Foundational Principle #5

Most Problems With Bible Interpretation: We Don’t Take the Scriptures Literary Enough

 The birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. – Psalm 8:8 NKJV

He is known as the “Father of Modern Oceanography.” You can see the results of his work if you look at a glob and notice the arrows in the worlds oceans. These are ocean currents and Matthew Maury mapped them after extensive observations. He was able to chart currents to determine the most effective route for maritime travel. His inspiration was this verse of Psalm 8:8 as he became convinced there were “paths” in the seas because as a Bible-believing Christian, he took this verse literally.

There are a number of times when a verse or concept found within Scripture was far ahead of the then-modern accepted truths. Ancient cultures had little idea of the Earth being a sphere suspended in empty space. It was often thought the Earth was a flat surface supported on pillars or possibly a large animal. But in Job 26:7, probably the oldest book of the Bible, the text plain indicates “He hangs the Earth on nothing.” The Hebrew here is emphatic – “nothing whatsoever.”

Isaiah 40:22 declares the Earth is a sphere stating “It is He who sits above the circle of the Earth…” Ancient Hebrew doesn’t have a word with the explicit meaning of sphere.

But some might say, “Doesn’t the Bible say the sun orbits the Earth?” They might point to Psalm 19:6 which says “Its (the sun) rising is from one end of heaven and its circuit to the other end.” However, modern astronomy teaches our sun does in fact move in space as our galaxy is in an orbit and the galaxy cluster we are in orbits. So, yes, our sun does infact move across the heavens.

When you reach a challenging verse and you struggle with it, remember, most of the time, the best understanding of the text is to accept it as written. You might not understand it all and may be unable to fully explain it, but usually, the straight forward literal reading of the text is the correct one.

Of course there are times within Scripture when it is not meant to be taken literally. The parables of Jesus teach a true concept, but they are stories, not descriptions of actual events. The story the Prophet Nathan tells King David in 2 Samuel 12 about the man with a single lamb, was used to confront David, not to tell him or us of an actual event.

Trust the Bible to mean what it says. Whether it’s the six days of creation, the exodus of Israel from Egypt, the conquest of Canaan, admonitions about Godly living the miracles of Jesus or anything else of Scripture, remember the best interpretation of the text is probably found in the simple reading of the text.

Don’t be afraid to take the Bible literally.

Blessings My Friend




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