In Earl Crow’s comments on the Old Testament account of the sun standing still for almost a day (“Should the Bible be taken literally?” Winston-Salem Journal December 17, 2016) we have an example of how many of our religious leaders, in an effort to adapt the Bible to modern culture, totally misread a passage.
First, the Old Testament statement that the sun stood still is no different than our saying we saw the sunrise. Both are statements of observed phenomena of the sun in relationship to the earth as it appears to man as he looks into the sky. Nothing is said in either case of how it happened.
Second, Crow’s saying that “a passage must be understood in the light of the cosmology of the day” seems to suggest that the Old Testament writer did not know that such a thing as the sun standing still was outside the realm of the laws of nature. But the text says clearly: “And there was no day like that before it or after it.” (Joshua 10:14)
The Old Testament writer knew as well as we that the sun standing still is against the laws of nature. That’s the very definition of a miracle – it’s supernatural. One either believes that God did it or not.
The Psalmist wrote of a time when he almost lost his faith: “But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Psalm 73:2-3)
It can happen mighty easily. For example, a teenager in one of our inner-city ghettos sees the flashy clothes and fast cars of drug dealers and is thereby seduced into a life of crime. Or a young man or woman entering the business world observes some who moves ahead by unethical practices and is led to go in the same direction. It’s an old problem as can be seen by this Psalm written centuries before Christ.
What saved the Psalmist? Well, he tells us: “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou cast them down into destruction.” (Psalm 73:16-18) We might say, “He went to church and learned that while the life of sin may look good now, ultimately these sinners will be destroyed.”
The New Year is a time for resolutions. Let’s resolve to make 2017 The Year of the Bible Reader for the North Main Street Church of Christ. Consider this message from Psalm 1.
- “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” (Psalm 1:1) There is certainly plenty of ungodly counsel around to lead us wrong. And there are also more than enough sinners who would like to serve as role models. Also there are many scornful skeptics who mock God. So what’s the antidote?
- “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (Psalm 1:2) Being in the word is the Christian’s shield against all the counsel of the wicked one.
- Furthermore, “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:3)
Let’s all make 2017 our year for Bible reading.