Day 61 - 70 - Theological Interpretation of Scripture

1 Video Transcript

Video Transcript: The Theology Element (Dr Weima)

The fifth and final element of our reformed hermeneutic is the heading the theological element, the theological element. Now right away, you can hear a key term in this principle. And that is the Theo in the theological, that is the word for God. In this series, I've been talking a lot about the biblical authors about Paul and about James and about different individual human authors. And we may wonder that about the divine author because of course, we believe that God is ultimately speaking in Scripture. And so the theological element highlights the divine element of the message we find in the scriptures. Sidney Greidanus has a book on preaching, which is, I think accurate, actually a more a book about hermeneutics about interpreting scripture, and he says, this theological there's that term that we're using in this principle, theological refers not to theory or the discipline of theology, but to God, specifically the revelation of God and the revelation about God. theological interpretation seeks to hear God's voice in the scriptures. It seeks to probe beyond mere historical reconstruction, and verbal meanings to a discernment of the message of God in the scriptures. 

Those in the end of the code beyond mere historical that's our fourth element, and verbal, that's our second, right, he's saying, in addition to those two other principles, and the other ones that we have talked about in this series, right, with the theological focuses to what God is saying in the scriptures. And so the word theology or theological refers, I think, first and foremost, to the idea that God is the primary author of the Bible. So even though there are human authors, those are in a certain sense, secondary authors, secondary authors through whom God, the Holy Spirit, the primary authors speaks, I have a quote here from Louis Berkhof, wrote a book on biblical interpretation from a number of years ago, that still is quite helpful. He says, scripture contains a great deal that does not find its explanation in history, our fourth principle, nor in the secondary authors, but only in God as the Auctor Primarius as that is the primary author. In view of all of this, it is not only perfectly warranted, but absolutely necessary to complement the usual grammatical and historical interpretation with a third, the name theological interpretation deserves the preference, as expressive of the fact that its necessity flows from the divine authorship of the Bible. 

You may remember that our fivefold hermeneutic actually historically has often been three the grammatical, the historical, the theological, then I added literary because of its deeper appreciation by biblical scholars in more recent times, and then I added the presupposition, the thing that is assumed and undergirds all process, Holy Spirit, you can see that Berkhof is operating with those three because he says, in addition to the grammatical, our second, and addition to the historical our fourth, we have to complement those methods with a third one in his paradigm, and he calls it theological and he says, The reason we call it theological is because of the Divine authorship of Scripture. Now, I'm assuming that you listening believe that God is indeed the ultimate author of the Scriptures. But what you need to see is it's that divine authorship, that really is the grounding idea behind some other political or interpretive principles that we may know. But maybe we don't know the grounds for them. So for example, you have heard right, the idea that the Bible is a unity, right? So even though we have many books by many authors, these books, and again, they're not just books, because there's letters and there's poetry, and there's apocalyptic, all those different genres. But all those different books of the Bible have a fundamental unity. 

Why? Because we believe behind them all stands the one God, giving, thereby coherence giving unity to these diverse writings. And this is also the justification for another well known and important hermeneutical principle, interpreting Scripture with Scripture. Why do we do that? Why is it important to interpret one part of the Bible with another part of the Bible? Well, again, we're assuming that God is the primary the ultimate author of Scripture, and thereby he speaks with one voice for all of these secondary authors and different forms of writing. And thereby we want to compare what God is saying in one passage about one subject with what God may be saying about the same subject in another passage or to use an analogy, we don't want to be as interpreters like race horses, you know, race horses, they, they have blinders on. Because there are, you know, they're trying to prevent them from looking to the left or to the right and being distracted. Well, in a certain sense, a good interpreter of Scripture wants to be distracted by other passages of the Bible, we do want to look to the left and to the right. In other words, we just don't in a myopic way, look at what God is saying, in this one passage, we say how does this compare with what the same God is saying on the same subject, in other parts of his word, we need to interpret Scripture with Scripture. Sometimes, a phrase is used in my mind, it really is no different than the phrase interpreting Scripture with Scripture, but you might need it. 

And so I want you to know about it, and that is to talk about the analogy of Scripture, or alternatively, the analogy of faith. In my mind, interpreting Scripture with Scripture is the same as talking about the analogy of Scripture or the analogy of faith. I have a quote here from John Cooper, which addresses the main point, namely, the Bible is an illogical, different texts speak to the same issues, thus modifying and reinforcing each other as they present a unified message. What God means to teach us in a specific passage cannot be understood apart from everything else he teaches us. So you see there in that, quote, the word anological, right? How text the analogy of Scripture how one subject may be addressed in many places in the Bible. And we have to compare all of these passages because they nuance each other. I think this is pretty straightforward. But let me give you a couple of examples. 

