Amazing Truths Waiting For You
I have been walking this life with Jesus for a little over 28 years and I am still and continually learning what it means to walk with Him, what His Word REALLY says, and how to interpret Scripture.
At the onset of my journey, I was just like a little girl, in awe of her Father, yet still working out the many sins and flaws I had gained up until that point in time. I made many mistakes along the way, but my loving Father gently convicted my heart and helped me to overcome and release those old ways. Many of them took a long time to be worked through and sadly loved ones around me took the brunt of those old ways wondering what being a Christian really meant.
Now, after all these years, I am more mature in my knowledge and ways, but I am still growing and learning. In fact, I know, until God takes me home I will always be growing and learning… and that is good.
As I have been led to begin ministerial studies, I am just about to complete the first course, Introduction to Hermeneutics. Honestly, I can say, there was a time I had no idea what Hermeneutics even meant! I now know it is the study of principles for interpreting the Scriptures. For those of you who may not know the depth of interpreting Scripture, let me tell you, the more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know!
Some of the main points I learned during my study time in this course include the following points.
God’s Word is always true, but we must be careful to interpret it correctly.
- If you have ever been in a conversation with someone, walked away knowing you both understood exactly what was said and what each other meant by what was said, only to find out later you both had very different understandings? If you can relate to this situation, then you know how that misunderstanding can lead to chaos, problems, wrong actions, hurt feelings, and so on.
- It is much the same with God’s Word. If we take a verse out of context, misinterpret what it says, we may make decisions that are not what God had for us, act in accordance with the misinterpretation leading to chaos, problems, wrong actions, hurt feelings, and so on.
2. The principles in a Scripture passage are true in every culture of the world and in every generation of the church, yet the application of the principle may vary from place to place and time to time.
- Let’s use the principle: God already has a plan for your future. To support this principle let’s take a look at Joshua, a biblical character in the Old Testament. We find Joshua in multiple places in Scripture. In Numbers 11:28 he was Moses attendant from his youth. He led the attack on the Amalekites in Exodus 17. He climbed the mount of God with Moses when God revealed Himself in Exodus 24. He was one of the 12 men who went to check out the promised land, and with Caleb, the only one to insist on taking the land in spite of the dangers in Numbers 13. Joshua is chosen and publicly declared as Moses’ successor in Numbers 27:18-23.
- Interestingly, even though Joshua was publicly declared to be Moses’ successor, the fulfillment of this did not occur until many years later as shown in Joshua 1. In verse 2 of Joshua 1, God reveals it is time for him to step into the role declared all those years before.
- I wonder, because it took so many years to be fulfilled, did Joshua doubt he would really be the one to lead the people as Moses’ successor? Yet, even if he doubted, he remained faithful and did the work put before him.
- And so it is for us. The principle, God already has a plan for your future, is true for each of us. We don’t always even realize there is a plan, but with God we can trust His principles. Sometimes we get a glimpse of something that God may have for us down the road. It may seem like it can take forever to get there, but if we believe God will get us there and trust Him in the process, we will get there. We can be sure God has a plan for each person even though for some their choices may take them away from that plan. We can also be sure that the plan God has for me is most certainly different from the plan God has for you because we are each created uniquely.
3. It is very important to discern the author’s purpose as we interpret Scripture
- In order to fully discern the author’s purpose in telling the story, we must examine the following: the context, the story itself, and the way the story is told.
- Analyzing the plot of the story helps us discover the author’s purpose. The plot could have these parts: introduction which includes the setting, the problem or need, the rising action, the turning point, the problem gets worse, the climax, and the results. The climax is the emotional center of the story and relates a strong sign of what is important to the writer. In the climax, the hero responds to a test or overcomes a struggle or makes a decision.
- We see the climax clearly in the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17:46-49). The Philistines are a group of people that occupied a portion of the Promised Land, the land of Canaan in western Israel. They were huge rivals of the Israelites over religious and cultural differences as well as land claims. In this portion of Scripture, Goliath emerges. He is a giant of approximately 9 1/2 feet tall. He presents a challenge to Saul and his men. Choose a single man to fight him and whoever wins the other would be their servant. The men were terrified and no one wanted to step out to fight him.
- It is at this point that David emerges on the scene. David is the son of Jesse, an Ephrathite from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. Dave was the youngest of Jesse’s 8 sons. On this day, Jesse had sent David to bring food to his brothers at the war front. When David arrived and heard Goliath shouting his taunts, he was moved to take on this challenge and fight Goliath. He knew His God was greater than anyone, including this giant bully.
- David needed only what God directed him to take into the battle, a sling and a few rocks. It only took one rock and all the trust in God to slay Goliath. He told Goliath with great confidence he came not with sword and spear but in the name of the Lord!
- So as we read this story, the climax is when David stands strong in the Lord and kills Goliath. The lesson we can discern as the author’s purpose in this story is that the God in Israel saves by His power. What a great lesson for us even today.
4. Understanding the cultural and historical context of the original readers will helps us understand the meaning of the text.
- Specifically, it is interesting to note how this statement applies to apocalyptic literature. In this type of literature, the future until the consummation of history, is unveiled in symbolic visions and dreams. Sometimes those symbols had meaning to the original readers that we may not understand.
- An example is found in Revelation 2:17 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.”
- The white stone here may reflect back to the an ancient custom of using black and white stones to reflect the judgement against someone. A black stone represented a guilty verdict. A white stone represented an acquittal or not guilty verdict.
- In this verse, the white stone has a new name engraved on it indicating the innocence of the person whose name is on the stone.
There are so many more lessons I have learned in this course, way too many to share here. One thing is for sure, the Bible is filled with amazing truths just waiting for each of us to dig in and own them for ourselves. My hunger for more has been stirred. I hope these 4 points have stirred your hunger as well.