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Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart…” Jeremiah15:16   
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#350, 28th August 2018
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Highlights from
The Ground is Thirsty

by E.W. Bullinger
How are we to know when words are to be taken in their simple, original form  (literally), and when they are to be taken in some other form (a Figure)?

A figure is simply a word or a sentence thrown into a peculiar form, different from its original or simplest meaning or use. These forms are constantly used by every speaker and writer. It is impossible to hold the simplest conversation, or to write a few sentences without, it may be unconsciously, making use of figures.
 
We may say, “the ground needs rain”: that is a plain, cold, matter-of-fact statement; but if we say “the ground is thirsty,” we immediately use a figure. It is not true to fact, and therefore it must be a figure. But how true to feeling it is! How full of warmth and life! Hence, we say, “the crops suffer”; we speak of “a hard heart,” “a rough man,” “an iron will.” In all these cases we take a word which has a certain, definite meaning, and apply the name, or the quality, or the act, to some other thing with which it is associated, by time or place, cause or effect, relation or resemblance.
       
Some figures are common to many languages; others are peculiar to some one language. There are figures used in the English language, which have nothing that answers to them in Hebrew or Greek; and there are Oriental figures which have no counterpart in English; while there are some figures in various languages, arising from human infirmity and folly, which find, of course, no place in the word of God.
   
It may be asked, “How are we to know, then, when words are to be taken in their simple, original form (i.e., literally), and when they are to be taken in some other and peculiar form (i.e., as a Figure) ?” The answer is that, whenever and wherever it is possible, the words of Scripture are to be understood literally, but when a statement appears to be contrary to our experience, or to known fact, or revealed truth; or seems to be at variance with the general teaching of the Scriptures, then we may reasonably expect that some figure is employed.

From non-attention to these Figures, translators have made blunders as serious as they are foolish. Sometimes they have translated the figure literally, totally ignoring its existence; sometimes they have taken it fully into account, and have translated, not according to the letter, but according to the spirit; sometimes they have taken literal words and translated them figuratively.

Commentators and interpreters, from inattention to the figures, have been led astray from the real meaning of many important passages of God’s Word; while ignorance of them has been the fruitful parent of error and false doctrine.

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by E.W. Bullinger.
 A Note About the Bible

from Peter Wade

I want to demonstrate how easy it is to get daily encouragement from reading your own Bible. Possibly the most well-known and constantly used passage is Psalm 23, written by David. It is almost universally used at funeral services.

It is interesting that most of the popular translations and paraphrases do not attempt to change the words "The Lord is my Shepherd" from the original 1611 edition of the King James Version. I suspect this is because the phrase is so ingrained in English speech and literature.

There are no long words here; just five simple words that everyone can understand. Notice first that the statement is about a relationship between “The Lord” and “me,” that is you, the reader.

This relationship continues through the six verses of the psalm. “He makes me...,” “he leads me...,” “he restores my...,” and so on. Underline the me’s, the my’s, the I’s. Put a circle around “The Lord,” the he’s, the thy’s, the thou’s (or you’s and your’s, depending on your translation). As D.L. Moody said, “Never buy a Bible you can’t write on.”

 
{Another "A Note About the Bible" will appear in the next issue.}
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Figures of Speech

by A.E. Knoch


NOT TRUE AS TO FACT
It is startling to realize that much of God’s Word is not literally true. Some of its most precious and important statements simply cannot be taken as they stand. “God is light” is not an actual fact. Literally stated, He is, in the spiritual sphere, in some ways like light in the physical realm. But how much more forceful and beautiful to condense all this into a short and striking sentence, even if it is not strictly correct!

This should open our eyes to realize that not everything in the Scriptures must be taken literally. When the Lord told His disciples that Lazarus had found repose and that He was about to wake him out of sleep, they took His word literally, which was misleading. So He told them frankly that Lazarus had died. By this figure, which was not true in fact, He had foreshadowed the great truth that Lazarus’ death was like taking a nap, for He would rouse him from the tomb. 

We should be on our guard when Scripture states that which cannot be literally true. Such words are not false, but figurative. Because the Scriptures unfold to us the metaphysical and the spiritual, for which we have no organs of perception, these are usually spoken of in terms of the physical and the material. Hence we should expect to find many figures [of speech] in God’s revelation.

Such conceptions as light and darkness, life and death, high and low, are freely used as figures. In fact, many have been so often used in this fashion that we mistakenly speak of the figurative usage as a special “meaning,” when it is really a faded figure


IMPORTANCE IN INTERPRETATION
Of the vast importance of figures of speech in interpretation, there can be no question. In the Reformation a single metaphor, “this is My body,” led to conflicts and divisions which would never have arisen if there had been even an elementary knowledge of figurative language.

On some subjects, the Scriptures seem to contradict themselves, simply because figures are taken for facts
. When the figure is recognized, the conflict vanishes. An investigation will show that differences of interpretation occur especially often with words which are frequently used figuratively. As a rule this has affected their literal significance and clouded the passages in which they appear. In such cases, if the literal is sharply distinguished, the discrepancies will disappear.

 
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