But first, also another quote from Henry Virkler, about the same principle of interpreting Scripture with Scripture or the analogy of Scripture or the analogy of faith. He says, if we believe that each individual writing found in the Bible has a common divine author, right, and that's an if that if we believe and we do, right, so since we believe that each individual writing found in the Bible has a common divine offer, namely God, then then the logical consequences this, our exegetical exploration expands beyond the relationship between a text and the single biblical writing in which is found to include questions about its relationship to the entire biblical canon, we are compelled to explore how each part of the Bible is in continuity with is consistent with and must be interpreted by the whole of the biblical teaching, interpreting Scripture with Scripture, in other words.

Now, here's an example of how that principle might carry out in practice. Let's imagine you're a newbie, right? You're a brand new Christian, you know very little about the Christian faith and very little about the Bible and how you ought to read it. Anyway, in your devotions, you stumble across Luke 14, verse 26, and you read, if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father, and mother, he cannot be my disciple. The catches you off guard. But you know, hey, you don't know really what's involved in so if you take those words, literally, if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father, and Mother, you cannot be my disciple? Well, maybe you draw a certain conclusion. So you get on the phone, you say, Hi, Mom. Hi, dad. It's Jeff here. I know, you heard that I'm into Jesus now, right? Yes. But maybe what you don't know is I guess, if you're into Jesus, I can't be into you. So Mom and Dad, you know, I appreciate all the things you did for me, you know, in the past, but, you know, I'm sorry, I won't be talking to you anytime in the future see you by. Now, that would be a logical way to read this text and kind of straightforward, literal, naive fashion, however, then you remember the principle of looking to the left and to the right, the principle of interpreting Scripture with Scripture, and you say this up now, I wonder if the Bible anywhere else talks about the relationship between children and their parents. 

And then of course, you quickly find some important information. For instance, in the same Gospel of Luke, from the same Jesus, the same Jesus who said this one statement, he also says, Love your neighbor as yourself. So that right away would cause you to pause right? How could you hate your father and your mother? If Jesus also says you are to love your neighbor? If you are to love your neighbor, shouldn't you at least love your mom and you're dead? And then you come across another saying also in the Gospel of Luke, and also from Jesus, Luke 18:20. Jesus cites the Old Testament commands, he says, you know the commandments, do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony and Honor your father and your mother. So then you realize, wait a minute, oh, that other texts about hating father and mother, right that ought to be clarified the meaning of that passage By these other texts, and you say to yourself, maybe I got that wrong, maybe I'm not supposed to literally hate my father and mother on the basis of these other texts, maybe I need to go back to that text and, and find out what it really is saying. 

Remember, we said before in this series, that what the Bible says, doesn't always exactly equal what the Bible means. And when you do some further analysis, and of course, this is part of surrounding yourself with remember a good cloud of witnesses, resources that you can trust and be reliable to explain any passage of scripture and especially difficult ones, you find out something pretty quick, you find out that in Jewish circles, to hate something, is a similar way to say that you love something less, right. So when you use the word hate, you don't mean hate in an English sense of I despise I can't stand I hate. But no, it's a way of saying I love this thing or person less. So for example, we read in Genesis 29. Notice that we have two verses because they say the same thing, just different ways. In verse 30, we read that Jacob, Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. And then the next verse says, and Leo was hated. You see, the second verse clarifies, or three states what the first verse says, the first verse says, just not that He really hates Lee, he just loves Rachel more. And so in a Jewish way, instead of saying the same verb Love Again, you can say it by and he hated Leah. 

And it's not just this one text, there are other texts too. For instance, in Malikai, God says, I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated. And the Jewish way of speaking, this doesn't mean that God literally hated Esau, it's just that he loved him less than his brother, Jacob. And in fact, this principle, this idea that hate is really a Jewish way of saying loves less, is so clear that one major translation actually translates it that way in that verse. In other words, they don't use the verb hate, because they're worried that you, the modern reader might take that literally, and thereby miss the real meaning of the text. And so they instead translated as love less. And so if you go back to that text, on the right, in the light of the rest of Scripture, you say, Okay, I realize I'm not to literally hate my mom and dad, no, no, no, that can't be on the basis of what God says elsewhere in His Word. Now, what that text means is, right, what it means is, or its underlying truth claim or principle is, is that I guess, compared to my love for Jesus, I love less my mom and dad, my, my love for my parents is less than my commitment, my absolute devotion to Jesus Christ. 

