Day and Night

Night and Day

I didn't mean to be so much in the background at the open air service, but I did the best I could as I'd gotten roasted and sunburnt working at a construction site the prior two weeks and now I was trying to avoid the sun both direct and reflected. The pavilion was shaded but it was up against those big speakers connected to the professional musician's sound. One thing the professionals are and that is loud. I've spent too many years working in a noisy cannery to abide loud services. And then he started singing in a foreign language besides.

Too much noise and too much sun, so I found my own quiet shady spot. I thought the preacher's point about there being a set truth was well made: it's Sunday, not Wednesday, daytime, not nighttime and we're in Eugene, not Springfield. It's kinda pathetic that our society has sunk so low this needs to be explained, but then God comes down to our level and is patient with us.

If my reader is interested, we can look at how definite truths are conveyed in modern Bible versions. For a metaphor of modern construction let's take the following:

Larry had to jump on the brakes as he turned his car into the horseshoe driveway in front of the Pacific Vista. The hotel was split into seven-storey wings either side of an elongated hexagonal lobby. The first floors of the wings extended inward to create a wide gallery overlooking the central concourse, but the remaining storeys were glass-walled about ten yards back on either side. This was to accommodate the towering centerpiece, a steeply sloping canopy of glass, rising high above the lobby on four sides to a flattened summit, into which, in an unsurpassed feat of architectural piss-taking, there was sunk a rooftop swimming pool. The bottom of this was, of course, also glass, allowing the sunlight to continue down through the chlorinated water and dance shimmeringly around the lobby. Up top, the effect was supposed to be of the pool having vast and glistening depth, which was probably true. However, the anticipated further spectacle of bethonged babes floating above the desks, shops, cafés and restaurants had legendarily failed to materialize, as visions of plunging through water, glass and then a hundred feet of nothing at all proved discouraging to most guests, however many safety assurances were advertised.
--Christopher Brookmyre, Not the End of the World591

An architect designed a hotel with a swimming pool. The expected vision "of bethonged babes floating" in it failed to materialize. Something was sadly lacking to the business, however successful the design was otherwise. It's like checking in on a Sunday when the lifeguard has his day off and thinking it's Wednesday, to use the preacher's analogy. Empty pool!

If you build a hotel with no babes in the swimming pool, why it's like making a Bible translation without any teaching on prayer. It'd be a big disappointment. Let's see:

