I spent all day in God's Word today. I took my children to a conference where we studied the Hebrew roots of certain words in the Bible and Hebrew meanings of certain principles. I went with a teachable spirit and I came away full to overflowing, knowing one thing for certain...
I was wrong.
I have probably never been so affected by one day's teaching of God's Word than I was today. The class was about the Hebrew mind vs. the Greek mindset, of which I thought I already had a fairly good grasp. I was shocked to learn that I still think with a Greek mindset; we all probably do. Brad Scott, of wildbranch.org methodically undermined all my beliefs today; well, not all - but close!
I should give you a little background first, before you think I am one who is easily swayed to the latest teaching or tickling of ears - I am not! For seven years of my Christian life, God had us in an Assembly of God church. I am Reformed now, but I've never had the doctrines and theology of Assembly of God, even while we attended there. Yet we knew that God wanted us there for a season (a very long one!). That is where He taught us to be Bereans, diligently studying God's Word after the sermon each Sunday and Friday, to see whether these things be true. We developed a very strong biblical foundation in those years, searching out the truths of God's Word for ourselves. I then went to a Reformed church for 5 years, but Reformed doesn't necessarily meaned "Reformed" (lots of variations here) and I discovered that the Bible didn't say what I was being taught from the pulpit once again. I was so firm in my stance on God's Word, I was willing to risk excommunication for it. So, you see, I am not one who is easily swayed by man's teaching.
There was so much that I learned today that I can't possibly share it all here, so I will just share a nugget or two with you. I've been having a conversation lately about eschatological viewpoints (what we believe about the end times). I've read a book about four different views on Revelation, studied Revelation somewhat in depth myself, and heard several different viewpoints, coming to the conclusion that I have no conclusion. I saw value and truth in each perspective, yet I needed to choose just one, didn't I?
Here is where I learned one of many differences between Greek and Hebrew thinking. Greek thinking puts everything in a box: there is only one right interpretation of Scripture; my method of systematic theology is the right one and everyone else is wrong. I have often said that God has at least two different meanings of everything in Scripture, but I still haven't gone far from the Greek mindset. Hebrew thinking uses a method called Open Block logic, which says that there are four different, yet compatible, interpretations of each verse. Now, before you think I've totally gone off my rocker this time, I will attempt to explain a very complicated pattern, very simply. I hope I can do this justice. Here are the four different interpretations:
1. Literal interpretation - what we see on the surface, the basic facts of the gospel message, what each word literally says, although I'm sure this view would take into account the fact that we need to recognize the genre of literature being used, such as poetry using similes and metaphors, for example. The Hebrew meaning of this viewpoint is "to strip off your clothes, to be out front, in the open, everything exposed." Most Christians (dispensationalists, evangelicals, fundamentals) would agree with this thinking.
2. Here we go a little deeper into the more profound, looking for clear implications. This is often used in prophecy, but can be used in other situations as well. The example was given of Ps. 34:7 "The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them." While this verse has extremely rich meaning, which I will go into in a later post, we can infer from this, as an example, that the angel of the Lord does NOT encamp around those who do not fear Him. (You'll understand why this is important in my next post or so about this.)
3. Search diligently (almost a desperate, panicked search) for what pertains to me.
4. The hidden things - the Hebrew here means "seed," which is buried in the ground and you must be willing to dig deep in the ground to find it. There are many truths contained in God's Word that don't translate well into English and we miss the Hebrew meaning of them, unless we are willing to dig deep into the Hebrew and find them.
These four categories mean that, as an example, the seven churches in the book of Revelation can have four different meanings:
1, The churches represent those who lived at that time.
2. The churches fit a pattern (I don't know if I got this one exactly right in my notes).
3. The churches represent the last days.
4. The churches are verses that really are written for us today.
If I am making any sense at this point, apparently this is a controversial subject, but if we interpret Scripture according to the Hebrew Open Block logic, all four would be correct interpretations. I can now go back and study eschatology all over again with a fresh perspective! (and every other verse in Scripture!)
Let me just give you one other example of what we can learn in Hebrew that we don't see in English. I know how much we all LOVE those genealogies in Scripture, so let's look at Genesis 5 at the names only of Adam to Noah. Did you know that the names tell the gospel message, when read in order? Blogger doesn't let me set up a chart (at least I don't know how), so in each line, I will write the name first and then the Hebrew meaning of each name.
Adam - Man
Seth - Is appointed
Enosh - Mortal
Cainan - Sorrow
Mahalalel - But the blessed God
Jared - Shall come down
Enoch - Teaching
Methuselah - His Death Shall Bring
Lamech - The Despairing
Noah - Rest/comfort
So, if we read them all in order, it says, "Man is appointed mortal sorrow, but the blessed God shall come down teaching; His death shall bring the despairing rest and comfort." Wow! What a geneaology!
My cup is so full, it's overflowing tonight! More later.