“Living Biblically” misses the main point of the Bible – the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ!

Living Biblically
Created by Patrick Walsh and featuring Jay R. Ferguson, Ian Gomez, Lindsey Kraft, and David Krumholtz
CBS, Monday nights, 9:30 p.m. EST

In the last Weekend Roundup, I mentioned CBS’s new television show, “Living Biblically,” and last night I caught up with Monday night’s pilot episode via on-demand.

The show begins with “lapsed” (non-practicing) Roman Catholic, Chip Curry (Ferguson), who is very troubled by the recent death of his best friend. In the midst of his depression, he decides to start reading the Bible in an attempt to lift himself out of his doldrums and “make sense of it all.” His new “spirituality” consists of endeavoring to live his life in strict accordance with all of the Bible’s precepts. Chip’s local parish priest, “father” Gene (Gomez), tries to humor the zealot into mitigating his rigorous chosen path, while his atheist wife, Leslie (Kraft), is worried her formerly religiously indifferent husband has turned into a fanatical “Bible banger.” Chip takes things too far when he literally “stones” (i.e., small pebble to the forehead) a notorious womanizer who he works with, but his “obedience” seems to be divinely rewarded by a job upgrade at a higher salary. More “comical” clashes between Biblical literalism and secular culture are sure to follow as the series continues.

A couple of moments in the the show really captured its overall spirit:

  • In one of the initial scenes, Chip visits priest Gene in a confessional (photo above) and declares that he’s already a “good” person who desires to be “even better” by following the Bible literally.
  • In the final scene, Chip, Leslie, priest Gene, and Jewish rabbi, Gil (Krumholtz), gather together at a local watering hole and philosophize about Chip’s new “spirituality.” Leslie has just found out she is pregnant and is worried about how Chip’s newfound “faith” will affect their child. The rabbi and priest agree the important thing is that both parents just focus on raising the child as a “loving human being” and everything will be fine.

So what we see in “Living Biblically” is the prevailing gospel of works righteousness with the essential requirement of being a “good” person in order to merit a reward. Jesus Christ was not mentioned once during the entire thirty minutes, which was certainly not a surprise. The Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone is the red thread that runs through the entire Bible, but Chip doesn’t get it and neither do the show’s writers and creators. The letter of the Law is emphasized rather than the Gospel that the Law points to. In future episodes, viewers will no doubt witness many other examples of Biblical precepts pulled out of their context and made to look comically ridiculous just like the faux “stoning” of the adulterer in this pilot episode.

Few Catholics will have an axe to grind with Living Biblically’s view of religion because it’s largely in sync with the notions of popular Catholicism, but Biblical Christians will certainly have a problem with what this show communicates about the Bible. We can only hope that some souls might be inspired by “Living Biblically” to actually start reading the Bible and that the Holy Spirit will enlighten them to the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.


Catholic radio priest repeatedly refers to “mindless backwater Baptists”

Friends, it’s time for a little deprecating levity…

Yesterday, I listened to the 2/5/18 podcast of “The Catholic Connection” talk radio show featuring moderator, Jim Havens, and priest-host, David Nix, as they discussed the topic, “Do Catholics Read the Bible Literally?”

Traditionalist priest Nix decried the fact that many Catholic clerics and laypersons do not hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible; that many believe the miracles of the Old Testament (and perhaps even some of the miracles in the New Testament) are mythical stories designed only to teach a moral or spiritual lesson.

Nix then argued for an hour for a literal understanding of the Bible when a literal understanding is called for. Peppered throughout his presentation was his argument that Catholics could embrace Biblical literalism without checking their intellect at the door, unlike “mindless backwater Baptists.” Huh? “Mindless backwater Baptists”? Yes, that is the exact phrase priest Nix used several times in his presentation.

So, when Catholics like Nix embrace the words of Scripture literally, they can do so with intellectual integrity, but Baptists are evidently “mindless” and incapable of such.

