For the last two bulletin articles we’ve started looking at the importance of reading Christian books to help us understand the Bible. This week I want to look at how we need help reading the Bible because it is from a different culture.
A good example of someone from a foreign culture not understanding the Bible is the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8: ‘Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road–the desert road–that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus’ (Acts 8:26-35).
Here is a man who isn’t a Jew trying to understand something written by a Jewish prophet who lived centuries ago. Yet he cannot. Everyone alive today is in the same situation when they read the Bible: they are reading the writing of people from cultures that are basically non-existent today. This means that when they really try to study it in depth, they will get into all kinds of trouble if they don’t have someone to help them understand it. And thankfully God still blesses the world with Philips to explain the Bible to us. And you usually access them through your local church or through reading good Christian books.
Do you recognise that often you are at a loss to understand God’s word because you need someone to explain it? Do you seek help from Christian books?