Friday, November 16, 2012

Did you say otter skin?

Many years ago, as a young pastor, I was re-reading the Old Testament passage about the wanderings in the wilderness of the Hebrew children. As I was reading I came across the passage that told about dismantling the tabernacle for each move in the desert. One of the interesting things was the coverings that went over each piece of furniture in the tabernacle to protect it for traveling. I suddenly stopped reading and said, "Otter skins?!"

The otter lives in/near water. And of course, the Hebrew children were in the desert - way in the desert. To even have otter skins, some of the men would have had to make a trip to the coast to catch otters. So this was a big undertaking. But my main shock was the need to cover the furniture with otter skins in the desert. The main thing value of otter skins is that they are waterproof. So what was the necessity of covering everything with this waterproof material in the desert?

This question haunted me for years. I could not seem to get an answer to this elusive question. How do you search out something like that? I didn't know where to begin, except to ask other pastors and scholars. No one seemed to have an answer. They had just accepted it, thinking that it wasn't all that important. But I knew that everything in the Bible was important. So I kept searching and wondering.

Many years later, I was reading in the Psalms and came across a verse that stopped me in my tracks. It was the long-evasive answer to my question about otter skins in the desert. Psalm 68:7, 8 reads, "O God, when You went out before Your people, When You marched through the wilderness, The earth shook; The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel (nkjv)." Wow! There was my answer.

When it was time to move, the pillar of cloud (fire at night) that stood over the tabernacle would lift, indicating to all the people that it was time to pack up and move. As they began to move, the cloud (fire) would go before them, leading the way. And as it lifted up in the heavens and pushed itself through the atmosphere, it shook out the water. Rain! Rain! That is why the furniture was covered with waterproof material. Wow!

That is why I love the Bible so much. It not only is truth for me, it also has mysteries for a mystery-lover. When they say that the Bible is everything; it truly is. What fun reading! What marvelous discoveries are waiting to be found.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Go up, you bald head!

A Facebook friend asked this question, "I have a question for my christian friends. Could 2 Kings 2:23, 24 have been mistranslated? If not, what does it mean?" I don't normally write much in Facebook, just read a lot of what goes on out there. But this question caught my attention, and I felt it deserved an answer. After thinking through the question for most of the day, I finally answered. Here is my answer in two parts, first question and second question.

The Hebrew word is na'ar. It is used of Isaac who was 28, Joseph who was 30, and Rehoboam who was 40. God took the taunting of these children in Second Kings personally in this way. Though Elijah was bald, he lived another 50 years, so he was probably prematurely bald. However, the "Go up" of verse 23 was the real taunt and was blasphemous about the way that God was intending to raise Elijah to heaven. It was a blasphemous insult to God. These children were certainly old enough to have been taught the scripture and respect - especially respect of God. In verse 24, the Hebrew word for children is a different Hebrew word and actually refers to/means progeny - the produce of the womb. My children are 38 and 40. They are still, and always will be, my progeny. In a couple of places in the scriptures (one in Psalms) God says, "Touch not mine anointed, nor do my prophet any harm." Today, there is virtually no respect for pastors/ministers. Most of that is due to some of the ones who have acted in unholy ways, to be sure, some is due to lack of teaching true respect in the home. But it really makes it hard for the ones who try to follow God, hear Him and love others. What if God did the same in this dispensation as He did in Second Kings? Would it help to bring back respect for these men/women of God? Fortunately for us, this is the age of Grace and not Law!

Question two - Could this be mistranslated? It is a poor translation. The problem with translation is that languages and words change in meaning. Example: the Gay 90s and gays today. In the King James times, you would have a sentence like this. "Bring the carriages freely by and by." We would not understand that today without a little research. Carriages were pieces of luggage, freely meant without pay, and by and by meant immediately. (Does that make you scratch your head?) So the sentence today is "Bring the luggage immediately without pay." The problem all translators have is how to stay true to the original language and yet still express the truth in modern parlance.

Paul's exhortation to Timothy is still relevant today. "Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, handling correctly the Word of God." (2 Timothy 3:15)