I've yet to ask the question of any serious Christian who did not agree that very familiar Bible passages continually bring forth new light when those passages are carefully studied again. And if my hunch is right, most readers are right now nodding agreement. Why is this so? Is it that God's Word was written in a manner so that different people with all their different biases could reach just any conclusion that suited their tastes? Certainly not!
Now don't misunderstand me, there are surely many worthless commentaries on the Bible. Some have been written by people who don't even believe the Bible is God's Word and/or being deceived by demonic influences. The end of these has been to produce a myriad of non-Christian cults whose views, at best, do no more than build up one's ego and/or lead their readers astray. But there are also many books which present a great variety of interpretation, and every one of them reflecting God's inspiration. How can this be? Here's what I think:
The Bible can be likened to astronomical space in its depth: both are virtually fathomless. All humanity combined could never fully-grasp either field of thought. And yet, truth-seekers and honest-inquirers abound in their determination to see what lies a little further ahead.
Many would agree that God's Word has multiple applications. Fewer, though, seem to understand that the same words in Scriptures often have God-intended, multiple meanings, not just different ways a given passage may be applied. [Please read the last sentence again because my entire book hinges on this axiomatic belief.] I do not claim to be the discoverer of this reality. In fact, others have called it The Law of Double Reference.
Here is an example of what is meant by the Law of Double Reference: Beginning in the 37th chapter of Genesis is a story of a man named Joseph, one of the sons of Jacob. Jacob was the father of twelve sons from whom came twelve tribes, the total of which later comprised the nation of Israel. The ten older sons once became angry at Joseph because of a dream he told them about. In the dream, Joseph saw that his brothers (and even his father) would someday bow down obediently before him. This infuriated the brothers. They put Joseph in a pit and while they plotted what to do with him, a group of Midianites took him out of the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites. To make a long story short, Joseph ended up in Egypt and eventually, through great humility and being blessed of God, became the "prime minister" of Egypt. Many years later, due to a great famine in their land, the ten brothers went to Egypt to seek food. They ended up before Joseph (not recognizing him at first) pleading their cause. Later they went back to their father and said "The man, who is the lord of the land, spoke roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country." (Gen. 42:30) Well, eventually Joseph let them know who he was. "Moreover, he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them..." (Genesis 45:15) He forgave them for their former abuses towards him, met their needs and they became a reconciled family again.
This story is far more involved than my explanation but the foundation is sufficient to make a
point. The plain historical truth here is quite self-evident. With regards to The Law of Double
Reference, let's call it Reference #1.
But there is another side to this story: Joseph represents a prefigurement of Jesus of Nazareth. Joseph being sold out by his brothers (who later presumed Joseph to be dead) can be likened to the fact that Jesus (Who, in his natural lineage, came through the tribe of Judah) was sold out by His brethren---the Jews of His day. Jesus was left for dead in the "pit" (the borrowed tomb He was placed in after the crucifixion). As Joseph came out of the pit to later become the exalted benefactor of His brothers, so also Jesus was raised from the dead and left the grave to become the exalted benefactor of all Israel. Food-wise, Joseph (Egypt's "lord") became the savior of His brothers; similarly, Jesus became the Savior of His Jewish brothers, and indeed, for all sinners who would in the future put their trust in Him as their personal Lord.
The story of Joseph's life is a true one, but what his predicament foreshadowed is just as real, and much more important. The Old Testament account of Joseph's life portrays the New Testament account of the life of Jesus Christ. The latter is Reference #2. It is quite proper to refer to this principle of exegesis as a law---The Law of Double Reference (the LODR.)
Seeing that the historical life of Joseph was also a foreshadowing of the life of Jesus Christ is a beautiful example of the LODR. All truly-sensitive, Bible scholars and serious students of the Bible know and agree on the views described above. That's why I selected this particular example to illustrate the law. Actually the Bible is filled with these kinds of truths. I doubt that we shall ever discover all of them. I suspect only after us Christians receive our immortalized bodies will we have the ability to see clearly through all the veils, mysteries and allegories God placed in the Bible.
However, I do believe that, until Jesus returns, God will continue to give new insights into the revelations contained in His Word. In this book I shall present two special "pictures" I believe God has shown me in the New Testament. I have never read or heard a single word on what is to be shared in the following pages. The first comes from the writings of the apostle John---John 11. The second is from the life of the apostle Paul, found in Acts 27 and 28.
As you read, The Law of Double Reference must be kept in mind at all times. Never, I repeat, never should the secondary meanings to be discussed detract from the primary meanings of the passages. I'm not an allegorical freak---i.e., I don't spend a lot of time trying to read into passages something that isn't, in fact, there. But God knows I am open to His input and I shall endeavor to convey with words the pictures which have been clearly, perhaps supernaturally, impressed upon my mind.
A little lesson from everyday life will help explain how double reference actually works. Have you ever seen one of those pictures made of dots or other kinds of marks which, on the surface, looks like a maze of gibberish, but when you connect certain dots with a pencil, or simply observe more carefully, a picture is seen of a very familiar subject? I'm an optometrist, and I once had an actual photograph of this sort which I used to test visual perception. It was the most difficult picture to identify the hidden image I have ever seen. Viewers described it in a variety of ways, the most common being a scene of the earth from high up in a plane. But actually, it was a close-up of a cow's face! When a person finally saw it, he could hardly believe he had missed something so obvious. [But some people could never see the real thing.]
As I attempt to describe the hidden pictures of John 11 and Acts 27 & 28, please keep in mind the story of the cow's face. The picture may not quickly become evident to you. Just hold on, wait and think carefully as I 'connect-the-dots' and the picture will emerge for some of you. And even if you never see what I believe to be spiritual-perception "photos" made in God's "darkroom", taking a slow walk through these three chapters will not be in vain. The plain messages contained here represent wonderful, Biblical truths.