THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS?

0 0 3

If Jesus was crucified on Friday and has risen on Sunday, does that really mean three days and three nights? ANDREAS KÖSTENBERGER from THEBIBLICAL FOUNDATION provides us with a great answer in his article, “Did Jesus Rise On The third Day?”

I’m hardly the only one who believes that Jesus died on a Friday (“Good” Friday), but some have taken issue with the fact that such a belief stands in apparent conflict with Jesus’ statement in the Gospel of Matthew that “just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:40).

On the face of it, I can certainly appreciate that those who employ a very literal hermeneutic are troubled by this passage, for if Jesus was crucified on a Friday, he was in the tomb at best three days and two nights, which would conflict with Jesus’ own affirmation in Matthew. As we will see, and is so often the case, hermeneutics is critical when tackling this apparent contradiction. In dealing with this question, we come to a fork in the road. Are we going to: (1) start with a word-for-word reading of Matthew 12:40Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) and, on the basis of a high view of Scripture (inerrancy) try to make the rest of Scripture conform to a literal “three days and three nights” interpretation? or (2) investigate whether there is a way to understand Jesus’ statement that does not involve him in actual conflict with the belief, abundantly attested elsewhere in the New Testament (as we shall see shortly) that Jesus in fact died on a Friday and was subsequently raised “on the third day”?

Of course, the day Jesus died is not nearly as important as the fact that he, the God-man, did die for our sins on the cross. All sides can agree on that. So this is not so much a theological question as it is a hermeneutical and exegetical issue. My preference in the above scenario is (2), so I’m going to proceed accordingly, though you’ll get to the same place (or at least you should, in my view) regardless of where you start.

Before we do so, let me make one more point, related to tradition. When I point out to people that I’m hardly the only one who believes Jesus died on a Friday, the response is regularly, “Well, tradition doesn’t make you right. In fact, tradition can be wrong!” Well, yes, I know. That’s why I departed from Roman Catholicism and moved to an evangelical faith (so it seems a bit odd for me now to defend tradition). Nevertheless, there are often good reasons for a certain tradition, and in this case at least, I submit the reason for the “Good Friday” tradition is rooted in the very Gospels themselves who attest to the fact that Jesus was crucified on a Friday.

Regarding the Gospel evidence, we can observe at least two things. First, the Gospels uniformly attest to the fact that Jesus was crucified and subsequently rose “on the third day” (e.g., Luke 24:7Open in Logos Bible Software (if available); see also Luke 24:21 where the two disciples on the road to Emmaus tell Jesus that this is “now the third day since these things happened”; this later became part of the gospel message, as we can see in passages such as 1 Cor 15:4 and later still in the Apostles’ Creed). The Gospels nowhere say Jesus was crucified and rose “on the fourth day” or “on the fifth day”; it’s always on the third day. By inclusive reckoning, this means Friday is the first day, the day Jesus was crucified; Saturday, the day he was in the tomb, is the second day; and Sunday, the day he rose, is the third day (other scenarios can be posited, but none of them are convincing). Jesus rose on the third day, just like he predicted numerous times. Second, the Gospels say Jesus was hurriedly buried in a new tomb when Sabbath was about to begin (i.e., Friday late afternoon); then, on the Sabbath, the only thing that happened was that the Jewish leaders asked Pilate to secure the tomb, to which he agreed; and next, on the break of dawn on Sunday morning, the women went to the tomb to finish the job they started on Friday late afternoon in attending to Jesus’ dead body.

Now those who try to fit the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection “on the third day” into a “three days and three nights” scheme, it seems to me, must invariably argue that Jesus in fact rose on the fourth or fifth day. If he died on Wednesday, as some suggest, Wednesday was the first day, Thursday the second, Friday the third, Saturday the fourth, and Sunday the fifth. If on Thursday, Jesus would have risen on day #4 (explanations to avoid this seem strained). Either scenario is in conflict with the uniform scriptural testimony that Jesus died, was buried, and rose on the third day. These proposals also do not work well (to say the least) with the Gospel sequence of the final events in Jesus’ life surrounding the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, as we lay out in The Final Days of Jesus.

For this reason, it is perhaps better to see if there is a legitimate way to account for Jesus’ statement, recorded in Matthew 12:40, that “just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” How can “three days and three nights” mean “three days and two nights”? Well, the answer is not nearly as impossible as those employing a very literal, word-for-word hermeneutic in the interpretation of this verse might suggest (and let me say that literal interpretation is certainly one I generally advocate, except for cases where we’re dealing with an idiom in Scripture). The reason for this is that, in Semitic idiom, any portion of a 24-hour period of time could be called “a day and a night” (i.e., “a day and a night” = 1 day). With Jewish days beginning and ending at dusk, that gives us about 3 hours on “Friday,” 24 hours on “Saturday,” and up to almost 12 hours on “Sunday” – three days, or, in Semitic idiom, “three days and three nights.” (For supporting evidence, see the respective commentaries on Matthew’s Gospel.)

I know that’s different from the way we communicate in English, but that’s what happens when translating from one language into another: we have to accept that people in other languages, culture, and times communicate differently, and sometimes idioms don’t come across perfectly straightforwardly to speakers of other languages. Those who are open to the presence of idioms and other literary devices such as these will readily recognize that this resolves the difficulty, while those who adhere to a very literal interpretive approach most likely will not.

In the end, my preference is to find a satisfactory explanation for the “three days and three nights” reference in Matthew 12:40 such as the one presented above rather than to revision the entirety of the Gospel evidence regarding the day of Jesus’ death. I realize that some very learned arguments have been made for a Wednesday or Thursday crucifixion, though none of them that are convincing to me (or many others). Mercifully, as mentioned, our salvation does not rest on our ability to fit Matthew 12:40 into the Gospel chronology of Jesus’ death. At the same time, I submit that there is a satisfactory way to resolve the apparent difficulty, which provides an excellent case study attesting to the fact that not every apparent contradiction is in fact an actual contradiction. This, too, is something on which all of us who hold to a high view of Scripture should be able to agree.

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

CHRONOLOGICAL REFERENCE OF THE KINGS, PROPHETS AND THE CHRONICLES

0 KINGS

INTRODUCTION

The period of the kings and writing prophets spanned from 1050-432 BC. The kings only ruled from 1050-586 BC whereas the prophets continued to preach and write to the needs of the nation of Israel.

Beginning with the settlement of Canaan, and through the period of the judges, Israel was merely a group of scattered, unorganized tribes. They had little connection with each other, almost living as separate peoples.

Samuel was the bridge between this original, isolated condition of the people, and the period when the kingdom was united under its first king. This prophet—priest ushered in a period of transition and radical changes in Hebrew life, which molded Israel into a united nation.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KINGS AND CHRONICLES?

It is clear to even the casual reader that the books of 1 and 2 Kings share a great deal of similarities with the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles. So much so, in fact, that some wonder why it is that we have both of these accounts of Israel’s history in our Bibles.

At first glance it can seem as though the same information is being repeated but from a slightly different angle. And this is, to some extent, true. Roughly 50% of the material in Chronicles is covered elsewhere in the Old Testament.

So why do we have both Kings and Chronicles in our Bibles? The answer lies in understanding the differences between these two histories of Israel.

In order to account for these differences, we must first understand the date and setting of each of these books.

Together with the books of Samuel, Kings was written around 550-560 BC during the Babylonian exile, while Chronicles was written after the exile was over, around 450-440 BC. Whereas Samuel/Kings addressed the hardhearted Jews experiencing exile and captivity, Chronicles seeks to inspire hope and faith in God among those who are hurting after this spiritually devastating ordeal.

The fact that these two accounts of Israel’s history are given to different audiences accounts for the contrasts between the two. While Samuel/Kings needed to show the people that the nation’s troubles were the result of their sinful disobedience rather than God’s abandonment of His people, Chronicles wanted to encourage the Israelites and help them turn back to worshiping Yahweh as the one true God.

Three distinctives in Chronicles help show how it is different than Samuel/Kings.

A Focus on David and Solomon

The Chronicler focuses heavily on David and Solomon, to the tune of 29 chapters. When discussing these rulers, the spotlight is on their triumphs rather than their respective failures of adultery and idolatry.

Though Chronicles does not whitewash history, it does deal more favorably with many of the kings of Israel. For instance, the wicked King Manasseh is described as an evil king in both 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 33, but only Chronicles mentions his repentance and return to God.

A Focus on Judah

A second distinctive is that the Chronicler focuses primarily on the kings of Judah, the house of David, rather than the kings of Israel (remember, the kingdoms were divided after the death of Solomon). When the kings of Israel (the northern kingdom) are mentioned, it is because it has a direct connection to the narrative related to the exploits of Judah in the south.

While it does not ignore the northern kingdom and the complex issues associated with it, the book of Chronicles sees Judah as the center of God’s work among His people.

A Focus on Restoration

Lastly, whereas Samuel/Kings acknowledges that God dealt with the wickedness of Israel’s kings by punishing even their descendents, Chronicles focuses on God’s dealing with obedient and disobedient kings within their own lifetime.

The overall purpose of Chronicles was not to browbeat an already dejected Israel, but to lift them up and point them back to God. This is why it is fitting that the book of Chronicles is the final book in the Hebrew Bible (or Tanakh). By demonstrating for them how God is in control, the author of Chronicles seeks to inspire a return to proper worship and reverence for Yahweh, the God of Israel.

While there is more that can be said about the difference between the books of Kings and Chronicles, the above distinctives reveal that the latter book is not redundant. When we read Scripture – particularly the Old Testament – we must remember that while these books were written for us they were not originally written to us.

The original readers of these books would have been much better attuned to the differences in their content and in their purpose. As we read through the Bible we will always benefit by trying to first understand what the text meant to the original audience before we try to understand how it applies to us today.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

Reading the Bible chronologically can be a refreshing way to see it through new eyes. We might think that because the Bible starts with creation and ends with Revelation it’s already laid out sequentially, but it’s not. Reading it in the order that events occurred can equip us to understand its narrative more clearly and see it from a fresh perspective.

Studying the time of the Israeli kings and the prophets in the Old Testament can often be a little confusing, especially when taking into consideration that we not only dealing with a single book or two, but with the second book of Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, the 4 major and 12 minor prophetic books.

The main purpose of this article is to provide you with a chronological list of references to Scripture to assist you in your studies. Although such a chronological list may never be 100% accurate, we trust that it would at least provide some guidance.

