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Which Bible Version Do You Prefer?

A few weeks ago, I purchased a copy of the new Spurgeon Study Bible published by Holman Bible Publishers. This Bible uses the text of the Christian Standard Bible, a recent update of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, produced by the same publisher. My thoughts so far on this particular version is that it is an excellent English rendering of the Scriptures that seeks to blend the accuracy of a strict word-for-word translation with a clearer thought-for-thought wording where the original meaning might not be as readily understood by the 21st Century English speaker. They have labeled this approach “Optimal Equivalency” and it seems like a very good translation strategy, particularly for younger readers or new Christians.

Personally, I really enjoy reading a lot of the newer Bible versions that have hit the shelves in the past decade or two, although I do concur with the thoughts of many that we might be getting a little excessive with just how many new versions and constant updates of these versions are continuing to flood the market. And every time I see a new translation or update, I am reminded of just how passionate people can be about which Bible versions are superior to others. Some go so far as to be very dogmatic and rigid about which versions are indeed valid at all and which ones are corrupt, heretical, or outright perversions intentionally designed to lead people away from God. While most of us would never be so adamant about defending one translation over another, I believe that a lot of Christians have a particular version or versions that they certainly feel more comfortable with and maybe trust a little bit more because it is a version with which they are more familiar.

Having experimented with using several different versions on this website for Scripture quotations, going forward I would like to reference primarily one translation in order to remain consistent and avoid confusion (especially my own confusion!). I praise God that this website has gained quite a few regular readers recently and I really want to proceed carefully and prayerfully in deciding which version to choose for this. In articles that I have read in my own research, some have commented that they will not even read a blog or listen to a preacher that doesn’t use, for instance, the King James Version while others feel just as strongly opposed to those who do. It would be truly sad to alienate readers by using a version that they do not trust. In my opinion, there are several very good translations that would work nicely for the purpose of this website, but I would be very interested to know how those of you who take the time to read these posts feel before deciding. Below you will find a poll asking which, if any, Bible version you prefer and would most like to see quoted and referred to in these Bible studies.

Even if you are not a regular visitor, I would greatly appreciate your opinion. Please feel free to share any detailed thoughts in the comments section if you would like. Lord willing, in the coming weeks we will conclude the reposting of our Genesis study and will move over into a new study in the Gospel of Matthew. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the new posts as they come out. As always, may the Lord richly bless you in the study of His Word and thanks for reading!

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

 

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Isaac Intreated The Lord

“And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.” (Genesis 25:21 KJV)

As Sarah before her, Rebekah was barren and unable to conceive a child. But there is a remarkable distinction between Abraham’s response to Sarah’s infertility and Isaac’s response to Rebekah’s infertility. Back in Genesis 16, we read about Sarah’s scheme to employ her handmaiden, Hagar, as a surrogate through which Abraham could produce offspring for their family:

“So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal.” (Genesis 16:2 NLT)

But what did Isaac do when his wife was unable to conceive? He went to the Lord in prayer. We know that Abraham was a great man of faith, so we naturally assume that he had prayed and petitioned God about his wife’s barrenness a great deal before resorting to the plan of using Hagar to bear a son. But perhaps we assume too much. We see in Genesis 15:2-3 that Abraham asked God about who his heir would be, but we do not see him asking God to give him a son by Sarah. Would this have made any difference in the time frame in which his son would be born? Only God knows. But we do know that it pleases the Lord when we specifically ask Him for those things which we desire.

How often do we neglect to ask the Lord for those things which we desire? We go about our daily lives without pausing to take the time to petition the Lord for those things of which we are in need. We know for certain that God is not ignorant of those things which we need and desire, although we are also aware that He delights in our taking the time to acknowledge those needs to Him. And so we forgo the formality of bringing our requests to Him in prayer and hope that He will grant them anyway. It seems such a simple point to remember, but so often we overlook it. James penned a timeless axiom in regard to this reason for unmet needs:

“…You do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4:2)

Who can know but God what heartache, what suffering, what needless pain that Isaac avoided by going straight to the Lord in prayer when he and Rebekah were unable to conceive? Unlike his parents before him, Isaac did not seek to take matters into his own hands. We learned in the life of Abraham that God can cause His will to come to pass regardless of our own failures and frailties. Abraham’s mistake of going to Hagar in order to conceive a son in no way frustrated the plan of God to bring about a line of descendants through Isaac, a line through which the Lord Jesus Christ Himself would ultimately come. But at what cost was this mistake to Abraham? At what cost to his descendants? To this day, the sons of Ishmael (the Arabs) afflict the sons of Isaac (the Jews) and there is a never-ending strife between them.

