A Stroll At Leisure With God

Health Update and Interpreting a Difficult Passage

As I was speaking with Cindy yesterday, it dawned on me that I have said nothing about the results of the CT scan that I had several days ago. The main reason I have not spoken about it is that I have not heard ANYTHING. Ha.

In my last visit with the doctor, he talked about it briefly, “Well, John, this CT scan is just part of the clinical trial and we all know how it is going to turn out. It will show that you are doing better.”

Well, okay, but I would still like to know what is going on with my shoulder. I have a friend who is too polite to come right out and say it, but it is obvious that he believes that there is some sort of tumor pushing on the shoulder complex (I doubt that “complex” is the right word but all of you know what I mean).

Of course, that could be the case, but I doubt it and I don’t think the doctor believes that. For one thing, with a blood cancer like lymphoma, it isn’t really about tumors in specific places. In addition, Dr. Jotte is convinced that it is the lymphoma in the lymph nodes on my neck that are pushing against my shoulder, but he believes that I will feel better as the cancer there diminishes.

All well and good, but I still would like to know what the CT scan shows and I guess I will have to wait until I see the doc before my next infusion next week. Oh, well, until then “ignorance is bliss,” I guess.

Anyway, I appreciate Cindy and all of the rest of you who care enough to try to keep up with all of this and to pray. Thanks AGAIN, so much.

Now, on the reading for today: I am going to quote a passage that presents a lot of problems for interpreters. But before I do it, I just need to say one thing. Conner and I talked about this in our meeting yesterday. By the way, it is so great that he and Jess live down this way. It makes it easier for us to get together for a weekly staff meeting. Yesterday, we met at The Original Pancake House or TOPH, as Conner calls it. Of course, while we are there, we have to sample the merchandise, so to speak. I’m always able, no matter how limited my appetite is, to eat at least a few bites of one variety of TOPH’s pancakes or another.

Anyway, Conner indicated that he had, before going to seminary, sort of a bias against books and commentaries when it came to the Bible. I told him that I had previously felt this way—the attitude that says, “I don’t need anyone or any book to help me with interpreting scripture. I have the Holy Spirit.” There are many who feel this way in the church today—this is a form of an anti-education mindset.

Well, first of all, I don’t believe that one who has received graduate degrees needs to be arrogant about it or better than everyone else. I’ve met a lot of people who are a lot smarter than I am and they have only a high school diploma.

However, that said, I appreciate the opportunity that I had to go to college and seminary and my time in those two schools has given me more tools that the Holy Spirit can use.

Why re-invent the wheel when the Holy Spirit has worked through other godly men and women in history and now? I’m not the only Christian who has the Holy Spirit, right?

I’m reminded of a statement that Spurgeon made: “It is shocking to see how people who have the Holy Spirit in their lives and think so little of His work in others” (this is a paraphrase, but you get the idea).

Thus, in my study of the Word, I now enjoy seeing how the Holy Spirit has helped others and I let the Spirit be my guide at that point.

Here is the controversial passage: “Set up for yourself roadmarks, Place for yourself guideposts; Direct your mind to the highway, The way by which you went. Return, O virgin of Israel, Return to these your cities. How long will you go here and there, O faithless daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth-A woman will encompass a man” (Jeremiah 31:21-22, NASB). It is the last phrase that is intriguing: “A woman will encompass a man.”

What does this mean? Interpretations abound. I have some thoughts, but I wonder.

After examining several different interpretations, my spirit resonates with the explanation that Craigie offers in the Word Biblical Commentary. He believes that this is Hebrew pun of sorts. The woman corresponds to Virgin Israel. And this salvation circle announces the reversal of a situation of need. God creates for Israel the capacity to stop wandering away from God and to return to Him. The people of Israel will gather “around” God in worship. In this interpretation, “the man” represents God—a rather strange statement, unless this word is used for God in Exodus 15:3 and Jeremiah 32:13.

In short, what this pun affirms, according to Craigie, is that God’s new work makes possible the spiritual return and continuing faithfulness of Israel.

I like it. I affirm that interpretation. Of course, Peter Craigie, Page Kelly, and Joel Drinkerd, the three human authors of this particular commentary could be wrong. They are humans and therefore fallible just like me, but I believe they have this one right.

I’m going with it today.

Lord, I thank You for the new covenant in the blood of Jesus that enables wanderers like faithless Israel and me to be saved and to come to you in worship. Continue to do Your work in my life today. I love you. Amen.
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