Summary: God gives us his word that we might see to live.
One of the fun parts of a vacation way in the north woods is that we were far from city lights. Gazing across Lake Huron offers a virtually uninterrupted perception of darkness. The black seems solid, so effectively does it hide all other objects. On Saturday night, however, I glanced down the beach and was surprised to see, clearly and distinctly, dozens of campfires. The cloak of night could not stop the light. Like an arrow propelled by limitless force, it pierced the armor of darkness.
Peter must have been familiar with darkness, as everyone of his day was. No thousand-watt municipal street lamps ripped open the night. He saw the small, oil lamp a mile distant. And it gave him an idea for illustrating how to use the Bible. God gives us his Word, that we might see to live, even in a dark world. [Read 2Peter 1.16-21. Pray.]
On June 23rd in Nashville, Indiana, the Brown County Chamber of Commerce held the Fourth Annual “Tall Tale Tell-Off.” Contestants pay $5 each to tell a story that is “plausible but not possible, a proximity to reality.” It is a contest with a $1000 prize for the person who can tell the best fib. You know, of course, that West Virginia must have a similar event. The prize is different — a golden shovel and the prestigious title, “Biggest Liar,” until Memorial Day weekend of the next year.
Telling big whoppers with only some “proximity to reality” did not originate in West Virginia. We have been “stretching the truth” since The Fall in Genesis 3. Nor is the subject of religion exempted from myths and tall-tales. People have lied in the name of God throughout human history.
King Ahab was famous for promoting deceptive preaching in Israel. He reacted badly when a prophet gave an unpleasant sermon, so they “cleverly devised myths” to protect their own lives. One time, when Micaiah was summoned to tell Ahab what would result from his military plans, another prophet pulled him aside and said, “Listen, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” “Save yourself!” Micaiah ended up in jail.
The pattern continues through Jewish history. Even as Jeremiah laments the desperate need of God’s people in exile, he offers little hope because, “Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading” (Lamentations 2.14). Israel demanded soft sermons to tickle the ear, but now the blunt edge would not pierce a hard heart.
The New Testament church, likewise, was threatened by “religious” lies. The Bible books entitled, 1Timothy, 2Timothy, and Titus, are known by Bible scholars (as a set), as, “The Pastoral Epistles,” because they are Paul’s two training manuals for young pastors. In these letters, the mature and experienced Apostle warns both Timothy and Titus (his two young interns) of the danger of false stories masquerading as the true faith.