“All scripture is inspired by God and useful for refuting error, for guiding people’s lives and teaching them to be upright.” (2Ti 3:16) And within Scripture, there are many allusions and metaphors, word pictures if you will, that refer to the people of God. As we grow in our mature understanding of Scripture, hopefully we come to understand that not all Scripture is intended to be taken literally in the physical realm, but rather they are statements framed in a physical sense to teach us lessons in the spiritual realm.
Here’s an example . . . “And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it away; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Mat 5:29)
We must ask ourselves if Yeshua literally meant for you and I to poke out our right eye, or was there a deeper meeting and intent in His Words? We submit, and believe most would agree, that Yeshua’s intent was not physical abuse to our body but rather understanding the necessity for spirit-led discipline, discernment and direction for our physical and eternal life.
This very same concept of using allusions and word pictures exists many times in Scripture and it is up to the mature and maturing believer to keep this in mind and in hand as we study Scripture ‘to show ourselves approved by God, a workman not to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of God.” (2 Timothy 2:15) The danger enters in when we allow ourselves to use these allusions and metaphors in a concrete way beyond their original intent.
Here’s another example . . . Scripture refers to the people of God as ‘a bride’. Now we must ask ourselves, ‘in what respect do we and should we understand that statement?’ Is that statement to be taken literally in the sense of the physical relationship of a man and woman or should it be taken as an effort to explain the depth, breadth and totality of the spiritually intimate relationship between God and His people?
But we are not only referred to as ‘the bride’ in the passages of Scripture. We, as God’s people, are also referred to by the use of many other terms in Scripture. We are referred to by such terms such as sheep, donkeys, wheat, first-born, sons as well as virgin daughters.
And then there is the concept in Scripture known as ‘equal weights and measures’, a concept that is not only to be employed in our daily lives but also in our study and application of Scripture. If I choose to interpret in a very literal sense the concept of me, a member of God’s family, as being ‘the bride’ in a very literal manner, should I not then apply the same literal interpretation to the other references concerning God’s people? If I interpret, in a literal sense, the idea of being ‘the bride’, how do I, and should I not also interpret, in the same literal sense, the idea of being a donkey or a sheep or a shock of wheat, or of being both a son and daughter? Does God’s Word literally mean that I am a farm animal, a farm crop or both a male and female offspring in my relation to Him?
As we read and study and attempt to apply the tenets and instructions of Scripture to our lives, may we be careful to not filter the allusions and images of the relationship between us and our Father through the lens of the instructions our loving heavenly Father has given for our direction. Torah was given because of sin. We have a propensity for sin. YHWH our Father does not.