Please click on the link below to open the downloadable pdf list:

CHRONOLOGY OF ISRAEL’S KINGS, PROPHETS AND THE CHRONICLES

“PAULINE CHRISTIANITY”

0 Paul

Pauline Christianity is a term applied by those who claim that Jesus taught one thing, and Paul taught something completely different. They believe that the Christianity of today has little to do with Jesus’ teachings; rather, it is the product of Paul’s corruption of those teachings.

In short, according to them, Paul was a charlatan, an evangelical huckster who succeeded in twisting Jesus’ message of love into something Jesus himself would never recognize. It was Paul, not Jesus, who originated the “Christianity” of today.

We on the other hand, believe that the New Testament is a unified whole: the Gospels present the life and work of Jesus the Messiah; the Epistles explain the meaning and scope of Jesus’ work and apply it to daily living. For example, Matthew 28 narrates the fact of Jesus’ resurrection, and 1 Corinthians 15 explains the significance of His resurrection. The same Holy Spirit who inspired the Gospels also inspired the Epistles to give us a fuller understanding of God’s plan of salvation.

Commonly, many of those who hold to the negative theory about Paul, also believe the following:
1) Jesus was not divine. He never claimed to be God, and he never intended to start a new religion.
2) The Bible is not an inspired book and is riddled with contradictions. None of the Bible, except possibly the book of James, was written by anyone who knew Jesus. There are fragments of Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels, but it is difficult to discern what he really said.
3) Paul was never a Pharisee and was not highly educated. His “conversion” was either a personal hallucinogenic experience or an outright fraud. His claims to be an apostle were attempts to further his own authority in the church.
4) Pauline theological “inventions” include a) the deity of Jesus; b) salvation by grace through faith; c) salvation through the blood of Jesus; d) the sinless nature of Jesus; e) the concept of original sin; and f) the Holy Spirit. None of these “new doctrines” were accepted by Jesus’ true followers.
5) The Gnostic Gospels are closer to the truth about Jesus than are the traditional four Gospels of the Bible.

The concept of “Pauline Christianity” represents an outright attack on the Bible as the Word of God. Adherents of the “Pauline Christianity” theory are truly misrepresenting Jesus’ teachings. They choose to believe His words on love but deny His teachings on judgment (such as Matthew 24). They insist on a human Jesus, denying His divinity, although Jesus plainly taught His equality with God in passages such as John 10:30. They want a “loving” Jesus without having to accept Him as Lord and Savior.

Interestingly, Paul’s credentials as an apostle were attacked, even in his own lifetime, by those who desired to lead the church into legalism and other errant ideologies. Paul defends himself from the spurious attacks of false teachers in 1 Corinthians 92 Corinthians 12; and Galatians 1.

Paul’s apostleship is attested to by the miracles he performed (Romans 15:19), the training he received (Galatians 1:15-20), and the testimony of the other apostles. Peter, far from being Paul’s enemy, wrote this about him: “Our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15-16).

(The above are extracts from an article by GotQuestions.Org – https://www.gotquestions.org/Pauline-Christianity.html )

Don Stewart, from The Blue Letter Bible gives us some clarity about Paul:

What evidence do we have to call Paul’s writings Scripture?

WHO WAS PAUL?

We have no physical description of Saul of Tarsus given to us in Scripture. Early tradition says that he was a small man with a bald head. No matter what he looked liked, his writings have become part of the Word of God as found in the New Testament.

He was born Saul of Tarsus – a city which is in modern-day Turkey. Tarsus had been part of the Greek world for some time. Although the family of Saul were Jews, Saul himself was a Roman citizen.

While still a young man Saul travelled to Jerusalem to train as a Rabbi. In Jerusalem, he became acquainted with a group of people who believed Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah. Saul relentlessly persecuted these people while all the time thinking that he was serving God.

THE CONVERSION OF SAUL OF TARSUS

While heading for Damascus to further jail believers in Jesus, Saul had a blinding vision that knocked him to the ground. The voice that spoke to Saul identified Himself as Jesus of Nazareth – the one whom he had been persecuting. Thus, began one of the great turnarounds in history. The greatest antagonist of the Christian faith – Saul of Tarsus – became its greatest missionary – the Apostle Paul. During his lifetime he penned thirteen different works that have become part of the New Testament. It is impossible to overestimate the influence that Paul played in the spread of the Christian faith.

HE BELIEVED HIS MESSAGE TO BE DIVINE

The first thing that must be noticed is that Paul believed his message to be divine. He wrote:

“If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37).

He wrote to the church at Thessalonica:

“And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

PAUL SPOKE OF “MY GOSPEL”

Paul spoke of “my gospel.” He said the preaching of Jesus Christ had been kept secret but now had been revealed.

“Now to him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith” (Romans 16:25,26).

However, believing to have a divine message does not make it so. What evidence do we have of this message having been sent from God?

PAUL RECEIVED DIRECT REVELATION FROM THE LORD

The Bible teaches that Paul received direct revelation from God. Paul wrote:

Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?” (1 Corinthians 9:1).

After an encounter with the ascended Jesus on the Damascus road, Paul had it explained by Ananias:

The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know his will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of his mouth. For you will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard “ (Acts 22:14,15).

DISOBEYING HIS WRITINGS BRINGS DISCIPLINE

Paul said that anyone who disobeyed his writings was to be disciplined by the local church. He wrote:

If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame” (2 Thessalonians 3:14).

To the Corinthians he wrote:

I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you” (2 Corinthians 13:2-3).

Paul also wrote:

“If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored” (1 Corinthians 14:37,38).

HIS WRITINGS WERE CONSIDERED SCRIPTURE DURING HIS LIFETIME

The final point is that the New Testament recognized Paul’s writing as Scripture. Peter wrote:

Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which some things are hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15,16).

The writings of Paul complete the New Testament. He was the chosen instrument to explain the meaning of the two comings of Jesus Christ.

SUMMARY

Saul of Tarsus was a great enemy of the church. However, he was converted on the road to Damascus while in the midst of persecuting Christians. He became the Apostle Paul – the greatest missionary the church has ever seen.

Paul was given the task of explaining the ministry of Christ to the Gentile (non-Jewish) world.

We find that he received direct revelation from the Lord. Paul also believed his message to be divine. The Apostle Peter confirmed Paul’s words as Scripture. He was God’s chosen instrument to reveal much about the central truths of the Christian faith. Paul also explained the necessity of the two comings of Christ.

(Source: https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_1242.cfm )

PSALM 19: A Psalm About The Sufficiency Of Scripture

PSALM 19

Psalm 19 provides one of the very best descriptions on the sufficiency of Scripture in all of the Bible, if not the very best. This psalm conveys to us the significance of divine revelation. The first half (vv. 1-6) describes God’s revelation in nature. God is revealed in His creation. As Romans 1:20 says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”

But while general revelation is sufficient to reveal the fact that God exists, and to teach us something about His attributes, nature alone does not reveal saving truth. The point of the Psalm is the utter spiritual perfection and all-sufficiency of special revelation, in the written Word of God.

Therefore the second half of the Psalm (vv. 7-14) focuses on the absolute and utter sufficiency of Scripture as our one true and infallible guide in life. The psalmist begins this section on the Word of God by writing:

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;

the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;

the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;

the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;

the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.

—vv. 7-9

Those three verses contain an absolutely comprehensive, yet concise, statement on the sufficiency of Scripture. It contains six basic lines of thought, each with three basic elements, namely: a title for the Word of God, a characteristic of the Word of God, and a benefit of the Word of God. Each of those lines of thought uses the key phrase “of the LORD.” Six times the covenant name of God, Yahweh, is used to identify the source of the sufficient Word.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;

The first title for Scripture is “the law,” which basically means divine teaching. It points to the teaching nature of Scripture. In the Scriptures, It teaches what we should believe, what kind of character we should cultivate, and how we ought to live. It is God’s teaching for every area of life.

The first characteristic of God’s Word, according to verse 7, is that it is “perfect.” The Hebrew term translated “perfect” is a common word that also can mean “whole,” “complete,” or “sufficient.” The Scriptures cover everything and lacks nothing.

The first part of verse 7 also lists the first of Scripture’s six benefits: it revives the soul. It is so comprehensive that if carefully obeyed, it can transform the entire person by giving him salvation and providing all the means necessary for his sanctification, making the very soul of the individual new (cf. Rom 1:16; 2 Tim 3:15-17; 1 Pet 1:23-25).

The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;

Psalm 19:7 also declares a second title and characteristic of Scripture: “the testimony of the LORD is sure.”

“Testimony” defines God’s written Word as a witness to the truth. In the Bible God gives testimony to who He is and what He requires. His testimony is “sure,” in sharp contrast to the unreliable notions of men. “Sure” means unwavering, immovable, unmistakable, and worthy to be trusted. The truth of God’s Word thus provides a solid foundation on which people, without hesitation, can build their lives and eternal destinies (cf. 2 Pet 1:19-21).

The benefit of this sure testimony is that of “making wise the simple.” The word translated “wise” basically means to be skilled in the matters of practical godly living. To be wise is to master the art of daily living by knowing the Word of God and applying it in every situation.

The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;

The first half of Psalm 19:8 begins with a third title and characteristic of God’s Word: “The precepts of the LORD are right.”

“Precepts,” mean divine principles, statutes, and guidelines. They are simply characterized as “right.” They show believers the right spiritual path and guide them into the way of true understanding. People who follow the Word of God are not left to wander around in the fog of human opinion.

The result of applying Scripture’s principles, obeying its precepts, and walking in its pathways is true joy — “rejoicing the heart.” The prophet Jeremiah, in the midst of tremendous human stress—rejection of his person and message, and the disaster befalling his entire nation—gave great testimony to the joy that comes through God’s Word: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer 15:16; cf. 1 John 1:4). If those who claim to follow Christ today were as excited about scriptural precepts as they are about the materialism of this world, the character of the church would be wholly different, and our testimony to the world would be consistent and potent.

The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;

The second part of Psalm 19:8 lists a fourth title and characteristic to identify the Word of God: “the commandment of the LORD is pure.”

The word “commandment” emphasizes the authoritative, binding character of Scripture. God requires certain things from people, and He blesses those who comply but judges those who do not. His requirements are “pure,” a word actually better translated as “clear.” Some elements of Scripture are more obscure and harder to understand than others, but generally the Bible is clear and not obscure.

Scripture’s purity and clarity produces the benefit of “enlightening the eyes.” It provides illumination in the midst of moral, ethical, and spiritual darkness. It reveals the knowledge of everything not otherwise readily seen (cf. Prov 6:23). Life itself is confusing and chaotic. Seeking truth apart from Scripture only adds to the confusion. Scripture, by contrast, is remarkably clear.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;

Fifth in the list of Scripture’s titles and characteristics is the opening phrase of Psalm 19:9, “the fear of the LORD is clean.”

