Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
We all have them, days where things don’t go quite as we expected. Maybe you made a mistake or a poor choice or maybe things just didn’t go as smoothly as you’d hoped. I don’t know about you, but I think I have more days that don’t go as planned than days that do- much of which is my own fault. The Holy Spirit wants me to tell you that you’re not alone.
First and foremost let it be said: stuff happens. Jesus even taught that the rain comes to everyone. Check it out,
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:44-45).
And if you’ve ever read Job, you know that even for the most righteous people, sometimes it pours. Plans get changed, tragedies happen, stuff gets mixed up, or whatever else might throw a wrench in your otherwise good day. What’s going on? There are several answers to what may be behind your off day. It could be a demonic attack; that’s what happened to Job. History records,
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger” (Job 1:9-12).
As you noticed, the Lord is actually involved in this scenario. Because when Satan comes for a believer, it is a God-sanctioned trial. Another issue could be just a random tragedy. Sometimes bad stuff happens- to everyone. Let’s see what Jesus had to say on this issue,
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them- do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:1-5).
God allows tragedies as reminders to non-believers the importance of repentance. After every tragic event, Christ highlighted the importance of giving your life to God so that at least your afterlife is guaranteed. Other times, bad things happen because God has a better plan for you and he’s trying to get you on his path; as it is written, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). The Lord might mess up your day as you planned it in order to get you into a better situation (as planned by him)- though this is only true for believers. This is why the Bible tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge him,
And he will make your paths straight.
By trusting in God, we can be confident that when the winds change, they are blowing us in the right direction.
But what if the off day is actually your fault? Well, nobody is perfect; in fact the Bible even says as much: “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). We all make bad decisions and sin. But don’t fret, you’re in good company. Let’s take a look at a story from the life of Hezekiah. Now, for a little background for those of you unfamiliar with Hezekiah, he was a good Israelite king. History notes,
Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done (2 Chronicles 29:1-2).
Hezekiah wasn’t just any righteous king, he was awesomely righteous: “In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them” (2 Chronicles 29:3). From the start Hezekiah set his life on serving the Lord and he was steadfast in his faith. Buuuut, he wasn’t perfect. One day, the Lord decided to test Hezekiah; we read,
But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart (2 Chronicles 32:31).
And, without the Lord guiding him, Hezekiah messed up:
At that time Merodach-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of his illness and recovery. Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them what was in his storehouses- the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine oil, his entire armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them (Isaiah 39:1-2).
What this did was whet Babylon’s appetite for more and give them an interest in Israel. Isaiah explained as much to Hezekiah afterward,
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of Babylon” (Isaiah 39:5-7).
Yikes! Basically, from a physical standpoint, the eventual exile of Israel was actually Hezekiah’s fault (though spiritually there were other reasons). How do you handle a situation like this? Well, let’s see what Hezekiah said when he found out that he doomed his people: “’The word you of the Lord you have spoken is good,’ Hezekiah replied. For he thought, ‘There will be peace and security in my lifetime’” (Isaiah 39:8). Hezekiah felt secure in his relationship with the Lord and therefore didn’t worry about the results, because he trusted God to take care of him. This is the best way to respond to when you accidently cause problems. The same goes for when you actually sin; we read
In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the Lord, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the Lord’s wrath did not come upon them during the days of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:24-26).
When the Lord brings your sin to attention accept it, repent, and know that you’re forgiven (as long as you’re already under Christ’s wings). For it is written to believers,
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).
We all have off days, and our God is a forgiving Lord.
For believers, there’s no need to dwell on it when things go south. Jesus did all the work already on the cross. Paul reminds us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Your sins of the past are gone once you accept Jesus as your Lord, because he already did the work. And what of sins that follow after salvation? Isaiah explains,
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
And the lord has laid on him
The iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6).
When Jesus died on the cross, he took everyone’s sins; past, present, and future- all the sins of those who had and would come to him for salvation and he paid the price of those sins. If you have Christi n your life, there’s no need for you to worry because God has your life in his hands. Jesus taught in Matthew 6:27, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” God wants to take care of you because he cares about you. Jesus explained,
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).
No matter what comes today or tomorrow (or after), even if you mess up a lot (which Hezekiah was no stranger to), don’t worry about it; just keep on truckin’ and remember that you have a loving Father looking over you always. The Lord will help you fall in the right direction.