So you have finally decided to dust off the Bible that has been sitting on the shelf as a sort of sacred good luck charm? Perhaps you have never owned a Bible and have just purchased one. Where does one start when endeavoring to read, study and understand what is written on the pages of this book?
I read the Bible in spurts for thirty years and would get discouraged because I couldn’t make any sense of it. I understood some things, but could not tie Genesis to Revelation into anything that seemed to flow coherently and hold the key to understanding how one should live their life on this Earth. When I would ask someone who I thought should know, such as, pastors, leaders, seasoned Christians etc., it appeared to me that they didn’t understand either. It’s not that these people wouldn’t give answers, it is that I was not looking for opinions or doctrinal cliches.
Genesis 12:1–3 (LEB)
12 And Yahweh said to Abram, “Go out from your land and from your relatives, and from the house of your father, to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great. And you will be a blessing. 3 And I will bless those who bless you, and those who curse you I will curse. And all families of the earth will be blessed in you.”
I was told to tell people unfamiliar with Christianity to start reading the Bible in the gospel of John. That may not be bad advice because there is a lot of information in that book of the Bible, but is the Bible even about Christianity? Christians use the Bible and some say they “believe everything between the covers of this book”, but do they really? My experience has been an emphatic “no”, and that many do not even read the Bible at all. Therefore, they cannot question anything they are told about what is between the pages. Hence the current condition of the “church”.
The Bible is much bigger than the Greco-Roman religion of Christianity. It contains the oracles of the Creator of the universe that were given to a certain people group to eventually bless the whole world through a top secret mission to destroy the enemies of God and the enemies of His creation. It gives the problem, solution and outcome of the past, present and future world history. The future is already history when one grasps what is in the pages of the Bible. Do not make the mistake of limiting the understanding of the Bible through the lenses of one of the fifty thousand Christian denominations, or interpretations of Scripture.
Genesis 1:1 (LEB)
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth—
If you are one who struggles with the first verse of the Bible don’t give up. Faith increases the closer one gets to knowing who “God” is and His ways. This is really the entire purpose of reading and studying the Bible. The purpose of my blog posts are to bring forward ideas and facts that are simply ignored in much of the generic Christian churches. Many of these churches have to conform to the government of their country in order to maintain their tax exempt status or receive special funding. This presents a problem right away because now some entity that is not concerned with scripture is manipulating how it is taught. The US and Canada have this problem.
Understanding the history of Israel is important in order to grasp what is happening and how it applies to us today, even if we have seemingly no connection to the twelve tribes of Israel, that is, the twelve sons of Jacob and their descendants. Understanding that there were twelve tribes and not just one tribe, Judah, referred to now as the Jews, or that there was a northern kingdom of Israel, not just the southern kingdom of Judah, will greatly help with the understanding of the prophets, why Jesus had to die, and how the kingdom of God will reunite in the future.
Jeremiah 31:7–10 (LEB)
7 For thus says Yahweh, “Sing for joy for Jacob with gladness, and shout out for the head of the nations. Proclaim, praise, and say, ‘Save, O Yahweh, your people, the remnant of Israel.’ 8 Look, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and I will gather them from the remotest part of the earth. Among them the blind, and the lame, those who are pregnant, and those who give birth, together, a great assembly, they will return here. 9 With weeping they will come, and with pleas for mercy I will bring them; I will let them walk by streams of water in a straight path. They will not stumble in it, for I have become to Israel a father, and Ephraim, he is my firstborn.” 10 Hear the word of Yahweh, O nations, and declare in the coastlands from afar, and say, “The scatterer of Israel will gather him, and he will keep him as a shepherd his flock.
Yahweh or Yahuah are transliterations of the name of God. The four Hebrew letters of the Creator’s name, YHWH, were substituted with “LORD” over six thousand times in most English Bibles. For example:
Exodus 3:15 (LEB)
15 And God said again to Moses, “So you must say to the Israelites, ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my remembrance from generation to generation.’
Exodus 3:15 (KJV 1900)
15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
Exodus 3:15 (ESV)
15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.
There are not many versions of the Bible that tell you the name that Yahuah says, “This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” His name is not “LORD”, and one of the meanings of the word “Baal” is Lord.
Jeremiah 23:26–28 (LEB)
26 How long will this be in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy lies, even the prophets of the deceitfulness of their hearts, 27 who plan to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell each one to his neighbor, just as their ancestors forgot my name through Baal? 28 The prophet who has with him a dream, let him tell the dream. But the prophet who has my word with him, let him speak my word faithfully. What is straw compared to wheat?” declares Yahweh.
