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?'”
Here we have a statement in the Bible that some of the Bible is not accurate! This is actually rather earth-shaking for those who venerate Scripture. It actually lends credence to Barth’s position that the Bible isn’t the Word of God, but it contains the Word of God. However, that is a slippery slope if ever there was one. When we start picking and choosing what we like from the Bible we lose much of the foundation for our faith. When everything is subjective, the devil has free rein with his lies. As it says in the very next verse, “Since they have rejected the word of the Lord, what kind of wisdom do they have?” (Jeremiah 8:9) There are many, perhaps even most, Christians who ignore chunks of the Bible, but not with any consistent principles about it. Paul is pretty clear about the issue of dietary restrictions, but he is equally clear that sexual immorality and perversion are not acceptable, and those are the areas most under attack. We need always to ask the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit when we read the Bible, since He is the Author. He won’t lead us astray, whatever “scribes” might have done to some of the text down through the centuries. Translation is a major issue, particularly in light of this verse. I have it on excellent authority that pre-existing doctrinal positions definitely color Bible translations. That should be sufficient reason right there to use multiple translations! I think it all comes down to the reality that we are to worship God, and nothing else – even the Bible.
This is very personal for me, since I come from a line of Bible scholars. My maternal grandfather’s translation of Ephesians has influenced every English translation for the past 100 years. My father got his Master’s degree in Hebrew and his Doctorate in Greek, teaching both languages in Japanese, so it’s very safe to say that there was a very high awareness of the difficulties of translation in my family. There are, frankly, some parts of Leviticus that I ignore, and I consider myself to be pretty hooked on the Bible. A member of our church, a recovering alcoholic, once declared that I was addicted to the Bible, because, he said, “I know addiction.” I cried tears of joy at that, because that’s how I want to be. However, my loyalty must not be to the printed words, but to the Lord who speaks them to me. I am deeply grateful that He does speak to me, often and consistently as I meet with Him each morning, but that is effective only to the degree that I am obedient to what He says. I am constantly reminded of the truth of James 1:22: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” I am not to be a legalist, but I am certainly to allow the Lord to write His law on my heart (Jeremiah 31:33, quoted in Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16) so that I may do it, for His glory.
Father, Thank You for this Word. Help me indeed handle the Bible correctly, (2 Timothy 2:15) falling for none of the lies of the devil but wielding the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) effectively to set people free, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!