deities, it continues with the creation of humanity. Only mankind was created in the image and likeness of the one God who is the creator of heaven and earth. We find this in Genesis chapter one versus 26 and 27. Let's read that. Then God said, Let us make man in our image after our likeness and let them have dominion over the fish in the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps.

[00:10:10] On the earth. So God created man in his own image. In the image of God, he created him male and female. He created them. We're told here that as creator of all, God, of course, has has absolute rights over all that he's made. And that will include, as we'll find out, the right and responsibility to judge. God has that right because he has creator's rights over everything that he made. You see, the Israelites were going to be entering a land where the inhabitants invoked and they worshiped other deities. But this does not change the fact that it was to their creator. Even if they don't know their Creator, that those people were accountable. Israel was to know that every person owes their allegiance to the one God who is master overall. This Genesis one passage the creation of man in the image of God. It beautifully summarizes the creative strategy of the Lord in creating man and woman. So God created man in his own image. He created him in the image of God. He created them male and female. And there is not enough time to delve into this in detail. But I want you to note the complex but intentional combination of singularity, God created man and plurality, male and female, that is captured in this verse as image bearers of the relational god. Humans need relationship with each other, but more importantly, image bearers were created for relationship with their creator, who is in himself a relational god. Of course, the biblical story doesn't end at Genesis two. We get to Genesis three, where we have the fall of humanity. We also have a great promise given as well in Genesis three, and this is really the need for a theology of religions.

[00:12:06] It's because of the false due to the entrance of sin into God's perfect creation before the fall of humanity, Adam and Eve, that they enjoyed a sinless relationship with their God, but but their disobedience, it it radically disrupted their relationship with God, and it plunged the land that they were to work into a curse state. And it resulted in their expulsion from the garden that their loving God had planted for them. You find this in Genesis 317 through 24. Genesis three also introduces us to a different supernatural being the Serpent. Now the rest of the Bible is going to make it very clear that the serpent is Satan. Revelation 12, verse nine, I think is explicit there. But what's interesting here is that Satan's guise and strategy are instructive. The serpent is referred to as the most cunning of all the wild animals. Genesis Chapter three, verse one. Interesting, isn't it, that the Lord God had delegated His authority over the animals. To who? To mankind. To Adam and Eve. But Satan. He inhabits an animal and he ends up exercising dominion over the woman. Adam is supposed to exercise loving leadership over his wife, but his wife takes the authority of the man and turns Adam, who in turn then blames the entire episode on the one to whom all things must submit, namely God. We see that in Adam's excuse. It was the woman that you gave me. God who did this Satan, who is a liar and a murderer and has been from the beginning. His strategy here, I think, is clear. He sought an exact reversal of the authority structure that was ordained and commissioned by God. Satan's actions lead to hostility between him and the woman. But what's interesting here is that this this hostility that we find in Genesis three, where we get this promise that the deceit of woman is going to crush the head of of the serpent, but the serpent is going to it is going to bruise the heel of the of the seed of the woman.

[00:14:10] That's not by Satan's design. That's the Lord's curse. He's exercising his authority here. The result is destruction. It's physical pain. It's separation from God. But again, this does not result from the decree of demons or the principalities or the powers. Now, this. This comes from the Lord. It's the sovereign God. It's not the demonic who decreed increased pain in childbirth for the woman who curse the land to bring about the struggle and and toil for the man. And then who banished the man and the woman from his presence? God is in charge. Demonic forces, whatever they may be, Satan, whomever he may be, they play a significant role in the narratives. But make no mistake, it's God, the creator of heaven and earth who exercises authority over all that he's made. He has the right to judge. He has the authority to judge and he has the power to judge. It's also significant in Genesis chapter three, verse 15, that we're introduced to the promise of a deliver. It's veiled. It's a veiled promise. I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring. He shall bruise your head. You shall bruise his heel. But remember that this precedes the well-deserved curses on humanity. The order here promise of blessing and rescue before the curses. That gives testimony to God's redemptive work. That it's greater than the rebellion in the condemnation of man. However, rebellious humanity is portrayed throughout the rest of Scripture, we cannot forget that there's a promise of a savior that dominates the Biblical storyline. God is going to provide what only God can do a savior for humanity, whatever the peoples of the Earth may do in their different religious practices, everything that follows all their so-called pious activities.

