Beyond the Literal Meaning
After I posted my blog on women and angels, I read a response by Monte Wolverton and Greg Albrecht at Plain Truth Magazine to a woman’s question about the same chapter, 1 Corinthians 11.
I enjoy many of their comments, but they stopped short on this issue. Though what they said may be true about the culture and beliefs at the time, I believe everything in the Word is for us today because I believe everything has an underlining spiritual meaning and purpose. If we don’t look beyond a cultural explanation we miss the deeper spiritual truths.
The Word is living, complex, layer upon layer, symbolic and everlasting. It is not a just a book of historical events that we can learn from or a set of rules for good living – that’s the least of what it offers. It is alive and spirit that transforms our souls and deepens our communion with God. Hebrews 4:12
God’s Word isn’t straightforward. There are physical layers covering spiritual layers. It’s that way because what God says in the Word is not for the world but for those whom He has chosen to draw near. Matthew 13:11 The spiritual truths are hidden so that for His chosen they are revealed by the Spirit and to others they remain concealed. Symbolism is a tool that God uses to accomplish this purpose. When believers don’t seek beyond the illustration they not only miss out on the deeper truth but also can end up acting from a carnal mindset living by the law instead of a spiritual mindset living by grace.
It is the spiritual realm lying beneath the physical words that is the real treasure that brings freedom and life. Sometimes we have to wait for years to understand a passage because this deeper truth only comes by revelation of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14 But the truths are there to be discovered by you and me who have the Holy Spirit to teach us all things. Our part is to ask and to seek.
God’s Word is alive, pure, and eternal, so the question to any passage is why is it included? Why is it in His Word that lasts throughout the ages?
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”
Understanding the physical shadows the spiritual is especially pertinent when it comes to women, because over the years the illustration has been exploited. What was meant as a teaching tool has been used to dominate and oppress women to the harm of both women and men. When one is harmed both are.
The Word tells us not to get hung up on the illustrations. Like in 1 Corinthians 11:16 where it says that whether you have the customs of head coverings or not it doesn’t matter. What matters is if we understand the spiritual truth that we all need to be covered in Jesus’ righteousness. Ephesians 5:32-33 emphasizes a similar thing, be spiritually minded not carnal. Living out the spiritual truth should be our focus.
This manner of digging deeper is important for any passage. When we seek truth at this level we live in truth, faith, grace and love. Go deep into all passages and don’t give up, because that is where the treasures lie.