For the week of December 29, 2007 / 20 Tevet 5768
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 1:1 - 6:1
Haftarah Isaiah 27:6 - 28:13; 29:22,23

The Bible - Life's Mirror

When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. (Shemot / Exodus 2:3,4; ESV)

Both Judaism and Christianity claim to be based on the Bible - Judaism on the Tenach (Old Testament), Christianity on both the Tenach and the New Covenant writings (New Testament). But what I encounter in the Bible is often lacking in these religions. This probably doesn't matter to those who claim to be part of either of these groups, yet view the Bible as an old-fashioned book of myths. But there are others who think their faith is in keeping with the teachings of the Bible, when nothing could be further from the truth. What would happen if we would take the time to compare our so-called biblical faith with what the Bible actually teaches.

One of the New Covenant books states,

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

What a transformation we would experience if we would allow ourselves to honestly face the scrutiny of the Scriptures!

The Bible is not a book primarily about synagogue and church. It is not about associations and agencies. It is not about religious symbols and rituals. It is certainly not about personalities and showmanship. The Bible is about real people who encounter the true God in the midst of real life. It is a book that demonstrates the destructive nature of sin and the marvelous power of God's love. It is a book that clearly reflects the hideousness of human nature and the blinding glory of God. It speaks of God's anger towards our wickedness and his yearning for our honest attention.

The Bible exposes us to the nitty-gritty of life through the circumstances of people just like us. In its pages we read of marital strife, sickness, death and fear. We read of hope, courage, faith, and sacrifice. We meet hypocrites and liars, the betrayers and the betrayed. We find bitterness and forgiveness, hate and love, despair and hope. All this and more are found within the blood, sweat, and tears of human experience.

However, it seems to me that many people don't want to face the reality of real life, let alone that reality as found in the Bible. Even while claiming to respect and honor the words of Scripture, they manipulate those words according to the world as they want it to be instead of what it really is.

But if we would honestly read the Bible, we would read about real situations such as Moses and his family as found in this week's Torah portion. The same jealousy that drove Pharaoh to oppress God's people back then is alive and well today. But so is the power and presence of God working on behalf of his faithful ones just as it did for Moses and his mother.

The Bible is a reflection of life the way it really is, but we too often mar that refection with our perceptions, preferences, and traditions. It is only as we allow the messages of the Scriptures to speak for themselves that its transforming power can be truly effective in our lives.

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