When His Ways Are Not Higher Than Your Ways

When you don't understand part of the Bible, it may be a "mystery" but not for the reasons that you think.

A Mystery That Glorifies God Or A Lack Of Knowledge?

Don't be so quick to write off a Bible passage just because it's meaning is not clear.  I've seen many people come across a difficult verse and say, "God is just so mysterious, isn't He?"  Well, He is mysterious in many ways, but to chalk up a verse to mystery just because you don't understand it, cheats you of a deeper understanding, and perpetuates the idea that God put something in the Bible just to mess with our heads.

I get it.  When I first started reading the Bible as a serious student, I came across a couple of chapters in Daniel that I had no idea what they meant.  Daniel's use of metaphorical language made no sense to me, but a quick look down at the study notes in my Bible shed light on the matter, and I understood how events in history related to what Daniel said.  When I read about how women shouldn't have short hair in 1st Corinthians, I had no understanding of the cultural meaning of women with short hair during that time.  I said to God, "God! How was I supposed to know what that meant?  If I didn't have these Bible study notes, I would be clueless".  

At the time, I thought the Bible was a clear manual on how to live my life: Do this, Don't do this.  Sure, some of the books of the Bible were in narrative form, but I thought the "rules" would be clear in a Sunday School lesson kind of way.  However, the truth is that the Bible is a library of books, including different genres, and not all of it can be readily understood.  The examples I gave in Daniel and 1st Corinthians may even seem like obvious cases that needed further information, but in every verse that confuses us, we must ask ourselves "Is this a God designed mystery, or do I just not understand it?"  Don't assume that it's a Theo-esotaric passage that only God can understand and that baffle the rest of us. It's certainly possible but don't use it as an easy out.

3 Reasons Why You Might Not Understand The Bible.

1. Your hermeneutic is wrong

Your whole a approach to the Bible, the way you interpret it (your hermeneutic) may be wrong.  Are you trying to read your own theology into the Bible?  Are you trying to allegorize it?  Or are you trying to understand how the original readers would have understood it?  To learn more about the different ways of interpreting the Bible, be sure to check out this post.

2. You don't know the context.

You may not understand the Bible because you are missing information about it.  Youneed to know the context.  There are different types of contexts such as historical context, cultural context and literary context.  The examples I give above in Daniel and 1st Corinthians are good examples of why it's important to know the historical context.  

3. You only have half of the conversation

There is also situational context. The Biblical authors were responding to a particular situation when they wrote their texts.  If you don't know what those situations were, you won't get a full understanding of what the text means.  The problem is that the authors don't always tell us what the situations were that they were responding to.  However, we can use a technique called mirror-reading to reconstruct what that situation was.  If you don't know how to mirror-read, be sure to check out this post.