Wednesday 18 December 2019

Bible Book:

] had driven them.’ Then they shall live in their own land. (vs. 7-8)

Jeremiah 23:5-8 Wednesday 18 December 2019

Psalm: Psalm 30


"Then they shall live in their own land." 1948? The establishment of the state of Israel?

Just how much are these words prophetic, in the sense of predicting something way into the future? Perhaps not a lot, I'd suggest.

We can pick and choose our scriptures to suggest that God predicted, and by implication, intended this or that event. Such association can be dangerous. What surprises me is that often those who apply scripture in this way are those who claim to value it most highly.

I think we should take the Bible more seriously.

When I entered theological college 40 years ago I had already studied quite a lot, but not the Bible. I expected us to read the Bible and be told what it meant. Sometimes, I thought, the answers would be quite clear, at others more opaque. I was in for a shock.

We began to work through one short book of the New Testament. We learnt that one word could have different meanings. That these could alter with time and place. So where did this passage originate? When did the event occur? When was it recorded? Was Jesus addressing Jews, or Samaritans, or Romans? It was beginning to look complex. Gradually we were taught to use linguistic, literary and historical tools. And remember, this was the New Testament, something we thought we were familiar with. The Hebrew scriptures were a completely different ball game! More distant, culturally further removed with different literary devices and linguistic structures.

Imagine, for a moment, taking such a passage and lifting it out, translating it into another language, shifting it through 2000 years of human history and plonking it down in a different culture. Can we honestly think we can just say ‘this is what it means’, now, for us, with concrete certainty?

What is happening today may be the fulfilment of some ancient text, or it might just look like that, or perhaps it just bolsters our argument, gives our political stance kudos. Let us just, please be careful how we use scripture. It may not mean all we think it does!


To Ponder:

  • Is there anything we see happening today that we think was predicted by scripture?
  • In what ways do we see scripture differently now from the ways people saw it in Jesus’ day?
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