Lying Pen of the Scribes?
I think it was the year 2000 when I first heard someone quote Jeremiah 8:8 in order to say that something in Scripture had been corrupted by a lying scribe. I soon found out that anytime I’d go to a different Scripture, to try and show them their error, they’d just repeat the same about that text too: “Well that’s the lying pen of the scribes.”
What this abuse of Jeremiah amounts to is NOT trusting YHWH with all your heart, but instead leaning to YOUR OWN understanding. Any text this person liked, they’d quote authoritatively. Any text they didn’t like (that didn’t align with what they wanted) they’d again holler, “Lying pen of the scribes!” It was exhausting trying to reason with them, because they’d only accept texts that went along with their beliefs.
What this position on Jeremiah 8:8 leads to - consistently - is a denial of the authority of the entire Bible. I’ve seen people who went down this road eventually lose their faith entirely - you know why? Because that’s the consistent thing to do when you start peeling away texts with no manuscript authority to back you. There are certainly interpolations in Scripture, but we have to be able to show such through textual criticism. We can’t just make stuff up.
I’ve recently heard a couple fellows completely throw out the entire Torah available to us today, from Genesis to Deuteronomy. They claim that Moshe wrote a real Torah, but we don’t have that one anymore. They do this predominantly because they don’t like animal sacrifices, and the Torah we have speaks so much in favor of them, they end up throwing it all out.
They then quote texts in Jeremiah, 2 Esdras, and some from the gospel of Matthew; texts which they believe are in their favor. But guess what? They don’t even consider it a possibility that these texts are the lying pen of the scribes. Why? Because that’s the texts they want to use. If they want a text, good scribe. If they don’t want a text, bad scribe. It’s so awful.
If we slow down and exegete Jeremiah 8 properly, it’s not even saying that the scribes changed the Torah. It’s actually a condemnation of *people* who try to get around the Torah by *claiming* scribal lies.
If you back up just a bit, 8:5 speaks of back-slidden Jerusalem, 8:6 says no man repented of his wickedness, and 8:7 says the people don’t know the judgment of YHWH.
With this context, the key to 8:8 is right at the beginning of the verse. The prophet asks the people “How do *YE* say,” and then he goes on to quote what the backsliders are saying. It’s not YHWH saying the scribes are lying. It’s not the prophet saying the scribes are lying. It’s the unrepentant back-sliders that speak of the lying pen of the scribes.
The unrepentant are claiming, “The law of YHWH is with us! The pen of the scribes is in vain!” They are trying to circumvent what is written by the scribes by claiming they have the truth and they are the authority. They say they have the law of YHWH, because they don’t want to go by what’s been written.
So the present-day people that are trying to use this text in Jeremiah to get around the Torah (that we have today) are actually condemned by this very text. They are saying the same thing the back-sliders said way back then.
I’ve seen this so much in my walk over the years. Some people get just enough information to hurt themselves, but they don’t know how to handle the Scriptures properly. They have something in their own mind or heart that they want to believe, so they twist the Scriptures to go along with what they want. They don’t love YHWH enough to trust His instructions and let His Torah change their heart and mind. It’s very sad.
I’ve watched many of these same people veer off into believing pretty much nothing. They eventually stop serving YHWH, and just live their own life and do what they want to do. They have no stability and they wander from doctrine to doctrine like a spiritual vagabond.
If you ever hear someone try to quote Jeremiah 8:8 in an attempt to discredit a Scripture, you are listening to a person why doesn’t want to submit to YHWH. They may say they do, but they’re no different than the people who say “Lord, Lord,” but at the same time practice lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23). You do not love YHWH by trashing His word. That’s how you hate YHWH.
Who Do You Belong To?
I had the pleasure of listening to a 4 hour debate/discussion yesterday on trinitarian vs. unitarian issues. Many perspectives given, and much discussion and disagreement was involved in examining the different viewpoints.
I did notice though that it seemed those in the trinitarian camp always wished to pinpoint the non-trinitarians to a particular denomination. Of course, some of the non-trinitarians were members of the Jehovah Witnesses or inactive Jehovah's Witnesses at least. Generally, when those two words are mentioned together (Jehovah and Witnesses) people stop in their tracks and put up their sword and spear. I on the other hand always enjoy talking with Jehovah's Witnesses. They are very Biblically astute and quite cordial for the most part (I have found). At any rate, why did the trinitarians almost demand that a non-trinitarian place himself under the umbrella of a particular denomination?
