Christian Life: Obedience to the Word

Summer jobs and travel has got the better of blogging for a while… Thought I’d might warm up for the autumn term:

Here is another post on obedience, see also this.

Proverbs 28:9:

If one turns away his ear from hearing the law,
even his prayer is an abomination.

Or as the TNIV interprets it:

If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction,
even their prayers are detestable.

First a little excursion on Bible translations:

As a Hebraist I generally prefer and advocate as literal Bible translations as possible. The Word must not be bent or distorted. Indeed, any translation necessarily involves interpretation to some degree.

Paraphrases and certain amplifications can however be helpful at times when reading the Word in order to release us from unhelpful connotations or bring us into, for the context, more appropriate semantic fields.

J. I. Packer gives some advice on choise of Bibles in God has Spoken that seems to me sound and balanced:

I suggest that you try, as I do, to get the best of all worlds by having four Bibles at hand – the King James, with its majestic language and hallowed associations; a paraphrase; a word-for-word version; and one from the the middle – and regularly comparing them. In any case, however, concentrate on one version for reading and memorizing. This brings most benefit with least confusion.  (p.21)

Maybe NIV seems to a younger generation to have enough ‘hallowed’ connotations, or maybe even one day the Message for that matter 😉

Now, looking at this verse from Proverbs, the word ‘law’, although it is the correct immediate translation of the Hebrew word ‘torah’, brings with it more than anything connotations of legal affairs.

But God’s law is his instruction first and foremost, something to live by, to live out. It is not an obstacle put out to trip us up.

Or like Paul writes to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 2:15-16a):

15For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.

This is how it is with Jesus: the name has condemnation for those who refuses to put their trust in him but life, instruction and freedom for those who trust him and follow him.

Proverbs 28:9 slams ‘ICE Christianity’ (In Case of Emergency) which is so common in increasingly secular, former professing Christian countries.

God requires obedience to his word and adherence to his law – which witnesses about Jesus.

Jesus says in Matt. 5:17:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.”

Indeed, the Bible tells us that Jesus is the Word, John 1:1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

We must let that Word, that fulfilment of the law speak to us and change us by the power of the Spirit.

God is no one-armed-bandit and so we cannot expect a relationship with him if we treat him a such.

Instead, as we are saved by grace we need to let the Word transform us: our behaviour, our thinking, our priorities.

All for the Glory and Honour of God: Father Son and Holy Spirit as our lives communicates the Gospel.


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