Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
The world is a pretty messed up place. David’s words still seem to ring true today in Psalm 14:2-3,
The Lord looks down from heaven
On the sons of men
To see if there are any who understand,
Any who seek God.
All have turned aside,
They have together become corrupt;
There is no one who does good,
Not even one.
Now, to be fair, that’s a pretty pessimistic outlook on everything, but there is a lot of sin and godlessness in the world. However, the Holy Spirit reminded me that the Lord has a plan for all of this. Scripture says,
See, darkness covers the earth
And thick darkness is over the peoples,
But the Lord rises upon you
And his glory appears over you.
No matter how dark it gets, God has got something in motion to right our wayward world.
It starts in Isaiah 60:18,
No longer will violence be heard in your land,
Nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
But you will call your walls Salvation
And your gates Praise.
This is such cool imagery; it says that the Lord will surround you with his salvation and that he will enter into your life through the gates of praise to him. The Lord goes on,
The sun will no more be your light by day,
Nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
For the Lord will be your everlasting light,
And your God will be your glory (Isaiah 60:19).
What Isaiah is describing is actually a vision of heaven, because in Revelation 21:23 we see it described like this: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” Now if through salvation your light becomes the Lord that means that you have the glory of heaven in your life every day. God’s plan continues,
I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
They will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the Lord,
Give yourselves no rest,
And give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
And makes her the praise of the earth (Isaiah 62:6-7).
First he says that those who are saved through belief in Christ will be watched over (probably by angels). And then he says that we should give him (Jesus) no rest. Does that mean that we should “bother” Jesus? No, but it means that we should always be in contact with the Lord through prayer. This is backed up in the New Testament. Paul wrote, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Take note here also, that two of the things Paul said to do are actually prayer: praying and giving thanks. And that giving thanks is praise, which we already established as the gate to which the Lord comes into your life. Paul also wrote, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). Pray always as you accept Jesus into your life; anyway, you want to keep in touch with your Savior and King, don’t you? And what’s so great about this is that Jesus is a king who listens and acts on behalf of his people. Hebrews 7:25 tells us, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Jesus, after his resurrection, continues to live; and that life is spent in interceding on behalf of his followers.
But here’s what makes salvation so great: You don’t do anything. Isaiah 61:11 states,
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
And a garden causes seeds to grow,
So the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise
Spring up before all nations.
When the Corinthian church was divided over which apostle they followed, Paul stepped in and reminded everyone with this imagery that our righteousness isn’t found in human hands, but rather the hands of the master gardener (God). He wrote, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). From just a tiny seed of faith when we come to Jesus the first time, we grow into mighty oaks of righteousness; through the work of the Lord. And this is what was prophesied in Isaiah 61:1-3;
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim freedom for the captives
And release from darkness for the prisoners,
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
And the day of vengeance of our God,
To comfort all who mourn
And provide for those who grieve in Zion-
To bestow on them a crown of beauty
Instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness
Instead of mourning,
And a garment of praise
Instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
A planting of the Lord
For the display of his splendor.
This is how faith works. We put in a tiny bit, and the Lord grows it to something great. Jesus taught,
Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade” (Mark 4:30-32).
From start to finish, though, you have nothing to do with the process; the Lord does it all.
As you grow in Christ, protected from utter corruption by the walls of your salvation, you’ll begin to produce fruit. What is that fruit? Well, according to Scripture, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). These things will become part of you, and God will let you enjoy the very same things in your life from others as well. For it is written,
The Lord has sworn by his right hand
And by his mighty arm:
“Never again will I give your grain
As food for your enemies,
And never again will foreigners drink the new wine
For which you have toiled;
But those who harvest it will eat it
And praise the Lord,
And those who gather the grapes will drink it
In the courts of my sanctuary” (Isaiah 62:8-9).
That is to say, “What you plant, so you will reap and enjoy; your good will beget good into your life.” The Lord also notes, “Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards” (Isaiah 61:5). That means that even nonbelievers will contribute to your wellbeing. Again, this is not through any good that you’ve done out of your own motivation; these things are only because you trusted in Christ and let him go to work in your life.
Now, the above paragraphs are for those who are new or are growing in Christ. But what about those who have already grown in the Lord? Then the message is this: Plant the seed! God states,
Then will all your people be righteous
And they will possess the land forever.
They are the shoot I have planted,
The work of my hands,
For the display of my splendor.
The least of you will become a thousand,
The smallest a mighty nation.
I am the Lord;
In its time I will do this swiftly (Isaiah 60:21-22).
Give your trust to the Lord, and go out and plant seeds of faith; then let God grow his garden. This is what Jesus told his followers to do as well,
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).
Don’t worry about what will happen to the people you talk to, just plant. Talk about Jesus and spread his love among everyone you come into contact with. Not everyone will come to Christ, and certainly most won’t come to Jesus through you. Rather, “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains” (James 5:7). Just plant the seeds, give the love, and name drop Jesus here and there (and show him through your actions); the Lord will take care of the rest of it.