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June 2012

Daniel in the lion’s den

Daniel 6 The Bible is all about dramatic reversals. Perhaps Mary said it best when she was told that the Mighty Christ would be born into her humble circumstances: He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich […]

The writing is on the wall

Daniel 5 In the Fuhrerbunker, Hitler married Eva Braun and his generals toasted the “Thousand Year Reich.”  But “the writing was on the wall”.  This phrase denotes a judgement of doom that gatecrashes the dinner party. The original party-pooping judgement happened to the Babylonian King, Belshazzar.  In all probability, the invading Medes were upon them and […]

Feet of clay

Daniel 2 It’s the biblical equivalent of an Achilles’ heel.  When a leader has a flaw that makes him vulnerable he is said to have “feet of clay.” The phrase originates in the book of Daniel which, like Ezekiel, is set in the Babylonian captivity.  Daniel, along with others, is carried away to Babylon and […]

Thus saith the LORD

Ezekiel 37 “Says who?” Children learn that phrase very quickly.  A sibling tells them to set the table.  What happens next depends entirely on the source of the command.  If the reply comes: “Thus saith mum!” things might just get moving. Hundreds of times the Bible says: “Thus saith the LORD.”  Even when  the LORD is […]

Sour grapes

Ezekiel 18 They looked lovely on the vine, but the acid bursts into your mouth and you realise they are unripe. You spit them out proclaiming, “I didn’t want them anyhow!” “Sour grapes” has come to mean disparaging something you had previously desired – probably because you can’t attain it.  This particular sense originates with […]

Great is thy faithfulness

Lamentations 3 The Bible’s description of exile sometimes sounds like it is at a distance. It happens to those people who deserved it for having committed those sins.  Lamentations feels very different.  Here the anonymous author (traditionally thought of as Jeremiah), lays bare the horror of Jerusalem’s destruction.  It’s a first person lament.  Jeremiah identifies fully with […]

Can a leopard change his spots?

Jeremiah 10:1-25; 13:15-27 Can people change?  Really change? Aristotle thought so.  Here’s how: “it is by doing just acts that the just man is produced, and by doing temperate acts the temperate man.” If you want to change, then perform righteous acts and you will become righteous.  It’s ancient wisdom.  But it’s very modern too.  […]

Be horribly afraid

Jeremiah 2 What could be so bad that it warrants this warning?  A scientist morphing into an insect?  An alien monster rampaging through a spaceship?  What dread terror might have birthed the saying: “Be horribly afraid”? Answer:  The refusal of God’s abundant grace.  According to God, that is the horror of horrors! This striking imperative – “Be […]

A new heavens and a new earth

Isaiah 66 Isaiah could be called “a tale of two cities”.  Yet both cities are Jerusalem. There’s an old Jerusalem – the one in which Isaiah’s listeners live.  They face a terrifying judgement: threatened by Assyria but effected by Babylon.  The city is sacked, God’s house (the temple) is destroyed, the people are carried away […]

Holier than thou

Isaiah 65 Isaiah addresses the blindness of human unbelief.  He proclaims the LORD’s word to a “people walking in darkness.”  But while he insists that human wickedness is a disease, he never prescribes human religion as the cure.  No, healing is found only in the Righteous King.  He is the LORD of the temple vision, He […]