Bible in proper context

I was reading a children’s bible to the kids last night before bed and we were reading the account of the magi’s visit to see baby Jesus. I was struck by the complete misrepresentation of this account that I had to be sure to tell the kids the actual account of this visit and all that transpired.

The kid’s bible’s account of the visit was that there were 3 of them who came to visit Jesus while he was just born and still in the stable. This is a classic example of interpreting scripture through imagination instead of careful study. For something as clear-cut as this, it is not uncommon to see people interpreting it this way.

The bible never tells us how many people were in the company of the magi. They would have been way more than three and would certainly be very important men to have gotten Herod that worried.

1 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and we have come to worship him.” Matthew 2 (Emphasis mine).

The bible makes no mention of the number in their company. Furthermore, Jesus was nearly 2 years old when the magi arrived and was no longer in the stable but in a house.

9 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

16 Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. Matthew 2 (Emphasis mine).

This is a rather common mistake repeated the world over, people just simply ignore scriptural evidence and make up stuff of their own. Some would even read this and say that I am being pedantic as I have been accused of being in the past. How can repeating what the bible says be hair-splitting?

These glaring oversights have constantly been exhibited in the sourcing of a number of ‘Christian’ doctrines we hold so dear. I was reading a Rick Warren devotional the other day and found his take on the tithe really, really shocking. He quoted verses of scripture completely out of context to make his point. His first verse of scripture Deuteronomy 14: 23, was taken out of context. God’s command to the children of Israel was that eating their tithes at the place He had commanded will teach them to fear Him. Something Rick Warren conveniently left out

Bring this tithe to the designated place of worship—the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored—and eat it there in his presence. This applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn males of your flocks and herds. Doing this will teach you always to fear the Lord your God. (Emphasis mine).

Proverbs 3: 9 -10 also suffered a similar fate. Whilst there is simply no mention of tithing at all in this verse of scripture, he still managed to squeeze it in somehow. The bible is clear on the firstfruit and the tithe; one is the first while the other refers to the tenth and are 2 completely different concepts. However, it is not uncommon to hear them combined together to redefine the tithe as the first tenth which makes no sense. The ‘first tenth’ refers to the last in a first group of 10 and it completely disregards the entire quantity this first 10 group is part of. In other words if I had 200 sheep then my tithe according to this definition is one sheep; the first ‘tenth’ I counted from the first group of 10 sheep. Makes absolutely no sense!

The tithe is definitely not the only thing to suffer gross misinterpretation, quite a number of prevailing ‘Christian’ views are based on very shaky foundations. Satan being called Lucifer, the so-called rapture of the saints and so on.

Before we proclaim a doctrine let’s be sure to have properly researched it from scripture.