Q: Is it known why the nature of animals is sometimes very cruel? For instance, the preying mantis begins eating its victims, while still alive, and packs of lions tear their prey, while still alive. Will all wild animals have their nature changed, or will this only happen on God's holy mountain?

A: There is no biblical evidence that God created animals at the beginning with vicious natures. We do find, however, that the nature of animals changed, when they gave in to Satan’s influence.

We read, for example, in Genesis 3:1 that “the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” While Satan is described as a serpent and as a dragon (Revelation 20:2), it appears that Eve was confronted by and spoke to a real serpent in the Genesis account. Satan gave the serpent a voice — as later, God gave a donkey a man’s voice to speak to the false prophet Balaam (Numbers 22:28; 2 Peter 2:16).

We read that the serpent — that is, the animal — was more cunning or more subtle than every other beast of the field. Later, God punished the serpent, stating that it was more cursed than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field (Genesis 3:14). God pronounces punishment on a literal serpent, as well as, of course, on Satan the devil who used the serpent.

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Q: Do the laws concerning bodily discharges in Leviticus Chapter 15 apply today?

If they do, does that mean if we are unclean because of a bodily discharge as described in verses 16-24 that we should not come before God in prayer or for worship during the time which we are unclean? Should we abstain from sexual relations with our marriage partners in order to be clean thus allowing us to keep the Sabbath holy?

A: Most of the laws in Leviticus 15 were clearly only of a ritual nature and are no longer binding for us today. We explain the concept of ritual laws in our free booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound…” As we point out on page 53 of the booklet, one way to determine whether laws are temporary or permanent, is to look at the “penalty”:

“For instance, the violation of a statute or a particular circumstance could make a person ‘unclean’ for a certain period of time. Following ritual washings, that person could become clean again. Clearly, these kinds of laws are strictly ritualistic in nature, as no violation of a binding law was automatically cured simply by lapse of time and ritual washings.”

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Q. Why does the Church of the Eternal God not celebrate new moons today?

A: According to the Hebrew calendar, a month starts with a new moon. While there are express and clear commandments in the Bible to celebrate today God’s weekly Sabbath and His annual Holy Days, there is no command in the Bible, enjoining us to celebrate today the beginning of the new months — or new moons. The early New Testament Church continued to keep and celebrate the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days, but we do not have any Biblical record indicating that they celebrated new moons. (In Colossians 2:16, Paul does not speak about “new moons” in general, but about “a new moon” — referring specifically to the Feast of Trumpets, the only annual Feast day which falls on a new moon.)

In ancient times, some assembled on the occasion of each new moon, with the blowing of trumpets, to signify the beginning of a month (Numbers 10:10). Calendars were not available to everyone in ancient Israel the way we have them today. Rather, the priesthood was entrusted with the responsibility to determine and make known to the people when a new month would start.

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Q: What does it mean that God will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Him (compare Exodus 20:5)?

Doesn’t this contradict Scriptures such as Deuteronomy 24:16, stating that children are not to be put to death for their fathers, but that a person “shall be put to death for his own sin.”?

A: This question has puzzled many over the years. To fully understand what God is saying in Exodus 20:5, let us read the entire passage in context, beginning with verse 4:

“(4) You shall not make for yourself a carved image… (5) you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, (6) but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

Similar statements can be found in Exodus 34:6-7; Numbers 14:18; and Deuteronomy 5:8-10.

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Q: What is the "tithe of the tithe"?

A: Many years ago, the Church of God, under Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, the late Pastor General of the Church, made the administrative decision to ask Church members and co-workers to send one tenth of their second tithe to the Church, to be used for necessary Feast of Tabernacles expenses, including rental for Church halls. Since then, the Church has usually referred to this amount as the “tithe of the tithe.” Church members and co-workers were asked to calculate their second tithe available to them at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, and to send ten percent of that (calculated) amount to the Church, in advance, as soon as possible. This practice has allowed the Church to avoid using for the payment of Feast expenses general contributions received to be spent for the preaching of the gospel and the feeding of the flock.

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Why do you teach that a Christian should not vote in governmental elections?

Please read first, in regard to this question, our special tribute to Herbert W. Armstrong and the excerpts from his 1984 article, titled, “How Would Jesus Vote for President?”, which are published in this issue of the Update. The tribute and excerpts give an overview regarding the problems for a Christian being involved in voting […]

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Q: Why does the Bible teach that a man is to leave his parents in order to cleave to his wife? What is meant by this? Does this also mean, by extension, that the wife is to leave her parents as well, in order to cleave to her husband?

A: The Bible is very explicit, for important reasons, to enjoin the newly married couple to live separate from their parents. We read about this Biblical injunction at the institution of the marriage, in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become […]

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Q: Would you please explain who the "watchers" are that are mentioned in Daniel 4?

A: In Daniel 4, king Nebuchadnezzar tells Daniel about a dream. The king had seen “a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven.” (verse 13). This “watcher” had proclaimed “a decision” that had been made “by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that […]

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Q. Is Deuteronomy 24:1-4 still applicable today, prohibiting a divorced wife, who married a second husband, to return to her first husband?

A. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 reads, “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.”

We need to understand several principles when dealing with questions such as these, relating to divorce and remarriage.