Here the psalmist uses the term “fear” as a synonym for the Word of God. Scripture that seeks to produce the fear of God in its readers is “clean.” That speaks of the utter absence of impurity, filthiness, defilement, or imperfection. God’s Word alone, is unsullied by sin, untainted by evil, devoid of corruption, and without error of any kind (cf. 119:9).

Consequently, the Bible has the remarkable benefit of “enduring forever” (Ps 19:9). It is “the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet 1:23) that never changes and never needs to be altered, no matter what the generation.

The rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether;

Sixth and last title and characteristic of Scripture is found in the second half of verse 9: “The rules of the LORD are true.”

These “rules” are the judgments and ordinances of God — in essence, divine verdicts. The commandments of the Bible are the eternally supreme Judge’s legal decrees for the life and eternal destiny of mankind. And those rules are “true.” It is always relevant, and applicable—in contrast to the lies of unregenerate men who are mere pawns and victims of Satan, the father of lies.

The result of the truthfulness of Scripture in verse 9 is that it is “righteous altogether.” That phrase conveys the idea of comprehensiveness. Scripture is the complete, sufficient, error-free source of all truth. That is why God issued such commands as “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it” (Deut 4:2; cf. Rev 22:18-19).

Further in the second half of Psalm 19, it goes on to affirm the supreme value of Scripture:

More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;

sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover, by them is your servant warned;

in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors?

Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me!

Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

—vv. 10-13

First, David says God’s Word is more valuable than “much fine gold.” Material blessings are valueless compared to the truth of God’s Word.

Second, Scripture is “sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” Nothing is as enriching, as personally meaningful, and as much a source of lasting pleasure as joyful hours spent reading, studying, and meditating on the contents of God’s Word (cf. Jer 15:16).

Third, the Bible is valuable as the greatest source of spiritual protection: “By them is your servant warned” (v. 11). Scripture protects believers in the face of temptation, sin, and ignorance (cf. Ps 119:9-11).

Fourth, in keeping its truths there is “great reward,” derive from obedience to Scripture, which results in eternal glory. In fact, the word “reward” here in Hebrew is literally “the end.” The psalmist is saying that in obeying the Word there is a great end, an eternal reward.

The Scriptures are also valuable as the supplier of the greatest purification. “Who can discern his errors?” (v. 12). In light of all the positive characteristics and life-transforming benefits attendant to God’s Word, David could not understand why anyone would ever disobey God’s precepts. That prompted him to cry out, “Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!” (vv. 12-13). “Hidden faults” are the sins we do not plan to commit and often don’t remember to confess. “Presumptuous sins” are those arrogant, premeditated ones we commit even though we know better.

David sincerely desired not to have such sins dominate him, so that he could be “blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” He employs a Hebrew term for “transgression” that has the idea of willfully breaking free from a restraint or charging past a barrier to escape the dominion of God and the realm of grace. It simply means apostasy. The psalmist was appealing to God for purity of heart, that he might never apostatize, because he realized the Word of God was the only sufficient safeguard against spiritual disaster.

Psalm 19 concludes by expressing the psalmist’s commitment to Scripture: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (v. 14).

David wanted the Lord to make his words and thoughts biblical. He wanted to be a man of the Word. A true and consistent commitment to divine revelation is the only commitment that really matters in this life.

Is the Bible really sufficient to meet every problem of human life? Of course it is. And anyone who says it is not, whether by explicit statement or by implicit action, calls God a liar and ignores or seriously undermines Paul’s clear, self-explanatory instruction to Timothy:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

—2 TIM 3:14-17

(Source: Thinking Biblically! – Recovering A Christian Worldview)

TREASURES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT: EZEKIEL

EZEKIEL 2

INTRODUCTION

Sadly, many Christians avoid the Old Testament, and especially the prophetic books. Except for the prophetic messages, these books are also rich in material that teaches us more about the character of God, what he loves and hates and how He deals with it.

In this presentation, I will not add anything else but a few headings and let the verses speak for themselves.

Just for some background, Ezekiel, a priest and a prophet, ministers during the darkest days of Judah’s history: the seventy-year period of Babylonian captivity. His first vision came in the time of King Jehoiachin’s captivity. Carried to Babylon before the final assault on Jerusalem, Ezekiel uses prophecies, parables, signs, and symbols to dramatize God’s message to His exiled people. Though they are like dry bones in the sun, God will reassemble them and breathe life into the nation once again. Present judgment will be followed by future glory so that “ye shall know that I am the LORD” (6:7).

The Hebrew name Yehezke’l means “God Strengthens” or “Strengthened by God.” Ezekiel is indeed strengthened by God for the prophetic ministry to which he is called (3:8, 9). The name occurs twice in this book and nowhere else in the Old Testament.

DO NOT FEAR MAN – GO OUT AND SHARE GOD’S TRUTHS

Ezekiel 2:6-7 And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house. You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious.

HEAR AND SEE

Ezekiel 3:27 But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, Thus says the Lord God.’ He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.

Ezekiel 33:31-33 So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

ANOTHER LITTLE BOOK

Ezekiel 2:9 Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe.

Ezekiel 3:1-3 Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll. And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.

SHEPHERS AND WATCHMEN

Ezekiel 3:18-21 When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.

Ezekiel 33:1-11 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’ “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?” ’ Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

Ezekiel 34:7-10 ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: “As I live,” says the Lord God, “surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock”— therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.”

SINS

Ezekiel 16:30 How degenerate is your heart!” says the Lord God, “seeing you do all these things, the deeds of a brazen harlot.

Ezekiel 17:24-26 But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die. Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair? When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies.

JUDGEMENT AND WRATH

Ezekiel 5:9,11,13 And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations. Therefore, as I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will also diminish you; My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity. Thus shall My anger be spent, and I will cause My fury to rest upon them, and I will be avenged; and they shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it in My zeal, when I have spent My fury upon them.

Ezekiel 7:3-4 Now the end has come upon you, And I will send My anger against you; I will judge you according to your ways, And I will repay you for all your abominations. My eye will not spare you, Nor will I have pity; But I will repay your ways, And your abominations will be in your midst; Then you shall know that I am the Lord!’

Ezekiel 7:8-9 Now upon you I will soon pour out My fury, And spend My anger upon you; I will judge you according to your ways, And I will repay you for all your abominations. ‘My eye will not spare, Nor will I have pity; I will repay you according to your ways, And your abominations will be in your midst. Then you shall know that I am the Lord who strikes.

Ezekiel 7:27 The king will mourn, The prince will be clothed with desolation, And the hands of the common people will tremble. I will do to them according to their way, And according to what they deserve I will judge them; Then they shall know that I am the Lord!

Ezekiel 14:8 I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 16:43 Because you did not remember the days of your youth, but agitated Me with all these things, surely I will also recompense your deeds on your own head,” says the Lord God. “And you shall not commit lewdness in addition to all your abominations.

Ezekiel 16:59 For thus says the Lord God: “I will deal with you as you have done, who despised the oath by breaking the covenant.

Ezekiel 17:18-20a Since he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, and in fact gave his hand and still did all these things, he shall not escape. Therefore thus says the Lord God: “As I live, surely My oath which he despised, and My covenant which he broke, I will recompense on his own head. I will spread My net over him, and he shall be taken in My snare.

Ezekiel 22:20-22 As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you. Yes, I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you shall be melted in its midst. As silver is melted in the midst of a furnace, so shall you be melted in its midst; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have poured out My fury on you.’

Ezekiel 23:35 Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, Therefore you shall bear the penalty, Of your lewdness and your harlotry.’

Ezekiel 24:13-14 In your filthiness is lewdness. Because I have cleansed you, and you were not cleansed, You will not be cleansed of your filthiness anymore, Till I have caused My fury to rest upon you. I, the Lord, have spoken it; It shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not hold back, Nor will I spare, Nor will I relent; According to your ways And according to your deeds, They will judge you,” Says the Lord God.’”

Ezekiel 24:25 And you, son of man—will it not be in the day when I take from them their stronghold, their joy and their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that on which they set their minds, their sons and their daughters

Ezekiel 25:6-7 For thus says the Lord God: “Because you clapped your hands, stamped your feet, and rejoiced in heart with all your disdain for the land of Israel, indeed, therefore, I will stretch out My hand against you, and give you as plunder to the nations; I will cut you off from the peoples, and I will cause you to perish from the countries; I will destroy you, and you shall know that I am the Lord.

THE FAIRNESS OF GOD’S JUDGEMENT

Ezekiel 33:12-19 “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.’ When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die. Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live. “Yet the children of your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ But it is their way which is not fair! When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die because of it. But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is lawful and right, he shall live because of it. Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, I will judge every one of you according to his own ways.”

Ezekiel 34:17 And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats.

Ezekiel 34:20-23 Therefore thus says the Lord God to them: “Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.

FALSE PROPHETS

Ezekiel 13:2-3,6-9a “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’ Thus says the Lord God: “Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!” They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord!’ But the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope that the word may be confirmed. Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say, ‘The Lord says,’ but I have not spoken. Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,” says the Lord God. “My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people

Ezekiel 12:22-23 Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life. Therefore you shall no longer envision futility nor practice divination; for I will deliver My people out of your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 13:9-10 And if the prophet is induced to speak anything, I the Lord have induced that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel. And they shall bear their iniquity; the punishment of the prophet shall be the same as the punishment of the one who inquired

Ezekiel 22:28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord had not spoken.

THE PROUD WILL FALL

Ezekiel 17:24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the Lord, have spoken and have done it.

GOD WILL NOT HEAR THEM

Ezekiel 7:22,25-26I will turn My face from them, And they will defile My secret place; For robbers shall enter it and defile it. Destruction comes; They will seek peace, but there shall be none. Disaster will come upon disaster, And rumor will be upon rumor. Then they will seek a vision from a prophet; But the law will perish from the priest, And counsel from the elders.

Ezekiel 8:18 Therefore I also will act in fury. My eye will not spare nor will I have pity; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.

REMNANT

Ezekiel 6:8 Yet I will leave a remnant, so that you may have some who escape the sword among the nations, when you are scattered through the countries.

Ezekiel 12:16 But I will spare a few of their men from the sword, from famine, and from pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the Gentiles wherever they go. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 14:14,22a Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord God. Yet behold, there shall be left in it a remnant who will be brought out, both sons and daughters; surely they will come out to you, and you will see their ways and their doings.

