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Archive for the ‘Comparing Scripture’ Category


Job 24: Violence on Earth

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Yesterday we reflected on Job’s desire to sit with the Creator in order to engage in an intimate conversation. In an age when suffering is connected with sin, Job suffers doubly, having to endure pain while at the same time defending his innocence to his family and friends. Yet he persists, remains faithful, and recognizes the small pearls of hope that come to him. When God has tested me, I shall come out like gold.

Today we watch as Job asks:

Why doesn’t God set a time for judging,
    a day of justice for those who serve him?

He observes a litany of violence taking place around him.

People move property lines to get more land;
    they steal sheep and put them with their own flocks.
They take donkeys that belong to orphans,
    and keep a widow’s ox till she pays her debts.
They prevent the poor from getting their rights
    and force the needy to run and hide. So the poor, like wild donkeys,
    search for food in the dry wilderness.

Evil people make slaves of fatherless infants
    and take the children of the poor in payment for debts.

The litany continues until Job’s friend Zophar intercedes with his own assertions and questions.

For a while the wicked prosper,
    but then they wither like weeds,
    like stalks of grain that have been cut down.
Can anyone deny that this is so?
Can anyone prove that my words are not true?

As Job struggles to understand the conflict between good and evil, so do we. We may be like Zophar who accepts the assumption that all evildoers suffer in God’s time rather than our own. Or we may be more like Job who wants a conversation with the Almighty as he looks for authentic answers to his questions. Zophar seems content with allowing evil to proceed unchecked and unchallenged while Job goes deeper. Perhaps this is because Job, the innocent, faithful, hopeful one, suffers while Zophar continues in a comfortable world that makes sense to him.

The lesson we might take away today is this . . . even if we cannot change the evil around us, we might still question God. Even if we do not engender or encourage the violence that surrounds us, we might still commit our own small acts of mercy and justice. And even if we cannot make sense of the world’s great economy and plan, we might keep in mind that all belongs to and is of God.

In La Biblia de América, Chapters 23 & 24 of Job bear a title that translates to: Between Desire and Fear of the Encounter. Not only do these words describe the viewpoints we see today, they also present us with significant questions . . . Are we content to remain in our comfort zone of knowing, or are we willing to step into the world’s violence to represent a path of peace? Do we look for an intimate encounter with God despite the suffering we see and experience, or do we fear this marvelous gift of intimacy with God? What is it we seek?

Job asks: Why doesn’t God set a time for judging, a day of justice for those who serve him?

Perhaps that time is now.


Tomorrow, Bildad asks, how can a mortal be righteous before God?

When we compare various translations with the citations from THE GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION above, we open a dialog with God. 

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

Image from: https://www.sapiens.org/evolution/human-violence-evolution/

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Job 23: Bitter Complaint

Jan the Elder Lievens: Job

Friday, August 17, 2018

It is a good idea to visit the story of Job once in a while. This book of wisdom has so much to tell us beyond the casual glance. Who among us has not felt abandoned by God, or believed that life has asked too much of us? Job longs for an intimate conversation with God through which he might lay out his case and be acquitted forever by [his] judge.

Job knows that somewhere there is a reason for the injustice he suffers, and he is persistent in his quest. It seems that his fidelity does not serve him. His innocence goes unnoticed. His search for the almighty continues, and in this seeking we find seeds of hope.

If I go forward, he is not there;
    or backward, I cannot perceive him;
on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him;
    I turn to the right, but I cannot see him.
But he knows the way that I take;
    when he has tested me, I shall come out like gold.

The marvel of the New Testament story is that – as if in answer to Job’s bitter plaint – the God this wise man seeks comes to walk among us as one of us. The miracle of the resurrection brings us hope that Job lives in such a unique way. The promise of the Pentecost brings us healing and mercy in the person of the Spirit who dwells in us every moment and accompanies us in every location of our lives . . . forward, backward, to the right and to the left.

Job cries out,

Oh, that I knew where I might find him,
    that I might come even to his dwelling!

Morgan Weistling: Walking with God

Today, in our world that broadcasts its pain on more than a billion and half television screens and nearly two billion smartphones in a non-stop cycle of violence, we might join Job in his sad moaning. The evidence seems to great for us to explain away or comprehend. Fidelity does not serve him, innocence counts for nothing; yet Job holds out hope . . . as we might also do when we remember the story of the Christ child. Light comes into the darkness. God’s love is manifest in the persona of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit. yet . . .

