Monday, February 19, 2018

Line upon line, precept upon precept: "Have we allowed a mistranslated text of scripture to become a catch-phrase of wisdom which was originally intended to be a mocking chide?"

...it is painful to admit that a verse we have used 
as a badge of our "wisdom" and "depth" 
is in fact drunken chiding which triggers the judgment of God
.

One of the favorite scripture bombs that the church and church members loved to throw around in order to silence people was Isaiah 28:10, 13.
...precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little...
The church has always claimed that to understand the Bible it was necessary to glean a little here, a little there, some more over here, and less over there. Line upon line, just like in the ten commandments, wisdom was to be found in a linear fashion, that the word stands upon the foundations of previous verses or teachings.  It was always used as a weapon to denigrate anyone who disagreed with the church or some "understanding" that was supposed to be accepted by all.

So just how did a verse that was filled with mocking "chiding" become a verse used by the COG as a weapon to mock those people thought less biblically enlightened as they were?

Reprinted with permission: Dean & Laura VanDruff: Dialogues and Commentary acts17-11.com

Have we allowed a mistranslated text of scripture to become a catch-phrase of wisdom which was originally intended to be a mocking chide?
Isa 28:10 (KJV) For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.Isa 28:13 (KJV) ...precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little...
The phrase "precept upon precept" from the King James Version of the above two scriptures is often associated with "deep teaching" and biblical larks. Normally you hear about it when the going gets muddleheaded, hard to follow, or just plain confusing; in which case the handy old "precept upon precept" phrase will be trotted out to explain why. Understanding how "precepts" are built upon "precepts" ad-infinitum to absurd complexity is supposed to be a key to understanding, or so we are told.
2Co 11:3 (NKJ) But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
We know from Scripture that God does not cotton much to mental conceit, human sophistry, or the lofty thoughts of men. These, in fact, are specifically warned against as the very scent of deception. But with the popular use of "precept upon precept" to justify such, God's prophetic irony is stark.
Isa 28:19 (NIV) ...The understanding of this message will bring sheer terror.
What does what the King James rendered as "precept upon precept" really mean, then? Well, in Hebrew the phrase in Isaiah 28 verses 10 and 13 is: "sav lasav sav lasav, kav lakav kav lakav" as can be seen in the footnotes of most modern Bibles. The phrase appears to be mere gobbledygook, a mockery of the prophet's words, which we will see in context momentarily. To have translated this gibberish was extremely daffy, but the KJV translators set an unfortunate precedent. 
As an example in English, imagine someone standing up in the audience at a Promise Keepers rally with a megaphone and shouting, "Lah De Dah, Lah De Dah; Blah Be Blah, Blah Be Blah". You would take it this person was not "with the program"; was making fun. Now suppose a naive person was translating this into French for French television, and missed the satirical point: "He's from Los Angeles, He's from Los Angeles... He is bored with insects, He is bored with insects," might be a honest attempt. But--really now! 
Now that a precedent has been set with "sav lasav" in English, most new translations dare not deviate. The NIV follows the KJV lead with "do and do, do and do", and the NAS "order on order, order on order", with footnotes alerting the reader of the problem. Beyond precedent, however, it is painful to admit that a verse we have used as a badge of our "wisdom" and "depth" is in fact drunken chiding which triggers the judgment of God. 
As we will see in context, this is not "wisdom" to be imitated, or a "key" of understanding to apprehend God's word, it is a mockery of the spirit of prophecy. 
Let's dive into the text.
Isa 28:1 (NIV) Woe to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim's drunkards, to the fading flower, his glorious beauty... the pride of those laid low by wine!Isa 28:7-8 (NIV) And these also stagger from wine and reel from beer: Priests and prophets stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine; they reel from beer, they stagger when seeing visions, they stumble when rendering decisions. All the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth. 
Isa 28:9-12 (NIV) "Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? For it is: ["sav lasav sav lasav, kav lakav kav lakav"] "Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there". Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, "This is the resting-place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"--but they would not listen.
So far, unless you have been paying close attention, you might have misunderstood that the "kav lakav" message comes from the drunken and stumbling prophets--aimed at those who are too spiritually dull or sodden to even know better. The idea of foreign lips and strange tongues carries with it a pagan and unclean aspect, perhaps even alluding to Balaam. But all this, so far, could be disputed. Some expositors, for example, suggest that this is an old testament harbinger of speaking in tongues; and link "kav kakav" to the glossolalia of 1Cr 14:22 as a means of explaining the "foreign" reference. But this is a bit of a stretch even if we stop where we are; and there is more. 
So that we can not miss the point that this chiding phrase is not God's wisdom, but a travesty of it that brings on God's judgment, the phrase is repeated in a context that cannot be missed and with a result that that is inescapable.
Isa 28:13 (NIV) So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: ["sav lasav sav lasav, kav lakav kav lakav"] Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there--so that they will go and fall backwards, be injured and snared and captured.
Sound like a group you would like to be part of? 
Isaiah now will respond to this sing-songy taunt and ignorance paraded as wisdom.
Isa 28:14-15 (NIV) Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. You boast, "We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding-place." 
Isa 28:16-20 (NIV) So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed. I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb-line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding-place... When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it. As often as it comes it will carry you away; morning after morning, by day and by night, it will sweep through." The understanding of this message will bring sheer terror. The bed is too short to stretch out on, the blanket too narrow to wrap around you. 
Isa 28:21-22 (NIV) The Lord will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim, he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon--to do his work, his strange work, and perform his task, his alien task. Now stop your mocking, or your chains will become heavier; the Lord, the Lord Almighty, has told me of the destruction decreed against the whole land.

