Proverbs 17:23: "A wicked man [or woman or child] taketh a gift out of the bosom [from a hidden pocket in his or her clothing, meaning that evil people offer bribes (money, gifts, promises, etc.)] to pervert the ways of judgment [to pervert justice (prevent justice from taking place) and/or to keep secrets from being revealed]."
Bad people give and take bribes.
Salem Bible Church has a good commentary on this verse. In it, Pastor Delany says, "Every offer of a bribe… every temptation to be dishonest is a test of our character."
Here is an excerpt from Pastor Delany's commentary (i.e., the section entitled "The One Receiving a Bribe"):
"4. Note also the secrecy involved here: out of the bosom.
"a. Bosom: refers to a fold in the garment used as a hidden pocket…
"b. When a bribe is covered up in the bosom and passed from the bosom to the one receiving it--BOTH parties realize that what they are doing is WRONG.
"c. The fact that they have to conceal it means they know what they are doing.
"d. When a bribe occurs BOTH parties are obviously guilty.
"→ They know WHAT they are doing (purposely perverting justice).
"→ And WHY they are doing it (to obtain an outcome favorable to the one offering the bribe).
"→ And they know it is WRONG (for they conceal it).
"e. Thus, they are guilty and accountable. No excuse.
"f. Of course hiding the gift in the bosom hides it from the sight of men, but certainly not from the eyes of the Lord."
If you want to read the commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-17-index/proverbs-17_23/.
Deuteronomy 5:11: "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for [because] the LORD will not hold him [or her] guiltless [innocent, without guilt] that taketh his name in vain."
This is commandment number three of the Ten Commandments, which were written on two tablets of stone with the "finger of God" and then given to Moses on Mount Sinai. These commandments are known as the moral law and still apply not only to Jewish people (for whom they were originally intended) but also to everyone else around the world.
In an article entitled "What does it mean to take the Lord's name in vain?" by GotQuestions.org, we are told that"[b]ecause of the greatness of the name of God, any use of God's name that brings dishonor on Him or on His character is taking His name in vain …"
Examples from the Got Questions article include:
-- Using God's name while swearing.
-- Not treating God with reverence and respect.
-- In the Old Testament: Failing to perform an oath or vow (i.e., keep a promise) made in God's name.
-- Professing Christians: Deliberately and continually disobeying the commands of Jesus Christ.
-- Misrepresenting Christ, either intentionally or through ignorance of the Christian faith.
Another article answers the above question this way:
"… What does it mean to not take God's name in vain? 'In vain' it means to lack the proper respect and substance belongs in a statement and or intention or God's name is invoked. In other words, to take the Lord's name in vain means to use it in a manner that is not reverent. The phrase, 'the Lord's name,' includes words such as 'God,' 'Lord,' 'Jesus,' and 'Christ.' These words are never to be used in any form of exclamation, swearing, or disrespect such as 'Oh my ***.' They are always and only supposed to be used in a manner that glorifies God."
The article goes on to provide specific examples of taking God's name in vain:
"The entertainment industry is full of examples of people using the Lord's name in vain. A Christian needs only to watch TV, a sitcom, a movie, awards banquet, etc. for a short time in order to hear the name of God invoked by non-Christians in a casual or flippant way. Of course, this is not limited to the entertainment industry. People at work, school, and even our friends and family sometimes routinely use God's name and title in exclamations of amazement, ridicule, and other emotional, explosive situations. This is wrong.
"Sometimes people will take God's name in vain by making a joke about God, or some situation dealing with the truth of God's word, the person of Christ, or God in general. Christians ought not participate in any situation where a joke, or in innuendo, or disrespectful intention about God is used in humor.
"God told me
"Sometimes Christians will invoke the name of God when they say 'God told me to...' or 'God told me that...' and it turns out that what they're stating is unbiblical. In that sense, they have used the name of God in vain. Unfortunately, too many Christians get a sensation and then immediately say that God told them something. Christians of all people ought to be extremely cautious about invoking God's name to further their own status, interests, or whatever it might be in relation to themselves and to other Christians.
