Updated: Jul 1, 2019
I'm starting a short series on "How not to read your Bible."
The first way to not read your Bible is to think that "It’s all about me.”
In our narcissistic culture, this may come as a complete shock to us! Does it surprise you to hear that the Bible is not written to you? It’s written for you, but technically it’s not to you. Each letter or book in the Bible was penned to an original audience that had culturally bound issues that the author was addressing through the power of the Spirit. However, even though a verse of book may not be written to us, we can still learn from them (1 Cor. 10:11). When we ignore the original audience our interpretation and application get weird.
Solution: Ask 3 key questions:
1. WHO was the book was written to?
2. WHY it was this book/letter written?
3. HOW would the original audience have understood the message?
Jeremiah (the author of 1 and 2 Kings) and Ezra (the author of Chronicles) wrote about the same events in the same time period, and even addressed the same audience (the WHO) but they wrote with different purposes (the WHY) so their respective books are very different.
WHY did Jeremiah write 1 and 2 Kings? In 1 and 2 Kings, Jeremiah wrote to explain that because Israel’s kings had been sinful and disobedient God sent foreign nations (Assyria and Babylon) to discipline them. The heart of the story is that sin brings judgement, while obedience brings blessing (as explained in Deut. 28). That’s why he included lots of stories about the king’s sin and disobedience which resulted in punishment and death. Not a very encouraging book!
Why did Ezra write Chronicles? I mean, they already had 1 and 2 Kings to cover their (dark, sinful and sad) history. In the book of Chronicles Ezra wrote to motivate and encourage the recently released Babylonian exiles (thanks to King Cyrus) to return to Jerusalem and resume Temple worship. That’s why few negative elements are found in Chronicles, or if included, they are presented favorably (David’s sin with Bathsheba doesn’t even show up in Chronicles!).
So, understanding WHO the book was written to and WHY is was written helps us better handle the Word of truth. As we read and study God’s word, let’s remember to pay attention to the original audience. Who were they? Why was the book written? When we do that our interpretation and application will be much more accurate.
OK, now you should be asking HOW DO I DO THAT? For starters, visit Dr. Constables FREE online commentary here https://planobiblechapel.org/constable-notes/
Enjoy Walking with the Savior Today,