Wednesday, March 03, 2010

"Stumbling Block" a clue -- Example of everyday biblical interpretation

Knowing about simple phrases along with basic number themes can be very enlightening when reading the Bible. We so often read past important words or phrases missing the great significance in their meaning. When we understand to look for these easy to miss clues to interpretation, we go to a new level of our own ability to understand scripture.

For example, the term “stumbling block” is very often skipped over very quickly without the reader realizing they have just overlooked one of the many wonders of the Bible.  “Stumbling block” occurs  in 14 Bible verses with the first occurrence and last one both in verse 14 -- Leviticus 19:14 and Revelation 2:14  (common clues in the first and last items in lists are often important to understanding their interpretation).  So this phrase is surrounded by allusions to the number 14. Why is that a clue or significant?

NUMBER 14 AND JESUS THE REDEEMER: In a previous post I mentioned the number 14 as having a Biblical theme for Jesus the King and Redeemer. Some evidences of this are the Passover lamb who is Jesus and that Passover is on the 14th of the month as was the Exodus from Egypt; Matthew chapter one, the chapter declaring Jesus as the Messiah, also tells us there three fourteen generational periods of deliverance from Abraham to Jesus; and Acts 27:33 tells us it was the 14th day God delivered Paul and 276 others from the ship in the storm. These and many other examples demonstrate how number 14 is related to being delivered and to the deliverer himself, Jesus.  So what does this all have to do with the phrase “stumbling block”?

STUMBLING BLOCKS ARE OFFENSES: Realizing that “stumbling block” occurs in 14 Bible verses and that it makes us think of Jesus should cause us to wonder if there is more to be known about this interesting term. To investigate, we examine these 14 verses for more possible messages about the stumbling block. Upon doing this, we find stumbling blocks are obstacles or offences to salvation or deliverance. The offense is to Jesus who is the gatekeeper and determines our salvation. We know that Jesus is referred to in other parts of scripture as the stone or cornerstone, so this allusion to being a stumbling block is another way of seeing this aspect of him.  Stumbling blocks get in the way of one's salvation – in these passages we see they include idols, iniquity, serving man instead of God and the cross itself (belief in Jesus resurrection).

CLUES TO INTERPRETATION: Since it is already not too difficult to see that stumbling blocks are an obstacle to our salvation, how does associating it to number 14 give us more information than we already know? One of the best ways to see how this example helps us is by understanding that Jesus is the stumbling block as is clearly seen in him as the Passover lamb and other evidences he is messiah and associated to number 14.  Then, when we read about stumbling blocks in the Old Testament, we can realize we are seeing direct references to Jesus the Christ where they are otherwise not obvious. Of the 14 verses containing “stumbling block”, 6 are in the Old Testament and 8 are in the New Testament. I don’t believe this is an accident. Number 6 is related to that point in our walk where we have not yet crossed over to accept Jesus, and 8 is the number representing that of a faithful servant.

These six verses in the Old Testament are special - Every verse including "stumbling block" accompanies a statement declaring Jesus is the Lord. These statements are; “I am the LORD”; “Son of Man”; “says the Lord God”; “I the LORD”; and “Declares the Lord God”. They each associate stumbling blocks with Jesus who is referred to as Lord or Son of Man. It is very interesting that zero such Lord references are directly associated in the 8 verses in the New Testament. Six in the Old Testament tells of the Lord and eight in the New Testament do not--of course, they are implied. It seems as if the point is specifically being made to Israel and the Jews that Jesus is the Lord God and is the stumbling block--likely for them. Of course, this could not have been understood without having the complete Bible all together to reveal the clues. The Old Testament and the New Testament are two parts of one inseparable supernatural book - The Word of God.

A UNIQUE EXAMPLE OR A PATTERN? This example of counting words and associating number counts to Bible themes may seem interesting for this single example, but does it hold for other words and phrases? Yes, in such a consistent and incomprehensible way that it is another way we see the Bible is a supernaturally created book-authored by God. The message of this post is that as you study scripture, take some time to count curious words and phrases and think about their number theme associations. Note, even the counts of words and phrases within books, chapters and verses have meaning.

Following are the 14 verses where stumbling block is found. Note how they point to Jesus and to offences or stumbling blocks  to salvation. Also observe chapter and verse references relating in various ways to 14 which support this premise.

Lev 19:14 'You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.

Eze 14:3 "Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all?
Eze 14:4 "Therefore speak to them and tell them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols,
Eze 14:7 "For anyone of the house of Israel or of the immigrants who stay in Israel who separates himself from Me, sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet to inquire of Me for himself, I the LORD will be brought to answer him in My own person.
Eze 18:30 "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct," declares the Lord GOD. "Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you.
Eze 44:12 "Because they ministered to them before their idols and became a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn against them," declares the Lord GOD, "that they shall bear the punishment for their iniquity.
Matt 16:23 But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."
Matt 18:7 "Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!
Rom 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.
1Cor 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,
1Cor 8:9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

Gal 5:11 But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.
Rev 2:14 'But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.


  1. Anonymous5:44 AM

    One needs to go to the original languages of the documents to understand and check the original meaning (s) of 'stumbling block'.

  2. I know some of my assumptions may not be accurate but hope what I write here helps show that there's another side to reading the scriptures. It amazes me how many different interpretations for a passage come from scholars who dissect every word of scripture.

    I imagine God chuckles when he sees some of our answers.

    One thing I am sure of, there is a level of understanding scripture that rises above the original language and I think too many times it is altogether ignored.

    Appreciate and value your comment!

    1. The chapter & verse numbers of our current Bibles were set in the middle ages, well after the original documents were written. So your emphasis on the significance of "verse 14" etc. is spurious.

  3. Anonymous12:21 AM

    unless I'm mistaken, Ezekiel 3:20 mentions the word "stumbling block" though you failed to list it. That would make it "15" times mentioned, and 7 in the old testament.

  4. Anonymous12:25 AM

    I am somewhat troubled when I read Ezekiel 3:20, as god mentions "and I lay a stumbling block before him" Why would God lay a stumbling block before someone?

  5. Anonymous9:47 AM

    Dear Anonymous,

    I believe the AMP may bring some clarity to Ezekiel 3:20..."Again if a righteous man turns from his righteousness, and some gift or providence which I lay before him he perverts into an occasion to sin and he commits iniquity, he shall die...." This scripture, like all scripture, cannot be taken out of context. God does not place "stumbling blocks" before man, however, man can take what God has meant for good and make it a "stumbling block" through disobedience. Notice the AMP refers to man taking a blessing and turning it into an opportunity to sin, which then becomes a "stumbling block". The term "stumbling block" refers to anything that hinders your relationship with the Lord. Just a few verses further (vs. 27)it says..."he who hears, let him hear, and he who refuses to hear, let him refuse; for they are rebellious." This chapter as a whole talks about sharing God's Word with unbelievers, lest their dying in iniquity will be against you! If you share the Word of God with them, and they refuse to repent, you are in the clear, but if you say nothing, his iniquity is counted against you, because of your silence.