Old Stories, New Acronyms

DOA, FDA, OMG, TBA, D&D, LOCA

DOA: Dead on Arrival

1 Kings 17:1-24, Elijah and the widow's son

Mark 5:21-43, Jesus and the little girl

Acts 20:1-12, Paul and Eutychus

Acts 9:32-43, Peter and Tabitha

John 11:21-46, Jesus and Lazarus


FDA: Food and Drug Administration

Jeremiah 8:4-22, Balm of Gilead

Isaiah 38:1-21, Figs

Luke 10:25-37, Oil and wine

Ezekiel 16:1-14, Oil – cosmetic or for healing?

James 5:7-20; Proverbs 17:22, Oil with prayer is for healing, but laughter is the best medicine.


OMG: O my God

Nehemiah 13:1-14, Nehemiah prays for himself.

Daniel 9:1-19, Daniel prays for the people.

Psalm 83:1-18, A psalm of Asaph

Psalm 40:1-17, A psalm of David

Psalm 3:1-8, A psalm of David


TBA: To Be Announced

Matthew 24:23-44, No one knows the day or hour.

Matthew 24:45 – 25:13. Be ready, because the time is TBA!


D&D: Drunk and Disorderly

Genesis 9:19-27, 19:30-38, Noah; Lot

Esther 1:1-22, King Ahasuerus

Luke 12:35-48, Parable of the Faithful Steward


LOCA: Loss of Containment Accident

Exodus 14:5-29, The escape from Egypt

Acts 12:1-11, Peter in jail

Matthew 28:1-15, The resurrection of Jesus: greatest LOCA of all time!



More Old Stories and New Acronyms

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The Raising of the Daughter of Jairus, by Heinrich Hofmann, 1893.  Click to enlarge.
The Raising of the Daughter of Jairus, by Heinrich Hofmann, 1893.  Click to enlarge.
1 Kings 17:1-24, Elijah and the widow's son (09/13/21)

We did numbers; now we're going to do letters. Pastor Randall recently preached a sermon on Mark 6:1-5 called "NIMBY – Not In My Back Yard" We see acronyms like NIMBY every day – in business, in government, and in texts and emails, and I'm hoping that after this study each one of them will remind of a scripture, and then you'll read it. (Full disclosure: if you all do this, I can quit sending these emails and go back to playing with my Legos.)

We see DOA in the news all too often, as in, "The victim was pronounced dead on arrival at University Hospital." Wouldn't it be great if the doctors could always bring the victim back to life? It happens once in a while, even without hospitals. The first resurrection we see in the Bible occurred when Elijah raised the son of the widow he had been staying with. The boy was DOA when Elijah carried him to the upper room, but alive when Elijah carried him back down to his mother.


Mark 5:21-43, Jesus and the little girl (09/14/21)

Mark's Gospel is full of action. His favorite word is "immediately," and he doesn't include nearly as many of Jesus' sermons and parables as the other Gospel writers. In this passage, two things are happening at once, and Mark just tells them both at the same time. (So do Matthew and Luke, but it's because they are following Mark.) Our interest today is in the story of Jairus's daughter, a little girl of 12. Jairus is desperate for Jesus to come and keep her from dying. Jesus is perfectly willing to do that, but he is briefly interrupted by another supplicant. The little girl is Dead On Jesus' Arrival, but she's alive when he leaves.


Acts 20:1-12, Paul and Eutychus (09/15/21)

If you've been around St. John's for a while, you might remember a time when the late Rev. Leonard Gillingham was winding up his sermon, and then took a deep breath and preached for roughly another half hour. At that point, we learned later, Mrs. Gillingham gave him a clear sign from the pew that he should quit. (It turned out that the clock in the sanctuary had stopped.) Unfortunately for Eutychus, Paul was a bachelor. After Paul preached for quite a while in a warm room, smoky from the lamps, the poor young man fell asleep and then just fell a couple of stories. Not good. Paul (like Elijah and Elisha, but unlike Jesus, Wesley points out), threw himself on the young man and embraced him. Eutychus was DOA at the floor, but alive when Paul embraced him and gave him back the congregation.


