Updated: Apr 21
“Do you see anything?” those are the words from the God-man, Yeshua, to a man who was blind in Mark. Yeshua prays for him and then asks him if he sees anything—an interesting question from the all-knowing Messiah. He could read the thoughts of the Pharisees, but he asks this man if he sees anything.
The man responds that he sees men like trees walking.
I liken that man to us reading Scripture. “Do you see anything?” Unless God healed that man, he would see nothing. And in the end, Jesus restores his full sight. Unless the Holy Spirit leads and guides us into all truth, we, too, are blind. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them.” (John 6:44)
Could it be that there are deep truths in Scripture yet to be discovered? How arrogant would we be to think we know all there is to know about God? Theologians say that the Bible is God’s progressive self-revelation.
Sloppy Treasure Hunting Leads to Heresies
I like to think of reading Scripture like treasure hunting. Maybe this is the day that my mind will be blown by the goodness of God in a way it hasn’t until now; maybe this is the day I will see some great aspect of the grace and beauty of God. Of course, we cannot be so zealous to find the treasure that we get sloppy in our search.
I heard a teacher the other day say that the Hebrew word for “meditate” in Joshua 1:8 actually means to roar. Well, it doesn’t. As soon as I heard him say that, I had no doubt that he was not well versed in Hebrew or how to study Hebrew. It is probably something he heard someone else say. He was careless and sloppy in his exegesis. He was too zealous to find gold. He mistook a piece of copper for the real thing.
Now, how could I be so confident he was wrong without checking? Because the people who translated the Bible are fluent in Hebrew and English and rarely make such a mistake. In another blog, I will show you how to do a proper word study. I don't want to come across as a know-it-all or Hebrew snob, it just grieves me how people are so flippant with God's word. And worse, it leads people astray.
I'm also not talking about 'secret knowledge,' that is what we call Gnosticism—and it is heretical. That is why I don't care much for Bible codes. I'm talking about God speaking through the text of Scripture. Everything I need to know about Yeshua is in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament texts.
What is in your Equipment Bag?
The good treasure hunter must be well equipped. Our equipment bag is full of questions.
“The late Donald Juel, who taught New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary with great distinction, used to teach his students to approach every preachable text in the interrogative mood. Ask the text everything you can think of, including the tone of voice of the speakers in the text.”
Why did he say that?
How did he say it? (Think of Yeshua responding to the Syrophoenician, referring to her as a dog… was he condescending, or was he joking, or was he leading her somewhere…?)
Was that culturally appropriate? (David dancing before the people)
Why that word? (In Genesis 21, when Abraham says Yahweh Yireh, it has been translated as God provides, when in fact, Yireh means “will see.”)
What is the larger context? (Is the rapture just an event, or is it mimicking something? See my upcoming book, “Colliding Kingdoms”)
If you can read Scripture slowly and give yourself time to answer these questions, you are far more likely to find a nugget of gold than reading the Bible like a newspaper or novel. I know very little about digging for gold, but I imagine the ones who were successful were more patient and better trained than the failures. They could see things that others could not.
Me and My Reading Glasses
As I got into my late 40s, I noticed that I was having a harder time reading. All my life, I’ve had 20/10 vision, the best you can have. Finally, I gave in and got some reading glasses. Ten years later, I cannot get along without them. If I take them off right now, the screen will be a jumbled blur. If I buy something while on a ministry trip and need to take a picture of the receipt, often it will be upside down, and I have no idea.
Reading Scripture without the Holy Spirit or using our tools is like me trying to read without reading glasses. That is the difference.
“Can you see anything?”
A Deep Longing to be Discovered
In his book, Reading for Preaching, Cornelius Plantinga Jr. recounts a harrowing story from a famous fantasy novel, Bradbury’s, The Fog Horn. Two men are manning a lighthouse. Every few minutes, they must sound the foghorn. It’s a lonely job.
They are discussing the mysteries of the sea and the voice of the foghorn calling to the sea — the foghorn which makes a sound so lonesome that “‘whoever hears it will weep in their souls,’ because now they know ‘the sadness of eternity and the briefness of life.’”
As the men are talking, a dinosaur-like figure suddenly lifts its head out of the sea. He was massive; his neck alone was 40 feet. Something about that foghorn was calling out to the monster. Maybe a lost love?
“The foghorn blew, and the monster answered. [Its] cry came across a million years of water and mist. A cry so anguished and alone that it made [the two men] shudder. The foghorn blew. The monster cried again. The foghorn blew. The monster opened its great-toothed mouth, and the sound that came from it was the sound of the foghorn itself. Lonely and vast and far away.
“It was the sound of one who had waited a million years for the voice of the lighthouse to call [it home].”
One has to wonder if Scripture is not calling out to us in the same way that the earth groans for redemption (Rom. 8:22), longing for someone to take the time, energy, and patience to seek the deeper wisdom. Proverbs presents wisdom as one calling out—“she raises her voice in the public square” (1:20), longing to be understood.
There is a treasure out there… “But do you see anything?”
 Dyrness, William, Themes of Old Testament Theology, p. 25  Plantinga, Cornelius. Reading for Preaching: The Preacher in Conversation with Storytellers, Biographers, Poets, and Journalists (p. 102). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.  pp. 105-106.  Ibid.