connect the dots
All the steps we have followed so far were aimed at posturing our heart, clearing distractions and building a scaffold for constructing our understanding of God’s Word. Now we’ll begin to put it all together. Instead of inventing ideas or trying to find meaning through random thoughts or feelings, we are going to use The Bible to read The Bible. This is what we call “Connecting The Dots”.
Think of any passage or verse in The Bible. In your mind, take these verses and roll them into a ball. Now squeeze that ball smaller and smaller into a single dot. Place that dot on a sheet of paper. Or, for another analogy, roll up these verses into a single shining star and place it in the clear night sky. But as you know, these are only a few verses in one chapter in one book in the entire Bible. Therefore, instead of one dot on that sheet of paper, there are many. Instead of one star in the midnight sky, there many stars, comets and galaxies. Even more, when you look at His Word, you won’t see a bunch of isolated dots or individual stars. Instead, God’s Word Is a constellation, a field of interconnected stars. His Word Is a graph, a set of related “dots”. Every passage in the Bible will connect to and reflect other passages in His Holy Word. For this reason, using any passage as your starting point, you can make connections to other parts of the Bible.
But every passage is not connected to every other passage. Verses can only be connected if they have:
Now let’s demonstrate how this connection process works with Matthew 7:24-29. Before taking a trips to Andromeda, we always begin by saying hello to our neighbors. That is to say, the verses around a passage will likely have something in common with the passage than verses in another part of The Bible. So we read around the passage first. But how much around should we read? Well, about ten verses is before and after the passage is usually a good place to start. For our practice passage this means reading Matthew 7:13-23 and Matthew 8:1-13. As you are reading, make connections to Matthew 7:24-29 by seeing where the passages share similar summaries, people, places, things and ideas. Pause here and take your time before continuing.
So let’s briefly summarize Matthew 7:13-23. Jesus begins in 13-14 by talking a bout how difficult it is to enter heaven. Then in 15-20, He says that true prophets, speaking true words, will produce good fruit while false prophets, speaking evil words, will produce bad fruit. Finally in 21-23, He tells us that those who enter heaven hear and do His Word and are known by Him. Based on these summaries, here are a few easy connections we could make:
- Matthew 7:13-14, 15-20, 21-24, 24-29 all show us two groups of people:
Those who walk the easy way of disobedience to bear bad fruit, build houses on sand and suffer eternal destruction in hell. Those who walk the hard way of obedience to bear good fruit, build houses on The Rock and abide forever with Jesus in heaven.
- In Matthew 7:21, Jesus Says that He Stands at the door of heaven waiting to admit those who do The Will of His Father but deny those who disobey His Father. In Matthew 7:24-29, Jesus Echoes this when He Says those who hear and do His Words build their house on rock and will abide through the storm. There are two things to be seen in this similarity:
The people marvelled at Jesus in 7:28-29 because He Declares that His Word must be obeyed and that He Has Authority to admit into heaven and send to hell. He Says People go to heaven by hearing and doing His Words and doing The Will of His Father in Heaven. In essence then, Jesus Equalizes His Word and The Will of His Father in Heaven. According to Jesus, obeying Him is the same as obeying God The Father.
Our summary of Matthew 8:1-13 reveals similar themes. Jesus Heals a leper and then heals a Centurion’s servant. The centurion recognizes the authority of Jesus and says that because of that authority, Jesus only has to say a word and his servant will be healed. Further reading of Matthew 8 shows that Jesus has Authority over storms and demons too. So reading from Matthew 7:24-29 through Matthew 8 we see the recurring idea and expression of Jesus’ Authority. We already know He Has Authority to Command and to Decide who goes to heaven or hell. After reading Matthew 8, we now see that Jesus Also Has Authority over diseases, storms and demons. He Is Lord.
So there you have it. Matthew 7:24-29, far from a lonely star in the sky, is at least well connected to the surrounding verses. Now let’s see how these verses might be connected to the rest of The Bible. Look again at our summary of Matthew 7:24-29 and answer this question: Are there any stories or passages in the Bible about foolish and wise people? or passages about disobedient and obedient people? Pause here and take time to answer this question.
There are probably many but here are a few.
- Cain and Abel: Cain disobeyed God and killed his brother. Abel, the righteous prophet, obeyed God by offering the right sacrifice.
- Jacob and Esau: Esau through disobedience and impatience despised his inheritance. Jacob, by God’s Grace, inherited Jesus Christ and repented of being a liar and cheater.
- Judas and Peter: Judas disobeyed Jesus and committed suicide. Peter disobeyed Jesus but repented of his sin to be come an apostle.
Now take some time to answer this question: “Are there are other places in The Bible that talk about the same people, places, things or ideas found in Matthew 7:24-29?”
Of the many you could have chosen from, here are a few:
- Rain and Floods:
In Genesis 7, God Destroys wicked people everywhere using a rain and floods that covered the entire earth. Incidentally, only Noah survived because Noah heard and obeyed The Word of God. In Matthew 7:24-29, Jesus Speaks of rain and floods through which wicked fools are destroyed while the righteous wise are preserved. Now we know that Jesus Is not only speaking about minor storms and floods. Jesus Is Also Speaking about surviving a flood that proceeds from God as judgment upon a sinful world. But jump forward to Philippians 2:5-9 and you’ll see that Jesus Is Also Speaking about Himself. Jesus Is The Wise Man Who Built His House on The Rock by Obeying God, His Father. Though He Died when God Judged Him on the cross, because of His Righteousness, God Raised Jesus up again by The Power of The Holy Spirit (Phil 2:9, Romans 6:4, 8:11, Hebrews 5:7). His House Abides Forever high above every flood and rain. (Ephesians 1:20-21).
- Mountains: In Exodus 19-31, God, Cloaked Smoke and Thunder, Descends on a mountain to give Israel His Commandments and Instruct them in proper worship. In Deuteronomy 27-28, tribes of Israel are instructed to stand on two separate mountain peaks, to pronounce a blessing on the obedient from one and a curse on the disobedient from the other. From Matthew 5-7, Jesus Stands on a mountain giving a sermon where He Declares the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17-48), instructions for worship (Matthew 6), the blessing of heaven on those who obey Him(5:2-16) and the curse of hell on those who disobey Him (Matthew 7:13-29).
This particular lesson has been longer than usual. Just keep in mind that our goal is to make connections with the passages we read and the rest of The Bible. We make connections by looking for other passages with similar summaries, people, places, things or ideas. We always begin by looking at the verses around our central passage and then, using the same summary and make-believe list, we connected our passage to other parts of The Bible.
When you connect passages in the way we just described, the world you build from God’s Word becomes denser, richer, simpler and yet more complex. Continue making connections as you just learned. In time you will see that God Speaks in Constellations because He Is One. And you will marvel as He Unveils for you The Beauty of His Holy Word.