#STRask: March 16, 2017

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Published on 03/16/2017

Greg is on a timer and answers questions about the God Jews and Muslims worship, application of Jesus’ instructions, and where Israel crossed the Red Sea.


  • Do Jews and Muslims worship the same God?
  • Do Jesus’ instructions to the disciples in Mark 6:7-11 have modern day application and, if so, to whom?
  • I can’t seem to find consensus on the geographic location where Israel crossed the Red Sea in Exodus.


Melinda: Hello there. This is Melinda the Enforcer and I’m here with Greg Koukl.

Greg Koukl: Hi Auntie Mindy.

Melinda: And this is the STRask podcast. #STRask as I say every single time because that’s how you ask us our questions on Twitter but that’s important to know. Use #STRask and it has to be a short question because Greg has less than four minutes to answer it unless I interrupt a lot and decide to give him a little extra time which doesn’t usually happen. Well it happens once in a while.

Greg Koukl: It doesn’t happen that you interrupt a lot?

Melinda: No, that I decide to give you extra time.

Greg Koukl: Oh that’s true about that. Yeah.

Melinda: So, let’s just get going here. First question. Now, listen carefully to this question because I actually misunderstood it at first. Do Muslims and Jews worship the same God though each may have an incomplete or inaccurate understanding of him? Is the God of Islam also the God of Hebrew scriptures?

Greg Koukl: I think the answer to that is clearly no. The Muslim revelation is completely different about God. When I say completely, there’s a unitarian God obviously. They’re monotheistic religions but when it gets to other attributes of God and what God is purposing to do in the world and what his covenants are that relate to the salvation of the world, all of those things, the Muslims are, they just have a different enterprise that’s going. It is not to put them down. It’s just to be careful in our thinking.

They don’t share, even though there is a kind of, I would say, lip service given to the Hebrew scriptures and even the New Testament in being valid, in some measure, revelations of the God they both serve - frankly, just because they say they serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob does not mean they actually do, okay? In this regard words are cheap. It doesn’t matter what you say. It matters what’s actually going on.

There is a fully adequate revelation of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the history of the Jews. That is God reveals himself in history by penetrating history and acting in history. We see this notably in the Old Testament, the Hebrew scriptures with the Exodus and we see it notably in the New Testament with the person of Jesus and his resurrection. In all of these cases, what you have is you have narrative history of God intervening and making a difference in reality. And in so doing, revealing his purposes and his character.

The Old Testament, two major covenants. The old covenant, Mosaic, and the new covenant that’s described in Jeremiah 31 and following, and then we see fulfilled in the person of Jesus. This is not the case in Islam. They have a different system of salvation and pleasing God, et cetera. Plus there is an intimacy in the Old Testament that is clear throughout, whether it being Abraham or Moses or David. This is an intimacy that’s not even countenanced in a Muslim view of God because that would be considered a cheapening of God, and the idea that we have a relationship with him draws God too close to the earth for their comfort levels.

These are just a couple of examples of the ways that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is indeed very different than the God of Islam. Simply put though, just because they’re monotheistic and they say they worship the same God does not mean they are worshiping the same God. Their monotheistic conception of God is, I think, very different than the biblical record shows in the Hebrew scriptures.

Melinda: Okay. Next question comes from @rutabagasaregood. Are rutabagas the carrot looking things that are white?

Greg Koukl: Oh I thought they were kind of red, but they are kind of like the...They’re a little bulgier than carrots.

Melinda: They’re more like turnips or something.

Greg Koukl: Well, let’s see.

Melinda: I don’t know if I’ve ever had a rutabaga.

Greg Koukl: That’s different than kohlrabi.

Melinda: Right?

Greg Koukl: Yeah kohlrabi’s got that bulb above the ground with the leaves coming out and then rutabaga is probably below the ground but...

Melinda: Yeah it is. I found part of it now. Anyways, so I can’t vouch for this but this person’s Twitter handle is @rutabagasaregood.

Greg Koukl: Wait. I’m starting my clock over here about that. I’m giving myself a reset. All right. Go ahead.

Melinda: Do Jesus’ instructions to the disciples...Here we have a picture. Yeah that’s what I thought. They look kind of like large radishes.

Greg Koukl: Yeah.

Melinda: I don’t think I’ve ever had a rutabaga.

Greg Koukl: Hold on I’m starting my thing over again. All right.

Melinda: Do Jesus’ instruction to the disciples in Mark 6:7-11 have modern day application and if so to whom?

Greg Koukl: Mark 6.

Melinda: I’m slowing down there trying to give you time.

Greg Koukl: Okay. You should have said to whom.