Now, I don’t take any personal offense to Nix referring to rural or even urban Baptists as “mindless.” To my way of thinking, it’s always refreshing to hear Catholic clergy take off the namby-pamby ecumenical gloves and communicate with honesty. I’m actually glad Nix reads the Bible and advises his fellow Catholics to read it (most don’t) and trust in it as the Word of God. Perhaps when they read the Bible, the Holy Spirit will also enlighten them to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and free them from the legalistic chains and ritualism of Roman Catholicism.

“An enraged Pope Paul V, in 1606, told the Venetian ambassador, ‘Do you not know that so much reading of Scripture ruins the Catholic religion?’” – from “The Reformation: A History” by Diarmaid MacCulloch, 1972, pp. 393-394, quoting “La Bibbia Al Rogo: la censura ecclesiastica e i volgarizzamenti della Scrittura (1471-1605),” by Gigliola Fragnito

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthian 1:26-31

Romans 8: Wow!

My wife and I are currently reading through Paul the apostle’s Epistle to the Romans together and we are being thoroughly blessed by God’s Word. Last night we read chapter 8. Wow! My soul sang as we read through the verses. Many commentators over the years have mentioned the magnificence of Romans 8, including 17th century German preacher, Philipp Jakob Spener, who wrote, “If Holy Scripture was a ring, and the Epistle to the Romans a precious stone, chapter 8 would be the sparkling point of the jewel.”

Just a few verses:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – 1

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” – 14-16

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” – 22-23

“For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” -26

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – 28

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” – 31

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” – 35

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – 38-39

Praise the Lord for the Epistle to the Romans and all of His Word. Thank you, merciful Father, for the gift of salvation by your grace through faith alone in your Son, Jesus Christ.

If you haven’t trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior, what are you waiting for?

The scarlet cord that runs through the entire Bible

My wife and I are currently studying through the Book of Joshua in the Old Testament. The more believers study the Old Testament, the more we comprehend, through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ and His plan of salvation are woven throughout the entire text via symbolism/typology.

Take Joshua, who the Lord chose to be Moses’ successor. Moses had disobeyed God by striking the rock at Kadesh to obtain water for the Israelites rather than speaking to the rock as God had commanded (Numbers 20:2-13). Moses had previously struck a rock at Rephidim to obtain water (Exodus 17:1-7), but a rock was not to be struck again. This is a wonderful typology of Jesus, the Rock, dying only once for sins, and, after that, the living waters of salvation being obtained only through appeal to the Savior by faith and prayer. Because of Moses’ disobedience, God did not allow him to enter the Promised Land. Moses represented the Law. His successor, Joshua/Yeshua/Jesus (meaning “The Lord Is Salvation”), would be the one to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. This is a wonderful typology of salvation only through faith in Jesus Christ rather than through the Law.

Yesterday, in preparation for our next devotion time, I was studying Joshua, chapter 2, which deals with the two spies sent by Joshua to scout the fortified city of Jericho. We all know that it was Rahab* the prostitute who hid the spies from soldiers sent out by the king of Jericho to search for them. The spies made a pact with Rahab, saying if she left a scarlet rope hanging from her window, all those inside would be spared by the invading Israelite army. Scarlet? Why not black? Or blue? Or green? No, the rope was scarlet red because it symbolized the blood of the Savior to come, Jesus Christ, which was also typified by the blood of the guiltless lamb sacrifice smeared on the door posts and lintel of the Hebrew homes in Goshen on the first Passover.

I know many of you are already aware of these foreshadowings of the Lord Jesus, but I just had to stop and praise God for the theme of salvation in Jesus Christ that runs throughout the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation! For centuries, rabbinic scholars have studied the Old Testament day and night, but they were blind to these simple yet profound symbols and types of the Savior Messiah.

