Thomas Didymus is popularly known as Thomas the Doubter. I find this somewhat misleading, as the term implies a refusal to believe and a confrontative attitude.
Thomas is ‘famous’ for his demand to see the Risen Christ prior to believing. In fact, Thomas’ refusal to believe based on the word of others was well-founded and completely reasonable. After all, Jesus had died at the hands of Roman Army executioners. People did not ‘come back’ to life by their own volition.
Thomas asked the question any normal person in his position would have asked; but been afraid to ask. I find the same courage and honesty in this writer’s questions – in response to the question: “…what is one thing you would like to know about God?” The writer thought of several things about God to know.
Being the bashful, retiring sort, I thought I’d give answering them a shot. The answers here are based on statements and concepts from the Bible and I’ve tried to support the answers by references.
1. What is God’s gender?
The most definitive statement in the Bible is that of Jesus who said “God is Spirit” in John 4:24. A second definitive statement is Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a human being, that He should change His mind.”
Combine that thought with the creation of mankind in Genesis 1:27, “God created humankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them”. Note that both male and female were created in God’s image.
Therefore: God is inclusive of the basis for both male and female, while being limited to neither. Yes, this somewhat breaks with ‘tradition’.
God is traditionally viewed as ‘male’. Historically, men have been the engineers and builders. Warriors and protectors have been thought of as men. That and the deep down ‘male chauvinist pig gene’ – which I have and bear proudly, by the way – tend to push the image of God as a ‘male’.
On the other hand, God is also described as ‘feeding and nurturing the children’
Psalm 116:5 “… our God is compassionate.” Compassion is a ‘soft’, more feminine trait than building or fighting.
Jesus in Matthew 23 and Luke 13 speaks of “… gathering children as a hen gathers chicks …” a rather female reference.
So I would say that while God includes both masculine and feminine attributes, God is ‘above’ such limits. He is not a combination, but something greater than either.
So why does the Bible always refer to God as ‘He’? Both Hebrew and English – and I think Greek – used the male pronoun as the default applying to both men and women in a group or in the instance of an unknown or undefined person. This concept predates both political correctness and women’s liberation.
Since God (the Father) is – strictly speaking – neither male nor female, language might suggest referring to God as ‘It’. But ‘It’ doesn’t sound all that respectful. Aside from that, the Bible describes God as thinking and talking and interacting with humans; ‘It’ is really lacking for such a being.
God the Son – Jesus – is a man. So He said, anyway.
God the Spirit? We’re back to not having a body.
2. Can God taste food? What are His favorites?
I cannot find any direct references on the subject. Not having a body, He probably doesn’t eat much. However, since God created all things, including the concepts of ‘taste’ and ‘flavor’; and since God enabled mankind to taste and enjoy food, I find it difficult to believe God has no clue about the matter.
Surely Jesus – who is God, never forget – was human (totally human and totally God all at once), Jesus could taste food. So as a practical consideration, yes, God can taste food.
What are His favorites? Deuteronomy 10:17 reads “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who is unbiased…” Okay, that’s a bit out of context. God is ‘unbiased’ toward people and issues.
My suspicion is God has a vastly varied palate. He even likes durien fruit and Brussels Sprouts. I’m pretty sure He likes fillet mignon and pizza as well. I’m pretty sure chocolate has to be on the list. Probably lentils with proper spices. Red meat.
We will have to ask Him when we get there. I’m sure the answer will be a delightful surprise.
3. What the differences between the Garden of Eden, Heaven and the New Earth? What kinds of things are/were in each place? What has He planned for us there?
This is not really, definitely known. The Bible does list some comments, I find the answer to be incomplete, but promising.
The Garden of Eden was the place where humans were first located. They had direct communication with God. Genesis chapter three indicates God Himself showed up and had a chat with Adam and Eve. In my mind, this seems to be God in human form, or Christ. Not everyone agrees with this.
The Garden was a neat place. It seems that while Adam had ‘duties’ to perform, they were not onerous. It was not until the Lord cast humans out of the Garden did Adam have to earn his way by ‘sweat’.
Traditionally, the Garden of Eden was a place which was ‘on Earth’ and certain information is given to locate the area. This much time later, it does not seem locatable. There is a theory wherein all the Earth is the Garden, and man’s Fall changed the nature of the planet. Frankly, I don’t know and I don’t think anyone else does, either.
Heaven is God’s abode. From what we read, Heaven seems to be in Eternity and therefore doesn’t have ‘time’ – at least not in the same way we humans experience it. It seems God has always been in Heaven, which indicates to me that Heaven is a direct result of God’s presence. Nothing – at least not that we understand – has an existence apart from God. Therefore, Heaven is not the ‘home of God’ in the same way Mount Olympus or Asgard is seen as the home of the respective gods. Heaven does not pre-date God.
