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Jonah and the whale

Jonah 1-2 “Arise, go to Nineveh” says the LORD.  Jonah arises and runs in the opposite direction.  There is much that is comic about the book of Jonah.  Its protagonist is something of an anti-hero.  Jonah does everything in his power to thwart God’s evangelistic mission to Nineveh.  First he runs in the opposite direction.  […]

Reap the whirlwind

Hosea 7-8 “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  Paul’s saying from Galatians 6:7 is a common biblical theme.  The judgement which befalls the wicked is not an alien imposition.  It is the way they’ve been heading all along.  It’s simply the fruit of their lives. Hosea looks on the northern kingdom, about […]

Play the harlot

Hosea 1-3 How would you feel if your yearly work review summed up your performance as, “Unfaithful?”  You might expect negatives like “incompetent” or “lazy”.  But, “unfaithful”?  What if your your work was described as“adulterous”?  Adulterous? Surely you’re not married to your job! And yet, throughout the Bible, the LORD says to His people, “You […]

For ever and ever

Daniel 7 Given the suffering of this world, how can anyone believe in a good God, or a happy ending? In Daniel 7, the prophet has a vision of horrific cruelty.  It was a “vision by night” that left him, in his own words, “grieved in my spirit… and the visions of my head troubled me.” […]

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 […]