Everyone can easily comprehend what it means when God warns us not to stumble. Such a divine warning is not directed at advising us to be watchful for rocks, tree branches, or holes in the ground that can trip us up. Instead, the human intellect easily grasps the metaphor and immediately applies the warning to deeper things that can trip up the human heart and spirit.
This makes theological sense as well. The essence of all religion is to provide us with the proper navigational means to avoid the obstacles, dangers and perils that threaten our path to eternal happiness. When we ignore God’s tenets of mutual love, our spirit indeed gets tripped up along the path to salvation.
It is not by our physical feet that we walk with God (or stumble). We walk with God by following the commandments—by living a life of sincere goodness (all God’s commandments ultimately refer to qualities of the heart).
I will not belabor this point since its truth is self-evident. But what is not generally known (even to many theologians) is that the above metaphor for “stumbling” can be applied to all the words in Holy Scripture. Take Jeremiah 31:9 –
They shall come with weeping, and with prayers I will lead them; I will bring them to fountains of waters, in a way that is upright, wherein they shall not stumble; and I will be to Israel for a father, and Ephraim shall be My firstborn.
The biblical quote above uses the word “stumble” in a similar metaphoric fashion that refers to God’s protecting the human heart and mind from tripping up. But all the other words and phrases in this passage contribute to this higher, psycho-spiritual level of meaning.
God’s leading “weeping” people to “fountains of waters” refers to removing human sadness by quenching our thirst for truth (if we allow God to teach us what is upright). “Israel” represents a spiritual place in the heart containing spiritual love and “Ephraim” represents spiritual truth in one’s intellect. Furthermore, Ephraim represents God’s “firstborn” because religion must teach us doctrinal truths first before these truths can later be turned into actions of the heart (and come forth in spiritual living and practice).
While the word “stumble” can easily be comprehended as representing an inner state of our hearts and spirit, the other words in Scripture are more challenging to interpret metaphorically. This deeper understanding of God’s Holy Word can only be obtained through Divine revelation. At this time, these deeper things are gradually be revealed to those who are open to new Divine influence. These new revelations will change theology in the same way quantum theory, relativity and string theory have changed physics!