(1) Marriage between two truly converted Christian partners

Quoting from our booklet, “The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families,” page 2, “God wants our marriages to succeed. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16)… Two truly converted married Christians (as long as both remain alive and converted throughout their marriage to each other) must never divorce and subsequently marry somebody else! Their marriage, which has been bound by God, is for life (1 Corinthians 7:10-11; Romans 7:1-3; Luke 16:18).”

From this it follows that Deuteronomy 24:1-4 would not be applicable today, IF the (first) “divorce” occurred, while both parties were and remained to be converted. The converted husband cannot unbind today a valid marriage to a converted wife by writing her a certificate of divorce (compare Matthew 19:7-9). In God’s eyes, such a “divorce” is not accepted, and husband and wife are still “bound” or married to each other (compare, again, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11). They can separate, but they cannot marry someone else. They either have to remain “single,” or they have to unite again and continue their marriage relationship.

(2) Marriage between a truly converted Christian and an “Unbeliever”

What about a situation, however, when the mate becomes or is an “unbeliever”? We continue quoting from our booklet:

“Even in such a case, divorce and subsequent remarriage is not Biblically permitted, unless the ‘unbelieving mate’ departs from the marriage, by not fulfilling his or her marriage duties, and the ‘unbeliever’ is no longer willing to live with the converted mate (cp. 1 Corinthians 7:12-16). Such total departure from the marriage by the ‘unbeliever’ can be seen in serious continuous violations of his or her marriage duties and responsibilities, such as the sinful practice of ‘sexual immorality’ (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:9). But even then, counseling with one of God’s ministers is highly recommended, with the goal to restore, rather than to sever, the marriage.”

Applying this principle to Deuteronomy 24:1-4, if husband and wife divorced because the wife is or became an unbeliever and departed from the marriage (which might be indicated, in principle, by the fact that the husband found “some uncleanness in her”), then the husband is free to remarry (The same would apply, of course, to a wife, that is, the wife would be free to remarry if the husband is an unbeliever and departs from the marriage.) It needs to be emphasized that this would only be the case, however, if the unbelieving mate is no longer pleased to dwell with the believer and departs from the marriage relationship. As long as the unbeliever is pleased to dwell with the believer, the believer cannot sever the marriage. (The only exception would be “fraud at the time of the marriage” — that is, when one partner conceals essential facts about him-or herself from his or her future mate. In such a case, God would not bind a marriage to begin with, and the deceived mate, upon discovery of the fraud, would be free to leave such a relationship. Such departure, though, has to occur immediately upon discovery of the fraud).

Further, the converted mate would only be free to remarry “in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39), that is, to a “believer” (compare Ezrah 10:10-11 — that is, to someone who has truly repented of his or her sins of transgressing God’s Ten Commandments; who has believed in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as payment for his or her sins; and who has become baptized as an outward sign of inner repentance). Unless the divorced wife, whose subsequent marriage has also ended (see under #4), comes to or returns to the faith as a true believer, the first husband could not remarry her.

(3) Marriage between two unconverted partners

But let us suppose that the divorce took place while both parties were still unconverted. As we came to understand in 1975, God looks at the status of the person when he or she is called into the truth. If a “divorced” person is called by God in that state of his or her divorce, he or she is not required to return to the former mate (who may not be converted and who may be remarried) –compare the principles described in 1 Corinthians 7:20-24. Rather, such a person, upon conversion, is free to marry a converted partner.

(4) Can the converted mate re-marry the (now) converted mate?

The question arises, however, in light of Deuteronomy 24:1-4, whether the converted husband is free to remarry the (now) converted wife (or vice versa), if the wife had been married in the meantime to another partner. Several Biblical principles suggest that he could remarry his first wife, if she is also free to marry, and that therefore, Deuteronomy 24:1-4 would not be applicable today in such cases:

The main principle is that God wants a marriage restored, rather than broken up. Using a spiritual parallel to this example, although God makes it clear that He, as a converted husband, would not receive back His first unconverted wife Israel, as long as she remains unconverted, “playing the harlot” (Jeremiah 3:1-5), He WILL marry her upon her repentance and conversion (since Christ will marry spiritual Israel upon His return). Some have suggested that Christ was only free to remarry His former wife, because He died — thereby bringing the marriage relationship to an end. However, Christ did state that He gave His first wife a bill of divorce. In addition, we need to understand that the concept of Christ, being married to ancient Israel, and going to marry spiritual Israel, is an analogy. One cannot carry an analogy too far, of course, since Christ made clear that in the resurrection, we will not marry or be given in marriage — literally. Also, not only Christ died, but we too, upon our conversion, “died” in a spiritual sense, and although we are already “betrothed” to Christ right now, Christ will only consummate our marriage with Him, when we are fully Spirit, like He is.

Still, the analogy shows us certain principles. Christ, Who is the same yesterday, today and forever, is willing to take back His unconverted wife and “marry” her again, upon her conversion, even though she married other men and played the harlot in the meantime. This would show, then, that a converted husband is free to remarry his converted wife, even though his wife was married to another man in the meantime, as long as the wife is also free to remarry her first husband (or vice versa).

(a) This is clearly the case when the second husband dies (Deuteronomy 24:3).
(b) This is also the case when the unconverted wife divorces from her second unconverted husband prior to her conversion (see under #3).
(c) This would NOT be the case, however, if the wife becomes converted, while married to her second unconverted husband (see under #3). With her conversion, God accepts her in the state in which she is, that is, as a woman married to her second husband. Unless the second husband dies or is an unbeliever who is not any longer pleased to dwell with his wife (see under #2), the wife would not be free to sever that

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