Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
A lot of people outside the faith think that the New and Old Testaments don’t really connect. Actually, there are even Christians who try to avoid Scripture that they don’t think is Jesus-centric. But they’re missing out. The whole Bible speaks of Christian theology, not just the Gospels and Epistles. I’ve heard many nay-sayers suggest that followers of Jesus just take out the verses of the Old Testament that they enjoy (like promises) and then ignore the stuff they don’t (like the law). Hopefully, the resources on this blog helps to dispel some of that, but people need to know that Christianity isn’t just a sequel or spin-off of Judaism; but that all of what we believe today is firmly rooted in Scriptures that predated Christ’s sacrificial death on a cross because God was building up a firm foundation for us to stand on. Even Solomon, while delivering wisdom, was presenting the Christian message in his Proverbs. Don’t believe me? I hardly believed it either, but the Holy Spirit opened up the Proverbs in a way I’d never even considered; so get ready to have your mind blown (mine was anyway).
First, let’s look at God and the creation. Solomon writes of this through the voice of wisdom, saying,
The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,
Before his deeds of old;
I was appointed from eternity,
From the beginning, before the world began.
When there were no oceans, I was given birth,
When there were no springs abounding with water;
Before the mountains were settled in place,
Before the hills, I was given birth,
Before he made the earth or its fields
Or any of the dust of the world (Proverbs 8:22-26).
In this revelation, it’s revealed that God was not alone during the creation of the world. In fact, he had created another being (called “wisdom” by Solomon) that existed alongside of him during the creation week. This is completely supported by New Testament scripture, for we’re told,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made (John 1:1-3).
In John’s version, God was accompanied by “the Word,” which John later identifies as Christ Jesus, and he also notes that this being along with God was in fact a part of God (which goes along with Solomon’s assertion that he existed before everything else was made). Another important thing we need to remember is that creation was just as it was printed, God made everything from the beginning. Solomon (as Wisdom [that is, Jesus]) continues,
I was there when he set the heavens in place,
When he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
When he established the clouds above
And fixed securely the foundations of the deep,
When he gave the sea its boundary
So the waters would not overstep his command,
And when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
Then I was the craftsman at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
Rejoicing always in his presence,
Rejoicing in his whole world
And delighting in mankind (Proverbs 8:27-31).
As followers of Christ we believe that the world (and everything else for that matter) was created by God. The very first words of the Bible are “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). If you meet a Christian who doesn’t support this view on things, then that Christian is either very new to the faith or grossly misinformed.
But Solomon had even more to talk about than just God and creation. Solomon actually laid down the foundations of Jesus and salvation in his maxims. Check out Proverbs 16:6, “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.” Keep in mind that according to the Law, which was very much in effect during Solomon’s days, sin was atoned for through sacrificing animals. Honestly, in the days of Israel’s kings this sort of statement was probably unheard of and borderline blasphemy. How can love atone for sins? But Solomon realized that it wasn’t on us to find forgiveness, in fact, there’s nothing we can do to save ourselves. But love and faithfulness does atone our sins: the love the Lord had for us in sending his only son and the faithfulness of Jesus Christ dying on a cross in our stead. Paul reminds us of this when he writes in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So before it even happened, Solomon knew that the only true way for us to be saved would be through God’s love and Jesus’ faithfulness. Scripture tells us, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). The Lord is love, and it was through that love that he sent his son into the world to die a horrible death in order that we might be freed from the powers of sin and death.
For a long time there had been a proverb that I never fully understood. It goes like this, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Ok, so the first part makes sense, a person with a lot of friends isn’t safe from the troubles that come to everyone. But who is this friend who sticks closer than a brother? It’s the Holy Spirit! Before Jesus went to the cross he spoke to his disciples and explained that although he’d no longer be with them in the body, they wouldn’t be left alone. We read,
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you (John 14:16-17).
Keep in mind, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit is not only with us forever, but he’s living inside of every believer. This is indeed closer than a brother. So in this case, Solomon not only laid down a foundation for Christian doctrine, but the proverb itself doesn’t even make sense until you apply the Gospels to it. There are verses all over the Old Testament like this; I’m only highlighting Proverbs though because it’s probably the last place you’d expect a Christian message to shine through. But throughout scripture we find these locked verses in the Old Testament that need a New Testament key. They are complimentary to each other, for Jesus tells us the Holy Spirit’s official job as a counselor, but Solomon develops the Spirit’s relationship to us as a friend. Check your Bible out; the Holy Spirit will help you find stuff like this if you ask him to.
Solomon also gave those interested in wisdom a mission. He writes, “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter” (Proverbs 24:11). And how are we to do that? Jesus tells us,
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).
We have been called by the Lord to spread the wisdom and love of God, and the amazing sacrifice of his Son Jesus Christ on a cross for salvation. We are to save the lost by helping them realize that Jesus died for them, so that by embracing Christ they may enter into everlasting life instead of suffering death and hell forever. The great commission is nothing new, the prophets lived it, Solomon advised it, and even the Law was clear to be always open to converts. The Bible was written by people under the direction of the Holy Spirit over a span of more than a thousand years. From the very beginning of Genesis all the way until the Revelation the Lord lays out his amazing plan of salvation of restoration for his creation, and it’s our job to get the Word out.
And so my friend, I suggest as you reevaluate your views on Scripture and its meanings and its power, take some advice from King Solomon, “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20). Open up your instruction manual (the Bible), and trust God with everything. It’ll be the wisest decision you could ever make.
Rock on God!