The beauty of flowers and the way they bloom and flourish makes them a good image for many spiritual themes, including love, transience, and the glory of God. Two Hebrew words are translated as “flower:” perach means to break forth, bud, sprout, or burst; tsuwts evokes images of shining, sparkling, or gleaming. The first connotes spontaneous growth, while the second focuses on beauty. Continue reading SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (FLOWERS)
Before they are symbols for us, trees are examples to us. The psalm writers looked at trees and recognized that their pattern of growth and life was an expression of praise to their Creator. Psalm 96:12 declares, “Let the field and everything in them rejoice. Then all the trees in the forest will sing joyfully.” And Isaiah 55:12 says, “All the trees will clap their hands.” Trees reach upward. Even when planted crooked or sideways, a tree will bend its trunk to vertical-an amazing picture of their purpose to remind us of our own purpose to praise God always. Continue reading SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (TREE)
40. Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
41. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.
42. So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word. Continue reading SCRIPTURE OF THE DAY (PSALM 119:40-45)
Gazing into someone’s eyes can make us feel as though we are seeing into the person’s soul. In the Bible, as in life, we find many types of eyes, including, beautiful eyes (Gen 29:17; Song of Sol 1:15; 4:1); prideful, arrogant eyes (Pro 6:17); lustful eyes (2 Pet 2:14); sad eyes (Ps 6:6); and desiring eyes (Zech 2:8). People who are seeking revenge take “an eye for an eye” (Exod 21:23-25; Lev 24:20; Deut 19:21). How a person judges morality is described as “doing right in [one’s] own eyes” (Judg 17:6; 21:25; 2 Kings 10:5, all ESV). This contrast with doing “what was right in the eyes of the LORD” (1 Kings 15:5, 11; 2 Kings 14:3, all ESV). The use of eyesight as an image is varied and far-reaching, but two main uses emerge in Scripture. Continue reading SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (EYE)
Asa set a good example for his son and successor, Jehoshaphat. As the fourth king of Judah, Jehoshaphat continued to suppress pagan worship and to encourage worship of the one true God as his father had done. He implemented a nationwide program of teaching his officials and the people of the land to practice justice and follow the Lord’s commands (2 Chronicles 17:7-9).
The king himself practiced what he preached. When confronted by a huge army composed of Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites, he prayed to the Lord for divine assistance. “We do not know what to do,” he admitted, “but we are looking to you for help” (2 Chronicles 20:12 NLT).
His army marched off to battle with the words of a psalm on their lips. When Judah’s army arrived at the battle site, there was no battle to fight. The allied enemy army had been mysteriously ambushed by an unknown foe. This created confusion among the soldiers of the allied enemy army, and they began to slaughter one another. The only thing Jehoshaphat’s troops had to do was pick up the spoils the confused army had abandoned (2 Chronicles 20:22-25).
During Jehoshaphat’s reign the bitter feelings between Judah and Israel grew more cordial. He and Ahab, king of the Northern Kingdom, formed an alliance against their common enemy-the nation of Aram, or Syria. They attempted to recapture the city of Ramoth Gilead from the Syrians, but their campaign was not successful. As it turned out, the wicked king Ahab was killed in this battle (1 Kings 22:29-36).
Jehoshaphat died after reigning over Judah for twenty-five years. He was commended for his leadership because “he walked in the way of his father Asa” and did “what was right in the sight of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 20:32 NKJV).
David may have been referring in this psalm to an ancient custom observed by mourners at funerals. They would collect the tears they shed for departed loved ones in small flasks and place them in their tombs as memorials of their love. The New International Version renders this phrase as “list my tears on your scroll.” Continue reading GOD KNOWS OUR TEARS
John’s use of the “Word” to describe Jesus was a startling new application of a popular expression. The term was used widely by theologians and philosophers, both Jews and Greeks. It described the agent of creation (Psalm 33:6); God’s message to His people through the prophets (Hosea 1:2); and God’s law, His standard of holiness (Psalm 119:11). In Greek philosophy, “the Word” was the principle of reason that governed the world. Continue reading IN WHAT WAY WAS JESUS THE “WORD”?
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)