A couple important points brought to my attention in our reading this week by one blog reader...
In both Jeremiah 10:16 and Psalm 78:71, when referring to Israel, the NLT substitutes the phrases "[God's] own special possession" and "God's own people" rather than translating the original wording, which refers to Israel as (Greek: Shebet): the "rod/staff/branch/tribe/offshoot of God's inheritance." I find that noteworthy, especially since today we are reviewing the qualifications for receiving the "inheritance." In the OT, the inheritance was promised if the commands were obeyed. In the NT, the inheritance will be a reward for God's faithful, obedient servants. By NLT omitting the word "inheritance" it takes away the conditions and makes it seem like Israel is unconditionally God's chosen, special people. To me that seems like yet another theological bias.
And, as we have been uncovering many false translation errors and seeming agendas, here was another eye-opening observation she made...
"How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us'? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes (Aramaic: Capher which is "scribe") has made it into a lie. The wise men are put to shame, they are dismayed and caught; behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD..." (Jeremiah 8:8-9). I don't know about you, but this verse is huge for me in seeing that God prophesied that His Word would be twisted into lies by those entrusted to copy or translate! What a great reassurance/validation of all we've been learning!
13:11 For as a belt is bound around a man's waist, so I bound the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to me,' declares the LORD, 'to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened.' I still get inspired by the wonderful word pictures God gives in His Word. We were meant to be His BELT, hugging securely to Him at all times. But those who have fallen away in the dirt will become useless.
13:17 But if you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the LORD's flock will be taken captive. They don't call Jeremiah "the weeping prophet" for nothing! He is heartbroken over the fate of his cold-hearted people!
13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil. If we don't watch out, our habits become our character, and our character becomes our destiny! It is very hard to change character, once we have allowed our bad habits to rule over us.
13:25-27 This is your lot, the portion I have decreed for you," declares the LORD, "because you have forgotten me and trusted in false gods. I will pull up your skirts over your face that your shame may be seen-your adulteries and lustful neighings, your shameless prostitution (as in, idol worship)! I have seen your detestable acts on the hills and in the fields. Woe to you, O Jerusalem! How long will you be unclean?"
This past week I had one OYB blog reader who was upset because I was forthright in calling out both Catholic and Protestant forms of idol worship, in particular because of the passage we were reading the revering of Mary. Though I am typically very introspective and willing to soften the blow when being accused of being too harsh, this is one area I explained to the reader that I am unmovable on. I see how idol worship/ unfaithfulness/ pagan practices have been passed down from generation to generation, beginning in early centuries with the Catholic Church (the main church then) and surviving throughout the Protestant Reformation, into our churches today! It is no less a stench in God's nostrils now than it was then. I would be doing a disservice to allow people to stay in blindness just because I don't want to step on toes. I am accountable for what truths I believe God has revealed to my own once blind eyes, and ignoring the problem is not the answer.
We have covered early on in our blog that especially Christmas, Easter, and Sunday worship were/are all pagan holidays, as well as many of the traditions and elements in modern churches (see Frank Viola's, Pagan Christianity?). Early believers were FORCED to abandon God-established holy days in order to practice these pagan traditions and holidays or be killed. I personally believe that these elements could possibly be the things that set apart true believers in the last days from the anti-Christ world system. I guess we'll see! But I certainly want to hear, "Well done good and faithful servant" for declaring these important truths! So as I told the blog responder...I can't move on this. It must be declared and called what it is—paganism and idolatry (even if we don't realize it—I challenge you to search out the truth for yourself)!
1:6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message (the Gospel) with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. I used to think that these people suffered for the Gospel by the Gentiles/unbelievers. Now I realize it was the people who you would think would have accepted it-Jews! I often wondered what it had to do with us today where we are free to worship. Then I discovered the true Gospel, and now I am in the same boat with the believers of Paul's day—I am rejected for the truly Good News of the Scriptures! I feel a kinship with Paul like never before. Especially as I keep reading...
1:9-10 They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. Warnings against idols are not something from OT days, they are for all times.
2:2-6 We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. I have noticed in the last few letters of Paul how he prayed for courage to share the Gospel with both Jew and Gentile. Here he talks about "daring to tell you His Gospel to the church in Thessalonica in spite of strong opposition." Why would Good News be so strongly opposed? And why was Paul even afraid to declare it to the churches (not even Jews for the most part)? The true Gospel offends because of people's pride and sense of entitlement. It is no different today, even in America! I have experienced it at every turn. Jesus spoke to this pride and jealousy with the prodigal son and the workers in the vineyard. There is no room in the Kingdom for jealousy, pride, or territorialism.