Tags: law

Jacob’s Ladder

In 19th-century America, a generation of oppressed slaves sang a spiritual about “Jacob’s Ladder.” The repetitive, rhythmic lyrics about climbing higher and higher helped them envision themselves on a hard journey to a better place. The original story is about a great ladder reaching up to heaven, and it’s as down-to-earth as the man who […]

Degrees of Sin

Is all sin alike in God’s eyes? Our last conversation about God’s words to Moses—that, to our ear, can sound so self-contradictory (Exodus 34:5-7)— have raised a question about degrees of sin. Seems to me that this lingering thought might help us  reflect on the second half of an ancient quote that seems so unfair […]

Personal Outcomes

David , the shepherd, musician, soldier king of Israel wrote a song with 175 verses that celebrated the teaching of his God–in the words of Moses. In his last verse he sang with words that must have been more lyrical than our English, “I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I […]

The Bible and Cut Flowers

The words of the Bible can be like cut flowers. The words of Jesus, like the laws of Moses, can be selectively chosen and arranged for anyone’s temporary purposes and enjoyment. But once the words are sheared from the stem and root of the story they are telling, they begin to fade in significance like […]

Who or What Has Changed?

Malachi, the last prophet of the Hebrew Scriptures, quoted God as saying, “I am the LORD, I do not change” (3:6 NKJV). Down through the centuries, however, many have noticed that, somewhere between the Old and New Testaments, the God of the Bible does seem to change. Instead of sending down war, floods, fire, and […]

Jangling and Jingling

Sleigh bells jingle. But what jangles? The question surfaced as I bumped into the word in a King James version of the Bible. When I checked another version, I saw that “jangling” was a 17th century way of describing the sound of empty talk. According to the Apostle Paul, it can happen when someone tries […]

The Value of a Person

What did Jesus mean when he said that “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27)? Could people be more important than the laws of God? The question is similar to the business-related question we’ve been discussing the last couple of days: Are people and relationships more important than […]

The Pharisee in Me

Over the years I have occasionally noticed the similarity between my own values and those held by the enemies of Jesus. According to the New Testament and the first century Jewish historian, Josephus, the Pharisees were: People of the Book—Devoted to the memorization and study of the Law. Lovers of God—Deeply committed to the God […]

Killing One Another

Many of us are trying to understand why an army sergeant turned his weapon on five fellow soldiers at a stress clinic in the outskirts of Baghdad. What was going through the mind of a man who already had his gun taken away before coming up with another? (See article here) The soldier had three […]

Didn't Paul Say, All Things Are Lawful?

When Paul acknowledges in his 1st letter to the Corinthians that “All things are lawful” (1Cor 6:12), he uses a word that occurs about 40 times in the New Testament regarding whether a behavior is legally permissible. Since Paul adds in another letter that we are under grace, not law (Rom 6:14-15), how do we […]