“And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” [Mark 15:38]
A question was asked at our online Bible Study forum: “Brother John, I’m not good at meditating on the Word. I want to make sure I’m doing it proper. There’s a scripture in my head I’ve yet to learn. I keep asking what it means and pondering it over. Is this meditating on the Word?”
Let us answer this question by examining the keyword in the question – Meditation and the reason for it. What is meditation?
The dictionary explains – MEDITATION (the synonyms): contemplation, thought, thinking, musing, pondering, consideration, reflection, deliberation, rumination, brooding, reverie, brown study, concentration.
Google dictionary goes further in the definition. Med·i·tate pronounced ˈmedəˌtāt; used as a verb, it means to “think deeply or focus one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation. …. think deeply or carefully about (something).”
“And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.” [Genesis 24:63]
Mediate (verb) with synonyms: contemplate, think, consider, ponder, muse, reflect, deliberate, ruminate, chew the cud, brood, mull something over. It can also mean to “plan mentally or consider”.
God spoke to Joshua, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” [Joshua 1:8]
To meditate means to THINK or CONSIDER something DEEPLY – length, breadth, height and depth. You must forget the definitions of religious systems, especially ones that say you must sit in a particular position or take an athletic or yogic posture before you can meditate. No, those are distorted meanings of true meditation.
Meditation is like when a chicken sits upon her eggs until it hatches, that is, one of serious or deep focus. This means you can be driving, eating, walking, writing, bathing or doing just about anything and still be meditating.
In fact, it is similar to what happened in Genesis 1:2 when the Spirit of the Lord brooded over the face of the deep. But what is the purpose of meditation? True meditation leads to a breakthrough of understanding.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” [Proverbs 9:10 Emphasis mine]
The Three Levels of Understanding
God did set a model or should I call it a pattern in the Bible and it was a very significant pattern of the knowledge of the Holy or should I say: Understanding God.
After the children of Israel were delivered from the tyranny of Pharaoh in Egypt, crossed the Red Sea and got into the wilderness, God gave them the tabernacle of worship; a place where they could meet with Him.
This tabernacle was divided into three sections – the Outer Court, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.
The Outer Court is the place for common people (non-priests) to make their offerings, but they are not permitted to get beyond a certain point, especially beyond the door of the tabernacle.
Leviticus 1:1 And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,
Leviticus 1:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.
Leviticus 1:3 If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.
Leviticus 1:4 And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.
Leviticus 1:5 And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
The priests are the ones who would help the common man to complete his sacrifice, in killing and offering it upon the altar before the Lord. Then some priests are allowed to get beyond this outer court and enter into the Holy Place. Again, beyond this place, there is another special place, the Holy of Holies – of which the High Priest is permitted to access only once a year.
There is a progression of holiness from the Outer Court place through to the Holy Place and gradually to the Holy of Holies. With this progression are the growing criteria as well. At each level in the progression, there were certain demands of consecration that must be observed. We must use this pattern to understand the purpose of meditation.
The Nonsense That Makes Sense
Have you ever wondered why we have so many Bible professors who have a vast knowledge of Hebrew, Greek and Latin, together with the history and archaeological records and all kinds of knowledge about the Books of the Bible, yet have no relationship with God nor have any clue as to the reality of Christ?
What these have is the basic understanding of the Word of God, which is based on their individual abilities of intellectualism. It is can be defined as the intellectual level of understanding. How do we know this?
This is discovered in the prayer of Paul, praying for the Ephesian Christians, “…. That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;….” [Ephesians 3:17b-18]
There is a breadth, a length, a depth and a height to the Word of God. The comprehension of the Word leads to understanding. The breadth and length form the intellectualism while the height and depth form the spirituality of the Word.
In other words, there are three levels of understanding in the comprehension of the Word of God; and if you have it at the back of your mind that there are three levels of understanding to the Scriptures, which is patterned according to the design of the temple, then you will do well.
#1. Intellectual Understanding
#2. Spiritual Understanding
#3. Fullness Understanding
This is the basic understanding of God’s Word. It is like being in the Outer Court. It is one in which a person can, by human reasoning, figure out or understand what has been written. It is usually a horizontal-like type of understanding.
It is an understanding that circulates among men, open to debate and discussions. Basically, things like the history, syntax, character and all sorts that can be reasoned or studied. While this intellectual exercise may be good, it is still basic and may not save a person from his sinfulness.
There are many people with this level of understanding and have become pastors, preachers, professors and doctors of divinity, yet they have no personal relationship with Christ – their names are not in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27). They know about God, but don’t really know God.
When you have a congregation that have people snoozing or responding to their mobile phones during a sermon, it is usually because the sermon is boring and full of intellectual exercise. So, the people get their brains worked to the point of fatigue and soon become disinterested or get exhausted in trying to keep up with the intellectual gymnastics.
