One of the most important things I have learned from my Study of Scripture is the importance of understanding the context in which the Bible was written. This is a much more complicated question than most people realize. Unless a person has some understanding of the world in which the Bible was written, they can read it from cover to cover and never understand anything more than the most basic parts of God’s Word. Now, others may be able to understand every nuance in God’s Word without learning anything about the people and societies that preserved it, but I honestly do not know how. Unless God gives someone a personal revelation, the only hope a person can have of properly understanding Scripture that I know of starts by learning to understand the historical context in which it was written. Personally, I have never received any revelations from the God, so I had to learn how the Scribes and Prophets saw the world the hard way: I had to study the languages and cultures of the ancient societies which God used to preserve His Word, as well as their beliefs about the nature of God and how the world He created works. By doing this, I may not have made it possible to actually stand in their sandals, but I have gained a better understanding of how the Scribes and Prophets saw and understood their world. This is what I mean when I say I had to learn to see the world from a Biblical world view, and I urge all believers to do the same.
Now, please, don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to say that the Bible contains hidden meaning or knowledge. In fact, it warns us not to seek for such things. Nor am I saying we cannot understand the Bible without a special revelation from God. All I am suggesting is that most believers miss-understand Scripture because we have lost touch with the world in which it was written. To be fair, this is understandable. It is a simple matter of time: we are so far removed from the time in which the Scriptures were written that we no longer remember or understand the people who wrote them. We do not understand their languages, their cultures or how they saw and understood the universe. Most importantly, we have lost touch with how they thought of God. So, when we read the Bible with our modern world view, we cannot help but misunderstand the original meaning. This is because we will naturally try to force modern understandings on ancient texts. But it doesn’t work that way. It would be like going back in time and telling someone in the 1980’s, “I keep my contacts in the cloud.” You mean to tell them that you keep your list of names and contact information on an Internet server referred to as ‘the cloud,’ but to that person in the 1980’s, you actually said you keep your Rolodex in a cloud in the sky. If you said the same thing to a person from the 1950’s, they would think you were telling them you kept part of a gas engine ignition system in a cloud in the sky. Well, we tend to do the same thing when we read Scripture. In truth, unless we learn about the ancient world, we can’t help but do this.
Our problem then becomes one of knowing where to go to learn about the world of the Prophets and Scribes. This is where things get difficult. There are many books about this subject, but a great many of them have been written by people who do not believe in the God of the Bible. This means, while there may still be useful information in these books, it will not be helpful in painting a Biblical world view. Now, I am not one to dictate where a person should go to acquire a Biblical world view. I’ll leave that to the individual to work out and pray that they will follow the Lord’s guidance in doing so. However, I will stress the importance of acquiring this Biblical perspective. Without it, the richness — and especially the interconnections — of Scripture will most likely elude a person, forever remaining just out of their grasp of understanding. To my way of thinking, this is a sad thing and I pray that you will not let it happen in your walk with the Lord.
Now, I said I would not try to dictate where a person should go for help in learning to see the world through a Biblical lens, but that does not mean i will not share what has helped me. For me, one of the most valuable sources I have found has been Dr. Michael Heiser. I’ll leave the reader to Google him if they are interested, but he is a believer. He also has an extensive library of podcasts and YouTube videos explaining a great deal of the original meaning of the Hebrew text in the Old Testament. However, I’ll warn you now: Dr. Heiser will push many believers — hard! And this is precisely because he reads Scripture with a Biblical world view (and because he is a world leading authority on the Biblical Hebrew language). Anyway, if you can, I strongly suggest you give serious consideration to obtaining and reading this book:
Again, for me, the information Dr. Heiser provides in this book as completely changed the way I see the Bible and world. It is not that it teaches anything different from the Bible, but that it helps open up the Biblical world view. It not only helped me understand many difficult and confusing passages in Scripture, but it also helped me understand what one might call ‘secular history’ in a Biblical way. By that I mean, it helped me see connections between Scripture and the things that happen in the material world. I am not necessarily talking about prophecy; I’m talking more about seeing Biblical connections between the things people do and the source(s) of their motivation. Dr. Heiser also explains a great deal of the original meaning of important Hebrew words, phrases and understandings. These little lessons helped me knit Scripture into a more coherent, interconnected picture by helping me glimpse into the ancient Hebrew mindset. So, again, if you can afford to do so, I strongly encourage you to obtain and read this book, and to do so along with your Bible. Dr. Heiser will definitely take you ‘Scripture surfing’ as you read his book.