Without any doubt,  Abraham must have surely told Isaac of all that God had promised him. He must have related to him many times how a multitude of descendants would come from them and that their seed would be too vast to number. Yet when Rebekah was unable to conceive, Isaac did not sit idly by, supposing that his petition to the Lord was unnecessary. No, he took his request to God and intreated Him for her. What a great reminder that we should do the same.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published May 4, 2010]

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

Scriptures marked (CSB) are taken from the Christian Standard Bible  (CSB) Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (NLT) are taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible,New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (KJV) are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, Public Domain.

Positioned To Hear From God

“It came about after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac lived by Beer-lahai-roi. (Genesis 25:11)

In Genesis 24:62 and in Genesis 25:11, we are told that Isaac lived near Beer Lahai-roi, or the Well of Him that lives and sees. He lived in the “South Country”, or what is referred to as The Negev. This section of Southeastern Palestine was a desolate and arid region (Negev literally means “Dry”). It bordered on the Arabian Desert. So why of all places was Isaac living here?

Beer Lahai-roi was undoubtedly a special place for the people in Abraham’s household. The first instance where we are told about the Well is when the Angel of the Lord appears to Hagar after she flees from her mistress, Sarah (Gen. 16:7-16). It was there that Hagar had a revelation of the love and concern that God has for even the outcast and broken-hearted. It was at this spot that Hagar heard the voice of God speaking to her.

Obviously, the relationship between Isaac, the son of Sarah, and Hagar, his father Abraham’s concubine, was not the most amicable. But it seems that Hagar must have shared her account of what happened at Beer Lahai-roi that day since the Well came to be commonly known by the name she had given it. Perhaps Isaac was so impressed by what had happened that he headed for that very spot when he set out on his own.

What better place is there to go than that place where God has spoken? What destination is preferable to that where the Lord has revealed Himself? We know that God is not bound by the confines of any particular location; He is omnipresent. But we are wise to look for Him where we know He has been and to seek Him in the last place we saw Him. So often we plead with God to go with us to where we are moving when we would do better to go where He already is. Isaac did just that. Eager to have the hand of God leading his own life, as He had led Abraham’s, Isaac went to the place where God had moved before.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published May 1, 2010]

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

Scriptures marked (CSB) are taken from the Christian Standard Bible  (CSB) Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (NLT) are taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible,New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (KJV) are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, Public Domain.

Eliezer: A Faithful Servant

In Genesis 24, the eldest servant of Abraham is sent on a mission to find a bride for Isaac from among Abraham’s relatives back in the city of Nahor, in Mesopotamia. The subject of this chapter is how Rebekah came to be married to Isaac. It’s about Rebekah. It’s about Isaac. It’s even about Abraham. It is not about the eldest servant of Abraham, although it is his actions and words which take center stage. In this “eldest servant”, we have a wonderful portrait of what a faithful servant looks like. It is a picture of how a good and profitable servant of the Lord should be. Let us consider some of his qualities:

Anonymous

There is a remarkable difference between Genesis 24:2 and Genesis 15:2. It seems that they are both referring to the same individual, Eliezer of Damascus, but in Genesis 15:2 he is mentioned by name, while in 24:2 he is not. Why is that? In the first instance, Abraham is contemplating Eliezer as the potential heir of all of his household. Eliezer is the subject at hand; it is about Eliezer. But in Chapter 24, as we mentioned above, Eliezer is not the subject at all.

What a fantastic lesson for the servant of God! How often do we go about our “service” to the Lord, and all the while we are really seeking to glorify ourselves? Our own service to God is no more about us than Eliezer’s service to Abraham was about Eliezer. Abraham knew the name of his faithful servant and doubtlessly recognized and valued him accordingly. But Eliezer did not serve his master in order to magnify himself but to magnify the one he served.

Bound

“So the servant placed his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter. (Gen. 24:9)

Eliezer did not tell Abraham that he would follow Abraham’s instructions unless things got too tough. He did not tell him that he would obey his commands so long as he felt like it. Eliezer made a promise, he took a binding oath that he would remain faithful to the purpose which Abraham had commissioned him.

The servant of the Lord is bound in the same way to the Lord Jesus Christ whenever they first begin to follow Him. Jesus said that once we put our hand to the plow, we are not to look back (Luke 9:62). When we make a vow to the Lord, He expects us to keep it (Numbers 30:2). Commitment is a non-negotiable quality of a faithful servant of the Lord.

Equipped

“The servant took ten of his master’s camels, and with all kinds of his master’s goods in hand, he went to Aram-naharaim, to Nahor’s town. (Genesis 24:10 CSB)

“All kinds of his master’s goods” were in his hands. Abraham did not send Eliezer out to find a bride for his son empty-handed. Everything that Abraham had was at his disposal in order that he could accomplish the mission that Abraham had given him.

