Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
In 1986 Kazuhisa Hashimoto was porting the arcade game Gradius over to the NES (the original Nintendo). There was a problem though, Gradius is a rather unforgiving game and Kazuhisa wasn’t skilled enough to actually progress through the game himself while testing it. Therefore he wrote into it a cheat: the Konami Code, which activates after pressing a special combination of buttons. The code would give him full power-ups when he needed them (which one absolutely does with Gradius) so that he could actually finish playing through the game. When it was released to the public, the game retained the cheat and the Konami Code became famous (and found its way into many other games). The thing is though; God has been using his own Konomi Code for thousands of years. Sure, he didn’t use a special combination of button presses; rather, the Lord used a special series of events. Though prophecy, circumstance, and shaping of world happenings the Lord put himself- in the form of his son Jesus- on a cross and died for us, providing the ultimate sacrifice. The Bible reminds us that,
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:7-8).
Hebrews 10:10 clarifies the power of Christ’s death by saying, “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Now, these two concepts, Jesus’ saving death and the Konami Code, seem totally separate but the Holy Spirit showed me that they’re surprisingly connected.
For those of you who are not gamers, you may not understand; but when you find a great game it doesn’t matter how hard it is, you keep playing. For example, the game Dark Souls is supposedly ridiculously hard to play (I wouldn’t know), but it has a very die-hard fan base who, against impossible odds, persevered to beat the game (and its sequels) because they love it (and of course bragging rights). Well, God loves us; after all, the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). He loves us with an undying love- literally, because Jesus died for us, then came back and right away brought peace to his followers and a gift as well:
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:19-22).
However, humans are a constant source of frustration to the Lord. As Solomon wrote, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). This is a problem because Isaiah 59:2 tells us,
But your iniquities have separated
You from your God;
Your sins have hidden his face from you,
So that he will not hear.
And God’s frustration with his sinful people can be directly seen in Ezekiel 16:32, where he exclaims, “You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband!” He’s referring to humanity’s natural tendency to seek out other gods and just in general try to replace the Lord with other things. And yet, rather than leave us in our sins, God can’t give up on us. Listen to him talk about sinful Israel:
“Is not Ephraim my dear son,
The child in whom I delight?
Though I often speak against him,
I still remember him.
Therefore my heart yearns for him;
I have great compassion for him,”
Declares the Lord (Jeremiah 31:20).
And in the middle of some of Israel’s worst times, with some of the greatest sinning and worshiping of false Gods, the Lord spoke through the prophet,
They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul (Jeremiah 32:38-41).
God game-raged a lot, especially in the Old Testament; and it kind of gives him a bad reputation. I mean, just get a load of this,
The people of Israel and Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth; indeed, the people of Israel have done nothing but provoke me with what their hands have made, declares the Lord. From the day it was built until now, this city has so aroused my anger and wrath that I must remove it from my sight. The people of Israel and Judah have provoke me by all the evil they have done – they, their kings and officials, their priests and prophets, the men of Judah and the people of Jerusalem. They turned their backs to me and not their faces; though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond to discipline. They set up their abominable idols in the house that bears my Name and defiled it. They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech, though I never commanded, nor did it enter my mind, that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin (Jeremiah 32:30-35).
That’s some controller-throwing-level frustration right there. But the Lord doesn’t rage quit. No, even though he gets really salty all over the Old Testament, the end is always the same; he loves us too much to quit. Remember adulterous Israel from just a couple sentences ago? Here’s what God has to say about them,
“Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
And speak tenderly to her.
There I will give back her vineyards,
And will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth,
As in the day she came up out of Egypt.
In that day,” declares the Lord,
“You will call me ‘my husband’;
You will no longer call me ‘my master.’
I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
No longer will their names be invoked.
In that day I will make a covenant for them
With the beasts of the field and the birds of the air
And the creatures that move along the ground.
Bow and sword and battle
I will abolish from the land,
So that all may lie down in safety.
I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
In love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
And you will acknowledge the Lord” (Hosea 2:14-20).
We sin and frustrate our God, and he gets angry; but always finishes with a love letter. A few verses later he continues,
I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called
“Not my loved one.”
I will say to those called “Not my people,”
“You are my people”;
And they will say, “You are my God” (Hosea 2:23).
It’s because of his love for us that God gets so frustrated with our lack of cooperation. But he can’t quit on us, and always keeps trying to bring us closer to him.
The task, however, is basically impossible; as we’re always sinning. 1 John 1:10 states, “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” And we’ve already established that sin separates us from God. So we’re pretty much screwed. Just take a look at the Ten Commandments some time; you’ve probably broken at least one within the last 24 hours. But that’s only 10 of many, many sin-based laws in the Bible- plus Jesus cranks it up even more by banning even sinning in our hearts! Just look at what he has to say on the topic of anger:
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, “Raca,” is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell (Matthew 5:22).
What? I can’t even harbor anger in my heart towards dick-heads? Come on Lord! Needless to say it’s pretty hard for us to commune with the God we’re constantly betraying. Therefore God entered the Jesus Code. Jesus’ sacrifice isn’t just a ticket to heaven; it’s a complete character restore for a believer, whenever it’s needed- for life. It’s unlimited extra lives with all of our power-ups restored. It is written in Jeremiah 31:21-22,
Set up road signs;
Put up guideposts.
Take note of the highway,
The road that you take.
Return, O Virgin Israel,
Return to your towns.
How long will you wander,
O unfaithful daughter?
The Lord will create a new thing on earth-
A woman will surround a man.
The Lord calls Israel a “virgin” but he also calls her unfaithful and we’ve already read him say she’s adulterous. I don’t know biology that well, but I’m pretty sure that’s actually impossible. The thing is though; God resets our sins to zero; making us totally clean in his eyes no matter what we’ve done. So, just like Kazuhisa Hashimoto, God found a way to interact with his extremely frustrating creation.
The Lord speaks to you from Isaiah 1:18,
“Come now, let us reason together,”
Says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red as crimson,
They shall be like wool.”
Let God restore your life through Jesus’ sacrifice- without even taking you back to level one! Be re-spawned as a main character who’ll live even when the console is finally turned off, rather than an NPC who’ll meet his end when the Lord decides to change the cartridge.