Can anyone predict the future?

No.

Solomon (the wisest man ever, according to the Bible) says no one knows the future, so no one can tell you what’s to come. Because no one knows what’s coming. No one knows when their own death will come. In fact, no one can discover anything about their future, and no one can tell you what’s going to happen in the world after you die, either.

James agrees. He says you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, so you shouldn’t act like you even have any idea what you’re going to do tomorrow.

That’s settled, then. No one can predict the future. The Bible says so. Who’s going to disagree with the Bible? Oh right, of course… The Bible is going to disagree with the Bible.

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Discrimination by tribe

Here’s what the Bible says about how people were, or should have been, treated based on which tribe of Israel they were part of:

Levi

Moses set the Levites apart as God’s special favored tribe, to reward them for murdering thousands of their fellow Israelites. The Levites were exempt from military duty, but they had their own special duties, taking care of God’s stuff. And only Levites were supposed to do that kind of thing.

The law allowed Levites to do things that other people weren’t allowed to do. It even required them to do things that other people would be executed for doing. God personally killed people who touched his stuff if they weren’t Levites. And a king who let people be priests even though they weren’t Levites is labeled as evil in the Bible. If you’re not a Levite, God doesn’t want you to be a priest, except maybe if you’re Jesus.

A lot of the stuff that the law of Moses required other Israelites to tithe “to God” actually went to the Levites. Moses was a Levite, by the way. Moses kept claiming that God wanted the people to give Moses’s family and tribe free food and money. You don’t get that kind of treatment if you’re not a Levite, except maybe if you’re Melchizedek.

The Israelites were required to preserve their original tribal land divisions. Any marriage that would have resulted in people of one tribe inheriting land from another tribe was forbidden. The Levites didn’t get to inherit any land, though. They lived in the other tribes’ land. All the other tribes were required to set aside towns and pasturelands for the Levites. So… actually the Levites did get their own land, even though God said they couldn’t.

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The Story of Elijah’s God Contest
The Gods Must Be Lazy

During the reign of the evil King Ahab, some of the Israelites began to abandon their God. They started worshiping another god, called Baal. So Elijah, a prophet of God, challenged Ahab and the 450 prophets of Baal. He had them meet him on a mountain in the presence of the people of Israel.

Elijah had a bull killed and put it on an altar to sacrifice it to God, but didn’t set it on fire. The prophets of Baal did the same for their god. The prophets kept calling to Baal all day, asking him to prove his existence by setting his bull on fire himself, but Baal didn’t respond. Elijah suggested shouting louder, in case Baal was asleep or something, but that didn’t help.

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The Gods Must Be Lazy
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Was there another prophet like Moses?

The book of Deuteronomy concludes by stating that since then, there has never been another prophet like Moses—no one who knew God the way Moses did, and could do the miracles Moses did.

But earlier in Deuteronomy, Moses says God is planning to send another prophet like him. Who would that be? The New Testament claims that Moses was talking about Jesus, and Jesus was greater than Moses. If that was really who Moses meant, then I guess that wouldn’t really contradict Deuteronomy saying there hadn’t been another prophet like Moses, since Deuteronomy was definitely written before Jesus.

But is that really what Moses meant when he said there would be another prophet like him? Looking at the context, it seems Moses was talking about a prophet who the Israelites could consult when they moved into the promised land, so they wouldn’t have to resort to other kinds of divination that God didn’t approve of.

Moses was clearly not talking about a prophet who wouldn’t come till hundreds of years after Israel had already disobeyed God in that way so thoroughly that God put an end to their kingdom. More likely, Moses was talking about his immediate successor, Joshua.

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The Bible’s questions, answered—part 2: Answers to questions in “the law”

The Bible contains a lot of questions, and it doesn’t always provide satisfactory answers. So now I’m answering some of the Bible’s questions myself. I’ve already answered the ones in Genesis. Now for the rest of the Pentateuch…

Pharaoh asks the Hebrew midwives, who he had told to kill all the new baby Hebrew boys: Why have you let the boys live? Answer: They were just scared of what their God would think. Otherwise they would have been happy to murder all their relatives’ baby boys, apparently.

Moses’s sister asks Pharaoh’s daughter: Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you? Answer: I wouldn’t call it “for her”, no. Since it’s going to be the baby’s own mother doing it.

