Thursday, April 26, 2012

How the Bible illustrates itself

1 Corinthians 10:6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.

We looked yesterday at the law of principle of first mention.  Today we consider a second law or principle of Bible study that can aid us in tracing key thoughts through the Bible: The law of illustrative mention.

The Bible prizes the power of its own recording of history to tie together the lives and expeirences of God's people throughout the ages.  One of the traits of scripture is that for every New Testament doctrine or truth, there is at least One Old Testament event or person that embodies or illustrates that truth.  Scripture abounds with such illustrational references.  Let me show you what I mean.

1. The concept of "name" illustrated.  What is the significance of the term "name" in the Bible?  God reveals many names about Himself.  When we study scriptures that use the term or phrase name in conjunction with other people, it can shed light on how we connnect God to His names.  For example in 1 Samuel 18:30 we read - "Then the commanders of the Philistines went out to battle, and it happened as often as they went out, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul. So his name was highly esteemed."

The "name" of David was tantamount to speaking about David Himself.  His reputation, his influence and authority as a leader are rooted in the "name" he made for himself.  God communicates His very being through His names.  His names are like stained glass windows through which we can admire and adore Him.  They too tell of us His reputation, influence and endless authority.

Over 300 Old Testament passages exist that speak of "the names of God".  Everything that is entailed in His name is trnasferred over to Jesus Christ in the New Testament.  Matthew 1:21 has the angel telling Joseph to "name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins".  Jesus in the Hebrew originally was "Yeshua", meaning "Jehovah saves".  Thus in the naming of Jesus in His humanity, we see reference to His Divine identity He has shared with the Father from all eternity.  Like the Father, He shares in the very nature that makes Him the "I am who I am" of Exodus 3.

2. The concept of Christ and His church illustrated by marriage.  Who knew that God would use the first institution he established - marriage, to illustrate the last institution he begun - the church.  Over 100 times do we find reference to marriage or issues related to it in the Bible.  It does not take long till one finds God Himself using marriage to illustrate His relationship with His people Israel. (Hosea 2; Ezekiel 16; Isaiah 50). 

However as the New Testament begins to unfold the revelation of the church, the Apostle Paul brings together the church and Christ with the husband and wife relationship in Ephesians 5.  A powerful image developed extensively throughout the Old Testament is carried over to include the new and distinct grouping of God's people - the church. 

Illustrative mention helps make the abstract concrete.  Jesus speaks over 60 parables centered around this particular principle.  Of the over 900 prophecies in the Bible, many use concrete illustration to drive home the urgency of the abstract truths they communicate.  When uses in conjunction with the first tool - "the law of first mention", one can begin to build the skills needed to explore the Word of God. 

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