Acts 9:32-43, Peter and Tabitha (09/16/21)

Lydda and Joppa are 6 or 8 or maybe 10 miles apart, depending on whose directions you're following, but certainly close enough that Peter's awesome deed in healing Aeneas in Lydda was known in Joppa. Several commentaries point out that by that time, the disciples hadn't raised anyone, and most likely the Christians in Joppa were asking for Peter's comforting pastoral presence. They couldn't have expected Peter to raise Tabitha, although given the examples of Jesus, Elijah, and Elisha, maybe they hoped. If they harbored secret hopes, they were gratified, because Tabitha was dead when Peter arrived, but alive when he called her friends back into the room.


John 11:21-46, Jesus and Lazarus (09/17/21)

Every Sunday School student knows that John 11:35, "Jesus wept," is the shortest verse in the Bible, so I was interested that the Contemporary English Version makes it into one sentence with the next verse, "and the people said, "See how much he loved Lazarus." I checked the Greek, and there is no "and"; however, this does bring up an important study point that we've visited before. The original manuscripts of the New Testament apparently had no punctuation at all, much less verse numbers! All punctuation was added by ancient biblical copyists and scholars, and modern translators often make different decisions. My Greek study buddy and I do the same. If you see two translations that have different punctuation, don't fret. Just read them both and decide whether you like one, or the other, or your own idea. It's allowed. Be sure to read maybe 10 verses before and after to get the context, because that will help you decide.

And by the way, I love the Contemporary English Versions's "The man who had been dead came out." That's exactly what the Greek has, but most translations go with something like "the dead man came out," which makes it sound like some sort of zombie apocalypse. Lazarus was DOA – dead on Jesus' arrival – but he came out of the tomb alive.


Jeremiah 8:4-22, Balm of Gilead (09/20/21)

I'm pretty sure you've heard of the balm of Gilead, which according to Wikipedia is "a rare perfume used medicinally," and which therefore comes under the auspices of the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA. The prophet Jeremiah, a.k.a. the weeping prophet, asks, "Is there no balm in Gilead? is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" But he knows there is balm in Gilead, so I like the way the Easy-to-Read Version puts it: "Surely there is some medicine in Gilead. Surely there is a doctor in Gilead. So why are the wounds of my people not healed?" We might ask "Aren't there doctors? Aren't there hospitals? Why are people dying?" Because the situation is out of control, just as it was in Jeremiah's time when the Babylonians were preparing to invade Jerusalem.


Isaiah 38:1-21, Figs (09/21/21)

Fig plasters are in the ancient and modern lexicons of herbal remedies, apparently mostly as a treatment for boils or eczema. Boils won't normally make you "ill and near death," but the complications of any infection can indeed kill you. Personally, I'll take modern antibiotics, because fig plasters are not FDA approved. In Hezekiah's place, I'd give figs a try, especially with Isaiah the prophet as the prescribing physician.


Luke 10:25-37, Oil and wine (09/22/21)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is so well-known that there are Good Samaritan laws in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and several other nations. India even had a Good Samaritan Law Day in 2020! But that's not what I want to talk about. Re-read vss. 34-35. The Samaritan treats the victim's wounds with olive oil and wine. Although not FDA approved, olive oil was shown in one recent study to be effective in healing some diabetic ulcers. The word on wine is mixed, but red wine does contain some chemicals with antiseptic properties. As a lay person administering first aid, the Samaritan seems to have done a pretty good job even by modern standards, but notice that he also took the victim to a safe place and made sure he was cared for. If we are in his position, we should follow his example: render what aid we can, and call 911.


Ezekiel 16:1-14, Oil – cosmetic or for healing? (09/23/21)

Olive oil was used not only as a medicine but also as a cosmetic. Here in Ezekiel, the olive oil comes right between a description of Jerusalem's wounds (vss. 3-9) and her adornments (vss. 10-14), so it's kind of hard to say which use is intended. Cities, particularly Jerusalem, are often personified as women in the Bible; have I mentioned lately that you have to read the Bible the way it's written, and sometimes the writing is figurative?


James 5:7-20; Proverbs 17:22, Oil with prayer is for healing, but laughter is the best medicine. (09/24/21)

Oil is especially effective for healing when it accompanies prayer. If you want to know more about the FDA in the Bible, revisit our previous study of dietary laws.