Here is another take on the verses written in regard to preachers and their preaching:
Isaiah 28:10-13 and our Preaching Practice
Do these verses provide a good explanation of how God wants His Scriptures to be taught? Not even close. The statement about “precept upon precept, line upon line” is first of all a mocking statement by drunkards about the teaching of Isaiah, and then becomes a mocking statement by God as He turns their words back upon them. God tells them that if they don’t like what Isaiah says, they really won’t like what they hear from the Assyrians.
There is almost nothing in this text about how to preach and teach the Word of God. If there is anything here at all, we might be able to glimpse Isaiah’s teaching method behind the mocking words of the leaders. It seems that Isaiah taught the same thing over and over and over in very simple words and ideas to the drunken leaders of Israel in hopes that through repetition and simplicity, they might understand his words and repent of their ways.  Is Line by Line Preaching Biblical?
SaveSave

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had totally forgotten about Isaiah 28:7-8

"they reel from beer, they stagger when seeing visions, they stumble when rendering decisions. All the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth. "

What an absolutely perfect description of Thiel, Malm, and all the others who pretend to be running COG's. With alcoholism rampant in the COG, they are covered in vomit and not a spot on them not covered in filth.

Anonymous said...

To be honest I have never actually read the old testament. The fact that Christians are under the new covenant,and not the old covenant, I stick with the new testament moral law.

Hoss said...

Back in Spokesman's Club, some of us had to do practice sermonettes. Mine related to Matt 23:24 ...strain a gnat, swallow a camel.... In the minister's evaluation, he said I should have included Isa 28:10.

The Complete Jewish Bible, which is a paraphrase, begins Isa 28:10 with "so that one has to use nursery rhymes? Tzav la-tzav, tzav la-tzav..."

Byker Bob said...

So, 11:06, I guess you are saying that in the case of Armstrongism, the correct rendering would be “Wine upon wine, precept upon precept”? Like, wine or other alcoholic beverages were the spirit that HWA and his lackeys and myrmidons were actually moved by?
Makes sense to me.

BB

Anonymous said...


“Line upon line, precept upon precept: 'Have we allowed a mistranslated text of scripture to beccome a catch-phrase of wisdom which was originally intended to be a mocking chide?'”


The topic of Isaiah 28:9-11 came up after the death of Herbert W. Armstrong in January 1986 and the total apostasy of the Tkaches in January 1995. HWA had used these verses to explain how to study the Bible. Others now claimed that these verses were just talking about the babbling of drunks, and those who hated HWA immediately believed that theory and quickly exclaimed that HWA had been “wrong yet again.”

Notice that the major Bible translations like the KJV from four hundred years ago and the more modern NIV translate these verses the way they do. The NIV does have a footnote that says, “(possibly meaningless sounds; perhaps a mimicking of the prophet's words)”.

