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All you wanted to know
about the Bible
Before you read your Bible read this.
© Duplication of this article is encouraged.
Selected Messages, Vol 1, page 21
"The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God's mode of thought or expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer is not represented. Men will often say such an expression is not like God. But God has not put Himself in words, in logic, in rhetoric, on trial in the Bible. The writers of the Bible were God's penmen, not His pen. Look at the different writers".
"It is not the words of the Bible that were inspired,
but the men that were inspired".
"Inspiration acts not on the man's words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued [coloured] with thoughts. But the words receive the impress of the individual mind. The divine mind is diffused [spread out]. The divine mind and will is combined with the human mind and will; thus the utterances of the man are the word of God. Ms 24, 1886."
Selected Messages, Vol 1, pages 21-22
"There is variety in a tree, there are scarcely two leaves just alike. Yet this variety adds to the perfection of the tree as a whole".
"In our Bible, we might ask, Why need Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Gospels, why need the Acts of the Apostles, and the variety of writers in the Epistles, go over the same thing?"
"The Lord gave His word in just the way He wanted it to come. He gave it through different writers, each having his own individuality, though going over the same history. Their testimonies are brought together in one Book, and are like the testimonies in a social meeting. They do not represent things in just the same style. Each has experience of his own, and this diversity broadens and deepens the knowledge that is brought out to meet the necessities of varied minds...... Letter 53, 1900."
Selected Messages, Vol 1, page 22
"The Lord speaks to human beings in imperfect speech, in order that the degenerate senses, the dull, earthly perception, of earthly beings may comprehend His words.... Letter 121, 1901."
A Guide on How to read
The Bible appears to many to be a difficult book, but it is easily understood if certain rules are observed and lessons learned and the Holy Spirit is allowed to interpret.
The purpose behind knowing Bible truth is that the history and the stories can explain how to be saved from any unpleasantness which may arise in your life, for with every problem there is attached a "way out". This may be obvious or hidden, but you can learn it. It is there whether the event has already happened, or is going to happen, because it was selected to "save you" from sorrow. You may learn from the past experiences of others, or from your belief in the warning. This "way out" may not be side by side with the problem but the use of the marginal references will lead you to it.
Prophets were people (male and female) who received warnings and guidance (in visions and dreams sent from God) to pass on to others. The Bible is made up of specially selected books and letters written by some of these people over a period of 1,600 years from about 1500BC to about 100AD. The only part of it written by God is the Ten Commandments and they were first engraved on tables of stone and then copied into our book. When the authors wanted to point to the actual words from God, they often used the phrase, "Thus saith the Lord", or more commonly, "The Lord says", because they did not use quotation marks.
The writers of the Bible had to describe their visions in their own languages and everything that is human is imperfect. They were priests and shepherds, doctors and fishermen, rich and poor, educated and ignorant. The words were written for the men and women of their time by people who were influenced by God but not controlled by Him. Because each one approached the subject in his own particular way you will find it easier to understand some more than others.
The Creator of all ideas may impress different minds, including your own, with the same thought, but each expresses it in his own way, without contradiction, only difference. The fact that this difference exists should not perplex or confuse us. The sunlight falling on various objects gives those objects different shades of colour depending on their makeup. If one witness notices only one man in a certain situation while another sees two, that does not have to alter the facts.
The Bible is meant to be practical. It has ideas and principles in it which you can use in your everyday life right now, in this world. It is not just a book of the past and the future, but also of the present. We should learn to accept it as it is written. Just ask "why" is it written that way!
In it are many picture forms which are used to show eternal truths. These are called "shadows" because they are NOT the reality, but only a form of it. Earthly shadows change shape depending on the light source and angle, and therefore Bible "shadows" of the same reality can appear to be different at times.
In this book you will also come across pictures of weird animals, some with horns, and some without. Some with four heads and some with seven. There are metals such as gold and silver used to illustrate other points, and sometimes creatures in human form, but which are "aliens". There is even a story of trees "talking" to one another.