Nehemiah 13:1-14, Nehemiah prays for himself. (09/27/21)

"O" is not the same as "Oh." "O" marks an English grammatical case called the vocative, which is used in direct address: "God bless you, O my dear reader." Whenever you see "O X, you know that the writer is speaking directly to X, and not necessarily to the reader. I heard a poem a few years back (it must have been one that Matt read in church) in which the poet suggests that people who say "O my God!" are praying unconsciously. (That sort of adjusted my attitude about the phrase, not to mention the people who use it.) This week we'll see five examples of OMG in scripture; these four people are praying consciously, however.

Two books that probably wouldn't be on my "recommended reading" list for brand-new Christians are Ezra and Nehemiah. During the Exile, the Jews figured out a thing or two. First, there really is only one God, and worshiping any other god gets you in big trouble. As a corollary, marrying women who worship other gods leads you to worship those gods, and you get in big trouble. Second, polluting the house of God gets you in big trouble. So the two primary leaders of the return from Exile were really hard-nosed about marrying foreign women (vss. 1-3, which was Ezra's doing) and restoring the Temple and city walls (vss. 8-13), which was largely Nehemiah's doing. "OMG," says Nehemiah, "remember all this to my credit."


Daniel 9:1-19, Daniel prays for the people. (09/28/21)

I promise you that I look at each scripture at least twice when I'm planning the study. Then I come to a particular day and say, "Hm. This actually comes before yesterday's scripture." Don't ever say to yourself, "Oh, I've read the Old Testament" or "that book." Just read it again. So anyway, Nehemiah comes after the Exile; Daniel comes during the Exile.

One thing you have to say for the Jews, they didn't whine about being punished for their sins. Daniel prays, "O Lord, we screwed up, and your holy city is taking the punishment. Let your face shine on your holy place, which is made waste because of your servants." He is praying fervently to God: O Lord, O Lord our God, O our God, and finally, O my God. Daniel is not asking for forgiveness because the people deserve it, but because God is merciful and because the city and the people are called by God's name. OMG!


Psalm 83:1-18, A psalm of Asaph (09/29/21)

Although I could do without the rendering of "Yahweh" for the sacred name of God, YHWH, the Bible in Basic English is my favorite modern English version of Psalms. The psalms are songs and poems, and I think the BBE does an excellent job of making them sing in English. Not all psalms are by David; Psalm 83 is by Asaph, one of the musicians in the Tabernacle in the time of David (1 Chronicles 6:31-39).

OMG! Asaph is asking for all sorts of destruction on the enemies of Israel! Now, you may have a problem with psalms – and there are many – that pray for God to do something horrible to the enemies of the singer. You're not alone, but let me make a couple of points that may make you feel better. First, you can talk to God about anything. Second, it's probably better for you, and certainly better for your enemies, for you to pray for something horrible than to do something horrible. Once you pray about it, God will probably convince you that it's not such a good idea after all.


Psalm 40:1-17, A psalm of David (09/30/21)

This Davidic psalm better suits our (biased) idea of what a psalm should be like. David says, "Great are the wonders which you have done in your thought for us; it is not possible to put them out in order before you; when I would give an account of them, their number is greater than I may say." OMG! Ain't that the truth! God's blessings always exceed our ability to list them.


Psalm 3:1-8, A psalm of David (10/01/21)

Some translations omit the little explanations given in the first verse of many psalms. I'm not sure why, because they are present in both the Hebrew and Greek Old Testament. I like them. Isn't it instructive to know that this psalm has a backstory in David's life somewhere? If you have a Bible with cross-references – which I'm just positive you do, because I have mentioned about seventy-seven times how much your own life will be improved by acquiring one – you can easily track down David's flight from Absalom in 2 Samuel 15 – 18. David says, "Keep me safe, O my God."


Matthew 24:23-44, No one knows the day or hour. (10/04/21)

Sometimes when you go to a convention, or a fair, or a school program, or college, you'll find that some event or class you are interested in is scheduled for... TBA. "To Be Announced" isn't too helpful when you're trying to plan your life, is it? The people who came to Jesus had the same problem. They wanted to be ready for the second coming, but, God forbid they should get ready too early! "So," they wanted to know, "what sign should we be looking for?"

Jesus says, "Don't bother looking for a sign. When I come back – and the time is still TBA – there will be no question whatever about what's happening! You just have to be ready all the time."


Matthew 24:45 – 25:13. Be ready, because the time is TBA! (10/05/21)

Matthew likes to put three like things together, and so in Matthew 24 – 25 we see three parables in a row about being ready. We read one of the parables yesterday, and here are the other two. When you go into a hotel or convention center – or a church, these days – there's usually some kind of screen telling you what's happening when in each room. Jesus says that when the LORD comes, however, it will be not be scheduled and announced in advance. The day and hour are TBA when it happens, and we'd better be ready.