That's what the text means. And a way to get at that, as we've said, is by interpreting Scripture with Scripture, maybe one more example that we can use. And it's the same kind of idea. Let's imagine on the topic of church discipline, you're a church leader, and you're wondering, now how do we deal with people in our church, you know, who don't do what they're supposed to do? How do we handle that? It's called discipline? Well, let's imagine. The Bible said nothing about this subject except for this one verse, right? The Bible says nothing about disciplining, wayward, or sinning brothers and sisters, except for this one passage from First Corinthians five, should you not have put out of your fellowship, the man who has been doing this? Now, the context, by the way, in First Corinthians five is that a member of the church has a sexual relationship with his stepmother, not his natural mother. Otherwise, they would say he's sleeping with his mom. The phrase is very deliberate. In Greek, it's the wife of the father, your mother is not the same as the wife of the Father. The father perhaps has died. And now the son has some kind of sexual relationship with the stepmother. And Paul is pretty upset at this. In fact, he can't believe it. 

And what's more, he says, you know, not even the pagans, even the non Christians wouldn't put up with that kind of thing. Which, by the way, from an historical point of view from our fourth hermeneutic, we could see is true. If you examine what the practices and the customs were in the Roman world, as open and as tolerant as they were on sexual matters, they wouldn't have tolerated and then having a sexual relationship with his stepmother and yet the Corinthians did. Anyway, in that context, Paul says somewhat understandably so with some frustration and concern, he says, should you not have put out of your fellowship, the man who has been doing this? Now if all your Bible said about discipline was this, you would have to come to the conclusion say, I guess well, when we have people in our church who, who slip up Do things bad, I guess I know what we have to do with them, we have to kick them out, we have to excommunicate them. But before you to quickly draw that conclusion, we say, Now wait a minute, do we look to the left and to the right? 

Do we compare Scripture with Scripture? Does the Bible anywhere else talk about this business of church discipline, and it does. And maybe we can nuance our understanding, clarify understanding of discipline by these other passages. So we obviously, without much difficulty come to a passage like Matthew 18, Jesus says, if a brother or sister sins, go and point out the fall just between the two of you, if he or she listens to you, you have won them over. So I guess we don't go from nothing to excommunication right away, there must be some intervening steps, the first thing you do is you, you go privately, you go personally to this person, and you tell them about the situation. But if that doesn't work, then we still don't go to excommunication, there's a second step, you take another person with you, right, the idea of having the testimony of two or three witnesses being more persuasive, not only to make sure that, that the situation isn't confused, right, that people have a have an accurate record of it, but to show the weight of the situation to the person who's being disciplined. And if that still doesn't work, step three is right. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church, then it becomes a public matter not right away, but ultimately becomes a public matter. And if that still doesn't work, well, then finally you get to step four, right? If they refuse to listen to even the church, then finally you treat them as you would treat a pagan or a tax collector. 

Right? And then you'd Of course, do a historical analysis and say, Well, how did Jews treat pagans? And how did Christians treat pagans and especially how the Jews teach, treat tax collectors, right, and they wanted nothing to do with them. Then you're back finally, to that first Corinthians passage, we're finally at the end of this process, you might, sadly, but finally, discipline, excommunicate the person. But there's also more in the scriptures about this subject. For instance, Paul says in Galatians, six, verse one, brothers, if a person is overtaken in any sin, you who are spiritual should restore that person in a spirit of gentleness. Now, two things are very important about discipline of this text. First of all, you were spiritual, should what that person, get rid of them, make sure we get rid of all the bad apples, no, we should restore that person. So the purpose of church discipline is not punitive. It's not just to punish people know, the goal, or the purpose of church discipline is to restore them to the fellowship. And so we always have to keep that in mind as we engage in this tricky and delicate business discipline. And therefore we also have to do it in a spirit of gentleness. 

We have to make sure we don't come across as holier than thou or super righteous people, right. And understandably, people not be happy to us when we come to them highlighting their sin, we have to make sure we do it in a spirit of gentleness. So they know that we have their best interest at heart so that we're eager for them to be restored not only to a right relationship with God, but also within the family of God. And the same point is found by Paul and another letter with another problem. There, Paul is talking about the eilers, those who are rebellious because they're not listening to Paul or his appointed leaders, and they're not working, they're idle. They're lazy. They're sponging off the generosity of the church. And Paul dealt with it during the founding of the church during the second missionary journey, he dealt with it a second time in his first letter, and then the problem got worse instead of better. And so Paul has to have a rather long section in the second letter, chapter three, verses six to 15, to talk about how the church should discipline these rebelliously idol members. 

But notice at the end, he says, Do not look on him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother, there's that same idea of doing this in a spirit of gentleness. And so when we practice church discipline, we have to do so from a kind of loving, caring, brotherly or sisterly perspective. And so hopefully the point is clear to you. The reason we interpret Scripture with Scripture, the reason we don't just blindly look at just one passage in isolation from the rest is we say now, where else has God addressed this subject? And these other passages? They help us nuance our answer, they help us better understand not just what the Bible says, but more importantly, what the Bible means what God's will is on this particular topic or situation.

