BibleHacking: 3 keys to unlock God's Word

Every discipline or field has "foundational principles". If you discover the foundational principles, you can quickly become functional, or possibly above average, simply by focusing on the foundational principles.  
For example, self defense has some major foundational principles.  One is self awareness. Simply being aware of the people and situations around you make you much more prepared to defend your self or avoid dangerous situations.  Most people are looking at their phones.  Another foundational principle is distance control.  You don't have to be able to fight anyone as long as you are aware of your surroundings and able to control the appropriate distances.  If someone approaches you and you are aware of your surroundings, you can retreat or get out of their way. These two principles are foundational to all self defense courses.
Another example is language.  If you know a few basic principles, you will be able to learn languages much faster. For example, in Spanish, if you can learn the basic forms of a verb and its conjugates, you will be able to communicate on an elementary level right off the bat. From there, if you learn the 50 to 100 most used vocabulary words, you are on your way.
So here is the point- there are foundational principles to interpreting the Bible that can help you comprehend it on a whole new level.
Here are 3 foundational principles for understanding a difficult text:
1. Literary Genre.  If you can name the genre, you will be more likely to understand it. For example, is it a poem, a narrative, or a letter?  A letter would be understood differently than a poem.  If I am reading a poem and it read, "The voice of God cries out", I wouldn't necessarily think it was a literal example of God speaking audibly.  It is a poetic expression. But if it were a historical narrative that said, "God spoke", I would need to consider the possibility that the text is claiming a miracle.

2. Context. There are a lot of rules for context, but my favorite is this:  "A text cannot mean now what it never meant then."  In other words, you must have some understanding of what the original author was saying to his original audience before you can apply it to our modern day.  For example, in Jeremiah 29:11, we read, "11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."   In context, the author, Jeremiah, is telling his readers that they will be exiled for 70 years and then they will be able to call on God and He will rescue them.  It is tempting to use this verse as a promise that God wants me to fulfill my dream of playing in the NBA or being a doctor, but it CAN'T mean that.  This verse was not a promise for individual believers to achieve their own dreams.  Jeremiah meant it as a verse to give hope for the coming season of exile for his people. If I want to apply this verse, I would be better off applying it to the idea that God will see his plans happen in my life if I will continue to follow Him at all costs, even if it means losing my job and going through a long season of pain and struggle.  

3. "Scripture interprets scripture".  This means that every interpretation that I make must be consistent with all other scripture.  This is a very helpful principle because the New Testament clarifies a lot of the Old Testament and vice versa.  For example, we recently went through the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Some people have made the claim that the only sin of Sodom was the sin of homosexuality. Others will make the claim that the only sin was being unkind to strangers, which was certainly a big sin in those times.  When we examine other scriptures, particularly Ezekiel 16:49-50 we find 49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. We find that not aiding the poor is certainly a sin of Sodom.  And when we read Jude 1, we see 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. Which clearly shows us that sexual immorality, which was homosexual rape, in context, was a sin of Sodom.  So using the principle that we will let scripture interpret scripture, we find that the sin of Sodom was both sexual sin and inhospitality (among other sins, like pride and haughtiness).

In order to read and apply the Bible to your life, simply using these 3 keys will help you see God's Word in a whole new light and experience the power of applying the Bible to your life!

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