Principles for Bible Study: Finding Hidden Treasures
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).
If we want to know Jesus…if we want to draw close to Him…we must start with His Word. It is there we will find a deep and abiding relationship with Him. When we come with thirsting hearts, He will meet us there, and the Holy Spirit, our teacher, will guide us into all truth. It is impossible to truly know God without delving deeply into His Word. Many Christians read their Bible only occasionally; others read it every day, but few have the habit of daily disciplined study. This is where God wants to take us because He is beginning to remove the seals from His Word. He has many exciting things to show us—many wonderful surprises that could not be revealed until this time—and He is longing for us to uncover them. This is not something reserved only for the Bible scholar with several academic degrees. No! Anyone who is hungry for God and willing to make the sacrifices necessary to search His Word diligently will find exciting revelations that will lift him/her above the flood of last days’ judgments into new realms of joy, love and victory in Christ Jesus.
Paul said it was by revelation he went up to Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1, 2). God is calling today’s believers up to the spiritual New Jerusalem and we are to ascend “by revelation.” The Greek word for “revelation,” apokalupsis, also means “appearing.” By revelation Christ appears to us. Each time we have a new revelation of Him, we see Him a little more clearly. Revelation begets revelation. The more revelation we have, the more we get and I’ll warn you of this—revelation is addicting. Once one gets a taste of it, the desire for more leads to deeper longing and more fervent searching.
There are two major prerequisites for revelation that remove the seals from the Scriptures—obedience and sacrifice. Without obedience to the disciplines of prayer and study, revelation will never begin to form in us. This kind of revelation doesn’t just plop into our mind out of nowhere but comes through intensive study and a life of obedience. What good is it to study God’s Word if one does not appropriate it in one’s life? God will only give His precious last days’ revelations to those whom He knows are willing to walk in obedience to Him. Notice the word “willing.” We cannot always perfectly obey but as long as we are willing and making the effort, God can trust us with His precious revelations.
When we know God’s commandments and ways but refuse to obey them, we form calluses on our heart. The more we disobey, the harder our heart becomes making it difficult for us to hear His voice or see His revelations. These calluses, formed through disobedience, are actually veils that separate us from Christ. If we repent and walk obediently, God will begin removing these veils of our flesh so we might draw closer to Him.
Second, deep revelation comes into the life of one who is willing to sacrifice. The amount of time necessary for intensive Bible study requires sacrifice. Others may stay up late watching television or talking while you go to bed early in order to be up before the sun for prayer, study and fellowship with God. Also ministry to others will take time that previously might have been used in pursuit of a favorite hobby or leisure activity. Revelation will flow more freely into a life where ministry flows out to others. If we are not giving out in some way to others, our life can become a smelly, stagnant pond. It is a principle with God, the more we pour out to others, the more He can pour into us.
Revelation flows more freely into the crucified life. If we have not been broken through suffering and if we do not daily take up our cross to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23), we will have little revelation. Great revelation given to an uncrucified life would result in pride and ultimately a great fall. God wants to entrust His greatest secrets to those whom He knows will treasure them in their heart and obediently wait to bring them forth when His Spirit directs. In this way, pearls will not be cast before swine and His Word will not be trampled under foot (Matt. 7:6). Only those who are broken will have the humility and submission to be entrusted with His wonderful revelations.
Many people in their quest for more of God run around from meeting to meeting and conference to conference seeking to experience His presence. Some can only find what they are seeking in worship services where hundreds are attending and worship is exuberant as is often the case at Christian retreats or conferences. Yet God wants us to experience Him every day in the comfort of our own home. He is waiting for us to delve into the Word and partake of the deep well of clear, refreshing water that never runs dry.
As we, the end time church known as the Bride, await the coming of our Bridegroom may we be as Rebekah, who first heard about her future husband by a well (Gen. 24:13). She met a man there, a servant of Isaac, who told her things about him and eventually led her to meet him face to face. She first saw her husband Isaac by another well, the well Lahai-roi where he was awaiting her arrival. Lahai-roi means “that liveth and seeth me.” We must believe by faith that when we open our Bible (the well) to study, the Holy Spirit (the Servant) is there to lead us to Jesus (Isaac), and that Jesus is alive and sees us as we come daily to draw fresh water. As we abide in His Word and He abides in us, we will eventually see Him face to face.