HWA had taught that, “The full explanation or truth of any one subject is seldom made complete and clear in any one passage. Other portions, factors, or phases of the subject are usually contained in one or several other passages in other parts of the Bible either in the Old or New Testament. A true and full understanding of this subject is profitable only when these perhaps several other passages, scattered throughout the Bible, are put together.” HWA wrote, “I learned that the Bible is like a jigsaw puzzle--thousands of pieces that need putting together--and the pieces will fit together in only one way.” (See Mystery of the Ages by HWA, page xi).

I still remember that someone who had been thinking about the matter turned to me in his swivel chair and said the following as I entered his office one day:

“Even if Herbert Armstrong was wrong--and I am not saying that he was--and these verses are just talking about the babbling of drunks, rather than 'here a little, and there a little,' nevertheless, that is how the Bible is written. It is written 'here a little, and there a little.'”

R.L. said...

Looks like you agree with GCI on this one. I heard a GCI minister in the Midwest explain it this way in the 1990s.

Anonymous said...

Here we go. More blasphemy

DennisCDiehl said...

Nice recap and update NO2HWA. Context! Context! Context! And NO, you don't get the perfect picture hunting and pecking all over the Bible for Truth. You will pick and cobble the ones you like together to make your point and pass over the ones that absolutely contradict it. Those that contradict you will cause you to find an apologetic for the contradiction.

In effect, when one wanders all over the Bible searching for the one answer they are rewriting the Book and the story to their understanding. When you fill in the problematic spaces in the story with your own, you add to the text what you can never know is warranted.

For example, higher critics of the text and theologians understand that the Book of James is a rebuttal to Paul's assertions in the Book of Romans. The Law/Grace, Grace/works conflict. How much time have you wasted trying to make them both speak the same thing "in different ways"? Once you recognize the politic and conflict between the writers of various Books, you get a better understanding of the competing ideas in the Bible as it is yet to this day.

Anonymous said...

8.00 AM
Nice post. I agree with you. However HWA didn't practice what he preached on page XI of Mystery of the Ages. The social system taught in the bible is one of freedom and self responsibility. HWA knew this, yet instituted the social system of tyranny in his church. This robbed members of all their natural God given rights. For instance, a recent article in a splinter publication advices readers to carefully choose their friends. So members can choose their friends because ministers have given them this permission. It is not a right. Acting by permission means that ministers can revoke a permission at whim. Which is why we have minister boot lickers and ass-kissers.
Treating members like children is stench in Gods nostrils, so don't expect to see Pharisee HWA in the kingdom.

Gerald Bronkar said...

Anon, 8:14 PM, no doubt, your definition of blasphemy is anything that does not agree with your narrow view of what the scriptures say to you.

I cannot speak for the unquestioned accuracy and honesty of scientists, Einstein, Darwin or Aron Ra. I do feel that accusing scientists and evolutionists of trying to justify their various sexual habits and appetites by discarding God from the equation is absurd. My personal observation is that scientists do not lie nearly as often and completely as preachers.

As others have said, " The best evidence against the Bible is the Bible itself". How true!

When I consider the precepts of Christianity, and religion in general, I could not, in my wildest imaginations, dream up a more ridiculous story to provide a basis for creation and the purpose of humanity. The Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, the serpent, the tree, the Fall, the Flood, Abraham and Isaac, David and Goliath, David, a man after God's own heart, the Virgin birth, Jesus' perfect life, his death on the cross to forgive my sins, the resurrection three days later, disappearing into the clouds, and now, His soon(?)return to save mankind from itself??? How can this story get any more ridiculous and unbelievable?

Science may wonder off track on occasion, but the scientific community, in general, is not trying to deceive us. They, being curious human beings like myself, are simply making a steady attempt to offer a real and believable explanation for the existence of life and the universe. Their search is not some hidden ploy to deny the existence of God. Are there bigoted, closed-minded scientists? Probably, but not nearly as numerous as preachers.

I hope there is a God. Some days I believe there is something out there. There must be! I hope he/she/it is loving kind and compassionate, unlike the God of Israel, whom I totally reject. The Bible and its God are contrived from the imaginations of ancient men. The stories aren't real, the prophecies aren't real and the God of Israel is not real. Look at the history of the Jewish people; these are god's chosen people? No thank you!

