Bible Study Commentaries
Jun 16, 2013
I have a plaque hanging on a wall which reads, “The Ten Commandments are not multiple choice. God.” We sometimes get the feeling that the Ten Commandments applied primarily to individuals. After all, the commands seem to be addressed to individuals not to take God’s name in vain, and so forth. Yet, God’s people were made up of individuals who formed a corporate whole. People who teach ethics in a classroom have asked, “Is it wrong to lie because God said so, or does God say so because of the disastrous impact of lying, both individually and as an organized society?” No meaningful social order can function unless we can assume our doctor was truthful when he wrote the prescription and the pharmacist must assume the physician was sincere. A similar case can be made for prohibitions against murder. Israel both as individuals and as God’s people were to be held to higher moral standards than were their heathen neighbors.
Jun 16, 2013
Much of Job is at times a heated disputation between Job and his so-called friends. Each of the individuals claimed to speak with wisdom. Yet, neither Job nor his three friends expressed wisdom adequate for Job’s situation. The friends claimed to know what God was doing in Job’s life. Job did not know the answer, but he expressed the deepest wisdom as he affirmed a future hope for a life after death (16:19-22). The key to this chapter is the twice asked question, “Where can wisdom be found?” (vv. 12, 20). Wisdom is not the same as intelligence, technological know-how, or philosophy. The Bible describes wisdom as the application of God’s Word to daily living.
Jun 9, 2013
Back in the seventies, liberal theologians in South America bought into the Marxist concept that powerful capitalist/imperialist nations, such as the United States, set up business ventures in poor countries. They exploited the oppressed by reaping the rewards of natural resources which they shipped back to their home countries. Those theologians cast aside teachings of the Bible as tools used by the oppressors to justify their practices, except for the exodus of Israel from Egyptian bondage. The mantra of these “scholars” was the promise of freedom from the oppressors. However, the exodus of Israel from Egypt was not an event for which Israel could take any credit. They were freed by God’s power as He set aside Israel for Himself in a unique sense.
Jun 9, 2013
I recall a bumper sticker from years ago. The bumper sticker stated, “Life Happens.” While I do not know the story behind the bumper sticker, I perceived the bumper sticker as expressive of a negative view of life. For Christians, life and all the situations associated with life do not merely happen. The events of life, however, may lead non-Christians to adopt an attitude of bitterness, anger, rebellion or cynicism. The tragedies of life may lead Christians to doubt their faith or question God’s justice.
Jun 2, 2013
Few people can lay claim to equal the influence of Abraham. Jews and Muslims cite him as the founder of their nations. Jews go back to Abraham through Isaac, whereas the Arabs count their lineage to Abraham through Ishmael, son of Hagar, Sarah’s maid. Christians point to him as the hero beyond all his peers who illustrated and defined what it means to believe God and be accepted by Him apart from any works any human might accomplish. It’s in this light we anticipate fresh insights which can thrill our hearts.
Jun 2, 2013
Vance Havner, the famed North Carolina mountain preacher, commenting about suffering stated, “Anyone that tries to explain the mysteries of God has not traveled very far in life” (my paraphrase). We desire to have the final answer. Job never knew why he suffered the tragedies he endured. As humans, we possess a compulsion to provide a rationale for suffering as if an intellectual answer could provide comfort in the midst of personal suffering.
May 26, 2013
By temperament and training I try to understand an opponent’s point of view. The title of a book by Leonard Susskind caught my attention: The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design. When I bought this book and another by Susskind, I quickly realized I was being immersed in highly technical matter dealing with sub-atomic particles. I bought books by Lisa Randall, Steven Hawking, William Dree, and others. These technical analyses I took at face value, but I grasped a common thread of particular interest to me. In this study I will contrast five areas of common interest between the conservative Christian view of creation with that common to Susskind and some of his colleagues.
May 26, 2013
The name “Job” means, “Where is my father?” His name described his experience with God. Because of his life experiences, Job felt separated from God like a child cut off from a parent. The primary theme of the book is not “why do the innocent suffer?” The question of Job is a question of faith, “Can I trust God in difficult times?’
May 19, 2013
We’ve heard our share of glib advice such as, instead of a hand out the other person really needs a helping hand. Instead of giving the needy a fish, teach them how to fish. Implied in this is the assumption that those in need do better with more apt instruction. Easy answers almost never solve the problem for those in genuine need. Deprived children of drug addicted parents are helpless to improve the quality of their home life. However, the thrust of our lesson from Proverbs has to do with verbal advice to some one who may need an attitude adjustment. For example, how do we communicate the fact that the other person always has bad breath? Will the offer of a breath mint be understood as a corrective? We preachers with supportive wives keep our preaching habits in line. It takes a strong preacher not to squirm when, on the way home after a sermon, she clears her throat and says, “Now about the sermon….” What strategies can be employed when another person needs correction?
May 19, 2013
Critics of the church abound in the twenty-first century. While much of the criticism is unfounded, Christians unfortunately give unbelievers a rationale or basis of criticism. Perhaps the number one accusation against Christians today is our failure to live out the message we proclaim. The constant theme of Titus is the correlation between correct doctrine and lifestyle. As Paul concludes his letter to his ministerial associate Titus, he challenged Christians to a lifestyle of devotion that would be profitable to everyone.