Biblical Humor

Do you ever read something in the Bible that strikes you as funny? I’m convinced that God has a sense of humor, and I think that parts of the Bible are intended to be humorous. Other parts (such as Jeremiah 13:1-7) might not be intended to be funny, but sound funny to us.

It has occurred to me when reading the Gospels that when Jesus told parables, He might have told some of them as a comedian might tell a joke. Just try to picture Jesus using different voices and acting out his stories. Large crowds of people followed Jesus, but few understood His parables; perhaps some just hung around because He was entertaining. I don’t know, it’s just a thought.

Noticing humor in the Bible can make reading the Bible more enjoyable, but also is an aid in getting to know the Bible better and remembering where things are. If you find anything funny in the Bible, or have some Bible jokes, I’d be interested in hearing them so I can add to my list.  Here’s a handful of corny “Bible Jokes.”

The first passage is probably what made me think of the idea of finding humor in the Bible.  I first saw this passage in a men’s dorm bathroom at Taylor University.  Someone had printed it on a piece of paper and stuck it to the door of one of the stalls.

“Jeremiah’s Linen Shorts” (Jeremiah 13:1-7, modified KJV)

Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee some linen shorts, and wear them, but do not wash them. So I got some linen shorts according to the word of the LORD, and I wore them. And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, Take the shorts that thou hast got, which thou art wearing, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide them there in a hole of the rock. So I went, and hid them by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me. And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the shorts from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there. Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the shorts from the place where I had hid them: and, behold, the shorts were marred, they were profitable for nothing.

“Arameans Hear Things” (2 Kings 7:5-7, NIV)

At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, not a man was there, for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.

“EXTRA!! EXTRA!! Hit Men Begin Prophesying! Read all about it!” (1 Sam. 19:20-23, NIV)

[Saul is trying to kill David] so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came upon Saul’s men and they also prophesied. Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied. Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Secu. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” “Over in Naioth at Ramah,” they said. So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth.

“The Israelite Bathroom” (2 Kings 10:27, NIV)

They demolished the sacred stone of Baal and tore down the temple of Baal, and people have used it for a latrine to this day.

Bible Jokes

Most of these are pretty corny, but some are kind of clever.

Hover over the “answer” link to see the answers.  (If your browser doesn’t show link titles, let me know.)

Name the only person in the Bible without parents.  answer

Who is the shortest person on the Bible? answer

Who was the fastest person in the Bible? answer

Who was the greatest financier in the Bible? answer

Who was the greatest female financier in the Bible? answer

What kind of man was Boaz before he got married? answer

Who was the first drug addict in the Bible? answer

Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible? answer

Where is the first baseball game in the Bible? answer

How did Adam and Eve feel when expelled from the Garden of Eden? answer

What is one of the first things that Adam and Eve did after they were kicked out? answer

What excuse did Adam give to his children as to why he no longer lived in Eden? answer

The ark was built in 3 stories, and the top story had a window to let light in, but how did they get light to the bottom 2 stories? answer

Who is the greatest babysitter mentioned in the Bible? answer

Which servant of Jehovah was the most flagrant lawbreaker in the Bible? answer

Which area of Palestine was especially wealthy? answer

How do we know that Job went to a chiropractor? answer

Where is the first tennis match mentioned in the Bible? answer

What is the first recorded case of constipation in the Bible? answer

Paul and the Law

I was referred to this blog post recently, and because of the detailed response required, I have captured my thoughts here on my own blog.

Before getting into his main argument (that Christians should adhere to the Law of Moses), the author (Aaron) acknowledges to his reader(s) that…

“You have the real advantage of the entire body of orthodox Christian interpretation on your side. I acknowledge my views as being outside the pale of commonly accepted Christian belief.”

While I know that many who have come to believe that Christians should observe the Mosaic Law have struggled with the fact that so many trusted theologians and preachers teach otherwise, I think this point deserves more weight than it gets.

We are commanded to be subject to our elders (I Peter 5:5). This doesn’t mean our elders are infallible; we still have an obligation to examine Scripture for ourselves. In some cases, those whom we would consider our elders do not agree with each other. In those cases, we might follow the elders we trust the most, arrive at our own conclusion based on personal study, or leave the matter unresolved. However, when the vast majority of our elders are teaching more or less the same thing on a given subject, it strongly suggests that I should not abandon their teaching for my own ideas or the ideas of someone else whom I find more agreeable.

As I look at those whom I would consider as elders, who have committed their lives to the study and proclamation of God’s Word, I cannot believe that they are all unaware of the historical and cultural context that would supposedly reveal the true meaning of Scripture as regards the Law. These are highly educated men who have devoted their lives to this pursuit.

