I’m so glad the Bible records communication snafus. It makes me feel better about mine.
The letter the Syrian king wrote to the king of Israel on Naaman’s behalf is a prime example that hits close to home.
But first, I want to personally apologize for my snafu.
I respond to every legitimate comment on my blog. But I didn’t realize you weren’t getting notifications of my responses. Chalk that up to an obscure website setting that wasn’t checked. Now it is.
That grieves me. I apologize and ask your forgiveness. I hope you didn’t think I was ignoring you. The point of my blog is to encourage and engage readers.
My stumble led me to think about the Bible’s communication snafus. Here are four principles we can glean from them.
Keep It Simple
God created the KISS principle.
He gave Adam and Eve one rule. One. Satan twisted it just enough to get Adam and Eve to buy a lie and break the rule.
My favorite KISS example is Jonah. God told him, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before Me” (Jonah 1:2). God left Jonah to flesh out the message. But his reluctance to obey God resulted in an unscheduled swim, three dark days, and a rough landing as part of the world’s biggest barf bag. When Jonah was finally ready to listen, God gave his prophet a shorter message to deliver—one Jonah couldn’t possibly botch: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The simple message worked. Everyone from the king to the commoners repented.
Proofread and Fact Check
Naaman, commander of the Syrian army, had leprosy. He heard the Israelite prophet Elisha could heal people, so he approached his king about seeing that man. The Syrian king said he’d pave the way for Naaman by writing a letter to the king of Israel. But somewhere between that conversation and what was scribed, something was lost in translation. The end product said, “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman, so that you may cure him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:6).
Maybe Naaman was so happy to have the Syrian king’s support that he didn’t read the letter before it was sealed. But when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes in distress. He thought Naaman expected him to perform a miracle healing—and he worried that Naaman’s visit was a sneaky way for Syria to pick a fight with Israel. Lucky for Naaman, Elisha heard of the incident secondhand and personally asked Israel’s king why he’d ruined his royal garb. Then Naaman got his miracle.
Check the Fine Print
Daniel was serving his fourth king of his Babylonian captivity when Darius appointed him overseer of all his kingdom’s regional governors (satraps). That angered the satraps so much that they plotted to get rid of Daniel. Their only hope of doing so was to force him to choose between dishonoring the king or violating his Hebrew beliefs. So the satraps tricked Darius into signing a cleverly worded edict:
“The king should establish an ordinance and enforce a decree that for thirty days anyone who petitions any god or man except you, O king, will be thrown into the den of lions. Therefore, O king, establish the decree and sign the document so that it cannot be changed …” (Daniel 6:7-8)
The edict appealed so strongly to Darius’s vanity that he didn’t stop to read the decree’s fine print or consider its ramifications. When a Persian law was written, it couldn’t be rescinded. Darius’s only hope was that Daniel’s God would deliver him. And He did.
Don’t Assume; Investigate
In today’s social-media-saturated world, people assume a post is true just because it’s there. Even worse, they often jump to wrong conclusions about it. Something like that happened at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-15).
God-fearing Jews “from every nation under heaven” were in Jerusalem (vs 5) at Pentecost. When the disciples started talking in all the residents’ native tongues, some people wondered what it meant. But many more presumed the disciples were drunk. Peter set everyone straight with his first sermon, quoting from Joel 2 and Psalm 16. The people had an aha moment when they realized the truth. Three thousand became Christians that day.
I hope you enjoyed this light-hearted look at the Bible’s communication snafus. And again, my apologies for mine.