Some are like Ishmael and Hagar who only carry water in a bottle (someone else’s book or revelation), but bottles eventually run dry and we have to go out and buy another bottle. God has much more for us than bottles. He wants to show us the deep well that is nearby from which we will find an abundant, continual supply of the most delicious water imaginable.
Isaac was not one to depend on someone else’s wells; he dug his own. Actually they had been his father’s wells that the Philistines had stopped up but he had to dig them again. Others have studied and revealed deep spiritual truths to the Body of Christ, but we come to “own” these truths and carry them in our heart more completely when we too dig deeply and find them for ourselves. In addition to this, we have the added incentive of finding secrets reserved for the Church of the end times.
I live near Lake Ontario. The Great Lakes contain the world’s largest supply of fresh water. Buried deep beneath the surface are wrecks of sailing vessels that capsized hundreds of years ago. Many of them carried priceless treasures that still lie hidden waiting for someone to discover. I am fascinated by “National Geographic” television documentaries about the recovery of such vessels with their vast historical and monetary treasures. One vessel that has recently been discovered but not yet explored is presumed to be the Griffin:
“Ever since the loss of LaSalle’s Griffin in 1679, the Great Lakes have continued to claim ships. There are literally thousands of shipwrecks littering the shores of the five Great Lakes and tributary waters. What often distinguishes these wrecks from others is their excellent state of preservation. Because the Great Lakes are so cold and because of their relative scarcity of marine life, many wrecks remain intact and undiscovered for hundreds of years. In terms of historical significance, Great Lakes wrecks are unparalleled. […] it is a startling realization that a short 150 to 200 feet under nearby waters lie many remarkable archeological resources which are largely undiscovered.” (Barbi)
I cannot help but see the analogy to the Word of God here. Think of all the wisdom and knowledge and resources for our life that lie just below the surface in our Bibles. All too tragically, many Bibles sit on the nightstand by the bed or on the coffee table gathering dust.
I am convinced many people want to study the Bible but just don’t know how. I remember when I felt that way. I would marvel at the wonderful teachings brought forth from the Word by learned teachers and preachers. I hungered for more but when I tried to study, something blocked my way. I think that “something” was just ignorance of the resources available plus my own feelings of inadequacy. I bought some prepared Bible studies at the Christian bookstore, but I found them to be uninteresting. They had you read a Bible verse and answer their question which was either too easy or just confusing. At least, it didn’t work for me.
By God’s grace I continued to try to study, and over time I “stumbled” into some resources and techniques that worked for me. Study has absolutely transformed my life. The decision to study was one of the most important and rewarding decisions of my life…a decision that will impact all of eternity for me. Hopefully, my decision to study, which led to God’s call for me to write, will impact others’ lives for eternity too. May God be praised!
Being married to a pastor with two post graduate degrees in ministry certainly helped me in my desire to learn. Although I don’t use the study methods he learned in seminary, he was able to open various resources to me. Years ago my husband showed me a concordance and a lexicon and instructed me in how to use them. We also had other Bible resources around our house.
We had a friend, a prophet by the name of Wayne Taylor (who has since gone to be with Jesus), who told me God wanted me to have a book entitled Types in Genesis by Andrew Jukes. He had found the book hidden away in some old bookstore, but it was out of print. He had a friend of his type the book by hand! He mailed the manuscript to me. I looked at it a little bit and then put it in a bottom desk drawer where it remained for a few years. During that time, Wayne purchased a scanner and sent me another copy of the book (this time spiral bound) with an attractive cover. I began to read again. This time I continued through to the end. That copy is now dog-eared and underlined with handwritten notes all over the margins.
Others unknown to me realized the value of this old book and began to implore a publisher to publish the book. Kregel Publications came out with a paperback version in 1993. I now have one of these (also dog-eared and written all over) that I mainly use.
