The Banquet and the Bible–Part 1

            Imagine you’re waiting tables for a sumptuous corporate banquet, held at the Big Fancy Inn.  As you and the other waiters and waitresses busily dart about the elegant hall filling coffee cups, serving more dinner rolls, picking up plates, bringing desserts, etc., you hear a good bit of the ceremonies.  Awards are presented to much applause.  Then the keynote speaker, Wally Willman of Walla Walla Widget Works spells out the keys to success with more flare and dynamics than you’ve ever heard.  You and your fellow workers are captivated.  Idle chatter ceases so you can glean any life changing nuggets from Willman.  When the speech is over, you join the uproar of applause.

            Now freeze this picture in your mind for a bit.  Were any of the awards doled out meant for you?  No.  Was Wally Willman speaking for your benefit.  Was he talking specifically about you?  No again.  But you did benefit from the principles he shared, right?  To some extent he spoke in general terms that would apply to anyone.  Nonetheless, the evening’s events were specifically meant for the banquet attendees, not you.  The only thing you would get directly would be some left over cherry cheesecake after the commotion died down.  We can safely conclude that Willman’s address was for you, but not to you.

            What does this have to do with understanding the Bible?  We know that all of it is God’s Word..  In fact, its unity is amazing, considering God moved 40 authors to write its books over hundreds of years, and Christ is its centerpiece.  But is it all directed at you and me today?  The answer is No.  Surprised?  Most of Scripture is for us, but not directly to us.  Don’t get me wrong.  We can’t just pick and choose to follow whatever  suits our fancy from the Bible. That would be sloppy and foolish.  I can only give a few pointers for now.  This is very important and can save you a lot of confusion and grief.

            First, the Bible is to be interpreted literally.  Someone has said, “When common sense makes plain sense, seek no other sense.”  The Bible isn’t a hodgepodge of myths and allegories.  As with any literature, it uses figures of speech and includes illustrations, such as parables.  Often Scripture passages explain other Scripture passages.  Some of the New Testament explains things in the Old Testament.

            Beware of those who teach that Christians today are Israel, either physically or spiritually.  Don’t let anyone tell you you’re obligated to keep Old Testament laws.  Beware also of those who teach that the Bible can be divided into an age of law (Old Testament) and an age of grace (New Testament).  There’s only one truly sensible way to interpret Scripture.  There’s a framework called dispensationalism.  That simply means there are different periods of time, or ages, with different conditions for the way God and Mankind relate to one another.  We’re living now in the Church Age.

            Sound complicated?  Here’s a thumbnail sketch of ages based on notes from the New Scofield Study Bible.  1) Age of Innocence: Before Adam’s fall—Gen. 1:1-3:6.  2) Age of Conscience: From Adam to Noah and the Flood—Gen. 3:7-8:14.  3) Age of Government: From Noah to Abraham—Gen. 8:15-11:32.  4) Age of Promise: From Abraham to Moses and the Law—Gen. 12:1-Ex. 18:27.  5) Age of Law: From Moses to the Church—Ex. 19-Acts 1:26.  6: Church Age: From Pentecost to the Great Tribulation—Acts 2:1-Rev. 3:22.  7) Kingdom Age: From the Great Tribulation to the Kingdom—Rev. 4:1-22:21.  Lord willing, I’ll explain this further in my next post.

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