Well, this is one thing that we've talked about so far under the heading theological. The idea that God is the primary author of Scripture gives a fundamental unity to Scripture, and thereby we interpret Scripture with Scripture, but now I'd like to move on to something else that also fits under the heading theological and Frankly this is not an easy concept to grasp if you haven't thought about it before. And so I hope that you are ready. And you have some ram left some memory to kind of think carefully about this concept because it's a very important concept, particularly because it impacts the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Not all Christians are agreed about this interrelationship. So again, this concept is an important one. So what is this concept I've been alluding to and hinting at? 

Well, it's the concept called progressive revelation, progressive revelation. Now, let me try to explain this concept to you. On the one hand, the word revelation isn't hard to understand, right? Revelation is where information is communicated from one person, in this case, God, to another person or group of people, namely us. That's when we talk about general revelation, the knowledge of God through creation, special revelation, the knowledge of God in His Word, the Bible, so revelation that I can understand. But what about this other term progressive? Well, that refers to the fact that God in revealing himself and his will to us doesn't do so in one fell swoop, but rather chooses in his divine providence to do so progressively over history over time. I think I need to say that again, because this is an important and yet difficult to understand concept. So God instead of revealing his will, and his plan of redemption in one fell swoop, in one immediate moment, he instead in his divine pleasure in Providence, chooses to do so progressively in history over time. And so what that means is, if you stand further along in that progressive revelation history, you get a clearer picture of what God had all along intended to do. Let me try to say it differently. 

So the same idea, but maybe in a different way. We can't go to Genesis four, for example, why did I pick Genesis four, because I wanted to text after Genesis three, what's so significant about Genesis three? Well, that's where the fall occurs. So we can't go to Genesis four and find a text that reads something like this. And God came to Adam and Eve and said, Adam and Eve, you've blown it big time. But sit down, this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to allow you and your descendants to multiply and increase and fill the earth. Although I must, sadly tell you that many of them will become wicked so wicked, that I'm going to have to wipe them out with a flood. But there's good news, Adam and Eve, I'm going to save out of all those people, a family for myself, his name is Noah, don't worry about that. I'll take care of the details. And from Noah and his family, again, the earth will be filled. And from that Earth, I'm going to call for myself a people, a man's going to start it all off, his name is Abraham, again, don't worry about that. I'll take care of the details. And he will literally be a father of a nation, we're going to change his name from Abraham to Abraham. And this nation will sometimes following my ways, and sometimes they will not. 

But nevertheless, through this nation, ultimately, I'm going to send the Messiah, the Anointed One, the promised one my son, but he's not going to be the kind of Messiah or savior that people want or expect, they'll want and expect some military Messiah, one who will free them from their enemies. And that day, it'll be the Romans. But again, don't worry about that. I'll take care of the details. And so they'll reject Him and they'll kill him. But yet, by my power, I'm going to raise him from the grave. But that's not the end of the story, either. There will still be a time after which he returns to be with me, when life will continue and he will finally come back, he will finally return. And at that moment, all this that you Adam and Eve have made bad will finally be restored to that which was originally good. You can't find a text like that. Can you anywhere in Genesis four anywhere else in the Bible? But did anything I say? Was that not true?

Actually, everything I told you was indeed true. Everything I told you, we learned to be true because God as his plan of salvation was unveiled, unveiled. He had planned this all along, we saw more clearly what God had intended to do as that plan was revealed progressively in redemptive history. And so what this means again, is where you are positioned in redemptive history puts you in Perhaps a privileged position. If we live like we do as New Testament Christians, we can see more clearly what God had all along intended to do. And so what that means is, when we go especially to the Old Testament, we don't read the Old Testament without knowing as that radio program, Paul Harvey puts it, the rest of the story, we know the rest of the story, we know what God ultimately did. And so we can't help but interpret what God earlier did in light of what God later did. And this concept of progressive Revelation, this idea of God revealing himself and his plan for salvation in this ongoing redemptive way, this has implications for other sayings that you perhaps are familiar with, for instance, you have heard of the expression interpreting the Old Testament in light of the New Testament? Where does that expression come from? 

