Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Forsaking Egypt

This year I have been working my way through Exodus:  Saved for God's Glory from the Preaching the Word series by Philip Graham Ryken (Copyright 2005, ISBN 978-1-4335-3539-0).

Let's start with a quote from pp. 705-706:

"But perhaps the most beautiful picture of the gospel comes from the law's special provision for a slave who wanted to enter his master's permanent service.  God said:  "But if the servant declares, 'I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,' then his master must take him before the judges.  He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl.  Then he will be his servant for life" (Exod. 21:5,6).
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This special provision of the law has much to teach us about our relationship to God.  David wrote about it in one of his psalms:
"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced;
burnt offering and sin offerings
you did not require.
Then I said, "Here I am, I have come-
it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart."  (Psalm 40:6-8)

According to David, pleasing God means more than simply offering a sacrifice for sin.  It also means doing what God says, obeying him the way a servant obeys the master he loves.  To illustrate this, David referred to the ancient custom and compared himself to a servant who had his ear pierced.  He had learned to hear and obey, offering himself in loving service to God."

This sounds really good, doesn't it?  I was all ready to mark the cross-reference in my Bible (Exodus 21:6 to Psalm 40:6).  So I open my King James Bible to Psalm 40 and find this:  "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required," (Psalm 40:6).

Obviously, an opened ear is not the same as a pierced ear.  In reading the King James, these two verses are not linked like Mr. Ryken intimated.  Without the piercing imagery, there's no connection at all.

At the beginning of his book, Mr. Ryken notes that "unless otherwise indicated Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible" NIV (copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011).  Scripture quotations are also indicated from the KJV, ESV (copyright 2001), and NLT (copyright 1996).

So which translation is the author quoting from?  My favorite Bible website is Blue Letter Bible.  However, when I typed in the  phrase 'my ears you have pierced', I found that there is no current Bible translation that uses this phrase.  It is from the NIV 1984 edition, which was revised in 2011.  The new NIV 2011 edition uses the phrase 'my ears you have opened', like all the other translations.

This scenario leads me to ponder a few questions:
  1. If I want to be a good steward of the time God has given me, why should I read modern commentaries that use multiple translations and make biblical associations that may or may not be true depending on whether or not the edition is updated?
  2. Why don't modern commentaries use just one translation? (this seems like the more honest approach, rather than quoting a verse from the translation that supports a specific point)
So what's my take away from all of this?  I was on page 721 out of 1164 page book.  Did I quit?  Yes, which is not like me at all.  I usually finish what I start; but in this case, I saw no need to continue, given the discrepancy I saw because of the variety of Bible translations used.  I was making mental associations that were not in the Bible, so I've decided not to use a commentary that uses multiple Bible translations, which I realize excludes many, if not all, of the modern commentaries.  But really, I want to understand what the Bible says, not what an author thinks that it should say.

Therefore, my plan is to read & study Matthew Henry's Bible commentary exclusively because the scriptural quotes are from the King James.  In 2012, my husband and I decided to use one version, the King James Bible, for the whole family.  This change has really improved our family devotional time because now we are not trying to figure out how 'your version is different from mine', but we are focused on what the word says and how to apply to our lives.  It's also easier to memorize scripture when your saying the same words.

It would be ideal if the Christian world had just one Bible to read, study, memorize, discuss, and write about.  But I know this will not happen; biblical unity and cohesiveness has been lost at the expense of personal preference.  

To further illustrate the problem that arises from the 100+ English Bible translations that we have, as well as the textual critics that go along with them, Eddie Floretino from Heritage Baptist Church makes the following observation in his sermon on 04/21/03 entitled 'The Reality of False Teachers' (2 Peter):
"Islam is growing in Europe, especially in England.  The preachers of Islam are using the books of our scholars that contradict and question the Bible (its inspiration & the authenticity of Christ) as their material to convince people that the Koran is the word of God."

What we read is important because it shapes what we believe.