WRIGHT WAY: The light of truth
by WILLIAM WRIGHT, Lifestyles Editor
Jan 19, 2011 | 2684 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Comedian Steve Allen once said, “We are told in Scripture that at the beginning of time the Lord said, ‘Let there be light.’ But I’ve checked with a number of eminent Biblical scholars and they say the Lord’s complete statement was as follows: ‘Let there be light. Well, maybe not all day.’”

Humorous, yes. But this joke suggest the Scriptures might need a little more explanation on occasion. Do you agree?

While Genesis 1:4-5 shows God clearly stated a division between the light and the darkness, calling the light, day and the darkness, night, I guess it sounds a bit more clever when Mr. Allen implies the night was an afterthought. Then again, maybe the joke went over my head? What do you think?

I think there really are instances in the Bible where additional information might offer us further enlightenment. For example, an account I especially appreciated more insight on was when God spoke to Moses about wiping out the Israelites in Exodus 32:8-14.

There God said, “They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’

“And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.” — New King James Version.

Some college professors have used this account to try and expose a flaw in the God of the Bible. How? They ask if God is so intelligent why did He have to be reminded by Moses why He should not destroy His people in the next verses? Why tell Moses “let Me alone” only to have Moses disregard those words and then force his reasoning on God to help God turn from His wrath?

There is a good reason. That phrase “let Me alone” is considered a Hebrew idiom, meaning it is an expression that cannot be taken literally. It is a manner of speaking — like telling an actor to “break a leg” — which is an expression actually wishing them good luck although it sounds just the opposite.

To say, “you’re on thin ice,” “hit the sack,” or “don’t let the cat out of the bag” are all idioms that mean something entirely different than they sound.

So what did the idiom “let Me alone” really mean? According to the “Lexical Aids to the Old Testament in the Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible of the New American Standard Version,” this verb, “Raphap,” can have a wide variety of meanings. It can mean “to desist,” “to withdraw” but also “to attempt.”

Some scholars have suggested Moses was being invited to “attempt” to speak on the people’s behalf and intercede as their mediator. It makes more sense to me that Moses understood God as saying something like, “What do you have to say?” than literally saying, “let Me alone.”

This would explain why Moses said what he said. If God was inviting Moses to attempt to weigh in on the matter, then Moses did not disappoint. He proved he had God’s best interest at heart as well as God’s people.

On the other hand, God’s great humility in inviting his servants to express themselves freely and reason with Him, although He always knows best, demonstrates His respect for His creatures and the positions He placed them in. By doing so, they also get a chance to show what is in their hearts.

Another account that has left more than a few heads scratching was the way God chose to handle David’s sin with Bath-sheba in 2Samuel 11:2-5. According to 2Samuel 12:13, the prophet Nathan told David he would not die for committing his sins.

Was this a case of God showing favor to David? Some have felt that way. But consider this: Since God was the One who brought this judicial case to light and chose to handle it Himself rather than turn it over to human judges, who do you think would be in the best position to judge this case fairly?

Since God can read hearts He could also see David’s genuine repentance and handle his case in a loving and merciful manner. Do you think we should expect God to be restricted by the laws He designed for imperfect judges when He can read hearts?

Instead of working off the assumption that God is flawed — that He is somehow portrayed in the Bible as weak, unstable or contradictory — wouldn’t it be spiritually healthier to do as Jesus said at Matthew 6:33 and seek God’s righteousness? “Let God be true, but every man a liar.” — Romans 3:4.

If we start on the premise that our knowledge is limited, that our viewpoint may be distorted by our cultural differences from the language of Bible times and the limits of Bible translators, our inability to read hearts won’t affect our ability to read Scriptures and appreciate the wisdom and the glory of God as it is revealed with greater enlightenment.

As Proverbs 4:18 says, "But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established." — New World Translation.

*For a copy of The Little White Book of Light featuring more Wright Way columns, visit barnesandnoble.com, booksamillion.com and amazon.com.