MARK ON THE FOREHEAD

Ezekiel 9:4 and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.

SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

Ezekiel 6:10 And they shall know that I am the Lord; I have not said in vain that I would bring this calamity upon them.

Ezekiel 12:13a I will also spread My net over him, and he shall be caught in My snare.

Ezekiel 12:25,28 For I am the Lord. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord God. Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “None of My words will be postponed any more, but the word which I speak will be done,” says the Lord God.’

Ezekiel 14:23b you shall know that I have done nothing without cause that I have done in it,” says the Lord God.

Ezekiel 20:3 “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Have you come to inquire of Me? As I live,” says the Lord God, “I will not be inquired of by you.”

Ezekiel 20:33 As I live,” says the Lord God, “surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you.

Ezekiel 20:48 All flesh shall see that I, the Lord, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched.

Ezekiel 22:14 Can your heart endure, or can your hands remain strong, in the days when I shall deal with you? I, the Lord, have spoken, and will do it.

SALVATION

Ezekiel 11:19-21 Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

Ezekiel 16:5-9 No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born. “And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare. “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord God. “Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil.

Ezekiel 16:60,62-63 Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. And I will establish My covenant with you. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your shame, when I provide you an atonement for all you have done,” says the Lord God.’

Ezekiel 18:4-5, 8-9, 17 Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father, As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die. But if a man is just And does what is lawful and right; If he has not exacted usury. Nor taken any increase, But has withdrawn his hand from iniquity, And executed true judgment between man and man; If he has walked in My statutes, And kept My judgments faithfully— He is just; He shall surely live!” Says the Lord God. Who has withdrawn his hand from the poor, And not received usury or increase, But has executed My judgments, And walked in My statutes—He shall not die for the iniquity of his father; He shall surely live!

Ezekiel 18:21-23 But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?

Ezekiel 18:30-32 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!

Ezekiel 20:43 And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed.

THE DRY BONES LIVE – EZEKIEL 37

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.” ’ ”

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” ’ ” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’ ”

HOW CAN JESUS BE THE “WORD” AND THE “LIGHT”? – JOHN 1:1–14

The message of John is about the divine nature (deity) of Christ and the fact that Jesus is God. He said, “I and the Father are one. If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.” Thomas called Him, “My Lord and My God.” Titles are given to Jesus that belong only to God, like the eternal judge, the holy One, the first and the last, the Lord of the Sabbath, the Savior, the Mighty God, the Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega, the King of kings and the Redeemer. God is eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, immutable, sovereign and all glorious and all of those things are said of Christ as well.

The most concise statement in all the Bible on the incarnation, on God becoming man, is found in verse 14, “The Word became Flesh,” God became a man. John is saying that God came into the world in the man Jesus.

To the Jew, the Word had even more meaning. In the Old Testament, you will read many times, “The Word of the Lord came” to so-and-so. The Word of the Lord was simply God revealing Himself, His person, His nature, His will, His wisdom, His truth. The Word of the Lord was the expression of the personal God, the true and living God of the Old Testament. By His Word, God had spoken. Hebrews 1 says, “Through many means in many ways, in time past, through the prophets God spoke. John is saying that the revelation of God, the disclosure of God, the manifestation of God is now incarnate. The expression of God’s nature, will, wisdom, truth is embodied. That is why Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.”

So the Word is the personal God to the Jew in flesh. Jesus then is God in human flesh. He is the Word of the living God and He uses that term because it covers both the Gentiles and the Jews. Psalm 138:2 says, “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” God and His Word are one and the same because if God doesn’t speak, we do not know anything about Him. When He does speak, everything He speaks is consistent with who He is.

God is unchanging and not at any point incomplete. And yet, He became a man. The Incarnation was that event when God took on the fullness of humanity while remaining fully God. Two natures not mingled, fused together in indivisible oneness, in one person, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ’s humanity is not an illusion or some mental experience. It is not a mere appearance. He took on humanity. Hebrews 2 says, “He partook of flesh and blood.” He lived in this world for thirty-three years, thirty of them as a man among men with no indications that He was any other than a human being, till He began His ministry. The clearest representation of God ever was the incarnation of Christ. Jesus is the Word who became flesh.

First of all, John shows us that the Word became flesh by virtue of His pre-existence. Remember, verse started with, “In the beginning was the Word.” That phrase is taken right out of Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth.” It refers to the original beginning of everything that exists. In other words, Jesus was already in existence when everything that exists came into existence while the Word already was. At the point where everything began, He already was in pre-existence. John does not say, “In the beginning the Word came into existence.” That is very important. Jesus is not God’s competitor, He is God. In John 17 He prays at the end of His incarnation, looking at the cross, “Restore to Me the glory I had with You before the world began.”

God the Father gives testimony to His relationship to the Son in Luke 3:22 at the baptism when He says, “This is My beloved Son.” As He is outside the creation and before time, He is eternal. And if He is eternal, He is God.

Secondly, John is of the co-existence of Christ. Back to verse 1, “… and the Word was WITH God, and the Word WAS God.” Therein lies the mystery of the Trinity. He is as much God as the Father is God. The Word is not a message from God, the Word is God.

Then thirdly, there is His self-existence. His self-existence relates to the essence of His nature. Verse 4 says, “In Him was Life.” John 5:26 again says that in God is life and in the Son is life. He wasn’t given life or received life, He possesses it as an essential of His nature. That is why Jesus would say things like, “I’m the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” This is is foundational to the Christian faith. Unless you believe this, you cannot be saved. Altering the foundational realities of the identity of Jesus Christ is a damning act, very popular in false religions.

Jesus is the source of life. This is the foundational reality of all realities. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth and He gave life to everything that has life, because life is in Him. Sadly we see massive effort to deny the creation account of Genesis 1 today. Get rid of the creation and you can get rid of the Creator. If you get rid of the Creator, you can live the way you want because there is no recourse for your sin.

That is why Acts 17:28 says, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being…” He came into the world as that eternal life and when He arrived, the light was on. In John 8:12 He sais ““I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

There is certainly distinction between life and light but they are fused together. Life is the principle, while light is simply the illustration. The preexistent, coexistet, self-existent life of God in human form in Jesus became the light of men. In other words, when He showed up, the light went on and overcame the darkness of ignorance. As God and the Word are the same, light and life are the same. The light combines with life and manifests itself.

When God appeared in the Old Testament on many occasions as light. It’s called the Shekinah, blazing light. We see that with Moses when He showed up at the tabernacle, when He showed up at the temple, when He led them by a pillar of light during the day, and cloudy light and fire by night. Jesus is the eternal life of God in human flesh, manifesting like light shining in the darkness of a sinful world. Verse 5 says, “The light shines in the darkness. There was nothing like this ever.”

1 John 2:8 says, “The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” As Christ came, and as He began to appear and manifested Himself at the beginning of His ministry, the darkness began to be dispelled and it could not overpower the light of His life.

Verses 6 to 8 mention that there was a man sent from God, a prophet, to give testimony and that prophet was John the Baptist. He came to testify about the light, He pointed to Christ so that all might believe through Him. He wasn’t the light, but He came to testify about the light. Jesus came in to display the life of God like light in a dark world. Verse 9 says there was the true light which coming into the world. Jesus was the Word made flesh and the light coming into the world. He enlightens every man who knows about Him, who ever hear or read of Him.

In verse 10 we read, “He was in the world and the world was made through Him.” That is how we know Jesus is God. The world was made through Him and the world didn’t know Him. They still don’t. Verse 11 says, “He came to His own,” and now he is talking about Israel, His own, “My people” as He refers to them repeatedly in the Old Testament. His own people who had all the prophecies telling them that He was coming didn’t receive Him. They killed Him, along with the nations, the Romans.

In verses 12 and 13 we read, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Not only is the Word, the Lord Jesus, the Creator of the material universe, but He is also the Creator of His own family through spiritual creation. He is the one who creates the material world and He is the one who creates His own spiritual family.” They were born of God, not by any human means, not by blood, the will of the flesh or the will of man. This is a spiritual creation by God. We become His new creation, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.

In John 20 as John closes his gospel, he says, “These things that I’ve written to you, I’ve written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in His name.” He also says in chapter 1: 12, “To those who believe in His name.” His name is who He is. To believe in His name is not to believe that His name was Jesus, but to believe in the fullness of His person.

(Source: My Bible studies, based on John MacArthur’s sermons)

 

ALL IS VANITY – ECCLESIASTES

Many readers consider the book of Ecclesiastes as relentlessly severe, stern, or gloomy in manner or appearance. However, this approach to Ecclesiastes has some problems. Life is not a bed of roses, even for the Christian (especially for the Christian?), and there is a good deal of wisdom in it which corresponds to Proverbs, which is a little hard to explain if the whole book is not considered in context.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

TITLE

The English title, Ecclesiastes, comes from the Greek and Latin translations of Solomon’s book. It means “preacher,” translated “assembly” or “congregation” in the New Testament. Both the Greek and Latin versions derive their titles from the Hebrew title, which means “one who calls or gathers” the people.

AUTHOR AND DATE

All point to Solomon, the son of David, as the author. He was probably writing in his later years, primarily to warn the young people of his kingdom, without omitting others. He warned them to avoid walking through life on the path of human wisdom and exhorted them to live by the revealed wisdom of God (12:9–14).

BACKGROUND AND SETTING

Solomon’s reputation for possessing extraordinary wisdom fits the Ecclesiastes profile. David recognized his son’s wisdom (1 Kin. 2:6, 9) before God gave Solomon an additional measure. After he received a “wise and understanding heart” from the Lord (1 Kin. 3:7–12), Solomon gained renown for being exceedingly wise by rendering insightful decisions (1 Kin.3:16–28), a reputation that attracted “all the kings of the earth” to his courts (1 Kin. 4:34). In addition, he composed songs and proverbs (1 Kin. 4:32; cf. 12:9), activity befitting only the ablest of sages. Solomon’s wisdom, like Job’s wealth, surpassed the wisdom “of all the people of the east” (1 Kin. 4:30; Job 1:3).

The book is applicable to all who would listen and benefit, not so much from Solomon’s experiences, but from the principles he drew as a result. Its aim is to answer some of life’s most challenging questions, particularly where they seem contrary to Solomon’s expectations. This has led some unwisely to take the view that Ecclesiastes is a book of skepticism. But in spite of amazingly unwise behavior and thinking, Solomon never let go of his faith in God (12:13, 14).

HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL THEMES

As is true with most biblical Wisdom literature, little historical narrative occurs in Ecclesiastes, apart from Solomon’s own personal pilgrimage. The kingly sage studied life with high expectations but repeatedly bemoaned its shortcomings, which he acknowledged were due to the curse (Gen. 3:14–19). Ecclesiastes represents the painful autobiography of Solomon who, for much of his life, squandered God’s blessings on his own personal pleasure rather than God’s glory. He wrote to warn subsequent generations not to make the same tragic error, in much the same manner as Paul wrote to the Corinthians (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18–31; 2:13–16).

The key word is “vanity,” which expresses the futile attempt to be satisfied apart from God. This word is used 37 times expressing the many things hard to understand about life. All earthly goals and ambitions when pursued as ends in themselves produce only emptiness. Paul was probably echoing Solomon’s dissatisfaction when he wrote, “ … the creation was subjected to futility” (Solomon’s “vanity”; Rom. 8:19–21). Solomon’s experience with the effects of the curse (see Gen. 3:17–19) led him to view life as “chasing after the wind.”

Solomon asked, “What profit has a man from all his labor …?” (1:3), a question he repeated in 2:24 and 3:9. The wise king gave over a considerable portion of the book to addressing this dilemma. The impossibility of discovering both the inner workings of God’s creation and the personal providence of God in Solomon’s life were also deeply troubling to the king, as they were to Job. But the reality of judgment for all, despite many unknowns, emerged as the great certainty. In light of this judgment by God, the only fulfilled life is one lived in proper recognition of God and service to Him. Any other kind of life is frustrating and pointless.

A proper balance of the prominent “enjoy life” theme with that of “divine judgment” tethers the reader to Solomon’s God with the sure chord of faith. For a time, Solomon suffered from the imbalance of trying to enjoy life without regard for the fear of Yahweh’s judgment holding him on the path of obedience. In the end, he came to grasp the importance of obedience. The tragic results of Solomon’s personal experience, coupled with the insight of extraordinary wisdom, make Ecclesiastes a book from which all believers can be warned and grow in their faith (cf. 2:1–26). This book shows that if one perceives each day of existence, labor, and basic provision as a gift from God, and accepts whatever God gives, then that person lives an abundant life (cf. John 10:10). However, one who looks to be satisfied apart from God will live with futility regardless of his accumulations.

INTERPRETIVE CHALLENGES

The author’s declaration that “all is vanity” envelops the primary message of the book (cf. 1:2; 12:8). The word translated “vanity” is used in at least 3 ways throughout the book. In each case, it looks at the nature of man’s activity “under the sun” as:

1)”fleeting,” which has in view the vapor-like (cf. James 4:14) or transitory nature of life;

2)”futile” or “meaningless,” which focuses on the cursed condition of the universe and the debilitating effects it has on man’s earthly experience; or

3) “incomprehensible” or “enigmatic,” which gives consideration to life’s unanswerable questions. Solomon draws upon all 3 meanings in Ecclesiastes.

While the context in each case will determine which meaning Solomon is focusing upon, the most recurring meaning of vanity is “incomprehensible” or “unknowable,” referring to the mysteries of God’s purposes.

Solomon’s conclusion to “fear God and keep His commandments” (12:13, 14) is more than the book’s summary; it is the only hope of the good life and the only reasonable response of faith and obedience to sovereign God. He precisely works out all activities under the sun, each in its time according to His perfect plan, but also discloses only as much as His perfect wisdom dictates and holds all men accountable. Those who refuse to take God and His Word seriously are doomed to lives of the severest vanity.

OUTLINE

The book chronicles Solomon’s investigations and conclusions regarding man’s lifework, which combine all of his activity and its potential outcomes including limited satisfaction. The role of wisdom in experiencing success surfaces repeatedly, particularly when Solomon must acknowledge that God has not revealed all of the details. This leads Solomon to the conclusion that the primary issues of life after the Edenic fall involve divine blessings to be enjoyed and the divine judgment for which all must prepare.

I – INTRODUCTION

  1. Title (1:1)
  2. Poem—A Life of Activity That Appears Wearisome (1:2–11)

II – SOLOMON’S INVESTIGATION (1:12–6:9)

A. Introduction—The King and His Investigation (1:12–18)

B. Investigation of Pleasure-Seeking (2:1–11)

C. Investigation of Wisdom and Folly (2:12–17)

D. Investigation of Labor and Rewards (2:18–6:9)

  1. One has to leave them to another (2:18–26)
  2. One cannot find the right time to act (3:1–4:6)
  3. One often must work alone (4:7–16)
  4. One can easily lose all he acquires (5:1–6:9)

III. SOLOMON’S CONCLUSIONS (6:10–12:8)

A. Introduction—The Problem of Not Knowing (6:10–12)

B. Man Cannot Always Find Out Which Route is the Most Successful for Him to Take Because His Wisdom is Limited (7:1–8:17)

  1. On prosperity and adversity (7:1–14)
  2. On justice and wickedness (7:15–24)
  3. On women and folly (7:25–29)
  4. On the wise man and the king (8:1–17)

C. Man Does Not Know What Will Come After Him (9:1–11:6)

  1. He knows he will die (9:1–4)
  2. He has no knowledge in the grave (9:5–10)
  3. He does not know his time of death (9:11, 12)
  4. He does not know what will happen (9:13–10:15)
  5. He does not know what evil will come (10:16–11:2)
  6. He does not know what good will come (11:3–6)

D. Man Should Enjoy Life, But Not Sin, Because Judgment Will Come to All (11:7–12:8)

IV SOLOMON’S FINAL ADVICE (12:9–14)

 

*Based on the teachings of Grace To You on the book of Ecclesiastes

https://www.gty.org/library/bible-introductions/MSB21/ecclesiastes

 

 

THE ALLEGORICAL DISASTER

THE IMPORTANCE OF CORRECT INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” (2Timothy 2:15)

After Jesus rose from the dead, one of His first recorded acts was to interpret Scripture: “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27). The Greek word translated “explained” in this verse is a form of the verb diermeno from which our English word “hermeneutics” is derived. The failure to interpret Scripture properly is condemned in the New Testament: “… regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2Peter 3:15,16). Peter addresses two problems: being untaught and unstable. It is ironic that in our day many consider ignorance to be bliss when it comes to studying proper hermeneutics.

The basic idea in hermeneutics is that the author’s meaning should control our interpretation. God the Holy Spirit inspired the human writers of Scripture, who used their own languages in their historical setting to convey their meaning. The job of the interpreter is to come to a clear understanding of that meaning. This means, most importantly, that we love the truth and have a heart to learn, even if what we learn is not what we hoped for or expected. When Jesus explained the Scriptures on the road to Emmaus, he told these disciples what they had not hoped for nor expected: that it was necessary for Messiah to suffer (Luke 24:26). Yet, properly interpreted, this is what the Scriptures taught.

The Bible is history’s most published, studied, translated and quoted book, but it is also the most misused and misinterpreted book. Cults and false religions, like those who preach the prosperity gospel, use it to their own benefit. Others simply misinterpret it or choose to blindly hold onto what their church fathers and pastors taught them, without any interest to study the Bible for themselves or a willingness to even consider that what they have been taught, might actually not agree with the true Scriptural meaning. The fact that a given passage is misunderstood, purposely or otherwise, does not demonstrate that the author of the passage had no clear meaning in mind. Nor does it follow that the readers cannot discern this meaning if they are open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In this article I want to expose common errors in unbiblical allegorical interpretations of God’s Word.

THE HISTORICAL BASIS OF CHRISTIANITY

Christianity is especially notable as resting essentially on a historical basis due to the Messianic element in it. Indeed, it can be said to have claimed from the beginning, a fulfilment of history. The apostles in their earliest appeal, demanded that one “search the scriptures.” There is a vast difference, however, between studying history and studying something historically. The fact that the Christians retained the Old Testament is ample evidence. That they failed to deal with it adequately, the New Testament is also ample evidence. But since the Messiah was offered to the whole world as well as to the Jews, Christian historiography had two main tasks before it. It had to place the life of Jesus in the history of the Jews, upon the one hand, and in the general history of antiquity, upon the other. The latter problem was not forced upon the church until the pagan world began to take the new religion seriously. The relation of Christianity to Judiaism, however, was of vital importance from the beginning, for it involved the supreme question whether or not Jesus was the one in whom all of the prophecies were fulfilled.

The coming of the Messiah was the main continuation of Jewish national history. The whole sad drama of Jewish history may be said to have led one “searched the scriptures” for the evidences of the signs by which the advent could be recognized. The invitation to search the scriptures was, in appearance at least, a challenge to a scientific test of verification. If the information on of the life of Jesus corresponded with the details of the promises, there was a proof that all of the prophecies had been fulfilled. But only the Messianic prophecies were fulfilled. The rest of the prophecies had to be constructed out of fragmentary and uncertain references, and the only satisfactory way they could do it was to apply many of them was symbolism and allegory. Using non- Messianic prophecies as foretelling the life of Jesus had not been the purpose in the minds of their authors. But those who apply allegorical interpretation have held, through all the history of the church, that the texts were applicable and that the proof was thereby established in the harmony of the old and the new dispensations. The tool for the re-writing of history was the creation of what is called allegorical interpretation of texts.

WHAT IS MEANT BY ALLEGORICAL INTERPRETATION?

The word “allegory,” is derived from the Greek “alla,” meaning “other,” and “agoreuo,” meaning “proclaim.” It originally referred to a figure of speech that Cicero defined as a “continuous stream of metaphors.” According to Augustine, allegory is a mode of speech in which one thing is understood by another. Allegory differs from the parable in its more systematic presentation of the different features of the idea which it illustrates, as well as in its contents which are concerned with the exposition of theoretical truths rather than practical exhortation.

THE HERETIC HISTORY OF ALLEGORICAL (SPIRITUAL) INTERPRETATION

The use of allegory to explain, or explain away, texts was not a creation of Christian historians, for the device was not unknown to pagan literature or philosophy. As far back as the sixth century B.C., Homer was interpreted allegorically by Theagenes of Rhegium, and pagan philosophy had constant recourse to allegory to harmonize myth with reason.

Allegorism was well established in Alexandrian Judaism, especially by Philo, who made a systematic use of it to bridge the chasm between the Old Testament revelation and the Platonic philosophy. Philo compares the literal sense of Scripture to the shadow which the body casts, finding its authentic, profounder truth in the spiritual meaning which it symbolizes. He does not want to depreciate or abolish the literal or the historical meaning but looks to it as man’s body which merits the fullest respect.