Pharaoh asks: Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? Answer: He’s a lunatic who isn’t going to let you obey him even if you want to.

Pharaoh asks Moses: Why are you taking the people away from their labor? Answer: Because they never agreed to do that labor?

Pharaoh’s officials ask: How long will this man be a snare to us? Answer: Until God gets tired of fighting against himself.

Pharaoh’s officials ask him: Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined? Answer: Yes, he already tried to surrender, but God wouldn’t let him.

Pharaoh asks: What have we done? Answer: You’ve obeyed God and freed his people from slavery… And God is not going to let you get away with obeying him and freeing his people from slavery.

Jethro asks Moses: What’s this you are doing for the people? Answer: Serving as their judge.

Aaron asks: Would the Lord have been pleased if I had eaten the sin offering today? Answer: Not likely. He’s always punishing people for obeying him.

Aaron and Miriam ask: Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Answer: No.

Then they ask: Hasn’t he also spoken through us? Answer: I don’t think the Bible mentions any specific cases of God speaking through Miriam. But it does say she was a prophet.

Balaam’s donkey asks him: What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times? And an angel also asks Balaam: Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? Answer: The donkey tried to prevent him from doing what God told him to do.

Balak asks Balaam: Did I not send you an urgent summons? Answer: Not as far as I know.

Balak asks him: Why didn’t you come to me? Answer: Because God forgot he wanted him to.

Then Balak asks him: Am I really not able to reward you? Answer: No, you are not really not able to reward him.

Balaam asks: How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the Lord has not denounced? Answer: Same way you can teach them to sin and turn God away from them?

Balaam asks: Who can count even a fourth of Israel? Answer: Moses and Aaron and the leaders of the tribes can count (almost) all of them.

Balaam asks: Must I not speak what the Lord puts in my mouth? Answer: That and a lot of other things, apparently.

After Balaam goes to find out what God wants him to say, Balak asks him: What did the Lord say? Answer: He said “Go back to Balak and give him this word.”

Balaam asks: Does God speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Answer: Yes.

Balaam asks Balak: Did I not tell you I must do whatever the Lord says? Answer: No, you told him you had to say whatever the Lord said.

Balaam asks Balak: Did I not tell the messengers you sent me that I can’t do anything of my own accord to go beyond the command of the Lord, and I must say only what the Lord says? Answer: No, you told Balak, but I don’t think you told his messengers that.

Balaam asks: Who can live when God does this? Answer: People who aren’t from Cyprus or Ashur or Eber?

Some unspecified people ask: Who can stand up against the Anakites? Answer: Joshua and Caleb.

The Israelites’ questions

A Hebrew man asks Moses: Who made you ruler and judge over us? Answer: Well, the princess did adopt him, so I guess that makes him your prince…

He also asks: Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian? Answer: It’s possible. Moses doesn’t mind killing Israelites.

The Israelite overseers ask Pharaoh: Why have you given us such unreasonable work requirements? Answer: So you’ll be too busy to listen to Moses.

The Israelites ask Moses: Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? Answer: Letting them die in the desert wasn’t Moses’s intention… But, incidentally, God is going to let them die in the desert. (Because they like the land flowing with milk and honey that they came from better than the one he chose for them.)

The Israelites ask Moses: What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Answer: Tried to rescue you from your hardship. Not that that will do much good, since the real cause of your trouble is still with you

The Israelites ask Moses: Didn’t we tell you to leave us alone and let us serve the Egyptians? Answer: Not exactly.

The Israelites ask Moses: Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst? Answer: Because God told him to, because God wants you to die in the desert.

The Israelites ask: Is the Lord among us or not? Answer: No, God won’t dwell among the people until after the world ends.

Some Israelites ask: We have become unclean because of a dead body, but why should we be kept from presenting the Lord’s offering with the other Israelites at the appointed time? Answer: Because you have become unclean because of a dead body.

The Israelites ask: Why did we ever leave Egypt? Answer: Because the Egyptians didn’t want you there anymore.

They ask: Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Answer: Could it have something to do with the fact that Moses insisted on God going with them after God made it clear that he couldn’t do that without killing them all?

Then they ask: Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt? Answer: I doubt you’d be welcome there either.

Some Israelites ask Moses: Why do you set yourself above the Lord’s assembly? Answer: Because God refused to admit that such an ineloquent man wasn’t a good choice.

