May 26, 2017

Even though there is symbolism and figurative language in the Bible, we must interpret God's Word literally

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JD: David I think this demands that we discuss what we mean when we’re talking about interpreting the Bible literally, which I think may well be confusing to some people since there’s a lot of symbolism and figurative language in the Bible.

DJ: Well that’s true there is a lot of symbolism but the key to this is what we talk about quite frequently on this program and that is we use what we call a literal grammatical historical hermeneutic. What that means is that when we come to interpret the Bible the principles that we use to interpret the Bible we take the Bible at face value. We interpret it in a normal way the way we would any other piece of literature words have meanings and we understand them in their normal sense. We understand the meaning of those words in that normal sense from the context.

So, even when it comes to symbolism and figurative language we understand that behind the figurative language and symbols there is a literal reality that God is trying to communicate and it’s tied directly to the text. And we understand from that context what the symbol is whether it’s symbolic or not and frequently what that symbol means.

 Now let me give you a few examples. For example, in Isaiah 55 we read that the trees of the fields will clap their hands. Now, we know that trees don’t clap their hands or shout for joy so we understand that is symbolic language but there’s a literal meaning behind that and that is all creation understands the glory of God from that.

When Jesus spoke of himself being the bread of life we don’t think Jesus is a loaf of baked bread but we understand He is the source of all life both physical and spiritual that’s a literal meaning.

And then an example like from Revelation 20 where John sees in his vision the dragon. Well, that’s obviously figurative language but then John explains what he means by that and he says this is devil of old the serpent and who is Satan. So, the context always tells us what that means so we take the Bible literally meaning we take it normally and understand it from it’s context.

JD: David James and the principle of interpreting the word of God literally.

We report this information because it is setting the stage for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled.

A literal interpretation of the Bible is key to our understanding of his plan for human kind on the earth and especially the Christian believers. God uses symbols in the Bible and even figurative language to communicate to each of us. All of God’s Word is God breathed and is so profitable for each and every one of us. In our study of Bible prophecy it is essential that we interpret the Bible literally so that we can know His plan for the future.