I have found that people often ask me what denomination I belong to. When I explain to them that I do not belong to a denomination they almost always immediately reply, "Oh, you are non-denominational." It's as though the tital "non-denomination" has in effect turned into a denomination these days! I try my best to explain to them that I am just a follower of the Messiah, and I believe in the Sacred Scriptures. Sometimes people cannot get over the fact that you do not identify yourself with the Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Pentecostal, etc. denominations of today.
Where there any such things in Scripture? I don't think so. I only see those who profess to believe in the Scripture. I see those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of the Son of God (Rev. 14). I see people called Saints, Christians, believers, etc. What I do not see is the label of a denomination, so I do not think it necessary to be involved in such in this day.
I Have to Believe Like You?!
Sometimes in conversation or in witnessing to others people are astounded that I actually believe they must believe exactly like me or they will not be saved. You may have just read that and may be astounded yourself. The reason I feel this way is because I believe what the Bible teaches, and if you really, I mean really, believe what the Bible teaches then you will have to agree with me on this issue.
Take for example John 14:6. Yeshua the Christ here proclaims that He is the way, truth, and life, and that no one can come to the Father but by Him. Now, this sounds pretty exclusive to me, and I believe it with all my heart. I believe that the Son is the way to the Father, He is the means by which anyone in Adam can be at peace with the Father. Because I believe the Bible, I believe John 14:6. Because I believe John 14:6 I am forced to believe that anyone who doesn't believe in Yeshua for who He is as portrayed in Scripture will be forever lost; they will not have salvation for their soul. If you really believe the Bible then you will have to agree. If you do not agree, then you must have another worldview besides a Biblical one. In other words, if you do not agree then you really do not believe the Bible, you only give the phrase lip service.
People want to "tip-toe" around others and be politically correct rather than being up front about their belief system. Don't get me wrong, I do my best to be friendly to everyone, and I know that you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be gentle in our approach with others, all I'm saying is that if someone asks me a question about what I believe, I'm not going to lie to them or tell them the half-truth. I must be up front with them, and if needs be on certain issues, tell them that unless they believe as I do, they cannot be saved. I realize this may sound strange to some, but the reason for the sound is because people have not been taught out of the Bible in churches, or at least they've not been taught the totality of Scripture. Pastors deceive people by the droves because they quote Scripture; that's right, the Pastor quotes Scripture, straight from the Bible and the people think, "Well, how could he be wrong, after all, he is quoting Scripture." The problem lies, not with the quoting of Scripture, but with the quoting of only portions of Scripture; the portions that can be manipulated by the Preacher to his own advantage. Multitudes of verses, doctrines, and subjects go untold in churches today. People are then deceived into thinking that doctrine doesn't matter because the preacher preached last Sunday that love is the greatest thing of all. He quoted directly out of 1 Corinthians 13 - how could he be wrong.
The passage isn't wrong, but we cannot quote it with a full neglect of all of the other passage in Scripture promoting sound doctrine and teaching. We must be forthright in proclaiming what the truth is, not being ashamed at all of our exclusivism. Yeshua was an exclusivist, I want to be like Him.
Theism vs. Atheism
Yesterday I had the priviledge of reading a discussion between Christopher Hitchens (atheist) and Douglas Wilson (Christian theist) titled "Is Christianity Good for the World." What a read! There are so many points I could attempt to convey to you about the book, but there is one thread through Wilson's writings that stands out to me and that is how on earth does the atheist account for morality? Wilson constantly demands that Hitchens thinking inside his own atheistic "bubble." It seems that atheists want to make statements like "Why does evil exist?" or "Look how many hypocrites there are in the Christian faith!" Wilson combats these seemingly powerful statements by asking the atheist how he defines evil? What does he mean by hypocrisy? How (given his belief that there is no Creator) can he determine what is evil and/or hypocritical? How can he say that a fellow atheist who makes the decision to murder or rape a person is acting wrongly? What standard does he have to tell him such is evil?
I'm reminded of the time I did some work for a woman who told me she was an atheist. After a little while I approached her and asked if she would have had a problem with me greeting her with a slap instead of a handshake? She replied, "Do what?!?!" I repeated by asking again if she would have thought me to be wrong by greeting her with a "hello" and a slap across the face. She said she would think I was crazy, and thus I continued by asking "Why?" Why is it that she would think I was crazy? Was it because she felt it to be un-courteous? But why? If I'm just the product of a "big bang" and so is she, and I wish to convey my greeting with a slap instead of a handshake, how can she condemn me? She may rather have a handshake, but that's nothing more than her preference, in her worldview. Of course, I know why she thinks the slap is not appropriate, there is something deep inside her that acknowledges the existence of Yahweh, the Creator of heaven and earth.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.