Many people think of the Bible as an ordinary book. Despite growing up a “Christian,” I had never read it and held the same idea about the words of God. To the surprise of many, when they finally attempt to read it, they quickly realise that ordinary is far from the case. The Bible and other scriptures contain a lot of information. They write on many topics, use prophetic language, and have precepts as building blocks.
One of the critical concepts of the layout of the scriptures builds on the understanding that meanings are not necessarily reliant on today’s definition but are found within the scriptures themselves.
This structure means the scripture defines the words and phrases it uses within itself. It creates a paradigm where it can validate itself, or in simple language, anything outside of that pattern stands out like a sore thumb. The rest of this post will provide simple and compound precepts to give you an understanding of its structure.
First, let’s examine a passage from the Bible which uses the word vanity and see how it uses it.
I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.Ecclesiastes 1:14 KJV
In this verse, vanity is used to classify all works (actions and activities) done under the sun. Therefore, Solomon says that every work done on earth is mere vanity. Since a precept cannot be established with one witness (a piece of evidence), let’s get another passage to close the loop.
And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.2 Kings 17:15 KJV
Israel or even the people with clean hearts followed vanity and became vain by doing what the heathens did. This does not necessarily mean direct sins but investing their energy into worldly pursuits and activities. In brief, they left the instructions of God.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.Ecclesiastes 12:13 KJV
While all vanities are not sins, they are a waste of time. Of course, providing food and shelter for yourselves is necessary to live, but our primary goal is to know God. The vanity precept helps us understand Solomon’s conclusion better and will do the same in many other places within the scriptures.
As previously, we will examine how the Bible uses the work stock.
And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.Jeremiah 3:9 KJV
One of the typical understandings of this passage is worshipping wood and stones when operating under the historical definition and etymology of stock.
- the goods or merchandise kept on a shop or warehouse premises and available for sale or distribution.
- the capital raised by a company or corporation through the issue and subscription of shares.
- a liquid made by slowly cooking bones, meat, fish, or vegetables in water and used as a basis for preparing soup, gravy, or sauces.
- a person’s ancestry or line of descent.
- the trunk or woody stem of a living tree or shrub, especially one into which a graft (scion) is inserted.
- a herbaceous European plant cultivated for its fragrant lilac, pink, or white flowers.
- HISTORICAL: an instrument of punishment consisting of an adjustable wooden structure with holes for securing a person’s feet and hands, in which criminals were locked and exposed to public ridicule or assault.
- the part of a rifle or other firearm to which the barrel and firing mechanism are attached, held against one’s shoulder when firing the gun.
- a band of white material tied like a cravat and worn as a part of formal horse-riding dress.
- a frame used to support a ship or boat out of water, especially when under construction.
- (of a product or type of product) usually kept in stock and thus regularly available for sale.
- (of a phrase or expression) so regularly used as to be automatic or hackneyed.
- have or keep a supply of (a particular product or type or product) available for sale.
- fit (a rifle or other firearm) with a stock.
Old English stoc(c) ‘trunk, block of wood, post’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch stok and German Stock’ stick’. The notion ‘store, fund’ (stock (sense 1 of the noun and sense 2 of the noun)) arose in late Middle English and is of obscure origin, perhaps expressing ‘growth from a central stem’ or ‘firm foundation’.
In the first example, vanity, we ascertained the meaning through phrase association and how the word was used. In this instance, the meaning is explicitly given to us within the Bible.
But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.Jeremiah 10:8 KJV
Stock builds on the vanity precept but also adds the idea of a doctrine. This structure makes the stock precept compound, requiring the understanding of another precept to decipher it.