*In Matthew 1:5-6 we find that Rahab married Salmon of the tribe of Judah, and that “Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.” Hence, Jesus Christ’s human lineage can be traced back to Rahab, the Jerichoan prostitute. What other religion’s “holy book” would confess such a thing of its founder? The name, Rahab, means “spacious or broad” in Hebrew and some suggest this referred to Rahab’s rather loose morals. Joshua 2:11 says the hearts of all the inhabitants of Jericho melted from fear of the approaching Israelites, but it was only Rahab the prostitute who turned to Yaweh for salvation by faith, calling to mind Luke 5:32, “I have not come to call the (self) righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Sketchy Catholic versions of the Bible were stepping stones to salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone

I’ve mentioned many times previously that I grew up in a large Catholic family. I was the youngest child, a boy, with five older sisters. Oy vey! There were daily estrogen-fueled drama battles at our house like you wouldn’t believe. Our family wasn’t devout as some of my Catholic friends’ families were back then, with statues in every room of the house, in the yard, and rosaries hanging from rear-view mirrors, but we did attend mass every Sunday and I was even an altar boy from 5th through 8th grades. My sisters and I all attended Catholic parochial school and Catholic high school. In all of those years of Catholic indoctrination, the nuns and brothers never had us read from the Bible. We read short Bible quotes from Catholic booklets, but never from the Bible itself. I didn’t own a Bible and neither did my sisters. I don’t remember either of my parents ever reading the Bible. I don’t know if there was a single Bible in the entire house. I never saw one. The Catholic church did not promote Bible-reading among its members. In my experience, our religious teachers often recommended books about Mary and the saints but never the Bible.

I can’t explain it other than to attribute it to the Lord drawing me to Him, but in the mid-1970s, after I married my bride, I became curious about the Bible and began visiting the local (c)hristian book store, Alpha and Omega, which was situated in those days at the four corners of Penfield, NY. I was kind of embarrassed about entering the establishment and would look around first to see if anyone I knew was watching. Wow! I was amazed at the number of Bibles on display. “These Protestants really love their Bibles,” I thought. Well, I looked around a little bit and came across the Catholic version of the student edition of The Living Bible, called “The Way” (see the above photo), an easy-to-read Bible paraphrase.* I brought the Bible home but hid it from my nominally Catholic wife – I didn’t want her to think I was turning into some kind of a religious nut. I read that Bible on and off for several years.

After our two boys were born and we moved into our first house in 1979, I wanted to be a responsible Catholic parent so I started attending mass again. I even asked the co-pastor of our new parish, “father” Roy Kiggins, to come over and bless our house withNew Am holy water. Yes, I did! I also went back to Alpha and Omega and bought what I thought was a “real” Bible, the Catholic New American Bible version (second photo), which wasn’t a paraphrase. Catholic versions of the Bible contain seven more Old Testament books – referred to as the Apocrypha – than Protestant Bibles. I began diligently reading the New Testament, which, over time, led to a mounting personal crisis. God’s Word repeatedly contradicted Catholic doctrines. The more I read, the more the Holy Spirit convicted me that the Catholic church was wrong on many counts. I eventually stopped going to mass. A few years later, after being further led by the Holy Spirit, I repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior! Praise the Lord!

Four of my sisters are now self-described atheists or agnostics, while the fifth one claims to be a Catholic (c)hristian although she has firmly stated a couple of times that she doesn’t believe the Bible is divinely inspired or that Jesus was and is God. Do you find that strange? Actually, you’ll find millions upon millions of similarly mixed up and confused people within Catholicism. She has zero use for the Bible but finds comfort in the familiar Catholic rituals and traditions she remembers from childhood. Looking back, I’m puzzled why I was the only one in my family to be drawn to God’s Word. I’m actually grateful for those spotty Catholic versions of the Bible that I initially read. They were stepping stones to the true Word and salvation by God’s grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone.

*Bible paraphrases, like the New Living Translation (NLT), are useful tools when studying the Bible, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone use them as a substitute for actual word-for-word translations of the Bible like the NASB or ESV.

Were Peter and the apostles wrong to select Matthias as Judas’s replacement?

