Commentary on the introduction: "Garments of Grace: Clothing Imagery in the Bible"
As the Quarterly introduction so clearly points out, we communicate through a great variety and kind of symbols. Language itself, whether oral or written, can be defined as a set of symbols that have a universally intended meaning when the author is God. Since God communicated directly with mankind at the time of our creation it is obvious that language coupled with the capacity to understand the very meaning of God's spoken and written word is a creative work of God. Only those with hardened hearts have trouble understanding God's truth, yet they are without excuse, Romans 2:18-23.
With this in mind, there are several criteria that must be in place if we are to correctly hear, understand and apply God's word to our lives, regardless of the kind of symbolism utilized by God.
1. First and foremost, if we are to understand truth it must be God who is doing the speaking because God is our only and ultimate source of truth. Scripture plainly teaches us that there are many false prophets and teachers to beware of. This means that the source of all teaching must be founded solely upon scripture, including this very commentary, Matt. 7:15; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; 2 Peter 2:1; Col. 2:8.
2. Each and every person must have the capacity to understand God's word when he hears it. Scripture teaches that this is one of the critical roles of the Holy Spirit who indwells the life of each person who has joined the kingdom of God, John 16:12-15.
3. To know and separate truth from error we should be aware that the very first sin was preceded by adding to what God said 'thou shalt not do'. This was followed up by the devil with a blatant lie and and where he distracted Eve by telling her; "…you will be like God, knowing good and evil". If we are to know truth we should never add to or take away from what the Bible says and clearly teaches. The fact that Adam and Eve lived physical lives for many years after they had sinned was insignificant compared to their spiritual death the instant they sinned, Gen. 3:1-7; Rev. 22:18-19.
4. The path to understanding God's truth correctly and completely is to restrict our theology to a search of the Bible without the introduction of outside sources or in pursuit of our own agenda. Remember, it is the Holy Spirit who points to our Savior Jesus Christ and leads each Christian into all truth, John 14:6.
On each day's study of this quarter's lessons consider God's intended symbolic meaning of the 'covering' topic solely by what the Scripture teaches and apply that truth to your life. For example, the Quarterly introduction includes the claim that "…God made the seventh day a symbol of all that came before it, the six days of creation". When you read Gen. 2:1-3 what you find is that God was finished with his creation work, rested from this work on the seventh day and that he blessed and declare the day holy because creation was finished. What is totally missing from this account is any mention of a command for mankind to also rest on this day nor did God go back to work on the eighth day because his creation was complete. Not until we come to Exodus 20:8-11 does God give his reason for declaring it holy and making it part of a covenant and command with the Hebrew people. Not until then does it gain a symbolic meaning. And, not until we come to Colossians 2:16-17 where the context and structure of the verses makes it clear that the symbolism of the seventh day sabbath is in mind and is a "shadow" that points to Jesus Christ simply because, if for no other reason, everything in this passage points to Jesus Christ. When we turn to Hebrews 3:1-4:11 we gain a much fuller picture that supports this understanding. We learn why God declared the seventh day holy and how this symbolizes our rest in Jesus Christ. Also, it clearly teaches why we no longer rest on a day which is a mere shadow but instead focus on the reality, the Author of our salvation, Jesus Christ. The seventh day symbolized the person and work of Jesus Christ both as the author of all creation (John 1:1-5) and his work of salvation upon the cross at Calvary.
Like all symbols, "shadows", or 'antitypes' presented in the Bible, it is the reality and not the symbol that is used to reveal and point to that reality that we should apply into our lives. We are to worship the one true God who is a jealous God. Therefore, we are to worship our Savior Jesus Christ, not the shadow that that points to him.
We look forward to studying with you this quarter. As usual, if you have any questions, we gladly accept your emails and look forward to corresponding with you. You can email us at this address: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com .
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