While it presupposes that we get a clear understanding of God and His will in the New Testament, and that's why we have to interpret the Old Testament in light of the new. That's why we have this phrase, a christological interpretation of the Old Testament, when we read the Old Testament, we can't do so without knowing what God ultimately did in the sending and the working and ministry of Christ. those principles, those hermeneutical principles, interpreting the Old Testament light of the new, the principle of a crystalogical interpretation of the Old Testament, are based upon this idea of progressive revelation. Now, in a minute, I'm going to give you an example or two about that. But this progressive revelation also leads to another idea, another phrase that you sometimes will read, not all evangelical Christians are agreed about this. And so there's some hesitancy in what I say to you. But I think there is an issue here that is worthy of our attention. Before I give you some biblical examples of the progressive character of Revelation and how we might approach a text then theologically Old Testament texts theologically, and this is a concept Sensus Plenior, don't again, be intimidated by this Latin phrase, it just means literally a more fuller sense. 

And this takes seriously this fits under theological because remember, under theological, we're remembering that God is the primary author of Scripture, as opposed to the secondary authors. And because God's who his spirit has been working through the primary author, there may be a deeper or more fuller meaning than even what the original author realized. In other words, even though the human author is recording God's will, because God isn't working the process. There may be a fuller sense a census plenty are in Latin, right? Then even the biblical author was aware of. We have a quote here first from a Catholic scholar, a rather famous one who just passed away a few years ago, Raymond brown that goes like this. The Census Plenior here is that additional, deeper meaning intended by God who is the primary author of Scripture, but not clearly intended by the human author, which is seem to exist in the words of a biblical text or group of texts or even a whole book, when they are studied in the light of further revelation, progressive revelation, or development in the understanding of Revelation. And this isn't just a Catholic idea. Here's a quote a very similar one from Don hegner. He's an evangelical Christian, taught for many years at fuller Theological Seminary. 

He says, to be aware of Sensus Plenior here is to realize that there is the possibility of a more significance to an Old Testament passage then was consciously apparent to the original author, and more that can be gained by strict grammatical, historical exegesis, such as the nature of divine inspiration that the authors of Scripture were themselves. Often I don't know if I would use the word often, but he does, often not conscious of the fullest significance and final application of what they wrote. This fuller sense and Latin the Sensus Plenior here. This fuller sense of the Old Testament can be seen only in retrospect, and in light of the New Testament fulfillment. So progressive revelation, right, that we understand God's Will his plan of redemption more clearly as that plan unfolds in a progressive fashion. And also, the divine authorship of Scripture may mean that there is a deeper meaning to some text, especially Old Testament texts, possibly New Testament texts, but especially Old Testament texts, and the biblical authors themselves were aware of, well, all this maybe sounds kind of abstract. 

And so let's look at a couple of examples and maybe this will make it more real or concrete. Let's imagine you're on a game show, Alex Trebek. And, you know, you take, you know, biblical questions for 1000 because you think you'll do well. And the question is, what is the first gospel? What is the first gospel? Now, of course, on that TV show? The answer would be, of course, what is Matthew? But there are some theologians who would disagree with that answer. There are some biblical folks who argue that the first gospel, the first gospel is not Matthew, but it's Genesis 3:15. Why would they say that? The text says, so the Lord God said to the serpent, and I will put enmity between you and the woman between your seed and her seed, he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. Now, if you take this passage in isolation from the rest of Scripture, right, if you take this passage alone, while there's not very much clear about it, there certainly is nothing about Jesus and about his coming and what he will specifically do in terms of his redemptive work. However, as New Testament Christians, we can't help but read this through the eyes of Christ. Right, a christological reading of Genesis 3:15, or a reading of this text, text, knowing the rest of the story can help us But see, in this an illusion of foreshadowing to the coming of Jesus. Jesus, right, despite the enmity between the serpent and the woman, right, but Jesus who, who, whose heel perhaps was struck, but Jesus who crushed the head of the serpent, that would be a more theological reading of this passage, recognizing it has a fuller sense than maybe even the original author intended. 

Here's the second example. An example from Hosea, oops. Now, before I get to the message, maybe I should put into practice our fourth hermeneutical principle, the historical context so you can better maybe appreciate what it is that Hosea or more accurately what God through Jose is saying. So very, very briefly, who is Hosea? Well, he's a prophet. He's a prophet, importantly, to the northern kingdom. And he's also a prophet who, from an historical point of view, had an interesting marriage, God commanded him to marry a prostitute a woman of the streets. Because Hosea's marriage was a metaphor. It was a living example of Israel's relationship with God. Because just like Jose, his wife was kind of prostituting herself. So also Israel, the nation of Israel was prostituting itself by not being faithful monogamous to God, the one and only true God, but these other gods from the foreign nations. And also Hosea had three kids with his prostitute wife, and the names of each of these children were also words of warning to the Israelites, to repent of their sinful ways, and to turn to the Lord alone. And we also from an historical point of view, should know when Hosea lived, he lived right at the tail end. And shortly after the time of King Jeroboam the second.

