[forthright] Figurative Language / In God We Should Have Trusted

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2007 11:18:07 -0300
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

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In God We Should Have Trusted
by Tim Hall

Ancient Israel provides a needed lesson for
Christians today.

Before Moses led them triumphantly out of Egypt,
they were just a bunch of slaves linked by a
common ancestry. Now they were a young nation,
standing on the doorstep of their new home, a land
God was handing to them. All that remained was to
accept the keys from his hands and take
possession. But that's when things went seriously

Numbers 13:1,2 begins the tragic episode:

   And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Send
   men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I
   am giving to the children of Israel; from
   each tribe of their fathers you shall send
   a man, every one a leader among them"

From there we know the rest of the story. Ten of
the twelve spies returned with a discouraging
report of an unbeatable enemy. The fear-filled
people refused to follow God's orders to march in
and conquer the land. Forty years and a generation
of Israelites passed before the opportunity came

Why did God give Moses such a command? Didn't he
know they might stumble? Apparently it wasn't
God's idea to begin with; he merely acquiesced to
the demand of the people. That becomes plain when
we read Moses' later account:

   And every one of you came near to me and
   said, "Let us send men before us, and let
   them search out the land for us, and bring
   back word to us of the way by which we
   should go up, and of the cities into which
   we shall come" (Deuteronomy 1:22).

It was similar to God agreeing to the people's
later request for a king (1 Samuel 8:19-22); God
knew the plan was flawed, but granted their
foolish demand.

In hindsight, wouldn't it have been much better
for the people to have simply trusted God's wisdom
in bringing them to this land? Instead of
insisting on inspecting the property, the people
should have accepted the Lord's gifts with
gratitude, knowing they would be better than
anything they could imagine. By not trusting God,
they totally messed up what could have been

• "How could forgiving my enemy be the right
  thing to do?"

• "Why should I submit to my spouse when
  everyone else looks out for number one?"

• "Are you seriously asking me to follow the
  instructions of a 2,000-year-old book
  instead of doing what others are doing?"

With such questions we attempt to shove God from
beneath the steering wheel so we can go where we

Old truths are still true. Two plus two equaled
four thousands of years ago, and the bottom line
is the same today. So is this truth:

   Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and
   lean not on your own understanding; in all
   your ways acknowledge him, and he shall
   direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5,6).

Just ask those refugees from Egyptian slavery and
they'll tell you: It's better to trust God.

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Figurative Language
by Paul Goddard

   The highest function of the teacher
   consists not so much in imparting
   knowledge as in stimulating the pupil in
   its love and pursuit.
                     --Henri Frederic Amiel

Raymond C. Kelcy served as the chairman of the
Bible Department at Oklahoma Christian College
from 1962 until his death in 1986. He had a
profound influence on my life.

A few weeks ago an individual dogmatically stated,
"There's no figurative language in the Bible, for
every word is literal."

In response to this statement, I thought back to
Dr. Kelcy's lecture, "The Figurative Language of
the Bible". My class notes are now yellow, but
here is what he taught:

1. The parable. Oldest and most common. From two
Greek words: "para" meaning "beside" or
"alongside" and "ballo" meaning "to throw or
cast." Hence, a placing beside or together for
comparison. It is a narrative in which something
real in life is used as a means for presenting a
spiritual truth. The Old Testament has a few
parables and Jesus used them constantly. For his
statement of why he spoke in parables see Matthew
13:10 ff.

2. The fable. An illustration made by attributing
human qualities to inanimate beings or things.
Like the parable, it is put in the form of a story
but, unlike the parable, its actors are unreal. It
is a fictitious narrative intended to enforce some
truth. It is not used in the Bible to a great
extent. Examples are Judges 9:6-21 and 2 Kings

3. The simile. In this figure a comparison is made
between two different objects in order to bring
out some resemblance. The comparison is by
statement rather than by story. See Jeremiah 23:29
and Matthew 23:27.

4. Metaphor. From two Greek words: "meta" which
means "beyond" or "over" and "phero" which means
"to bring." It is the expression of a similitude
without words of comparison. The comparison is
implied. Compare the simile of Hosea 13:8 with the
metaphor of Genesis 49:27.

5. Allegory. "A figurative sentence or discourse,
in which the principal subject is described by
another subject resembling it in its properties
and circumstances. The principal subject is thus
kept out of view, and we are left to collect the
intentions of the writer or speaker by the
resemblance of the secondary to the primary
subject (Webster)." See Galatians 4:21 ff.

6. Metonymy. From the Greek "meta" indicating a
change and "onoma" meaning "name"; hence, a change
of name, the employing of one word or name for
another. Examples: parents are put for children
(Genesis 9:25); authors are put for their works
(Luke 16:29).

7. Synecdoche. From the Greek words meaning "to
receive jointly." It is the figure in which we
speak of the whole by a part or a part by the
whole. Examples: Matthew 12:40 and Acts 19:27.

8. Proverb. A short and pithy sentence containing
a valuable thought. It is used to express the
truth with greater forcefulness. It may be
constructed of several figures of speech, and when
they are employed within a proverb the rules that
relate to their interpretation should be used.

9. Irony. One thing is said and another thing is
meant. See 1 Kings 18:27 and Job 12:2.

10. Hyperbole. A figure in which the expression is
an exaggeration of the meaning intended to be
conveyed. See Deuteronomy 1:28 and Judges 7:12.

11. Apostrophe. The speaker turns away from the
listener and addresses an imaginary listener. See
2 Samuel 18:33 and 1 Corinthians 15:55.

12. Personification. A figure in which the
inanimate is spoken of as animate, or endowed with
volition; or animals are endowed with the feeling
and activities akin to those of man. See Number
16:31,32 and Matthew 6:34.

13. Interrogation. A question may be regarded as a
figure of speech when it is used for the purpose
of affirming or denying with great force. See 1
Corinthians 9:1-5 and 1 Corinthians 12:29, 30.

14. Apocalyptic. This is a type of literature in
which there is a certain amount of obscurity.
However, the meaning of the word "apocalypse" is a
"revealing" or "unveiling". The writer's main
purpose is to reveal great truths and to make them
especially vivid through signs and symbols. It was
intended that those who were initiated would,
through careful application, get the truths, and
at the same time the ones for whom the message was
not intended would not. Many examples of this type
are to be found in certain Old Testament books
such as Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah, and Joel. Jesus
used this type of language in Matthew 24. Paul
used it in such passages as 2 Thessalonians 2:1-
10. The book of Revelation is the best example of
this type of literature. The dramatic element is
especially noticeable and much is made of visions
and symbols.

15. Anthropomorphism. From Greek "anthropos"
meaning "man" and "morphe" meaning "form".
Passages in which God is described as possessing
human parts or characteristics are
anthropomorphic. See Genesis 3:8; Genesis 11:4;
Psalm 8:3.

Thank God for men with sound analytical minds who
are faithful to text of the Bible ( James 3:1).
When is the last time you've thanked a Bible
teacher? Christian, are you up for the task?

  O teach me Lord, that I may teach
  The precious things Thou dost impart;
  And wing my words that they may reach
  The hidden depths of my many a heart.
                     --Frances Havergal
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