THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Question: The Ten Commandments in Exodus 34 are different from the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Exodus 34:28 says clearly that Jehovah wrote these commandments with His finger. Why is this? (Liu, Shantung)
Answer: There is no clear record of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 34. The Ten Commandments are only recorded in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Exodus 34:10-26 are not the Ten Commandments, but God’s speaking outside of the Ten Commandments. If we read carefully verses 27 and 28, we will know that there is a difference between "these words" in verse 27 and "the words of the covenant" in verse 28. "These words" in verse 27 refer to the words in verses 10-26; they are what God ordered Moses to write down. "The words of the covenant" in verse 28 refer to the Ten Commandments and were written by God Himself (Deut. 10:2-4). God made the covenant with the people of Israel (Exo. 34:27) according to the words of verses 10-26. The words of the covenant are the Ten Commandments (v. 28). From this we know that the words in verses 10-26 are not part of the words of the Ten Commandments; they are merely words according to which God made the covenant (Ten Commandments) with the people of Israel. We know that Moses went up to the mountain twice. The first time, God wrote the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets and gave them to him (Deut. 5:22). Later, because the people of Israel sinned, Moses broke the tablets. When he went up to the mountain the second time, the Bible says: Jehovah "wrote upon the tablets as He had done the first writing, the ten words" (Deut. 10:4). The Ten Commandments that Moses received twice on the mountain are completely the same without any difference. Deuteronomy 5 is a recount of Exodus 20, whereas Deuteronomy 10 is a recount of Exodus 34. Deuteronomy 10:4 clearly proves that the Ten Commandments received in Exodus 34:28 are the same as those in Exodus 20. Therefore, our conclusion is that the Ten Commandments received in Exodus 34 are the same as those received in Exodus 20, but they were not itemized. As to the words in 34:10-26, they are merely God’s words besides the Ten Commandments that Moses recorded.
GOD OR SATAN
Question: Second Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21 record the same incident. Second Samuel says God moved David to number Israel, but 1 Chronicles says that Satan did it. The number of men that drew the sword is different in these two records also. How are these explained? (Liu, Shantung)
Answer: Dr. Gaebelein said that 2 Samuel 24:1 can be translated as "the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel and permitted David to be moved." Hence, 1 Chronicles states directly that Satan moved David, whereas 2 Samuel tells of God’s stand concerning David’s being moved, that He permitted David to be moved by Satan. Therefore, the two portions are not contradictory. Hence, the story should be as follows: The anger of God was kindled against Israel; Satan took the opportunity to move David to sin, while God allowed this to happen. As to why God was angry toward Israel, we find no clear record about this. On the second matter, the number of men who drew the sword, the records are as follows in the two books: Second Samuel says, "There were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men" (24:9). First Chronicles says, "All they of Israel were a thousand thousand and a hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword" (21:5). What 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles speak of are two different things. Second Samuel tells the number of valiant men who drew the sword, whereas 1 Chronicles records the number of men who drew the sword. Dr. Scofield said, "Some discrepant statements concerning numbers are, however, found in the existing manuscripts of the Hebrew Scriptures. These are most naturally ascribed to the fact that the Hebrews used letters in the place of numerals. The letters from Koph to Tau express hundreds up to four hundred. Five certain Hebrew letters, written in a different form, carry hundreds up to nine hundred, while thousands are expressed by two dots over the proper unit letter: e.g., the letter Teth, used alone, stands for nine; with two dots it stands for nine thousand. Error in transcription of Hebrew numbers thus becomes easy, preservation of numerical accuracy difficult." (See footnote on 1 Corinthians 10:8 in the Scofield Reference Bible.) We should know that God is not responsible for mistakes in copying. For instance, on page 2057 of the Chinese Union Bible, the word gathered was misprinted as marry [translator’s note: the Chinese characters for these two words are very similar]. In Numbers 3:35 the name of Merari was also misprinted. These are proofreading mistakes for which God is not responsible. Can we say that the Bible is in error because of these mistakes? May God bless you and lead you away from putting your trust in the unbelieving tune of the absurd higher critics.
ADAM AND EVE, AND SOLOMON
Question: Are these three people saved or lost? (Liu, Feng Village)
Answer: We do not have to worry about whether dead persons are saved or lost, because God is just, and with Him there is no respect of persons (Rom. 2:11). However, these three are probably all saved. God made coats of skins (Gen. 3:21), which represent the salvation of the Lord Jesus, for Adam and Eve, so they are saved. Solomon is a type of Christ. Of course, he cannot possibly be lost.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 07: The Christian (5), Chapter 15, by Watchman Nee)