One of the problems of Bible interpretation is the tendency to confuse the "picture" with the "reality". For instance, the Old Testament sacrifices were only intended to picture the sacrifice of Jesus but became "real" in the minds of many of the offerers. They thought that there was something good about killing and burning an animal when God was only trying to teach a lesson through it! Once the lesson was learned, there should not have been any further need for the "shadow". That is why Christians today do not offer animal sacrifices or have a temple.
The book is divided into two main parts - the OLD and the NEW Testaments or Statemments. The NEW Testament does not present a NEW religion. Just a new way of looking at the old. Neither does the OLD Testament show us an OLD religion, only a different way of seeing the present one. The New Testament is an advancement and an unfolding of the ancient knowledge which is why we have compared the book of Daniel with the book of The Revelation. [We plan to have this on the page one day]. They both tell us of the same things in different periods of time.
It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that wrote them, therefore use whatever version suits you best, but be sure to compare it with others. It is the principles of the book that are required, as well as the words. That is why we need four writers to cover the life of Jesus. Four witnesses named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They do not present things in the same way, or even see it exactly the same, for all witnesses vary in detail no matter how conscientious.
The Bible was not given for ministers and learned people only. The poor and uneducated need it as much as the rich and schooled. Every person, young and old alike, should read the Bible for themselves which is why it has been translated into so many languages. You do not have to depend on another to read it for you. The Bible is Gods word to YOU. And He has made it so plain that in reading it no one need find it impossible to comprehend or to understand its important statements, unless they want to.
If you are not good with words it uses graphic language and stories to show you the truth. Just start anywhere in the book where you feel comfortable in your reading, and take the most obvious meaning first. Only when you have a common-sense understanding should you try for a deeper view.
It is written "Search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life". To search means to look carefully for something which has been concealed. As you read and reread verses you will get clearer understandings of the principles. To help you in this quest, most Bible compilers have placed references to other texts which use the same words, or the same thought, in a "margin" (sometimes in the middle of the page). It is by comparing the verse you are reading with others that the full truth can be revealed to you. It is that simple. You do not need an earthly teacher, church, or the writings of another person. The Bible explains itself. Some background and history is helpful, but not necessary. The only tool you may need is a book called a "Concordance" which shows you where every word in the Bible may be found, so you can look for yourself.
The other thing to watch is that the chapters, verses, and their numbers have all been added years after the books or letters were written just to make it easier for scholars to find their way about. But you should just read until you have one complete story in your mind, ignoring these. When you have a complete story, stop and ask a question or two about what you have just read. Then look for the answers by using the margin references. Have no preconceived ideas for they will only get in the way. Let your mind relax and you will find it easy. Sometimes the answer to your question will be in the verses above or below your story.
Soon you will find that thoughts you have had before will come into your mind and you will connect verses in your head which may not be mentioned by the margins. After all, they are only put in by other men and you may have your own too.
The Bible tells you not only what happened, but why. It does not tell you all the details, but it teaches you the principles of history through selected incidents in history. Once you know those laws or principles, you may also peer into the future and come to understand what is going to happen, because there is nothing new under the sun; everything repeats itself over a period of time. So-called "mysteries" are simply unaccepted truths. Everything in the Bible is for you to understand, for it is the revealed word of God.
A Guide on How to interpret
Prophecies (and the visions they are based on) were usually given to the people of the Bible in picture or graphic form because symbols and cartoons can be understood easily by persons of any age and any background or culture. Think of the "kiwi" and "kangaroo" symbols. All Australasians grow up knowing what they mean, but everyone else in the world learns later. They are local symbols but there are many which are universal and known to all men and women.
Because you can picture these symbols, their truths stay with you. And their explanation stays the same wherever you meet them in the Bible. In prophetic writing a "horn" is always a "power" and a "woman" is always a "church". But sometimes she is a woman "in scarlet" to distinguish her from the woman "in white". Brass, or bronze, is not a natural metal but an alloy made up by mixing metals, so it has a special meaning when used prophetically. Look for, and enjoy, these differences.