Does this add up to your definition of blasphemy?

I need no further study of religion and the Bible. I have done my study, and religious faith is full of holes, and those who look into it for guidance are lost, and will continue to be lost...and I don't mean going to hell. They are simply blind and unwilling to remove the blinders. They have found their comfort zone and are happy in their ignorance. Trying to understand and make sense of the Bible is folly.

I think I have made myself clear. Time to stop.

Hoss said...

Anon 254 wrote To be honest I have never actually read the old testament.
... I stick with the new testament moral law.


John 5:47 But if you don't believe what Moses wrote, how can you believe what I say?

Allen Dexter said...

Like Gerald, I'd like to believe there is some sort of god out there. It would be comforting to think there's some all-everything entity in control, and I clung to that for a long time, so I know where a lot of people are coming from. But, the reality is that there is no such being and never was. I'm casting my lot with quantum physics, and whatever science can open up. Tremendous strides are being made daily in understanding how something came out of seeming nothing. Whether we'll ever come up with the ultimate answer remains to be seen. I'm no longer giving in to the nonsense statement, "God did it."

Allen Dexter said...

The surety in people's minds that there is a god was pointedly illustrated in a clip I saw a couple days ago where a Nascar winner thanked god and pointed up. We still have that disproven concept of a "god" sitting up there beyond a solid "firmament" directing everything in minute detail for now around seven billion people, every little bird, etc. It's ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

Gerald
I you disagree with the God of Israel, you should meet my sister and brother in law. They will change your mind.

Anonymous said...

given the context in which Isaiah 28:10 is spoken, its obvious that the "blah, blah, blah" ur referring to is how a non believer, a carnal minded person would perceive the Word of God, as so much blah, blah, blah...

truly when God Speaks He speaks in spiritual terms, e.g., satan falling like lightning from Heaven; a carnal mind at the very least might view the phrase as utter nonsense, i.e., blah, blah, blah, or might think satan literally fell from heaven...

or when God Speaks of the mark of cain, or the mark of the beast, immediately the carnal mind thinks in terms of a physical mark, instead of the spiritual mark, i.e., spiritual signification or characteristic...

the average person thinks in carnal minded terms, which is why, for instance, we might think that an angel would see sex as a pleasure, when in actuality an angel is a spirit, so animal lusts dont fade it...

so when God speaks, the default understanding of an angel hearing His Word is spiritual, but to the carnal mind its foolishness and so much blah, blah, blah; hence the carnal mind is tripped up by the whole Word of God, i.e., the bible...

c f ben yochanan

Anonymous said...

4.32 PM
Angels became demons, so I question your angels not having lusts. After all, murderer Satan, just like today's Herb ministers, verbally teared down other angels to increase his power and superiority over them.

Anonymous said...

i was speaking in terms of how a carnal mind might project ones own sentiments and desires on an angel: e.g., in greek mythology they on occasion speak in terms of the gods mingling with the women of the earth...

human nature tends to think that others tend to think as they do...

certainly if demons lust, theirs is a spiritual lust or sentiment, e.g., lust for power or having jealousy; the lust i was using in the example was the very dog like lusts exibited by man and beast alike...

but in regards to Isaiah 28, the "blah blah blah" makes sense in that the carnal mind totally discounts the spiritual message of God cuz he doesnt understand or value such matters, hence it sounds like nonsense to the person, and it indeed trips them up, especially the new testament concepts...

c f ben yochanan

Allen Dexter said...

I have to shudder at the obvious illiteracy and lack of command of simple English grammar exhibited by some of the ommenters on here. It goes way beyond simple typos which can happen to anyone rushing through a comment. Yet, these obviously lacking in literacy types think they are the spiritually wise because they take anything they read in that Bible as coming from Gawd, so they don't need a knowledge of science or anything else with foundation. They will sneer at real theology, real textual criticism or anything else that smacks of "high fallutin" Larnin'.

Anonymous said...

but can ur proper anglish, what u values so highly, be saving you from the clutches of the grave, though? last i checked, kings and queens, and country hicks rot and stink the same once they die, regardless of what manner they speak; and frankly what i have found is that manner of speech values are deeply subjective, and vary from region to region, so frankly one what places such emphasis on how another speaks needs to understand that they too can be held to a standard that is highly subjective to region;

even so, to judge someone based upon their manner of speech ignores the spiritual character and emphasizes mere physiological utterences, i.e., fleshly manifestation over character: indeed, was not Jesus a galilean, looked down upon cuz of the region from whence he came...

c f ben yochanan

Anonymous said...