Gospels     We walked for three days, as he had agreed, one behind the other. He read a book the whole time, a book which never left his hand day or night; and at times he was meditating about something. At last we came to a halt at a certain place for dinner. He ate his food with the book lying open in front of him and he was continually looking at it. I saw that the book was a copy of the Gospels, and I said to him: "May I venture to ask, sir, why you never allow the Gospels out of your hand day or night? Why you always hold it and carry it with you?"
    "Because," he answered, "from it and it alone I am almost continually learning."
    "And what are you learning?" I went on.
    "The Christian life, which is summed up in prayer. I consider that prayer is the most important and necessary means of salvation and the first duty of every Christian. Prayer is the first step to the devout life and also its crown, and that is why the Gospel bids unceasing prayer. To other acts of piety their own times are assigned, but in the matter of prayer there are no off times. Without prayer it is impossible to do any good and without the Gospel you cannot learn properly about prayer. Therefore, all those who have reached salvation by way of the interior life, the holy preachers of the Word of God, as well as hermits and recluses, and indeed all God-fearing Christians, were taught by their unfailing and constant occupation with the depths of God's Word and by reading the Gospel. Many of them had the Gospel constantly in their hands, and in their teaching about salvation gave the advice: 'Sit down in the silence of your cell and read the Gospel and read it again.' There you have the reason why I concern myself with the Gospel alone."
    I was very much pleased with this reasoning of his and with his eagerness for prayer. I went on to ask him from which Gospel in particular he got the teaching about prayer. "From all four Evangelists," he answered; "in a word, from the whole of the New Testament, reading it in order. I have been reading it for a long time and taking in the meaning, and it has shown me that there is a graduation and a regular chain of teaching about prayer in the holy Gospel, beginning from the first Evangelist and going right through in regular order, in a system. For instance, at the very beginning there is laid down the approach, or the introduction to teaching about prayer; then the form or the outward expression of it in words. Farther on we have the necessary conditions upon which prayer may be offered, the means of learning it, and examples; and finally the secret teaching about interior and spiritual ceaseless prayer in the Name of Jesus Christ, which is set forth as higher and more salutary than formal prayer. And then comes its necessity, its blessed fruit, and so on. In a word, there is to be found in the Gospel full and detailed knowledge about the practice of prayer, in systematic order or sequence from beginning to end."
    When I heard this I decided to ask him to show me all this in detail. So I said: "As I like hearing and talking about prayer more than anything else, I should be very glad indeed to see this secret chain of teaching about prayer in all its details. For the love of God, then, show me all this in the Gospel itself."
    He readily agreed to this and said: "Open your Gospel; look at it and make notes about what I say." And he gave me a pencil. "Be so good as to look at these notes of mine. Now," said he, "look out first of all in the Gospel of St. Matthew the sixth chapter and read from the fifth to the ninth verses. You see that here we have the preparation or the introduction, teaching that not for vainglory and noisily, but in a solitary place and in quietude, we should begin our prayer and pray only for forgiveness of sins and for communion with God, and not devising many and unnecessary petitions about various worldly things as the heathen do. Then read farther on in the same chapter, from the ninth to the fourteenth verses. Here the form of prayer is given to us--that is to say, in what sort of words it ought to be expressed. There you have brought together in great wisdom everything that is necessary and desirable for our life. After that, go on and read the fourteenth and the fifteenth verses of the same chapter, and you will see the conditions it is necessary to observe so that prayer may be effective. For unless we forgive those who have injured us, God will not forgive our sins. Pass on now to the seventh chapter, and you will find in the seventh to the twelfth verses how to succeed in prayer, to be bold in hope--ask, seek, knock. These strong expressions depict frequency in prayer and the urgency of practicing it, so that prayer shall not only accompany all actions but even come before them in time. This constitutes the principal property of prayer. You will see an example of this in the fourteenth chapter of St. Mark and the thirty-second to the fortieth verses, where Jesus Christ Himself repeats the same words of prayer frequently. St. Luke, chapter eleven, verses five to fourteen, gives a similar example of repeated prayer in the Parable of the Friend at Midnight and the repeated request of the Importunate Widow (St. Luke xviii. 18), illustrating the command of Jesus Christ that we should pray always, at all times and in every place, and not grow discouraged--that is to say, not get lazy. After this detailed teaching we have shown to us in the Gospel of St. John the essential teaching about the secret interior prayer of the heart. In the first place we are shown it in the profound story of the conversation of Jesus Christ with the woman of Samaria, in which is revealed the interior worship of God in spirit and in truth which God desires and which is unceasing true prayer, like living water flowing into eternal life (St. John iv. 5-25). Farther on, in the fifteenth chapter, verses four to eight, there is pictured for us still more decidedly the power and the might and the necessity of inward prayer--that is to say, of the presence of the spirit in Christ in unceasing remembrance of God. Finally, read verses twenty-three to twenty-five in the sixteenth chapter of the same Evangelist. See what a mystery is revealed here. You notice that the prayer in the Name of Jesus Christ, or what is known as the Jesus Prayer--that is to say, 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me'--when frequently repeated, had the greatest power and very easily opens the heart and blesses it. This is to be noticed very early in the case of the Apostles, who had been for a whole year disciples of Jesus Christ, and had already been taught the Lord's Prayer by Him--that is to say, 'Our Father' (and it is through them that we know it). Yet at the end of His earthly life Jesus Christ revealed to them the mystery which was still lacking in their prayers. So that their prayer might make a definite step forward He said to them: Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My Name. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my Name He will give it to you. And so it happened in their case. For, ever after this time, when the Apostles learned to offer prayers in the Name of Jesus Christ, how many wonderful works they performed and what abundant light was shed upon them. Now, do you see the chain, the fullness of teaching about prayer deposited with such wisdom in the Holy Gospel? And if you go after this to the reading of the Apostolic Epistles, in them also you can find the same successive teaching about prayer.
    "To continue the notes I have already given you I will show you several places which illustrate the properties of prayer. Thus, in the Acts of the Apostles the practice of it is described--that is to say, the diligent and constant exercise of prayer by the first Christians, who were enlightened by their faith in Jesus Christ (Acts iv. 31). The fruits of prayer are told us, or the results of being constantly in prayer--that is to say, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and His gifts upon those who pray. You will see something similar to this in the sixteenth chapter, verses, twenty-five and twenty six. Then follow it up in order in the Apostolic Epistles and you will see
  1. how necessary prayer is in all circumstances (Jas. v. 13-16)
  2. how the Holy Spirit helps us pray (Jude 20-21 and Rom. viii. 26)
  3. how we ought all to pray in the spirit (Eph. vi. 18)
  4. how necessary calm and inward peace are to prayer (Phil. iv. 6, 7)
  5. how necessary it is to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. v. 17)
  6. and finally we notice that one ought to pray not only for oneself but also for all men (1 Tim. ii. 1-5).
Thus, by spending a long time with great care in drawing out the meaning we can find many more revelations still of secret knowledge hidden in the Word of God, which escape one if one reads it but rarely or hurriedly.
    "Do you notice, after what I have now shown you, with what wisdom and how systematically the New Testament reveals the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ on this matter which we have been tracing? In what a wonderful sequence it is put in all four Evangelists? It is like this. In St. Matthew we see the approach, the introduction to prayer, the actual form of prayer, conditions of it, and so on. Go farther. In St. Mark we find examples. In St. Luke, parables. In St. John, the secret exercise of inward prayer, although this is also found in all four Evangelists, either briefly or at length. In the Acts the practice of prayer and the results of prayer are pictured for us; in the Apostolic Epistles, and in the Apocalypse itself, many properties inseparably connected with the act of prayer. And there you have the reason that I am content with the Gospels alone as my teacher in all the ways of salvation."
    All the while he was showing me this and teaching me, I marked in the Gospels (in my Bible) all the places which he pointed out to me.
--The Pilgrim Continues His Way592