The New Earth is – in my understanding – what Earth was supposed to be in the first place,except in some manner not subject to decay as the current one is. Before, that is, mankind rebelled against God and fouled up the whole shebang. (That’s a technical word.) I don’t know what exactly it will be, but everyone there will like it and enjoy it. Don’t worry if you don’t fully understand the concept. I think learning about it will be part of the ‘fun’ – for lack of a better word. No is there any requirement to fully comprehend the concept in order to gain entry. It comes with being one of God’s children.
Ask me again in 200 years. I’ll have a better answer.
4. Did we have some sort of life before we were born?
Not likely. There is no evidence for it in the Bible. Many of the Eastern religions and the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) teach such.
The first chapter of Jeremiah records God’s recruitment of Jeremiah. Verse 5 says:
“Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I chose you.
Before you were born I set you apart.
I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”
There are those who want to claim this indicates a ‘pre-world’ life. I think it merely indicates God knows the future and has a plan for all time already in action. The only ‘pre-birth’ record given is in the womb, not in a past ‘existence’.
The only thing about pre-birth is the comment the Lord made to Jeremiah in chapter 1:5 “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I chose you.
Before you were born I set you apart.
I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”
5. Is He bigger than all of his creations… all of the galaxies, stars etc?
In short, yes. Of course, part of the question begs the further question, What means ‘bigger’? God is spirit, so He does not have a physical body larger than the Universe. However, his ‘authority’ and power is what created the Universe, so His ‘authority’ and power encompass all the Universe and everything included.
Also, part of the beliefs about God is His ‘omnipresence’. God is ‘everywhere’ at once. Not that God is ‘everything’ or ‘in everything’, but simply all of His creation is within His vision and comprehension – and that includes not just every where, but every when.
6. Has He created any other planets with humans?
Not discussed in the Bible. There have been some who – since it isn’t explicitly spelled out – conclude there is none. Then again, the Bible doesn’t mention China (either mainland or Taiwan) or the United States, either. I am of the opinion that ‘not mentioned’ means ‘not important enough to tell you all right now’.
By ‘humans’, I presume you are also including the possibility of other sentient beings, not limited to bipedal, carbon-based life forms with symmetrical bodies, hair, toe-nails and body odor with whom we can breed?
If so, I think the possibility is great such does exist somewhere in the Universe. The Galaxy is a big place. “Billions and billions” of stars and no doubt a few planets like ours. The Universe makes the Galaxy look teeny-tiny.
That’s not a guarantee there are other sentient species out there, just my suspicion there possibly are some. Not logically impossible.
7. Does He get bored watching us?
No. God is infinite and perfect. Meaning complete and self-sufficient. Also consider God has existed forever and will continue to exist forever. Compared to infinity, the several thousand or several billion years humans exist – depending on which view of creation and history one assumes – isn’t much time to bore God. Disgusted, perhaps. It’s all ‘right now’ as far as He’s concerned.
8. I want to know if all of history is happening all at once, and if our prayers have the power to change the past?
Wow! That’s a blast. I’ve wondered the same thing. I don’t know for sure.
‘History’ happens to us bit by bit. At least it does to me. On the other hand, God sees all of the existence of the Universe as ‘right now’. God exists not only ‘everywhere’ but ‘every when’ as well.
Can our prayers change the past? Who knows? If God changed the past at our request, that would then be ‘our past’. We’d never know if it were changed.
On that subject: God is the ultimate authority. There is no Cosmic Supreme Court that over-rules God. So there is no ‘time-keeper’ apart from God to rule on which view is the ‘real perspective’.
Nor am I convinced our prayers change God’s mind as to what happens. I’m sure He’s much more concerned about our obedience and surrender to His Will, which INCLUDES our love and concern for others. In other words, God is more pleased to hear us praying for the welfare and eternal benefit of another than He to hear us praying for a new bicycle or even keeping the dam from breaking. Prayer is a mechanism for us to talk with (including hear from) God more than to submit requests or tell Him how to run His universe.
9. Does God pass our prayers along to the deceased?
If you mean that ‘Say “Hi” to Mom for me’ sort of thing, I think so. But I think we’re missing the point here. As far back as Dante’s The Divine Comedy and probably before, people have the rather self-centered notion that people in Heaven – or Hell – have nothing better to do than to watch Earth and keep track of what us ‘living’ humans are doing. I rather suspect those in Heaven are so far more ‘alive’ than those of us here they are rather busy with the joy of Heaven. They are in Eternity, we will be along – presumably – in just a moment from their perspective, so there’s no point in writing or even getting out the cell phone, if you understand. People in Hell are cut off from all communication by their own desire. No point in sending signals.
If you mean the “Send Uncle Cletus down to watch over my dog while I’m on vacation” sort of prayers, I don’t think so.