Genesis 9:19-27, 19:30-38, Noah; Lot (10/06/21)

A couple of sordid little stories we don't hear very often about concern Noah – yes, that Noah – and Lot, both of whom were D&D, Drunk and Disorderly. As is so often the case, when the parent is D&D, and the children and grandchildren suffer. I've always thought Ham (a.k.a Canaan) got a bad deal. How was he to know that Noah was lying around in his tent drunk and naked? If you don't want to be seen drunk and naked, don't get drunk! And for goodness sakes, Lot, if you had stayed sober, your grandchildren wouldn't have been the offspring of incest! Of course, there are scholars who think these stories are primarily insulting tales about the unsavory origins of the Canaanites, Moabites, and Ammonites, and they could be right. We human beings have a long history of insulting other folk's ancestry. These stories contribute to our sanctification by showing the importance of staying sober.


Esther 1:1-22, King Ahasuerus (10/07/21)

King Xerxes (or Artaxerxes or Ahasuerus, depending on your translation) has given a week-long drinking party, and his heart is merry with wine. He sends for his queen, who chooses not to be part of the drunk and disorderly revelry of the king's guests. Compounding his foolishness, he decides to replace her. Drunkenness has no doubt led to many a broken marriage since then, too. God can bring good from evil, however, and Vashti's replacement is Esther, who saves her people from the plot of the villain Haman.


Luke 12:35-48, Parable of the Faithful Steward (10/08/21)

Herod's D&D party led to the beheading of John the Baptist (Mark 6, Matthew 14), but you already knew that, so we'll look at a parable instead. This is normally called the Parable of the Faithful Steward, but today let's think about the unfaithful servant in vss. 45-48. He's so busy carousing that he isn't prepared when the master returns. He was in charge, and he should have known better, so he receives many lashes. The other servants, who weren't in charge and didn't know any better, are punished less. I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you do know better, and you are in charge, so you'd better stay sober, diligent, and above all, ready, like the faithful servants of vss. 33-44.


Exodus 14:5-29, The escape from Egypt (10/11/21)

The thing about acronyms is that each one can stand for a lot of phrases (which is why you must define it the first time you use it in a paper or conversation). For example, LOCA stands for "loss of coolant accident" in the nuclear power industry, and "Laguna Outreach Community Arts" in California. Another meaning, which is the one we use at my house, is Loss of Containment Accident, also from industries that handle hazardous materials. If coffee overflows the cup, or a paper sack tears and drops the groceries on the floor, or a diaper leaks, oops – loss of containment accident!

Moses asked Pharaoh quite a number of times for permission for the Israelites to go into the desert to worship God. Pharaoh (reasonably enough) was skeptical about whether his slaves would return, so he repeatedly denied that permission. Finally he said, "Fine! Go! Get out!" The next day, he thought, "Wait a minute. Why did I say that?" He took a bunch of soldiers in chariots and went after them, but the people of God could not be contained. From Egypt's point of view, the whole fiasco was a giant LOCA.


Acts 12:1-11, Peter in jail (10/12/21)

Translation is a tough business. Weymouth's "sixteen soldiers" is the King James's "four quaternions." Other translations have "four squads of soldiers" or "four bands of armed men." The Good News has the clearest reading for today's American: "four groups of four soldiers each." Even Wikipedia won't help here, because a quaternion there is some math thing. Always read more than one translation, and if that doesn't help, try checking on line, and then ask your pastor or teacher.

Anyway, Peter had four shifts of four guards. Two of them were chained to him, and two guarded the door. From Peter's point of view, he was miraculously rescued. From the soldiers' point of view, it was a LOCA.


Matthew 28:1-15, The resurrection of Jesus: greatest LOCA of all time! (10/13/21)

Without the resurrection of Jesus, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:15-19, we might as well be a tennis club: it is the central doctrine and mystery of the Christian faith. From the point of view of the High Priests and Elders, however, it was a LOCA, and they took immediate steps to control the damage.


More Old Stories, New Acronyms
DOA, FDA, OMG, TBA, D&D, LOCA
AWOL, POC, NSFW, P.S., PDA, FYI, POV, SOS, TTYL

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