1) Revelation 19:11-14 mentions Jesus riding a horse when he returns to the earth. Are there any other animals in heaven?
The Bible predicts a time when the wolf and the lamb will live together in peace (Isaiah 11:6-8; 65:25). I believe this takes place during the coming kingdom of Christ on the earth. As for animals in heaven right now, the Bible doesn’t mention it one way or the other. I agree with the answer given by radio pastor Donald Cole when a caller asked if his favorite dog would be in heaven. Pastor Cole said he didn’t know but there was an easy way to find out. “When you get to heaven, if you still want to know if your dog Spot is there, call out, ’Here, Spot!’ If he comes, he’s there. If he doesn’t, he’s not.” It’s interesting to consider the implications of 1 Corinthians 15:39-41 with its teaching about different sorts of earthly bodies and heavenly bodies. That passage does not teach that animals will be in heaven, but it does mean that heaven will be far beyond our earthly experience, and therefore we will be surprised and overjoyed by everything we find there. Since animals are part of God’s creation, perhaps they too will share in the glories that are to come.
2) How do we apply your sermon on Loving Your Enemies (Jeremiah 29) to our response to 9/11, Iraq, etc?
We live in constant tension between the demands of justice and the call to mercy. Our greatest challenge will always be on the personal level—i.e., how we treat those around us. I believe that justice sometimes demands that we go to war to prevent the spread of aggressive evil in the world. How and when and where are matters on which thoughtful people often disagree. My greater concern is how we treat those around us who are different from us. Will we love our Muslim neighbor? Will we reach out to our Hindu co-worker? Will we show kindness to the Sikh who rides the train with us every day? It would be a terrible thing if we hated all Muslims because of the acts of a few. I personally don’t wish to be lumped with the actions of everyone who claims to be a Christian. How we respond to our neighbors is something we all need to think about. See Why You Need Your Enemies and Your Enemies Need You.
3) How will the Jews accept the Antichrist as the Messiah if he is not Jewish?
First of all, I don’t think the Bible clearly says the Antichrist must be Jewish. Based on Daniel 7 and Revelation 13, I tend to think he will be Gentile, but I would not be dogmatic on that point. The Antichrist will rise to power precisely becauase people have rejected the truth of God. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 says that he will perform counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders. Whenever we reject the truth, we open ourselves up to more and more evil. Verse 11 says that God will send upon the truth-rejecting earth a “powerful delusion” that will cause people to believe “the lie” and be condemned. That applies to Jews and Gentiles alike. Truth rejected opens the door to great spiritual deception. See Showdown in Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Antichrist.
4) Are you pre-trib, mid-trib or post-trib? How does Revelation 3:10 fit into your interpretation?
This question refers to the relationship of the rapture to the seven-year tribulation period. Based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, I believe that the rapture will take place before the tribulation begins. Revelation 3:10 predicts a time of trouble that will come upon the whole earth but the believers will be kept from that hour of trial. Since I believe that the tribulation is the prophesied time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7) leading up to the day when “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26), it is reasonable to believe the church will be removed from the earth before that seven-year period begins. Note that I used the word “reasonable,” meaning I think a case can be made for the pre-trib rapture. I recognize that Christians have many different view on the end times, and I would not argue with anyone who sees things differently. The great truth is that Jesus is coming back again (Acts 1:11). That one enormous fact far outshines our own prophetic theories about how it will all work out. See Sound the Trumpet!
5) How do you “greet your enemies” if they turn and walk away? What do you do if they hang up when you try to call them? Note: these are Christian friends/enemies.
The fact they are Christians doesn’t really change my answer. If someone doesn’t wish to greet you in return, let it go and don’t try to force them to be friendly. If they hang up, don’t take it personally. Remember, you can only take care of your side of the street. If they don’t wish to be friendly and don’t wish to have contact with you, it would be better to leave them alone for a while and hope and pray for a change of heart. My point is, you make the first move. Greet them as you can. Show kindness where you can. Don’t try to force the situation, however. When you have done what you can, commit them to God and move on with your life. See Is Total Forgiveness Realistic?
6) What do you think of the Red Sox trading Manny Ramirez?
To me seeing Manny Ramirez wearing Dodger blue is like watching Brett Favre playing for the New York Jets. My mind has a hard time with the concept. It’s clear that Manny was tired of playing for Boston and wanted out. He seems happier in Los Angeles, and I think Boston will be better off with him gone. Unhappy players often cause dissension in the clubhouse. Better to go your separate ways. Meanwhile, I wish the Dodgers and Red Sox all the best and hope they enjoy watching the Cubs win the World Series this year.
More Q&A tomorrow.