November 11, 2015

Emphasis Added

Fairly often I’ll get a forwarded email that has been doctored and fluffed up by each consecutive reader. There will be highlights, bold and underlined words, and fonts so large that a word wraps around to the next line. I normally delete the collage because it’s distracting to read and quite honestly I don’t need someone else telling me what they think is important. Thank goodness biblical scribes weren’t allowed to highlight portions of Scripture that they thought needed added emphasis. John wrote, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (Rev 22:18-19 NIV).

1 comment:

Steve Corey said...


-----Usually we think of scribal embellishments and theological supplements being made to Scripture when reading the warning at Revelation 22:18-19. Authors often attached this kind of warning to their books in those ancient days, because there wasn’t nearly as much assurance the reproduction processes would be faithful to the author’s words as there are today. And I am sure I’ve seen this warning at least one other time in the Bible, even.
-----But, in as much as the Bible itself falls uniquely into a category all its own, this warning at Revelation differs from the rest as well. All books are written to be reproduced in the reader’s mind. It’s elementary; that’s communication. And most authors would desire their stuff be reproduced there more accurately than not. The Bible is not different in this regard. But its Author falls into a narrower category of authors who desire their messages to be reproduced in the reader’s life. And that category sub-divides into an even much narrower category of authors who would think their book’s message can be reproduced in their reader’s post-mortem, enjoyable existence. But here we’ve arrived at the Bible’s unique category of one. For it is the only work able to be reproduced in a reader’s post-mortem, enjoyable existence (every piece of waste and garbage is reproducible in Hell, which will not be an enjoyable place.)
-----Understanding those aspects of reproduction, we can see how this message also differs from the rest. Of course, on the surface it is a sincere warning to the scribe. But it serves deeper within as a warning to the seeker and follower, too, just as intentionally as it warns the scribe: don’t embellish in your mind what the Word says. Moreover, it warns the disciple to not supplement what the Word says when reproducing it in his actions and behaviors, nor to embellish his beliefs about our eternal existence with a bunch of unrelated imagination. Indeed we must use our imagination to reproduce the Word of God in our thoughts and emotions and actions and behaviors and expectations of our eternal hope. That kind of thing is imagination’s purpose. But this warning is telling us to even shape our imaginations by the careful reproduction of God’s Word within their aspects.
-----So, this warning goes hand in hand with Paul’s proclamation to the Corinthians, “I have applied all this to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brethren, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written…” (I Cor 4:6) And it neatly tucks inside that broad statement about Himself which God made to Moses, “Then Moses said to God, ‘If…the people of Israel…ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them? God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’” This is the broadest true statement that can be made about God, the broadest, accurate description of Him. We like to draw pictures in our minds to hang our thoughts upon. As careful as we need be with reproducing God’s Word in our aspects, we need also be careful none of those pictures of God in our minds become false images. So also, the likenesses of Him we make in our behaviors must be accurate, lest we become like radical Muslims. From regard for these precautions of the Bible, He is able to better direct our steps into righteousness, peace, and joy.

Love you all,
Steve Corey