As with all imagery in writing, its impact is diminished over time and across cultures. And with much of prophesy written using metaphors or other symbolic language, we lose something in the translation. While the Truth of the scriptures is preserved, I wish I could more deeply appreciate the layers of meaning laid down in these verses.
For instance, anyone living in an ancient agricultural society would be deeply moved by Joel 1:4. Multiple swarms of locusts cutting a swath through the countryside leaving devastation behind. I read it and understand the writer is communicating a bleak period but the emotional impact is lost on me.
So here is a quick video of a locust catastrophe a few years ago in Madagascar. The video includes footage of a 15km long swarm of locusts that destroyed more than half of the island's crops!
Verses like this were written to invoke a visceral response from those hearing or reading them.
How can we read these passages and appreciate them as more than just words on a page?
Should we bother trying to do so?
Have you tried to do this and how has it worked out?
I have a men's bible study and we have often discussed how to do this. It all started with this verse:
"Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'" - Luke 9:62
We plan to take a field trip in spring and experience using a plowshare firsthand in order to better appreciate this verse.
I look forward to reading your answers in the comments below.