10. Does He loves our pets the way we do?
Since God loves us better than we love our pets – or family or spouse or anyone – I expect so.
11. Can He can talk to animals? Do they (animals I presume) share some sort of language? Do animals have a language (the snake talked in the Garden of Eden didn’t it?).
Better than Doctor Doolittle.
From all the animal research you humans do, they seem to. And yes, the snake (actually ‘serpent’) spoke. I’m not sure what that means in dog years, but the serpent was able to communicate on a fairly sophisticated level and convince Eve to rebel against God’s direct command. The rat! I mean, serpent. (Nasty, egg-sucking thing.) Yes, the snake did.
12. Does He see women as inferior to men, and in that case, why did he make me a woman?
No. ‘Different’ does not mean ‘inferior’. Women were created directly in God’s image, noted above in question one. So, no, I don’t think so. Do you feel inferior somehow?
There is a whole long discussion about the roles of ‘male’ and ‘female’ and it’s too much to type here. The short version is both men and women have functions and one cannot absolutely and permanent replace the other. Men are better – in general – in upper body strength, and women are better – in general – in small motor skills; just as example. Aside from that, it takes both sexes to reproduce.
God made you a woman because you’re much prettier than I am. Okay. I do not know why God decided I’d be a man and you would be a woman. I do know God knows what He is about and makes no mistakes. If God were fallible, He would not be God.
13. Why doesn’t He follow people around with a booming voice like he did in the Garden of Eden and as a result have every person in this world aware of his presence, and more likely to become a Christian and end up in heaven with him.
Exodus 33:3 reads Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, and I might destroy you on the way. He might ‘stay away’ from us for OUR protection.
If you’ll notice, God following people around in the Garden of Eden with a booming voice did NOT stop people from sinning. In fact, when Adam and Eve heard the ‘booming voice’ they ran and hid.
Instead of preventing people from rebellion – sin, in a word – against Him based on fear essentially [Let’s NOT hack off the booming voice!], God arranged forgiveness based on His grace and love. In that way, everyone and not just the ones who were terrified of the booming voice could be in a proper relationship with God.
Also note the wording at the end of the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:31): If they do not respond to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead. In other words, no amount of ‘booming voice’ will keep people from rejecting God’s commands.
Looking about, it seems that only a minority of people choose to accept God’s grace and love. But NOBODY fears the booming voice.
14. Why did He order the rape/death of women and children in the bible, and what are His eternal plan for those people? I want to know that those children are safe.
This IS one of those sticky and popular questions, but the question suffers from more than one misconception. God did NOT ‘invent’ rape and murder. Rape and murder are expressly forbidden by God. Rape and murder came about because people ignored God and did what they wanted, rather that follow God’s commandments. People in general decided obeying God was exactly what they did NOT want to do; they ate the apple, raped the women and killed the children. All in violation of God’s express will.
No where did God order His people to rape anyone. (It happened, but God didn’t order it.) In the place God tells His people to ‘take the women’ of conquered peoples – and it only happened once, in Judges 21 – they were taken permanently as wives. This isn’t ‘rape’ in the normal sense; this was an authorization to marry without obtaining permission from the woman’s father.
If you remember any other place that concerns you, tell me and I’ll look it up.
During the Canaan conquest, the nation of Israel was commanded to kill off many of the local population. There were two reasons for that action. One was the local people in Canaan were idolators and vile behaving people toward others. This was God’s punishment on them for the hideous life styles they had lived. Some of their achievements were sacrificing children by burning them alive (these were their OWN children, by the way). They developed the method of torture execution of skinning people alive – a real crowd pleaser.
The second reason was God didn’t want the nation of Israel to ‘mix’ with the locals. They had enough bad habits of their own and didn’t need to pick up any more bad habits.
Consider this: Death is not the ultimate end. Death is certainly not the worst that can happen to a human being. I’d rather be killed than a traitor to either God, country or friends. I’d rather be killed than a coward. I’d rather be killed than be one who uses others without consideration for them. Dying and going to Hell because one rejects God is far worse than just dying.
What is the ‘eternal plan’? I know that God is a God of love, justice, morals and far-thinking. I know He is fair and just. Honest, too, or He’d have covered up anything nasty or nasty sounding. 2nd Peter 3:9 … because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. The term ‘perish’ here refers to eternal punishment in Hell, not mere physical death. (We’re ALL going to die physically.) Are those children ‘safe’? They are in God’s hands. I cannot guarantee anything, but I’d bet they are safer with God than they are being raised by Pagans. Without the knowledge of sin and law, the law has no penalty. Romans 5:13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin when there is no law.