Andrew Jukes is not easy to read. His sentences are very long and by the time one reaches the end of a sentence, one may have forgotten the subject. (Sounds a bit like the Apostle Paul, doesn’t it?) It is well worth the effort however, because his understanding of allegory unlocks the entire Bible. The keys to understanding all of Scripture are revealed in Genesis in types and shadows. Paul alludes to types when he writes in 1 Corinthians 10:
“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:1-4).
Paul further reveals Old Testament allegory in Galatians:
“Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Hagar. For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:21-26).
Jesus used allegory in most of his teachings and parables. The Bible is full of allegory throughout old and new testaments. A thorough study of Types in Genesis, along with the aid of a concordance and Hebrew and Greek lexicons will help uncover wonderful truths hidden in allegory.
I want to emphasize, though, that true revelation can only come by the Holy Spirit. It is not a function of intellect. When I study I find out everything I possibly can about a topic or a passage. I study it in the concordance and the lexicon, look up the words in an English dictionary, search for the word usage throughout all of Scripture and consult a Bible dictionary. I often still don’t know what it means. Then when I have exhausted all my resources, the Holy Spirit will quietly impress the answer upon my mind. I know it is from Him because on my own, I can’t figure it out. I have confidence after many years of study, that once I have studied all I possibly can, He is faithful to explain it to me. But first, He wants me to dig for it.
Did you know it pleases God when we study His Word? He really gets excited about it. I have a dear friend who sees more clearly beyond the veil than anyone I know. Over the years she has given me hundreds of words from the Lord through the visions she sees and the prophetic utterances with which God has mightily blessed her. She saw the Lord literally dancing around in excitement one time because He saw me sitting in a chair surrounded by stacks of books studying. He had something exciting to show me and He could hardly wait. (Could God really be like that? I think He shows us things on our level so we can understand that He too has emotions and deep feelings about our lives.)
She said to me that He had something to show me that He was really excited about. The next morning as I was studying, I had this incredible revelation that led to the writing of my book Sanctification in Reverse. I had just completed studying and writing about Ezekiel’s healing river. That morning God showed me that satanic ritual abuse is the exact opposite of sanctification…that it was sanctification in reverse. It was then that I started writing that book.
I have included a lot of details here about my entering into study because I want everyone to see that when we have the desire to study and are willing to put forth the effort to try, God will supply all our need. My friend Wayne went to great lengths to make sure I had the book I needed to unlock the allegory of Scripture. My husband showed me how to use a concordance and a lexicon and let me use his until I got my own. God brought me my own personal prophetess to encourage me in my studies. This same woman brought me a book one day entitled Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance by E. W. Bullinger.
Number in Scripture has been absolutely indispensable in opening my understanding to the verses in Scripture that include numbers. I have done major studies (that will become books some day) that would never have been possible without this book. It was here I learned that when studying for deep spiritual meaning, a number has a spiritual significance apart from its numerical value. For example, in my study of the four living creatures in Ezekiel One, four tells me not necessarily that there were four of them but that they represent human beings in relation to the world and all things created. Bullinger devoted twelve pages of his book to the number “four” alone:
“Four is emphatically the number of creation; of man in his relation to the world as created…Four is the number of the great elements—earth, air, fire and water. Four are the regions of the earth—north, south, east and west. Four are the divisions of the day—morning, noon, evening and midnight. Four are the seasons of the year—spring, summer, fall and winter. Four are the great variations of the lunar phases.” (Bullinger 1967, 123)
Bullinger goes on to show how four is used throughout the entire Bible. I have found this book to be absolutely indispensable and never begin my morning studies without it.
When we study in depth, it enables the Lord to take us deep into all areas of our life. Bible study becomes transformational not merely intellectual. When the Holy Spirit brings revelation, it impacts our life. The Lord is most concerned that this time together is relational and life-changing, not just a gathering of information to teach or write about. The flow of revelation is only possible when we are growing and changing with Jesus because we can only see in depth as our heart is able to receive it. Our heart must be right before the Lord in order to see because spiritual truth is perceived through our heart.
When we see deeply beneath the surface of the Word, we begin to see more deeply into situations in our life. We are more perceptive into the lives of those around us. Current events take on spiritual significance as we discern them in light of the Word. Our motives and desires become more in line with Christ’s. To study His Word is to feast on the banquet He has prepared and spread before us to strengthen us for the events of the end times.
