TO CHEW ON: "'And the oracle of the Lord you shall mention no more. For every man's word will be his oracle, for you have perverted the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God.'" Jeremiah 23:36
In his continuing diatribe against the false prophets of Judah, Jeremiah lays bare what these prophets are all about. He accuses them of being self-appointed (Jeremiah 23:21), of prophesying lies as they interpret any old dream as a message from God (Jeremiah 23:25), of putting their words in God's mouth (Jeremiah 23:31,32), of being a burden to God instead of speaking God's burden (oracle) (Jeremiah 23:33 especially clear in the Amplified), and of perverting God's words (Jeremiah 23:36). Let's look closely at that last.
The Bible is clear about how sacred God's word is and not to be treated flippantly.
- It is not to be added to or subtracted from (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:19).
- It is to be obeyed (Deuteronomy 12:32).
- How we observe it will have eternal consequences (Matthew 5:19).
But could we be guilty of perverting it as those Old Testament prophets were? I can think of several practices which might result in such perversion:
- Emphasizing or giving more weight to one section of the Bible over another. (An example: the Red Letter Movement.)
- Using Bible texts to prove a doctrine which isn't otherwise generally supported in scripture. (An example: Using 1 Corinthians 13:8 as a proof-text that the charismatic gifts, particularly the gift of tongues, have ceased.)
- Overlaying our Bible interpretation with systems of numbers, colours and symbols, making the plain narrative into a puzzle that only the initiated can decipher.Can you think of more?
- Picking and choosing which parts of the Bible to obey.
I appreciate the five types of people T. Norton Sterrett suggests will properly interpret the Bible. Those with:
1. A new heart (1 Corinthians 2:14).
2. A hungry heart (1 Peter 2:2).
3. An obedient heart (Psalm 119:98-100).
4. A disciplined heart (Matthew 7:7).
5. A teachable heart (Isaiah 50:4).
- T. Norton Sterrett, How To Understand Your Bible, p. 19-21, 1974 edition.
In today's atmosphere of "My truth is as good as yours," let's continue to let these attitudes guide our reading and following of the Bible.
PRAYER: Dear Holy Spirit, please be my Bible teacher (John 14:26; 16:13). Amen.
The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.