Is that important yes it is Jeroboam the second was, at least financially and politically and militarily a very successful, lengthy kingship. Israel, in fact, expanded its military borders to the glory days of King David and King Solomon. But there was a problem, as Israel increased its military borders, so also to increase the number of foreign gods that it worshipped. And as Israel became more financially successful, so also it increased its neglect of the poor, the fatherless, the widow. And so from an historical point of time point of view, the time was right for God to raise up a prophet, a guy like Hosea, whose both were his deeds, his marriage and children and his words, were words of warning to the Israelites of old.

Now, when you turn to the message, there are some negative things therefore, understandably, so that Hosea has to proclaim to God's people. I'm just going to quickly go through them because I want to get to the positive message, because we see again, how God's mercy is greater than Israel sin. So one of the themes the verb in Hebrew that occurs over and over again, is Israel's failure to acknowledge God Israel's failure to acknowledge God. The second sin that they're guilty of is Israel's failure to to give gratitude to God. Well, that's a logical outcome of the first problem. If I don't acknowledge God in my life, well, then naturally, don't thank God for the good things that have happened to me in my life. Instead, I look at my life, especially good things. And I say to myself, Oh, I must be lucky or, you know, fate must be shining on me or you know, I deserve these things. I've worked hard, no wonder I have them. And so, failure to acknowledge God logically, naturally leads to their failure to be grateful to God. And remember, they are coming off of 40 plus years of prosperity and wealth under King Jeroboam the second. So their sin was especially bad and failing to be thankful and grateful to God for providing these blessings to them. And the third sin is they were guilty of no proper worship. 

The word proper is important because they were worshiping God. In fact, there was too much worshiping going on his or they're worshiping God, but they're worshiping bail. They're worshiping the deities of the other nations around them. You know, they probably figured, hey, why not? You know, life is good. We're on a roll here. We don't want to knock a good thing. Let's make sure that all the deities out there happy so that you know, we can maintain this affluent, comfortable lifestyle that we're leading. But after all of these negative messages comes the gospel comes the good news. And the good news is, God's mercy is greater than Israel sin. In other words, even though Israel you don't acknowledge me as you as you are, even though you don't bring me the true and genuine gratitude, thanksgiving and praise that I deserve. And even though you don't worship me in spirit and truth, God says, My Mercy is real is greater than your sin. And if you have time, you should look up especially Hosea 11, where the parent child relationship between God and Israel is a powerful expression of this truth. This is the underlying truth claim moral principle that God's mercy is greater than Israel's sin. Now, I stopped here, I would be guilty of exegetical malpractice. Because I have to interpret this passage. 

Remember, in light of the rest of the story, you and I do know the rest of the story, we stand in a privileged position within the history of redemption. And so I could come to you the modern audience, and I could say something like this, I could say, you know, the truth of ozium better than Hosea did himself, you know, the gospel truth that God's mercy is greater than your sin, you know, that better than Hosea did. And you might be surprised and say, How can I be? And I could say they can be because again, you stand after Christmas. You live in a time after Good Friday, after Easter after Ascension day after Pentecost. You see, you and I stand in a privileged position within the history of redemption. We haven't just heard the truth that God's mercy is greater than Israel, since we've experienced it. We've experienced it through Jesus Christ. And that allows me and you to say that God's mercy in Christ Jesus is greater than all my sin. And you know, what comes from standing in a privileged position, don't you? Greater responsibility? And so I could then in terms of application go on to say now, in light of what God has done for you through Christ, do you acknowledge God and God alone? And in light of what God has done for you in Christ? 

Do you bring your praise and gratitude to God and to Him alone, for not only the physical blessings that you enjoy, but especially this spiritual blessing which blows those physical blessings away? And in light of what God has done for you in Christ, do you worship him properly in spirit and in truth? And in light of what God has done for you in Christ? Do you know that underlying moral truth claim found you know, Zia? Do you know that gospel message given through the prophet Hosea? Do you know that truth and and can you tell it to your neighbors, and do you live it out into your daily life, namely, that God's mercy in Christ is greater than all your sin? You see, that's where we apply the theological that's interpreting the Old Testament in light of the new, that's a christological reading of this passage.

Well, maybe one more example. And it's not an easy one. It's not really a text so much as a concept. It's an idea that's addressed a number of places in the Old Testament and then picked up again in the new. But I think this passage to can or this theme or topic and also be understood only from this idea of a progressive character of Revelation. And it has to do with the theme of the day of the Lord the day of the Lord. Now If you wanted to have a biblical theological understanding of this concept there the Lord, if all the texts you had to work with were just the Old Testament, your understanding would be pretty clear, it would be, wait a minute, we're in the present age right now. But there's a day coming the day of the Lord coming, and it will immediately and dramatically usher in a new age. Or maybe we have to use those words carefully. Now, in a new age old age, maybe you're talking about, we're living under the old covenant right now. But there's a day coming when God is going to act in a dramatic way through his Messiah is called the day of the Lord. And it's going to usher in immediately and dramatically this new covenant, this new time period where there'll be a different relationship between God and His people. That's an understanding of the day Lord based on the Old Testament. 