"There are many instances where God is misrepresented by false religious systems, movies, radio, magazines, plays, etc. God has revealed himself in the Bible, and we should restrict our understanding and teachings about him to that which is revealed therein. We should never, for example, portray Jesus as being a homosexual or God the Father as being a female. The Lord has condemned homosexuality is a sin, and he has chosen to reveal himself and the male gender. Of course, we know that God the Father is not biologically male. The point is that we ought to refer to God as he refers to himself.
"God bless you
"Even the well-intended phrase 'God bless you' ought to be offered with care. That phrase should not be a casual declaration of well-meaning upon people. Though it is good to pray for others and to want them to be blessed, we should be careful when invoking God. For example, what if you are speaking with an unbeliever who is living in a sinful situation. Perhaps you've had a discussion with him or her and have gently urged repentance. But, the person has no desire to turn from sin. Should you then say to them 'God bless you' when you part? I think that, at this point, we should be careful and not urge God's blessing upon those who are living in rebellion against him. Instead, we should ask that God reveal himself to them so they might come to repentance.
"Then again, if you're talking to a Christian and in your parting, you say 'God bless you,' is that okay? I would say that it is if it was intended as a sincere request for God to bless the person. But, if it is a casual, automatic phrase offered just because it's something you do, then I would be concerned that that would be using God's name in vain.
"We should only use God's name, title, etc. in a manner that shows reverence, respect, and honor. We should never be casual about it, never use it in swearing, never use it in humor or God is or his name is what is laughed at."
And here is some interesting information from Dr. Thomas Constable, a Bible commentator:
"… The Jews took this command [to not take the Lord's name in vain] seriously. They did not even speak God's name 'Yahweh' to avoid abusing it. Instead they substituted the phrase 'the Name' for 'Yahweh' in conversation. They also spoke of 'heaven,' the place where God resides, rather than 'God.' This, by the way, explains why Matthew in writing his Gospel to Jews usually spoke of the 'kingdom of heaven' whereas the other Gospel writers, who wrote primarily for Gentiles, normally used the term 'kingdom of God.' According to Jewish tradition when a Jewish scribe wrote the name of God he would first bathe, change his clothes, and use a new quill with which to continue writing …"
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/deuteronomy/5-11.html, "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable")
2 Timothy 3:1-5 - Description of People Who Will Be Living in the "Last Days"
In his second letter to Timothy (whom he called his "son in the faith"), the apostle Paul warned of the coming apostasy (abandonment of the truth) in both the world and the Christian church:
Verse 1: "This know also, that in the last days [in gospel times, before Jesus returns to earth,] perilous [dangerous] times shall come."
Verses 2-4: "For [because] men [and women and children] shall be
lovers of their own selves [selfish],
covetous [loving money and things, wanting to be rich],
boasters [bragging about their achievements, possessions, and/or abilities],
blasphemers [inclined to curse or take God's name in vain],
disobedient to parents,
unholy [showing disregard for what is holy, or dedicated to God],
Without natural affection [unloving],
trucebreakers [refusing to honor agreements or keep their word],
false accusers [making false statements about others and damaging their reputation],
incontinent [lacking self-control (i.e., unable to resist feelings of passion, desire for food, etc.)],
despisers [haters] of those that are good,
Traitors [willing to betray their country and friends],
heady [headstrong, reckless, stubborn, determined to have their own way],
highminded [haughty, conceited],
lovers of pleasures [pleasure] more than lovers of God;"
Verse 5: "[Referring to the types of people listed above:] Having a form of godliness [a profession of religion], but denying the power thereof [or, as suggested by Adam Clarke, 'They have religion in their creed, but none in their hearts'--see note below*]: from such [people] turn away [i.e., don't associate with them]."
The sins in Paul's list (see verses 2-4 above) describe the current behavior of many of Earth's inhabitants. I'm sure you have noticed that morality around the world is bad and keeps getting worse on a daily basis. Unfortunately, it seems that there is very little or nothing anyone can do (or is willing to do) to change that fact.
