MAKING SENSE of
G o d' s W o r d
~ Z. B. McClure
Once I knew NOTHING of God's Word. I am certain we can all say that because we are creatures. Since we are creatures we all start life with zero understanding of God's Word.
On the other hand - it is certain that not one of us understands ALL of what God has revealed to us in His book. Humans never have had a total understanding of the Bible, nor will we ever!
Between these two extremes each one of us moves. God in His infinite wisdom has chosen to communicate with human-kind and to ensure that we have a permenate record of that disclosure in the form most suited to us: the book.
In the following presentation, I wish to convey some of the ways God has gifted me with an ability to study His Word, and to make sense of it for my own life. Some of this may not be new to you, but some of it may be very exciting!
THE MEANING OF WORDS.
The Old Testament was given to human-kind via individuals especially chosen by God. Most of these people spoke and wrote in Hebrew. Some spoke and wrote Aramaic, but most in Hebrew.
Why is this important to know? Because words have fixed meaning at the time they are written, and understanding how a word is made, and the context it is used in, provide valuable clues to what it means, that may be lost to those who are ignorant of that fact. We are going to go deep in these studies. I mean, we are going to see that even the letters used to compose a word contribute to an comprehension of its meaning.
Let's look at the word "Good" as used in the Old Testament. One of the easiest ways to learn the Hebrew words from which our English word is translated from in the Old Testament, is to use a Strong's Concordance.
Since the advent of the Internet, anybody having access to the world-wide web may use a Strong's Concordance. This concordance is simply a list of every word used in the Bible in alphabetical order, with a number to the right of it which corresponds to the number used in the Hebrew dictionary in the back of Strong's:
Here's what I mean-
Looking up the English word "Good" one finds:
God saw the light, that it was g.....Gen. 1:4 2896
First, notice that the word you're looking for is in bold type. Underneath that is every use of that word in the entire Bible!
Next, the part of the verse it is found in is given in part, and the word "good" is abbreviated simply 'g'. Last of all, the Scripture reference is abreviated (to save space) as ...Genesis 1:4.
After the Scripture reference, a number is given- in this case, 2896. That is called "the Strong's number". When you see the Strong's number given in italics- it is your clue that it is to be found in the Greek Dictionary in the back. When it is not in the italics, it is to be found in the Hebrew Dictionary in the back of Strong's Exhaustive Concordance.
Look at the list of Strong's numbers under the heading for our word "GOOD". Notice that the English word "good" is translated from different Hebrew words! This is important because it will help you gain a more precise understanding of what the words are meant to convey. God's Word was given to us in precise language...it is not foggy or given to confuse us, but rather to enlighten us!
Continuing with our example, let's now turn to the back of Strong's to the Dictionary of the Hebrew Bible, and search for the number 2896.
It should look like this:
2896. towb. tobe, from 2895; good (as an adj.) in the widest sense; used likewise as a noun, both in the masc. and the fem., the sing. and the plur. ( good, a good thing, a good man or woman. The good, goods or good thing ( good men or women), also as an adv. (well): beautiful, best, better etc...
After the number are the actual Hebrew letters, which I couldn't show here, because that font is not available here in AuthorsDen.
Now we are going to go a little deeper with yet another tool. We are going to look at the individual Hebrew letters making up the word "good".
For that, I turn to another Bible study tool called "ANCIENT HEBREW LEXICON OF THE BIBLE" which I will abbreviate as AHLB from now on.
This is a book which was written by Jeff A. Benner, and is available for purchase for a reasonable price at Amazon.com and many other fine book stores.
This is a book that has proved valuable to me for several reasons. The author introduces you to the ancient Hebrew alphabet and thought behind the letters and words. If you want a clearer understanding of God's Word I recommend getting yourself a copy.
THE MEANING OF LETTERS
I could get technical at this point, but why should I? My goal is not to razzle-dazzle you with the intellect that God has given me, but instead, to pass on a valuable tool which will promote a more sharper understanding and therefore USE of God's Word in your life. So, I am going to direct your attention to the back of the above mentioned book :
Starting on page 555 is an index to Strong's Number. It is not comprehensive- but most words are listed. So let's look up Strong's # 2895
2895: 1186-J (V)
That's all it says, but that refers us to the main body of the book which shows us how the Hebrew word was constructed and how that illuminates our present day understanding.
1186-J (V) is what I have come to call the "Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible" number- or AHLB# for short. AHLB# 1186-J(V).
On page 134, in about the middle of the left column we see:
1186) (followed by a pictograph, which I can't show here due to font restrictions) then, in parenthesis the modern Hebrew letters and then English letters) ThB. After this, "ac:? co:? ab: Good: The pictograph ( a circle with an X inside it) is a picture of a basket, used to contain or surround something. The ( pictograph of a tent-floor-plan) is a picture of a tent or house". Combined these mean "surround the house". The house is surrounded by grace, beauty, love, health and prosperity, something that is functional."
Okay, now read on, and you will see how this foundational meaning is tweaked in the J part of the definition [ AHLB# 1186 J (V) ].
Finally, under (V) we read/:
V) ThWB Good: To be good such as being functional [Frequency 33] KJV. Well, good, please, goodly, better, cheer, comely. Strong's 2895.
Some of you may be saying to yourselves "so what?"
Fair enough. The main idea behind the word translated "good" is that it is functional. God is actually defining for us the very essence of what He is trying to convey to us by using Strong's Hebrew #2896. Let's look at that word used in the Bible now in Genesis 1:4 and get ready to have a eureka flash of insight!
"AND GOD SAW THE LIGHT, THAT IT WAS GOOD: AND GOD DIVIDED THE LIGHT FROM THE DARKNESS" Genesis 1:4
In other words, by God's evaluation, by His omniscient judgment, the light was FUNCTIONAL! It was operating. It was fulfilling its purpose as He desired it! This is what He means when God says something is GOOD. Meditate on that. Come again.