The View From Here

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What is Meaning?

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My wife asks me to go to the store for butter and milk.  Wanting to be efficient and economical, I get buttermilk instead.  “Won’t she be pleased with me,” I think to myself, “I bought two for the price of one.”  Is that what she meant?  Or did I change the meaning when I heard it?

In today’s culture, there is a debate over who determines what something “means.”  Is it the author, the reader, the situation, or some combination?  Without realizing it, one can read and ask, “What does this mean to me?”  This question mixes the author’s message with one’s own experience, feelings, moods, preferences and opinions.  A better question sounds similar, but is vastly different, “What does this mean for me?”

If meaning is determined by the author, then all readers in all places in all times will be able to understand the same thing.  If meaning is determined by the reader or a reader’s circumstances, you might as well stop reading this, because meaning is meaningless—truth cannot be known.

During the Reformation, Protestants insisted the Bible could be understood without having a priest tell you want it meant.  They believed that the Bible is clearly expressed and therefore easily understood.  Today, we still believe that the Bible comes from one, divine Author, and that there is one “intended meaning.”  If meaning is truly determined by the author, then “our task is to understand and respond to what God has communicated in ways that demonstrate obedience and faithfulness to that revelation.”

Don’t let Bible study seem boring to you.  It is not just “another thing to do.”  Consider for a moment the idea of “meaning.”  God intended to communicate something to you.  The words of the Bible have contained this meaning for thousands of years.  This same truth you read today was read by others whose lives were vastly different than yours, and yet the one message ministers to one need common to all people, in all places, in all times.

God says, “Let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises loving kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,' declares the LORD" (Jer. 9:23-24).

Remember that the Bible is not too hard to understand.  Believers before us were burned at the stake for stating that the Bible can be read by the ordinary man, woman and child - and that salvation comes by hearing or reading about Jesus and RESPONDING by believing –nothing else! 

Here are some tips that have encouraged me to keep on reading God’s Word.  I hope they encourage you.

 

READING THE BIBLE by J.C. Ryle

  1. READ THE BIBLE WITH AN EARNEST DESIRE TO UNDERSTAND IT. Do not be content to just read the words of scripture.  Seek to grasp the message they contain.
  2. READ THE SCRIPTURES WITH A SIMPLE, CHILDLIKE FAITH & HUMILITY.  Believe what God reveals.  Reason must bow to God's revelation.
  3. READ THE WORD WITH A SPIRIT OF OBEDIENCE AND SELF-APPLICATION.  Apply what God says to yourself and obey His will in all things.
  4. READ THE HOLY SCRIPTURES EVERY DAY. We quickly lose the nourishment and strength of yesterday's bread.  We must feed our souls daily upon the manna God has given us.
  5. READ THE WHOLE BIBLE AND READ IT IN AN ORDERLY WAY. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable."  I know of no better way to read the Bible than to start at the beginning and read straight through to the end, a portion every day, comparing Scripture with Scripture.
  6. READ THE WORD OF GOD FAIRLY AND HONESTLY. As a general rule, any passage of Scripture means what it appears to mean.  Interpret every passage in this simple manner, in its context.
  7. READ THE BIBLE WITH CHRIST IN VIEW. The whole Book is about Him.  Look for Him on every page.  He is there.  If you fail to see Him there, you need to read that page again.

 

Posted by Joshua Holland with 0 Comments

What's in a name?

What’s in a name?

There are many details in the Bible that are easily overlooked.  I stumbled across one while preparing for our Sunday night Bible classes.  (For the schedule and times, visit CascadeBibleSchool.com.)  This particular detail makes for great Bible trivia: What was Joshua’s name before it was changed? 

Know the answer?  If every word in the Bible is from God, how is knowing this detail significant for you today?

In the book of Numbers, Israel is about to enter the promised land. God has Moses send men to scope it out first, so he sends twelve, one from each tribe.  These twelve are listed in Numbers 13:4-15.  Joshua was one of the twelve, but the name listed there is “Hoshea, son of Nun” (v.8).  Verse 16 says, “…but Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Joshua.”  No reason is given.  It does not seem all that significant. 

Does it end there?  You know the story of Joshua.  Of the twelve, ten return in fear, while Joshua and Caleb urge the people to have faith in God.  God later chooses Joshua to lead Israel into the promised land.  Joshua becomes a famous figure of faith and courage.  He becomes a “type” of Christ, a living picture of the One God promised would come.  In Joshua, we see Jesus, who displayed faith and courage.  Jesus is our victorious leader, who conquers sin and death.  Jesus leads us from sin’s wilderness into a fruitful relationship with our Father in Heaven. 

So what is in the name?  Hoshea is Hebrew for “salvation.”  In Numbers 13, Moses changes that name to “Yahweh is Salvation,” or “Yahweh Saves.”  Joshua lives up to his new name in the very next chapter.  He urges the people to trust in Yahweh for victory in the Promised Land.  Instead, their emotions rule the day; they walk in fear instead of faith. 

Israel wanted salvation to be visible in the scenery.  They wanted the land to be conquered before they crossed the Jordan.  Fear made them think returning to Egypt was a good idea.  Fear makes us do and say stupid things.  God revealed his name to us so we would know that HE IS—that is he exists.  Moses changed Hoshea to Joshua (Yeshua) to emphasize the fact that salvation is linked with this God, Yahweh.

Fast forward to the New Testament.  Jesus is entering Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey.  Exuberant crowds cry out, “Hosanna!” (Matt. 21:9)  It is the same as “Hoshea,” meaning “Save, please!” or, “Save, now!”  The people longed to be saved from the fears of today.  Maybe Jesus would become their victorious leader, like Joshua.  In fact, Jesus’ name, in Hebrew, is Joshua.  But the people missed a detail we often miss.  The salvation God offers is not always what we are looking for.   They called out Hoshea! (Hosanna!), and they missed Joshua (Yeshua).  Jesus came not to save from hunger, sickness and physical death, but to bring us from the wilderness of sin into relationship with himself.  In calling on the name of Jesus, Yeshua, you enter into new, eternal Life with God the Father. 

This is what is in THE name.  Keep calling out to Jesus.  The fearful sights may continue to appear on your horizon, but God promises victory on the other side of that river.  You may have to get your feet wet, but he promises to be with you.  Do you believe that?  I hope so, because we aren’t going back to Egypt.  Hold fast, press on, cry out to Yahwh who saves, Yeshua—Jesus!

Posted by Joshua Holland with 0 Comments

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