Prophetic writing is easy to recognize because of its very nature. It is usually supernatural in its descriptions although a prophecy can be couched in everyday terms. Different prophetic visions often cover the same ground but from other angles. The same prophecy may be valid for other time periods, but it will have a basic "reality" in only one.
Because all prophecy is conditional, (that is, dependent upon the situation, or people, remaining in the same condition), it can be altered or cancelled when circumstances or behaviour change. The most obvious case in the Bible is when Jonah went to Nineveh (a very large and important city in those days, something like New York is to us) and foretold its destruction in 40 days. The king and all the people believed his message and changed their ways of behaviour. Therefore the announced destruction did not happen.
Not because God changed, but because they did.
However, not even the prophet Jonah appreciated this and he complained to God that he was being made to look a fool. But the warnings are for this very purpose - to change the cause and save the people. And every prophecy can be affected in this way, if only in its timing. This was the case with the next generation of Nineveh. They refused to learn the lesson and resumed their fathers bad behaviour and in their time the city was destroyed. Sadly, very few believe that a prophecy can be changed, so normally it happens as it was told.
Prophecy is based on cause and effect. Certain actions are followed by definite results due to the nature of man. Hit a man and the chances are that he will retaliate. Let a nation grow soft and lazy and another is only too willing to step in and take over. The accuracy of the prophecy is dependent upon the knowledge of the person or the conditions.
Because God knows all the choices you can make, He can prophesy most accurately which one is most likely. But He does not know for sure which one you will choose. That is ALWAYS left with you. It is YOUR choice which determines which of the outcomes actually happens. There are at least two, such as yes and no, I will or I wont, this time, next time. This is why He pleads with you to change your ways if what you are doing will hurt you or those you love. In the case of large numbers of people (such as a nation), the choice becomes even more certain because of the law of averages, and the prediction can be more detailed. It is only a matter of time and the event will happen.
In the Bible God usually takes the blame for a "bad" prophecy because He does not wish to accuse anyone. Therefore when a prophecy is altered or does not happen, it is written that God changed His mind, but He leaves it with us to believe that, or not, as we wish.
Bible prophecy was intended to be understood by all the people of the world in every year since its beginning so it carries its own explanations. Dont guess, or allow others to explain them to you, for you and they will often be wrong. Search for the meaning in the Bible and then hang on to it.
Sometimes the Bible uses the word "day" to mean a prophetic "year". This is shown in an experience of the prophet Ezekiel. He was asked to act out a situation for the exiles in Babylon. He drew a plan of Jerusalem on a clay tile and then placed an iron pan between himself and the tile to show God as a wall of iron as its defence in a siege. Then he laid in front of it on his left side for 390 days to illustrate the length of time given for Israel. God told him, "I have appointed you each day for a year". After this he changed position and laid on his right side for 40 more days to picture Judahs time.
Thus the pattern was set. A "day" in prophetic time became a "year" in literal time. However, to make calculation simple, it is based on 360 days to the year, and this is sometimes called "a time".
You will also find that some prophetic times are very accurate while others are vague. This depends on the people fulfilling the events. With the man Jesus Christ the Bible could be very explicit, but when it comes to other men God often has to wait and so the fulfilment is not specific. The "Elijah coming" of Malachi 4:5 was once fulfilled by John the Baptist but few saw it at the time. However, because prophecies can apply in more than one time, this one can have another fulfilment. Often looking back at history will explain more clearly what some stories were about, and then you may learn from them what to expect in the future.
The following Bible books are available free attached to E-mail
|Jonah||The reluctant prophet||c. 810BC|
|Amos||The practical prophet||c. 789BC|
|Hosea||The loving prophet||c. 785BC|
|Micah||The desperate prophet||c. 739BC|
|Joel||The caring prophet||c. 700BC|
|Nahum||The judgment prophet||c. 640BC|
|Zephaniah||The warning prophet||c. 630BC|
|Habak-kuk||The worried prophet||c. 626BC|
|Obadiah||The salvation prophet||c. 586BC|
|Haggai||The helping prophet||c. 520BC|
|Zechariah||The encouraging prophet||c. 520BC|
|Malachi||The last prophet||c. 425BC|
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