Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

Inerrant, not Literal August 17, 2009

Filed under: Church History,Isaiah — womenembracingfaith @ 5:23 pm
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The doctrinal building block of looking at the Bible as inerrant is a big deal. Christian history shows us that. The Protestant Reformation in the 1500’s and the Puritan Revival in the 1600’s and then evangelical revivals since have turned on this view of scripture.

Inerrancy says that all scripture is “breathed” by God, thru the pens and voices of real men who wrote or spoke in their own languages of the time.

Literalists usually believe thaat too, but are very concerned about when to take it each word as it is written. In poetry, like a Psalm, or prophecy, like Isaiah or Jeremiah, taking something literally can really affect the meaning and application of the passage.

Moses wrote while camping in the Sinai desert. Finally, John the apostle, who knew Jesus intimately enough to lean on his chest as they talked quietly, wrote letters and about his visions while on a Greek island, exiled because of his claim that Jesus was the one Moses’ had said was coming.

Who cares whether we use the word “inerrant” or “literal?”

Look at Isaiah, for instance. In chapters 43 and 44, the preacher is calling on the nation of Judah to turn back to God and His plan for saving them. He predicts the greatest world empire of the day, Babylon, will be destroyed (v. 14). He then draws a refreshing picture of streams in the desert and wilderness beasts praising Him because He refreshes and redeems this community of people who have nothing to fear. They are God’s loved ones.

But, to quibble over whether there are literally streams in the deserts and ostriches praising God is to miss the whole point. The gospel is here. Jesus is here. There is no other rock or foundation upon which we can stand for survival into eternity. The Holy Spirit brings about praise and refreshes us as much as water in a desert.

Taking it all as without error would include remembering that in 516 or so BC, Persia invaded Babylon and sacked the greatest city and empire the world had ever seen. Isaiah got it right. He, of course, got it right in his first book about Judah being the only nation saved from the Assyrians too. And he had predicted the Babylonian takeover of the Assyrians. His prophecies were never wrong.

Inerrancy was a banner of the Reformation. It led to an exaltation and study of God’s word. That led to repeated revivals. The literal approach came in later, in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s as people struggled against those who had rejected inerrancy. But, it has led to the rejection ofa lot of the Reformation doctrines.

Read your Bible like this–for yourself, in your own language. As God’s word, without error if the translation is right. But, always with a view of how it affects your heart. For instance, why do you care about the Babylonian Empire? If Isaiah got it right about that, then you can trust his predictions that God would provide a Savior, provide righteousness for you, and sustain and strengthen you in whatever you are facing today.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you,

I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaish 41:10)

That is why inerrant, not literal, matters. Inerrancy with applicationleads to personal experience inworship.


WARNING SIGNS November 30, 2008

Filed under: Isaiah — womenembracingfaith @ 3:44 am
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This site shows the satellite view of the nations mentioned in Isaiah 13-25. Scrolling this will help you remember the rise and fall of the nations predicted by Isaiah in the 700’s BC.

The alliance between Israel and Syria really frightened the people of Judah. The leaders of Judah were sure this conspiracy would do them in!  Instead, the Assyrian Empire arose out of the northern Tigris River Valley (think Nineveh and Jonah) to threaten Judah and to take Israel captive.  Most of the nations mentioned in these chapter 15-20 were destroyed by the Assyrians. Except Judah, whom God protected, and who possessed these written pleas from Isaiah  to turn back to God and His ways.

Next, the Babylonian Empire arose out of Southern Iraq. They were the one God used to discipline Judah and Jerusalem. Babylon became a great capital (in N. Iraq), only to be destroyed forever by repeated take-overs by the Medes (N. Iran), the Persians, and the Greeks. The Arabians never bothered to rebuild it. ( The government of Iraq today is trying to protect the ruins.) Isaiah preached all this  in the 700’s BC, predicting events occurring in 722 BC, 586 BC, 530’s BC, 04 AD, and some yet to be.

The rise and fall of these world empires serve as signposts which remind us of God’s justice. They are historical facts that validate the truthfulness of scripture. They are warning signs telling all of us that judgment and destruction are coming if one does not turn back to God and trust in His salvation.

“The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants,

Because they have transgressed the laws,

Changed the ordinance,

Broken the everlasting covenant,

Therefore the curse has devoured the earth,

And those who dwell in it are held guilty.”  (Isaiah 24:5-6)

We learn from these chapters that God is sovereign, in control. He uses whom He wishes to accomplish His purposes. God is also just. That’s what this is all about. Because being just is part of His very nature, He cannot be flippant about sin and rejection. Therefore, we need a Savior, a Rock to hide under, a righteous covering of our sins. Jesus is that Savior, the Messiah, the Christ, our rock and covering when God has to be true to himself–to His justice.

Remember, we are thinking through these pages of Isaiah, thinking about biblical principles, applying them to warm our hearts toward our compassionate God, friend, brother. Even though the earth’s judgment appears harsh to our ears today, what stands out is the mercy and compassion of God in providing a Savior and ordering world events to bring that about.