Archive for the ‘ Jeremiah’ Category

Jeremiah 8:8

Sunday February 18, 2007

I spent about two and a half hours Friday night talking with Muslims and trying to persuade them that Christianity and Islam are completely different. As I often find when I’m talking to Muslims it was frustrating and heart-breaking and all I can do is pray that God will show them what grace really is. Part of the problem is that whatever a Christian says the Muslim will respond, “but the Bible’s been corrupted”. The overwhelming evidence that this isn’t the case (I was at the British Museum and Library on Wednesday looking at archaelogical and manuscript evidence which paints an overwhelming case for the Bible being historically reliable and textually preserved) and the fact that the Qu’ran gives no suggestion that this is the case aren’t my point here – yesterday I found out that they can make the case from within the Bible.

Thankfully it was Joel who showed me on the way home rather than a Muslim bringing it up during our discussion. Jeremiah 8:8 is the verse that Joel’s been confronted with before, and it says:

How can you say, “We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us”? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie.

This doesn’t seem good – it looks like the Bible itself says that parts of it have been corrupted by unscrupulous scribes. Joel, though, also showed me what the verse really means. We need to take a trip to 2 Kings 22, with a brief layover in Jeremiah 1:3 to see that Jeremiah received this prophecy during the thirteenth year of Amon’s son Josiah, the king of Judah.

It is after two kings who did “evil in the sight of God” and led the Israelites in idolatry (Manasseh and Amon in 2 Kings 21) that the eight year old Josiah became king. 2 Kings 22 recounts how he paid for the restoration of the Temple and how during this work the Book of the Law was found. The book had been lost and as soon as Josiah heard it he was distraught at the state of Israel, found God’s will and, in chapter 23, started to make reforms. So where does Jeremiah fit into this? 2 Kings 22:3 tells us that the Temple renovations were in the eighteenth year of Josiah – five years after Jeremiah’s prophechy. Suddenly everything falls into place.

God was angry with the scribes because they said they had the “law of the LORD” when they didn’t even know where the book was! Instead, the scribes were teaching (and writing) whatever they felt like – which presumably included that Israel’s idolatry was okay. Jeremiah prophecies that they will be punished for this – which happens – but through it all we can see that God made sure his law was preserved, even though it was completely ignored for a while. In its historical context, then, not a proof that what we now have in our Bibles differs from what was originally writen by Moses.