In my last post I commented on the 6th chapter of 1st Samuel, but this morning I am going to share something that may help you connect the Word of God with things you can see in your own life. Now I am going to be a little personal and if you are paying attention, before all is said and done, it may be one of the more difficult lessons you have had to deal with. The kind of message that keeps you awake, worried, sad, or mad at me. lol. Well, I warned you, so if you have the courage . . . keep reading . . .
I love it when someone tells me that finally the veil has been removed and they realize that without understanding the cultures and societies and rituals of the people in the Scriptures — in the setting of their own ancient terms — the Bible can be very confusing.
Times are a-changin’, we used to almost demonize the Old Testament, and saw the history of Israel as being pretty much irrelevant since (in the eyes of many theologians) God has rejected Israel and replaced it with the Church in His redemptive plan, that to give the Older Covenant more than a good skim-reading is a complete waste of time.
Fortunately, I discovered how very wrong this attitude is to have. Yes, the Bible is a challenging work to decipher and to apply to our lives. And yes, far too often it is misunderstood, and often, we misapply and even dismiss the principles found within the Old Testament. So, how did this happen? Well, I don’t mean to insult anyone, but many times, the translations and studies we read are published at a Junior High School reading level.
And, anyone who has spent any time with a Junior High Schooler, they know that they may have some notion of life’s realities and principles, but their depth and breadth of understanding is woefully incomplete. Now, I am trying not to lump all Jr high schoolers in this, but for many, they believe they have all the facts they need and in fact, are supremely confident that any additional information is simply a waste of their time. So whenever someone offers them additional information, they are met with disinterest usually accompanied with looks of, “Why do I have to know this stuff? It is so b-o-r-i-n-g?”
The reality is that although they want their independence, they actually need guidance in making significant decisions. Why do I say that? Well, because they cannot possibly understand the ramification of some of the choices. And the reason they cannot understand is from their lack of maturity and knowledge. Hey, you adults, reaise your hand if you have ever met a teenager who believed they had all the answers?
Well, here’s the thing: whenever you approach the Bible with an immature naivety, believing that the words can be understood without reading it from the beginning to create a foundation; or reading it as though the historical biblical settings, languages, and ways and customs of the people who lived thousands of years ago are little more than optional footnotes is more than erroneous, it is downright dangerous for anyone seeking God.
What I am saying is that our Christian faith has been compromised from one end to the other with theological philosophies and agendas brought about by men who think (as Junior High Schoolers think) that by reading only portions of the Bible; or by skipping the first 60% and then relying soley on the New Testament Gospels or some of Paul’s epistles; or by standing on the carefully crafted faith doctrines of one of the literally thousands of Christian denominations, they have all the information they need to make sound decisions about both their spiritual and earthly lives and especially decisions about their relationship with the Lord.
Whenever you open yourself to the actual and full Word of God, starting with His first words, is often considered to be too hard and unnecessary and will only confuse the well established set of doctrines and traditions they and their flocks are certain are right and by definition everything else must be wrong. If I have heard the words once, I have heard them a hundred times: “I don’t know what the Bible says but I know what I believe.”
Listen to the writer of the fifth chapter of Hebrews that talks about what happens when a Believer refuses to advance beyond the basic understandings of God and faith but thinks that somehow this basic understanding is sufficient.
We have much to say about this subject, but it is hard to explain, because you have become sluggish in understanding. For although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the very first principles of God’s Word all over again! You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who has to drink milk is still a baby, without experience in applying the Word about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by continuous exercise to distinguish good from evil —Hebrews 5:11-14
This situation that was a problem back then, remains a problem in our day, and is the same sort of situation that you read about in throughout First Samule; it is this disinterest and naïve immaturity and failure to strive for a “continuous exercise to distinguish good from evil” that at the time when their precious Ark of the Covenant was first captured and then returned to them after seven months in the hands of the Philistines.
The Torah had benn four hundred years old; the forty-year wilderness journey was ancient history for those folks, just as the Pilgrims’ migration from Europe to the new frontier of America is ancient history to us. Apparently the priests and Levites no longer gave much thought to those days of old or to the ancient Law of Moses given on Mt. Sinai. The Torah and the Exodus were things of the past, irrelevant as far they were concerned, and they were satisfied to believe whatever they believed.
I am one of those odd ducks who loves history, especially early American history. One of my blogs offers Wisdom from our Founders. But other than a few of us, who among us today reads the documents and writings from the Pilgrim era or studies books penned only a few decades later telling of the deprivation and heroic efforts of these Believers to survive and start a colony in a place of freedom where they were no longer literally coerced into pubic observance of state-mandated religious traditions and customs? Part of the reason we don’t go back and look at these writings is because even though the language of the Pilgrims was English, the spelling, the way the alphabet characters were formed, the sentence structure, and even the somewhat peculiar words of those writings make studying them tedious and even frustrating. We have to untangle and go through the trouble to figure out what those words meant to them in the
Part of the reason we don’t go back and look at these writings is because even though the language of the Pilgrims was English, the spelling, the way the alphabet characters were formed, the sentence structure, and even the somewhat peculiar words of those writings make studying them tedious and even frustrating. We have to untangle and go through the trouble to figure out what those words meant to them in the 1600’s, because we certainly don’t claim that we can directly apply the experiences of their culture and society to 21st century America. So why do most mainstream Believers think we can merely lift these bible characters and scripture writers out of their day and time and set them into our living rooms, clothe them in Levis and Nikes, hand them a Ham and Cheese quiche and somehow this is all that’s needed to harmonize their ancient Middle Eastern, Hebrew culture and thoughts with our 21st century Western, English based culture and thoughts?
For those among us today that don’t care for American history or see any relevance to knowing about our Pilgrim faith forefathers or wish to put in the effort to discover it, our ill-informed conclusions may at times put us on the wrong side of truth and reality; on the other hand such mistaken beliefs will generally have little effect on our lives. But when dealing with the Word of God; when dealing with the divine truth and commands and principles sent down to us from Heaven, it’s an entirely different matter. For the people of Beit-Shemesh, the residents of the Israelite border town where the tumor-ridden Philistines sent that cart with the Ark of God aboard, much to their shock it turned out that their willful ignorance of, and cavalier attitude towards, the Torah proved to be fatal.
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you—a to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.