Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals from Jan. 1-15 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (Ph.D.) who is the AMI Teaching Pastor. He and Insil have been married for 28+ years and they have three children: Christy (teacher), Joshua (grad student) and Justin (college freshman). They live in Philadelphia.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
(With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms: “‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it. . .’”
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. 6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners.
Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College are leading institutions of higher learning for evangelicals. So, upon noting that the New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman studied there, we would expect to learn a great deal from him. That, unfortunately, is not what you will get from Ehrman, who heads the religious-studies department at the University of North Carolina.
Ehrman, the “happy agnostic,” is the leading critic against the Bible, a book he once regarded as God’s word, but withdrew from faith because of its many alleged discrepancies. For instance, did you notice anything peculiar while reading about Judas’ end? According to Matthew, he hanged himself but Luke states that he fell from a high place. That’s the kind of “discrepancy” that torpedoed Ehrman’s faith. He once said that the turning point was discovering the “error” of Mark 2:26 (see below) that has Abiathar as the high priest during the days of David when it was Ahimelech (1 Sam. 21:2). Subsequently, he not only let go of his faith but dedicated himself to show that the Bible is a flawed book that certainly isn’t divine. I think Ehrman is taking out his resentment on the entire church for the bill of (theological) goods that he had received as a young man; he is disappointed that he was taught wrong.
This isn’t a forum for an in-depth discussion, but many Christians have erroneous notions about the inspiration of the Scripture. While no one is certain about what inspiration exactly entails, it doesn’t mean superseding differences in each writer’s observation, depending on the perspective taken and culture. It is quite plausible that “Judas hanged himself and that the rope broke, causing him to fall” (Baker). Regarding the field, Judas, in effect, bought it since the chief priest purchased it with his money. Evidently, Matthew accentuated the tragic end of the betrayer (suicide) while Luke focused on its irony: Judas was the first to be buried in the accursed field. Had Ehrman been taught right, perhaps he wouldn’t have taken that fatal road.
Do you teach the Bible? Teach it correctly. Are you a student of the Bible? Don’t settle for cookie-cutter answers that won’t stand a chance against vicious attacks on the Bible. Study it diligently, and read other good books.
Lord, though there are millions of books in the world, none are like the Scriptures, for it is the living Word of God. And I thank You that someone taught me how to read, so that I can actually understand your Word. Of course, I don’t read it as I should—forgive me for my laziness and hypocrisy. Help me to support groups (like Wycliffe) that translate the Bible for those who have yet to have it in their own language. Thank you. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 9
Lunch Break Study
Read Mark 2:25-6: He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
1 Sam. 21:1-4: David went to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. Ahimelech trembled when he met him, and asked, “Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?” . . . . 3 Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.” 4 But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here.”
1 Sam. 22:20: But one son of Ahimelech son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled to join David.
Daniel 1:1: In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.
Jeremiah 25:1: The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon [when he invaded Judah] . . .
Question to Consider
- In order to understand what was discussed in the morning, it is necessary that you approach with perspective. Are all the following statements truthful? Imagine a married couple who met in college but married after the graduation: Statement 1: In college, my wife and I went to see a football game and there my wife lost her purse”; Statement 2: [In Korea] “Since my baby was born yesterday, he is already two years ago”; [In the U. S] “Since my baby was born yesterday, he is two days old.”
- How would you harmonize the Ahimelech/Abiathar controversy?
- How would you reconcile the fact that Daniel (writing in Babylonia) presents the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar as occurring on the 3rd year of Jehoiakim while Jeremiah puts it at the 4th year?
- Neither case should be problematic. Even though technically the man’s wife wasn’t his wife in college, that’s how we talk and no one objects to it. As far as reckoning the years in Korea, the baby is one year old at the time of birth and everyone becomes one year older on the first day of the New Year. So a baby born on December 31st would be two years old by the next day.
- Ahimelech/Abiathar conflict is of the same variety as husband/wife situation presented earlier. The fact is, Abiathar was Ahimelech’s son who was present when David came in looking for bread. Later, the son became a much more prominent high priest, certainly someone more Israelites would have recalled than Ahimelech. For that reason, it is quite plausible that Jesus cited Abiathar. If the early Jewish Christians thought that this was a discrepancy, they would have changed it; yet they didn’t.
- Similar to the Korean approach to counting age, the ancient Jews considered the year in which a king was enthroned as Year One; however, for the Babylonians, the king’s first year was a year after being enthroned. So, the 3rd year of Jehoiakim in Daniel’s mind is the 4th year in Jeremiah’s. No discrepancy when you factor in the cultural difference.
How many times do you eat throughout the day? At least twice or probably more. Now, how often do you “eat” God’s Word? Eat? Yes, since the Hebrews writer alludes to it as “milk” and “solid food” (Heb. 5:13). Have you read Genesis 9 today? If not, this would be a good time to do so. It’s about God’s covenant with Noah. Looking for a good cross-reference to go deeper into it? Then try Matt. 24:36-41. Don’t just read it; study it! Be good at understanding God’s word, for “Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17).