With so much advice out there on what is true and what is not, how do we know what to trust? After all, ten people may ascribe a completely different meaning to even the same passage in scripture. Some may look at the allegory, some may evaluate the literal, others may grasp onto key concepts, and still others may feel a voice inside providing them a deeper meaning. The question is who is right? Should we just agree to disagree for the sake of not disagreeing out loud?!! Should we avoid talking about the Bible, because it may mean different things to different people and we will all end up with hurt feelings? Is this how God designed truth to work?
The source questions for all of these confusions are- Is there absolute truth and how can I know for sure if an interpretation is true? Several qualifications for truth to be truth, include-
1. Truth must line-up with the heart of God.
2. Truth must not contradict what is written in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
3. The context of the text must be understood to find truth.
3. Truth must fit into the bigger plan that God has for humanity.
We’ll start with God’s heart. The word truth in the Hebrew alphabet is spelled Aleph-Mem-Tav and is pronounced “emmit.” The meaning of the first letter Aleph in the Hebrew alphabet is the strong leader, or God Himself. The Paleo-Hebrew symbol for the letter Aleph is an ox head. The letters Mem and Tav mean chaos and covenant, respectively. Together, these letters spell the Hebrew word pronounced “mot” that means death. So what this means is if we take God out of truth, we are left with death! This is a very strong warning taken directly from the Hebrew letters.
The heart of God can be understood from studying the Torah (first five books of the Bible) and the writings in Psalms and Proverbs, the Gospels, and Shaul’s (Paul’s) letters. When reading the Gospels, Yeshua (Jesus) may often be seen by those not familiar with God’s heart as rude or abrasive. For instance, Yeshua says “For I came to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter in-law against her mother in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household” (Matthew 10:35). The directive here is that being loving is not accepting differences, but rather aligning oneself with God’s heart, which results in animosity between His seed and the seed of Satan. The reader would do well to determine what the word love actually means within scripture. 1 John 5:3 defines love for God is to “keep His commandments.”
This world is not about you and I, but rather about standing-up for God against Satan, the accuser (literally what the Hebrew means). There is this eternal battle going on and we need to align ourselves as God’s army. Often, we get stuck caring too much about the things of this world or our own position and comfort in life. As Yeshua said, “let the dead bury their own dead!” Luke 9:60. We need to drop everything we have and grab onto the truth since Yeshua is the truth (John 14).
Truth must not contradict statements within the Old or New Testaments. All of the Bible is inspired and useful for His work (2 Timothy 3). Also, scripture can’t be broken (John 10). These are important concepts to understand and to work with. Since all of the Bible is confirmed to be inspired truth, the Bible text should be rightly divided. Verses from parallel sections can be compared. Words are often defined in the Old Testament and these definitions should be used throughout the New Testament. A common error within Christianity today is to use our common vernacular definitions to define words such as love, faith, obedience, and salvation. These definitions do not always line-up with God’s definitions for these words. Also, historical books such as Jubilees, Jasher, the Apocrypha, and the Dead Sea Scrolls are often cast aside with little evaluation. These are historical records, like books in a library, that can help significantly with understanding some of the Bible. Why don’t we use these appropriately as reference materials, to get a better understanding of some Biblical concepts that we don’t understand and we can’t find any parallel verses for in the Bible. Instead, I often see people speculate on the truth, which often leads to an incorrect interpretation.
The context of the text must also be understood. It is important to understand who the speaker is, to whom the speaker is speaking, and what lessons or information God is trying to communicate. Critical thinking must not be cast aside. We need to ask ourselves questions such as- What is the point of the book of Ezekiel? or “Why did God have Lot flee Sodom and Gomorrah? Also, there may be idioms from the original Hebrew that we need to be aware of- such as “no one knows the day or the hour”- see Feast of Trumpets article. If we don’t understand what these idioms mean in the Hebraic mindset, then we will lose some of the meaning. Yeshua was a Hebrew, who spoke Hebrew and took part in all seven of the Feasts of the Lord and Hannukah (John 10). We need to get in the Hebrew mindset if we are going to understand some of the deeper connections within scripture.
Truth must also fit into the deeper plan that God has for humanity. Critical thinking is also important for this step. In order to develop an end times roadmap or any other truth-seeking activity, it is important to understand what God’s purposes are for humanity and the methods or strategies that He uses to accomplish these. God also tells us certain things to look for in the Bible (more on this in a future article) and participate in, and it would be wise to do what He says. With this, I find that the truth often repeats or at least rhymes (Isaiah 46:10). We need to be cognizant of scriptural patterns and understand how to apply them.
So there you have it, the main points are to:
- Develop a passion and yearning for knowing God’s heart,
- Use scripture to unlock scripture, and
- Use critical thinking and knowledge of culture to explore any hidden meanings.
Also, it is important to be open to new insights and ideas. Finding out the truth can be shocking, as it is often radical. However, we are called to follow Him at all costs. We must align ourselves with what is true and right above all else.