God does the same thing for His own servants. God has equipped us with His Word, with His Holy Spirit, and with the assurance that whatsoever we ask in His name and according to His will shall be given. Abraham didn’t put everything at the disposal of Eliezer so that Eliezer could enrich himself or impress others. He did it so that Eliezer would have the tools he needed to accomplish his mission. So it is with the servant of God. God does not equip His servants so that they can live a life of ease and luxury; He equips them so that they can fulfill His calling on their life.

Prayerful

“He said, “O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham.” (Gen. 24:12)

I wonder how many more of our own prayers would be answered if we prayed in this way? We often end our prayers by saying something like “In Jesus’ name”, or “For Jesus’ sake”, but is that what we really mean? Are we really praying for the blessings and provision of God so that we can see Christ glorified?

Eliezer prayed for God’s blessing on him so that he could accomplish his master’s will, not so that he could fulfill his own desires. Should not the servant of God pray in like manner?

Eager

“Then the servant ran to meet her, and said, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar.” (Gen. 24:17)

When Eliezer sees Rebekah, he is eager to find out if she is the one designated by the Lord as the one to be Isaac’s wife. He runs to meet her. If this verse were written about the typical “servant of God” today, it would likely read more like:

“And the servant stood and considered whether or not he should go and speak to Rebekah. He thought about it and thought about it, weighing out the pros and cons. He decided to consult the men in his group and promptly organized a committee to determine if meeting with her was in everyone’s best interest at the time. After much deliberation, a vote was taken with the ‘yes’ votes winning by a narrow margin. The servant was advised that he was free to consult with Rebekah on a temporary, trial basis to determine if ongoing conversation with her could be fit into the time and budget constraints of the organization. After getting the go ahead, the servant tentatively walked up to Rebekah, trying to come up with the most effective way to approach her in a manner that she would not feel threatened or be scared away…”

NO, he ran up to her! The prospect of seeing his master’s wishes come to fruition was too exciting for him to delay.

Dedicated

 

“But when food was set before him to eat, he said, “I will not eat until I have told my business.” And he said, “Speak on.” (Gen. 24:33)

Eliezer was likely very hungry at this point, but his service to his master took precedence. The servant of God is faithful when he puts the will and desires of his Lord ahead of his own. He can take no comfort in having his own needs met until he has done what God has called him to do.

Humble

“So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. (Genesis 24:34)

Eliezer introduced himself by saying: “I am Abraham’s servant.” What a wonderful introduction! How great would it be for the servant of God to introduce himself as “a servant of Christ.” Eliezer did not say “I am Eliezer of Damascus, I was educated in Egypt and earned my degree in domestic service from the University of the Nile.”

One thing that drives me absolutely crazy is when I pass by a church’s billboard and see something like:

“First Community Church

Dr. John S. Dough, Jr. – Senior Pastor”

Does the senior pastor’s name and credentials really need to be splattered on the signboard? Is that what is going to draw people inside? It makes me wonder if that church is about Jesus Christ or is it more about Dr. John S. Dough, Jr.? Being a faithful servant of Jesus Christ is the highest aspiration that any person can attain. We should identify ourselves with that above all else.

Direct

“So tell me—will you or won’t you show unfailing love and faithfulness to my master? Please tell me yes or no, and then I’ll know what to do next.” (Gen. 24:49 NLT)

Eliezer did not beat around the bush. He presented his case and called for a decision. The faithful servant of God does the same upon presenting the Gospel. He presents it, lays it out for the consideration of those to whom he is delivering it, and then calls for a response.

Diligent

“But he responded to them, “Do not delay me, since the Lord has made my journey a success. Send me away so that I may go to my master.” (Gen. 24:56 CSB)

Eliezer did not wait around for the convenience of those within Rebekah’s household. He was on his master’s schedule, not theirs. They had already made their decision to abide by his words (v. 50-51). Now was the time for action, not waiting. Eliezer had accomplished the directions that Abraham had given him. Now it was time to return to his master and await further instructions.

These are of course just some of the defining qualities of a good and faithful servant. But they do give us a pretty good illustration of how the Christian’s service to the Lord should look. One final thing we should note is that Eliezer was only responsible for following his master’s instructions. It was not his responsibility to convince Rebekah to heed his words. His obligation only extended so far as presenting the offer of his master to her (Gen. 24:8). The decision to act on it was entirely hers.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published April 23, 2010]

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

Scriptures marked (CSB) are taken from the Christian Standard Bible  (CSB) Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (NLT) are taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible,New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (KJV) are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, Public Domain.

