Questions From Readers
● How are we to understand Genesis 7:11 and Ge 8:2? Do these verses contain parallel construction, or were there both rain from the heavens and an upsurging of water from below the earth at the time of the Flood?—N. K., United States.
Genesis 7:11 and Ge 8:2 read: “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on this day all the springs of the vast watery deep were broken open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.” “The springs of the watery deep and the floodgates of the heavens became stopped up, and so the downpour from the heavens was restrained.”
In Genesis 7:11 the expressions “vast watery deep” and “floodgates of the heavens” are both used to refer to the great water canopy that was around the earth in suspension and that is described at Genesis 1:6, 7 as “the waters . . . above the expanse.” When it says that the springs were broken and the floodgates were opened it means that God caused the forces that held the great water canopy in suspension to be overcome and thus permitted the waters to pour down upon the earth, not in any global splash but as through floodgates into certain channels, particularly at the poles, but also by means of rainfall for forty days.
This has no reference to the springs of water below the surface of the earth and these being opened up and breaking forth through the crust of the earth to cause floods from below. Those Bible expositors who interpret the words of Genesis 7:11 to mean an upsurging of water from below the earth do not properly grasp the fact that there existed a water canopy that was suspended in space, producing a great watery deep out there, even as noted by what Genesis 1:6, 7 states regarding the dividing of the waters beneath the atmospheric expanse from the waters above. So we must conclude that at Genesis 7:11 and Ge 8:2 a parallel construction is used.
Just as the beginning of the Flood is spoken of as the breaking open of the springs of the watery deep and the opening of the floodgates of the heavens, at Genesis 7:11, so the cessation of the deluge, mentioned at Genesis 8:2, is referred to as the stopping up of those springs of the watery deep and the floodgates of the heavens. In other words, the contents of the watery canopy were exhausted. Of course, this did not mean that there would be no more rain on the earth. Rather, as clouds formed by the evaporation of water, rain would continue to fall to that extent. But there was no more a great watery reservoir, a watery deep or vast vapor canopy held in suspension above the earth.
● According to worldly historians Amman is a thriving city today and is built on the ruins of the ancient city of Rabbath Ammon. How, then, can we understand such a scripture as Zephaniah 2:9, which reads: “Moab herself will become just like Sodom, and the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah, a place possessed by nettles, and a salt pit, and a desolate waste, even to time indefinite”?—F. R., United States.
The desolations foretold to come upon Moab and Ammon actually did come, even as history shows. The Moabites and the Ammonites have ceased to exist as a people. The city of Amman that today stands on the site of the ancient city of Rabbath Ammon is not populated by Ammonites, descendants of the people against whom the prophecies were uttered. Rather, it is populated by the descendants of the Nabatean Arabs who absorbed the Ammonites about the first century A.D.
Modern Amman is the center of the government of the present kingdom of Jordan. Its Arabs are not Ammonites, nor is their king considered to be an Ammonite king. The ancient capital, Rabbath Ammon, is only a ruins surrounding the modern Amman of the Arabs. So the prophecy has indeed become true that Moab and the sons of Ammon have become like Sodom and Gomorrah; they have ceased to exist.
● What should a dedicated servant of Jehovah God do if he is present when a prayer is being offered aloud by one who does not recognize Jehovah nor is dedicated to him, as at funerals, weddings and graduation services conducted by clergymen?—H. L., United States.
The Scriptures show that at no time did God’s servants join in worship with those who served other gods. (Deut. 7:1-6, 16, 25, 26) Jesus Christ repeatedly indicated that true worship is exclusive: “He that is not on my side is against me, and he that does not gather with me scatters.” “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Lovers of righteousness who are found in organizations worshiping others than the true God Jehovah are commanded: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—Matt. 12:30; John 14:6; Rev. 18:4.
This being so, Jehovah’s servants could not join in prayer with one who does not serve Jehovah God, since prayer is a form of worship. What, then, should one of Jehovah’s servants do if present when a prayer is being offered by, say, a clergyman at a wedding, a funeral or at the graduation of a son or daughter?
If the group stands, it is up to the individual to decide whether he wants to do this or not; in itself this is not the act of worship. The same is true of bowing one’s head. Although he would remain quiet, he might prefer not to bow his head with the others, thus letting all know that he is not joining in the prayer being offered and that the one praying is not representing him. Or the servant of Jehovah could bow his head and offer his own silent prayer on such an occasion. Should he choose to do this, however, he certainly would not utter an audible “Amen” at the end of the public prayer as though expressing agreement with it. It is up to the individual Christian to determine which course he considers best to pursue under the circumstances, and no one should be criticized for his choice on such occasions.
The same principle would apply in the event one were a guest in the home of someone else at mealtime. If, in respect for the sincerity of his guest, the head of the house were to ask his guest to offer the prayer at mealtime, then the servant of Jehovah could do this, praying in harmony with the instructions found in the Bible. However, if a householder who is not a worshiper of Jehovah were to say the blessing when a witness of Jehovah was his guest, the Witness could not join in the prayer, though he could silently offer his own prayer of thanks to God. In homes where it is the custom for all to hold hands around the table when the prayer is said, sharing in this would indicate participation in the prayer, so the Christian would not share in this if the prayer were being offered by one who was not a worshiper of Jehovah God. For one’s prayers to find acceptance with God, they must be offered in the way that he commands.