Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: symbolism

Read the Bible

A strange thing is happening among Bible believing Christians today: they are afraid to read the Bible. True, there are a lot of conflicting ideas out there about what the Bible says, and they can’t all be true. But that in itself should move us to read the Bible itself to see what it really does say.

Don’t expect to understand everything you read in the Bible the first time you read it, or ever for that matter. The Bible is so deep and rich in meaning than no matter how much we read and study, there will still be more to discover. Don’t let that frighten you. The wonder of the book is that it is plain enough for a child to understand all that is needed to know God and find salvation, yet deep enough to confound the proud who profess to have discovered a system of interpretation that explains it all.

There is no such system. All the supposed keys to interpreting the Bible conflict with each other, and with the Bible itself. The Bible interprets itself. The more you read, the more you will understand it. There is a unity in the message and the symbolism that runs throughout the whole.

The Bible will often speak to you directly, seemingly miraculously, in words that exactly fit the longing of your heart, the great question you are facing, or brings a healing balm when you are most troubled. Don’t try to make that happen, don’t try to manipulate every passage of Scripture to provide a personal spiritual message for today.

The Bible reveals itself on different levels. There are messages that provide a flash of light on your pathway just when you most need it. There is also the glow that embraces you as you gain a new insight into who God is and how His purpose is the same today as it was in the account you are reading from thousands of years ago. Step by step we grow in understanding God in every level of our being; we become more like Him, more the person He always intended for us to be.

Read the Bible every day. Read the whole Bible. Read it as a story. Read it for understanding yourself and the world around you. You won’t be conscious of remembering most of the words you read. But they become part of you and resurface at moments that will surprise and perhaps even shock you.

It is the Word of God after all, a supernatural message from our Creator. Don’t miss out on what it can do for you.

Book Review: Dictionary of Biblical Imagery

At the ripe old age of 17 I believed I had outgrown any need for the Bible. It was almost ten years before I opened the book again. I was sceptical, but I thought there might be something worthwhile somewhere in this collection of writings. I guess I was looking for answers, but didn’t really expect to find any.

After a few months the connectedness of this “collection of writings” became harder and harder to ignore. There was no way I could pick and choose what I wanted to believe of its content, every part of it was connected to all the other parts. This was one book and I ether had to reject the whole thing, or believe the whole thing. This conviction was a major step leading up to my conversion a year later.

It is difficult for me to understand why so many Christians don’t seem to have caught on to this fact. Perhaps it is because they read here and there without ever reading through a whole book of the Bible. Perhaps it is because of outside helps that purport to explain the Bible. Reference books can be helpful, but one should never put too much confidence in them.

The Bible explains itself. There are symbols that have the same meaning whenever they appear. The more you read, the clearer the meaning becomes. There are threads of meaning that can be followed through the whole Bible. Many Bible stories are impressive and meaningful to a small child, yet there are depths to those stories that can never be fully plumbed in a lifetime of Bible study.

One of the workshop leaders at the Inscribe Christian Writers Conference recommended the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. The editors of this book attempt to trace the continuity of images and themes throughout the Bible. I like the approach of this book, yet I’m not going to say that they got everything just right – none of us ever do. This is a good book for the serious student of the Bible, and for those who have never caught on to the idea of how the themes and images of the book are woven together so tightly from beginning to end.

This is a big book, over 1,000 pages. Beware of shipping costs if you try to buy it online. I ordered mine from Kennedy’s Parable in Saskatoon. The price was higher than buying it online, but there were no shipping costs.

Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, General Editors: Leland Ryken, James C Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III.  © 1998 InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

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