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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

25 July 2013

Questions from Young Christians

This time around, I thought I’d reply to some random questions from youth that I recently received.

1. What type of fish swallowed Jonah?

Jonah The Bible doesn’t tell us. The Hebrew merely says “great fish.” The Israelites being largely landlubbers, they don’t seem to have done much to distinguish among various sea creatures. Therefore, we cannot be sure if it was even a “fish” by scientific definition or a member of the whale family.

If it were a creature of the Mediterranean still in existence today, our candidates are limited. In my mind, the sperm whale and the great white shark would be most likely. An average sized sperm whale and a large great white are among the few aquatic animals with throats and esophagi large enough to swallow even a small man whole, without chewing him up or crushing him first.

If the vomiting was a natural act rather than one designed by the Lord specifically for the occasion, a whale is most likely, since they are capable of doing just such a thing.

2. What do you do if you’re crazy for someone who doesn’t feel the same way?

Be patient — craziness normally passes. You need to decide how much you want to invest emotionally, financially, and even spiritually in trying to develop a relationship that may or may not ever bear fruit. Then either act accordingly or walk away graciously. Continually longing from afar usually ends up leading people into resentment or full-fledged hatred. We don’t own each other and attempting to “take possession” of another is sinful. If you see no chance for mutual affection, open your options to others and let your decisions be guided by your faith and your intellect as well as your heart.

3. Why were Adam and Eve naked?

Adam and Eve They didn’t need clothing to protect themselves since God had placed them in an ideal environment. In their case, their physical nudity wasn’t an issue until they realized that they were spiritually naked before God.

They sewed together leaf coverings and hid among the trees not because their bodies were shameful but because they signified the shame that was theirs following their fall into sin.

4. Why does God let Satan exist? If He knew the future, why did He create Satan?

Why did God make Adam and Eve? Why does he allow mankind to continue? God created because it is His nature to create. He made all things good. What happened afterwards wasn’t God’s fault but that of His creatures. We aren’t given reasons for many of God’s actions. In fact, He often cuts off such questioning: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8)”

However, He does tell us the reason for His most important act. He sent His Son in human flesh to undo the Devil’s dirty work and to cleanse us from our inborn and ongoing sin because “He so loved the world” that he wants you to believe and “have eternal life. (John 3:16)”

5. Why did God make four seasons?

Four Seasons He may not have. Conditions at the beginning of Creation may have been quite different from those now. The seasons as we know them may be the result of the Fall.

Even if there were distinctions in the very beginning, the changing of the seasons is tied to the planting, growth, and harvesting of various plants, thus benefitting all living things. Note also that extreme northern and southern parts of the globe essentially have only two seasons and equatorial regions only one.

6. How do we build a relationship with God?

On our own, not well at all. Our tools and materials are limited, broken, and stained with sin. God is the Builder. He reaches out to us through His Son, by His Word, in the Church. He moves us to respond to Him in faith then to show love to others.

Yet once we are made His through faith, He leads us to regular worship. There we hear how much He loves us and receive His forgiveness. There we eat and drink Christ’s body and blood and are fed and nourished in this “family meal” that joins us closer to Him and to each other. Truly, most Christians draw closer to their Lord when in community with each other than on their own.

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Walter Snyder is a Lutheran pastor, hymn writer, conference speaker, author of the book What Do Lutherans Believe, and writer of numerous published devotions, prayers, and sermons.

Article first appeared in The Concordian of 24 July AD 2013.


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