Monday, December 2, 2013

Where Did You Learn That?

     They are embedded in our language. We use these expressions often. They are rich in meaning, but do you know their source?
“The skin of my teeth”
      I use this one as a test question on my teaching training series. Did it come from the Bible or from somewhere else? Most folks don’t know its origin, but it comes from Job 19:20. In Job’s suffering, he said, “I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.”
     That’s not a very wide margin unless you don’t brush your teeth for weeks!
“Wolf in sheep’s clothing”
     Jesus is our source on this one. The Lord was warning his disciples not to believe false prophets. Then he said that false prophets often “come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matt. 7:15) Isn’t that a vivid picture? Just imagine how a wolf would look if he had a sheep skin wrapped around his body.
“Salt of the earth”
     In our conversation we often refer to how good a man is. We say he is really wonderful. Then when we want to put the very best spin on his good qualities, we say, “He’s the salt of the earth.” That’s what Jesus said to his disciples. “You are the salt of the earth.”
“A drop in the bucket”
     Isn’t that a strange expression? How would anyone ever come up with that kind of language picture? Believe it or not, we got it from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah compared God’s power to the power of men. To illustrate it, the prophet said the nations are only “a drop in the bucket.” (Isa. 40:15)
     This means that people are influenced by the Bible even though they haven’t read the Bible in years. The analogies are buried deeply within our English language, and are used by believers and unbelievers alike.
     You might remember some of these the next time you need an opening for a Bible conversation. If someone uses one of these expressions, ask them, “Do you know where that expression originated?” And with that question, you are launched into a spiritual discussion.

- Robert Oglesby; via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City Church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

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