Things aren’t always as they seem. For example, if I were to tell you that “I am all ears,” you would automatically understand what I meant – but only because you are familiar with the expression. However, if you were reared in a culture unfamiliar with that expression you would be puzzled as to what I meant. You may think that under my clothing there may be a plethora of ears covering my entire body.
Perception is everything!
Perception is the culmination of culture, environment, experience, and training. And that is exactly what we individually bring into our Bible studies – preconceived ideas based to those factors. We attempt to make sense of biblical texts based on our experience without necessarily understanding what God is intending to teach us. For example, let’s consider the prophetic meaning of the sun, moon, and stars:
Introduction to the 1611 Authorized Version:
TO THE MOST HIGH AND MIGHTY PRINCE JAMES, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE, AND IRELAND, DEFENDER OF THE FAITH, &c, The translators of the Bible wish Grace, Mercy, and Peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Great and manifold were the blessings, most dread Sovereign, which Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, bestowed upon us the people of England, when first he sent Your Majesty’s Royal Person to rule and reign over us. For whereas it was the expectation of many, who wished not well unto our Sion, that upon the setting of that bright Occidental Star, Queen Elizabeth of most happy memory, some thick and palpable clouds of darkness would so have overshadowed this Land, that men should have been in doubt, which we they were to walk; and that it should hardly be known, who was to direct the unsettled State. The appearance of Your Majesty, as of the Sun in its strength, instantly dispelled those supposed and surmised mists, and gave unto all that were well affected exceeding cause of comfort; especially when we beheld the Government established in Your Highness, and Your hopeful Seed, by an undoubted Title, and this also accompanied with peace and tranquillity at home and abroad.
In Ezekiel 32 there is a lament for Pharaoh king of Egypt. Verses 7-8 reads, “And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God” (Ezekiel 32:7–8, KJV).
I will cover the heaven – Destroy the Egyptian empire.
Make the stars thereof dark – Overwhelm all the dependent states.
I will cover the sun – The king himself.
And the moon shall not give her light – The queen. (Taken from Adam Clark Commentary).
For clarity, let’s look at Joel 3:15, “The sun and the moon shall be darkened, And the stars shall withdraw their shining.”
“The sun and the moon shall be darkened” – High and mighty states shall be eclipsed and brought to ruin. The stars, petty states, princes, and governors, shalt withdraw their shining; withhold their influence and tribute from the kingdoms to which they have belonged and set themselves up as independent governors.
Another example is Joseph’s dreams, Genesis 37:9-10 (KJV) “And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. 10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?”
Joseph’s family well understood the dream was about them. The sun and moon represent his parents and his brothers are the eleven stars – (Joseph being the twelfth).
Prophetically, the sun is symbolic of the highest authority; the moon, which has not its own light, is symbolic of derived authority; and the stars are symbolic of subordinate authority.
The point is that symbols are just that, symbols. They are representations expressing deeper meanings. Biblical allusions to seas, rivers, clouds, storms, waters, mountains, deserts, trees, beasts, &c are representations of deeper reality. The intent of the imagery is to firmly plant the idea in your mind, as to not forget.
Thus, as always:
Question everything, even that which you believe you know. Search the Scriptures for the answers. in the book of Revelation there are over nine hundred allusions to the Old Testament. In Bible study, CONTEXT is everything. Context includes “by whom, to whom, for whom” the passage/message was intended.
“It must be remembered that the Old Testament was written originally by, to and for Jews. The words and idioms must have been intelligible to them – just as the words of Christ when talking to them must have been. The majority of the New Testament likewise was written in a milieu of Greco-Roman (and to a lesser extent Jewish) culture and it is important to not impose our modern usage into our interpretation. It is not worth much to interpret a great many phrases and histories if one’s interpretations are shaded by pre-conceived notions and cultural biases, thereby rendering an inaccurate and ineffectual lesson.” APOLOGETICE INDEX.
The ENTIRE Bible is the Context!
Exploring Scripture~because it matters-it really does!