Being made aware of the historical and cultural context, I cannot believe that they are all unable to see it for what it is and accurately deduce the correct meaning. These are highly intelligent men who evidence giftedness in interpreting God’s Word.

Seeing the historical and cultural context for what it is, I cannot believe that they are all unwilling to accept an interpretation that is contrary to their preexisting beliefs. These are godly men who evidence the character that is fitting for an elder. I place more confidence, as a whole, in their willingness to follow the Spirit than in my own.

That being said, I must move on to the specifics of the discussion at hand.

Aaron highlights the supposed discrepancy between the way the Law was regarded by Moses and the Prophets, Jesus, the Apostles, etc and the typical interpretation of Paul’s writings. He then sets up two untenable conclusions and the conclusion that he would have us believe. The problem is, his statements are constructed in a way that I would term a “false dilemma.”

When it comes to “reinterpreting” Paul, it is necessary to “redefine” what Paul meant by “law” and “circumcision,” assigning to them the extra-biblical actions that constituted a “legal” conversion of nationality.

However, when “law” is referred to elsewhere, it is taken to explicitly mean the Mosaic Law in its entirety. This assumption of definition is what sets up the logical fallacy that insists on a reinterpretation of Paul as the only way out.

I have not done what I would consider a thorough study of the use of the word “law” or its synonyms. I do know that God commended Abraham because he “obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” This was before the Mosaic Law was given, so we have a precedent for considering God’s “law” to be broader than the list of commandments given to Israel.

As soon as the Ten Commandments were given, Moses tells the Israelites that God is using this set of laws to test them (Exodus 20:20). They fail the test miserably, making it clear that we need something more than “guidelines” for how to live.

The laws that were given to Israel were part of the “Book of the Covenant.” In comparing the covenants that God has made with mankind, I think it is significant that the Mosaic Law is linked with the covenant God made with Israel at Mount Sinai. This was a conditional covenant, summarized as “obey the commands I have given you, and things will go well; disobey, and I will send calamity.” This Old Covenant was neither capable of nor intended to justify man or produce righteousness. The New Covenant, which makes the first one obsolete (Hebrews 8:13), also puts an end to the external regulations associated with the Old Covenant (Hebrews 9:10).

I have started a beginning attempt at a unified approach to God’s various covenants with mankind here: Biblical Covenants.

The broader “Law of God” is to be understood and obeyed in much the same way as in the time of Abraham. As Paul said in I Corinthians 9:20-21, he is not under the law that the Jews followed, but is subject to the rule of God in his life.

Going back to Aaron’s post, he says near the end that “by becoming Jewish, they accepted upon themselves the additional liability of the special responsibilities of the Jewish people.” What are these “special responsibilities,” if not the Mosaic Law? What was it that made the nation of Israel “Jewish?” Was it not their shared cultural heritage, as expressed in and built upon the Book of the Covenant? How is it possible for a Gentile to observe the Mosaic Law without becoming “Jewish?”

Biblical Covenants

The entire underpinning of the Bible rests on the covenants that God has made with His creation. It is common to hear references to the “Old Covenant” and the “New Covenant.” Sometimes references are made to an “Edenic Covenant,” an “Adamic Covenant,” a “Noahide (or Noahic) Covenant,” an “Abrahamic Covenant,” a “Mosaic Covenant,” and a “Davidic Covenant.”

What are all these covenants, and what bearing do they have on our life today?

To begin, let’s look at the definition of a covenant.

The Definition of a Covenant

The English dictionary defines a covenant as “an agreement, usually formal, between two or more persons to do or not do something specified.”

In the Bible, the word “covenant” is first encountered in Genesis 6:18, and is the Hebrew word “beri?yth” (Strong’s number H1285). The word is used 285 times in the KJV, and is translated “covenant” 265 times out of those 285. It is also translated as “league,” and “confederate” or “confederacy.”

“Beriyth” is related to the word “ba?ra?h” (H1262) meaning “to select” and “ba?ra?'” (H1254) meaning “to cut.” It is frequently used with the word “ka?rath,” which also means “to cut.” In Genesis 9:11 where the KJV reads “I will establish my covenant,” it is literally saying “I will cut my covenant.” The context of “cutting a covenant” is portrayed in Genesis 15 when God has Abraham cut a heifer, a goat, and a ram in half, then God passes between the halves.

In the New Testament, the word for “covenant” is the Greek word “diathe?ke?” (Strong’s number G1242). The same word is also translated “testament.”

Old Testament Covenants

Continue reading

God’s Word

2 Tim 3:16
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

2 Pet 1:21
for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

2 Sam 23:2
The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue.

Act 1:16
Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.

Act 3:18
But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.

