I’ve become a man obsessed. I cannot read a single bible verse anymore. Every time I see a verse on some “verse of the day” or bumper sticker or one of those gas-station signs outside a big church (you know the ones, they have to use a backward 2 to make an ‘S’ because they didn’t have enough?) I am suspicious. I have to go read the whole chapter. I’ve stopped starting in the middle of a chapter. I’ve stopped referencing CONCEPTS within the bible by their verse, only by the chapter. You see, we’ve been duped. But it’s our fault. We’re SO hurried, but lazy, that we would much rather pull a quippy inspirational quote than to understand the context in which it was written. We can prove almost anything by taking it out of context.
We’ve just gotten through another election season, and it doesn’t take a genius to tell that every ad is a lie. By lie I mean, ‘Part truth’ It’s the oldest trick in the book. Taking a few words that a person says, and hanging them on them, is the basis of our democratic process. For instance, At the top of this article I said, and I quote, “I cannot read a single bible verse anymore.” See? It’s right there in black and white. This man hates the bible. But what was that man really saying? Did he stop believing the bible? Is he illiterate? Read on. He reads whole chapters instead.
Read On. This is my new motto. This applies to the bible in a huge way. So many, who have come before us, have taken verses out of context to make their point. I’m certain we do it too. For instance, in Joshua 1, Yehovah is placing Joshua in charge of all the Israelites, to be their military leader. He’s being bolstered up and encouraged by his creator. We’ve heard these quotes before, “Be Strong and Courageous” and “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life” and “I will not leave your or forsake you”. Yup, Joshua’s got it made. But read on. The very next verse. The Terms and Conditions:
“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.”
If he doesn’t follow the Torah, he will NOT have those protections. In fact, if you read on, The second battle Israel entered, they got whipped. Why? Because one soldier had broken the instructions by keeping plunder which was devoted to destruction.
There is a very famous verse in Acts 10 about Yehovah declaring all food clean. Peter is shown in a vision all kinds of clean and unclean animals which he refuses to eat. But Yehovah says, “What God has made clean, you must not consider unholy.” If you stop here, put down your bible, pick up your pork rinds and turn the game back on, you’ve got it made. But if you read on to the end of the chapter, Peter explains the lesson to the house full of unclean gentiles. A good Jew would never have even entered a house full of gentiles, except for his vision. But read on. In the next chapter, Peter is challenged by other Jews and criticized for eating with such slime, but he explains his vision and it’s meaning a second time. It’s not about food.
Leviticus 26 holds amazing blessings and promise of great abundance, if you only read verses 4-13. Rain for your crops, Grapes for your wine, Peace, Military power, Tons of food, and Freedom from bondage. Sweet! Oh wait, I forgot to read the terms and conditions. Back to verse 1. IF you obey my sabbaths..IF you don’t bow down to idols, IF you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments. But read on. You might want to sit down for this. The next 15 verses line out what we’ll get when we don’t obey. Panic, Disease, Starvation, Military destruction, Wild beasts, Desolation. Utter removal from our own land so it can have the sabbatical without us. Eating your own children.
We must not continue along this path of highlighting his goodness and blacking-out his terms. We must not continue along this path of ignoring the wages of sin. If you think God is love, you’re right, but he’s much more as well, he is justice and fury and destruction.
If I stop here, then I’ve cheated you. Did you catch me? We’ve only gotten part way through Leviticus 26. Have we learned nothing? READ ON. Although he’s cast us out of the land, and we’re in the land of our enemies, there is a promise. IF we confess, IF we humble, and IF we make amends, he will remember his covenant with Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham. IF we turn, he will not utterly destroy us that he may be our Elohim and fulfill his promise to our fathers.
You’ve read this far. If you haven’t opened your bible to Leviticus 26 yet, then you’re trusting some guy on the internet who’s done the same old trick. Cherry-Picked verses to prove himself right. Trusting in human nature to skim the cover and claim you’ve read the book.