My wife and I finished our reading of Deuteronomy the other night. Like the other books of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy’s not the easiest of reading, especially if you don’t have any Bible aids. As the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land, Moses repeated the Law to them, requiring their obedience but also emphasizing trust in the Lord. Moses, personifying the Law, was not allowed to enter the Promised Land himself. It was left to Yeshua/Joshua/Jesus (“Jehova saves”) to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, one of my favorite foreshadowings of Christ in the Old Testament.

Last night, in preparation for our journey into our next study, the Acts of the Apostles, I did a deep dive (at least for me) into the first chapter accompanied by my Bible dictionary, two commentaries, and concordance and I came across some interesting information that I’d like to share.

In chapter one, in the opening verses, the apostles witness the ascension of Jesus into Heaven and then return to Jerusalem and wait to receive the Holy Spirit as Jesus had commanded them. In verses 15-22, while still waiting for the Holy Spirit, Peter, always an impetuous fellow, proposes to the 120 believers gathered in the upper room, that they must choose an apostolic replacement for Judas Iscariot. Two men are nominated, Joseph-Barsabbas-Justus and Matthias. A prayer is said, lots are cast, and the lot falls to Matthias, so he is chosen as Judas’s replacement in vs. 26. but that’s the very last time we read of him.

I’ve read this chapter many times previously and always accepted it pretty much at face value as written, but John MacArthur and J. Vernon McGee had some interesting observations in their commentaries. First, MacArthur observes that this was the last instance of the casting of lots by believers in the Bible. He writes, the casting of lots was “a common OT method of determining God’s will” that was “made…unnecessary” by the “coming of the Spirit.”

So should Peter have waited for the Holy Spirit rather than plowing forward?

In his commentary, J. Vernon McGee proposes the selection of Matthias was possibly an error, that the apostles should have waited for the Holy Spirit and His leading on this matter rather than forging ahead. He suggests that the Lord subsequently chose His own replacement for Judas by selecting Saul/Paul, “an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (Gal. 1:1).

But the opponents of the “Paul over Matthias” viewpoint say the twelve apostles were chosen to eventually reign over the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt.19:28) as opposed to Paul, who was distinctly chosen to be the apostle to the Gentiles (Rom.11:13). Paul didn’t meet the apostles’ criterion for apostleship but did the Lord have His own criterion?

McGee presents his argument as his own personal conviction and obviously not as essential dogma. It’s an interesting viewpoint and I’d be interested to hear if others have come across it as well. This situation with the differing opinions on the Matthias-Paul question is probably “old news” to many of you but it was the first time I had encountered it.

Did Jesus or the apostles ever quote the Apocrypha?

If you take a trip to your local (c)hristian book store, you’ll of course see plenty of Bibles on the shelves. There will be many different Protestant Bibles (including a few very dubious translations) side-by-side with Catholic Bibles. Have you ever wondered what the differences are between Protestant and Catholic Bibles?

Today, I was listening to the 05/19/17 podcast of the Calling All Catholics talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) featuring moderator, Mike Denz, and priest-host, Dave Baker, taking questions from the listening audience.

Towards the end of the show, Denz took a question regarding the Bible:

Mike Denz: We’re going to go to Athena, who emailed us this question: “I am currently converting (to Catholicism) and I just received my Catholic Bible in the mail. I’m wondering if you have advice on how I should approach reading it? I grew up reading the King James Bible and just by skimming through the Douay-Rheims Holy Bible, I notice some pretty major differences already. Should I start by reading straight through first or should I just jump between chapters with focus on certain chapters?”