But when you go to the New Testament, we have to kind of nuance that understanding. And you can see that in comparing John the Baptist with the later New Testament writers, let's pick John the Baptist for a moment. John the Baptist has a sermon. It's a pretty simple and ongoing sermon, but it's a powerful one. It's a sobering one. It's a day of the Lord sermon that he preaches over and over again. And he's basing it on the teachings of the Scriptures that he had the Old Testament. And so he's preaching people, the day of the Lord is coming. And he has a little twist to it. It's a twist found in the Old Testament prophets already. It's like, you know, not only on the day of the Lord, will the enemies of Israel face judgment, right, not only will the day of the Lord be a time when the enemies of God's people will be punished. But even some among Israel, those who do not acknowledge the Lord, those who are not faithful to the Lord. And so some of the prophets already said, I wouldn't be so excited Israel If I were you about the day of the Lord, because it's not only the wicked who will be punished. It's also the unrighteous within the people of God. And John the Baptist is taking that sobering message and saying the same thing. It's a message of Repent, for the day of the Lord is at hand. 

He says, The axe is at the tree, it's about to come crashing down. Because from his point of view, his old testament thinking point of view, we're living now in the present age, right? The Day of the Lord is going to come in a sudden and dramatic way and usher in the New Age, the New Covenant, the new kingdom. So john is preaching and preaching this truth. Then Jesus comes, and john is perplexed. Is he he expected something to happen and it's not happening. Where is the boom? Where is the flash? Where is this dramatic Day of the Lord? Where is this new kingdom that's supposed to come? And so john, in his puzzlement, sends a couple of his disciples to Jesus, right? The disciples said, Are you the guy or not? I mean, john says, I'm telling everybody, you're the one I told everyone you're coming. But wait a minute, things aren't unpacking the way that I expected. They're not unpacking the way the Old Testament prophets said they would. Jesus answer is important. 

Jesus says, Go tell john What? the lame walk the blind see the deaf here. Now, of course, you have to know your old testament to appreciate Jesus answer. Because when you go to the Old Testament prophets who talked about the future Day of the Lord, they said, The Day of the Lord would be a wonderful day, it'll be a day characterized by miraculous events like the blind seeing the deaf hearing, the lame walking. So when Jesus says, Go tell john that the deaf hear the blind, see the lame walk, he's basically saying, Yes, I am the one. And my miracles then are what? My miracles are not just me, showing off my power, what I can do. My miracles are not just even me feeling sorry for those who are hurting and in need. There were lots of lame and blind and deaf people in Jesus day who he did not heal. But my miracles then are what are a public sign of the in breaking of the day of the Lord and the new kingdom? My miracles are a public tangible sign that yes, the day of the Lord has come, I am the one. 

It's just that this new age this new kingdom is a little bit different john than what you expected and the prophets before you, instead of old age, dramatic break into New Age instead, we now have a kind of an overlapping of the ages. On one hand, the old age is still around after the coming of Christ, we still live in a world where we are impacted by the fall the consequences of sin. But on the other hand, Jesus first coming did indeed usher in the new kingdom, the New Age, one of the clearest signs of the New Covenant is the outpouring of the Spirit. Pentecost is a huge event for us as Christians because the Prophet said that the new covenant one day God says I will pour out my spirit and He will dwell among you. And we want the spirit not for the spirit sake. But the Spirit gives us power to do something not new, but something that God has always called us to be and to do already we back at Mount Sinai, God said, I want you to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. And finally, we're looking forward to a day when the Holy Spirit will be poured out God's Spirit, and we can do that which God called us always to do. 

That's what's new, which is already part of the new kingdom, the New Age. In other words, we have to maybe nuance from a New Testament point of view, our day of the Lord theology, again, not old age, immediately New Age, but a kind of overlapping of the ages. That's a hard concept. So maybe we can use an analogy to help us better appreciate it. There's an analogy from the second world war that I think is helpful. You know, there is the D day from the Second World War, which is in distinction from the V day, D day refers to the day when the Allied forces hit the beaches of Normandy and delivered a death blow to Hitler and his forces. But even though for all intensive purposes, the battle was one then that wasn't the end of the war. In fact, it took over a year for the so called mop up operation to take place and the day to occur. And there were people waiting for that day. There are people who had heard about the initial victory, and they were waiting for that victory to be fully realized. People like my grandparents, people in the Netherlands, and they were waiting over a year eagerly anticipating the day when they would be liberated, and the consequences of that D day victory would finally be fully experienced by them. And in a similar way, we as Christians have a D day and V day. Our D day is Jesus' first coming when he delivered a death blow to Satan, sin and death. And he ushered in a new covenant, a new kingdom, a new age, properly understood. 