Now, before any slack-jawed, under-witted, dim-bulb asks if it’s okay for them to kill children in order to ‘save’ them, I have two questions: One. Did God specifically instruct you to kill those children? Two. Does the laws of your state or locality recognize such commands as a defense to First Degree Murder?
15. What does He really think about gay people and abortion? Are we are blowing either issue out of proportion? Why is being gay wrong, and is it really a moral issue.
Homosexuality is prohibited in both Old and New Testament.
Leviticus 18:22 You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman; it is a detestable act.
Leviticus 20:13 If a man has sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman, the two of them have committed an abomination. They must be put to death; their blood guilt is on themselves.
1st Timothy 1:9 …realizing that law is not intended for a righteous person, but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 1:10 sexually immoral people, practicing homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers – in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching.
1st Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals 6:10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Be in no doubt. The ‘practice’ of homosexuality is forbidden. According to Paul – who wrote the epistles of Timothy and Corinthians – just like all the other categories and specifics of sin mentioned. By the way, the terms ‘liars, perjurers, verbally abuse’ can easily include ‘gossips’. Yeah; gossips are in the same group as ‘practicing homosexuals’. Not to mention adulterers.
But see what Paul says next in – (follows from the 1st Corinthians 6:9 verse above) –
1st Corinthians 6:11 Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. So no one is ‘stuck’ in such a lifestyle.
Read in context, both the law of Moses and the Christian ‘commands’ about homosexuality both speak more about the ‘actions’ than the people involved. One also notes the penalty is the same for both homosexual relations and fornication – heterosexual relations.
Why is being ‘gay’ wrong? One can say with certainty it is wrong; less sure is the reasoning behind it. The best understanding I have of the matter is this; it violates the basic rules on how things work. The act of homosexual ‘sex’ in essence mocks the concept of procreation inherent in sex. Much in the same way as fornication (between heterosexual partners). It reduces the sex act to entertainment with no further purpose. I’ve pointed out to some non-believers it is an evolutionary dead end. (Nothing in this sort of thing to ensure survival of the species.) If nothing else, it is expressly forbidden.
So what does God think of homosexuals? God wants them to have a relationship with Him; to be cleaned of ALL sin – just like everyone else – and be included in Eternity with the redeemed. Homosexuals are not singled out. Not only that, but the escape clause is published. (Verse 11.) Just like everyone else, they are encouraged rather than welcome to come to Jesus, confess their rebellion, ask for forgiveness and submit to God’s will. (Not mine, not yours, not some televangelist.)
Are we blowing the problem out of proportion? When we put homosexuality in a ‘special category’ and declare they are fully out of God’s reach and never to be forgiven, yes, we are. Should we just ignore it and bring unrepentant people of any persuasion into the fellowship and ignore what God says about it? No.
The difficulty is this: Most of the homosexual people I know – several, by the way – do not see what they do as ‘sinful’. Without a knowledge or consciousness of sin, one has nothing to repent. That’s a real deal breaker. Still, I don’t see any value in grabbing such a person by the ears and screaming ‘sinner’ in their face until it makes sense to him or her. I tend to pray that my lost friends will come to realize their need for God – I’ll let God handle the details.
Abortion is merely a special form of murder. It is the modern equivalent of sacrificing children to Molech. Instead of sacrificing to Molech, people are sacrificing to convenience, pleasure, and self-gratification.
That abortion is ‘legal’ is immaterial. There are things God will not countenance, laws or no laws. The argument about ‘my own body’ is absurd. The child’s body is not theirs. The child is a separate person, not a parasite or symbiote or growth.
Some lackwit wanted to argue a short while ago that abortion was ‘good’, in that the child went to Heaven. So what? The eternal destiny of the child is NOT the question; the question is the action of the murderer.
Like homosexuality, it is difficult which which to deal. Any approach that dumps guilt on the head of the mother to be – or not be – is probably abusive. The only approach is that in which God deals with the people involved – all the people involved – and brings about a difference in view and values.
Abstaining from the sorts of activities which result in ‘unexpected pregnancies’ is a good practice for anyone who might be involved. If that was too subtle, I mean men as well. It takes two to tango, so to speak; a man who sires a child under any circumstances is part of the equation – or problem.
Also like homosexuality, God forgives those who repent and seek forgiveness. This includes the woman who survives the ordeal; the man who sires the child; and the abortionist and his/her accomplices. I will say this, it takes some serious love, commitment and sensitivity to deal with the aftermath. And there is NO point in kicking people who are down already.
I had trouble thinking of stuff that was directly related to God because it’s hard to think of him as a person.
I understand. God isn’t ‘just some person’. On the other hand, we are created in His image, so He’s not like a hyper-intelligent slime mold who communicates by changing colors.
God sent humanity a book with a self-introduction and instructions. He sends preachers and teachers to explain Himself. God is not hiding. And He welcomes questions; but He expects the questioners to want answers.