Is reading the Bible easy? If we're honest, no, not always, but the very nature of the Bible demands that we delve deeper to look for more meaning and to search every possible corner of the text for extra details and information. Here, Rev. Aaron Eime challenges us to wrestle with God's Word.
Sometimes studying the Bible takes effort
Question: What is your faith rooted in?
Let me suggest that your faith is not in your Bible. Your faith is in the risen Messiah.
If Messiah did not rise from the dead then it does not matter which Bible you are reading. The whole exercise would be pointless. Thus knowing that our faith is in the risen Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) it should not overtly concern us then which Bible we prefer to read. As our faith is not in the Bible, it's in Jesus.
As a very smart man Jaroslav Pelikan once said "If Christ is risen, nothing else matters and if Christ is not risen then nothing else matters". Recalling that the disciples did not have a Bible, they show us how they secured their faith in the risen Messiah to the point of martyrdom.
"If Christ is risen, nothing else matters and if Christ is not risen then nothing else matters"
What is the nature of the Bible?
What is the nature of the Bible? It is unlike any other book. We call it the Holy Bible because indeed that is its nature, it is Holy and Special in more ways we know. It is also Divine Language. Gods language is not like our language. His words create, they are eternal, they change the present and future in ways our language cannot.
In Jewish thought the Bible is Divine Language. God does not speak with any superfluous words. he does not talk for the sake of talking. So the words that God chooses to speak are important, moreover even the sounds of those words are important, and just as important are the words that are not chosen or not said.
The nature of the Bible, the Divine Language, then demands the reader to delve deeper. To look for more meaning and to search every possible corner of the text for extra details and information. If it’s so special, it needs special attention.
The Hebrew tradition is to wrestle with the Bible.
Wrestling with the Bible in the Hebraic mind
When the Hebraic mindset thinks about wrestling with the Bible, it does not mean it in a negative way. Such as, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood…" (Ephesians 6:12).
Here Paul refers to a spiritual battle involving a struggle against angelic powers. Instead the picture of wrestling with the text comes from the Patriarch Jacob, who wrestled with God and as such is tied into the meaning of the name Israel.
A friend of mine, a Jewish Believer, Alan Gilman has a teaching ministry based out of Ottawa. He writes an insightful teaching called TorahBytes. Alan follows the Torah portion of the week and recently wrote on Jacob wrestling with God.
In that article he highlighted that while seemingly the concept of a mere human wrestling with God would be preposterous, but indeed it took place, Jacob knew there was something important to be gained, a blessing that he would not let go of until he had it. For all of Jacob’s faults he had a deep sense of the important things of life and Jacob’s tenacity was commended by God with a blessing.
It is in that same tenacity that wrestling with the Scriptures is paired.
The Bible as Divine Language contains within it deeper meanings and countless blessings. Tenaciously we wrestle with the text, searching for more of God, another meaning to the Words of the Lord, and not letting go until we have received that blessing of wisdom.
An example of wrestling with the Divine Language, focusing on the importance and choice of words used by the text, can be seen in the famous narrative of the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac.
We find Isaac and Abraham journey up a mountain to make a sacrifice to the Lord. Isaac asks his father "I see the wood, the knife and the fire, but I don't see the lamb, where is the lamb?" Abraham replies that "God Himself will provide the Lamb". After Abraham has been tested and passed that test, he looks up and sees a ram caught by its horns and he goes and takes the ram, sacrificing it in place of Isaac.
In wrestling with the text, looking for more in the details, we see that Abraham told Isaac that God would indeed provide a Lamb, but God did not. Instead, God provided a Ram. The words Lamb and Ram are very different in Hebrew.
The Bible specifically states that God will provide a lamb, and so it is assumed then that God will indeed do this. However in this instance God does not provide a lamb, but rather a ram. Thus from the time of Abraham the promise remains that at some point in time God will indeed provide a lamb.
And the wait for the Lamb of God begins.
Messianic aspiration is met with expectation when John the Baptist greets his cousin and declares Yeshua (Jesus) to be the Lamb of God.
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!""
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