Melinda: Mark 6:7-11.

Greg Koukl: Okay. This is the 12 is being sent out. This is probably parallel with Matthew 10 also. They’re sending out in pairs and he’s giving them authority over the unclean spirits, et cetera, et cetera and he gives a series of instructions about what they are to take and not to take, et cetera. These are somewhat different set of instructions that he gives out later on I think, just for the record.

Melinda: Different time.

Greg Koukl: They went out and preached that men should repent and they were casting out many demons and they were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them. Well I think just as a matter of observation, this I don’t think is the case nowadays because there are plenty of really fabulous Christians that love the Lord deeply that do not seem to have the authority in Christ to instantly heal whoever it is they proclaim healing over.

There may be some people and I’m certainly open to this, that have particular gifts to accomplish that. I know there’s some theological debate about that, but nevertheless I’m at least open to the concept. But everybody doesn’t have that. It does seem that each person that was sent out here, and I would take it kind of ironically, that would include...

Melinda: Judas.

Greg Koukl: Judas. He summoned the 12. That includes Judas.

Melinda: Just think after what Judas saw and...

Greg Koukl: And did, I know.

Melinda: Must have participated in.

Greg Koukl: Right. And began to send them out in pairs and gave them authority over the unclean spirits and instructed them they should take nothing et cetera and whenever you enter a house blah, blah, blah. I’m trying to look at the casting out demons and we’re anointing with oil many sick people and healing them. I certainly think that happens today too. But there does seem to be when you read the passage seem to be kind of a universal application of this for them at that time. What I mean is that they went out and they were, boy when every demon they ran into, they were casting out and I do think there’s authority for that. People that they’re praying over get healed. In fact when they come back, they are rejoicing at the powerful things that they beheld.

I do not see this as characteristic of Christendom in general now and I don’t think it’s because most Christians just don’t have enough faith. I think the Holy Spirit was doing something singular at that time that he is not doing today. Now again, I don’t want to be misread here.

Melinda: You’re not a cessationist.

Greg Koukl: I’m not a cessationist. Now I’m not saying it never happened. In this case it happened with all of them.

Melinda: Right. There was something different going on there.

Greg Koukl: So the question is can this be applied pretty much I guess in the same way today as it was then, everyone who’s a disciple of Christ can go out in pairs and do all of that and I don’t see that. Now I do believe though when there is a genuine encounter with a real demon, that they can be dealt with. I’ve not had this experience myself, but they can be dealt with by the criterion or the methodology in a sense that Jesus describes we finding the gospels in the name and by the authority of Jesus. There’s nothing magic in the J-E-S-U-S nomenclature because the Hebrew demon exorcist couldn’t work magic by adjuring the demon by Jesus whom Paul preached. You know the demon says I recognize Jesus, I know about Paul but who are you? And he beat the guys up.

It’s not just the magic in saying the J-E-S-U-S word. It means as his representative and in his name. Stop in the name of the law. Well only a policeman can say that because they stand in the name of the law. Now a Christian can say to the demon stop in the name of the law and I believe that there’s still authority to do that. Whether it’s across the board for healing though, I doubt that or we would be seeing a lot more healings than we do today.

Melinda: I actually find great comfort in the fact that Jesus is more powerful than any other spirit we’ll ever encounter. I did once a long time ago have an encounter with a demon and it was just, it was using the name of Jesus and it was over with. But Jesus, and you’ve mentioned this before, that people have asked, “Can Christians be demon-possessed?” And basically I think you answered not. I mean they can be maybe harassed.

Greg Koukl: Demonized.

Melinda: Demonized. Because Jesus is more powerful than all those spirits.

Greg Koukl: That’s right.

Melinda: So there’s nothing to fear there.

Greg Koukl: I did want to add this if I could, just for a moment. I know some people have pointed out that Jesus healed everybody that came to him, and as far as we know that’s the case. And so then they draw from that the conclusion that everybody who prays to Jesus ought to be healed or something akin to that nowadays. I also want to point out that yes, Jesus seemed to heal everybody who came to him and he healed everyone who came to him instantly.

If we are not getting healed instantly by Jesus, and or completely, then this may be an indication that the criteria is a little different now than it was then. That’s all I’m saying. You know if you’re going to hark back to that as your criteria, your parallel. Well that’s the way it happened then, well it’s not happening that way today. It just seems to be obviously the case. We’re in a little different I don’t know if I should say dispensation is the right word, but certainly things are different now than they were then.

Melinda: Yeah, Greg’s kind of unique in his theological systems. He’s a reformed dispensationalist continuist.

Greg Koukl: Something or other.