As we study the Scripture for a greater revelation of Christ, it will be helpful to follow the principles for study outlined below:
Principles for Bible Study
It is most important to approach our study believing the Bible is absolutely perfect in the original languages. Any seeming discrepancies will become our delight because they are usually a clue that leads to a beautiful revelation.
Your study will not necessarily be historical because the historical account is usually the surface account with the deeper spiritual message hidden underneath. Many historical accounts will become very current when studied in this way.
Every word in the passage must be examined in the original Greek or Hebrew using a concordance. I use The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible which includes the best of Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. It is a mistake to look up only key words because sometimes the seemingly unimportant words provide vital keys for unlocking the passage. Some of the “less important” words are not listed in the above concordance probably due to a problem of space since it contains so much information. If the word I am researching is not in that particular concordance I refer to another Strong’s—there are many variations of that concordance.
It is often necessary to use a Greek or Hebrew lexicon for further research into the meaning of a word. I recommend Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament.
Word derivatives are important. Sometimes just the meaning of the particular word from the passage won’t yield any understanding, but looking through all its derivatives will give the necessary insights.
A whole new perspective on an historical passage will appear if the outward account is seen as an inward reality. Those things that happen outwardly in the physical world are only projections of inward reality. Certain individuals may be seen allegorically as inward principles, e.g. ruling mindsets, the human spirit, the natural man, the sin nature, the soul, etc.
Everything in the natural world has a spiritual counterpart. A study of the book, Types in Genesis, by Andrew Jukes will reveal many of these. Some examples are: men represent wisdom, intellect and understanding; women are love, the affections and the will; animals are certain emotions; the moon is the church or faith; etc. This book provides many keys for unlocking the most difficult passages of Scripture.
Numbers are important for their spiritual meaning rather than their numerical value. Number in Scripture by E.W. Bullinger is an excellent resource.
It is helpful to know the meaning of each proper name in a passage. The following are some of the ways to discover these meanings:
- Look up the word in Strong’s Concordance and follow it through all its derivatives.
- Nearly every proper name in the Bible is listed with its meaning in the Interpreting Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names..
If you are studying the name of a place, find out everything that ever happened at thatplace. This could determine what the place means in terms of this particular passage. If it is the name of a group of people (Syrians, for example), follow their linage back into Genesis and learn from whom they are descended. This can also apply to individuals.
Often there are several Greek or Hebrew words that could be used for a particular English word. For example, there are seven Hebrew words that are translated “company.” We need to ask the question, Why did the Holy Spirit choose this particular word? To find our answer we must find the meaning of every Hebrew word for “company” and notice how this particular one differs.
It is often helpful to check where else in the Bible a particular word is used. A computer program such as Quick Verse by Parsons is most helpful because you can put in the Strong’s number for the word, and it will show you instantly every place in the Bible that word is found. There are several places online such as BlueLetterBible.com where you can find many of these tools.
When studying one small portion of Scripture, we can expect to be studying related passages all through the entire Bible because we are using Scripture to explain Scripture. When we study with this amount of depth, we may spend several weeks on only a few verses.
Look up key words in an English dictionary for an expanded understanding of the word. For example, the number twenty according to Bullinger means “expectancy.” Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines “expect” as “to look for as likely to occur or appear; look forward to; anticipate; expect implies a considerable degree of confidence that a particular event will happen.” A synonym for “expect” is “hope.”
Remember to record all your findings and store them in well-labeled files for easy access in the future. Without this kind of organization, weeks of studies may be lost that could have been used later to enhance other studies or even a sermon. All studies on your computer need to be backed up on some form of media storage device.
If you will determine to make Bible study a priority in your life and do it consistently every day, I guarantee you it will change your life. This is how we eat the Word so it can nourish our life. It honors God when we choose to put effort and time into our pursuit of Him. He will bless us abundantly beyond all we could ever imagine. We will avoid the pitfalls of deception when we go to the Word to learn for ourselves. There are false teachers in abundance in these end times, just as Jesus warned us there would be. It is up to us to know the truth for ourselves rather than depend on our pastor or some Internet ministry. We are accountable to God for ourselves.