Thursday, February 7, 2008

Understanding the Bible

Something I've really been seeing lately is how critical it is to interpret the Scriptures in light of the rest of the Bible. I've known that it's dangerous to take verses out of context, but now I'm realizing that, to truly understand what a passage means, you must consider it in light of what the rest of the Bible says. Why? Because the Bible makes sense as a whole - it was all inspired by God, so it's not going to contradict with itself. What specifically made me think about this? I was considering something a friend said - she pointed out that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. And I thought - I've heard that before, but where does it come from. So, I decided to look it up! Turns out the verse is John 10:10 where Jesus says: "IThe thief comes only to steal and kill and destory; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." It's part of Jesus' explanation fo how He is the gate for the sheep. He says all who came before Him were thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn't listen to them. He says that He is the gate and that, by entering "the pasture" throug hHim, the sheep will find full life. According to the notes in my Bible, the "others" that came before Him were "false shepherds," like the Pharisees and Chief priests. How does my Study Bible know this? Not only by the context surrounding the verse, but by other verses that discuss shepherds. Isaiah 56:11 and Ez. 34:2 are two such passages. I won't get into it all here, but by doing this little study it became clear to me that this passage is not about Satan - it's about the former leaders of Israel. Hmm.

My next question, then, is if this could be applied to Satan? Does he "kill and steal and destroy"? Is he referred to as a "thief" anywhere else? The answer to this last question is no - he's most often referred to as a deceiver and an accuser. An even bigger point I found, which I knew but didn't really know (if that makes any sense!) is that, while Satan can and does kill people, it is only when God allows him to do so. My study Bible points out that "Satan wields the power of death only insofar as he induces people to sin and to come under sin's penalty, which is death." Why is this a good thing?! Because - if God is ultimately in charge of everything, if He even uses Satan for His (God's) purposes, then I know that good will come of any bad thing that happens ("And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Rom. 8:28). It's not really right - or encouraging, in my opinion - to say that Satan killed or stole or destroyed something. Instead, I'd say that God is sovereign and His purposes will be fulfilled, even in the darkest of situations. But maybe I'm just a "glass half-full" kind of person . . . ?

1 comment:

Jenn B said...

wow....yet another little saying i had NEVER looked into thus far. after reading your post i brought out my bible to read it as again. if asked previously i honestly would've thought "enemy comes..." was in the bible somewhere. then i read commentaries on it & (yet again) wow. so forgetting the fact that it's not even TALKING about satan, what a huge eye opener for those in ministry leadership positions or planning to be, on the need for checking their motivation. Thanks dana!