*Regarding verse 5:
-- Source for quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/2-timothy/3-5.html, "Adam Clarke Commentary"
-- GotQuestions.org has an article that answers this question (about apostasy in the church):"What does it mean to have a form of godliness but deny its power in 2 Timothy 3:5?" If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/form-of-godliness.html.
Proverbs 12:15: "The way of a fool is right [correct] in his [or her] own eyes: but he [or she] that hearkeneth unto counsel [the person who heeds (listens and pays attention to) good advice] is wise."
Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church has an excellent commentary on this verse, especially when he talks about fools. Here's part of what he says in paragraph 3 in the section entitled "Right in his own eyes":
"d. Even Christians learn to justify their actions… and rationalize them.
"• We watch things on TV and video that believers NEVER would have watched 25 years ago, and we justify it because, 'at least it's not as bad as that other show…'
"• Christians are listening to the golden oldies radio station and are listening to the old rock songs--and justifying it, because, after all, the Beach Boys aren't nearly as bad as the Gangster Rappers are today.
"• Churches are doing away with prayer meeting and justifying it because 'everybody's too tired'… it's too much trouble… and effort to come out mid week…
"• Believers turn to drugs to calm down their nerves… and justify it because they have a prescription…
"• Some believers begin dating an unsaved person--and rationalize that after they get married, my spouse will surely get saved…
"• Some believers violate the biblical principle of separation and rationalize that they are doing it in order to lead someone to Christ. Separation will only turn them off…
"• EVERY way of man can be rationalized away…
"e. And if believers can justify such evil things--surely men in the world will!
"• Even terrorists justify their horrible plots and are RIGHT in their own eyes!
"• Abortionists are right in their own eyes.
"• One of the priests arrested in Boston was part of an organization that believes pedophilia is right!
"• The violent animal rights groups have convinced themselves that they are right… and if they destroy businesses and lives in their crusade, so be it!
"• When two countries fight in a war--usually both sides think that they are right. One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist."
If you want to read the rest of the commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-12-index/proverbs-1215/.
Another Bible commentator, John Gill, wrote:
"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,… Whether it be the way of open profaneness, or self-righteousness, it appears to him to be the right way; it seems to him a very plain one, and he finds it pleasant; and, trusting to carnal sense, corrupt reason, and a false judgment, and having a high opinion of himself and his own knowledge, never asks after the right way, nor takes the advice of others; …"
(Source for quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/proverbs/12-15.html, "John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible")
Deuteronomy 31:6 - God is Our Helper and Protector
After informing the people of Israel that they would be crossing over the Jordan River into the promised land without him, Moses said:
Verse 6: "Be strong [in the Lord, and in the power of his might] and of a good courage [be courageous, brave], fear not, nor [and don't] be afraid of them [your enemies--in this case, referring to the Canaanites--people who lived in the land of Canaan]: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth [does] go with thee [you]; he will not fail thee [let you down], nor forsake [leave] thee."
This verse also applies to born-again Christians.
TODAY IS VETERANS DAY.
If you're a veteran, thank you
very much for your service.
We appreciate you!
Job 26:7 [Regarding the process of creation, Job said]: "He [God] stretcheth out the north [referring to the heavens, as they appear to revolve around the north pole and seem to be stretched out like a curtain] over the empty place [upon emptiness], and hangeth the earth upon nothing [meaning it has nothing to support it]."
In his commentary, Albert Barnes said of this verse: "… had Job understood all that is now known of astronomy, his language would have been appropriate to express just conceptions of the greatness and majesty of God. It is proof of amazing power and greatness that he [God] has thus 'hung' the earth, the planets, the vast sun himself, upon nothing, and that by his own power he sustains and governs all."
