The Berean Expositor
Volume 38 - Page 98 of 249
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"Go ye and learn what that meaneth"
(Matt. 9: 13)
(A series of studies on the importance of, and the comprehension of, "meaning")
pp. 78 - 80
The Holy Scriptures, even though they had been written in letters of burnished gold
would not have been a revelation of God to man, if the meaning of those burnished letters
was hidden from man. It matters not how fair the script may be, or whose hand wrote
the lines--they may even be engraved by the finger of God Himself as were the
Ten Commandments, yet they would still fail of their purpose if no meaning were
attached to the holy symbols. Significance, meaning, intention, these are the spirit; the
actual words used are but the body, and as the body without the spirit is dead being alone,
so is a word divested of its meaning.
In order to be sure of the meaning of the Scriptures, we must give attention to
grammar, to usage, to structure, to manner and custom, to time, place, circumstance and
to the changing dispensations.
Before us as we write is a book which contains a "Form of service for the observation
of the Passover". Prayers preceding and following the search for leaven in the house are
given, the disposition of the table, the cakes, shank bone, &100:, is set out, the sanctification
for the Passover is pronounced and prepared for, and then at the filling of the cup of wine
the second time, the youngest child in the company asks: "Wherefore is this night
distinguished from all other nights? On all other nights we may eat either leavened or
unleavened bread, but on this night only unleavened bread; on all the other nights we
may eat any species of herbs, but on this night only bitter herbs; on all the other nights
we do not dip even once, but on this night we dip twice; on all other nights we eat and
drink either sitting or leaning, but on this night we lean?" There is also provision "for
him who hath not capacity to inquire" and the head of the family must begin to discourse,
as it is said, "and thou shalt show thy son on that day".
The Passover feast was never intended to be a mere empty ritual. Provision was made
by Moses in the very day of its institution, that children should ask "What mean ye by
this service?" (Exod. 12: 26). The same provision is found in connexion with the feast of
unleavened bread (13: 8) and the setting apart of the firstborn. Another symbolic
memorial which had attached to it the duty of explaining its meaning, was the erection of
the twelve stones in the bed of the Jordan, for it is written, "When your children ask their
fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer
them . . . . ." (Josh. 4: 6, 7).
When we ask the "meaning" of any word or thing, we use a word that is derived from
the Anglo Saxon maenan "to intend", and a word has no message or power, that has no