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Bible Insights

Keep the Lamps Burning before the Lord

Moses Commands a Lasting Ordinance

In addition to an exciting narrative of escape from Egypt followed by the people’s struggles, the book of Exodus also contains specific instructions to God’s chosen people. It’s difficult for most of us today to connect with some of this teaching.

Such is the case with today’s passage. Let’s consider, however, the instruction to keep the lamps burning.

Moses instructs the Israelites to use oil made from pressed olives to light the lamps in the tent of meeting (which later applies to the temple). They’re to keep the lamps burning before God. This is a lasting ordinance.

Yet many centuries later—about 175 years before Jesus came to earth—the temple is destroyed and desecrated. The Maccabees revolt and take back the temple to restore right worship. Part of this means that they relight the lamp as prescribed by Moses.

Tradition says that the Maccabees could only find enough oil for the lamp to last one day, but it miraculously burned for eight. This is the basis for Hanukkah and the story behind it.

We can confirm some of this in 1 Maccabees 4:36-59. But this passage does not mention the miracle of the oil lasting eight days, merely that the celebration lasts that long.

This occurs on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev, which is the beginning of Hanukkah today.

A familiar symbol of Hanukkah is a menorah, a lampstand of nine candles, with the middle candle being taller than the other eight, which represent the eight days of the celebration.

Most of today’s Hanukkah practices don’t stem directly from the Old Testament text but result from traditions that developed over time. Yet the command to keep the lamps burning does have its basis in Scripture as commanded by Moses several millennia ago.

Regardless of our faith practices today, may we figuratively hold onto the instruction to keep the lamps burning in a spiritual sense, keeping our fire—our zeal—for the Lord burning from within.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Exodus 26-28 and today’s post is on Exodus 27:20-21.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

What Does the Bible Mean When It Says, “All Scripture?”

The Whole Bible Can Teach Us about God and Instruct Us in His Ways

One verse I heard often at a particular church I attended was 2 Timothy 3:16. It says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (KJV).

This verse was cited to remind us of the holiness and practical applicability of the Bible to inform our daily lives. According to this preacher, “all scripture” referred to the KJV, the only version he accepted.

However, let’s consider the phrase all scripture. When Paul wrote these words to Timothy, the New Testament didn’t exist. So Paul couldn’t have been referring to that text.

Yes, there were various portions of what later became the New Testament being circulated among the followers of Jesus, but they also shared other texts that didn’t make it into today’s Bible. Therefore, Paul couldn’t have meant for all scripture to encompass the New Testament.

From Paul’s perspective, when he said, all scripture, he envisioned the texts that were available to the Jewish people at that time. This would certainly include the Old Testament) and may have included other supporting religious documents).

The version of the Bible in use in Paul’s time was the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Septuagint included the thirty-nine books Protestants have in their Old Testament, but it also included more.

The Septuagint used during the lifetime of Jesus and Paul, also included the books we now call the Apocrypha. So these books of the Apocrypha would fall under Paul’s umbrella term of all scripture.

And for my preacher friend who insisted on reading the Bible in the KJV, I must point out that the original version of the KJV included the Apocrypha.

That’s something to think about.

If the Apocrypha is part of what Paul meant when he said, all scripture, then the Apocrypha is also “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

The Books of the Apocrypha Included in the Septuagint Are:

See why Christians Should Consider the Entire Bible.

When Paul writes that all scripture is profitable, I take him seriously. And I encourage you to as well.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Timothy 1-4 and today’s post is on 2 Timothy 3:16.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Celebrating the Apocrypha

The Apocrypha is a group of Old Testament books that are not in all versions of the Bible, such as the modern Protestant and Hebrew Bibles. They are, however, part of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox versions of the Bible.

Since much of Christianity deems these writings as holy and inspired, I think it’s worthy to consider them. These books are:

I understand the Apocrypha books were part of the original King James translation of the Bible, but they were later deleted. Furthermore, the Apocrypha was part of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which was in use during Jesus’ time.

So, why were these books expunged from the Bible? The justification is that since they aren’t in the Hebrew Bible and there are no versions of them written in Hebrew, they were removed.

I think that was a bad call. These books contain some epic stories and can add flavor and depth to our understanding of God. We should embrace them rather than reject them.

(Read the Apocrypha books in The New Jerusalem Bible or New American Bible.)

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What is the Apocrypha in the Bible?

Question: What is the Apocrypha?

Answer: The word Apocrypha isn’t in the Bible. The Apocrypha is a group of Old Testament books that are not in all versions of the Bible, such as the current Protestant and Hebrew Bibles.

They are, however, part of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox versions of the Bible. Since much of Christianity deems these writings as holy and inspired, it’s important to consider them. These books are:

Roman Catholic Cannon

The Roman Catholic Bible (see the New American Bible, as well as the New Jerusalem Bible, Douay-Rheims, and Good News Translation) includes the following books of the Apocrypha:

Eastern Orthodox Cannon

Interestingly, the Apocrypha books were part of the original King James translation of the Bible but were later removed.

Furthermore, the Apocrypha was part of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which was in use during Jesus’ time.

What happened to them? Why were these books removed? The justification is they aren’t in the Hebrew Bible and there are no versions of them written in Hebrew. Hence their removal.

I think that was a bad call. These books contain some epic stories and can add flavor to our understanding of God. We should embrace them rather than reject them.

To read a version that includes the Apocrypha books, consider Common English Version (CEB).

[See more Bible FAQs for answers to other frequently asked questions.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.


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Bible Insights

There’s More to Discover in the Bible

Check out these books of the Bible, which are not found in all versions, but are in others, such as The Jerusalem Bible:

Tobit

Tobit is a story of Tobiah who journeys with Raphael to retrieve some money for his father (Tobit). Along the way he is attacked by a fish and gets married; when he returns home, he restores his father’s eyesight.

Judith

Judith is an account of beautiful and pious women, who daringly and single-handedly delivers the Jewish people from their enemy, using her beauty and charm, while remaining pure and chaste.

1 Maccabees

1 Maccabees is both a historical and literary work about stoic faith; it addresses the politics and military situation around Israel circa the second century BCE.

2 Maccabees

2 Maccabees covers approximately the same time as First Maccabees, but from a different perspective and includes signs, wonders, and miracles.

Wisdom

Wisdom (aka The Wisdom of Solomon) is like other wisdom literature in the Bible.

Sirach

Sirach (aka Ecclesiasticus, not to be confused with Ecclesiastes), is a compilation of sayings similar to Proverbs, concluding with a tribute to notable Jewish figures.

Baruch

Baruch, written by Baruch (Jeremiah’s scribe), is effectively a sequel to the book of Jeremiah, written after the people are exiled.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Let’s Not Dismiss the Apocrypha

Let’s Not Dismiss the Apocrypha

New information is added to A Bible A Day, seemingly on a weekly basis. These new entries are not normally noted here, though they are listed on the home page of the site. Only the more notable additions merit special mention.

After Moses led the people out of Egypt, God gave him some specific instructions for constructing a place of worship. Moses was not supposed to do the actual work, but was charged with making sure it was done correctly. He had to delegate:

The first group of Apocrypha books have been included in A Bible A Day. These are Old Testament writings that are not included in the Jewish and Protestant Bibles, but are part of the Roman Catholic Bible and others.

They are Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.