Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
While reading through Isaiah, the Holy Spirit lit up a verse that is worth committing to memory- especially for me since I am trying to spread God’s Word. Isaiah writes,
You have abandoned your people,
The house of Jacob.
They are full of superstitions from the East;
They practice divination like the Philistines
And clasp their hands with pagans (Isaiah 2:6).
Isaiah is talking about one of the reasons why the Lord has turned against Israel; they are giving into superstitions, practicing divination, and celebrating with pagans. The Lord is telling us today to watch out how we worship the Lord.
This is a problem for Christians at every level, from new Christians who do not fully appreciate the power and grace of God (and thus leaving themselves open to suggestion from others) all the way up to pastors preaching unscriptural doctrine. Why, on the day of this original writing (I write first in my notebook whenever the Spirit tells me to write) my pastor preached a very commonly accepted tradition that has little to no scriptural basis. Not surprisingly, he listed no verses to back up what he was saying. We all need to make sure that what gets filled in the belief section of our brains is supported by God’s Word. So Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 4:16, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” Notice, by keeping your doctrine pure, you can help both yourself and others that you may reach out to.
A popular belief these days is that the religions of the world are not only related, but actually interconnected. I mean, after all, all roads lead to God, right? Wrong. This is wishful thinking by people who’ve gone the wrong way and are afraid the God of the Bible is too strict (which is also a false thought). There is actually a religion out there that tries to mingle Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and a few other faiths. I am amazed at the number of followers of such cults. For by reading the scriptures of any of these basic religions, it is easy to see they are not meant to mix. Don’t believe me? Check out what God said to Ezekiel,
And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing- the utterly detestable things the house of Israel is doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see things that are even more detestable” (Ezekiel 8:6).
And what kinds of “detestable” things were happening at the temple? We read on as God takes him there,
And he said to me, “Go in and see the wicked and detestable things they are doing here.” So I went in and looked, and I saw portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling things and detestable animals and all the idols of the house of Israel. In front of them stood seventy elders of the house of Israel, and Jaazaniah son of Shaphan was standing among them. Each had a censer in his hand, and a fragrant cloud of incense was rising.
He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, “The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land” (Ezekiel 8:9-12).
The priests were still practicing worship in the temple, but they were mixing it with other “gods.” Our Lord describes this as detestable. Remember this next time someone says that all worship is to God- it is not. Other religions worship other gods, not the One True God. But there’s more,
Again, he said, “You will see them doing things that are even more detestable.”
Then he brought me to the entrance to the north gate of the house of the Lord, and I saw women sitting there, mourning for Tammuz. (Ezekiel 8:13-14).
I have no idea who Tammz is, but I know one thing, he’s dead. In America, Buddhism has been a growing fad and in Asia it is serious business. Not only that, but some Asian traditions involve ancestor worship, which is literally bowing down to a picture of dead people. I have heard many people try to compare Buddha to Jesus, they are not one in the same though: Buddha is dead, Jesus is alive. How do I know? Romans 6:9 says, “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.” Jesus is alive, and he cannot die again- unlike Buddha, who is dead and will stay that way.
Nowadays, Buddhists bow down to gold statues of their (usually) rotund “god.” This is also considered to be foolish as far as our Lord is concerned. The Lord says in Isaiah 46:5-7,
To whom will you compare me or count me equal?
To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?
Some pour out gold from their bags
And weigh out silver on the scales;
They hire a goldsmith to make it into a god,
And they bow down and worship it.
They lift it to their shoulders and carry it;
They set it up in its place, and there it stands.
From that spot it cannot move.
Though one cries out to it, it does not answer;
It cannot save him from his troubles.
Jesus and Buddha do not mix, Bible reading Christians know this and those actually versed in Buddhism know this too.
But there is more,
He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.”
He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east (Ezekiel 8:15-16).
Many people buy into astrology, Christians and non-Christians alike. Also, people get into tarot or other forms of divination. These are also not cool for believers to be doing and should be avoided. Also, bowing down to nature itself is ungodly (supporting evolution although it clashes with the Bible may be considered an example of this).
God clearly says in Exodus 23:13, “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.” So don’t try to mix our faith with other religions, simply put: they don’t go together, either on our side or theirs. That is why Paul tells us,
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)
And the Lord says,
Therefore come out from them
And be separate,
Says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
And I will receive you.
I will be a Father to you
And you will be my sons and daughters
Says the Lord Almighty (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).
Be careful that you are not tempted into mingling what we believe with that of what the world believes.
Maybe you have a pure faith in the risen Jesus Christ, untainted by other gods. Still, you must watch yourself, for we are surrounded by many teachers- but most of them worldly. God commands,
You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshipping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.
See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it (Deuteronomy 12:31-32).
We must not worship the Lord in the world’s ways. Even well-meaning and widely-accepted tradition needs to have scriptural backing. Jesus explains his system for doing things, we read,
Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does, the Son also does” (John 5:19)
There is only one source given to us to know what the Lord is doing, and that is his Word. Now, if the Son of God is confined by the Bible, who are we to add rules and regulations to it? One of the major reasons for the Reformation of the church was that the Pope had raised his own word to the level of the Holy Scriptures and started making up new rules. Not even Jesus gave himself this honor,
For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I saw is just what the Father has told me to say (John 12:49-50).
God’s words are printed clearly in the Bible, anything that adds to or subtracts from it is heretical. You may have noticed that I quote the Bible a lot, this is because I want you to know that I am not writing from my own heart, but am just telling you what the Lord (through the Holy Spirit and his Word) has showed me. Sometimes, I have found what I thought was actually challenged by the Scriptures and I have had to take a break and rethink my doctrine and listen to what the Lord had to say.
I know from experience and from Scripture, we must guard our doctrine. And what’s the best way to do this? Read God’s Word, the Bible. For the Bible is the only way to get a direct line into the heart of God- anytime, anywhere. For Jesus promotes His Word himself in John 8:31-32,
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
So, read your Bible and get your answers from there, and keep your doctrine clean.