Troublesome Topic: The Bible is Like a Double Sided Puzzle

Studying the Bible can be compared to putting together a double-sided jigsaw puzzle. It is one puzzle, but it has an image on each side, therefore, it can be put together in two different ways.

However, this puzzle (the Bible) has no box that you can look at to see what the image should be. But as you study the Bible you can get a perspective that will inform your method of interpretation.

The good thing is that we can pull pieces out of the puzzle and turn them over to display a different image than the one we originally thought was the correct one. Unlike double-sided puzzle we can buy today, the pieces of the biblical puzzle will fit facing either direction; the only difference is the image they create.

 Many aspects of Scripture could be mentioned here, but I will apply this illustration to just three of them.


One side of the puzzle of prophecy is dark and foreboding; it seems intent on causing fear. The other side is bright and hopeful; it is joyful even though it shows some of the same difficulties as the other image, such as believers in Jesus suffering persecution. How can persecution be bright, hopeful and filled with Joy? Actually the New Testament teaches us that it is a privilege to suffer for “The Name.” Listen to a few of these quotes, “I am overflowing with joy based on all our afflictions” (2 Cor 7:4), “According to how much you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings, rejoice  so that you may also rejoice so much that you jump for joy at the revelation of His glory” (1 Peter 4:13), “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you fall among tests of diverse colors” (James 1:2-3). However, the typical prophecy teaching of today creates fear of persecution and the desire to be whisked out of here before it gets tough.

Whenever we study prophecy, we need to be clear about which picture we are building. Is it the dark picture that focuses on self and the desire to avoid pain, or the bright picture that focuses on glorifying God by our lives and even our deaths?

I have found that we must analyze every piece of the puzzle in order to end up with a picture that is consistent. Some may say, “OK, you have an answer for this one, but what about that other passage.” We can only see what the entire image is on our chosen side of the puzzle after we have carefully analyzed and positioned each piece. However, what I have discovered is that every piece on the bright side of the puzzle is balanced, consistent with the rest of Scripture, glorifying to God and spiritually challenging. On the dark side of the puzzle, the pieces of the puzzle are forced to fit in an abnormal way, and it creates a confusing image that is not consistent with the rest of Scripture.


Something similar can be said about studying the Law. It depends in large part on one’s  answers to the following questions:

What was the purpose for which God gave the law?

Was the Law intended to have relevance for the people of only one era, or for people of all eras?

How much of the Law should we pay attention to and how much can we ignore?

I believe the ancient Jews would have answered those questions differently than most modern Bible scholars do today. I choose to stick with what I think would have been the perspective of the people of that day.

Once again there are two images. One is strange and much of it seems to have no purpose. It is an image that does not fit well with the rest of Scripture and most of it has little to do with us. The image on the other side fits well with the rest of Scripture (especially the New Covenant), and teaches principles that are relevant for people everywhere at all times. In fact, this image of the law is powerful in its spiritual impact. One image is not attractive to us at all while the other image is intriguing and full of impact.

As we look at each aspect of the law and turn each piece of the puzzle over again and again, we must decide which image is the correct one to put together. I trust that my work with the Law will be a great help in showing you the power of a different way to interpret that Law.


Solomon is arguably the most misunderstood person in the Bible when compared to others about whom we have a healthy amount of information. His life raises so many questions.

What should we make of all his wives?

Was he a good king or a bad king for most of his reign?

What happened to the Shulammite?

When did he turn away from God?

Did he repent before writing Ecclesiastes?

Why is Ecclesiastes so dark?

In my opinion there are two major ways to answer these question. We can make assumptions and answer those questions quickly, or we can search the Bible for its own set of hints to the answers for those questions.

I trust that you will find my description of the life of Solomon to be very instructive and helpful.

The next lesson is How Can People Trust the Bible if They Can’t Understand It?