Why do we put things down in writing? Sometimes we write as a way of expressing ourselves, or because we simply feel like writing, or because it’s fun, or so that we won’t forget something that’s important to us or others to whom we’re writing. Why would God put His Word into writing? He has given us the Scriptures as a revelation of who He is and as an invitation for us to learn about Him.
Can you think of any other ways to learn about Him? We can learn a lot about God simply by observing the created world. He also imparts visions and dreams that help us to understand Him better. We also learn a lot about God by doing those things that He has instructed us to do. His covenant with mankind reveals Him as a loving God and creation reveals just how much God cares about even the smallest of details. He fogot nothing not in Scripture and not in creation.
How can we be sure that we’re getting out of the Scriptures what God would have us to get from them? The answer is found in Scripture. In John 17:17, we read: “Sanctify them by the truth; your Word is truth”.
How do I know if I’m being sanctified by the truth of the Word? If I am drawing near to God rather than distancing myself from Him and if I am growing in an understanding of who He is, I’m probably being sanctified by the truth of the Word.
So we read Scripture to know more about God and that sanctifies us? If by “knowledge” you mean learning information that doesn’t lead to action, then think again. Knowledge is key, but knowledge that doesn’t move us to action is worthless.
If we walk away from a message without making any change to our life, have we really learned anything? With the flood of information in the world today, it’s easy to let things go in one ear and right out the other. But if you aren’t planning on making a change based on what you’re learning, then you’re wasting your time. So how do put into practice what we learn?
We first need to understand that we can trust what we find in the Scriptures. The Scriptures are eye witness accounts over a period of centuries, but the Scriptures indicate that the oldest Scriptures were written down no later than 3500. Already in the days of Joshua, the Scriptures refer to a written “book of the Torah” (Joshua 1:8). Not only the Torah was written early on, but also the prophetic books and later writings (see 1 Samuel 10:25 and 1 Chronicles 29:29). One thing that you will become especially convinced of when you read the Scriptures before the birth of Yeshua is that God promised a savior who would be sent to the people with the power to forgive their sins.
The writing of the Scriptures happened in much the same way as when a teacher prepares a lesson for his students. The prophets received a message from God and then wrote it down and passed the message on to the people of Israel and these messages from God were preserved in what today is referred to as Scripture. Eventually, these books were compiled into a single “book” that served as the Scriptures already some centuries before the writing of the New Testament.
So how did the New Testament get added to the Bible? Romans 1:16 speaks of this being first to the Jews and then to the gentiles. The Jews already had the Word of God, but the gentiles hadn’t received it yet. In Jeremiah 31, we read that the Messiah would come and bring restoration and that his salvation would come with a new covenant or testament. In Malachi, the final prophet of the Tanakh, we read that the Messiah would come as “the sun of righteousness” and “with healing in his wings” as he restored all things to the way God intended. In Ephesians 2:20, we read that the entirety of the Scriptures came into being as a foundation for which Yeshua is the cornerstone.
There is a saying that says that there are 70 facets to the Torah. There are so many things to glean from even a single verse in the Scriptures and yet the one common denominator in all of this is Yeshua. In Acts 13, we read about a man who distorted the Word of God, but Yeshua, our good King, as with all of the good Kings in the Bible will direct us to right response to Scripture.
When looking at Scripture, here are some principles you can stand by as you seek to rightly understand it:
- Recognize and do away with any preconceived notions that might distort your understanding of the Scriptures.
- Pay attention to what your initial impression is of the Scriptures. Over-interpretation can lead to misinterpretation.
- Every passage in Scripture has a context that helps in understanding what is being said. Pay attention to the context and don’t attempt to give that Scripture a meaning that ignores the context of the Scripture.
- Not only should we pay attention to the immediate context of a verse or passage but also to how it fits into the larger narrative of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
- There is also a historical context in which the Scriptures were written and it is worthwhile to pursue an understanding of the historical context.
- Don’t attempt to find an explanation for everything in Scripture. Deuteronomy 29 speaks of how there are things that are hidden by God and some that are. revealed. The key is that God should be the one leading you as you get into the Scriptures.