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Shibboleth

Click for source Judges 12:1-15 Are you “in” or “out”?  “Bang on trend” or “out of fashion”?  “Up to the minute” or “behind the times”?  Life is full of exclusive clubs.  We discriminate by age, gender, race, wealth, strength, intelligence, looks, taste.  We can turn anything into a barrier to entry.  But the LORD is […]

Jordan

Joshua 3:1-17 The story is told of a wealthy man’s funeral at which “Guide me O thou great Jehovah” was the opening hymn.  It may have been a typo but the final verse read as follows: “When I tread the verge of Jordan Bid my anxious fears subside Death of death and hell’s destruction Land my […]

Our hearts did melt

Joshua 2:1-24 Think of “heart-melting” today and you imagine a pop-tastic love song.  But just as “going weak at the knees” can denote love or fear so it is with this phrase. Here’s the context.  The Israelites are about to go in and take possession of the land.  Once again they send out spies, this time […]

Kiss of death

Deuteronomy 34:1-12 We can’t credit the Authorized Version with this one.  But it is Biblical. Its origins go back further than people think: not with Mafia bosses, nor even with Judas but with Moses.  Here’s how it came about… Moses has finished the last of his Deuteronomy sermons to the Israelites.  Now it’s time for […]

The apple of his eye

Deuteronomy 32:1-44 It’s a saying that trip off the tongue.  It’s whispered by a doting father to his son; a protective husband to his wife; perhaps even a musician to their favourite instrument: “You’re the apple of my eye.”  We know that it means “my beloved”.  But for most of us, we’re not really sure why […]

Man does not live by bread alone

Deuteronomy 8:1-20 At the end of 40 years in the wilderness, the people come to the brink of the Promised Land.  This is the setting for the book of Deuteronomy.  Moses will not be going with the people into the land of milk and honey.  He is the leader of the old Israel and the […]

Thou shalt love the LORD thy God

Deuteronomy 6:1-9 “Feelings are feelings, they’re neither right nor wrong, it’s what you do with them that counts.” How often have you heard this kind of sentiment?  (And interestingly, it is a sentiment!). You’re as likely to hear it in church as anywhere else these days.  Even Christians will say that feelings are outside moral categories, […]

What hath God wrought

Numbers 23:13-26 “What hath God wrought” was the first message Samuel Morse tapped out on his new invention.  It’s almost certainly that fact (more than its original appearance in Scripture) that lies behind its fame. Interestingly, today if it’s said at all, it refers more to terrible tragedies than great discoveries.  (Perhaps that reflects a […]

Fell flat on his face

Numbers 22:31-40 When we say “I fell flat on my face” we’re usually speaking figuratively. The young romantic might say, “I tried to impress her with my scant knowledge of Shakespeare. Turns out, she has a PhD in English Literature. I fell flat on my face!” We use the phrase to indicate embarrassment.  But in the Bible, […]

Balaam's ass

Numbers 22:21-30 Christianity is big business today.  Speakers can command live audiences of tens, even hundreds of thousands.  Millions more can watch their videos or buy their books.  What should we make of their popularity?  How should we assess their ministry? Balaam’s ass is in the Bible to remind us that speaking spiritual words does […]