My family and close friends know that I am a wanna-be lawyer. The one degree that I wish I had is not an earned doctorate in theology or even in Apologetics but a law degree! The doctorate I have is an honourary one.
So, despite the fact that I am legally untrained. I am appearing before the court of public opinion, pro bono, for Nicodemus, the Samaritan in that famous parable and as presumptuous as it is, even God. I crave the court’s indulgence.
My late client Nicodemus did not appear stealthily, suddenly or with suspect motive to Jesus at night, at all. Folk who slander and libel my client may not have read their Bible in ages and so might be confusing my client’s visit to Jesus (see John 3:2-16) with hazy memories of the ‘thief in the night’ reference to the day of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 5:2.
Though my humane, helpful client in the parable in Luke 10:29-37 is popularly called the Good Samaritan, I am contending that the adjective ‘good’ subtly maligns my client and betrays Jewish prejudice against my client and his ethnic group. How so you ask?
The text simply describes him as a ‘certain Samaritan’ (v.33, compare ‘a certain man’, v.30, ‘certain priest. v.31). Since Jews had no dealings with ‘mixed blood, no-good Samaritans’ back then, this Samaritan would have been seen as an exception to his kind in his noble behavior. This is not unlike how folk today, thinking all Jamaicans are scammers and criminals, will call one of us ‘an honest Jamaican’, a back-handed compliment but a species of slander nonetheless!
While studying in England years ago, I preached in a Baptist church and at the door after the service a lady commented privately, “You speak good English for a Jamaican”. Prejudice!
The issue concerning God has to do with the insurance tradition of describing natural disasters as ‘acts of God’,
and I ask why, on what evidence do we allow this tradition to go unchallenged? Sure, there are times in Scripture when God employs the forces of nature to punish sinful humans or to teach vital lessons but it does not follow that every or any natural disaster in the modern world is an act of God, without more! I urge the court to cease and desist from defaming my client’s name and behaviour.
Now to the plus in my title, I raise 2 issues. The popular misunderstanding of the word ‘vision’ in the old King James Version rendition of Proverbs 28:19, “Where there is no vision the people perish…”.
Far too many motivational speakers and even preachers (lay and ordained) think that the vision in the text has to do with mere human insight, foresight, ingenuity or the like. In context the word really means ‘revelation or guidance from God’ and the whole verse, in more modern translations, brings this out. See the select ones below.
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. (New International Version)
Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law. (New King James Version)
Without revelation people run wild, but one who listens to instruction will be happy. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
The other plus issue is that Christians especially need to read and understand the fuller context of 2 Chronicles 7:14, lest we glibly claim a promise from God which was not given to us in Jamaica. It is instructive to read chapter 6, where Solomon beseeches God, to hear the repentant prayer of sinning Israel after judgement is meted out on a disobedient nation.
Notice well the similarity of 6:26-28 with 7:12-13!
As Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason rightly says, “…God did not intend the phrase, ‘If my people…’ to be applied to the church. He meant it to be applied to Jews in that very particular circumstance and Him sending judgement upon them.”May it please the court, the defence rests.