One example of understanding the Bible in its complete context is the story of Balaam and Balak. There is not much about Balak and Balaam written, yet Jesus, who is called Yeshua, writes some stern warnings in His revelation to the Apostle John.
Revelation 2:14 (LEB)
14 But I have a few things against you: that you have there those who hold fast to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat food sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality.
Without understanding who Balaam was, and that sexual immorality is often talking about adultery with a foreign deity, this could be brushed off as a warning that doesn’t even apply today. Balaam was a prophet that Balak hired to curse Israel. In the end Balaam appears to bless Israel instead of cursing Israel, so what do these words mean in Revelation 2:14?
Numbers 25:1–5 (LEB)
25 When Israel dwelled in Shittim, the people began to prostitute themselves with the daughters of Moab. 2 And they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and worshiped their gods. 3 So Israel was joined together to Baal Peor, and Yahweh became angry with Israel. 4 Yahweh said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and hang them before Yahweh in the sun, so the fierce anger of Yahweh will turn from Israel.” 5 So Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you kill his men who are joined together with Baal Peor.”
Balaam told Balak the way to curse Israel was to get them to curse themselves by getting them to break their marriage vows with Yahuah. This was idolatry and sexual immorality. They participated with the worship of the fertility gods of Moab, with all their festivities, decorations and rites.
Micah 6:5 (LEB)
5 O my people, remember what Balak the king of Moab devised, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, so that you might know the righteous acts of Yahweh.”
A bible dictionary is very helpful for understanding many of the places, history and people that one encounters. The Holman Bible Dictionary is full of useful information. A lexicon is also helpful to get the full understanding of words. Often a Hebrew or Greek word is not easily defined with one English word. For example:
Deuteronomy 6:4–6 (LEB)
4 “Hear, Israel, Yahweh our God, Yahweh is unique. 5 And you shall love Yahweh your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your might. 6 And these words that I am commanding you ⌊today⌋ shall be on your heart.
The word “hear” is what the translators used for the Hebrew word pronounced “shema”. It actually means hear, listen carefully, and understand. Knowing this makes understanding James easier when He says the following:
James 1:22–25 (LEB)
22 But be doers of the message and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves, 23 because if anyone is a hearer of the message and not a doer, this one is like someone staring at his own face in a mirror, 24 for he looks at himself and goes away and immediately forgets what sort of person he was. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues to do it, not being a forgetful hearer but a doer who acts, this one will be blessed in what he does.
The Bible is one continuous flow of world events that are still affecting our lives, an instruction manual about how to live a successful life on Earth, and what the future holds for various groups of people. The more one hears and does what it says, the more one will understand what to do.
John 14:15–17 (LEB)
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, in order that he may be with you forever 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world is not able to receive, because it does not see him or know him.* You know him, because he resides with you and will be in you.
The scriptures have greatly affected my life once I started applying the whole Bible to my belief system and daily living. One of the best pieces of advice, instruction or “law” that Yahuah gives His people, (who I am striving to be) is not to listen to anyone who tells us to do something different than what He said. I have taken this to heart, so if a prophet, dreamer, pastor, family member, etc., tells me to do something that Yahuah says not to do, who should I listen to?
Deuteronomy 13 (LEB)
13 “If a prophet stands up in your midst or a dreamer of dreams and he gives to you a sign or wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes about that he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (those whom you have not known), and let us serve them,’ 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer, for Yahweh your God is testing you to know whether you love Yahweh your God with all of your heart and with all of your inner self. 4 You shall go after Yahweh your God, and him you shall revere, and his commandment you shall keep, and to his voice you shall listen, and him you shall serve, and to him you shall hold fast. 5 But that prophet or the dreamer of that dream shall be executed, for he spoke falsely about Yahweh your God, the one bringing you out from the land of Egypt and the one redeeming you from the house of slavery, in order to seduce you from the way that Yahweh your God commanded you to go in it; so in this way you shall purge the evil from your midst.
Yeshua told us to “love our neighbor as our self”, which if we read where he was quoting in Leviticus 19 we would see that instead of executing people who tell us to do things contrary to the instructions of Yahuah, we need to rebuke them or reason frankly with them.
The point is that one cannot understand Scripture without studying all of it. Otherwise, every wind of lawless, ear tickling doctrine will get absorbed like a sponge soaking in a tub of water. After absorbing all the nonsense, the Scriptures will definitely not make sense to the reader. Hear, listen carefully and do the perfect law of liberty, understanding will increase and you will be blessed. Once this happens, you are ready to tell other people. Repent and believe the gospel.
Featured photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.
Please check out my first book on Amazon titled, Finding God in Organized Religion. It is the story of my life focusing on my involvement with three major denominations, from my childhood to present, describing the good and bad, and what I learned during the process.
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