Why do we have and study the Bible? Frankly I’m afraid Bible study had become divided into three main branches. One branch seems to think, I listen to my preacher and he tells me what I need to know, so I don’t need more than that because he’s the expert, and I just get overwhelmed by it. Another branch seems to talk about Bible study is ‘good’, but we don’t need so much Bible study because any situation we are in we can ask the Holy Spirit to guide us and we will (at least, more often than not) go the right direction. Then there seem to be those who have become fanatical (cultic) in the root meanings of ancient Hebrew words and developing doctrines that lead them into a sense of either esoteric or ethereal realms of understanding that they become slaves to getting to the root definitions, but do not necessarily have a practical application to living and witnessing in this world to God’s (Yahweh’s) glory.
Our Creator has allowed us to hand down His Word through the Scriptures to teach man about His Creator, his Creator’s will for creation, and how God’s creation has gone completely against His will, and how His creation can be restored to coming to Him through a Savior/Redeemer Who is our Creator’s expression of Himself, therefore He is part (Son) of the Creator, Who taught us the value of loving one another and holding one another up, rather than seeking to build ourselves up, neglecting our fellow brothers and sisters, and especially against the many who build themselves up by taking advantage of fellow brethren and sisters. This, of course is a very simplistic and incomplete explanation, but a beginning. Our Creator wants us to begin to know Him, and in that beginning to become attached to Him and to grow and learn more. So we have our Scriptures for a guide, and His Holy Spirit to help us understand. So we are to ‘study’ the Scriptures, because He has told us all through the Scriptures to come to Him, to learn from Him, and to study to show ourselves approved, and to teach Him and His will and way to others. Are we doing that?
There are many languages on the planet, and God’s Word is to be translated into those many languages. We are not to all learn ancient Hebrew and go around the world and tell people that if they want to really know God’s Word, then they need to learn Hebrew. It is excellent for scholars to learn as much as possible about ancient languages and how the Scriptures were handed down and to teach much of their learning to the lesser scholars (the preachers, pastors, and reverends) who will go out and teach the people in their congregations (assemblies- I add these parentheticals because some people can be really nit-picky about just which word is used because they get hung up in nuances handed down to them). The lesser scholars could then use the material learned from the greater scholars to teach their “Bible study groups” these things to help them to get more out of their personal Bible study.
Many preachers have become lazy, and mostly get in front of the church and read a verse or two and spend the rest of the service ‘praising God’ and ‘speaking in tongues’. Paul said it is better not to speak in tongues unless there were someone there to interpret, because it is better to speak in words that people can understand and learn from. (Oh, but if I were going to try to speak in words that people could understand, then I would have to do a lot of study and preparation, and that would be a lot of work. Why don’t I just let the Lord speak through me in tongues?— Because if you want to spread God’s glory, then it is best to do so in a language that the people can understand.)
Then there are those who preach that all you need to do is read the Word and the Holy Spirit will give the understanding. Then it’s stupid to give those preachers salaries, because all they would have to do is put that message on billboards all over town, and those preachers wouldn’t even be needed any more.
Here, I will not include copy and pasted passages because this post is becoming too long. Anyone interested may search the Scriptures to see if what I say here isn’t so. The Scriptures teach to avoid vain disputations about words and meanings that only lead to strife and division (not exact words, and passages may have to be compared to others to get the total understanding). The law is not for those who have come to the Lord to find His law implanted in their heart, but is given for those who are rebellious against the law. Those who are not rebellious know the benefits of living a lawful life, but those who know the Lord will have His law planted within. We know that the law planted within is not fully sprung forth and grown to its fullness. That is why the Scriptures teach that we are to STUDY to show ourselves approved, and we are to nurture that seed the Holy Spirit planted within at the time we came to know the Lord.