Buying The Cave Of Machpelah

“So Abraham bought the plot of land belonging to Ephron at Machpelah, near Mamre. This included the field itself, the cave that was in it, and all the surrounding trees.” (Genesis 23:17 NLT)

What a peculiar situation we find Abraham in as the 23rd chapter of Genesis unfolds. The man to whom God had promised the entire land of Palestine (Genesis 15:18) now stood negotiating with the sons of Heth for a burial plot in which to inter his beloved Sarah. His descendants had been given by God all the land from the Wadi el Arish river of Egypt to the mighty Euphrates; yet Abraham did not actually possess so much as a parcel of land the size of a burial plot! He indeed possessed great wealth, we know this (e.g, Gen. 13:2, 24:35), but his feet trod upon ground which, at the time, belonged to others.

“Here I am, a stranger and a foreigner among you. Please sell me a piece of land so I can give my wife a proper burial.”(Genesis 23:4 NLT)

I am a foreigner and an alien among you, Abraham honestly says to those who currently occupied the land. He was living in a country which he had immigrated to, a land wherein he had no natural inheritance. The only One Who really does own any part of this Earth (Psalm 24:1) had deeded the land to Abraham and his descendants, but Abraham was not to take it by force. So, he negotiates to purchase a piece of the land which he really already owns. Verse 9 of Genesis 23 shows us that Abraham already had in mind a specific section in which he desired to bury Sarah: the Cave of Machpelah. It belonged to a certain man named Ephron, andyours it would be from him that Abraham must purchase it.

The generous gesturing of the sons of Heth, even Ephron himself, which is described in Verses 6-16, might leave us quite impressed by the absolute magnanimous offerings which they present to Abraham. “Bury your dead in the choicest of our graves”, they tell him (v. 6). It appears that these most noble gentlemen are proposing that Abraham take from them whatsoever he wishes, no charge attached. But those familiar with the customs and commercial protocols of the Oriental marketplaces, ancient and modern, tell us that such ostentatious pretense is a mere formality with no such actual intention of a one-sided transaction occurring at all. Take it, it’s yours, even though it is worth 400 shekels of silver, Ephron says. The price has been stipulated, a price that is agreed by those familiar with the culture to be grossly exorbitant. Nevertheless, the price has been stated and Abraham can in no way accept this piece of land without rendering the amount; lest his honor and reputation be forever damaged.

Verse 17 defines the parameters of the property in question, even mentioning the trees and specific borders that would differentiate the limits of the field from its environs. No doubt about it that this chapter of Genesis was to serve as a perpetual legal document articulating that the Cave of Machpelah, the resting place of the Patriarchs, had been acquired with all propriety.

So, what can be learned by examining such a relatively mundane chapter of Scripture? What applicable truths can the modern child of God glean from this description of Abraham’s purchase of the Cave of Machpelah? First, we see that there is a dignity with which the servant of God should behave in all of his dealings with those of this world. Any other man in that assembly would have doubtlessly haggled and dickered over the amount quoted for the field, as was likely Ephron’s expectation and reasoning for setting the initial price so high. But Abraham refrains from doing so, silently agreeing with Ephorn’ assertion: What is 400 shekels of silver between me and you, indeed. The price was unfair, but in Abraham’s economy it was no great loss. Any attempt to secure a lesser amount could have later been construed as duplicity on the part of Abraham. I wanted 400 for it, but that silver-tongued Abraham talked me down to 250, Ephron might have claimed. Since Abraham paid the exact price requested, no such dishonesty could ever be attributed to him. It is certainly not a violation of God’s will to be shrewd in our business dealings, but we must always bear in mind that God is the One upon Whom we rely and we are merely stewards of any finances which come our way. Our character is of far greater importance than our treasure; for we cannot serve God and money.

The paradoxical nature of Sarah’s burial was not likely lost on Abraham. For it was only in her death that he had actually acquired even one small portion of the Land of Promise. He would later join her there (Gen. 25:10) and it would only be then that he would cease to be a stranger and foreigner and would take up permanent residence therein. It really is not much different for us. God has promised unto the Christian blessings in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3, 2:6), the fullness of which we will not see in this lifetime. Those blessings were secured by Christ through His death, and it is only after our own death that we shall enjoy them completely. Like Abraham, we have those promises now, but until we pass from this life to the next, we shall remain strangers and sojourners in a land that is not our own.

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2)

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published April 5, 2010]

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

Scriptures marked (CSB) are taken from the Christian Standard Bible  (CSB) Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (NLT) are taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible,New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (KJV) are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, Public Domain.

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