The Bible; June 25, 2020


Jeremiah 8:8 “‘How can you say, “We are wise,
for we have the law of the Lord,”
when actually the lying pen of the scribes
has handled it falsely?'”

This verse speaks volumes to me. Many people indeed treat the Bible like a good luck charm, thinking that possessing it makes them special, when actually it is taking the Word into your heart to do it that makes the difference. (James 1:22) There is indeed great wisdom in the pages of the Bible, but until it is internalized and applied, it is useless. That much is a truth that is expressed many times in many ways throughout the Bible. However, it is the reference to “the lying pen of the scribes” that really stands out to me. We sometimes forget that the printing press wasn’t invented until over a thousand years after this was written. Books of all sorts were hand copied, and the people who did that for a living were called scribes. This one verse could explain a lot of “textual criticism” questions about the Bible! Most scribes were probably very faithful in their work, but some “copied” the text to make it say what they wanted it to. We have that issue with translations today. It is all well and good to render the Hebrew and Greek in English that is as easy as possible to understand, but theological and even moral positions can have all too much influence on the outcome. Also, this opens up the whole matter of Bible commentaries. My seminary professor grandfather wouldn’t allow any Schofield Bibles in his classes, because some of the students treated the footnotes as being as inspired as the text! Even today, there are preachers who preach more from commentaries than they do from the actual text of Scripture. Such commentaries are “the traditions of the elders” that Jesus spoke so strongly against. (Mark 7:1-13, especially verse 8) Today we see politicians and others quoting the Bible to justify all sorts of things, like abortion, that spit in the face of God. Handled that way, the Bible has nothing to do with wisdom!

The most unpleasant thing about preaching class in seminary was the requirement that I reference commentaries in every message. I was strongly reminded of my grandfather’s position on Schofield Bibles! Background information on the culture of the time a passage was written is certainly helpful, and I am amazed at the ignorance of some people about such things as geography and history. I desire to be knowledgeable about such things, but the Word of the Lord is transcendent. I read it every day precisely because God speaks to me through it. That said, my blog puts me in the position of a scribe, and I must never place my own words on a par with the Bible. He does speak through me, for which I am deeply grateful, but I must never say, “Thus says the Lord,” when He has not spoken. I want the Holy Spirit to be my guide, and to guide those who read and hear my words, so that there will be no distortion in the message.

Father, pride is always a risk here. Help me be both humble and bold, hearing and proclaiming what You are saying, so that Your Word may accomplish that for which You send it, (Isaiah 55:9-11) destroying the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and setting people free, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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