Friday, March 30, 2018

Looking at a broader context when studying Scripture

This post continues our focus on the importance of reading Scripture in its context.

I was recently reading a book by a popular Christian author (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty).The writer cites Deuteronomy 1:1-8, which reads:

1 These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan—that is, in the Arabah—opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab. 2 (It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.)
3 In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the Lord had commanded him concerning them. 4 This was after he had defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, and at Edrei had defeated Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth.
5 East of the Jordan in the territory of Moab, Moses began to expound this law, saying:
6  The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. 7 Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. 8 See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.”

The writer says that Moses pointed out to the Israelites that what should have been an eleven-day journey had taken them forty years (v. 2), and goes on to say that in verse 6  Moses tells them they have stayed at this mountain long enough. The author then directs a question to the reader: Have you stayed long enough at the same mountain? Has it taken you forty years to make an eleven-day journey?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Importance of Context in Biblical Interpretation / La Importancia del Contexto en la Interpretación de la Biblia

Proverbs 23:7 is a very famous verse. It is most commonly quoted by English speakers from the King James Version: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  

This verse is frequently used to support some version of the power of positive thinking. “If you think negative thoughts all the time, then bad things are going to happen to you, because that’s what you’re expecting. But if you think good, positive thoughts, then good things will come your way. There’s power in your thoughts and in your words.” 

While there is some truth to the idea of self-fulfilling prophecies (it you’re always putting yourself down, you’re likely to live down to those low expectations), this verse does not support that idea.