The STRONGS concordance shows doctrine as the Hebrew masculine noun מוּסָר, transliterated mûwçâr and pronounced moo-sawr’. It means:
muwcar (moo-sawr') n-m. 1. (properly) chastisement 2. (figuratively) reproof, warning or instruction 3. also restraint from [H3256] KJV: bond, chastening ((-eth)), chastisement, check, correction, discipline, doctrine, instruction, rebuke. Root(s): H3256
Since it has many meanings, we can determine the writer’s intention by examining the context. In the entire chapter of Jeremiah 10, we see that Israel was warned against being dismayed at the signs of heaven: astrology and worshipping the sun, moon and stars as gods. They also celebrated what appears to be Christmas in another pattern of worshipping gods. In addition, they crafted idols to worship and put value and trust into material possessions.
Stock is an instruction or belief into vain things—worshipping idols and putting trust in worldly things that are of no value or directly or indirectly against God.
Again, let’s examine a biblical passage to get the usage of the word bread.
Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:Proverbs 30:8 KJV
Bread in the KJV often refers to food and not simply baked bread. As a spoiler, the word bread is used in multiple ways and context is usually required. This diverse usage adds complexity to compound precepts but plays into the fact that the scriptures are inspired.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:Amos 8:11 KJV
Here we can equate famine in the land to hearing the words of the LORD. Famine is the lack of hearing the actual words of God. God’s prophets speaking unapologetically truth will be rare, but false prophets will speak lies in abundance.
Continuing the pattern, let’s examine the Bible’s usage of the word waters.
1. Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.
2. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 KJV
Reading the passage, it is hard to understand what it means. Even if we substitute bread for the words of the LORD, it is still confusing since we are casting it on water.
And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.Revelation 17:15 KJV
Here we see that “waters” mean peoples (one’s own populace), multitudes, nations (a race, tribe) and tongues (languages). In order words, it means a large group of people, a nation or people delineated by language, tribe or culture.
If we substitute this understanding in the first passage, we will get a much clearer understanding.
Give the word of God to the people, and it will manifest itself over time. Give a sufficient portion because the time of evil is unknown.
A sea is formed from the many rivers emptying their waters into it. Let’s see how this word is used in the Bible.
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.Revelation 12:12 KJV
This passage is from Revelation, one of the least understood books in the Bible. However, do we believe the devil has come down to exercise great wrath against the fishes? Or is it more likely that the scriptures have made a parallel between the inhabiters of the earth and the sea? Nonetheless, we can understand the precept which will establish the parallel.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.Genesis 1:10 KJV
Now we see that the sea is the gathering together of the waters. Like a regular sea, the precept maps to a natural system, but extraordinarily it maps to another biblical understanding. Substituting the definition of “waters” shows that “Seas” are multiple nations or peoples combined—a union such as the G7, European Union, NATO, BRICS, ASEAN or another union between nations.
Another level of understanding
The scriptures operate on many levels. On one level, the scriptures show events, while on another, plotting a world map. It prophesies the coming of Jesus while mapping the historical tribes and nations. It provides information on the luminary (sun, moon and stars) calendar and pieces of puzzles to answer many questions.
Many well-learned or educated people spend a lot of time developing encryption algorithms to secure data; however, these algorithms always get broken. On the other hand, the inspired word of God is a literary masterpiece that has lasted for centuries, with the only ones able to decipher it being those with “wisdom” given by God. To everyone else, the words appear as foolishness.
Anyone who has tried to access the deeper secrets or even the superficial meanings would know what I mean. The mysteries are such that some people will not even realise something is to be understood. It’s a work of words encrypted for thousands of years from billions of eyes.
To sit around expecting revelations would be tempting God (Matthew 4:3-7). Accordingly, anyone wanting to know the scriptures must invest their time and, in reality, their entire self. Since to receive anything in the scriptures requires wisdom which comes from God. (Proverbs 9:8-10)
In conclusion, the way to the truth is the Spirit of God which is given to those who keep the commands of God. Nevertheless, many will not choose to believe because it requires spiritual intervention for my logic to work. But if my logic works, which I know it does, it will mean that the leap of faith is necessary for understanding and salvation.