Saturday, June 15, 2013

I Will Never

In the previous post I showed how Peter’s actions verified the truth found in Psalm 1, albeit in a negative way.  Sometimes it seems like Peter always gets the bad rap.  And, well, honestly, sometimes it is deserved.  While studying for the next study guide on the Last Supper, I came across this interaction between Jesus and Peter.

Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED.’ But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”  (Matthew 26:31–32, NASB)

The key words in those verses are “for it is written.”  Jesus is telling the disciples about a prophecy from the Old Testament.  Not only is this a fact, this is something foretold in ancient times that will certainly happen.

How does Peter respond?

But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” (Matthew 26:33, NASB)

Apparently, Peter did not think that scripture applied to him, just everyone else.  So, Jesus adds some emphasis to the truth.  Not only will everyone fall away, but specifically for you, Peter …

Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”  (Matthew 26:34, NASB)

At this point we have the certainty of scripture and the word of Jesus telling Peter exactly what was about to happen.  How do you think Peter responded?  You’re right!!

Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too.  (Matthew 26:35, NASB)

We all know how the rest of the evening went for Peter and the others.  You should not argue with scripture and with Jesus.  And, yet, sadly we do.  Somehow, just like Peter we think the God’s commands apply to everyone “except me.”  It’s another good warning from Peter’s life.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Peter verified the truth found in Psalm 1:1

The purpose of this blog has always been to share some of the things I learn while developing Bible study guides.  In particular, to discuss things that don’t necessarily fit into the books, but are interesting and related to the topics. This post mixes something from our most recent book with something I found researching our next study guide.

During my last study on nonverbal communication in the Bible, I spent some time exploring walking, standing, and sitting.  Every time the Bible mentions someone involved in one of these activities there is an important meaning.  Walking is most often associated with our daily life and choices.  For instance, in Hebrews we are reminded that we should walk by faith.  Standing has a few meanings in the Bible.  We are encouraged to stand against the devil.  And, we are told that Jesus is standing at the door waiting for us to invite Him to dine with us.

Sitting is associated with dwelling and being settled.  In the post below I encouraged you to ask three questions whenever you read that someone is sitting.  Who is sitting?  Where are they sitting?  And, is this a proper place for them to settle or dwell?

Psalm 1:1 gives instructions regarding walking, standing, and sitting.  Those who are blessed know exactly where to NOT walk, stand, or sit.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  (Psalm 1:1, NASB)

Our next study is going to be on the Last Supper.  While researching the events of that night, I discovered that Peter, unfortunately, verified the truth found in Psalm 1.  These verses chronicle the events that put Peter in a place where he would deny Christ.  Look at this progression and compare these historical events to the warning of Psalm 1.

Walking with the Wicked
Having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance.  (Luke 22:54, NASB)

Standing with the Sinners
Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself.  (John 18:18, NASB)

Sitting with the Scoffers
But Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome…Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.”  (Matthew 26:58, 69–70, NASB)

Maybe this is stating the obvious…If Peter did not walk to the trial, stand near the fire, and sit in the courtyard, he would not have been in a position where he felt the need to deny Christ.  This is an amazing confirmation of Psalm 1:1, and a stern warning to us to make sure we watch carefully where we walk, stand, and sit.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Is it History, Instruction, or Prophecy?

In the book “Body Language in the Bible” we discus three different ways nonverbal communication occurs in Scripture.  Many examples of body language are historical stories of people who communicated through their appearance, actions, and positions.  The second type of examples is contained in instructions, warnings, and parables.  These lessons include descriptions of nonverbal communication to emphasize and enhance their meaning.  The third way nonverbal communication is used is in prophecy.

Weeping and mourning provide good examples of all three types of nonverbal communication found in the Bible.  Historical people in the Bible wept for the loss of friends and family with real, literal tears and cries of anguish.  There are also several passages in the Bible which use weeping in combination with instructions and warnings about pride, evil, and self-righteousness.  Many Old Testament prophecies state certain cities or nations would certainly mourn due to their rebellion against God.

Here are some examples of weeping and mourning for each of the three different types:

After Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery they dipped his tunic in blood and showed it to his father, Jacob.  Notice how Jacob responded to the apparent death of his beloved son.

So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, “Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.” So his father wept for him.  (Genesis 37:34–35, NASB)

Instructions, Warnings, and Parables
Both Jesus and James warned the proud and those who relied on their own self-righteousness that their laughter and joy would turn to sorrow.  Using the description of weeping in their instructions helped people to relate to the dangers of pride and its painful consequences.

“Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”  (Luke 6:25, NASB)

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.  (James 4:8–10, NASB)

In this prophecy spoken against Tyre, notice all of the nonverbal sounds, actions, and displays that are associated with the judgment of God.  Instead of directly saying, “This is going to be bad and hurt a lot,” God uses descriptions of sorrow and suffering to convey the severity of the judgment.

“And they will make their voice heard over you And will cry bitterly. They will cast dust on their heads, They will wallow in ashes. Also they will make themselves bald for you And gird themselves with sackcloth; And they will weep for you in bitterness of soul With bitter mourning. Moreover, in their wailing they will take up a lamentation for you And lament over you: ‘Who is like Tyre, Like her who is silent in the midst of the sea?’”  (Ezekiel 27:30–32, NASB)

Whenever you find nonverbal communication in the Bible, whether it be clothing, sounds, actions, or the expression of emotion, look to see which type of body language you have found.  Is this an example of a historical person showing their emotions or intentions through their physical appearance?  Or, is this an instruction that is given to the people which includes some type of physical description to help them better understand the lesson?  Or, perhaps you are reading a prophecy that uses a visual description to help the listener understand the magnitude of the judgment ahead.  In each case, the inclusion of a physical description helps us as students to gain valuable insight into the richness and depth of truth found in God’s Word.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Did the Apostle Paul know how to read body language?

One of the questions I had when I started looking at nonverbal communication in the Bible was, “Did the people in the Bible know about body language?”  It didn’t take long before I realized the answer is “yes.”

Even back in the Old Testament, there are several examples of people who recognized and correctly interpreted the body language of others.  Some people in the Old Testament even used body language to deceive their enemies, or their victims.

One example of correctly reading someone’s body language in the New Testament actually saved a life.  When Paul and Silas were in jail there was a great earthquake.  The chains fell off, and the doors swung open.  The jailer, fearing that the prisoners had escaped, decided to take his own life. 

When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.  (Acts 16:27, NASB)

Notice that there are no spoken words recorded.  The jailer’s actions revealed exactly what he was going to do.

Paul correctly interpreted the jailer’s nonverbal communication, and responded with urgency.

But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”  (Acts 16:28, NASB)

How did Paul respond?  He “cried out.”  And, he didn’t whisper.  He didn’t use his “inside voice.”  Paul recognized the desperate situation, and he used the tone and intensity of his voice to communicate good news to the jailer.

Did people in the Bible know about body language?  Absolutely.  Maybe they didn’t call it nonverbal communication.  Paul probably didn’t realize he was using body language and voice tone to communicate.  But, he did accurately perceive the danger, and he responded in a way that led to salvation, not only for the jailer, but for his entire household.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

"Arise" and "Get Up" indicate a time of transition and change

(This is the third in a series of posts on small words that provide nonverbal clues in the Bible.) 
Perhaps this was the biggest surprise to me as I studied for our newest book, “Body Language in the Bible.”  How many times have you read that someone was told to arise or get up in the Bible?  Or, you may have read that someone got up and began a journey.

In the past whenever I read that someone arose it didn’t catch my attention.  Now I realize that almost every time we read that someone’s position changed from sitting or lying down it indicates that something was going to change.

The Bible never tells you that someone is commanded to “arise” or “get up” to fill space on the page.  Whenever you see these words, always check to see what is going to change.  The change will often represent a transition for more than just one person, many times a family or even an entire nation will be impacted because someone decided to arise.

When we think about someone sitting down, as I wrote in a previous post, it shows they are settled, in their dwelling place.  People lay down because they are tired, weak, or sick.  When they move to a standing position they are no longer settled or at rest.  In fact, many times in the Bible when someone stands up it shows they are ready for action, or to move on.  It shows us there is a change coming.

Here are some examples of people who rose up, and in doing so signal a time of change.
1. Abram commanded by God to get up: 
Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.” Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.  (Genesis 13:17–18, NASB)

2. Jacob was also commanded by God to move to another land: 
‘I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.’  (Genesis 31:13, NASB)

3. When it came time for Joshua to lead the Israelites across the Jordan into the Promised Land, God commanded him to arise:
Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.”  (Joshua 1:1–2, NASB)

Here are some examples you can try at home!  See if you can identify who is rising up, and what change is indicated by their new position.

So he (Samuel) sent and brought him (David) in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.  (1 Samuel 16:12–13, NASB)

Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt.  (Matthew 2:13–14, NASB)

And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter's side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands.  (Acts 12:7, NASB)

In this final example, it is very interesting to see how David longed for God to get up and get involved:
Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered,
And let those who hate Him flee before Him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
As wax melts before the fire,
So let the wicked perish before God.
(Psalm 68:1–2, NASB)

Body Language in the Bible