The School of Alexandria adopted the allegorical interpretation of the Holy Scripture, believing that it hides the truth and at the same time reveals it. It hides the truth from the ignorant, whose eyes are blinded by sin and pride, hence they are prevented from the knowledge of the truth. At the same time, it always reveals what is new to the renewed eyes of believers. Clement of Alexandria is considered the first Christian theologian who uses allegorical interpretation, giving a cause of using it in a practical way. He says that the Bible has hidden meanings to incite us to search and discover the words of salvation, which are hidden from those who despise them. He said the truth is in the pearls which must not be offered to the swines. Other early church fathers such as Irenaeus and Tertullian also used this method of interpretation.

His disciple, Origen, adds other justifications of using allegorical interpretation to the Scriptures. Origen often denies the literal meaning. For example, he says, “Could any man of sound judgment suppose that the first, second and third days (of creation) had an evening and a morning, when there were as yet no sun or moon or stars? Could anyone be so unintelligent as to think that God made a paradise somewhere in the east and planted it with trees, like a farmer, or that in that paradise he put a tree of life, a tree you could see and know with your senses, a tree you could derive life from by eating its fruit with the teeth in your head? When the Bible says that God used to walk in paradise in the evening or that Adam hid behind a tree, no one, I think, will question that these are only fictions, stories of things that never actually happened, and that figuratively they refer to certain mysteries.” He explained away the darker happenings in the history of Israel and even in the New Testament, he treated stories such as that of the Devil taking Jesus up into a high mountain and showing him the kingdoms of the world as parables or fables. Gnosticism took hold of some of his phases and attempted to harmonize Christianity with the parallel cults of paganism. Neo-platonism was doing much the same for paganism itself. The cults of Asia and Egypt were drawn together and interpreted in the light of the worship of Demeter or Dionysus.

Celsus was a pagan Greek who wrote the most notable attack upon Christianity of which we have record from those early times. He charges the Christians with obscurantism, stating that their teachers generally tell him “Do not investigate,” while at the same time exhorting him to believe. Origen was apparently a little ashamed and he reminded Celsus that all men have not the leisure to investigate. Origin frankly admits the paucity of sources for the history of Christianity, as he allegorized most of history away. He recognized the weakness of Christian historiography but failed to see how it could be remedied. In so many words Origen admitted that since the sources for Christian history cannot be checked up “by external evidence, there is nothing left but to accept their main outlines on faith.”

Nevertheless, a vigorous reaction against the Alexandrian allegorism made itself manifest in the fourth and fifth centuries. Its center was Antioch, which concentrated on the literal sense of the holy Scriptures.

The allegorical method promoted by Origen (who taught many other errors as well) nevertheless became the basis for the Roman Catholic church’s use of Scripture. Some of these heretic teachings have unfortunately also been adopted by the Reformers, especially regarding prophecies, eschatology and often anti-Semitic approaches towards Israel and the Jews. It has also become a handy tool in the hands of other cults and false teachers, such as those who teaches the Prosperity gospel.

Christian scholars who believe the Bible, rather than the allegorical teachers, took up the task of reconciling the events of Jewish history with the annals of other histories, and worked into a convincing and definite scheme of parallel chronology the narrative from Abraham to Christ. Mathematics was applied to history – not simply to the biblical narrative but all that of the ancient world – and out of the chaos of fact and legend, of contradiction and absurdity, of fancy run riot and un-founded speculation, there was slowly hammered into shape that scheme of measured years back to the origins of Israel and then to the creation, which still largely prevails to-day. This is one of the most important things ever done by historians. Henceforth, for the next fifteen centuries and more, there was one sure path back to the origin of the world, a path along the Jewish past, and marked out by the absolute laws of mathematics and revelation.

FAILURE TO CONSIDER THE CONTEXT

Imagine that someone read you one sentence out of the middle of a novel. You would not know who any of the characters were, what had happened to them previously, or what the plot was about. Often this is how the Bible is read. Since the Bible is laid out with verse numbers (which have been added by editors, they were not in the original), it is often falsely assumed or presented as if each verse is a little literary work of its own, disconnected from anything else. Only if we have a shared body of information, study the whole of Scripture, understand the Jewish background of the Bible, and understand the setting of each book of the Bible, then a verse quoted from a given book will make sense to us. Yet many never gain this information.

The context of a verse exists at various levels – textual, literary and historical. The first is its immediate textual context. A word is found in a sentence, a sentence in a paragraph and a paragraph in a chapter, etc. Remembering that the chapter and verse designations were not in the original, one must read the entire section, preferably the whole book, before considering the meaning of a verse. This is merely treating the Bible as one would any other piece of literature.

The fact that the Bible is God’s inspired Word does not mean that it has some mystical, non-standard way of communicating. For example, “You shall not steal,” carries the same meaning if God says it as it does if said by an owner of a store. The fact that God’s inspired Word says it lends the phrase more authority and assures its validity, but it doesn’t change the meaning of the phrase. People err in assuming that because the Holy Spirit inspired the words of Scripture those words must have some hidden, secret, mystical meaning. The Bible follows the same grammatical and literary conventions as any other Jewish literature of its time. Its uniqueness is in its inerrancy and divine inspiration, not in how it is to be read and interpreted. So we must always consider a passage in its immediate grammatical context and not isolate it, looking for some obscure, cryptic meaning.

Another factor is a passage’s literary context. A verse from the Book of Proverbs should be treated as the type of literature it is, namely wisdom literature. A passage from Kings should be treated as historical narrative. The Bible is a collection of different books, written over many centuries. It contains various types of literature. Just as we would distinguish a written history of the United States from a technical journal on auto mechanics, we must treat a gospel as a different type of literature than an epistle. Common errors in interpretation result from a failure to do this. For example, when reading history, if the Bible says that so and so did this, it does not necessarily follow that it was good or bad. If the inspired account says that David arranged for Uriah to be killed, it follows that this surely happened. That the Bible tells about this action is not an endorsement of it. In this case the Bible makes it clear it was wrong. In many instances the historical narrative does not comment on the moral quality of someone’s act, but merely tells us about it. We may have to look elsewhere in the Bible, for example in didactic (teaching) sections, to find out whether such an act is good or evil.

For example, Saul consulted the witch of Endor and Samuel was summoned (1Samuel 28:7-16). It does not follow that the Bible endorses necromancy or that those who practice such things normally do contact the dead. On the contrary, the Bible forbids this practice (Deuteronomy 18:10). The passage in 1Samuel gives us the historical record of Saul’s sin. The teaching section of the Bible tells us that it is a sin. Often the historical sections do comment on the moral qualities of actions, but not always. The important issue is that we recognize the different types of literature (genré) and give this due consideration when interpreting a passage.

Another level of context is the historical context. The most blatant and common example of failing to consider the historical context is the failure to acknowledge that the Bible, Old and New Testaments, is a Jewish book. It contains many Jewish idioms whose meaning was clear to the early Jewish readers but often misunderstood by contemporary readers. We need to educate ourselves about the Hebrew background to Scriptures. For example, a common Jewish idiom used throughout the Bible is the phrase “son(s) of . . .” Rather than use an adjective, as we would, the Jews would say, for example, “sons of light” (1Thessalonians 5:5). This means “characterized by.” From passages such as this: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). This is an example of the Hebrew way of speaking of being the son of what one is characterized by. It was never meant to be taken that either the Jews or people in general are literal descendants of Satan. It would be to say that when we lie we are being “devilish.” False teachers prey on ignorance and mislead the uninformed.

There are other historical matters that help us understand Scripture. These include geography, political structures of the time, customs of other peoples with whom the Jews interacted, etc.

The Bible is a unity, though written by dozens of authors over many centuries, the Holy Spirit inspired it all. The Bible has an amazingly clear and consistent message. This serves as part of the evidence for its inspiration. Therefore, when interpreting a passage, we must consider how our proposed interpretation fits with the whole counsel of God as revealed throughout the Bible. For example, there are many passages that make it clear that Jesus was human and descended from the lineage of David. Yet it does not follow from passages that teach this that Jesus was only human. Many other passages teach that He is God. The whole counsel of God on the matter is that Jesus is fully human and fully divine God. This truth must inform our interpretation of any particular verse that speaks to us about Christ.

SOME MORE ABOUT THE DANGERS OF ALLEGORIZING SCRIPTURE

As mentioned in the introduction, allegorizing Scripture has a long and destructive history. The main “benefit” of allegorizing is the ability to remove real or apparent contradictions between Scriptures and current beliefs.

The reason many have been sold on the allegorical method is the false assumption that since the Bible is a spiritual book, inspired by the Holy Spirit, that it therefore contains hidden or secret meanings. The idea is that the truly spiritual person can discern meanings to passages of the Bible that are hidden from the unenlightened. There are even passages of the Bible that can be cited to seemingly justify this idea, such as 1Corinthians 2:14. However, it should be noted that the “things of the Spirit of God” that the natural man “cannot understand” are clearly revealed in the context of this passage. They concern the fact that central to God’s plan of salvation was a crucified Messiah, foolishness to Gentiles and an offense to the Jews (1Corinthians 1:18-29). The problem was not that a person couldn’t grasp the words that Paul preached – that Jesus Christ was crucified, died, and rose from the dead. The claims of the gospel were clear enough. The problem was that the natural man refused to accept God’s wisdom. So this passage does not teach a secret meaning to Scriptures that can be extracted by a clever allegorist. If so, then why not say Jesus didn’t really die and rise again, it is just an allegory? Paul taught a literal cross with literal words.

Most Reformed and prosperity preachers are quite adept at allegorizing passages of Scripture. By following this type of interpretation, non-Reformers can just as well argue that Jesus have taught modern success theories, positive thinking, liberation theology (Marxism), Unitarianism, the New Age, or anything else. Remember that the key reason for the allegorical method’s existence was to integrate the Bible with Greek philosophy or whatever other contemporary worldly ideas that seemed popular and desirable at the time. The resurrection can be allegorized into the new hope that springs into being with the cycles of nature: bunnies, and green grass. Or it can be allegorized as something analogous to ugly larvae changing through metamorphosis into butterflies. By saying this, I do not mean to mock the resurrection, but merely use it as an example of how dangerous allegorical interpretation really is and how it opens opportunities for false teachings.

