Making Sense of Scripture

A really smart leader once told a class, “If you want to make sense of scripture, THINK HEBREW.”

He wanted us to remember that scripture was written to an audience in a context. We understand scripture when we put ourselves in the sandals of those to whom it was originally written. When we immediately imagine that ancient words were intended for a 21st century audience, with no interpretation or discernment, we leave a good deal of room for error. We need to “think Hebrew.”

I thought about this earlier this week as our small group discussed a foundational passage in Genesis 12.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

I’ve heard people extract all sorts of meaning from this passage.

  • We’re all supposed to leave our homes and follow some invisible call to an unknown land.
  • This is a prophecy about the United States.
  • I’m a Christian, so anyone who opposes me (curses me) is automatically cursed by God.

These are, to be kind, something of a stretch.

God spoke to a man in a particular circumstance. He used Abraham’s obedience to establish Israel and, ultimately, the church. If we “think Hebrew” we’ll understand that ancient Hebrews valued community much more than individual. Abram would have heard the “you” in the blessing in a corporate sense.

Certainly we can take valuable lessons from this story–once we understand it in its proper context.

  • When God calls, listen and obey, regardless of cost.
  • We’re indeed blessed, both corporately and individually–so we can reflect that blessing into the world. It’s not about me!

Some things never change.

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Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site

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