(Source for quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-26.html, "Verse 7")
Romans 14:19 - Strive for Peace and Edification
In a letter to the Christian church in Rome, encouraging its members (and all other Christians as well) to overlook their minor disagreements and live in harmony, the apostle Paul wrote:
Verse 19: "Let us therefore [instead of judging others, because (in verses 1-18) Paul said not to do that--see note below*] follow after [do] the things which make for [promote (help further the progress of, actively encourage)] peace, and things wherewith [with which] one [person] may edify [instruct (teach, counsel, advise) or benefit, especially morally or spiritually; uplift (build up)] another."
Everyone should follow Paul's advice and try to be kind and loving, not critical and judgmental.
*Chapter 14 of Romans can be found here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+14&version=KJV.
1 Corinthians 11:8-9: "For the man is not of [made from] the woman; but the woman [is] of [made from] the man [i.e., from his rib, according to Genesis 2:21-22--see note below*]. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman [was created] for the man."
In his commentary, regarding the creation of the first woman (Adam's wife, Eve), Matthew Henry recorded these thoughts, which are commonly quoted by others:
"… the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved …"
(Source for quote: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/genesis/2.html, "Verses 21-25" )
*Genesis 2:21-22: "And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he [God] took one of his [Adam's] ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man."
John 9:1-7 - Jesus Heals a Blind Man on the Sabbath Day
Verses 1-3: "And as Jesus passed by [probably as he was leaving the temple], he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind [see note below*]? Jesus answered, Neither hath [has] this man sinned, nor his parents: but [he was born blind so] that the [powerful] works of God should be made manifest [made known, revealed] in him [the blind man]."
Verses 4-5: "I [Jesus] must work [do] the works of him that sent me [to earth, meaning God the Father], while it is day [a period of time, not part of an actual 24-hour day--in this case, Jesus meant during his lifetime]: the night [another period of time--in this case, after our death] cometh, when no man [no one] can work. As long as I [Jesus] am in the world, I am the [spiritual] light of the world."
Verses 6-7: "When he [Jesus] had thus spoken, he spat [spit] on the ground, and made clay of the spittle [saliva], and he anointed [gently rubbed] the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, [and] wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He [the blind man] went his way therefore, and washed [in the pool of Siloam], and came [back, to where he had met Jesus,] seeing [i.e., not blind, able to see]."
From this story of the miraculous healing of a blind man, we learn that there are other reasons for suffering besides sin. In this case, it was so that the miracle of the blind man's healing would be seen by others and, as a result, would bring glory to God.
*Regarding the suffering of children as punishment for past sins, Albert Barnes wrote:
"… It was a universal opinion among the Jews that calamities of all kinds were the effects of sin. … Many of the Jews … believed in the doctrine of the transmigration of souls; or that the soul of a man, in consequence of sin, might be compelled to pass into other bodies, and be punished there. They also believed that an infant might sin before it was born … and that consequently this blindness might have come upon the child as a consequence of that. It was also a doctrine with many that the crime of the parent might be the cause of deformity in the child, particularly the violation of the command in Leviticus 20:18."
-- Leviticus 20:18: "And if a man shall lie [down and have sex] with a woman having her sickness [her menstrual period], and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain [of blood], and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people."
(Source for Barnes quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/john/9-2.html, "Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible")
Here are some interesting beliefs about transmigration (the movement of a soul into another body after death) from Adam Clarke's commentary:
"… Most of the Asiatic nations have believed in the doctrine of transmigration. The Hindoos [Hindus] still hold it; and profess to tell precisely the sin which the person committed in another body, by the afflictions which he endures in this: they profess also to tell the cures for these. For instance, they say the headache is a punishment for having, in a former state, spoken irrevently [irreverently] to father or mother. Madness is a punishment for having been disobedient to father or mother, or to one's spiritual guide [a demonic spirit]. The epilepsy is a punishment for having, in a former state, administered poison to any one at the command of his master. Pain in the eyes is a punishment for having, in another body, coveted another man's wife. Blindness is a punishment for having killed his mother: but this person they say, before his new birth, will suffer many years' torment in hell. …"
(Source for Clarke quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/john/9-2.html, "Adam Clarke Commentary")
Got Questions discusses transmigration (also known as reincarnation) in the following article: "What is the transmigration of souls?" If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/transmigration-of-souls.html.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 - Biblical Definition of "Gospel"
Gospel refers to the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. It consists of three parts: (1) Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins, (2) he was buried, and (3) he rose again (came back to life) three days later.
