Biblical Commentary by Ken Westby
Allah, Islam’s God, didn’t rest after the six days of creation and Moslems see no need to rest on their “Sabbath” which is Friday, the sixth day of the week.
Jews and Christians find authority for their concept of “Sabbath” primarily from the example of the Creator who “rested” or ceased from his labors on the seventh day, blessed it and made it holy. Observant Jews and most Christian Sabbatarians continue the practice of “ceasing” or “stopping”normal business activities on the seventh day to celebrate God’s good gifts and to worship the Creator of heaven and earth. Read Article.
Originally published 2/8/2007
The Humor of Jesus
A gambler died. The funeral was well attended by his professional friends. In the eulogy, the minister said: “Spike is not dead; he only sleeps.” From the rear of the chapel a man shouted: “I got a hundred that says he’s dead.”
Religion is a rich target for humor and provides grist for the best of jokes. Yet we don’t often associate humor with the Bible, the source of our religion. Read Article.
Originally published 10/27/2006
Scholars… Who Needs Them?
“Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.” –Mark Twain
I’m with Twain. My struggle is to live boldly and honestly in the light of what I understand the Bible plainly instructs me to do. Can there be confusion with “love your neighbor as yourself,” “do not steal,” “do not sin,” “practice hospitality,” “bear the burdens of the weak,” “let your light shine,” “humble yourself before God,” “draw near to God,” “live holy and godly lives,” etc? The complete list is quite long, easy to understand, but more difficult to actualize. Read Article.
Originally published 10/27/2006
Slaughter at Sabbath Services
This past Sabbath (3/12/05) an unusual terrorist attack took place at a church service in the Milwaukee area. Eight people were shot to death including the suicide/homicide shooter. This ghastly act of evil was especially distressing as I know many people in that church organization, although I didn’t know any from the local Milwaukee congregation. Read Article.
Originally published 3/15/2005
Abortion and the Sabbath
Looking for a fight, just bring up the subject of abortion in mixed company. Strongly state your opinion and soon there will be “blood.” Abortion is one of those incendiary topics that sit at the intersection of religion and politics like a lit match between two open cans of gasoline. But why has the subject of abortion become so charged with emotion, vitriol, and even, at times, violence? Read Article.
Originally published 11/24/2004
Two Scenes from Israel
Travel brochures romance every foreign destination with words like enchanting, quaint, beautiful, and of course, unique. Occasionally the hype fits, frequently it doesn’t. How would I write a brochure on Israel? What would I tell the innocents traveling abroad to expect of Israel? Among nations, Israel is in a category all its own. Read Article.
Originally published 2/16/2004
Making Yourself Sick
Ever since Norman Cousins wrote his book, Anatomy of an Illness, some 35 years ago there has been a general awareness that laughter and a happy spirit are good for your health. Readers Digest’s popular feature, Laughter is Your Best Medicine, has been around as long as I can remember. The features’ title is a take off of the biblical proverb, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” But how common is a cheerful heart? It’s probably safe to say most of us don’t laugh enough. I guess there’s just too much heavy stuff out there. Occasions for genuine laughter are rare. When we’re of a glum, negative, overly serious spirit, humor doesn’t easily arise in our heart. It may pop up here or there but evaporates quickly. And watching inane sitcoms won’t fill our need for mirth—minus real humor the canned laugh-track does the laughing for us. Read Article.
Originally published 2/20/2003
What Will 2003 Bring?
Greetings to you and to your family. I pray that 2003 will be your best year yet as you serve His Majesty.
In this letter I want to report to you on what the ACD is doing and plans to do, and to look ahead to 2003—sure to be a critically important and pivotal year in modern history. But before I reflect on current events and prophecy, I have some suggestions for maintaining a sane and balanced attitude in the face of the real and present danger. It is a principle of true reality to which I often retreat in times of stress. Read Article.
Originally published 1/30/2003
A Case of Rigor mortis
Sure evidence of death is the progressive stiffening of the corpse as muscle proteins coagulate. The condition is called rigormortis, and forensic specialists can determine the time of death by measuring how far along the stiffening has progressed. When rigormortis is complete the body is stiff. The low brow vernacular for a dead body, frequently heard in gangster movies, is simply: “a stiff.”
The sight of a pale, prone, and stiff corpse lying on a morgue’s cold stainless steel table is a depressingly hopeless scene. If the corpse is a loved one, the scene is oppressive, heavy with sadness. Apart from the power of our life-giving Creator to vivify that loved one, life itself would ring with hopelessness. Read Article.
Originally published 3/12/2002
Underestimating God, Overestimating Evil
The big event has happened, its now 2000 AD! Your friends at ACD join in wishing you your best year yet. I know that God can make it so.
As we make the big turn into the year 2000 fears of evil and the unknown abound. But I don’t think such fears are justified—certainly not in the hearts of those who know God. Yet Christians have been among the most caught-up with paranoia over Y2K doomsday forecasts. Why?
We underestimate God and we overestimate evil. We don’t see what God is doing and conclude that he is doing nothing. We see everything that evil is doing and think it is in control of everyone. The problem is that our eyes see only what our mind is prepared to comprehend. If comprehending God and his activities are off our radar scope, we won’t have a grip on reality—”true reality.” We think we see things as they are, but we’re dead wrong. Read Article.
Originally published 1/5/2000
Was Adam’s Great Commission to Become a Gardener?
Genesis 2:15 reads: The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it (RSV).
. . . to work it and take care of it (NIV). . . . to dress it and keep it (Jewish Publication Society). . . . to till it and guard it (Moffatt). . . . to cultivate it and guard it (TEV).
The King James version reads like the JPS, “dress it and keep it” and is the understanding I had of the event for most of my life. I even preached a sermon once on the nobility of work using Adam’s God-given job description as my central illustration. But in time I began to feel there was something missing in this picture. We see Great Yahweh with grand theater creating a new and beautiful earth in six days of incomprehensible activity, energy and intensity.
All for what? For mankind, of course. But why for mankind? Because man and woman are “made in his image”! Made in his image for what great and noble purpose and activity? To mow grass, pick bugs, prune trees, dig dirt, and protect the fruit trees from the deer, of course. To me, this common job description didn’t seem to fit the context of Genesis 2 and in some ways contradicted it. Why such creative spectacle just to put Adam and Eve into a garden with a command to keep it up — “and Oh, by the way, don’t eat fruit from that tree over there.” Something seemed to be missing, but I didn’t know what. Read Article.
Originally published 3/20/1998
Daniel and The Net
The Internet . . . Beast or Benefactor? For sure the latter, notwithstanding that some religious types see a “666” in its footprint. It’s neither a superhighway to heaven nor hell. In fact, it isn’t even a superhighway. It’s a network of unprecedented communication and information available to the average person with a phone modem connected to a computer linked to the Internet. And like many marvelous tools of man, it will be used for good and evil. I suspect this tool will function like a sharp knife—a hundred thousand good and helpful uses for every destructive one. Read Article.
Originally published 2/16/1998
Is Human Cloning Possible?
Before they can clone Charlie, scientists must first read and map the Human Genetic Code — and that is a long way off.
Consider that every complete molecule of human DNA contains a 3-billion-step code that describes the owner’s unique life print. It is a chainlike structure that contains the blueprint of life, a genetic code from which all 350 human cell types — hair, skin, eye, bone, brain, etc. — emerge. What mysteries awaiting discovery are now hidden within this elegantly wound double helix (two intertwined strands of base pairs) — discoveries which could cure diseases, extend life by finding and cutting out the “death gene,” or, God forbid, allow genetic engineers to breed a master race? Read Article.
Originally published 2/1/1998