But the consequences of the old age are still with us. And we're waiting then for Jesus. Second Coming which now the New Testament roughrider writers referred to as the day of the Lord, from a New Testament point of view. Now the day of the Lord refers to Jesus return his second coming, a time when that initial victory would finally be fully actualized. Right? When the be a new heaven and a new earth, when the heavenly Jerusalem comes down to the earthly Jerusalem, when the separation that that the fall cause right, the separation between God and humanity is finally bridged and restored. And so now our day of the Lord, right we we have to nuance our answer because of what God apparently had all along, intended to do, and which we could only see in retrospect, as that plan unfolded. And by the way, that's why Jesus says about john the baptist, that, that whoever is least in the kingdom of God is greater than john the back. I mean, John the Baptist is a great guy, he's the forerunner to the Messiah. 

But you see, as great as he is, he's still part of the old age, the present evil agent. And we now through Jesus first coming, he has ushered in now this new covenant, this new age, and we as Christians are from the New Testament point of view, now looking to the future, eagerly anticipating the day of the Lord, when Jesus will return in glory, when every knee will bow and every tongue confess to the already existing truth that Jesus Christ is Lord. Well, friend, I've given you at least three different kinds of examples of how we might approach the Bible theologically. Not only comparing Scripture with Scripture, but also this idea of progressive revelation that we get a fuller and more clear understanding of what God had all along intend to do from a New Testament point of view over the old. Now, don't make the mistake of some Christians thinking that the old is old and somehow gone and done away with no, no, no, no, the old covenant is every bit of Covenant of grace as the new covenant is. 

But the New Covenant involves our ability, right, the outpouring of the Spirit, to do that which God's people could not do under the old covenant, namely, to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, as God called them to be. Instead, from a New Testament point of view over and over again, not just Paul, but all the biblical writers talk about how the Spirit is the power by which we use Christians can live the holy life to which God has always called his covenant people to lead. And so the Old Testament is a covenant of grace, the New Testament is to. And so there's a bit of difference between the two, not because the old is bad and got away with, but the new is a fuller realization of what God had promised to do under the old covenant. Well, we come to the end of our five hermeneutical principles. 

Remember, the first one, the Holy Spirit element is a presupposition underlying the other four, it's a bit more of a subjective category, it's a little harder to analyze the work of the Spirit. It comes and blows wherever he wills, but not what He wills. And we have the other four the more objective traditional categories of grammar, literary, historical, and theological. And my goal, and I'm quite convinced this is possible is that when you approach scripture, you apply these different principles, you approach the text, from a Holy Spirit element, you pray for the illuminating presence of work of the Holy Spirit, as you interpret as you seek the exege to discover then in there have a particular text, and you approach the text grammatically, and literarily, and historically and theologically. Now, not every passage will have factors of equal significance on all those different hermeneutical principles. Some passages, grammatical considerations were really important, sometimes they'll be less important. Sometimes on one passage, historical considerations will be huge to understanding the passage. And sometimes it won't be so significant. 

So remember that hermeneutics is not just a science, but it's also an art, you have to be a little bit flexible or wise as you put these principles into practice. And when you do that, some positive things happen. If you follow this reformed hermeneutic, these five hermeneutical principles, one positive thing that happens is foolish interpretations are quickly gotten rid of, if there's some idea that you have or that somebody has out there that has no business being on the table, it's quickly weeded out as you subject it to these different criteria. And what's more, I've never ever had it where if I follow the text grammatically leads in one direction, if I follow it literarily leads in another one, if I follow historically leads in another one, that never happens, instead, they always seem to kind of work together. And what that means is that the end of the exegetical process, I don't end up in a position where I think this may be true, I just feel this may be true. Instead, I end up in a very confident position that I know this is true. That's a wonderful position to be in as a preacher, and as a teacher, and proclaimer of God's word, where you can speak authoritative Lee about the message then and there. Because if you have that right, then you can have great confidence when you seek to apply it to the audience here and now. 

So dear friends, I thank you for your attention in this series. And I ask that the Holy Spirit will work in your heart and in your life in such a way that you will not only understand these principles, but you will be committed to putting them into practice and if you do, it will yield wonderful blessings and rewards. And that dear friends I suggest to you is the way that we can read the Bible. for all it's worth.

Last modified: Monday, November 23, 2020, 1:05 PM