Denz then immediately commented that the King James Version is not a translation approved by the Catholic church. The church used to forbid its members from reading the KJV or any other Protestant Bible upon pain of “mortal” sin, although the “unchangeable” church seems to have taken a less-militant stand in recent years (see the comments section). Denz also mentioned that Catholic Bibles contain seven Old Testament books that Protestant Bibles do not, as well as four additions to other OT books. This debated material is called the Apocrypha, which was all written in the 400-year period after the last OT book, Malachi, and before the time of Christ. Denz went on to blame Martin Luther for removing the Apocrypha from the Bible but the Jews in 1st-century Palestine didn’t consider this material to be Scriptural. Ancient historians, Philo and Josephus, rejected the Apocrypha. The rabbinical writers of the Talmud from 200 AD to 500 AD excluded the Apocrypha. Jesus and the apostles never quoted the Apocrypha. Even Jerome, the translator of the Septuagint, rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture.

However, Denz claimed the apocryphal books “were quoted in the New Testament,” followed by priest Baker chiming in, “…by Jesus Himself!” I had never before come across a claim from a Catholic source that Jesus or the apostles had ever quoted from the Apocrypha. I did a little digging and found that objective Catholic sources admit that direct quotes of the Apocrypha cannot be found in the New Testament “and that the (religious) themes (alluded to in the NT as quotes from the Apocrypha by overzealous Catholics like Denz and Baker) are so prevalent in Judaism that our Lord may not have intended these works (i.e., the Apocrypha) specifically.” See here. Thanks for your objectivity, priest John Echert.

For an excellent analysis of the Apocrypha from an evangelical perspective, see the article below:

Is the Apocrypha Scripture?

If you’ve never read the apocryphal material I would advise you not to waste your time. But the Apocrypha is important to Catholic doctrine because in one of the books, II Maccabees 12:38-46, Jews are exhorted to pray for the souls of fallen soldiers who had worn idolatrous amulets under their tunics. Catholics cite this passage as support for the doctrine of purgatory and praying for the dead. But how could that be? These soldiers were blatant idolaters. In Catholic dogma, idolatry is a “mortal sin,” so these fallen soldiers with their idolatrous good luck charms would have been in hell, not in a spurious purgatory.

Catholic priest: The Bible is full of errors!

Roman Catholicism has an interesting relationship with the Bible. While the church officially recognizes the Bible is God’s Word, it places its non-biblical traditions and teaching authority (Magisterium) on equal par with Scripture. Catholicism did not encourage the laity to read the Bible because it contains so many teachings that contradicted Catholic dogma. I attended Catholic schools for twelve years and although we were told stories from the Bible, we never read it. Not once.

This past Saturday I was driving down the road with my radio tuned to the local Catholic station. A priest (name unknown) was talking about the Bible and said many parts can’t be taken literally, but that one must sift through the myth and error to mine the overarching moral or spiritual message.

As an example, the priest pointed to Mark 2:23-28, where Jesus says David and his men ate the bread of Presence during the time of Abiathar the High Priest. Yet, 1 Samuel 21:1-6, the passage Jesus was referring to, records that the High Priest at the time was Ahimelech. The priest stated that either Jesus was wrong or Mark was wrong but either way the Bible was in error. But he said this technical error wasn’t actually a big deal because the overarching message of the passage, that love conquers doctrinal scrupulosity, was the point. Famous atheist, Bart Ehrman, cites the alleged Ahimelech/Abiathar contradiction as the initial seed of his personal doubt regarding the Bible and Christianity.

But was Jesus, Mark, or Mark’s probable source, Peter, in error regarding Mark 2:23-38? I reject any suggestion out of hand that Jesus the Word was ever in error about anything. But what about Mark? Could the Holy Spirit have allowed him to write an error, especially a glaring one that would have been immediately obvious to any devout Jew?

The article below points out a very plausible solution to the alleged contradiction from an inerrantist point of view.

Was the high priest Abiathar or Ahimelech?

It might be surprising to some ecumenically-minded evangelicals that a Catholic priest would claim on national radio that the Bible was full of errors but the Catholic clergy includes many such liberal errantists. But as I also mentioned, Catholicism often relegates Scripture to a secondary role in favor of its man-made teachings and traditions.

Why did Jesus use mud salve to heal the blind man’s eyes?