[00:16:06] We have to remember that immediately after the fall, God promised a Savior through the seed of the first woman, Eve. So what does the rest of Genesis have to say about the origin of religions? You know, it's interesting because following the exile of King and in Genesis four, we're told at that time, people began to call in the name of the Lord. That's Genesis four over 26. The exact meaning of the expression call on the name of the Lord. It's it's disputed. It's used of the patriarchs in chapter 12, verse eight and 13 four and 21, 33 and 26, 25. It appears to be a general phrase for worship, most like. Lee, including prayer and sacrifice. And then the latter verses of Chapter four of Genesis. They describe the origins of nomadic herdsmen and music and metal work. So it seems to me that Chapter four, verse 26, most likely points to the beginning of organized and intentional public worship, whatever that's construed to be. It's also interesting, as we're looking here about the origin of the religions, that there really is no Hebrew word for religion. There isn't. There's not even a Hebrew word in the Bible for faith, in some sort of abstract sense by Old Testament logic and New Testament logic. Faith always requires an object. And today we speak about our faith getting us through things. My faith helped me through this difficulty in the Bible, as in reality, it's the object of the faith that makes all the difference. The biblical economy. Faith, apart from an object, is pointless, and faith in the wrong object is actually ridiculed and mocked. Even if you hold on to that faith fervently, if you put your faith in the wrong thing or the wrong being, you're a fool.

[00:18:01] The only acceptable objects of ultimate belief are the person and promises of the Lord. So in the Old Testament vocabulary, religious devotion is often concretized into specific expressions like to call upon or to bow down before, to walk before, or to serve in worship. Oftentimes, these terms will have an ethical dimension to to walk before the Lord is to walk in the truth and and have a life that's characterized by faithfulness to God and to see first Kings. Chapter two, verse four, for an example there. The most prominent phrase for virtuous and faithful living, though in the Old Testament. Fear the Lord, Fear of the Lord. Belief in God is often coupled with fearing the Lord. Throughout the Old Testament, the people feared the Lord and believed in Him and in His servant, Moses. Exodus, Chapter 14, verse 31, says, We also know that when trust in the Lord wanes, the result is that the object of the people's fear shifts to someone or something other than the Lord. Look at Deuteronomy chapter one for an example. There are those who live rightly. They fear the Lord. Conversely, where the fear of the Lord is absent, there may not be justice or safety for people. Remember Abraham in Genesis chapter 20, he said that he felt compelled to lie to Abimelech to save his skin when he lied about his marriage to Sarah because he said, quote, There is absolutely no fear of God in this place. So that presents a challenge to us when we are thinking about religions. There is no word really for religions. There's just worship of the one true God and then false worship for the fall of humanity to the to the Tower of Babel. Book of Genesis chronicles the decline of humanity and the simultaneous judgment and mercy of God.

[00:20:01] And we would expect that as image bearers following the this eternal covenant that's made with Noah following the the the destruction and the curse of the flood, that people would be engaged in some sort of religious activity. And and this is reflected in the narratives. But what we dare not do is think that just because people are being religious, that those religious activities are beacons of light in an innocent spiritual age, that their activities or are are glorious in an otherwise dark world set in the context of wickedness and the fall of humanity. Religious activities are often seen as falling short of the glory of God, and they're in need of restoration, reformation. And the reason, I think, lies between the tension that is created in the Bible, between the human is the divine image bearer who has been called into a covenant relationship with the Lord and then the human as a rebellious sinner wanting to be like God, but not trusting the one who is God. And so religion, oftentimes what we find and this is true, I'm sure in the experience of you as you speak to others, the religion is used to to reach out to God while simultaneously holding him at arm's length, keeping him away, not wanting to expose the totality of who we are to the living God. Genesis Chapter 12. We get a turn in the narrative The Call of Abraham Redemptive history. At this point, it takes a dramatic turn, and with it all, legitimate religious responses to God. For the very first time since the that first gospel, that veiled first gospel of Genesis 315, God gives details about his plan. To redeem the world. He's going to do it through Abraham, all the nations of the earth.