I don't think we're too surprised that, "In a word, there is to be found in the Gospel full and detailed knowledge about the practice of prayer, in systematic order or sequence from beginning to end." Within that framework is the parable of the friend at midnight found in Luke. Luke 11:8b says, "yet, because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth." According to the note in my Criswell Study Bible:

    "Importunity" is a translation of the Gk. anaideian, or "shamelessness." The idea is not that God must be badgered into action in behalf of His children, but rather that God responds to the open, confident, trusting approach of His children.

The preacher explained that all to us a previous year. And yet the NIV does say wrongly, "yet because of the man's persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs," as if in fact we need to badger God. The preacher in fact did not use his customary NIV for that topic.

The NIV also shortchanges the Lord's prayer, and because of that and many other familiar passages that were left out or curtailed, it got nicknamed the Non-Inspired Version (NIV). In response Zondervan put some of it back in footnotes.

When it comes to prayer Zondervan's gem the NIV is having an off day at the swimming pool and we don't see what we would ordinarily expect. Going to the next problem, daytime or night?:

    The other architectural oversight was that at certain (i.e. most) times of day, due to the angle of the sun, the whole thing turned into some kind of giant refractor lens, blazing white light out at the front or back like a laser blast. This made the horseshoe avenue a popular hang-out for personal-injury lawyers, as suddenly blinded drivers rear-ended each other, shunted bell-hop carts (and bell-hops) and occasionally ran over guests handing their car keys to the blue- uniformed valets. If you came in on foot, you felt like a bug under a cruel kid's magnifying glass.
    Larry had been there once before, investigating a bomb-scare. He'd turned on to Pacific Drive from Santa Monica Boulevard and thought the thing must have gone off, because the bomb-squad truck and two black-and-whites were zigzagging wildly across the blacktop, which was littered with debris from smashed headlamps and tail-lights. Turned out they had all rushed to the scene in the usual blue-light scramble, then concertina'ed each other when the big beam hit. Damascus Drive, folks called it now.
    Larry remembered just in time. He brought the car to an abrupt stop, pulled down the shade-panels and slipped on his sunglasses. Now, through the windshield, he could make out a host of silhouettes against the fierce glow, like the last scene in Close Encounters. He edged forward slowly, glancing nervously into the rear-view mirror for the advance notice of the architect's next unsuspecting victim. A blue courier truck came rapidly into view, but a paint-scored dent in its fender assured Larry it wasn't the driver's first visit. The truck slowed to a crawl and limped tentatively towards the main entrance behind Larry's four-door.

I once constructed a memory Morse code keyer in the Craft Center at the UO. I didn't want to disturb the other craft workers with a series of beeps testing my product, nor did I want to disturb a study area, so I took it into the video game room where a few more beeps added to the bleeps and blips wouldn't make any difference. I took it out of my pack, and a hefty battery, and some wire to connect it all together, with the keyer paddle. I was proceeding to test it when a couple men in suits came in. They wanted to know what I was doing.

They understood my explanation. The guy at the rec center desk had looked at his video monitor seeing me set up and said, "Oh my, he's got a bomb!" So he called it in.

I'm not so sure if it is strictly accurate advice to follow a running explosives technician. As you see above "the bomb-squad truck and two black-and-whites ... had all rushed to the scene in the usual blue-light scramble," which is typical of people in that line of work rushing to the problem, not away from it. Then there is the panic, "zigzagging wildly across the blacktop, which was littered with debris from smashed headlamps and tail-lights." Sometimes one just wants to stay out of the way of the bomb disposal expert. And then there was my case where I explained it to them.

day and night Okay, there is day and there is night. That's like saying the Bible addresses some issues, and on others it is silent: day and night. Someone says it's night when it is day; that's like denying the Bible addresses an issue that's right in there. Then there's the NIV addressing the issue of whom a widow may marry by focusing and redirecting light from other places--the OT where they were under a different system, the 2nd Cor. letter where Paul doesn't want them unequally yoked in Christian ministry. That blinds the reader, produces arguments, increases the revenue of lawyers, and eventually blinds even the experts, and any unwary. I've spent a lot of time explaining all this on my web site Listening to brothers trying to explain why Christians aren't to marry unbelievers is like a scene from Close Encounters.

