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Yeshua Explored

Digging into God’s Word

todayJuly 2, 2012 20

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How can we guard against misuses of the written words in the Bible? Well, one sign to take heed of is when someone tells you that God has spoken prophetically to him, using Scripture. God spoke to me prophetically.

This is a huge topic and disappointingly off-subject to the narrative I am building. I will simply pose one unanswered question. If God allows certain people to re-interpret His precious words, how can we ever discern who is speaking the truth? Either there are tried and tested ways of reading and acting on the Bible or God has removed all barriers and declared open season and a free-for-all? Which option sounds like the God that you and I worship? Answers on a postcard please!

God provided us with a Bible, at an incredible cost for its many cast members, many of whom suffered or died so that we can learn from their lives, their mistakes and their triumphs. Many also suffered and died through history, just for preserving this Book, even for translating it into English. It’s a precious book, God knows that, all serious Christians know that. So to see the many ways it has been mangled, twisted and re-interpreted by some for their own purposes is just unacceptable. There are enough people who claim to have new revelations and new interpretations and we must learn to recognise when this is happening and reject it. The Bible has only one author, God, and the task we have is to know exactly what is in His heart as we read His words.

So how do we read and interpret the Bible? How can we tell what is in the heart of God as we read His words? We begin with two Greek words, exegesis and eisegesis. Exegesis is the act of reading the words of the Bible and receiving the truth that God put there. Eisegesis is the act of reading the words of the Bible and only receiving what agrees with your own ideas. The first technique is, I hope you agree, the way we should approach the Bible. The other one is the chosen route of our TV preacher (in the last article) and may God forgive him!

Surely we all want to read the words of the Bible and receive the truth that God put there. So where do we start? Let’s start in the Bible itself.

For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. (Ezra 7:10)

Ezra took seriously the study of the written word of God. The Hebrew word used, translated as “study and observance” is darash. Ezra was the spiritual leader who led the Jews from exile in Babylon to Jerusalem and got them all reading their Scriptures! From this period in history we can trace the beginnings of synagogues, where Scriptures are read out and expounded on.

So our starting point must be with these Jews who were first blessed with the Word of God. We would do well, at this point, to remember what Paul said of the Jewish people.

Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. (Romans 9:4-5)

The Bible that Jesus knew was written by Hebrews, for Hebrews and about Hebrews, in the Hebrew and Aramaic languages, using Hebrew idioms, poetic styles and writing styles. So a good place to start when trying to understand the Bible is to turn to the Jewish Jesus himself.

So far we have not strayed too far from the orthodox teaching on how to understand the Bible. It is called the Grammatical Historic method and all it means is that we put ourselves in the role of someone who would have heard the words in the original setting and how they would have understood the words in context. So, all we need to do is pretend we are a First Century Jew with an understanding of First Century Jewish stuff. Not easy is it? No, but we can at least make an effort!

Next week we are going to have a go at it …

Steve Maltz
July 2012

How should we read the Bible?

Written by: Miriam Emenike

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