It is rather unfortunate that many are wasting their time debating at this intellectual level when, in most cases, all it does is generate fiction and contentions. While it is argued that we should be defenders of the faith and readily contend for the faith of our fathers, the truth is that the Word of God does not really need us as its attorney.
There are have been many attempts at modernising the Bible, some are genuine, but others are either a clear subversion or outright deception. These should be contended and fought within the grace given by God. Why am I saying this?
While the Holy Spirit is available to lead and direct us in the path of truth, the written Word has its place in the work of the Holy Spirit, for we hear Jesus Christ, who had the fulness of God dwelling in Him bodily constantly saying, “It is WRITTEN”.
This will surely take us into all sorts of Bible history; going back in time to when Desiderius Erasmus, a language genius, collated and translated the Greek compilations of the New Testament and published the same, displaying the Greek and Latin side by side. From there we would be inclined to mention the tireless and troublesome work done by William Tyndale that cost him his life. Tyndale was actually martyred for translating the Bible into the English language and making it available to the public.
Essence of God’s Word
From there, we would touch on the Geneva Bible and the Bishop’s English Bible versions, too. These were the forerunners of the King James’ Bible (KJV). With 54 scholars and churchmen involved in the translation of the KJV, headed by the Anglican bishop, Richard Bancroft, an excellent job was done in creating this exceptional compendium we have come to know as the King James Version 1611.
Then came the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries when some so-called scholars rose up to claim that all the excellent work done by those 54 language experts were flawed. These modern scholars started making a lot of claims that this same KJV is riddled with thousands of errors. Are they right?
While someone can sit and debate for the next decade, as many have done in decades past, on the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of the KJV, sadly it is mostly a waste of precious time and energy. Why? The word of God cannot be bound (2 Timothy 2:9).
All these are just debates among the sons of men; it is like the froth of a cup of coffee, the froth is not the real coffee, but sadly most are arguing on the froth and leaving off the real thing that matters most.
In 2 Peter 1:21 Brother Peter tells us, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
Then in 2 Corinthians 3:6, Paul explained, “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”
All these arguments and debates on accuracies of one version in comparison with the other are still in the region of intellectual understanding of the Word of God.
Does this mean we should ignore the attempts of the Devil and his apostles of darkness to corrupt the Scriptures while we keep our heads buried in the sand like the ostrich? Of course not. We all know that we already have the basic Scriptures in ALL the versions, while some have been thoroughly distorted, yet they still carry the essence of God’s dictate in them. God has inadvertently protected His Word.
If recognise this fact, then we must know that that same essence can bring deliverance to anyone, even the hardest of sinners, because the Word of God, though imprisoned, cannot be bound. It will ALWAYS penetrate and do work it has been sent to do in the hearts of men. The truth is that what has been distorted or denied in one part of a version would always be categorically and clearly stated in another place.
I remembered when I used to engage Jehovah’s Witnesses in arguments that Jesus Christ is God, I would sit with my KJV and they would stand by their New World Translation (NWT), then I obtained a copy of the NWT and studied it; there in the NWT, in many places, the divinity of Jesus Christ is categorically stated (Revelation 1:8,17 NWT) or it clearly brings up holes, for example, the comparison of Isaiah 45:5 and John 1:1 in the NWT. This same principle applies to all the versions.
“So will my word be which goes out of my mouth: it will not come back to me with nothing done, but it will give effect to my purpose, and do that for which I have sent it.” [Isaiah 55:11 BBE]
A lot can still be said about intellectually interpreting the Word of God, all of which lead to a basic understanding of its essence. There is a higher level of interpreting the Word of God that is greater than the intellectual understanding and all its arguments.
At the time of Moses, God showed him a pattern on the Mount (Exodus 25:9) and he built the tabernacle. Later Solomon built another wonderful edifice and prayerfully dedicated it.
“Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house.” [2 Chronicles 7:1-2]
When Jesus came, the picture changed, but the Jews were stuck in the intellectual interpretation of the pattern shown to Moses. So, when “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19), they got offended. They did not recognise the transition as many Christians are doing today.
They were interpreting the Word of God intellectually (Outer-Court perspective) while Jesus was interpreting it spiritually (Holy Place/Holy of Holies perspective).
Having grasped the essence of the spiritual understanding, Paul and Peter continued in the line of Jesus’ perspective. We are called not to meditate (think upon) the Scriptures like the uninformed or carnal minds.
Paul wrote, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” [1 Corinthians 6:19]
Peter added, “Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.” [2 Peter 1:14]
Finally, when you are reading or studying the Bible, you must remember that it has three levels (Outer Court, Holy Place and Holy of Holies) of interpretation to it. Do not stop at the Outer Court (intellectual) place, seek to go all the way under the guidance of the Spirit.
In the second part of this article, I will explain how you may get into the next two levels. It is God’s desire that you get there, but He will not cast His pearls before swine either (Matthew 7:6).