    Larry climbed out and slung his jacket over his shoulder, the concentrated blast of sunlight having briefly turned the inside of his car into a microwave. The hotel had a 'greeter' on duty, standing on the blue carpet in front of the sliding doors, a white-bread blonde in a short skirt and a jacket, her smile almost as fake as her surgically sculpted nose. She was the covert first line of defence, ostensibly welcoming visitors to the premises but actually delaying them a moment while the security desk checked them out via the camera eight feet behind her head. She had an earpiece and a wire-thin mike following the line of her jaw. The say-cheese face and the confidence wavered momentarily as Larry climbed the last few steps towards her. The reaction was almost tediously familiar, but some days he still enjoyed the look of helpless discomfiture. This was one of them, and he'd even switched the jacket to his right shoulder so that his holster was visible.
    'Giant bald black guy carrying a gun at twelve o'clock. Mayday. Mayday. No information on this. Repeat, no information on this.'
    The greeter had clocked the valet accepting Larry's keys, which somehow validated him for Official Greeter status. She took a quick breath and went into action. 'Good afternoon, sir, and welcome to the Pacific Vista Hotel. How are you today?'
    Larry smiled. Angst-ridden, bereaved, paranoid, nervous, strung out and suffering mild symptoms of fin-de-siècle cataclysmic psychosis. Also known as ...
    'And what is your business with Pacific Vista today, sir?' He pulled his badge out of his shirt pocket and pointed it beyond the greeter to the video camera. 'I'm Sergeant Larry Freeman of the LAPD, Santa Monica first precinct. I'm here to see Paul Silver of the American Film Marketing Board.'
    'He'll be right down, Sergeant Freeman.' She smiled, suddenly back on-line. 'Would you like to come inside and take a cold drink while you wait?'
    'No, thank you,' he said, turning back to face the horseshoe. 'I'd prefer to stay here just for the moment, if that's okay with you guys.'
    'Of course, sir. Would you like a cold drink brought out to you here?'
    'Why, that would be most civilized.'
    A waiter appeared, in an unfeasibly short few moments, carrying a tray bearing a pitcher of fruit punch and a tall glass with ice in it. He poured Larry the drink.
    'Thank you,' larry told him, then held up the glass to the security camera. 'Cheers,' he mouthed.

That can't help but remind us of, (Prov. 14:12) "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." That answer "Fine," to the question, "How are you?" conceals multiple problems: "Angst-ridden, bereaved, paranoid, nervous, strung out and suffering mild symptoms of fin-de-siècle cataclysmic psychosis." The cutie greeter is backed up by a whole team of "you guys." Solomon looks not at the seemingly right way of a man, but at the end thereof being "the ways of death." Plural in all cases, as even the Septuagint version brings out: "There is a way which seems to be right with men, but the ends of it reach to the depths of hell."

In the book The Coming Plague surveys were done of homosexuals in major metropolitan areas like San Francisco and Seattle where, astonishingly, multiple partners meant over five hundred sexual partners in a year. That may have been fun but they looked at one example of a man doing that who ended up with a whole alphabet soup of very bad diseases. These are the ways of death, the end of his behavior. And it was not one way singular, but multiple ways of death. I mean, if he had himself tested for just one disease and lucked out and didn't have it, he was not necessarily off the hook; there were all the others.

Just because one's behavior doesn't bring a particular way of death doesn't mean he's escaped all consequences. It's plural.

As the preacher said, truth is sometimes that way, you're either in Eugene or you're in Springfield, and there's a line between the two. Some truths expressed in the plural are not satisfied in the singular.

The NIV seems to have trouble with this truth also as its expression of the end of the seemingly right way comes out in the singular, as I read it, "the end it leads to death" (Prov. 14:12b). One way the preacher could have improved on an otherwise excellent message was to have used a reliable version (KJV) rather than the popular NIV.


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Earl Gosnell
1950 Franklin Bv., Box 15
Eugene, OR 97403


Copyright © 2005, Earl S. Gosnell III

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.

Permission is hereby granted to use the portions original to this paper--with credit given, of course--in intellectually honest non-profit educational material. The material I myself have quoted has its own copyright in most cases, which I cannot speak for but have used here under the fair use doctrine.

I have used material from a number of sources for teaching, comment and illustration in this nonprofit teaching endeavor. The sources are included in a notes file. Such uses must be judged on individual merit, of course, so I cannot say how other uses of the same material might fare.

Any particular questions or requests for permissions may be addressed to me, the author.

Scripture quotations marked NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION or NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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