What do the seven enemies that God’s people encountered after they entered the promised land represent in our Christian life today? Is there a spiritual significance for our daily walk and victory?
@ALandis Great question Interpreting these seven enemies as having spiritual equivalents in the Christian life is an example of allegorical interpretation. Allegorical interpretation assumes that there is a spiritual significance / meaning beyond or underlying the obvious literal meaning of the text.
A good rule of thumb is to never interpret something allegorically unless:
- Other Biblical authors interpret it allegorically
- The genre of literature (apocalyptic books like Daniel, Zechariah, or Revelation) often uses imagery to convey a deeper meaning
Following those two rules, I would say that no, there is no spiritual significance in these seven enemies because the genre is history (which does not normally employ symbolism) and no other Biblical authors make this suggestion.
Thanks for your quick reply, Sean; that’s a good point. I’ll have to think about it a little more though because we often take promises that weren’t given strictly to us and glean a lot of spiritual food.
@ALandis That is true There is a difference between understanding God’s work in the lives of Biblical characters to get a better sense of His character and allegorical interpretation. For example, we might see God’s faithfulness in David’s life and infer God’s faithfulness to all of those who entrust themselves to Him. That is perfectly valid, even though that was God working in someone else’s life.
That is not the same thing as allegorical interpretation, where we ascribe spiritual meaning to a text that clearly is not conveying that particular point.
@SeanO I’ve been greatly blessed in the past to hear preachers speak on genealogy chapters and preach very sound sermons based on the meaning of the names … these were chapters I could hardly get through before for boredom. I understand what you’re saying regarding allegorical interpretation, and I mainly agree, but I cannot imagine God does not have much depth for us to explore even in historical passages. I would not make a doctrine out of it though, and I greatly respect your biblical knowledge as well as your heart for the Lord. I will definitely think this through and ask some more questions. I hope all is well with you during this uncertain time.
@ALandis Indeed - doing well The Lord is faithful! Christ be with you during these times as well.
I agree that some historical passages can be probed more deeply and that we should evaluate each passage within its socio-historical and literary context to determine what beneficial knowledge we may find.