Those Israelites ask Moses: Isn’t it enough that you have brought us out of Egypt to kill us in the wilderness? Do you want to treat these men like slaves? Answer: Do you want to be slaves or not? Make up your minds.

The Israelites ask: Are we all going to die? Answer: Of course. Who isn’t?

The Israelites ask Moses: Why did you bring us into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? Answer: Because God chose not to teleport them straight into the promised land, because he thought that wouldn’t be as impressive.

The Israelites ask him again: Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? Answer: Because God’s plan is flawed.

The daughters of Zelophehad ask: Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Answer: Because he had no son.

The Israelites ask: Why should we die now? Answer: Because no one can see God’s face and live.

They ask: What mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire and survived? Answer: Moses.

Moses imagines the Israelites asking: How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord? Moses’s answer: Wait and see if the prediction comes true. If it doesn’t, then you know it wasn’t from God. Real answer: You can’t, generally, because Moses’s false prophecy test ignores the fact that most prophecies have no deadline, and are therefore unfalsifiable.

God imagines future Israelites asking: Have not these disasters come on us because our God is not with us? Answer: That doesn’t seem like a very good way to describe disasters that were caused by your God, no.

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Can the coming of the kingdom of God be observed?

Jesus once claimed that the coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed. He acted like “the coming of the kingdom” wasn’t what it sounded like at all. Like it was just something that was with you all along. But he also told his disciples they were going to see the coming of Christ along with his kingdom, which is also God’s kingdom.1

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The Story of Rehoboam and Jeroboam
The Kingdom Splits in Two

God wanted to punish King Solomon for worshiping other gods. But he liked Solomon’s dead father too much to do that. So he decided to wait until Solomon was dead and punish his son instead.

A prophet announced that God was going to let most of Israel be taken over by Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s officials. Solomon wisely attempted to hinder God’s plan by killing Jeroboam. But before he could, Jeroboam fled to Egypt, where he waited for Solomon to die. Solomon was succeeded by his son Rehoboam.

The people of Israel told Rehoboam they would serve him, but only if he didn’t make them work as hard as his father had. Rehoboam wasn’t sure how to answer them, so he asked for advice. The elders he asked said he should give the people what they wanted. But the young men he asked said he should make the people work even harder. While torturing them with scorpions.

To punish Rehoboam for what his dead father had done, God made Rehoboam decide to follow the bad advice of the young men. This caused most of the Israelites to turn against him. Israel made Jeroboam their king instead of Rehoboam, but the tribes of Judah and Benjamin seceded from Israel. They became the kingdom of Judah, and kept Rehoboam as their king.

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The Kingdom Splits in Two
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The Story of King Solomon
The Wisest Man in the World

When King David was old, he had trouble staying warm. His attendants solved that problem by finding a hot girl to lie next to him in bed. Her name was Abishag, but he didn’t shag her. One day, David’s wife Bathsheba came to his room with a complaint.

She said David had promised that her son Solomon would be the next king. But now another son of David, Adonijah, had made himself king. Then David had Bathsheba come to his room, and he declared Solomon to be the new king of Israel.

When Adonijah heard about that, he was afraid Solomon would kill him. Solomon decided not to kill his brother for trying to become king. But then when Adonijah tried to marry Abishag, Solomon did kill him, because he thought that meant Adonijah was trying to become king. After David died, Solomon also killed a man David had sworn would not be killed, because Solomon was a wise man.

One night, after Solomon sacrificed at an unauthorized altar, God offered to give him anything he wanted. Solomon asked for wisdom, because he was young and inexperienced and ignorant and didn’t know right from wrong. God was so pleased that Solomon hadn’t asked for money that he made Solomon the richest king of all time, and he also made him the wisest person of all time. Solomon later asked God to let him live as long as the sun and moon endured. But apparently God didn’t like that request as much.

After he became wise, Solomon suggested cutting a baby in half. Then he wisely decided not to let the baby be raised by a prostitute who thought his idea was a good one. (He gave the baby to a different prostitute instead.)

King Solomon ruled over many other kingdoms in addition to Israel. During his reign there was peace for Israel, except when there wasn’t. He wrote thousands of songs1 and proverbs, and studied plants and animals. People came from all over the world to hear his wisdom. But wisdom was beyond him.

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The Wisest Man in the World
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