Mistakes I’ve made, when reading the Bible.

Two situations lead me to this text today:
The more important first, a talk with my young adults about the relevance of the Bible in today’s world and culture and secondly a rather simple article, nevertheless catching my attention with the title:  “Seven mistakes I made in my twenties”.

Here a few of the mistakes I’ve made reading the Bible.

Good Monday Morning to this week 44 of 2019

1. Looking for insight rather than a personal application.
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. – Matthew 18:20
A great verse for all small group leaders, pastors and gatherers of people!

Although God is always with us when believers gather together, it doesn’t mean that He is not with us when we are alone because God is omnipresent meaning He is always with us no matter the circumstance.

2. Failing to research the context.
And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.” (Mark 9:43)
The Broadman Bible Commentary nicely writes: “… if what you desire to do, or the places you long to frequent, or the things you are greedy to possess… would entice you into a path departing from the way of life, whatever sacrifice is necessary must be made to return to the path of life!

3. Sticking to only one translation. (this now comes so much easier now with so many translations available on the internet)
When Saul realized that the LORD was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David. (NIV) 1 Sam. 18:28
But when Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that all Israel loved him. (RSV)
Quite a difference here!

4. Thinking the only way to read the Bible is by looking at the words on a page.
And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die … meaning: “Don’t tear your clothes”, if you only read the words on the page it leads to a strange interpretation.
It’s good to be sensitive to distinctions between Israel and the Church and Old Covenant and New Covenant eras/requirements.

5. Not using the Bible to help interpret itself!
Interpretation, based on the author’s intention of meaning and not the reader.
Get into the author’s context, historically, grammatically, culturally and the literary forms and conventions the author was working in. Interpretation in the context of the passage. Interpreting of Bible not only literally, allowing for normal use of figurative language.  For example, Isaiah 55:12 states the trees of the field will clap their hands. Since trees do not have hands or clap this must be a figure of speech.
Interpretations come to life, once in the context of the passage, as with the trees of the fields clapping their hands!

5. Not forming your own interpretation. Some questions to ask as you form your  interpretation in prayer and in the company of the Holy Spirit:

What do I learn about God in this passage?
What do I learn about people?
What do I learn about relating to God?
What do I learn about relating to people?

How would I say this verse in my own words?
The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. Proverbs 11.3

Formed in my own words: Be an honest person of integrity, this will keep you on track, all else will destroy you.

6. Sometimes I look for verses that “only” fit the topic or theme I have in mind:
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

This is a verse where an infinite, all-powerful God meets very finite, not-so-powerful human beings. Sure, the possibilities are endless with God. The spiritual gifts, holy callings and life journeys available to the Jesus follower can be endless. The keyword is simply can. Do you see the words should or will? Isn’t the emphasis on the infinite God and not on us here?

I’ll conclude with Deuteronomy 31.6 (NIV the interpretation that I grew up with!)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Moses sharing this with Joshua at the age of 120, knowing he won’t continue to the promised land as a consequence of his own sin, yet knowing a God that has lead him faithfully in all his ways, he now lays this promise on Joshua.  Moses animates the people to the perseverance of hope when God declares that He will be their helper even to the end. Faith corresponds with God’s promises, and is, in harmony with them, it, therefore, extends itself to our whole life, even beyond death itself; for God removes all doubt as to the future by these words, “I will not leave thee nor forsake thee.”

Wishing you a blessed week!
Philemon 

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