To be entirely and blatantly truthful in everything we say could unnecessarily hurt a lot of feelings and create a lot of worries. Thus, in everyday conversation we say “white lies” about someone’s appearance or even about our own state of health.
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The number four and groups of four connect with our sense of place in the horizontal world. Everything around us is in one of four directions: east, west, north, or south. In the worldview of the Old Testament, complete descriptions were often developed in sets of four. When the tax collector Zacchaeus expressed his practical faith in Jesus, he included a promise to “pay four times as much as I owe to those I have cheated in any way” (Luke 19:8). Jesus accepted that commitment as a sign of genuine repentance, symbolic of completeness. And there are four Gospels, a complete picture of the life of Christ.
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Mountains are fitting, places to worship God, but as metaphors they become particularly effective theology instructors when moved or disturbed at God’s direction. As the Lord’s unlimited presence took up residence on Mount Sinai, the mountain trembled, smoked, and blazed as a way of showing how unique and powerful God’s presence was (Exod 19:16-19). This event was recalled centuries later when the poet spoke of the Lord as the one “who touches the mountains, and they smoke” (Psa 104:32; 144:5). The mountains of the Promised Land are
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