In a letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote:
Verse 1: "Moreover [in addition to what I have already said in my letter], brethren [fellow Christians], I declare unto you the gospel [I want to remind you of the good news] which I preached unto you [i.e., the fundamental (basic) truths of Christianity, which are the foundation of the Christian church], which also ye have received [embraced, believed, willingly accepted], and wherein ye stand [firm, or faithful and strong, as a Christian church … or, 'on which your faith is based'];"
Verse 2: "By which [referring to the gospel] also ye are saved [born again, or saved from hell], if ye keep in memory [remember] what I preached unto you [concerning the gospel and salvation], unless ye have believed in vain [falsely, without meaning]." [In other words, your salvation depends upon your belief in the gospel, unless you believed a story that Paul made up (which he didn't, as everything that he said was based on facts) or your profession of faith in Christ was false, or not sincere.]
Verses 3-4: "For I [Paul] delivered unto you [in person, through preaching, or taught you] first of all [most importantly] that which I also received [from the Lord, meaning those doctrines or teachings that Paul received from God regarding the gospel; i.e.,], how that Christ [Jesus--the Son of God and Messiah] died for our sins according to the scriptures [in this case, referring to the Old Testament]; And that he [Jesus Christ] was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"
The above verses stress the importance of Jesus' resurrection. According to Paul, if you don't believe the gospel, you can't be saved.
The following articles give additional information about the gospel and salvation:
-- "What are the essentials of the gospel message?"
-- "Is it necessary to fully understand the Gospel to go to heaven?"
Jeremiah 18:1-10 - Sometimes God "Changes His Mind" (in response to our actions--see note below*)
Verses 1-2: "The word which came to [the prophet] Jeremiah from the LORD [in other words, God spoke to Jeremiah], saying, Arise [get up], and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee [you] to hear my words."
Verses 3-4: "Then I [Jeremiah] went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he [the potter] wrought a work [shaped some pottery] on the wheels [two stone wheels--see note below**]. And the vessel [a container--cup, bowl, vase, pitcher, etc.] that he made of clay was marred [damaged, ruined] in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it [i.e., he made something else by re-forming the clay]."
Verses 5-6: "Then the word of the LORD [i.e., God] came to me [Jeremiah], saying, O house of Israel [referring to the Jewish people], cannot I do with you as this potter [does]? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye [you] in mine [my] hand, O house of Israel."
Verses 7-8: "At what instant [moment of time] I [God] shall speak [of my intentions] concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck [pick] up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I [God] have pronounced [judgment, destruction], turn from their evil [ways or deeds], I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them [I will change my mind and not punish them]."
Verses 9-10: "And at what instant [moment of time] I [God] shall speak [of my intentions] concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build [it up] and to plant it [e.g., to bless it (make it prosperous, protect it, etc.)]; If it [that nation] do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice [i.e., if the people of that nation don't do what I say], then I will repent of the good [things], wherewith I said I would benefit [do good to] them [i.e., I will change my mind and withdraw (remove) my blessings]."
The above verses apply to all nations, not just Israel.
According to Albert Barnes, we learn from this passage (specifically, verses 7-10) that God's dealings with mankind are conditional, based upon our conduct. (Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jeremiah-18.html, "Verse 8")
*GotQuestions.org has an article that answers the following question: "Does God change His mind?" If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/God-change-mind.html.
**There is an interesting article on the Internet entitled "Potter's Wheel," which provides information on potter's wheels in Bible times. If you want to read it, here's the link: https://bible.org/illustration/potter%E2%80%99s-wheel.
There is also a short video on You Tube of a potter making a clay pot. It's called "In The Potter's Hands" and can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_vf7D_n-4o.