The study of the Semitic Hebrew can be rewarding for scholars and information gleaned and handed down to the lesser scholars and then handed down from them to people like me can be very meaningful, rewarding, and insightful. One student of the Semitic language noted how few people knew the original root of ‘manna’ in the Scriptures. It was (if I remember correctly), ‘man hu’, but the Greeks corrupted it to ‘manna’. Perhaps an interesting factoid for some, but I think ‘corrupted’ is a little harsh. Language, even the Hebrew language changes over time. And there are so many languages. Why not simply say that the word ‘manna’ today is translated from ‘man hu’, and let the rest of us wander, “So what. ‘God’ in English is ‘Deo’ or ‘Dieu’ in other languages, but let’s learn more about what the Scriptures say to us today in our language.” The same person pondered if the smoke from the sacrifice might repel more insects than the smoke from a wood fire alone. Whether or not, I didn’t read that he had indicated that such knowledge would aid a person’s spiritual life in any way, and if it helped a person’s practical life, perhaps he would suggest that we need to burn more sacrifices in towns to keep away the insects? Even at that, he didn’t say it was a fact, but a supposition, and people could teach many millions of suppositions without doing any good at all.
I’m no scholar, but I do enjoy and come to a better understanding by looking into the history of some of the words handed down in our Scriptures. How many of you know that there is a translation of the Scriptures (as there are many translations and versions) that instead of being called “The Holy Bible” it is called “The Awful Scroll”? From the ‘very minutely little’ that I’ve read from it (and I intend to read more) I sort of like/dislike it. I like it’s translating, but understanding it requires a great deal of thought. A great deal of thought is good sometimes, but I’m sort of lazy, and it is very much time consuming. It might not be so time consuming if I knew the ancient Hebrew and early English better, but learning both would be necessary in fully understanding this translation. I think it would be too much for a preacher to use in the pulpit, because he would have to spend too much time explaining every two or three words. To begin with “Awful Scroll” is an accurate translation, though it may sound repulsive to many. One has to understand the meaning of ‘awful’ in earlier times. Today ‘awful’ generally is understood as very distasteful, and even horrible. It’s more original meaning referred to the awesomeness that inspired a certain humility in a person, usually to the point of fearfulness. It is this sense of fearfulness that describes what is expected in the ‘fear of the Lord’ when humble creatures such as myself come to a closeness of approaching the awesomeness of such a powerful Yahweh.
In this vein of thought, one understands the literal translation of our words ‘Holy Spirit’ as ‘Awful Breath’. This is an accurate translation, but it is not easily expected that people would begin excitedly spreading the word that they had been inspired by the Awful Breath. The awesomeness of something tends to set something apart as special which awesomeness being set apart lends itself to the common translation of ‘holy’ as ‘set apart’, but it tends to imply a being set apart by its ‘awesomeness’, and this sense of awesomeness is translated, at least by standards of older meanings of our language as ‘awful’. Then in Hebrew thought, the ‘breath’ did not mean ‘inhaling and exhaling’ in a strict sense, but referred to a total essence, character, and spirit of life. The same Hebrew word ‘ruach’ and the same Greek word ‘pneuma’ could be translated as ‘breath’, ‘spirit’, and sometimes ‘wind’. So what we refer to as Holy Spirit could be translated ‘Awful Breath’ and be an excellent translation, though one would have to understand the full implications. How much time would a preacher spend in the pulpit explaining this- and with his explanation how many people would fully comprehend his explanation? So though it’s good for scholars to study this, it’s best to spread the Gospel Message in a language that is more easily understood by those who don’t have the time to dedicate themselves to such scholarly pursuits. The scholars can hand down their learnings to lesser scholars who can glean messages more meaningful for their groups (congregations, assemblies, ecclesias).
When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, those assembled went out and were preaching to the masses in various languages, that the speakers didn’t naturally know, but the masses each heard in his/her own language. For this reason, I’m fully convinced that if the Lord wished all His children to master Semitic Hebrew, the Spirit (or that Awful Breath) could fill the church and all the believers could go out teaching others the Message in its original language. I mention this because I have noticed many, many sites online that are forming groups that are becoming entrenched in the study of Ancient Hebrew as a language. This can be good, as it can bring many to a deeper understanding of God’s Word, but I fear it has the potential of bringing more of these Gnostic teachings that can lead many back to cultic disputations over meanings of words that could be stretched to the extent of bringing back in those who would bring those who had found freedom from the law in Christ to being back to slaves to the laws as taught by rules of rote by the understanding of men.
Again, I’m no scholar, and don’t trust me. Search the Scriptures to see what is true to what the Holy Spirit plants in your heart. I do pray that the seed of God’s law be planted in your hearts, and that you ‘study to show yourselves approved’ with the remembrance that in all our studies, none of us have reached that fullness of perfect maturity.