“Having said these things, he (Jesus) spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.” – John 9:6-7

In reading John 9, I’ve often wondered why Jesus made a mud salve and applied it to the blind man’s eyes? Why didn’t Jesus just heal the man’s eyes outright with a verbal or non-verbal command? What was the mud salve all about?

In his single-volume Bible commentary, John MacArthur suggests that “Jesus may have used the clay to fashion a new pair of eyes.” Hmm, that’s certainly a possibility but it seems like a stretch given the text. In his Thru-the Bible commentary, J. Vernon McGee doesn’t even attempt to explain Jesus’s use of mud salve.

Yesterday, I may have stumbled across the answer. A book I’m currently reading points out that the Mishna of the Talmud prohibited Jews from applying soothing mud salves to a person’s ailing eyes on the Sabbath:

“To heal a blind man on the Sabbath…it is…prohibited to make mud with spittle and smear it on his eyes” (Shabbat 108:2).

Well, of course. That’s it. Jesus not only ignored the traditions of the Pharisees by healing the blind man on the Sabbath, but he purposly used a mud salve in the healing in direct defiance of the specific regulations of the Talmud! This would seem to be an excellent explanation of Jesus’s use of the mud salve.

“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” – Matthew 15:8-9

Praise the Lord for curing my spiritual blindness and allowing me to comprehend the “Good News!” of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone! Are man-made religious traditions coming between you and salvation in Christ Jesus? Accept Jesus as your Savior by faith alone!

Moses and Hobab: Sin or obedience?

God’s Word is rich beyond measure. We are so blessed that we can feast upon God’s Wordmh daily. But sometimes I get a little lackadaisical in my approach to the Word. In my haste to complete the perfunctory three chapters per day (and five on Sunday), I can overlook some very profound truths and admonitions from the Lord. Slow down, Tom! It’s quality, not quantity. “Lord, speak to me!” But there are also times when I come across some verses that I can’t completely understand and I end up scratching my head. “Lord, what does this mean?”

Case in point: My wife and I have recently been reading through the Book of Numbers together. In chapter 9, the Lord revealed to Moses that He would lead Israel through the wilderness to the Promised Land by the pillar of cloud during the day and by the pillar of fire during the night. There obviously could not be a more perfect guide than the Lord God Almighty.

Yet in chapter 10 we read that Moses entreated his brother-in-law*, Hobab, to act as a guide for the Israelites:

“And Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place of which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us, and we will do good to you, for the Lord has promised good to Israel.” But he said to him, “I will not go. I will depart to my own land and to my kindred.” And he said, “Please do not leave us, for you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us. And if you do go with us, whatever good the Lord will do to us, the same will we do to you.” – Numbers 10:29-32

Why would Moses ask Hobab for his help as a guide when the omniscient Lord God Almighty was already leading the Israelites? Was Hobab, a Midianite, even a follower of the Lord at that point? One commentator suggests that, in His providence, the Lord sent Hobab to Moses and the Israelites because of his practical knowledge of wilderness survival, e.g. locating water wells and oases, camp protocol, etc.

So couldn’t the Lord, the perfect guide, have led the Israelites to the very best possible campsites? Why would they have needed Hobab? Here’s three possible interpretations of the passage that I came across:

(1) By turning to Hobab for help, Moses was doubting in the care of the Lord. Moses was trusting in the arm of flesh rather than the Lord. This passage is recorded in God’s Word to show us, once again, that even Moses had his failings and was an imperfect sinner. (2) Moses saw Hobab, a seasoned veteran of wilderness living, as a help provided by the Lord to assist the Israelites in their journey. (3) Moses was only flattering Hobab in an effort to persuade him to accompany the Israelites so that he might eventually also trust in the Lord.

Anyone have an opinion on this passage? We probably won’t resolve this one conclusively this side of eternity.

*Bible scholars are still debating whether “Hobab” refers to Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, or his brother-in-law, although recent scholarship seems to favor the latter view.