Many words have a story woven within them. Discovering that story, picture gives a deeper meaning or nuance to what it says. Whether the word is poetic, symbolic, or even jargon each ultimately points us to something tangible and literal. When Jesus spoke about Himself as ‘the door’ we understand it as a metaphor, a picture expressing something. The same applies to Jesus being ‘the Rock.’ There is only one way into the presence of the Father and therefore Heaven. That is through Jesus as Lord and Saviour. There is only one sure and certain foundation on which to build your life. That is the Word of God.
Some are trying to make people who take the Bible seriously, therefore with a literal understanding of the text as intellectual ‘cavemen!’ Others want to make the plain statements of Scripture as either relevant only to the ancient past, or fantasise into something quite different to what it plainly says. That is where supporters of same-sex marriage linger. Marriage has no meaning outside of the Biblical explanation and, dare I write it, the literal symbolism behind the literal union of Adam and Eve. That points to the literal relationship between Christ and the Church.
The Bible was meant to be read and understood. Then it was expected to be adopted and lived out in relationship, service and worship. Habakkuk was commissioned to write his vision so as to ‘make it plain on tablets, and so a runner may read it’ (2:2). As the apostle Paul wrote about speaking that it is only beneficial if it is understood. Sure, there will be many layers to what is written or said because there are various levels of intellect. But, they are meant to be grasped or searched out. The parables of Jesus are a case in point. There is the very obvious message that would lodge within the ear and have an impact. Then, there is the deeper side to the story waiting to be delved into. Both lead to a literal understanding of the Lord’s intention and teaching.
When it comes to certain facets of Scriptural terms and stories in the Old Testament critics are quick to use them as literally ridiculous. The serpent enticing Eve to take the fruit is one of their chief criticisms. Is there a literal answer. Yes. Revelation 12:9! There the answer is presented. The serpent is none other than ‘the great dragon…the Devil, Satan.’ A literal spirit being. A story in the life of Israel in the wilderness concerns the healing of those bitten by serpents. They had to look to the pole Moses had made on which a moulded serpent was placed. Those who looked towards it when bitten were healed. Centuries passed before the meaning was given. Jesus said it pointed to the Son of Man being lifted up, John 3:14. That still wasn’t clear and later Jesus added Himself into the mix. In John 8:28 and 12:32 He said He would be the one lifted up. The cross explains the event in Numbers 21:4-9. The symbol pointed to the literal.
People want to explain away Biblical teaching which conflicts with their views, especially in morals and science. The non-Christian has no reason to accept the Biblical teachings on these matters. It is a different matter for Christians who believe Jesus is the Son of God, Lord, Saviour and the one before whom all will bow. Christ’s views are for us to check-out, understand, adopt, apply and defend. That is a costly exercise as Christians in the sciences have found. Expose the fundamental fallacies of evolution and you are ‘blacklisted’, ostracised. Defend the literal six days of creation and you are ridiculed. Uphold the veracity of the worldwide flood of Noah’s day is to be considered out of step with the facts. Yet the facts speak of a worldwide flood which in turn the evolutionists refuse to debate or consider.
To take the Bible seriously is to enjoy the richness of its words. The awesome symbolisms of the Tabernacle and its sacrifices, the beautiful poetry of the psalms, the metaphors of the Gospels, especially John’s, all take the reader to some unchanging truth, especially about Jesus. As Jesus said in John 5:39 “they speak of me!”