Do Not Go Beyond What is Written
The scriptures never cease to amaze me and lift up my spirits, as I glimpse into the unfathomable glory, grace, goodness and greatness of God. It is just as Jeremiah said
“Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart ..” (Jer 15:16).
The Almighty God, Creator of all things, revealing Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and reaching out to me in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ, and indwelling me in the Person of the Holy Spirit. It is just too much for me to comprehend or experience!
The book of Hebrews tells me that “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways …..” Heb 1:1.
I’ve come to learn that God spoke not just in ‘words’ but also through events, miracles, places and people and their names, language, numbers etc etc. Yes, even numbers. And from the different levels of biblical Midrash (Peshat, Remez, Derash & Sod – see footnote) the beauty and wisdom of God’s truth in the Hebraic alphabet and numbers indeed enlightens the heart and fascinates my meditations (Eph 1:17-19).
Yes, the number ‘ten’ and ‘one-tenth’ do reveal much about God and our sanctification.
As I wrote in the previous entry, my pastor did spend much time going through various scriptural passages about the ‘ten’ and ‘one-tenth’, and deduced that as we offer the tenth as our “tithe”, we are sanctifying our entire wealth. Many others have also noted the message in their blogs (http://graceunited.sg/sermon-note-4th-svc-5/; http://www.miltongoh.net/miltons-blog/category/new-creation-church-sermon-notes)
It is true that when scriptures are accurately interpreted (exegesis), we know we are called and named by our Heavenly Father, empowered and enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and filled and fulfilled by the love of Christ, which surpasses all knowledge and experience (Eph 3:14-19).
But I also realized that having been so convinced of the truth of my Saviour, I can be so enamored and fascinated by a particular truth that I began to find support and validation in passages that might not be germane or in the context of the passage. People call this eisegesis – reading the meaning into the scriptures, instead of letting the scriptures mean what it says (admittedly it is not always easy to get it right).
Many years ago, my pastor preached on the one parable from Luke 15, about the Son Who searched for the lost sheep (sinner), the Father Who waited for the prodigal son (saint), and the Woman who looked for the one coin missing from her ten coins. I was perplexed and stumped when it was interpreted that the Holy Spirit (the ‘lamp’) is looking for the ‘tithe’ (one missing coin out of ten) from the church. And this explanation is implied as having been revealed by God, and has never been preached or expounded in such a manner, and if we hear this being repeated elsewhere, it would be from NCC! God is looking for missing tithe in the church! Probably it is so ludicrous that I never get to hear it again. I had wanted to write to my pastor then, but did not get to do so. I even wanted to suggest that the string of coins is the betrothal gift from the Bridegroom to His bride, the church. The Good Shepherd looking and rescuing the lost sinner, The Loving Father waiting for the backslidden saint, and the Holy Spirit illuminating the church to be complete in all the gifts (missing, not lost). Yes, I know I could be reading INTO the passage myself.
Paul said in 1 Corithians 4 that I have to learn “not to go beyond what is written”
No, I don’t mean to be derogatory towards my pastor. I know I do appear and sound that way from my reflections. Actually I really do want to experience the community of believers (see posting in September 29th), to relate and engage with all members – but this is a challenge in a church with > 30,000 members. I was in a family group until I moved and have yet to find a cell group nearby. The pastor had mentioned openly that members should not write to him. I fully understand his priorities, his commitments, and how he be not disturbed or distracted. We must free him to serve the believers all over the world. But I did write to him once, in early August 2013 after his message on ‘tithing’, but only through another pastor. I suppose he is right when he mentioned about people in the church who are “bible policemen” (see posting on the 9th June 2014). I was discussing this with a brother over lunch. He mentioned the Bereans – we do receive the word readily, and “examining the Writings whether those things were so ..” (Acts 17:11 YLT). Just examining the scriptures, and inadvertently those who teach us. Probably that is why James wrote about the heavy responsibility of teachers (James 3:1,2). I do pray for protection for my pastor, and do ask others to pray for him, that the Lord will be his covering, his counsellor and his captain.
P/S 21st Nov 2013: Came across the comments on Joseph Prince message on “The Benefits of Tithing” –
- Peshat (פְּשָׁט) — “plain” (simple) or the direct meaning.
- Remez (רֶמֶז) — “hints” or the deep (allegoric) meaning beyond just the literal sense.
- Derash (דְּרַשׁ) — from Hebrew darash: “inquire” (seek) — the comparative (midrashic) meaning, as given through similar occurrences.
- Sod (סוֹד) (pronounced with a long O as in gold) — “secret” (mystery) or the mystical meaning, as given through inspiration or revelation.