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Illustration of Jesus' sermon on the mount

The Bible is often difficult to understand.

As I write this, I reflect on the reading from Isaiah where God was promising that “the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold…” (Isaiah 30:26)

Anyone with more than a third-grade education recognizes that if the light and heat from the sun were multiplied seven-fold, that the result would be like holding a marshmallow too close to the fire!

Earth’s end would be quick and catastrophic! To make it more confusing, the verse falls within a passage telling of God’s blessing and healing of the people.

As is so often the case, I am forced to turn to other resources and commentaries. In an earlier chapter, when the prophet is warning of God’s judgment, it is expressed this way, “For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light.” (Isaiah 13:10) If God’s judgment is expressed with the language of darkness, it makes sense that God’s blessing might be expressed with the language of light in abundance.

As you can see, the Bible really can be difficult to understand. Jesus spoke mostly in Aramaic, which was eventually translated into the Greek that was used when the gospels were written, and from that into English.

The Bible was written at specific times and in specific locations for readers who had an ancient Middle Eastern world understanding. While great strides have been made in translation during our lifetime, there are still challenges and points where the meaning is obtuse. What is worse is when we believe that we understand it clearly only to find we are distorting its intended meaning with our own prejudices and biases.

How tragic when gospels of love are distorted into messengers of hate! Certainly, there is much to be gained when we can compare our understanding with that of others.

Plan to join us via Zoom this coming Wed., February 22 at 7 pm as we begin a six-week series on “The Hard Sayings of Jesus.” Please read Matthew Chapter 5 and join us using the following link:

Join Zoom Meeting:

Your Pastor and friend,


This link will be used for each session in the series on the following dates: February 22; March 1; March 8; March 15; March 22; and March 29. The complete link will be sent to you in a separate email each week during the series, and reminders will be included in each week’s Friday News. Please email the church office to be added to the series mailing list.

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