I still rebel and complain against God;
    I cannot keep from groaning.
How I wish I knew where to find him,
    and knew how to go where he is.

Job had only the Old Testament promise of a coming Messiah. We have that Messiah’s presence today. Oh that we might remember this when we look forward, backward, to our right and our left as we continue our bitter complaint.


Tomorrow, Job 24, a violent world.

Images from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Job_(biblical_figure) and https://www.lordsart.com/wawigodbymow.html

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Ezekiel 28: The King of Tyre

Ruins of ancient Tyre

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The prophet Ezekiel speaks to the chosen people who live exiled in Babylon. He tells his people that they will not be returning to Jerusalem; and he also prepares them for the heartbreaking news that the Jerusalem they know will be fully and totally destroyed. Corruption has brought them to a dismal, painful place. The chase after power over others, world-wide fame, and wealth beyond imagining has distorted the collective vision.

Puffed up with pride, you claim to be a god. 

Ezekiel speaks to the broken-hearted and he also speaks to us when he condemns those who spoil God’s gift of creation and who bring the faithful to ruin.

Your wisdom and skill made you rich with treasures of gold and silver. You made clever business deals and kept on making profits. How proud you are of your wealth!

Ezekiel reminds us that the gift of our creation is wondrous, and that we are well-loved children of God who have in our hands more than we understand.

You were once an example of perfection. How wise and handsome you were! You lived in Eden, the garden of God, and wore gems of every kind: rubies and diamonds; topaz, beryl, carnelian, and jasper; sapphires, emeralds, and garnets. You had ornaments of gold. They were made for you on the day you were created. 

Britannica online: Main road through ancient Tyre, Lebanon

What are the gems we overlook each day? Who are the wise and handsome among us and where is this Eden? What have we done with the ornaments of gold we are gifted?

Your conduct was perfect from the day you were created until you began to do evil. You were busy buying and selling, and this led you to violence and sin. You were proud of being handsome, and your fame made you act like a fool. 

History tells us that Ezekiel’s people will eventually return to their promised city and they will rebuild the sacred Temple. It also tells us that this will all again be lost. Perhaps the most valuable lesson we can take away from these words is this . . . that just as the King of Tyre misjudges the source of his wealth, power and fame, so might we.  Unlike King Hiram, might we make the most of the riches we have at hand without worrying about increasing our wealth? Might we rely on God and praise God for turning harm into good? Might we give thanks for all we have and all we are to the one who loves us more than we imagine?


When we find the time to compare other translations with these words from The Good News version, we give ourselves the gift of understanding Hiram, Ezekiel, and the nature of beauty, fame, power and wealth. 

Hiram (or Huram, or Ahiram), The King of Tyre, lived from 969-936 B.C.E. He was an ally of Kings David and Solomon, and provided many of the materials needed to build the Temple in Jerusalem. Visit Britannica online at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hiram-king-of-Tyre

Tyre was a town on the Mediterranean coast with two harbors and so was able to gain predominance in the region. To read more about the city’s importance and history, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2010/01/26/The-Biblical-Cities-Of-Tyre-And-Sidon.aspx or https://www.ancient.eu/Tyre/ 

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Proverbs 2:1-5: My Child

Monday, August 13, 2018

I have always liked the simple wisdom of Proverbs for Lady Wisdom has much to teach us.

My child, learn what I teach you and never forget what I tell you to do. Listen to what is wise and try to understand it. Yes, beg for knowledge; plead for insight. Look for it as hard as you would for silver or some hidden treasure. If you do, you will know what it means to fear the Lord and you will succeed in learning about God. (GNT)

As a child, I never understood why we were to fear God. As I grew, I came to recognize fear as a sense of awe. As an adult, the verses of Proverbs bring God’s overwhelming love to our hearts.

Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you;
    collect my counsels and guard them with your life.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
    set your heart on a life of Understanding.
That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
    and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
    like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;
    you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God. (MSG)

Friends offer words of advice, Wisdom found close to home and near to the heart. I take in the wisdom my own friends offer. And as a friend to others, I search for counsel in this practical, and often humorous, book of instruction.

My son, if you will receive my words
and store my commands inside you,
paying attention to wisdom
inclining your mind toward understanding —
yes, if you will call for insight
and raise your voice for discernment,
if you seek it as you would silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure —
then you will understand the fear of Adonai
and find knowledge of God. (CJB)

Ancient words are frequently apt, gathering past and future into a fruitful present when we share them with our children. Old axioms bring pearls of wisdom, offering respite in the storm, refuge in combat.

Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you;
    collect my counsels and guard them with your life.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
    set your heart on a life of Understanding.
That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
    and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
    like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;
    you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God. (MSG)

Wisdom, Understanding, Insight. These are the gems we unearth when we spend time with these sayings. Searching, prospecting, seeking. These are the actions we take as children of God. Counsels, gold, gems. These are the treasures we unearth when we answer the call of Christ. Beseeching, learning, healing. This is the transformation we experience when we rest in the Spirit of the Lord.

My child, learn what I teach you and never forget what I tell you . . .


When we compare translations of these verses, we find safety in the Lord’s awesome love. We find refuge as children of God.

Image from: http://www.heartandsoulcompany.com/ 

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2 Corinthians 4: Keeping Ourselves in the Light

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Paul tells the people of Corinth – and he tells us – if the gospel we preach is hidden, it is hidden only from those who are being lost. They do not believe, because their minds have been kept in the dark by the evil god of this world. (Verses 3 & 4)

Paul reminds us that despite knowing that God chooses to walk among us, and despite knowing that we are spiritual treasure in common clay pots, we still doubt the presence, power and fidelity of Christ.

We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed. (Verses 7-9)

Paul tells us firmly that while the world tells us that we are powerless, hopeless and unloved, we in fact have the source of all power at our side. We have the generator of all hope in our person. And we have the spirit of justice paired with mercy in our hearts.

When we spend time with Christ, we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day. And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever.  (Verses 16-18)

The evil one represents himself in our desire for fame, wealth, and power, and lures away from goodness. The evil one uses our fears against us and fires the anxieties that divide us.  The evil one of this world is any one or any circumstance that draws us into the darkness so that we forget to look for the light. Paul knows that our gratitude heals our disconnection from the light, and so he reminds us that, All this is for your sake; and as God’s grace reaches more and more people, they will offer to the glory of God more prayers of thanksgiving. (Verse 15)

How to remain in the light? Where to find resources? How to live through the darkness of days and the fears of nights? Paul reminds the Corinthians – and he reminds us – that gratitude for the light of Christ is imperative if we are to remain in the light.


Today we find the time to give thanks as we explore chapter 4 of this letter. When we study other translations of these verses, we invite the light into our minds and hearts.

Image from: https://islampeace1.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/verse-of-the-day/ 

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Psalm 73:23-28: Staying Close

Saturday, August 11, 2018

When we are beleaguered or alone, we remember that God is always with us.

Yet I always stay close to you,
    and you hold me by the hand.
You guide me with your instruction
    and at the end you will receive me with honor.
What else do I have in heaven but you?
    Since I have you, what else could I want on earth?
My mind and my body may grow weak,
    but God is my strength;
    he is all I ever need. (GNT)

When we struggle against odds and obstacles that we fear are greater than our strength, we remember that Christ always show us The Way.

Nevertheless I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me with honor.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (NRSV)

When we are overcome with anxiety or grief, we remember that the Spirit heals all wounds and transforms all loss.

When I was beleaguered and bitter,
    totally consumed by envy,
I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox
    in your very presence.
I’m still in your presence,
    but you’ve taken my hand.
You wisely and tenderly lead me,
    and then you bless me.

You’re all I want in heaven!
    You’re all I want on earth!
When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,
    God is rock-firm and faithful.
Look! Those who left you are falling apart!
    Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again.
But I’m in the very presence of God—
    oh, how refreshing it is!
I’ve made Lord God my home.
    God, I’m telling the world what you do! (MSG)

When we are overcome, we rely on God’s strength. When we experience injustice, we recall God’s righteousness. When we suffer deep betrayal, we trust in the healing of the Spirit. In all circumstances, in all days and at all times, we remain close to God.


For a reflection on Psalm 73, visit The Trial of the Just post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/04/24/the-trial-of-the-just/

Images from: http://bernidymet.com/5-steps-closer-to-god-taking-step-3/ and https://blog.spiritvoyage.com/mantra-for-feeling-close-to-god-mere-ram/ 

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Ephesians 1:11-12: Choosing

Friday, August 10, 2018

As a rising high school senior, I quizzed my teachers and parents about the concept of predestination with the typical questions.

If God has everyone’s life planned out, can we really decide anything for ourselves? If God is so good, why do bad things happen – especially to good people? If God is all-powerful, omniscient and all-knowing, how can we say that our lives are not predestined?