Melinda: Kind of like a unicorn. So next question comes from @manuelmena. I can’t seem to find a consensus on the geographic location where Israel crossed the Red Sea in Exodus. Bible maps show wilderness travel on land only. Do you have an idea of where it’s thought they crossed over?

Greg Koukl: Well there’s the shallow water route in the north and there’s the deep water root in the south. I’ve had some conversations ironically or maybe surprisingly with Steven Meyer, you know, Signature in the Cell guy.

Melinda: Oh that’s right.

Greg Koukl: He’s actually done quite a bit of work on this and I think it is, he discusses it in one of his True U presentations.

Melinda: Yeah, he does. I think I did a blog post about it even a few years ago.

Greg Koukl: He seems to think that the deep water route is the preferred one and there are archeological curiosities that suggest that that might be right. He said the real problem though is what time people are looking in. The reason that there hasn’t been apparently much archeological evidence forthcoming about this massive event called the Exodus where so many remarkable things happened which included the destruction of the Egyptian army or the bulk of it, is because they’ve been looking in the wrong time frame.

There are certain kind of presuppositions that people make about how these things played themselves out in history and if you get the time frame wrong, you’re going to be looking in the wrong places for evidence. If you look then with the wrong time frame in places and you don’t find the evidence, then it’s understandable people will conclude the thing never took place. But, and this is a little bit overview summary here. I can’t give you the details. If you look in the right timeframe, you get that squared away, it turns out there’s lots of evidence for the Exodus.

Melinda: That’s right. It starts coming back to me a little bit. I did write a blog post basically summarizing some of his points. If they go to our website and probably put in the Red Sea or the Exodus or something, choose...

Greg Koukl: Steven Meyer maybe.

Melinda: Reduce it by blog, you can probably find it. Yeah, but even things like receipts and household inventories and things like that showed evidence of the Hebrews in Egypt.

Greg Koukl: Right. Right.

Melinda: It’s just kind of mundane stuff like that but it showed there were Hebrews there.

Greg Koukl: What you’re not likely to see, and just keep, this is kind of an argument from silence but this silence makes sense. You’re not going to see Egypt...

Melinda: Egyptians write about this.

Greg Koukl: Making a big deal about their destruction of their army by a foreign God. You know, that just makes sense. That doesn’t mean that there’s no evidence of there’s no indication, there’s no implication, but there’s no inference from details in history but if you’re looking for hieroglyphics where Pharaoh says, man did we get our butts kicked, you’re not going to find it.

Melinda: For them this was a battle of the deities, not to say their deities were real but that’s the way it’s set up with Moses

Greg Koukl: And the ten plagues.

Melinda: The priests.

Greg Koukl: Right. That’s right.

Melinda: Yeah.

Greg Koukl: Yeah, we see the priests early on but it turns out that every single one of the plagues was directed at an Egyptian deity which is meant...The idea it’s called henotheism, it was the idea that every group of people had their own God and the people were only as strong as their God was. If their God got beaten up by some other God, you know then people blasphemed the name blah, blah blah. So what God was trying to show was I’m greater.

Melinda: Well and this is why there was a lot of pluralism back them. You know you, oh why don’t you just take our gods and add them to your gods. You know we’ll be friends then, you know.

Greg Koukl: Yeah or kind of an eclectic let’s mix them all together and whatever but what God was showing was at this point, he’s the greatest God. He’s greater than Ra, the sun god. He’ll put the sun out, okay for example. It’s a theological argument. It’s polemic in a certain sense but ultimately it’s trying to show there is no sun God. The sun is just an object. It doesn’t have a name, it has a function. That’s what we see in Genesis chapter 1. It’s just got a function. It’s not a god. That’s the long term lesson that’s being taught there.

Melinda: This defeat wouldn’t have just been even on a mortal level but actually supernatural level which would have been devastating to the Egyptians.

Greg Koukl: Right. That is, they see their gods getting beaten and so they’re not going to broadcast that to the nations. By the way that would make them more vulnerable as well to other nations.

Melinda: That’s true. Yeah, that’s true.

Greg Koukl: So, anyway.

Melinda: Yup. So that’s it for this episode folks. Do you think, I’d like to try rutabagas. Do you think Trader Joe’s carries them?

Greg Koukl: I don’t know but I’m not interested thanks.

Melinda: I think they might be good. I like turnips. If they’re something like that. Anyways, that’s it for this episode. We post two episodes every week, on Mondays and Thursdays. Send us your questions on Twitter using #STRask so we can find them. You can still call Greg on Tuesdays between 4:00 and 6:00 pm to talk to him personally and to go much more in depth. I’m Melinda the enforcer with Greg Koukl for Stand to Reason.