Preachers are prone to more “softer” versions of allegorizing. What this means is taking passages that are not really about what is preached on but lend themselves nicely nevertheless. For example, John 10:10 says, “I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full.” The context of this passage is that Jesus claims to be the true “Shepherd” of Israel as opposed to the false religious leaders who were motivated by self-interest and did not concern themselves with the welfare of the flock. It is quite a stretch to take this passage as meaning that we should enjoy everything life has to offer. This belittles the true claim of the passage. The claim is that Jesus Himself is God, whom the Jews knew to be the only true Shepherd (Psalm 23:1). Only God incarnate can lead us through the valley of the shadow of death into everlasting life. Modern hearers rarely find out the true impact of powerful passages like this, they are merely interested in listening to a modern man who can make their lives a little more pleasant. Allegorizing the Bible lends itself to this end.

This does not mean that the Bible never uses allegory or non-literal terminology. What I am addressing is the ignoring of the intent of the original author and using mysticism or allegory to read one’s own meaning into various passages. If the Bible uses metaphor or allegory, it still has one meaning, the meaning of the author. An author uses an allegory to make a particular point.

The same is true for parables. Parables are not allegories, but short stories that make one or more points. For example, the “parable of the prodigal son” is not an allegory about backsliding. It is a story that illustrates the hardness of heart of the Jewish leaders who were offended at the fact that unworthy sinners were coming to Jesus (Luke 15:2). The key person is the older brother, whose attitude was that of the Jewish leaders of the time. Perhaps one could argue that allegorizing this into a sermon about backsliding does no harm, people are motivated to come to Jesus. But think about this: whenever we fail to show the author’s intent when interpreting a passage, we show a lack of respect for the Bible. If the Holy Spirit inspired the human writers to convey His meaning to us, how do we improve on that by ignoring the Holy Spirit’s meaning and supplying our own? When we do, we subtly create a disrespect for the Bible in the minds of our hearers.

LOVING THE TRUTH

Sadly, many in the churches have a distaste for learning or a lack of openness to ensure that what they were taught was in fact in line with the true messages of Scripture. This was brilliantly documented in David Well’s book, No Place for Truth. There is an anti-scholastic bias that prevails, causing people to only concern themselves with what seems appealing and this can be fatal. It’s one thing to misunderstand, it is another not to care. Once some people find out some study is necessary to properly interpret Scripture or that a study might proof their “traditional” education wrong, they opt out immediately. They come up with references to books, links and YouTube videos to defend their views, rather than presenting Scriptural references. And if they do, they also add to or explain away the actual meaning of the additional Scripture they present.

The worst problem I have encounter is the “I don’t care whatever Scripture you present” attitude. You can sit down, and provide clear, incontrovertible evidence for certain Biblical truths, and some people could care less. They just want to keep their cozy unbiblical ideas and remain comfortably undisturbed. If we refuse to learn from the Scriptures, then our experiences will not lead us closer to God either. Being too proud or too lazy to learn can be spiritually fatal.

If we truly love God and His Word, then we will rejoice to learn the way of the Lord more perfectly. We will long to learn more about the whole counsel of God, the meanings of Biblical terms, the historical background of Scripture and the author’s (not the church father’s or the pastor’s) intent for the meaning of various passages.

Main sources:
– COMMON ERRORS IN BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION EXPOSED, by Bob DeWaay
– THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY PSYCHOLOGY AND SCIENTIFIC METHODS CHRISTIANITY AND HISTORY II. ALLEGORY AND THE CONTRIBUTION OF ORIGEN by James T. Shotwell. Columbia University

TRUTHS ABOUT ALLEGORICAL INTERPRETATION

The book of Revelation and many other prophetic passages in the Bible are apocalyptic literature and contain numerous symbols, but are greatly abused due to allegorical interpretation.

The Literalist does not deny that figurative language and symbols are used in prophecy, nor does he deny that great spiritual truths are set forth therein as well. His position is simply that the prophecies are to be normally interpreted (i.e., according to the laws of language). That which is manifestly literal being regarded as literal, and that which is manifestly figuratively being so regarded.

But what exactly is allegorical (also known as mystical) interpretation?

The position of Amillennialism (including the Roman Catholic Church), on the other hand, holds that certain portions are to be normally interpreted, while other portions are to be regarded as having a mystical sense. Thus, there is a lack of consistency in this method of interpretation.

Allegorizing is searching for an underlying hidden or secret meaning, unrelated in reality to the more obvious meaning of a text. In this approach, the literal is superficial while the allegorical is the “true” meaning.

According to Trench, the true (allegorical) meaning is “clothed” by the representation of the literal text. Presumably, the interpreter must remove this outer garment of literal text to see the deeper and more glorious reality (Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861).

To cite a few examples of allegorical hermeneutics: The two pence given by the Good Samaritan has the hidden meanings of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The river Euphrates means the outflow of manners and is not an actual literal river in Mesopotamia. Pope Gregory the Great’s interpretation of the Book of Job is equally disheartening: ‘The patriarch’s three friends denote the heretics; his seven sons are the twelve apostles; his seven thousand sheep are God’s faithful people; and his three thousand hump-backed camels are the depraved Gentiles!’

While it is tempting to chuckle at these examples from early Christianity, it is just as alarming to read some of the equally obscure views by modern interpreters of the book of Revelation and other prophecies in the Bible.

So where did this tendency begin?

Historical evidence is hard to find that allegorical interpretation of Sacred Scriptures prevailed among the Jews from the time of exile, or that it has been applied by the Jews at the time of Christ and His apostles. Although the Sanhedrim and the hearers of Jesus often appealed to the Old Testament according to the testimony of the New Testament writers, they give no indication of an allegorical interpretation.

The roots of allegorical interpretation can however be traced to Jews in Alexandria Egypt. They were interested in accommodating the Old Testament Scriptures to Greek philosophy as a tool for removing or reinterpreting what were considered embarrassing anthropomorphisms and immoralities in the Old Testament.

Philo (20 BC –54 AD) used philosophical allegory to harmonize Jewish scripture, mainly the Torah, with Greek philosophy. Philo spent his whole life in Alexandria. Clement (150-215 AD) arrived there in an unknown period and was influenced by Philo and proposed a system of interpretation where any passage of the Bible might have up to five different meanings. Aristobulus, who lived around 160 BC, believed that Greek philosophy borrowed from the Old Testament, and that those teachings could be uncovered only by allegorizing.

Origen (185-254 C.E.), though a native of Alexandria, was expelled from the city after a confrontation with the local bishop. He studied Platonic philosophy and is thought to have been a scholar of Clement. He went so far as to say that Scripture itself demands that the interpreter employ the allegorical method.

They all read the Hebrew Bible in the Greek version called the Septuagint, and they all interpreted it through a procedure called allegory. Few figures in church history have stimulated the level of debate and controversy that surrounds Origen of Alexandria. Origen’s interpretations pushed the boundaries of orthodoxy. He believed, for instance, in the pre-existence of souls and that eventually everyone, including the Devil, could be saved. In addition, he described the Trinity as a hierarchy, not as an equality of Father, Son, and Spirit.

Amillennialist Schaff is fair when he describes the great hermeneutical failings of Origen: “His great defect is the neglect of the grammatical and historical sense and his constant desire to find a hidden mystic meaning. He even goes further in this direction than the Gnostics, who everywhere saw transcendental, unfathomable mysteries.” Origen’s entire interpretation of the book of Revelation is therefore spiritual rather than literal.

Origen’s interpretive approach had great influence on those who would follow in the Middle Ages, as did Augustine (354-430) who saw allegorization as a solution to Old Testament “problems.” The allegorical system of interpretation prevailed throughout most of the Middle Ages.

During the Middle Ages, the fourfold sense of Scripture was taught. Medieval scholars took Origen’s threefold sense – the literal, the moral, and the spiritual—and subdivided the spiritual into the allegorical and the anagogical. As schoolman Thomas Aquinas affirmed, ‘The literal sense is that which the author intends, but God being the Author, we may expect to find in Scripture a wealth of meaning.’ As an example, let us look at Genesis 1:3, “Let there be light.” Medieval churchmen interpreted the sentence to mean (1) Historically and literally – An act of creation; (2) Morally – May we be mentally illumined by Christ; (3) Allegorically – Let Christ be love; and (4) Anagogically – May we be led by Christ to glory.

Augustine’s allegorical interpretation of Bible prophecy dominated the understanding of eschatology during the medieval period. It found acceptance also with the Roman Catholic church and among the leaders of the Reformation. Even today, Augustinian eschatology is held by most of the largest segments of the Christian church. Sadly, even those Reformers, who cast off the darkness of Medieval allegorization in so many areas, failed to escape the influence of those who went before them in their understanding of the book of Revelation and other prophecies in the Bible.

The main reason why so many have resorted to allegorical interpretations is that they have found the literal meaning of prophecies difficult to accept, scientifically, and aesthetically, and have tried to “explain” them on some less offensive basis. What they do not realize is that prophecies is not to scare but rather to prepare the believer.

Reconstructionists utilize forms of allegorical interpretation in order to work around passages in the book of Revelation which do not conveniently fit into the “newspaper events” surrounding the times prior to 70 A.D. Since John’s writings clearly indicate a coming time of wrath and judgment upon the earth, their motive is to attempt to remove this reality in favour of a more optimistic future for Christianity and their churches on earth.

Reconstructionism’s interest in this subject stems from its optimistic outlook that Christianity has the ability to gain control of secular society. Because Revelation is admittedly pessimistic in this regard, the system’s scheme for disposing of this unfavourable evidence is to relegate its fulfillment almost entirely to the past, to a time prior to A.D. 70.

Thomas Aquinas (1224/6 – 1274 AD) recognized some of the dangers of allegorization. He put forward a threefold argument against allegory: (1) it is susceptible to deception; (2) without a clear method it leads to confusion; and (3) it lacks a sense of the proper integration of Scripture.” All three of these significant drawbacks are evident in much interpretation of the book of Revelation today.

Those who stand opposed to God’s promises made to Israel, dislike the literal meaning of Revelation 20 as it suggests the fulfilment of the Messianic Kingdom prophecies scattered throughout the Old Testament. Allegorical interpretation provides the “solution” by turning the thousand years into an indefinite period and the physical rule and reign with Christ into the current spiritual standing of the believer. Never mind that interpreting the first resurrection as being spiritual and the second as literal runs rough-shod over the rules of sound hermeneutics.

The net result of allegorical interpretation is to place a veil of darkness over God’s divine Word and plan. It takes that which God has graciously revealed to the saints and subjects it to the dark vagaries of human imagination and speculation. “The question is if these allegorizing commentators are not as much in the dark in relation to the second coming and the glory that should follow, as the Jews were in relation to His First Advent and His atoning suffering and death.” [emphasis added] – Arnold Fruchtenbaum, “The Little Apocalypse of Zechariah,” in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 270.