My parents listened to my reasoned arguments and reminded me that because God is patient, understanding, merciful and just, God gives us the opportunity to choose good. My teachers allowed me to explore existential thinking, reminding me all the while that we have the opportunity to be a part of the struggle for goodness over evil. We are offered the chance to participate in society’s positive evolution. We have received the gift of life to do with as we will.

Over time, I came to understand that each day we rise with new prospects for goodness. By noontime, we find occasions to ask forgiveness and to forgive. Each evening we find fresh doorways to old problems. As I move through life, I re-discover and re-experience both the magnitude of God’s love, and the enormity of God’s call and promise. What wondrous gift is the gift of life. What a treasure is the relationship God seeks to establish with us. What fierce abiding. What outrageous hope. What passionate love.

When I read these words to the Ephesians today, I no longer ask the questions I asked as a youngster. Rather, I wonder how God has such patience with my slowness. I marvel at how willing God is to forgive and forgive again. And I am grateful for the gift God gives me to choose goodness over harm each day I live.


When we use the scripture link and menus to explore other translations of these verses, we find the clarity and wisdom to choose well.

Image from: https://www.tammistepersonal.ee/blogi/moeldes-noortele-kuhu-edasi 

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Malachi 2:6-7: What We Teach

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The prophet Malachi is known for his exhortation to put aside “spiritual degradation, religious perversions, social injustices, and unfaithfulness to the Covenant”. (Britannica online) Malachi recalls the fidelity and courage of the early Hebrew priests and people who first entered their covenant with God.

They taught what was right, not what was wrong.

How do we spend our time and energy today? What do we teach through the living of our lives? What is the fruit of our labor? As we review the local, national, and international news, how do we commit to bringing the world together rather than tearing it apart?

They lived in harmony with the Lord; they not only did what was right themselves, but they also helped many others to stop doing evil.

How do we apply our talents and gifts today? What do we achieve through the Spirit’s gifts of creativity, mercy and justice? As we interact with family, friends, and colleagues, how do we build bridges and tear down walls?

It is the duty of priests to teach the true knowledge of God. People should go to them to learn my will, because they are the messengers of the Lord Almighty.

How do we share the hope and love God sends to us each day? What do our words and actions communicate to the world about our own ideas of inclusion rather than exclusion? What do they say about our willingness to gather in those on the margins and those left behind? As we enact the priesthood ordained by Christ, how do we reflect God’s image, and engender the healing action of the Spirit?

Each day we have openings to learn God’s wisdom from our failures and successes. The lessons God gives us are our interactions with others; they bring us opportunities to expand our knowledge, and to explore the promise of God’s hope. Each day we have new endings and new beginnings as we learn to teach with each gesture, each movement, each encounter with Christ.

What do we teach each day? We have only to look into the eyes of others to discover the answer.


For more information on prophecy, see the Britannica online article on the minor prophets at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/biblical-literature/The-first-six-minor-prophets#ref961890

When we compare other versions of these words, we find new lessons from God.

For more reflections on this prophecy, enter the word Malachi into the blog search bar and explore. 

Image from: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/teaching-more-than-meets-eye 

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Job 12:7-10: Wisdom of Earth, Sky, and Sea

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Why has the state of Hawaii banned the use of some sunscreens?

Even birds and animals have much they could teach you.

We are surrounded with wisdom . . . if only we might see.

Ask the creatures of earth and sea for their wisdom.

We are immersed in knowledge . . . if only we might hear.

All of the creatures know that the Lord‘s hand made them.

We are one with all of creation . . . if only we might learn.

It is God who directs the lives of the creatures.

How might we protect endangered species while nurturing human life?

We are made in the image and likeness of the one who creates all goodness . . . if only we might unite with all, even those with who we differ greatly.

Everyone’s life is in God’s power.

We are called in the divinity of Christ . . . if only we might heal.

Birds and animals have much they could teach us.

How might we make it possible for millions of creatures to co-exist?

We are complete in the confidence of the Spirit . . . if only we might love.

We must ask the creatures of earth, sky, and sea for their wisdom.


When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare other translations with these GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION, we learn much from the creatures of the earth, sea and sky. 

Images from: https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/nature/hawaii-just-banned-some-types-sunscreen-protect-coral-reefs and https://greentumble.com/poaching-endangered-species/ and http://www.takepart.com/photos/endangered-species-then-now/bald-eagle-delisted-recovered

 

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