The Bible is unlike every other book as only the Bible boasts a divine Author, the Holy Spirit Lord and Giver and Life, Who inspires human writers to proclaim God’s Word to humanity. Thus, if we set to go to God, we cannot find our way to God without the Bible.
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” (St Jerome, +410)
When seeking to understanding God’s Word, we recognize “two senses.”
- Literal = what the text says; read like all other books
- Spiritual = what the text means; what the Holy Spirit is trying to reveal about divinity and humanity
“The literal sense without the spiritual is not only dead, but deadly.” (St Augustine, +430)
The Bible makes known the enduring significance of God’s saving action. The meaning always is about Jesus, God’s Word made flesh (cf. John 1:14) and the salvation that Jesus has won for us all.
The OLD TESTAMENT prepares us for Jesus. The Old Testament writers tell us as much as they can, marvelously narrating God’s dramatic rescue mission and setting the scene for the fulfillment of God’s promised Messiah / Savior. From the first book of the Bible – Genesis – Jesus’ saving work already is underway, albeit in a veiled manner until His breathtaking arrival as one of us in all things but sin.
Select Old Testament examples of Literal and Spiritual Senses from Exodus:
- (Literal) Egypt is a formidable worldly power led by powerful dynastic rulers.
- (Spiritual) Egypt represents a state that does not recognize and rely on the one true God; it is the antithesis of God’s plan for humanity which is intimate relationship with Him.
- (Literal) Manna is miraculous food God generously provides the Chosen People each day to help them through their desert trek to the Promised Land.
- (Spiritual) Manna represents divine grace (power) graciously available to everyone, always in the perfect amount. When we solely rely on our own initiative, it rots. When we rely on God, we always receive the daily supernatural provision we need.
- (Literal) The Israelites escape Pharaoh’s tyranny and travel through the wilderness for 40 years eventually setting in the land promised to them by God
- (Spiritual) From Egypt to Sinai the Holy Spirit reveals the obstacles we all face to experiencing divinity. From Sinai to the Promised Land the Holy Spirit reveals what it takes finally to realize what God has planned for us.
Next Little Flower Live – Webinar: “What is the Bible” broadcast live (Tue) September 29 8:00 p.m. “Introduction the New Testament”