|Volume 22 Number 2 February 2020||
Interpreting the Bible is an in-depth subject that can’t adequately be covered in a brief article, so here I will just remind us of a few principles to remember so that we can make the most of our Bible studies. First, consider the original audience. Though the Bible was written for us, it was not written to us. Therefore, not everything will apply to us directly. For example, we are not required to build an ark like Noah, build a tabernacle like Moses or to have the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit like the first century church did. We still need to read those parts of the Bible and apply the principles found where possible (i.e., obedience, faith, service, etc.).
Second, consider the timing. Some things were permitted or commanded under the Old Covenant that are not permitted or commanded under the New Covenant. For instance, the Old Testament commanded certain feast days to be kept and foods from which to abstain, while the New Testament gives no command for feast days or abstinence from food (except blood, Acts 15:29). Also remember that the accounts in the Gospel records took place under the Old Covenant; this is why the thief on the cross is not a valid argument against baptism, as some think, since neither had the church been established yet (Acts 2:47) nor had the Great Commission baptism been implemented yet (Mark 16:16).
Third, consider the unity. The Bible was written by men as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21), God-breathing the message into them (2 Timothy 3:16). This means that the Bible is not going to contradict itself. Therefore, if one finds two verses that seem to contradict each another, that person missed something in one or both passages that led to an incorrect conclusion.
[Editor’s Note: Right thinking and objective analysis of Scripture contributes to a proper understanding of God’s communication to humanity, as well as its appropriate application to people today. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
My wife has, over the years, developed into a lover of plants. I know that she got it honestly, because her mother loved plants. I always said that her mother could take a dead limb of a plant, plant it in the ground and it would grow. Well, not surprisingly, the same is true of my wife now. We have plants planted in the yard; we have other plants that go back and forth from the yard to the house, depending on the time of year and temperatures. Then, we have the plants that are totally house plants.
This early summer morning was an unusual morning. We slept in. I did not get up until about 7:30. At night, the shades in our den are often let down. A row of plants sits in front of the den windows. This morning after I “arose” from the bed, I sat in my chair and suddenly noticed something. It was a partly cloudy day and only occasionally was the sun peeking its head out from between the clouds. Suddenly, I looked, and it was as if fingers of the sun were reaching through the closed shades trying to open them, trying to make their way to those plants to bathe them in its life-giving light. I quickly pulled up the shades, and suddenly those plants were bathed in sunlight. It was almost as if the plants were grateful as their leaves and blooms were enveloped in the welcome warmth and sustenance of that morning sun.
I don’t know much about it, but my wife tells me that the morning sun is the very best for most of her plants. As it rises, its rays tenderly stroke the welcoming earth with gentle warmth. The morning sun has not yet begun to declare the fury of the power of the sun that the noon day will bring. It is as if it is fresher and more soothing as the sun begins its journey through the sky than the dying embers of the final light when the sun gives way to the moon and night slowly replaces the light of day. I can only marvel at the simplicity, yet greatness, of the design of God I can behold in those plants and the sun.
Jesus told his followers, “Ye are the light of the world.” May we, like the morning sun, provide the light that, if allowed to come in, will provide spiritual sustenance for those around us, and will help them to grow and flourish spiritually. Like the sun, we cannot open the shades that some have closed over their hearts. When those shades are opened, may we kindly, gently, yet uncompromisingly, shine the light of God’s Word, His love and His power into those hearts that will open and listen. That, too, is the plan of God, and it is marvelous!