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The impossible standard we sometimes set

Genesis 49:13–21 (ESV)

“Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea; he shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall be at Sidon.

“Issachar is a strong donkey, crouching between the sheepfolds. He saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant, so he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant at forced labor.

“Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse's heels so that his rider falls backward. I wait for your salvation, O Lord.

“Raiders shall raid Gad, but he shall raid at their heels.

“Asher's food shall be rich, and he shall yield royal delicacies.

“Naphtali is a doe let loose that bears beautiful fawns.”

This portion of Jacob’s forecast has major accuracy problems. That gives some commentators fits; they expect these predictions to be without error.

But why hold Jacob to an inerrancy standard? The Bible is inerrant, not Jacob. The scriptures faithfully and accurately record what Jacob said—mistakes and all.

Jacob mentions Zebulun before Issachar, even though Issachar is older (Gen 30:17–20). That isn’t even an error; Jacob didn’t say he would list his sons by birth order. Besides, give the guy a break—he’s on his deathbed at 147 years of age. People half that age expect to be forgiven worse senior moments.

Also, Zebulun’s territory will not touch the Mediterranean Sea. That part of Jacob’s forecast is definitely a blown call.

We tend to expect anyone or anything connected to the Bible to be perfect. Thus, we tend to think of our pastors as perfect people. That sets an impossible standard, which makes their job oppressive, despite its incredible joys.

But there’s an even bigger error—thinking that they don’t need our prayers. That’s not just wrong; it’s dangerous. It’s the exact opposite of the truth. Pastors need our prayers more than anyone. They’re in the enemy’s crosshairs. If you want to defeat an army, take out the leader.

Consider committing to praying for your pastors regularly—and not just at the obvious times, such as just before worship on Sunday.

Pastors are under attack 24/7.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NASB stands for the New American Standard Bible. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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