Biblical Quizzes for Smart People XX
Bill Long 1/8/07
1. "Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name."
Before actually looking up this quotation, I thought that the precise phrase "mark of the beast" was used here. But, as you see, it isn't. Close, but not exact. Well, the phrase "mark of the beast" has entered into our vocabulary as a sort of apocalyptic sign of the end times. I am so glad that these words are in the Scriptures because they have provided endless hours of diversion for people inclined to try to try to figure out what this "mark" is by which one must "buy or sell." This web site suggests that early in the last century (1935) the Social Security number was so seen. Then it was the URL or product code on goods. Now, of course, it has to do with various identity cards that we might have. And if there is, like some action movies suggest, some kind of chip that can be buried in our brains, well, you never know where this will all end. Regardless of where you stand on this burning question, I would like you to identify the verse...
2. "good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom," KJV. The NRSV changes a few words: "A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put in your lap."
I confess that this was one of the favorite verses of my very earliest days. I wasn't much interested in church at the time, and I even led the atheist revolt against God in my 7th grade Sunday School classroom, but this verse always stuck in my mind. Why? Because the pastor used it when about to call for the morning Offering. I never really knew what the verse meant in its context, but I just imagined someone stomping on something and then shaking it. In fact, with the "running over" imagery, I always imagined my friend Bill Abbott shaking up a can of soda and then releasing the tab--only to have the pressed down and shaken together Coke run over and then go right into my lap! But as I got older, I grew to love the verse for its meaning and context, and I used it when I was a pastor in 1988-89 when doing the morning Offering. I really got "into" it. So, where do you find this verse?
3. "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days," KJV. The RSV says it not so memorably: "Send out your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will get it back."
I recall one of my pastors from my early 20s, Dr. John Calvin Reid, say how this verse puzzled him greatly as a youth. He thought, 'If I just go and throw some bread in the lake, it will sure get soggy! What can it mean that I will find it after many days? Will I just get torn pieces of bread for my effort?' But of course he told this story only to say how the verse had gradually "made sense" to him as a sort of parable about life. You send forth your best efforts, and you get them back in some mysterious and surprising form after many days. Many teachers comment on the truth of this--when their students "grow up" and remember them. It is a delightfully hopeful verse. Where do you find it?
4."The joy of the Lord is your strength."
This verse appears in one of the least-read books of the Bible, in a passage where you wouldn't expect the sentiment to be mentioned. I learned it when in high school, where we had a chorus where these were the only words. I still can sing it in my mind, though it is a bit too much if you keep thinking about it! Where do you find it?
5. "Jabez was honored more than his brothers; and his mother named him Jabez, saying, 'Because I bore him in pain.' Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, 'Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from hurt and harm!'"
No one could have thought that a book entitled The Prayer of Jabez would have captured the attention of millions of readers about a seven years ago. It was one of the first big Evangelical "hit" books (I suppose the really first one was Hal Lindsey's Late Great Planet Earth--1970). But American Christians went from apocalyptic horrors of the 1960s/1970s, when Lindsey's book peaked, to the "I want to be a rich Christian"-approach of the 1990s and today. The Prayer of Jabez fit perfectly into that latter mode. Actually, if the truth be known, I knew these verses as early as the mid-1970s. One of my New Testament professors in seminary, Dr. Gordon Fee, preached a sermon once on this text. He would never have argued for a "get rich quick"-type of Christianity; he genuinely was in love with the verse. I wonder in fact if Bruce Wilkinson really owes Gordon Fee some royalties...
6. "and immediately something like scales fell from his eyes..."
There are more than 1,000,000 Google references to the phrase "scales fell from my eyes." This suggests that the phrase has entered into our common vocabulary to describe the moment of realization or understanding, where some new vision or comprehension dawns on us. The online version of The Guardian has an article entitled "The day the scales fell from my eyes." As it says: "Writer and filmmaker Neil Jordan describes the moment he decided to leave the dole queue behind." "Dole queue"--a much more elegant (English) way of saying "welfare." So, from whose eyes did the scales fall? And in what situation? In which ways have scales fallen from your eyes in life?
Here we rest for one more day. Tomorrow is the next one.