They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I have to say a picture is dirt cheap if you are illiterate. Think again about watching videos without reference to the language being used and you will conclude that many things people come away with after hearing a speech or watching a video are likely to be off madly in all directions. It is wasteful and delusional to think that wading through any material with repeating pockets of hot air is going to result in pictures on which we can rely.
Off madly in the wrong direction
I do not just happen to know when people who are quoting Scripture have not gotten the picture. I can tell when people – rabbis, pastors and prophets, legislators and friends – are just saying what they see on the page. A few try to use logic such as the seed dying to propagate a tree to connect their vision with the Saviour’s agenda. The resurrection of a man four days dead shakes every mindset. There is no logic here.
Others try to place the matter before them in the original setting by referring to Greek and Hebrew words. That is like the alphabet learning stage of literacy. What happens when the intention behind the writer’s clauses, sentences and word order has no bearing on the messenger’s main message is nothing short of hollow and shallow.
The past, present and future singularity
Just nailing down whether a thing has happened, will happen, is likely or unlikely to happen, is likely or unlikely to have happened can be ascertained only by getting the picture from the original reading. Translators of the Bible are notably lazy when it comes to letting the text and its context give the meaning. It might come as a shock to you that in Hebrew (the language of the Old Testament) the same word can mean a) I will build and b) I built? There are only two tenses in Hebrew while we English speakers and philosophers in general claim to have three. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat and listened as a presenter of God’s messsge darts down rabbit holes and wanders in dry places because he or she has no idea what the writer intended. It is a black hole. Go in and you do not come out.
Beyond the meaning of English grammar biblical pictures deliver meaning with word concepts. A picture of a lamb in Revelation is not just young sheep: it is eternal, supreme, and atoning love for the human race. When words keep losing their biblical grounding- as SAVE and HEAL do – as as result of shoddy preparation, each listener must exercise diligence to see with one’s own eyes whether one has a sieve or a cup. “The Bible says” is a cheap substitute for “the writer means to say”. How God chooses to deliver meaning is up to Him and the diligence we bring to our quest for enlightenment and edifcation.