In exodus 20:4-5 God says for the Israelites to not build/worship idols. in Exodus 25:18-20 He says to build cherubim. Why doesn’t He just explain in exodus 20:4-5 the exception - you can build statues, but don’t worship them, and they are great holy reminders, but they have to be about angels in heaven and things like that.
‘To.those who understand, no explanation is necessary. To those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.’
Even documents that make.every effort to be plain as plain and clear as clear, like the US Constitution, are the subject of heated debate.
It is human nature - we all have preconceptions and baggage that make us understand literally the same words in different ways.
This is why we don’t rely on scripture alone.
And also why we Catholics do rely on the teaching authority of the Magisterium to interpret Scripture for us, in order to provide clarity and avoid confusion. The idea that one can, as a layperson, accurately interpret Scripture for oneself is an elementary and fatal error of those Protestant sects that espouse the doctrine of sola scriptura. The further they obstinately tunnel into their error-ridden pathway, the farther they separate themselves from the fullness of Truth. There are none so blind as those who will not see.
…but He does:
4 Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. 5 Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them: I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me: (Exodus 20)
Graven thing = an object of worship
Adore = worship
Serve = worship (adoration, servitude of a “deity”)
to make/have a graven image/thing or to worship or to adore or to serve one means to hate/reject God as the Only God–it means to share oneself and existence with something other than Yahweh God.
This is not left to interpretations!
Maybe for the same reason that the ark of the covenant is not around anymore killing people when they touch it. To allow for free will and accept God out of faith not by unquestionable proof.
That’s why it’s in that Federal warehouse now.
Thou shalt not lie.
That’s one of the Commandments.
People interpret that simple sentence -
in so many cunning ways - till the cows come home.
But God can do whatever he pleases.
You can’t quote to God - Exodus 20 - and blah blah blah Him.
You’d be like Dathan or Korah - very quickly - in his presence.
I don’t think it would matter, since we’re fallen we need help.(the Church as guide)
Just like I’m perfectly clear with my husband and after decades of marriage the man still misunderstands me most of the time!
The Israelites understood very well what God was telling them in both passages. Thousands of years later on another continent some people read the Scriptures in a language that didn’t exist when they were written and decide God wasn’t clear enough.
God is not the one at fault.
At the same time, though, isn’t is great that G-d enables us to use our own mind and reason to figure things out, instead of being told explicitly what everything means? To me, it is similar to a parent or teacher who wishes a child or student to do some thinking and exert some effort on their own. Certain things in Scripture are quite clear and literal, but a lot is figurative and to be taken in context. Sometimes there is even more than one meaning for certain verses at the same time, the plain and the allegorical for instance. I find it challenging but also gratifying that it is designed this way, and that not everything is spelled out. It is, for me, another test of faith as well as a partnership between G-d and humans.
Good answers here. It’s an interesting question.
I think the Scriptures are a good testament to the mystery and majesty of God Himself. Jesus is the Word, and He isn’t always easy to understand, either. God is a mystery that we can spend our lives studying and learning more about. There is always more to discover!
Scripture is the same way. It wouldn’t be the “living word” that can pierce our hearts if it was easy as reading a child’s school book with clearly defined vocabulary. It would be boring, like reading a book of recipes, or an encyclopedia, or a school history textbook.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Thankfully, Scripture is anything but boring.
It can be wrestled with and studied over an entire lifetime. It has images and layers and shades of meanings that never fade and are still being discovered.
Every day, a priest can find a new meaning that gives us new light on the Word. During the Sunday homily, the priest might shed some light on a well-read passage that illuminates a truth for us in a different way.
(That actually happened to me this past Sunday. I was a little bored with the Gospel story of the feeding of the five thousand since I’ve heard it so many times…but our visiting priest spoke about it in a new way that really blessed me.)
So, if Scripture was plain and boring and spelled everything out for us, where would be the mystery and the puzzles and the excitement of finding rich meanings that help us know Christ more? Why would we need the Church to interpret for us?
The deeper we dive into the Word, the better we know our Bridegroom. He’s worth taking the time to read and ponder and wrestle with the love letters He left for us.
Well, yes, in a way. I find, however, with my limited intellect, that it is a better use of my time to read the work of great geniuses like Aquinas and Augustine. For me to try to interpret Scripture myself, when these giants have gone before, would be akin to reinventing the wheel. I would rather drink in the intoxicating poetry of the Canticum canticorum and the Psalms, and leave the exegesis to better minds than mine.
In answer to the title of your post, recall that Jesus said ““Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you” (Matt. 7:6). And elsewhere Jesus said:
This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says:
‘You shall indeed hear but never understand,
and you shall indeed see but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are heavy of hearing,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should perceive with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart,
and turn for me to heal them’ (Matt. 13: 13-15).
Now, the entire Bible is God’s word and God’s word is sacred which is why we call the bible Sacred Scripture. Indeed, Jesus himself is the Word of God made flesh. Accordingly, sometimes the word of God is to be understood in its plain, literal, and/or historical sense of the words used, sometimes the word of God is figurative, metaphorical, or allegorical with the literal sense or truth conveyed under figures such as some of the visions of the prophets, and sometimes the word of God contains both at the same time a plain literal or historical sense of the words used as well as a figurative or what is called the spiritual sense of Scripture which is subdivided into the allegorical sense, moral sense, and anagogical sense.
God is infinite so the entire Bible which is inspired by God and has God for its principle author can have an infinite and inexhaustible depth of meaning. It is the perogative of the word of God or Sacred Scripture that it can have multiple senses at the same time as well as it can speak to any individual person in a sense that can relate to that particular person’s time and circumstances in life and so God’s word is called the ‘living word of God’.
A little side note… I was sitting in church one Sunday, listening to that same Gospel - again - and heard the visitors behind me whispering, “Awww. It’s a re-run.”
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