There is not a chapter in the Bible which could not be totally explained away. They turn the Revelation of God into uncertainty and emptiness. Their allegorical explanations are, at best, the wild guesses of men who have never got hold of the real thread of the matter, whilst under the necessity of saying something.

“Among non-literal prophetic interpreters, a state of virtual interpretive chaos exists. It is rare, for instance, to see a well-ordered or definitive work by an Amillennial interpreter setting forth positively and consistently his prophetic interpretations. On the contrary, the Amillennial writings usually concentrate on attacking and ridiculing the Premillennial position. This approach is probably one of necessity, for Amillennialists seldom agree with each other in specific interpretations of prophecy except to be against the earthly millennium.”—Paul Lee Tan, The Interpretation of Prophecy (Dallas, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1993), 73.

“Augustine proposed seven (ridiculous) rules of interpretation by which he sought to give a rational basis for allegorization.” – Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation, 39.

“Though the Reformers had come out of the interpretive darkness into the light of literal and historical hermeneutics, they still clung to allegorical details in their attempt to understand the book of Revelation.” – Mal Couch, “How Has Revelation Been Viewed Interpretively?,” in Mal Couch, ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation(Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 40.

(Main source: Bible Study Org.)

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE – AN INTRODUCTION

We depend upon the work of the Holy Spirit for the study of God’s Word.

The Bible is such a thick, long book. So how do we grasp the fullness of the Word of God? What format and approach do we use for effectively studying the Bible?
One of the grave problems in the church today is a misunderstanding of the meaning of Scripture. They come to Scripture with their presuppositions and force the Bible to conform to those presuppositions, theology and their doctrine.

If we asked people what the hardest book of the Bible is to understand, they would probably say Revelation. Many preachers never preach on this book because they have abandoned the proper interpretation of it. I they interpret it literally it goes against their historic theology. Yet at the beginning of this book it says in chapter 1 verse 3, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy and heed the things which are written in it for the time is near.”

But it’s only when people get mystical about the book of Revelation that it becomes confusing. Obviously, there are some elements of the prophecies there that we will never understand until they actually come to pass, but that’s true of all prophecy. But the message of the book, exalting Jesus Christ, speaking about the glorification of the saints and the judgment of the ungodly is very clear.
Let us start by looking at Isaiah 28:9-10.
“Whom will he teach knowledge?
And whom will he make to understand the message?
Those just weaned from milk?
Those just drawn from the breasts?
10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little.”

When God spoke to His people Israel through the prophet Isaiah, He had to speak to them as if they were just infants. The bottom line is repetition, repeatedly. You also come in as a child, a child of God, and you have certain childlike characteristics. One of them is that you need to learn the truth of God and you have to learn it by repetition.

THE FIVE THEMES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

First, Scripture is God’s self-disclosure. It tells us about God. In the Old Testament, you’ll find things repeated again and again, that God is wise and powerful, the Creator and a judge, and God is just, merciful and demonstrates loving kindness. Every book doesn’t unveil some brand new kind of revelation, but rather unfolds, in a new way, in a new environment, in a new context, the character of God.

Secondly, the Bible points out that God has a law which man violates, and as a result of that he suffers the cursing of God. You’ll start in Genesis and you’ll see it immediately in the fall. You’ll see it again throughout the Old Testament.

Thirdly, for those who keep and obey the law of God there is promised blessing. Where the sinner recognizes his sin and comes to God and seeks to glorify Him and honor Him, believes in Him, trusts in Him, and obeys Him, there will be blessing. Repeatedly in the Old Testament that record is unfolded.

The fourth great theme of the Old Testament is there is a Savior coming. Man is in desperate need. He is guilty before a holy God because of his sin. He can’t do anything about it himself. Someone must come to pay the penalty for man’s sin. That someone will come and that is the Savior. Genesis starts with the One who will come and bruise the serpent’s head. Then there is a Ruler who will come (Shiloh), who will bring peace. Then you read about the sacrificial lamb and about a day of atonement. A scapegoat that bore away sin follows. All are picturing the coming Savior.

Then the psalmist begin to identify the Savior and even quote what the Savior will say when He hangs on the cross. Then follow the prophets, who predict things about the Savior, His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection, and so on. The Savior who is to come.

And finally, the fifth great reality of the Old Testament is that history will end with God establishing an earthly kingdom in which His glorious Savior will rule and reign. God will take back the earth. Paradise will be regained.

Those are the five great themes that sweep through the Old Testament, and, of course, through the New Testament as well. There are just those few themes in the Bible. And those themes have various shades and significances, and they break open into a myriad of truths. There are many illustrations of those themes in the history recorded for us in the Old Testament.

READING THE OLD TESTAMENT

Reading the Old Testament is simple as the Hebrew language is simple. Hebrew is a language of action, very specific and very clear. You may run across a word, a ceremony or a historical event that maybe is a little bit confusing. But, in general, it is straightforward.

Keep a little log alongside your reading and note the things you don’t understand. Don’t get bogged down in your reading as you’re just reading through. Put down the book, chapter heading and the things that you don’t understand for future study so that you can go back and dig a little bit more deeply.

STUDYING THE NEW TESTAMENT, KNOWING THE OLD

As you’re reading, write down the theme of every chapter on a little card, which plants in your mind what’s in that chapter. Keep it in your memory, go back and rehearse it, and you’ll always know where things are in the Bible. You can find them easily.

As you begin to read Scripture it begins to interpret and unfold itself because these consistent truths are repeated again and again. And the Bible becomes its own best source of explanation, one scripture explaining another.

We need to interpret the Bible with the Bible. In most cases you can do that. Almost everything in Scripture is linked to other matters in Scripture that assist in the interpretation of that matter itself.

As an illustration, let us take John chapter 3, where Jesus says to Nicodemus, “You must be born of the water and the Spirit.” What is Jesus actually saying? Some would think that you have to be Spirit-baptized and water baptized. But that doesn’t make any sense, since Christian baptism hadn’t been instituted at the time of that conversation. Furthermore, water baptism is not the means of salvation.

The right answer is simply available if you read Ezekiel chapter 36 where Ezekiel says, “There’s coming a new covenant and in that new covenant God is going to take away the stony heart of your flesh and He’s going to give you a heart of flesh, a tender heart, He’s going to put His Spirit within you and He’s going to sprinkle water upon you and wash you.” The Scripture gives its own explanation. You don’t need a medical or a clinical explanation.

There is a very interesting phrase in 1 Peter 1:2, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood. That same concept is used Exodus 24:3-8. During a ceremony the people of Israel declared their obedience to the Word of God. And at that particular time Moses splattered blood all over them as a symbol of their declaration of obedience.

And that’s precisely what Peter who was a Jew would have in mind as he was writing to Jews. He would be saying to them that when you acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior, you are like those of old, affirming your obedience, and in a symbolic sense being sprinkled with His blood rather than the blood of a sacrifice in the case of Exodus 24. So to be a student of the Bible, first of all, is to grasp the sweep of Scripture by repetitious reading.

HARMONIZING THE BIBLE

After reading the entire Bible, you are going back to some of those issues that you wrote down because you did not understand them. Those things should become the priority list for your own personal study in depth. This has to go beyond devotions.

Just sort of reading the Bible as a little bit of a daily exercise of fifteen minutes and then reading another passage the next day is not life changing.

The second aspect of Bible study is you listen, you hear, you absorb what you can and then you go beyond. First question, what does the Bible say? Second question, what does it mean by what it says? This is dividing the truth rightly and cutting it straight. If we do not cut the pieces right we can’t put the whole picture together.
When you have done all your work on biblical theology, what it yields is a perfect harmonious ordered theology with no contradictions to come to a clear, comprehensive and complete understanding of what the Bible teaches from Genesis to Revelation.

In that sense we also acknowledge systematic theology. It is not the interpreter of Scripture, but it is the result of a proper interpretation of Scripture. That is to say the Scripture is consistent within itself, analogous to itself and non-contradictory in any sense. There are mysteries, yes, we don’t understand. There are things that are apparently contradictory to us but they are not in reality contradictory at all because God is a God of order not a God of confusion.

INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE

If you mess up the interpretation we cannot have an ordered system at the end. It’s absolutely crucial to rightly divide the Word of God. The purest theology rises out of the text itself.

Misinterpretation of the Bible has created many problems. Here is an interesting example of a viewpoint that has arisen in some Christian groups. Since part of God’s curse on humanity is that women have pain in childbearing, anything that mitigates that pain is against the will of God. Women should also never do anything of a contraceptive nature and if they ever do they’re liable to lose their salvation.
You can’t say that. You have to interpret the Scriptures. You cannot come up with a blanket concept. People often ask: “What is the key to interpreting the Old Testament in order to understand what was for the Jews in their time and what is for us?” Answer. The context of every passage. There’s no singular formula that you can just dump on the whole Old Testament.

Three errors to avoid:

Firstly, do not use the Scripture to support your viewpoint. Don’t take Scriptures out of context. This requires diligence, careful study, thoughtful study, so that we rightly divide the Word of truth and therefore do not need to be ashamed, 2 Timothy 2:15.

Second, avoid superficial interpretation. One of the common problems in interpreting the Bible is this little phrase, “This verse means to me – .” It does not matter what it means to you. It doesn’t matter what you feel. That has nothing to do with it. Avoid freewheeling in Bible interpretation, haphazard handling of God’s Word. That’s why in 1 Timothy 5:17 it says, The elders who work hard in the Scripture are worthy of double honor. It is hard work. What it mean, is what it mean, period.

Then thirdly, avoid spiritualizing or allegorizing the Bible. Allegorizing means to say that the historical meaning is not the real meaning and in fact may be nothing but a fabrication. They say the real meaning is the spiritual meaning hidden beneath the surface. And once you say that something in the Bible is an allegory, that is it is only a symbol of the reality, you have just made it impossible to know what that reality is. Because if that reality cannot be discerned through the normal understanding of language, how can it be discerned?

It’s pure fantasy. If you are going to do that, you can use anything other than the Bible as well. You can preach Little Bo Peep. You could start off by saying, “Little Bo Peep, oh she was only little, but God can use the little ones. What a name of insignificance, what a name of ridicule, but God uses those who have been ridiculed. Little Bo Peep, she lost her sheep. All over this world sheep are lost. Doesn’t know where to find them.”

It’s a very dangerous thing to allegorize or spiritualize Scripture. What it means is what it says when rightly understood in its historic context.
(Main source: Grace to You)