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.
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:
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?"
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.
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.
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 www.n7nz.org/project1. 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.
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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Copyright © 2005, Earl S. Gosnell III
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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