I am going to “cheat” a little this morning and insert an excerpt from my book, “Back to Basics: God’s Word vs. Religion.” If you like this short sample, please don’t hesitate to use the links on the Home page and get the whole book. It’s an easy read, and (so far) I have gotten positive feedback. That means both people liked it. 🙂
One of the basic beliefs I hope that we all share is the hope of salvation, i.e., resurrection from the dead and eternity with God. This is essential to the acid test question of what to believe and how to act that I will be presenting throughout this book. That acid test question is this, “How does this affect my salvation?”
That’s it. That’s all that we really need to ask ourselves, isn’t it? If something we are told to believe or something we are told to do (or not to do) doesn’t make sense, we should check it out in the Bible and then ask God to help us decide how this thing affects our salvation.
For instance, let’s take numerology. Personally, I think there are some valuable associations we can make. Such as 3 is representative of the Godhead, 4 is the Godhead and man, 7 is the number of completion, 40 is important, too, although I am not sure why, but it seems to be a regularly appearing number. 40 days for the flood, 40 days for Yeshua in the desert, 40 days spying out the Land, 40 years wandering in the desert (this one we do know because God told Moses the generation that refused to enter Canaan would spend one year wandering for every day they had spies in the Land).
Anything much past a simple association concerns me because we start to look for things that may not be there. You know, they say, “Figures don’t lie but liars figure” and when I apply this to the many different numerological associations I have heard people make I come back to the acid test question, “How does this affect my salvation?” Will I be saved by knowing that a certain word adds up to the number 8, which is associated with a new beginning? Is knowing some deep, hidden meaning of a sentence that has been manipulated to show a number, that has an association to another sentence, that results in another number, that someone thinks means something, going to get me into heaven? I don’t think so, do you?
As I will say over and over throughout this book, we need to see what God says. We always need to go right to the User Manual. With regards to Numerology, the Manual (Bible) tells us over and over that Salvation comes through faith, not through accountancy. So the answer is that number crunching the Bible may have some usefulness with better understanding some things, and may even be interesting, but it is not going to save us. It fails the acid test and we can move on to more eternal things.
I once was told that you can’t make an argument from nothing. This was when I was being instructed how to properly interpret the Torah, which also is an important lesson when formulating a Drash, or sermon. How many times have people told you about hidden meanings they see in the Bible? Or maybe how, as I state above, certain words have a numerical value (in Hebrew the letters also represent numbers) that has the same numerical value as another word which is a bad thing?
I was taught there are three levels of interpretation: the P’shat, or plain written word: what you see is what it means. The Drash, or underlying meaning: read between the lines. And the Sud, or a deeper, almost mystical meaning that only the Spirit can reveal: what you been smokin’, man? These three levels of interpretation are how we should look at the Word. My admonition about being careful is because if it isn’t there, it isn’t there. Too often people try to find meaning that they want to be there, and there is so much meaningful stuff in the Manual that we can pull a line here, and a line there, and make almost anything we want to seem true appear justified.
That’s why we need to use the Acid Test question over and over- is this really important to my salvation? Is it important to realize that when Abraham took Isaac to Mount Moriah to kill him, Isaac was probably in his thirties? If Isaac was a pre-teen, as many suppose, does that make what happened different? If the numerical value of the Tetragrammaton ends up being equal to something, will that allow me entry into God’s presence?
No. What does matter is that Abraham was faithful, and that faithfulness was credited to him as righteousness. Now that’s important! That will pass the Acid Test question because we need to understand and accept that by faith we are saved.
Keep listening, because there is nothing wrong with listening- that’s how we learn. But do so with more than your ears- use your brain, be skeptical, verify for yourself what you are told and let the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) guide you. And above all, don’t forget to give anything you hear the Acid Test.