People who have qualified for eternal death come here and nit pick about grammar. I'm really not surprised.

Byker Bob said...

Are you from Africa, Ben?

BB

Anonymous said...

Allen
You should restrict your comments to discussing and debating ideas rather than personally attacking those whose ideas you disagree with.

Allen Dexter said...

Well, Yochanan, there's no historical proof your Jesus even existed in fact. His name and supposed existence was set in theological stone by the Catholic Council of Nicaea in the fourth century AD. Curiously, none of the gentile or Jewish historians of the time ever mentioned this miracle working revolutionary character while they recorded in great detail every other happening of that time. No mention of the earthquake or sudden darkness and the rending of temple curtains, etc. that supposedly attended the crucifixion of that figment of theological imagination. Interesting historical fiction in those "gospels" but that's really all it is. You're worshiping and putting faith in something that never really happened, just like the seven day creation, the fall, the worldwide flood, the Exodus, etc., etc., etc.

Anonymous said...

my fathers peoples have been in nw louisiana, ne texas area since 1793; never been to africa...

c f ben yochanan

Anonymous said...

theres no proof that there is life on other planets in outer space, but science have faith it is possible, regardless...

and ur contention that there is no proof of Jesus existence is tactical rather than substantive: smacks of trumpian style plausible deniability, and frankly is mere parroting of the latest rhetoric of those seeking to disrespect Jesus...

two different historians spoke of Jesus and Christians within 100 years of his death: josephus, and the roman senator and historian tacitus;

of course, you being typical of the non believer, would likely ignore these sources in order to justify ur predisposed and biased conclusions...

here you are not even 100 years old yet you have drawn conclusions about matters that happened 2000 years ago? you dont event know the number of hairs on ur head, nor can you count the number of individual cells in your body, yet you presumptuously declare that there is no proof of Jesuss existence despite the written record...

c f ben yochanan

Anonymous said...

indeed...

c f ben yochanan

Anonymous said...

personal insults are what they whom are in the wrong typically resort to; unable to debate on the merits, they resort to shaming people what they disagree with, or deflect from their premise; they engage in such behavior as part of their efforts to illegitimize the other persons pov...

c f ben yochanan

Dennis Diehl said...

The Josephus passage is acknowledge insertion by a later Christian author needing an authoritative outside proof of Jesus..

Dennis Diehl said...

CF. Do some homework on Testemonium Flavianum. The Tacitis reference is also dicey

Allen Dexter said...

How similar addiction to religious myths is to addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Those addicted cannot bear not to have their fix and will grasp at any straw to avoid facing the fact that there is absolutely no historical account of Jesus outside of those totally invalidated spurious ones cited. All those wonderful miracles, and no historian took notice. All those things attending the crucifixion according to the concocted story and not a single statement about them in any history. I guess all the record keepers of that time were suddenly afflicted with amnesia and just didn't notice the earthquake, the darkness, etc. Go ahead, have another round of deliberate delusion.

Anonymous said...

yup, you have spoken it, so it must be true, right? and even if you actually provide citations, its back to why you presume ur sources are better than mines...

c f ben yochanan

Anonymous said...

see, at the end of the day this is what its all about: you people want the preeminence; satan saw the Father on His Throne, became resentful, jealous, covetous, ambitious: he desired that he should replace Him...

and this dirty spirit also has persisted in generation after generation of the spawn of the animal, so easily, seamlessly led astray, right up to the time we pay the penalty for having embraced sin...

c f ben jochanan

Anonymous said...

so, where is your proof that the sources are invalid, and spurious? what standard makes them invalid (do you set that standard)? why are your sources, which, btw, you have yet to site, more credible?

it is as i said before: you want us to believe you simply because youve spoken; your desire is rooted in a superiority complex...

c f ben yochanan

xHWA said...

Nice article, No2. Informative and interesting.

Maybe I should invite you to do more like this one over at As Bereans Did, eh?
-xHWA