Let’s Talk About Studying the Bible in a Time of Confusion

A voice of uproar from the city, a voice from the temple,
the voice of the Lord Who is rendering recompense to His enemies.
[i]

The above quote from the prophesy of Isaiah is a good description of our day with regard to God’s Word. As this revelation through Isaiah draws to a close, the message is clear to those who had eyes to see and ears to hear. God was confirming the validity of all of His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to David, and to His chosen people. Regardless of what the immediate circumstances appeared to show, God was their faithful and loving God.

The exact interpretation of Isaiah 66:6 is complicated and would require reams of paper to faithfully exegete. That is not the purpose of this quote in this article. Instead, I want to focus on three phrases: “A voice of uproar from the city, a voice from the temple, the voice of the Lord.”

The picture presented in its immediate context for Israel was not unlike the picture of the world in our day. There is a voice of confusion coming from the world around us as individuals and leaders clamor to present their view of circumstances and what is taking place. Then there is the voice of religion, even within the church, often muffled, conflicting, distorted. Finally, there is the voice of God who speaks through His Word.

We are confronted with a hodgepodge of errors and half-truths. Many are left frustrated and confused. Some have chosen to shut out the noise and remain ignorant. Others bury their heads in the sand, not wanting to make the effort to distinguish truth from error. Still others claim they cannot understand and give various reasons to support their claim.

In God’s family, at this time in history, we do not have the luxury of failing to understand God’s will and purpose for our lives. If we are to accomplish His purpose for our existence, [ii] we must become students of the Bible. We must learn how to rightly divide the Word of Truth . [iii]

Early in my walk with the Lord, a wonderful woman, Mrs. Elsie Blaser, took me into her home to assist me to begin working toward a college degree. She cooked for me, washed and ironed my clothes, encouraged her sons, dairy farmers, to hire me so I could earn my tuition. I lived in the hired men’s shack next to her house and spent hours with her in her home.

She and I became close friends. She was like a mother to me. She was born in Switzerland so we became partners playing pinochle and won many games at Swiss wrestling matches and dances. The brave would wrestle while Mrs. Blaser and I would challenge all comers to pinochle. I loved her dearly.

At that time, I was a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, but was ignorant of the truths in God's Word. I was still not living for the Lord. Having been saved through the ministry of the Navigators while in the navy, I had memorized several verses of Scripture, but had little understanding of what they meant.

One evening while just the two of us were playing pinochle, we were talking about religion. She said she was taught that only the priests could read the Bible and all she should read was the Catholic Missal. I teased her for not knowing the Bible—as if I did simply because I had memorized a few verses. She began to cry and exclaimed, “If you believe it so much, why don’t you live it.” This rebuke stung. From that moment on, I endeavored to learn what the Bible teaches.

Today, we have tools available to study the Bible as never before in the history of God’s redemptive program. We have numerous translations, paraphrases, concordances, grammars, commentaries, dictionaries. One can purchase Bible programs, often expensive, to do much of the research for us, or we can choose to use the many free apps for our computers and smart phones. The only thing we need to add is our personal will to blot out the voices from the city and man-made temples.

Doctors often tell us to drink more water. There are many substitutes for those who do not like to drink water. However, for those who are thirsty, there is no substitute. Pure clear water is essential to healthy living. If we don’t like to drink water, we should forgo the substitutes and drink water until we love to drink it. The same is true for studying the Bible.

Can one watch someone else drink water and benefit from this? What about all of the ads that tell us to buy this drink or that drink or put this into water so it tastes better. Are those chemicals good for our body? Wouldn’t just simply drinking water be better? If our kidneys were given to us by God to flush out the unhealthy chemicals, why do we add more unhealth chemicals?

This is true of Bible study. God has given us His revelation to bring us to Himself, to cleans and purify us, to enable us to live in this evil world under the sun in a way that pleases Him.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. [iv]

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. [v]

Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. [vi]

But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does. [vii]

These are not just words on a page. This is the Voice of God. Israel was commanded to consume God’s Word. To pass it on to their children. To treasure it more than anything under the sun:

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.

They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.

Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. [viii]

But Israel repeatedly ignored this admonition and chose to listen to the voices of the city. Even the voices from the temple became garbled, contradictory, and eventually evil. It wasn’t that the Word of God was unavailable to study and to know. It was that they rejected it as a nation and turned to falsehood leading to godless and corrupt behavior. In the midst of a lengthy condemnation of Israel through the prophet Isaiah, God pronounced woe after woe because they “...despised the word of the Holy One of Israel." [ix]

These were God’s chose people. Could these woes be pronounced against His chosen flock today? If we do not take the time, make the effort, and add our due diligence to study His Word knowing that, as our kidneys need clear pure water, so our spirits need the thirst-quenching Word of Truth, then I submit, we are worthy of the same harsh condemnation. We are despising God Holy Word.

One does not have to go to Bible school or seminary, or to learn a new language to know the Bible. Others have done the grunt work for us. To be sure, to gain the blessing of discovery and to receive the liberating light of the gospel for ourselves, we do need to follow principles of Bible study that will lead us to abiding truth and guard us from those who, having gone astray, will lead us astray. We must choose our tools carefully. We must be methodical. We must be as diligent as is necessary to learn anything worthwhile. And we must have a basic understanding of the principles of Bible interpretation.

Isaiah was given a singular privilege in his day to see around him the great need of God’s people. His vision became clear when he saw the Lord in the temple in all of His glory. His response was:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!" [x]

Over seven hundred years after Isaiah lived, Paul wrote:

How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?

Note the answers to the above questions:

Just as it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!" However, they did not all heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says, " Lord, who has believed our report?"

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world."

But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? At the first Moses says, "I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation, by a nation without understanding will I anger you."

And Isaiah is very bold and says, "I was found by those who sought Me not, I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me."

But as for Israel He says, "All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people." [xi]

This website, drjerryback.com, is dedicated to being a tool to show the way into the truth of God’s Word. I dedicated my life over a half a century ago to this very purpose. I praise God for His answers to my prayers and the privilege of living at such a time as this. I ask God to use me to open many eyes to the glory of His Word. I pray Paul’s prayer:

...that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might... [xii]

(That you) "may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge... [xiii]

God has given us the internet and applications to help us in our study. There are many good websites to assist in our efforts. But knowing how to pick and choose can be daunting. It is also dangerous. For centuries the Roman church kept the Word of God out of the hands of the common man and kept it for only the leaders.

I am asking God to use me to show many how to unlock the Scriptures. We have within our grasp tools that will build us up into the kind of people that glorify God and accomplish His purpose for our lives. There is nothing more rewarding in life than this.

Here are some tools. I invite you, if you have not already learned how to study God’s word or need a refresher course, to contact me at the email address given on this website. I have a Zoom account and am willing to set up a time to meet personally with you to help you learn how to use these tools. You do not have to have a Zoom account in order to do this. Simple email me.

Tools For In-Depth Bible Study

[There are many from which to choose. These are my recommendations.]

Greek Grammar:

 

 

 

You will need a good, up-to-date Grammar. I use D. B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics constantly. I have worn out my first copy.

 

 

 

 

Bible Study Methods:

I put this on my Christmas list and was able to add it to my hardcopy library only to learn later that you can obtain all of its content for free. I have been using my notes since graduating from Western Seminary in 1970. Along the line because of constant moving and the changes to computing, I lost much of my notes. I praise the Lord Norman E. Carlson’s notes are now available in a much better form than mine ever were:

 

 

 

Exegetical Homiletics - What Was It That God Said?

Principles for Accurate Bible Interpretation

 

 

 

 

Complete Bible Study Tools for FREE:

 

 

 

 

 

ParallelPlus

Downloadable for iPhone, Android, Computer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bible.org/Net Bible

The entire Bible.org website is a veritable feast of solid information for anyone seeking to know God and hear His voice today. The Net Bible on Bible.org has really matured and become a user-friendly tool for Bible study.

 

 

 

 

 

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[i] Isa 66:6.

[ii] Acts 13:36.

[iii] 2 Tim 2:15.

[iv] 2 Tim 3:16-17.

[v] Heb 4:12.

[vi] Jas 1:21.

[vii] Jas 1:25.

[viii] Ps 19:7-14.

[ix] Isa 5:24.

[x] Isa 6:8.

[xi] Rom 10:14-21.

[xii] Eph 1:18-19.

[xiii] Eph 3:18-19.