Act 28:25
And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers,

These and other passages in the Bible make it very clear that the prophets, and indeed ALL of Scripture, is God’s Message, not just a “God approved” message from men. Today we see a movie or read a fictional book that is “inspired by a true story.” Someone gets an idea, or is “inspired” by something or someone, and develops the idea into something bigger. That is not the case with Scripture. God did not just ignite the spark of an idea and men ran with it, He provided the entire Message.

What I’m not so sure about, is whether God chose the specific words and sentence structure in the original language (divinely written–all the writer did was move the pen), or whether He gave the writer the liberty to choose how to phrase it (divinely inspired–the writer put God’s Message in his own words).

Bible Translations

Translation philosophy

Bible translations commonly adopt primarily one of two philosophies for determining the correct English translation of the Hebrew or Greek text. The first is “formal equivalence” or “word-for-word.” Here the translator takes each Hebrew or Greek word and attempts to translate it into the equivalent English word. An alternative approach is “dynamic equivalence” or “thought-for-thought.” In this case, the translator first attempts to determine the meaning of a complete phrase in the original language, then picks the English words that best convey the same meaning. The translators of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (and perhaps other translations) have opted to use “optimal equivalence” which might be explained as “as literal as possible, as free as necessary.”

I like the idea of “optimal equivalency.” The way I would phrase it is, “word-for-word as much as possible, unless it produces confusion.” I tried to think of an example where a word-for-word translation would create confusion, and although it’s not a great example, consider the following scenario: let’s say I’m translating the phrase “la bota negra” from Spanish to English. I look up each word in the Spanish-English dictionary, and I see that la=the, bota=boot, and negra=black. So the literal English translation would be “the boot black.” According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a boot-black is “a person who cleans and polishes shoes for a living.” However, anyone familiar with Spanish knows that the modifier (adjective) comes after the noun, whereas in English we put the modifier in front of the noun, so the correct English translation would be “the black boot.” This would be a case where a truly literal word-for-word translation would be a bad idea. Then, of course, sometimes a truly literal word-for-word translation isn’t even possible, because there is no one-to-one correspondance of the Greek or Hebrew word with an English word.

There’s also the issue that what is clear to one person might be confusing to someone else. Something that might be easily understood by an English major might be quite confusing to someone who struggled to graduate highschool. In that case, there is certainly a place for a variety of translations at different reading levels. Unfortunately, simplifying a translation can also require sacrificing some accuracy sometimes.

What if the original language is confusing? Should the translator take his best stab at the intended meaning, or leave it ambiguous so the reader can take it either way? This is a judgement call that the translator has to make, in part depending on how much confidence he has in his ability to interpret the true intent of the passage.

Continue reading

Calvinism

(Also see “Once Saved Always Saved”)

God’s sovereignty does not violate man’s free will. Please understand this…it is very important. God does not force anyone to love Him or choose Him. Please do not let this all-or-nothing thinking be a stumbling block to the biblical principle of man’s total depravity or God’s sovereignty.

I’ve heard lots of objections to God’s sovereignty, usually with the assumption that it overrides man’s ability to choose. I’ve also heard God’s sovereignty explained away such that it’s really man’s choice and God just knows what will happen so He plans accordingly. I don’t recall ever hearing a good explanation of what Romans 9, Matthew 20, and the numerous other passages dealing with God’s sovereignty are really saying if you reject the notion that the choice originates with God, independent of man.

Another thing I’d like to reiterate, as a few people have already mentioned, is that God is the standard of righteousness, justice, and love. God doesn’t just decide what Right is, and then abide with His “rules.” Whatever God does–that, by definition, is Right. If God declared that green was holy and pink was evil, it wouldn’t matter that I think it’s arbitrary and stupid. I would still be sinning if I decided to wear pink anyway. If God decided to eliminate a race of people, it wouldn’t matter if it seemed heartless to us. The fact that God did it, and that alone, makes it Right.

Now, that doesn’t mean that God is inconsistent and contradictory. He has revealed His character to us, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We know from the Bible that He is loving; He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. He is very patient, pursuing His beloved even after we reject Him time and time again. Our understanding of salvation needs to be consistent with this.

Our understanding of salvation also needs to be consistent with the biblical principles that have been presented, indicating that man is depraved and does not seek God on his own.

Originally posted 7/15/2005 on bibleforums.org

Perseverance of the Saints

Perseverance of the Saints is very much dependant on God’s Unconditional Election and Irresistable Grace. With regards to Calvinism vs. Arminianism, I’m not very interested in proving which of the two opposing views are correct. I believe the Bible gives indications of both, and I am more interested in reconciling the seeming contradictory concepts than picking one versus the other.

However, here are some of the common verses that indicate a Perseverance of the Saints:

Continue reading