Isaiah 59:1- The LORD’S hand [arm niv] is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy [dull niv], that it cannot hear.
This verse is one of the best examples in the Bible of what theologians call an anthropomorphism (Greek Anthropos [man] +morphe [form]. This big word describes the way biblical writers often described God in human terms. Isaiah in this verse said God has a powerful hand that can deliver His people and an ear that is always ready to hear their prayers. Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS AND CURIOSITIES (GOD’S HAND AND EAR)
Day is one of the units of time we use to mark life. Typically, we think of days as the time between sunup and sundown, followed by night. But right from the beginning, God has exercised his divine authority over time by defining days in an unexpected manner. In the account of creation in Genesis 1, six times the record repeats, “There was evening, then morning-the first day” (v5), changing only the number of the day of the week. In Continue reading SIGNS & SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (DAY)
Both men and women of Bible times wore outer robes or cloaks that extended almost to the feet (see note on Gen 37:3; Deu 22:5; and 1 Sam 19:24). These loose-fitting gowns were held tight against the body by a belt or sash (generally referred to as a “girdle” by the King James Version) around the person’s waist. Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS & CURIOSITIES (TUCKING IN THE CLOAK)
Habakkuk opens his short book with a question voiced many times by many people: Who’s listening to my prayers? Several psalms echo the same sentiment (see Psalm 6 and 10). Continue reading WHY DOES GOD MAKE US WAIT FOR THE ANSWERS TO OUR PRAYERS? (HABAKKUK 1:1)
From the delicate breeze to the terrifying hurricane, wind is a force of nature. We can’t see the wind, but we know it is there. Throughout time, humans have learned to harness the wind to fill sails and run wind turbines. We also struggle to limit the destruction caused by wind as the major cause of erosion on earth. Due to its unpredictability and raw power, wind holds both positive and negative connotations throughout the Bible. Continue reading SIGNS & SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (WIND)
Branches in the world of the Bible were either on trees or vines and were relatively rare given the arid climate, so the picture of a healthy and fruitful tree was a symbol of vigor and prosperity. “Branch” or “branches” could refer to families (Gen 49:22) or rulers (Ezek 31:3,6). Broken or unfruitful branches symbolized judgment or the downfall of a person or nation (Job 15:32; 18:16; Dan 4:14; Isa 9:14: 17:6; Jer 11:16). But God always gives the hope of restoration, and branches figure in the symbolism of redemption as well: “When that day comes, the branch of the LORD will be beautiful and wonderful. The fruit of the land will be the pride and joy of Israel’s survivors” (Isa 4:2). The image of judged or redeemed branches reaches its climax in the prophecies of the messianic Branch and the salvation he brings.
Continue reading BIBLE SIGNS & SYMBOLS (BRANCH)
In Psalm 34, David is on his knees pouring out his heart to God in repentance, thanksgiving, faith, and in request to God for assurance, strength, deliverance, and instruction. He says, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (34:4). Continue reading HOW CAN YOU FIND PEACE?
Both mesmerizing and mysterious, fire represents combustion, a chemical reaction that releases both heat and light. Today, fire seems to be at our fingertips-we just need to turn on the stove or light a match. Because we no longer have to work to get it, most of us take fire for granted. Yet we rely on fire for light, warmth, cooking, manufacturing, and refining. Fire figures into the Bible in numerous ways-in daily life, religious ceremony, Continue reading BIBLE SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (FIRE)
What is righteousness? Most of us immediately think of a person trying to keep a list of rules, like a little boy or girl who never steps over the line. When Paul speaks of righteousness in Romans, he means far more than this commonsense understanding of the word. He draws on the Old Testament concept of righteousness, which speaks of a proper relationship between God and a person, or between God and His people. Continue reading “RIGHTEOUSNESS”
In a few places in the Bibles, the term beast is used in its modern descriptive sense of la menacing or mindless animal whose behavior is somewhat unpredictable. Jacob compared his son Issachar to a donkey or beast of burden (Gen 49:14), creating a picture of capacity and stubbornness as strong traits in his ninth born. Many biblical monsters seem to be mythical, or at least are symbolic of threats of God’s order and authority in the world. But unlike the monstrous beasts of surrounding cultures and religions, God retains power over all the beasts and chaos in the world, and will ultimately defeat them. Continue reading SIGNS & SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (BEAST)