[00:21:55] They're going to be blessed through him. And along with the active movement of God, there's a there's a necessary narrowing in acceptable response to him, the redemptive movement of God. It signals a shift in history from, I believe, inclusiveness to something that's a little more exclusive. God's plans focus on one person. God promised Abraham that all the peoples of the Earth would be blessed through him. And there is no evidence in the Book of Genesis, nor really in the rest of the Bible that the blessing promised to the nations through Abraham is related to the efforts of the people. That is, blessing is not the fulfillment of people's religious activities. Rather, it must be seen as organically related to this original promise of God to crush the serpent. It's something that God's going to do for people. The narrative of Abraham and then on through the rest of the genesis, it introduces us to men and women who are both part of the Abrahamic Covenant, people like Abraham and Sarah and Isaac and Jacob, and then those who are outside the Covenant Pharaoh, Abimelech, Esau. And as these two groups interact, it's instructive for us as those who participate in the Abrahamic covenant, they encounter those who do not participate in those promises given to Abraham, the narratives, they just don't allow us to conclude that religious beliefs or practice or the activities of the Canaanites are are valid alternatives to those who are participating in the covenant. There is no equality between the response of Abraham to the Lord and the response of those outside the covenant to the Lord. In fact, I think we have to reach the opposite conclusion. The calling of Abraham signals that the continuation of a process that's going to lead to God's self revelation being house first in Israel and then finally in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

[00:23:57] Now, why do I think this? Because by the time the children of Israel took possession of the promised land following the exodus from Egypt, Canaanite religious practices had grown so detestable to the Lord that he used Israel to exercise judgment on all the other nations. We see it in Leviticus 18 and Deuteronomy 18, see as God, who is the creator of heaven and earth. It's his right to exercise judgment. And in Genesis, God made distinctions between the behaviors of different people groups, for example, that during Abraham's lifetime, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, they were ready for judgment, whereas the Emirates were told, We're not yet ready, but they soon would be. So compare Genesis 15 for 16 to Genesis 19. The narrative of starting Gomorrah. Later, when the people of Israel were about to enter the Promised land after the rescue from Egypt, Moses warned them, When you enter the land, the Lord your God is giving. You do not imitate the detestable customs of these nations, no one among us to make his son or daughter pass through the fire practice. Divination tell fortunes, interpret omens, practice sorcery, cast spells, consult a medium or familiar spirit, or inquire of the dead. Everyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord and the Lord. Your God is driving out the nations before you because of these detestable things. That's Deuteronomy 18 versus nine through 12. And this passage is instructive for two reasons. First, the Lord's evaluation of Canaanite civilization is based on their religious practice, and it didn't matter to them how pious they were or how devout they were or how fervently they engaged in these practices. They were detestable to the Lord, and he judge the people of Canaan because that religion was detestable to him and there is no exemption given for lack of special revelation.

[00:25:51] God does not say something like, you know, these practices are detestable to me, but I haven't really revealed myself in the manner that I have to. Abraham I have not revealed myself to them in that way. So I'm going to let them off the hook. No, they're judged. And second, God accomplishes two things simultaneously. When He leads Israel in the land, he fulfills his promises to Abraham and then he judges sin. He makes good on his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by giving the land to their offspring, their entrance into the land, and the displacement of the other peoples who were there. It was just because God was simultaneously exercising judgment on the Canaanites for their sin and their wickedness. Why are the Israelites commanded to go in and wipe out the surrounding nations? It was a judgment on them. Special revelation of the law to Abraham. And then the subsequent move from, I think, a more inclusive idea, or at least an amorphous idea of of of religion to something more exclusive focused in on Abraham. That doesn't mean that there's no continuity between the religious practices of those within and those outside the Abrahamic covenant. God spoke to people in dreams and visions and he was recognized as God. We find this in Genesis. Look at the story of a bit like in Genesis 20 and Pharaoh in Genesis 41. They recognize this is God, but the religious response of Abimelech to that dream is not equal to that of Abraham in his encounters with God. Abimelech recognized the voice of God, and he was protected by God from committing greater sin. But it was the recipient of the covenant Abraham, who has to pray for the deliverance of Abimelech in Genesis 20, when Abraham rescues light in the Coalition of Kings.

[00:27:48] Genesis introduces a reader to Melchizedek. Really mysterious figure in the Bible. He's the king of Salem. He's the Prince of God. Most high alien. That's in Genesis chapter 14. Now, kids that whom the Book of Hebrews identifies as a type of Christ, Hebrews Chapter five Melchizedek knew that God is the Creator of Heaven and Earth, and He gives praise to God most high. He recognizes the sovereignty of God to save and to deliver. These are true ideas of who God is. Furthermore, Melchizedek blesses Abraham, and that in Scripture indicates Melchizedek superior status to Abraham. And then Abraham responds to this priest by giving a tithe to him in Genesis 14, verse 20. Surely it seems to me that if McKissick was the priest of a different God than the God of Abraham, it would have made no sense for Abraham to give a tithe something that is normally set aside for the living God. So I think it's clear that McKissick He served the true God, though it's also clear in the narrative that he did not know all there was to know about him. For example, McKissick does not use the covenant name of the Lord. Read the story in Matthew chapter 14. He refers to him as God most high, which is certainly true. He's the creator of Heaven and Earth. That's certainly true. But Abraham, in that same chapter 14, does use the covenant name of the Lord, along with the very same designation of God that Melchizedek uses, which I think leaves no doubt to the reader that the God of Melchizedek and the God of Abraham are one in the same. Rather than being two separate deities. No, the God of Melchizedek is the God of Abraham. And even though Melchizedek is the priest of the most high God, Abraham knows God better.

[00:29:45] He has the promises of God. Anarchistic may be a priest. But redemption is going to come through Abraham. So a question that we'll close with here, it's kind of interesting. Where did Melchizedek learn of the one true God? Difficult question to answer because there's really very little information given in the narrative and speculation abounds to the source of milk. His next faith. Faith. And it's interesting that that even though there's very little information about McKissick, so many of the proposals that we will see for inclusive ism and pluralism reference milk his decades justifying their positions, for example, the inclusive inclusiveness. Clark Pinnick. He calls Melchizedek a pagan saint that provides biblical evidence that God was at work in the religious sphere of the Canaanite culture. Don Richardson, whom you know for peace, child fame he believes in. McKissick is paradigmatic of those who learn of God from general revelation. And and that could be. But I don't think that that is the case. I think that strange the biblical evidence beyond what it can bear. I think rather than deriving from general revelation or the insight of pagan religions, isn't it more likely that Melchizedek, that knowledge of God was just passed down to Him from Adam through Noah through the subsequent generations? Pinnick speculates that Melchizedek could use the name alone as evidence of pagan origin for the name, and that the patriarchs in Israel accommodated that name into their religious practices. But isn't it more likely and also more consistent with the biblical story that Melchizedek use of Leone is evidence of residual knowledge of God that gradually devolves over time due to human sinfulness and rebellion, as what Kiser explains. All persons descended from Adam in that line who at first knew God intimately and first for some time no doubt passed it on to their descendants.

[00:31:45] What's apparent to me is that belief in God most high passed from Canaanite experience. So over time, resulting in their eventual judgment at the hands of the Israelites. Because whereas in Genesis 14, you have Melchizedek, who's God most high, who is worshiping God most high? By the time you get through subsequent generations book of Deuteronomy people, there doesn't seem to be any knowledge of God at all. It's all gone away and the people are judged for it. One other thought here, and we'll close with this. Isn't it instructive in the Book of Genesis that as the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they migrated through this land that was promised to them, and they worshiped the Lord. They built their own altars, places of worship for them. They never went to a Canaanite worship site. They never used their sign, their shrines. You see, Genesis does not portray Canaanite faith in Israelite faith as equally legitimate forms of the one true God. That depended upon where you happen to live or the amount of revelation that you might enjoy the mount of Revelation to which you're proving. In our next session, we're going to look at the whole idea about monotheism. What does it mean that that God was the one true living God and the Israelites were to worship Him even though they were also not to have any other gods before them? What does that mean? We'll talk about that next session.


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